Obrázky stránek


1. I would not enter on my list of friends,

Though graced with polished manners and fine senso
(Yet wanting sensibility), the man
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.
An inadvertent step may crush the snail
That crawls at evening in the public path;
But he that has humanity, forewarned,
Will tread aside, and let the reptile live.

2. The creeping vermin, loathsome to the sight,

And charged perhaps with venom, that intrudes,
A visitor unwelcome, into scenes
Sacred to neatness and repose, the alcove,
The chamber, or refectory, may die:
A necessary act incurs no blame.

3. Not so, when held within their proper bounds,

And guiltless of offence, they range the air,
Or take their pastime in the spacious field,
There they are privileged; and he that hunts
Or harms them there is guilty of a wrong
Disturbs the economy of Nature's realm,
Who, when she formed, designed them an abode.

4. The sum is this: if man's convenience, health,

Or safety interfere, his rights and claims
Are paramount, and must extinguish theirs.
Else they are all—the meanest things that are---
As free to live, and to enjoy that life,
As God was free to form them at the first,
Who in His sovereign wisdom made them all.

5. Ye, therefore, who love mercy, teach your sons

To love it too. The spring-time of our years
Is soon dishonoured, and defiled in most,
By budding ills that ask a prudent hand
To check them. But, alas! none sooner shoots,
If unrestrained, into luxuriant growth,
Than cruelty, most fiendish of them all.

6. Mercy, to him that shows it, is the rule

And righteous limitation of its act,
By which Heaven moves in pardoning guilty man;
And he that shows none, being ripe in years,
And conscious of the outrage he commits,
Shall seek it, and not find it, in his turn!


inadvertent, heedless or careless. loathsome, exciting disgust. alcove, a recess in a room. refectory, a room where refresh

ment is taken.

economy, prudent arrangements

or plans. paramount superior to all

others. unrestrained, not kept down.


1. The salt springs of Cheshire have been extensively worked since the reign of Charles II. What most astonishes the traveller is to find in the heart of the land, in a thoroughly agricultural county, salt works that he might reasonably expect to see only on the sea coast. The bitter sea water, which bubbles and meanders in every direction, allowing salt to filter and crystallize in the sun, the marine odour of the factories, the dismantled houses, bowing to the ground like wind-beaten ships--all produce a strange contrast to the ploughed fields, the sheep browsing on the plain, and other pleasing pictures of rural life.

2. The image of the ocean becomes still more lively when we remember that the Cheshire springs owe their mineral wealth to old seas petrified into salt rocks. At such a moment the visitor does not fancy himself separated from the stormy waves by districts of land, but only by the shores of time.

3. Though the salt springs are very productive, the mines offer the stranger a scene of facts and works even more interesting. A vague tradition tells us that the salt-mines, like the brine springs, were formerly worked by the Romans; it is more probable, however, that the salt rocks were discovered, if not found out again, about a mile from Northwich in 1670 by miners who were looking for coal. Before this period salt was obtained from the Droitwich springs in Worcestershire.

4. The opening of the Cheshire mines increased the internal and external trade of the country to a very considerable extent. At the present day the nature of the subsoil is known, and the English, by a wise feeling of foresight, have measured the depths of the treasure buried by terrestrial revolutions. At Northwich a first bed of rocksalt is found, separated from a second and deeper one by a bed of hard stone and clay. These two saline masses, nearly free from earthy matter, have the astonishing thickness of ninety to one hundred feet; from this fact we may form an idea of the richness of this formation, but in order to read the secret of the British race, which incessantly renews its force and means of supply by industrious contact with the interior of the earth, we must go down into a salt-mine.

5. I was led along a path by the side of a field, on which a flock of rooks had settled, and beneath this field the mine extended. High chimneys and buildings of clumsy construction indicated the mouth of the pit; beneath a shed, covered with tiles, and in which lay pellmell enormous fragments of rock-salt, was the shaft, on the edge of which I found a man, who asked me if I wished to go down. On my reply in the affirmative, a large barrel, three or four feet in circumference, suspended by a powerful chain, was lowered. I mounted the platform and jumped into the tub, which covered me nearly to the neck. As there were three of us, we were advised to keep close together, because the mouth of the pit was narrow, and lined with iron to a certain depth, and we ran a risk of coming into a rude contact with the sides of the shaft.

6. The barrel, lifted by the chain, oscillated for a second over the pit's mouth, and then rapidly descended in the increasing darkness. Already all was silent; nothing was to be heard save the filtering of the salt water through the rock. Though the depth of the shaft was not more than three hundred and thirty feet, and the descent only lasted a few minutes, this journey even seemed to be long and monotonous. It is natural enough in such a case to raise the eyes to the pit's mouth in order to seek the light, the circle of which grew momentarily narrower. When about the middle of the shaft this light appeared like a moon;

when the barrel reached the bottom it was only a star.

7. We were received by a man with gray hair and a venerable face, who had worked in the mine since the age of twelve. He gave each of us a candle; in his own hand he had a miner's candlestick, that is to say, a lump of soft clay, which allowed the light to be fixed against the sides of the rock. These lights only seemed to render the darkness more visible, which, at the first glance especially, seemed to cover the cavern like a black veil. The salt-mines, however, have nothing of that solemn horror which reigns in the entrance to coalmines, and you do not feel those drops of muddy water


fall on your head which trickle through the damp and low roof like the tears of night.

8. A salted but dry air, a pleasant and uniform temperature penetrate these gloomy places, and the roof of the mine, supported by side walls, or by pillars cut in the solid rock, is of considerable elevation.

For the rest, the works and the system of excavation are nearly the same as in collieries; man forces a way

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