Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

strength of the young cuckoo would be unequal to throwing out the eggs or birds, and the same difficulty would exist if the nestlings to be ejected were not much smaller than itself. Dr. Jenner remarks, that the short residence this bird is allowed to make in the country where it is destined to propagate its species, and the call that nature has upon it, during that short residence, to produce a numerous progeny, may explain its deviation from the ordinary domestic instincts and habits of birds.

Gosse.

LESSON LIII.—THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH.

Under a spreading chesnut tree

The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,

With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,

His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,

He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,

For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;

You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,

Like the sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And the children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;

They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,

And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from the threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,

And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,

He hears his daughter's voice
Singing in the village choir,

And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother's voice,

Singing in paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,

How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes

A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling,—rejoicing,—sorrowing,

Onward through life he goes; Each morning sees some task begun,

Each evening sees it close; Something attempted, something done,

Has earned a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,

For the lesson thou hast taught! Thus at the flaming forge of life

Our fortunes must be wrought; Thus on its sounding anvil shaped

Each burning deed and thought.—Longfellow.

LESSON LIV. RIVERS.

Rivers rise in elevated districts, and flow thence in various directions towards the sea. The high land or ridge between the sources of the rivers, which flow in opposite directions through a country, is called the water-shed; the tract of country, which sends its waters into any great river, is called the basin of that river. Europe may be described as having two leading watersheds: one in the region of the Alps, and the mountains on the south-west of Germany; the other extending in a winding course from the west of the Carpathian range, north-east through Russia.

Rivers form an important part of that grand natural circulation of water, constantly going on through air, earth, and ocean. The waters of the great lakes, seas, and oceans, being raised into the atmosphere in vapour by the influence of solar heat, are wafted over the land by winds, and condensed and precipitated on the earth's surface; and the water which has descended in rain, or been deposited as dew, or collected by the melting of hail, snow, hoar-frost, and ice y flows along the surface in streams or rivulets, which unite and form rivers, which pour their waters into other rivers, great lakes, or the sea; or it sinks into the ground, penetrates through porous strata till it meets some obstruction, when it accumulates, or takes some other course, and bursts out in springs.

Rivers generally run at right angles to the mountainchains from whose upper ridges they flow; and from the arrangement of the leading mountain-chains, the greater number of large rivers flow from west to east towards the ocean; some to north or south; few towards the west. They carry down with them a large quantity of solid matter in suspension, by the wearing away of their beds. This is deposited when their velocity becomes small; when they overflow their banks; and in large beds of a somewhat triangular form at their mouths, called deltas.

Many rivers periodically overflow their banks, as the Ganges, the Indus, the Nile, the Mississippi. This phenomenon occurs chiefly in the torrid zone, and is caused by the sudden and heavy rains which fall there in the wet season; or by the melting of snows on the mountains. The latter cause operating suddenly, often gives rise to floods in other districts. The rivers in northern Asia are often flooded, from their lower portions near the Arctic Ocean being still bound up in ice, while their sources are opened up and replenished by the influence of summer. The American continent, though comparatively narrow, has the largest rivers in the world, as the Maranon or Amazon, and the Mississippi, and a great number in proportion to the extent of land; Africa is scantily supplied with rivers; Arabia is nearly river less.

Rivers form striking features in natural scenery, and effect important changes on the earth's surface. They restore to the ocean the superfluous water not needed for the fertilization of the land, and by gathering the surface water into channels, render the countries on their banks dry and salubrious. They wear down the solid matter of the globe, and transport it to the bed of the deep, or deposit it as a rich alluvial soil on their banks. The influence of their moisture promotes vegetation, and moderates temperature in their vicinity. They afford to mankind never failing supplies of fresh water, and solid sustenance in the fish with which they abound: they become highways of commerce: and have often proved powerful barriers against the encroachments of the invader. The simple abodes of the earliest races of men, as well as the largest and most magnificent cities of modern times, are found upon their banks. The river has always possessed a peculiar interest for man. His reason soon taught him the substantial advantages it confers: the fresh and beautiful verdure of its banks and the music of its gushing waters charmed his senses; its wild unceasing movement—ever onwards—ever changing—yet ever renewed—an emblem of life and eternity—fascinated his imagination.—Eeid.

LESSON LV.—DUTIES AT SCHOOL.

Parents make great efforts and sacrifices to procure for their children the privileges of school; and children ought to be diligent and faithful in improving these privileges. They ought to submit readily and cheerfully to the authority of the teacher, and to be industrious, patient, and persevering, in pursuing the studies assigned to them.

The first duty which devolves upon children at school, is to be diligent and faithful in improving their time and privileges there. There is pleasure in play, and advantage in study. But children make a great mistake in attempting to enjoy the pleasure of play in school hours. There is so much fear of detection, so much watching of the teacher, so many interruptions, and such a constant uneasiness, from a consciousness of doing wrong, that playing in school is anything but a pleasure.

It requires an effort—sometimes a great effort—to bring the mind to a state of diligent application; but if

« ElőzőTovább »