« 上一頁繼續 »
I HAVE read that the greatest height to which any balloon has ever ascended is twenty-three thousand, one hundred feet, which is the elevation reached by Guy Lussac in 1804.
This is greatly above the highest mountains in the world, excepting the extreme peak of one of the Himmalayahs, which is twenty-eight thousand feet high. Man, winged only by his intellectual faculties, has out-soared the most ambitious of the feathered tribe. The highest flight of the Condor, is said to be about twenty thousand feet above the level of the sea.
I recollect looking down from the top of the monument on Fish-street hill, and wondering at the littleness of man and beast. The Duke of Wellington happened to be passing at the very moment, and the hero looked any thing but heroic. It was a vision of Lilliput. What a sight it would have been for the sarcastic Swift, had he ascended in a balloon, and looked down upon this " dim spot, which men call earth.” The proud rhodomon. tade of Richard the third
“ But I was born so high!
Our eyrie buildeth in the cedar's top,
And dallies with the wind and scorns the sun"must seem a very modest metaphor to our modern voyagers through the sky. Probably to their minds, even the gallant Hotspur's aspirations are tamely reasonable
“ By heaven, methinks, it were an easy leap,
To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon !" What a creature of circumstance is man ! His opinions are as variable as the colours of the chameleon, and change with every change of position. • The great globe itself, with all that it in. herits," seems to sink into insignificance if we are lifted but a mile from it. To follow up the illustration from Swift's admirable satire, how pitifully insignificant was a man six feet high in the land of Brobdignag. As we read of his standing upon the uplifted hands of a child, we do not wonder at the people splitting their sides with laughter when Gulliver, attempting to look big, drew his sword, and talked of his wounded honor. Gulliver's nice sense of his own moral dignity, in such a situation, seems a mockery of man; and yet thought and passion are not matters of length and breadth. What a world of gigantic and god-like imaginings reside in that little globe, the human skull; and yet within its diminutive limits, there is "ample room, and verge enough for more.” The “ thoughts that wander through eternity” had spacious cradles in the head of Milton.
The very idea of the seat in the car makes one giddy. It looks awfully open and insecure. An inexperienced aeronaut would hardly dare to look towards the earth, " lest the deficient sight topple down headlong."
There is something inexpressibly sublime in the objects presented to the imagination in these glorious excursions into the upper regions. I recollect reading somewhere an account of an aërial ascent, in which, though the aeronaut left the earth considerably after sunset, the sun again became visible to him as he rose high into the air. The solitary wanderer must have felt a vivid consciousness that he had left the exterior surface of this earthly globe, and was sailing through illimitable realms. What mighty thoughts would have passed through the brain of Milton, had the sublime bard been placed in such a position. The experiments that have been made with small birds, such as linnets and pigeons, let loose from the parachute at a dreadful height, are extremely interesting. They have generally trembled and fluttered awhile on the edge of the machine, then timidly plunged into the vast ocean of air, and at last, as if bewildered at the endless prospect of cloud upon cloud, have returned to the balloon.
Oh! sweet departed Saint !
If aught of earth could reach thine ear,
Might wake thy tenderest tear!
A less ethereal glow!
But, still, the thought of pain,
That we, so true, shall meet no more,
All that would peace restore !
Oh ! desolate and cold !
Hope's lingering beam is quenched at last, -
Now dwells but on the past !
O'er this deserted scene,
Where'er my wandering eye may turn,
But never shalt return !
The fragrant noon-tide grove
The moon-light's lone and silent bowers, The sweet haunts once of ecstacy and love,
But breathe of happier hours !
With sad and unavailing tears,
The voice of other years !
(WRITTEN IN INDIA.)
The strife is hushed, -yet lingering shadows lower
When we reflect upon the personal history of Massinger, and the sad obscurity of his career, it is gratifying to observe that the justice which was refused to him in his life-tiine, and for more than a century after, has been awarded to him in the present age. His name and his writings are at this day familiar to every student of English Literature, though when Johnson wrote his Lives of the Poets, he knew so little of one of our greatest dramatic authors, that he seems to have been ignorant that the Fuir Penitent of Rowe was a plagiarism from the Fatal Dowry of Massinger. It is now well-known that Rowe had prepared an edition of the entire works of Massinger, of whose genius, at that period so rarely recognized, he appears to have been a warm admirer. When, however, his own avarice of distinction led him to covet the gold and jewels that adorned his idol, he determined to leave him in that obscurity from which alone he could hope for the concealment of his own sacrilegious theft. About the middle of the seventeenth century appeared an edition of Mas. singer prepared by Coxeter. This was an attempt, but a very unsuccessful one, to correct the numerous blunders of the old edi. tions. It was followed soon after by an equally incorrect edition published by Mr. Davies, and to this succeeded that of Mason. None, however, of these reprints did any essential service to the poet's reputation, and it was not till Mr. Gifford produced his very careful and excellent edition in 1805, that the works of Mas. singer were generally read and justly appreciated. The only drawback from the gratification that every student of English poetry has received from this edition, is the excessive arrogance