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years. But hope cheers him on, and smooths his rugged pathway. Dark and deep as is the problem, he sternly grapples with it, and resolves never to give over till victory crowns his efforts. 5 Long and patiently did the astronomer watch and wait. Each eclipse is duly observed, and its attendant circumstances are recorded, when, at last, the darkness begins to give way, and a ray of light breaks in upon his mind. He finds that no eclipse of the sun ever occurs unless the new
10 moon is in the act of crossing the sun's track. Here is a grand discovery. He now holds the key whicn will unlock the dread mystery.
Reaching forward with piercing intellectual vigor, he at last finds a new moon which occurs precisely at the
15 computed time of her passage across the sun's track. Here he makes his stand, and announces to the startled inhabitants of the world that on the day of the occurrence of that new moon the sun shall expire in dark eclipse. Bold prediction! — mysterious prophet! — with what
20 scorn must the unthinking world have received this solemn declaration! How slowly do the moons roll away, and with what intense anxiety does the stern philosopher await the coming of that day which should crown him with victory, or dash him to the ground in ruin and dis
25 grace! Time to him moves on leaden wings; day after day, and at last hour after hour, roll heavily away. The last night is gone, — the moon has disappeared from his eagle gaze in her approach to the sun, and the dawn of the eventful day breaks in beauty on a slumbering world.
SO This daring man, stern in his faith, climbs alone to his rocky home, and greets the sun as he rises and mounts the heavens, scattering brightness and glory in his path. Beneath him is spread out the populous city, already teeming with life and activity. The busy morning hum rises on
35 the still air, and reaches the watching place of the solitary astronomer. The thousands below him, unconscious of his intense anxiety, buoyant with life, joyously pmsue then rounds of business, their cycles of amusement. The sun slowly climbs the heavens, round, and bright, and fullorbed. The lone tenant of the mountain-top almost begins 5 to waver in the sternness of his faith, as the morning hours roll away.
But the time of his triumph, long delayed, at length begins to dawn; a pale and sickly hue creeps over the face of nature. The sun has reached his highest point, but his
10 splendor is dimmed, his light is feeble. At last it comes! Blackness is eating away his round disc, — onward with slow but steady pace the dark veil moves, blacker than a thousand nights, — the gloom deepens, — the ghastly hue of death covers the universe, — the last ray is gone, and
15 horror reigns. A wail of terror fills the murky air, — the clangor of brazen trumpets resounds, — an agony of despair dashes the stricken millions to the ground, while that lone man, erect on his rocky summit, with arms outstretched to heaven, pours forth the grateful gushings of
20 his heart to God, who had crowned his efforts with triumphant victory.
Search the records of our race, and point me, if you can, to a scene more grand, more beautiful. It is to me the proudest victory that genius ever won. It was the con
25 quering of nature, of ignorance, of superstition, of terror, all at a single blow, and that blow struck by a single arm. And now do you demand the name of this wonderful man? Alas! what a lesson of the instability of earthly fame are we taught in this simple recital! He who had raised him
30 self immeasurably above his race, — who must have been regarded by his fellows as little less than a god, who had inscribed his fame on the very heavens, and written it in the sun, with a "pen of iron, and the point of a diamond," even this one had perished from the earth, — name, age,
85 country, are all swept into oblivion; but his proud achievement stands. The monument reared to his honor stands, and although the touch of time has effaced the lettering of his name, it is powerless, and cannot destroy the fruits of his victory.
CXXV. — CHARACTER OF COLUMBUS. Irving. The poetical temperament of Columbus is discernible throughout all his writings, and in all his actions. It spread a golden and glorious world around him, and tinged everything with its own gorgeous colors. It betrayed him 5 into visionary speculations, which subjected him to the sneers and cavillings of men of cooler and safer but more grovelling minds.
Such were the conjectures formed on the coast of Paria, about the form of the earth, and the situation of the ter- 10 restrial paradise; about the mines of Ophir, in Hispaniola, and of the Aurea Chersonesus, in Veragua; and such was the heroic scheme of the crusade for the recovery of the holy sepulchre. It mingled with his religion, and filled his mind with solemn and visionary meditations on mystic 15 passages of the scriptures, and the shadowy portents of the prophecies. It exalted his office in his eyes, and made him conceive himself an agent sent forth upon a sublime and awful mission, subject to impulses and supernatural visions from the Deity; such as the voice he imagined 20 spoke to him in comfort, amidst the troubles of Hispaniola, and in the silence of the night, on the disastrous coast of Veragua.
He was decidedly a visionary, but a visionary of an uncommon and successful kind. The manner in which his 25 ardent imagination and mercurial nature were controlled by a powerful judgment, and directed by an acute sagacity, is the most extraordinary feature in his character. Thus governed, his imagination, instead of wasting itself in idle soarings, lent wings to his judgment, and bore it away to conclusions at which common minds could never have arrived; nay, which they could not perceive when pointed out . To his intellectual vision it was given, to read in the 5 signs of the times, and in the reveries of past ages, the indications of an unknown world, as soothsayers were said to read predictions in the stars, and to foretell events from the visions of the night. "His soul," observes a Spanish writer, "was superior to the age in which he lived. For
10 him was reserved the great enterprise to plough a sea which had given rise to so many fables, and to decipher the mystery of his time."
With all the visionary fervor of his imagination, its fondest dreams fell short of the reality. He died in
15 ignorance of the real grandeur of his discovery. TJ.ttil his last breath, he entertained the idea that he Lad merely opened a new way to the old resorts of opulent commerce, and had discovered some of the wild regions of the East. He supposed Hispaniola to be the ancient Ophir,
20 which had been visited by the ships of Solomon, and that Cuba and Terra Firma were but remote parts of Asia.
What visions of glory would have broken upon his mind, could he have known that he had indeed discovered a new continent, equal to the whole of the old world in magni
fco tudc, and separated by two vast oceans from all the earth hitherto known by civilized man! and how would his magnanimous spirit have been consoled, amidst the chills of age, and the cares of penury, the neglect of a fickle publio, and the injustice of an ungrateful king, could he have an
30 ticipated the splendid empires which were to spread over the beautiful world he had discovered, and the nations and tongues and languages which were to fill its lands with his renown, and to revere and bless his name to the latest posterity I
CXXVL —APOSTROPHE TO THE OCEAN. Byron.
1 There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
2 Boll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean — roll!Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain,
When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
8 The armaments which thunderstrike the walls
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake, They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.
4 Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee ~ • Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, — what are they?