« PreviousContinue »
7. On this, the second son advanced. In the course of my travels, said he, I came to a lake, in which I beheld a child struggling with death; I plunged into it and saved his life in the presence of a number of the neighbouring villagers, all of whom can attest the truth of what I assert.
8. It was well done, (interrupted the old man ;) you have only obeyed the dictates of humanity. At length the youngest of the three came forward.
9. I happened, said he, to meet my mortal enemy, who, having bewildered himself in the dead of night, had imperceptibly fallen asleep upon the brink of a frightful precipice. The least motion would infallibly have plunged him headlong into the abyss; and though his life was in my hands, yet with every necessary precaution, I awaked him, and reinoved him from his danger.
10. Ah, my son! exclaimed the venerable good man with transport, while he pressed him to his heart; to thee belongs the diamond; well hast thou deserved it.
DESCRIPTION OF MOUNT ETNA.
HERE is no point on the surface of the globe, which unites so many awful and sublime objects, as the summit of Mount Etna. The immense elevation from the surface of the earth; drawn as it were to a single point, without any neighbouring mountain for the senses and imagination to rest upon, and recover from their astonishment in their way down to the world:
2. This point or pinnacle, raised on the brink of a bottomless gulph, as old as the world, often discharging rivers of fire, and throwing out burning rocks, with a noise which shakes the whole island:
3. Add to this, the unbounded extent of the prospect, comprehending the greatest diversity, and the most beautiful scenery in nature; with the rising sun advancing in the east, to illuminate the wondrous scene.
4. The whole atmosphere by degrees kindled up, and showed dimly and faintly the boundless prospect around. Both sea and land looked dark and confused, as if only
emerging from their original chaos; and light and darkness. seemed still undivided; till the morning, by degrees advancing, completed the separation.
5. The stars are extinguished, and the shades disappear. The forests, which but now seemed black and bottomless gulphs, from whence no ray was reflected to show their form or colours, appear a new creation rising to the sight, catching life and beauty from every increasing beam.
6. The scene still enlarges, and the horizon seems to widen and expand itself on all sides; till the sun, like the great Creator, appears in the east, and with his plastick ray completes the mighty scene.
7. All appears enchantment; and it is with difficulty we can believe we are still on earth. The senses, unaccustomed to the sublimity of such a scene, are bewildered and confounded; and it is not till after some time, that they are capable of separating and judging of the objects which compose it.
8. The body of the sun is seen rising from the ocean, immense tracts both of sea and land intervening; the islands of Lipari, Panari, Alicudi, Strombolo, and Volcano, with their smoking summits, appear under your feet; and you look down on the whole of Sicily as on a map, and can trace every river, through all its windings, from its source to its mouth.
9. The view is absolutely boundless on every side; nor is there any one object, within the circle of vision, to interrupt it; so that the sight is every where lost in immensity.
10. The circumference of the visible horizon on the top of Etna cannot be less than 2000 miles. At Malta, which is nearly 200 miles distant, they perceive all the eruptions. from the second region; and that island is often discovered from about one half of the elevation of the mountain; so that, at the whole elevation, the horizon must extend to nearly double that distance.
11. But this is by much too vast for our senses, not intended to grasp so boundless a scene. I find by some of the Sicilian authors, that the African coast, as well as that of Naples, with many of its islands, has been discovered from the top of Etna. Of this, however, we cannot boast, though we can very well believe it.
12. But the most beautiful part of the scene is certainly the mountain itself, the island of Sicily, and the numerous islands lying around it. All these, by a kind of magick in vision, seem as if they were brought close round the skirts of Etna; the distances appearing reduced to nothing.
13. The present crater of the volcano is a circle of about three miles and a half in circumference. It goes shelving down on each side, and forms a regular hollow, like a vast amphitheatre.
14. From many places of this space, issue volumes of smoke, which, being much heavier than the circumambient air, instead of rising in it, as smoke generally does, rolls down the side of the mountain like a torrent, till, coming to that part of the atmosphere of the same specifick gravity with itself, it shoots off horizontally, and forms a large tract in the air, according to the direction of the wind.
15. The crater is so hot, that it is very dangerous, if not impossible, to go down into it. Besides, the smoke is very incommodious; and in many places the surface is so soft, that there have been instances of people's sinking down into it, and paying for their temerity with their lives.
16. Near the centre of the crater is the great mouth of the volcano. And when we reflect on the immensity of its depth, the vast caverns whence so many lavas have issued; the force of its internal fire, sufficient to raise up those lavas to so great a height; the boiling of the matter, the shaking of the mountain, the explosions of flaming rocks, &c. we must allow, that the most enthusiastick imagination, in the midst of all its terrours, can hardly form an idea more dreadful.
A DIALOGUE BETWEEN TWO SCHOOL BOYS ON DANCING.
Harry. TOM, when are you going to begin your danc
ing? You will be so old in a short time as to be ashamed to be seen taking your five positions.
Thomas. I don't know as I shall begin at all. Father says he don't care a fig whether I learn to jump any better
than I do now; and as I am to be a tradesman, he is determined, at present, to keep me at the reading and writing schools.
Har. That must be very dull and dry for you. good will all such learning do you, so long as you make the awkward appearance you do at present? I am surprised at
your father's folly. So, because you are to be a tradesman, you are not to learn the graces! I expect to learn a trade too. But my papa says I shall first learn the dancing trade; and then, if I never learn any other, I shall make my way through the world well enough.
Tom. I don't know which discovers the most folly, your father or mine. Old folks certainly know more than young ones; and my father is much the oldest man.
Har. I don't believe that doctrine. There's Jack Upstart knows more than his father and mother both; and he is but nineteen yet. And he says the present generation, under five and twenty years of age, knows more than fifteen generations that have gone before us.
Tom. I don't know how that is. But father early taught me this proverb: "Young folks think old folks are fools; but old folks know young ones to be so." But to return to schools-Pray, how far have you gone in your arithmetick? Har. Arithmetick! I have not begun that yet, nor shall I till I have completed dancing. That is a nurly study; I know I never shall like it.
Tom Writing I suppose you are fond of. Har. I can't say I am, Tom. I once had a tolerable fondness for it; but since I began dancing, I have held it in utter contempt. It may be well enough for a person to write a legible hand; but it is no mark of a gentleman to write elegantly.
Tom. You would have a gentleman spell well, I sup
Har. I would have him spell so well as to be understood; and that is enough for any man.
Tom. What say you to grammar and geography? Har. Don't name them, I entreat you. There is nothing so much abhor as to hear your learned school boys jabbering over their nouns, their pronouns, their werbs, their parables, their congregations, their imperfections, and con
fluxions. I'll tell you what, Tom; I had rather be master of one hornpipe, than to understand all the grammars which have been published since the art of printing was discovered.
Tom. I am sorry, friend Harry, to hear you speak so contemptuously of the solid sciences. I hope you don't mean to neglect them entirely. If you do, you must expect to live in poverty, and die the scorn and derision of all wise men.
Har. Never fear that, Tom. I shall take care of myself, I warrant you. You are much mistaken in your prognostications. Why, there's Tim Fiddlefaddle-he can't even write his name; and as for reading, he scarcely knows B from a broomstick; and yet he can dance a minuet with any master of the art in Christendom. And the ladies all love him dearly. He is invited to their balls, routs, assemblies, card parties, &c. &c. and he diverts them like any monkey.
Tom. And does he expect it will be the same through life? How is he to be maintained when he becomes old? and how is he to amuse himself after he is unable to dance; as you say he can neither read nor write?
Har. Why, in fact, I never thought of these things before. I confess there appears to be some weight in these queries. I don't know but it would be best for me to spare a day or two in a week from my dancing, to attend to the branches you are pursuing.
Tom. You will make but little progress in that way. My master always told me that the solid sciences ought to be secured first; and that dancing might come in by the bye.He says, when his scholars have once entered the dancingschool, their heads, in general, are so full of balls, assemblies, minuets and cotillions, that he never can find much room for any thing else.
Har. I will still maintain it, notwithstanding all you can say in favour of your solid sciences, as you call them, that the art of dancing is the art of all arts. It will, of itself, carry a man to the very pinnacle of fame. Whereas, without it, all your writing, arithmetick, grammar and geography, will not raise one above the common level of a clown.