Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

mate as the Great Dismal, already covering so many square miles of a low level region bordering the sea, and capable of spreading itself indefinitely over the adjacent country, helps us greatly to conceive the manner in which the coal of the ancient carboniferous rocks

may

have been formed. The heat, perhaps, may not have been excessive when the coal measures originated, but the entire absence of frost, with a warm and damp atmosphere, may have enabled tropical forms to flourish in latitudes far distant from the line. Huge swamps in a rainy climate, standing above the level of the surrounding firm land, and supporting a dense forest, may have spread far and wide, invading the plains, like some European peat-mosses when they burst, and the frequent submergence of these masses of vegetable matter beneath seas or estuaries, as often as the land sank down during subterranean movements, may have given rise to the deposition of strata of mud, sand, or limestone, immediately upon the vegetable matter. The conversion of successive surfaces into dry land, where other swamps supporting trees may have formed, might give origin to a continued series of coal measures of great thickness. In some kinds of coal the vegetable texture is apparent throughout under the microscope ; in others, it has only partially disappeared; but even in this coal, the flattened trunks of trees of the genera Lepidodendron, Sigillaria, and others, converted into pure coal, are occasionally met with, and erect fossil trees are observed in the overlying strata, terminating downlwards in seams of coal.

113.—The Passage of the Red Sea.

HEBER. [REGINALD HEBER, Bishop of Calcutta, was born in 1783, at Malpas, in Cheshire. In 1800 he was entered at Brazenose College, Oxford. His university career was one series of successes. His prize poem of • Palestine,' written in 1803, unlike the majority of academical compositions, has taken its rank among our best English poems. In 1807 he took orders, and entered upon the discharge of his duties of parish priest in the family living of Hodnet. Never were the high duties of his sacred office fulfilled with greater zeal than by this most amiable and gifted scholar. His eminence as a preacher, his reputation for the highest talent, must have led to the first preferments in the Church. The Bishopric of Calcutta was offered to him: he twice refused it; but eventually he saw in that appointment a wide career of usefulness, and he sacrificed every other consideration to the prospects which this apostolical mission opened to his view. He embarked for India on the 15th of June, 1823. On the 3rd of April, 1826, he suddenly died at Trichinopoli, having spent the short period of his sojourn in the East in labour such as few men have undergone. Dying thus at the early age of forty-three, his memory is hallowed in India by European and native; and his example will continue to animate many a man with the conviction that the talents which God has entrusted to us find their best and their happiest employment in an unremitting course of endea vour to leave the world better than we found it. Bishop Heber's Journey through India' is one of our most interesting books of travels. There are three volumes of his Sermons; and his Poems, from which we extract the · Passage of the Red Sea,' form a volume of themselves. ]

With heat o'erlabour'd, and the length of way,
On Ethan's beach the bands of Israel lay.
"Twas silence all, the sparkling sands along;
Save where the locust trill'd her feeble song,
Or blended soft in drowsy cadence fell
The wave's low whisper or the camel's bell.
'Twas silence all ! - The flocks for shelter fly
Where, waving light, the acacia shadows lie;
Or where, from far, the flattering vapours make
The noon-tide semblance of a misty lake:
While the mute swain, in careless safety spread,
With arms enfolded, and dejected head,
Dreams o'er his wond'rous call, his lineage high,
And, late reveal’d, his children's destiny.
For, not in vain, in thraldom's darkest hour,
Had sped from Amram's sons the word of power ;
Nor failed the dreadful wand, whose god-like sway
Could lure the locust from her airy way;
With reptile war assail their proud abodes,
And mar the giant pomp of Egypt's gods.
Oh helpless gods! who nought availed to shield
From fiery rain your Zoan's favour'd field !

Oh helpless gods! who saw the curdled blood
Taint the

ancient flood,
And fourfold night the wandering earth enchain,
While Memnon's orient harp was heard in vain!
Such musings held the tribes, till now the west
With milder influence on their temples prest ;
And that portentous cloud which, all the day,
Hung its dark curtain o'er their weary way,
(A cloud by day, a friendly flame by night)
Rolled back its misty veil, and kindled into light!
Soft fell the eve :-but, ere the day was down,
Tall waving banners streak'd the level sun;
And wide and dark along the horizon red,
In sandy surge the rising desert spread.
“ Mark, Israel, mark!"--On that strange sight intent,
In breathless terror, every eye was bent ;
And busy faction's fast increasing hum,
And female voices shriek, “ They come, they come!”
They come, they come! In scintillating show,
O'er the dark mass the brazen lances glow;
And sandy clouds in countless shapes combine,
As deepens or extends the long tumultuous line;
And fancy's keener glance e’en now can trace
The threatening aspects of each mingled race:
For many a coal-black tribe and cany spear,
The hireling guards of Misraim's throne, were there.
From distant Cush they troop'd, a warrior train,
Sinah's green isle, and Sennaar's marly plain :
On either wing their fiery coursers check
The parched and sinewy sons of Amalek ;
While close behind, inured to feast on blood,
Deck'd in Behemoth's spoils, the tall Shangalla strode.
'Mid blazing helms, and bucklers rough with gold,
Saw ye how swift the scythed chariots rolld?
Lo, these are they whom, Iords of Afric's fates,
Old Thebes hath pour'd through all her hundred gates,
Mother of armies !-How the emeralds glow'd,
Where, flush'd with power and vengeance, Pharaoh rode!

pure lotus of

your

the poor

And stoled in white, those brazen wheels before,
Aziris' ark his swarthy wizards bore;
And still responsive to the trumpet's cry,
The priestly sistrum murmur'd—Victory!
Why swell these shouts that rend the desert's gloom ?
Whom come ye forth to combat ?-Warriors, whom?
These flocks and herds—this faint and weary train-
Red from the scourge and recent from the chain ?
God of the
poor,

and friendless save!
Giver and Lord of freedom, help the slave!-
North, south, and west, the sandy whirlwinds fly,
The circling horns of Egypt's chivalry.
On earth's last margin throng the weeping train:
'Their cloudy guide moves on :-“And must we swim the main ?"
'Mid the light spray their snorting camels stood,
Nor bathed a fetlock in the nauseous flood.
He comes—their leader comes !—The man of God
O'er the wide waters lifts his mighty rod,
And onward treads.—The circling waves retreat,
In hoarse deep murmurs from his holy feet;
And the chased surges, inly roaring, show
The hard, wet sand, and coral hills below.

With limbs that falter, and with hearts that swell,
Down, down they pass—a steep and slippery dell.-
Around them rise, in pristine chaos hurld,
The ancient rocks, the secrets of the world ;
And flowers that blush beneath the ocean green,
And caves, the sea-calves' low-roof'd haunt, are seen.
Down, safely down the narrow pass they tread;
The beetling waters storm above their head;
While far behind retires the sinking day,
And fades on Edom's hills its latest ray.

Yet not from Israel fled the friendly light,
Or dark to them, or cheerless came the night.
Still in their van, along that dreadful road,
Blazed broad and fierce the brandish'd torch of God.
Its meteor glare a tenfold lustre gave
On the long mirror of the rosy wave:

While its blest beams a sun-like heat supply,
Warm every cheek, and dance in every eye-
To them alone-for Misraim's wizard train
Invoke for light their monster-gods in vain :
Clouds heap'd on clouds their struggling sight confine,
A tenfold darkness broods above their line.
Yet on they fare, by reckless vengeance led,
And range unconscious through the ocean’s bed:
Till midway now—that strange and fiery form
Show'd his dread visage lightening through the storm;
With withering splendour blasted all their might,
And brake their chariot-wheels, and marr’d their courser's flight.

• Fly, Misraim, fly!”—The ravenous floods they see,
And, fiercer than the floods, the Deity.
“Fly, Misraim, fly!”—From Edom's coral strand
Again the prophet stretch'd his dreadful wand :-
With one wild crash the thundering waters sweep,
And all is waves—a dark and lonely deep-
Yet o'er those lonely waves such murmurs past,
As mortal wailing swell’d the mighty blast:
And strange and sad the whispering breezes bore
The groans of Egypt to Arabia's shore.

Oh! welcome came the morn, when Israel stood
In trustless wonder by th' avenging flood !
Oh! welcome came the cheerful morn, to show
The drifted wreck of Zoan's pride below;
The mangled limbs of men—the broken car-
A few sad relics of a nation's war.
Alas, how few !—Then, soft as Elim's well,
The precious tears of new-born freedom fell.
And he, whose harden'd heart alike had borne
The house of bondage and th' oppressor's scorn,
The stubborn slave, by hope's new beams subdued,
In faltering accents sobbed his gratitude
Till, kindling into warmer zeal, around
The virgin timbrel waked its silver sound;
And in fierce joy, no more by doubt supprest,
The struggling spirit throbbed in Miriam's breast.

« PředchozíPokračovat »