Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

PEACE AND WAR.

How beautiful this night! the balmiest sigh,
Which vernal zephyrs breathe in evening's ear,
Were discord to the speaking quietude
That wraps this moveless scene. Heaven's ebon vault,
Studded with stars unutterably bright,
Through which the moon's unclouded grandeur rolls,
Seems like a canopy which Love has spread
To curtain her sleeping world. Yon gentle hills,
Robed in a garment of untrodden snow;
Yon darksome rocks, whence icicles depend,
So stainless, that their white and glittering spires
Tinge not the moon's pure beam; yon castled steep,
Whose banner hangeth o'er the time-worn tower
So idly, that rapt fancy deemeth it
A metaphor of peace;—all form a scene
Where musing solitude might love to lift
Her soul above this sphere of earthliness;
Where silence undisturbed might watch alone,
So cold, so bright, so still.

Ah! whence yon glare
That fires the arch of heaven !—That dark red smoke
Blotting the silver moon? The stars are quenched
In darkness, and the pure and spangling snow
Gleams faintly through the gloom that gathers round!
Hark to that roar, whose swift and deafening peals
In countless echoes through the mountains ring,
Startling pale Midnight on her starry throne!
Now swells the intermingling din; the jar,
Frequent and frightful, of the bursting bomb;
The falling beam, the shriek, the groan, the shout,
The ceaseless clangour, and the rush of men
Inebriate with rage:-loud and more loud

The discord grows; till pale death shuts the scene, And o'er the conqueror and the conquered draws His cold and bloody shroud. Of all the men

[graphic]

Whom day's departing beam saw blooming there,
In proud and vigorous health; of all the hearts
That beat with anxious life at sunset there;
How few survive, how few are beating now!
All is deep silence, like the fearful calm
That slumbers in the storm's portentous pause;
Save when the frantic wail of widow'd love
Comes shuddering on the blast, or the faint moan,
With which some soul bursts from the frame of clay,
Wrapt round its struggling powers.

The gray morn
Dawns on the mournful scene; the sulphurous smoke
Before the icy wind slow rolls away,

And the bright beams of frosty morning dance
Along the spangling snow. There tracks of blood,
Even to the forest's depth, and scattered arms,
And lifeless warriors, whose hard lineaments
Death's self could change not, mark the dreadful path
Of the outsallying victors: far behind
Black ashes note where their proud city stood.
Within yon forest is a gloomy glen-
Each tree which guards its darkness from the day
Waves o'er a warrior's tomb.

Percy Bysshe Shelley.

vernal zephyrs, soft, gentle spring of an object are ascribed to anbreezes.

other. ebon, dark in colour like ebony. inebriate, furious or frantic. canopy, covering.

portentous, indicating the apdepend, hang down.

proach of calamity. metaphor, a figure of speech by lineaments, features. which the name and property

glen, deep narrow vale.

EGYPT.-PART I.

1. Egypt is situated in the north-eastern part of the continent of Africa. The great river Nile flows through its entire length, and bestows upon the country beauty and fertility

2. The source of this river was for ayes unknown to the civilized world, and many attempts have been made by travellers to discover it. In 1864 Captains Speke and Grant discovered that its main stream issues from the Victoria Nyanza, one of the largest lakes in Africa, situated to the south of the equator. Livingstone and Stanley, two other great African travellers, have carefully examined the watershed of the country draining into the Victoria Nyanza, and the latter believes that he

has discovered the true source of the river in a lake which he has named the Alexandra Lake.

3. After leaving the Victoria Nyanza the Nile flows for more than a thousand miles in a northerly direction. It is then joined by the Blue Nile, which rises in Abyssinia. The united stream now flows along a devious course of 2300 miles until it reaches the Mediterranean Sea. From the sea to the first cataract, a distance of 450 miles, there is no interruption to navigation, above that it is interrupted by rapids and several cataracts.

4. The Nile below Cairo, the capital of Egypt, 100 miles from the Mediterranean, spreads out into a broad, swampy river, fringed with bulrushes and other aquatic plants, and divides into two streams, which, branching out from each other, form the very fertile Delta of the Nile.

5. The inhabited portion of Egypt proper is mainly confined to the valley of the Nile, which, in its widest part (at the Delta), does not exceed 90 miles, whilst in many parts its width is only from 4 to 5 miles. On each side of the Nile valley is the dry, scorched African desert, and if the river were to cease flowing, the fertile portion of Egypt would soon become engulfed by sand.

6. The water of the Nile is usually turbid from containing earthy matter, but when filtered it becomes clear, and is esteemed very wholesome. The most remarkable phenomenon connected with the river is its annual regular increase, arising from the periodical rains which fall far south within the tropics. As rain rarely falls in Egypt, the prosperity of the country entirely depends upon the overflowing of the river, for on the subsiding of the water the land is found to be covered with a brown, slimy deposit of mud, which so fertilizes the otherwise barren soil that it produces three crops a year, while beyond the

limits of the inundation there is no cultivation whatsoever, except on lands that are watered artificially.

7. The Nile begins to rise in June, and continues to increase until September. The Delta then looks like an immense marsh interspersed with islands, villages, towns, and plantations rising just above the level of the water. The water remains stationary for a few days, and then gradually begins to subside until the end of October, when the land is left dry again. Now the peasants hasten to sow the seeds. Very little digging or ploughing is required. As soon as the young plants appear above the ground they are regularly watered by an excellent system of artificial irrigation, which has been practised in Egypt for some thousands of years.

8. The water is raised from the Nile either by means of a water-wheel propelled by a donkey, or by a leathern bucket slung on the end of a pole, which is balanced on a prop and has a heavy weight placed on the other end. By the latter process a man can scoop up water that is considerably lower than where he stands, and convey it with ease into a large trough above him, from which it flows by inclined channels to the parts of the fields to be irrigated.

9. The land is soon covered with green crops, and a bountiful harvest is reaped in March. The time of the rising of the Nile is often an occasion of anxiety in Egypt, for should the inundation rise above its usual height it does great damage, and involves the population in distress; while, if it should not attain the ordinary height, there follows a deficiency of crops or famine. But so regular are the operations of nature, that the water generally rises to about the same height.

10. The atmosphere in Egypt is extremely clear and dry, the temperature regular and exceedingly hot, though

« PředchozíPokračovat »