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around the ill-fated inmates of Herculaneum. This artificial darkness continued for three days and nights, and when, at length, the sun again appeared over the spot where Herculaneum stood, his rays fell upon an ocean of lava!
5. There was neither tree, nor shrub, nor field, nor house, nor living creature; nor visible remnant of what human hands had reared, there was nothing to be seen but one black extended surface, still streaming with mephitic vapor, and heaved into calcined waves by the operation of fire, and the undulations of the earthquake! Pliny was found dead upon the sea-shore, stretched upon a cloth which had been spread for him, where it was conjectured he had perished early, his corpulent and apoplectic habit rendering him an easy prey to the suffocating atmosphere.
Passage of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers through the Blue Ridge.
1. THE passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge, is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Potomac, in quest of a passage also. the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea.
2. The first glance of this scene hurries our senses into the opinion, that this earth has been created in time; that the mountains were formed first; that the rivers began to flow afterwards; that, in this place particularly, they have been dammed up by the Blue Ridge of mountains, and have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley; that, continuing to rise, they have at length broken over at this spot, and have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base. The piles of rock on each hand, particularly the Shenandoah, the evident marks of their disrupture and avulsion from their beds, by the most powerful agents of nature, corroborate this impression.
3. But the distant finishing which nature has given to the picture, is of a very different character. It is a true contrast to the fore-ground. That is as placid and delightful, as this is wild and tremendous. The mountain being cloven asunder, presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch
a Me-phit'-ic, poisonous, noxious.
c Un-du-la'-tions, waving motions.
of smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in the plain country, inviting you as it were from the riot and tumult roaring round, to pass through the breach, and participate of the calm below.
4. Here the eye ultimately composes itself; and that way, too, the road happens actually to lead. You cross the Potomac above the junction, pass along its side through the base of the mountain for three miles,-its terrible precipices hanging in fragments over you. This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic; yet here, as in the neighborhood of the Natural Bridge, are people who have passed their lives within half a dozen miles, and have never been to survey these monuments of a war between rivers and mountains, which must have shaken the earth itself to its center.
The Egyptian Pyramids.
1. THE pyramids of Egypt are well entitled to a place, among the most interesting curiosities in the world. The principal ones stand opposite Cairo, on the west side of the river Nile. They are built of stones, which overleap each other, and thus form steps from the bottom to the top. The perpendicular height of the largest is about 500 feet, and the aread of its basis contains nearly 500,000 square feet, or something more than eleven English acres of ground. Some idea may be formed of the cost and labor in the structure of this pyramid, from the fact that thirty years were spent in building it, and that 100,000 men were constantly employed on the work.
2. Such were the famous Egyptian pyramids, which by their figure as well as size have triumphed over the injuries of time and the barbarians. But whatever efforts men make, their own nothingness will always appear. These pyramids were tombs; and there is still to be seen, in the middle of the largest, an empty sepulcher, cut out of entire stone, about three feet deep and broad, and a little above six feet long.
3. Thus, all this bustle, all this expense, and all the labor of so many thousand men, ended in procuring a prince, in this vast and almost boundless pile of buildings, a little vault six feet in length. Besides, the kings who built these pyramids had it not in their power to be buried in them, and
a Ho-ri-zon, the line which bounds the Might.
Jurc-tion, act of joining, union.
e Ca-l'-ro, a city in Egypt.
so did not enjoy the sepulcher they had built. The public hatred which they incurred by reason of their unheard of cruelties to their subjects, in laying such heavy tasks upon them, occasioned their being interred in some obscure place, to prevent their bodies from being exposed to the fury and vengeance of the populace.
4. This last circumstance, of which historians have taken particular notice, teaches us what judgment we ought to pass on these edifices," so much boasted of by the ancients. It is but just to remark and esteem the noble genius which the Egyptians had for architecture,b-a genius that prompted them from the earliest times, and before they could have any models to imitate, to aim in all things at the grand and magnificent; and to be intent on real beauties, without deviating in the least from a noble simplicity, in which the highest perfection of the art consists.
5. But what idea ought we to form of those princes, who considered as something grand, the raising, by a multitude of hands and by the help of money, immense structures, with the sole view of rendering their names immortal; and who did not scruple to destroy thousands of their subjects to satisfy their vain glory! They differed very much from the Romans, who sought to immortalize themselves by works of a magnificent kind, but at the same time of public utility.
6. Pliny gives us, in a few words, a just idea of these pyramids when he calls them a foolish and useless ostentation of the wealth of Egyptian kings; and adds, that by a just punishment their memory is buried in oblivion -historians not agreeing among themselves about the names of those who first raised those vain monuments. In a word, according to the judicious remark of Diodorus, the industry of the architects of those pyramids is no less valuable and praiseworthy, than the design of the Egyptian kings contemptible and ridiculous.
7. But what we should most admire in these ancient monuments, is, the true and standing evidence they give of the skill of the Egyptians in astronomy;d that is a science which seems incapable of being brought to perfection but by a long series of years, and a great number of observations. It has been found, that the four sides of the great pyramid named, were turned exactly to the four quarters of the world; and consequently showed the true meridian of that place.
8. As so exact a situation was in all probability purposely
a Ed-i-fi-ces, buildings. d As-tron'-o-my, the science of the heaArch'-i-tect-ure, the science of building. venly bodies. c Os-tent-a'-tion vain show.
e Se'-ri-es, a connected succession of things.
pitched upon, by those who piled up this huge mass of stones, above three thousand years ago; it follows, that during so long a space of time there has been no alteration in the heavens in that respect, or, which amounts to the same thing, in the poles of the earth or the meridians.
Of the Forum, and other public Buildings at Rome.
1. THE Roman Forum now lay extended before us-a scene in the ages of Roman greatness of unparalleled splendor and magnificence. It was bordered on both sides with temples, and lined with statues. It terminated in triumphal arches; and was bounded, here by the Palatine hill, with the imperiala residence glittering on its summit, and there by the Capitol, with its ascending ranges of porticos and of temples.
2. Thus it presented one of the richest exhibitions that eyes could behold, or human ingenuity invent. In the midst of these superb monuments,-the memorials of their greatness, and the trophies of their fathers, the Roman people assembled to exercise their sovereign power, and to decide the fates of heroes, of kings, and of nations.
3. Nor did the contemplation of such glorious objects fail to produce a corresponding effect. Manlius, as long as he could extend his arm and fix the attention of the people on the Capitol which he had saved, suspended his fatal sentence. Caius Gracchus melted the hearts of his audience, when in the moment of distress he pointed to the Capitol, and asked with all the emphasis of despair, whether he could expect to find an asylum in that sanctuary, whose pavements still streamed with the blood of his brother.
4. Scipio Africanus, when accused by an envious faction, and obliged to appear before the people as a criminal, instead of answering the charge, turned to the Capitol, and invited the assembly to accompany him to the temple of Jupiter, and to give thanks to the Gods for the defeat of Annibal and the Carthaginians.
5. Such, in fact, was the influence of locality, and such the awe, interest, and even emotion, inspired by the surrounding edifices. Hence the frequent references that we find in the Roman historians and orators, of the Capitol, the Forum, the temples of the gods; and hence those noble addresses to the deities themselves, as appear in their respective sanctuaries.
a Im-pe'-ri-al, belonging to an emperor.
d Fac' tion, a political party.
e Ju'-pi-ter, one of the heathen deities
6. But the glories of the Forum are now fled for ever; its temples are fallen; its sanctuaries have crumbled into dust; its colonnades encumbera its pavements, now buried under their remains. The walls of the Rostra, stripped of their ornaments, and doomed to eternal silence,-a few shattered porticos, and here and there an insulated column, standing in the midst of broken shafts,-vast fragments of marble capitals and cornices, heaped together in masses,―remind the traveler, that the field which he now traverses was once the Roman Forum.
7. A little farther on commences a double range of trees that leads along the Via Sacra, by the temples of Antoninus and of Peace, to the arch of Titus. A herdsman, seated on a pedestal while his oxen were drinking at the fountain, and a few passengers, moving at a distance in different directions, were the only living beings that disturbed the silence and solitude which reigned around.
8. Thus, the place seemed restored to its original wildness described by Virgil, and abandoned once more to the flocks and herds of cattle. So far have the modern Romans forgotten the theater of the glory, and of the imperial power of their ancestors, as to degrade it into a common market for cattle; and sink its name, illustrated by every page of Roman history, into the contemptible appellation of Campo Vaccino.d
9. Proceeding along the Via Sacra, and passing under the arch of Titus, on turning a little to the left we beheld the amphitheater of Vespasian and Titus, now called the Coliseum. Never did human art present to the eye a fabric, so well calculated, by its size and form, to surprise and delight. Let the spectator first place himself to the north, and contemplate that side which depredation, barbarism, and ages have spared, he will behold with admiration its wonderful extent, well proportioned stories, and flying lines, that retire and vanish without break or interruption.
10. Next let him turn to the south, and examine those stupendous arches, which, stripped as they are of their external decorations, still astonish us by their solidity and duration. Then let him enter, range through the lofty arcades, and, ascending the vaulted seats, consider the vast mass of ruin that surrounds him -insulated walls, immense stones suspended in the air, arches covered with weeds and shrubs,
a En-cum'-ber, to embarrass.
b In'-su-la-ted, detached.
c Ped-es'-tal, the base of a column.
d Cam-po Vac-ci-no, cow pasture.
eAm-phi-the'-a-ter, an edifice of a round
or oval form.