ePub 版

LESSON LXXVIII. To the Rainbow.

1. TRIUMPHAL arch, that fill'st the sky
When storms prepare to part,
I ask not proud Philosophy
To teach me what thou art ;

2. Still seem as to my childhood's sight,
A midway station, given
For happy spirits to alight
Betwixt the earth and heaven.

3. Can all that optics teach, unfold
Thy form to please me so,
As when I dreamed of gems and gold
Hid in thy radiant bow?

4. When Science from Creation's face
Enchantment's veil withdraws,
What lovely visions yield their place
To cold, material laws!

5. And yet, fair bow, no fabling dreams,
But words of the Most High,

Have told why first thy robe of beams
Was woven in the sky.

6. When o'er the green undeluged earth
Heaven's covenant thou didst shine,
How came the world's gray fathers forth
To watch thy sacred sign.

7. And when its yellow lustre smiled
O'er mountains yet untrod,
Each mother held aloft her child
To bless the bow of God.

8. Methinks, thy jubilee to keep,
The first-made anthem rang
On earth, delivered from the deep,
And the first poet sang.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


9. Nor ever shall the Muse's eye
Unraptured greet thy beam;
Theme of primeval prophecy,
Be still the poet's theme!

10. The earth to thee her incense yields,
The lark thy welcome sings,
When, glittering in the freshened fields,
The snowy mushroom springs.

[blocks in formation]

13. For, faithful to its sacred page,
Heaven still rebuilds its span,
Nor lets the type grow pale with age
That first spoke peace to man.


LESSON LXXIX. Scene on the Mississippi.

1. In the spring, one hundred boats have been numbered, that landed in one day at the mouth of the Bayou, at New Madrid. I have strolled to the point in a spring evening, and seen them arriving in fleets.

2. The boisterous gayety of the hands, the congratulations, the moving picture of life on board the boats in the numerous animals, large and small, which they carry, their different loads, the evidence of the increasing agriculture of the country above, and, more than all, the immense distances which they have already come, and those which they have still to go, afforded to me copious sources of meditation.

3. You can name no point from the numerous rivers of

the Ohio and the Mississippi, from which some of these boats have not come. In one place there are boats loaded with planks from the pine forests of the south-west of New York. In another quarter, there are the Yankee notions of Ohio; from Kentucky, pork, flour, whiskey, hemp, tobacco, bagging, and bale-rope.

4. From Tennessee there are the same articles, together with great quantities of cotton. From Missouri and Illinois, are cattle and horses, and the same articles generally as from Ohio, together with peltry and lead from Missouri. Some boats are loaded with corn in the ear and in bulk; others with barrels of apples and potatoes.

5. Some have loads of cider, and what they call "cider royal," or cider that has been strengthened by boiling or freezing. There are dried fruits, every kind of spirit manufactured in these regions, and, in short, the products of the ingenuity and agriculture of the whole upper country of the West.

6. They have come from regions, thousands of miles apart. They have floated to a common point of union. The surfaces of the boats cover some acres. Dunghill fowls are fluttering over the roofs, as an invariable appendage. Chanticleer raises his piercing note. The swine utter their cries. The cattle low. The horses trample, as in their stables.

7. There are boats fitted on purpose, and loaded entirely with turkeys, that, having little else to do, gobble most furiously. The hands travel about from boat to boat, make inquiries and acquaintances, and form alliances to yield mutual assistance to each other, on their descent from this place to New Orleans. After an hour or two passed in this way, they spring on shore to raise the wind in town.

S. It is well for the people of the village, if they do not become riotous in the course of the evening; in which case, I have often seen the most summary and strong measures taken. About midnight the uproar is all hushed. The fleet unites once more at Natchez, or New Orleans; and, although they live on the same river, they may, perhaps, never meet each other again, on the earth.

9. Next morning, at the first dawn, the bugles sound. Everything in and about the boats, that has life, is in motion. The boats, in half an hour, are all under way. In a little


167 while, they have all disappeared, and nothing is seen, as before they came, but the regular current of the river.

10. In passing down the Mississippi, we often see a number of boats lashed and floating together. I was once on board a fleet of eight, that were in this way moving on together. It was a considerable walk, to travel over the roofs of this floating town. On board of one boat they were killing swine. In another they had apples, cider, nuts, and dried fruit. One of the boats was a retail or dram shop. It seems, that the object, in lashing so many boats, had been to barter, and obtain supplies.

11. These confederacies often commence in a frolic and end in a quarrel, in which case the aggrieved party dissolves the partnership by unlashing, and managing his own boat in his own way. While this fleet of boats is floating separately, but each carried by the same current, nearly at the same rate, visits take place from boat to boat in skiffs.

12. While I was at New Madrid, a large tinner's establishment floated there in a boat. In it all the different articles of tin-ware were manufactured, and sold by wholesale and retail. There were three large apartments, where the different branches of the art were carried on in this floating manufactory.

13. When they had mended all the tin, and vended all that they could sell, in one place, they floated on to another. A still more extraordinary manufactory, we were told, was floating down the Ohio, and shortly expected at New Madrid. Aboard this were manufactured axes, scythes, and all other iron tools of this description, and in it horses were shod.

14. In short, it was a complete blacksmith's shop of a higher order; and it is said that they jestingly talked of having a trip-hammer, worked by a horse-power, on board. I have frequently seen in this region a dry-goods shop in a boat, with its articles very handsomely arranged on shelves. Nor would the delicate hands of the vender have disgraced the spruce clerk behind our city counters.

15. It is now common to see flat-boats worked by a bucket-wheel, and a horse-power, after the fashion of steamboat movement. Indeed, every spring brings forth new contrivances of this sort, the result of the farmer's meditations over his winter's fire.

LESSON LXXX. The Cap of Liberty.

THE following passage from the drama of "William Tell," represents a piece of authentic history. Gesler, the Austrian governor of Switzerland, about the year 1300, caused his hat or cap to be placed on a pole, and the people were ordered to bow down to it. William Tell, a gallant Swiss patriot, refused, and was consequently imprisoned. He afterwards escaped, and, in conjunction with other patriots, freed his country from the Austrian dominion.

(Enter Sarnem, with soldiers, bearing Gesler's cap upon a pole, which he fixes into the ground, the people looking on in silence and amazement; the guards station themselves near the pole.)

Sarnem. Ye men of Altorf!

Behold the emblem of your master's power
And dignity. This is the cap of Gesler,
Your Governor; let all bow down to it
Who owe him love and loyalty. To such
As shall refuse this lawful homage, or
Accord it sullenly, he shows no grace,
But dooms them to the penalty of the bondage
Till they 're instructed. 'T is no less their gain
Than duty, to obey their master's mandate.
Conduct the people hither, one by one,

To bow to Gesler's cap.

Tell. Have I my hearing?

(Peasants pass, taking off their hats, and bowing to Gesler's cap as they pass.)

Verner. Away! Away!

Tell. Or sight? They do it, Verner!

They do it! Look! -Ne'er call me man again!
I'll herd with baser animals! They keep

Their stations. Still the dog's a dog. The reptile
Doth know his proper rank, and sinks not to
The uses of the grade below him. Man!
Man! that doth hold his head above them all,
Doth ape them all. He's man, and he 's the reptile.
-Look! Look! Have I the outline of that caitiff,
Who to the servile earth doth bend the crown
His God did rear for him to Heaven?

« 上一頁繼續 »