Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

His energy is poured freely into space, but our world is a halting-place where this energy is conditioned. Here the Proteus works his spells; the selfsame essence takes a million shapes and hues, and finally dissolves into its primitive and almost formless form. The sun comes to us as heat; he quits us as heat; and between his entrance and departure the multiform powers of our globe appear. They are all special forms of solar powerthe moulds into which his strength is temporarily poured in passing from its source through infinitude.

-JOHN TYNDALL.

2. THE SEA AND ITS USES.

It is a common thing in speaking of the sea to call it "a waste of waters." But this is a mistake. Instead of being a waste and a desert, it keeps the earth itself from becoming a waste and a desert. It is the world's fountain of life and health and beauty, and if it were taken away, the grass would perish from the mountains, the forests would crumble on the hills.

Water is as indispensable to all life, vegetable or animal, as the air itself. This element of water is supplied entirely by the sea. The sea is the great inexhaustible fountain which is continually pouring up into the sky precisely as many streams,

and as large, as all the rivers of the world are pouring into the sea.

The sea is the real birthplace of the clouds and the rivers, and out of it come all the rains and dews of heaven. Instead of being a waste and an incumbrance, therefore, it is a vast fountain of fruitfulness, and the nurse and mother of all the living. Out of its mighty breast come the resources that feed and support the population of the world.

We are surrounded by the presence and bounty of the sea. It looks out upon us from every violet in our garden-bed; from every spire of grass that drops upon our passing feet the beaded dew of the morning; from the bending grain that fills the arm of the reaper; from bursting presses, and from barns filled with plenty; from the broad foreheads of our cattle and the rosy faces of our children.

It is the sea that feeds us. It is the sea that clothes us. It cools us with the summer cloud, and warms us with the blazing fires of winter. We make wealth for ourselves and for our children out of its rolling waters, though we may live a thousand leagues away from its shore, and never have looked on its crested beauty or listened to its eternal anthem.

Thus the sea, though it bears no harvest on its bosom, yet sustains all the harvests of the world.

If like a desert itself, it makes all the other wildernesses of the earth to bud and blossom as the rose. Though its own waters are as salt and wormwood, it makes the clouds of heaven to drop with sweetness, opens springs in the valleys and rivers among the hills.

The sea is a perpetual source of health to the world. Without it there would be no drainage for the lands. It is the scavenger of the world. The sea is also set to purify the atmosphere. The winds, whose wings are heavy and whose breath is sick with the malaria of the lands over which they have blown, are sent out to range over these mighty pastures of the deep, to plunge and play with its rolling billows and dip their pinions over and over in its healing waters. There they rest when they are weary; there they rouse themselves when they are refreshed. Thus their whole substance is drenched, and bathed, and washed, and winnowed, and sifted through and through by this glorious baptism. Thus they fill their mighty lungs once more with the sweet breath of ocean, and, striking their wings for the shore, they go breathing health and vigor.

The ocean is not the idle creature that it seems, with its vast and lazy length stretched between the continents, with its huge bulk sleeping along the shore or tumbling in aimless fury from pole to pole. It is a mighty giant, who, leaving his oozy

bed, comes up upon the land to spend his strength in the service of man. Thus the sea keeps all our mills and factories in motion. Thus the sea spins our thread and weaves our cloth.

It is the sea that cuts our iron bars like wax, rolls them out into proper thinness, or piles them up in the solid shaft strong enough to be the pivot of a revolving planet. It is the sea that tunnels the mountain, and bores the mine, and lifts the coal from its sunless depths and the ore from its rocky bed. It is the sea that lays the iron track, builds the iron horse, that fills his nostrils with fiery breath and sends his tireless hoofs thundering across the longitudes. It is the power of the sea that is doing for man all those mightiest works that would else be impossible.

-SWAIN.

3. THE SUNBEAM.

Thou art no lingerer in monarch's hall:
A joy thou art and a wealth to all,
A bearer of hope unto land and sea:
Sunbeam, what gift has the world like thee?

Thou art walking the billows, and Ocean smiles:
Thou hast touched with glory his thousand isles ;
Thou hast lit up the ships and the feathery foam,
And gladdened the sailor, like words from home.

To the solemn depths of the forest shades

Thou art streaming on through their green arcades; And the quivering leaves that have caught thy glow Like fireflies glance to the pools below.

I looked on the mountains: a vapor lay,
Folding their heights in its dark array;
Thou brakest forth, and the mist became
A crown and a mantle of living flame.

I looked on the peasant's lowly cot:
Something of sadness had wrapped the spot;
But a gleam of thee on its casement fell,
And it laughed into beauty at that bright spell.

To the earth's wild places a guest thou art,
Flushing the waste like the rose's heart;
And thou scornest not from thy pomp to shed
A tender light on the ruin's head.

Thou tak'st through the dim church-aisle thy way, And its pillars from twilight flash forth to day, And its high, pale tombs, with their trophies old, Are bathed in a flood of burning gold.

And thou turnest not from the humblest grave Where a flower to the sighing winds may wave: Thou scatter'st its gloom like the dreams of rest, Thou sleepest in love on its grassy breast.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »