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LXXVI.-WATER-SPOUTS. 1. These wonderful appearances are caused by the action of currents of wind meeting in the atmosphere from different quarters. They are sometimes seen on land, but much more frequently at sea, where they are very dangerous visitors. I will try to give you some idea of what they are. I dare say you have often noticed little eddies of wind whirling up dust and leaves, or any light substances which happened to be in the way: when these occur on a larger scale, they are called whirlwinds.
2. Now if a cloud happens to be exactly in the point where two such furious currents of wind meet, it is turned round and round by them with great speed, and is condensed into the form of a cone. This whirling motion drives from the center of the cloud all the particles contained in it, producing what is called a vacuum, or empty space, into which the water, or any thing else lying beneath it, has an irresistible tendency to rush.
3. Underneath the dense impending cloud the sea becomes violently agitated, and the waves dart rapidly towards the center of the troubled mass of water. On reaching it they disperse in vapor and rise whirling in a spiral direction towards the cloud. The descending and ascending columns unite. The whole presenting the appearance of a hollow cylinder, or a tube of glass empty within.
4. This Malte Brun tells us; and he further adds: “ It glides over the sea without any wind being felt; indeed several have been seen at once, pursuing different directions. When the cloud and the marine base of the waterspout move with equal vetocity, the lower cone is often seen to incline sideways, or even to bend, and finally burst in pieces. A noise is then heard like the noise of a cataract falling in a deep valley. Lightning frequently
issues from the very bosom of the water-spout, particularly when it breaks; but no thunder is ever heard."
5. Sailors, to prevent the danger which would arise from coming in contact with one of these tremendous columns, discharge a cannon into it. The ball passing through it breaks the watery cylinder and causes it to burst, just as a touch causes your beautiful soap-bubble to vanish and turn to water again.
LXXVII.-SOLITUDE. Verses imagined to have been written by Alexander Selkirk during
his solitary abode on the Island of Juan Fernandez.
My right there is none to dispute;
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
That sages have seen in thy face?
Than reign in this horrible place.
2. I am out of humanity's reach;
I must finish my journey alone;
I start at the sound of my own.
My form with indifference see;
Their tameness is shocking to me.
Divinely bestowed upon man,
How soon would I taste you again!
My sorrows I then might assuage
In the ways of religion and truth —
And be cheered by the sallies of youth
4. Religion ! what treasure untold
Resides in that heavenly word !
Or all that this earth can afford.
These valleys and rocks never heard —
Or smiled when a sabbath appeared.
5. Ye winds that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore
Of a land I shall visit no more.
A wish or a thought after me?
Though a friend I am never to see.
6. How fleet is a glance of the mind !
Compared with the speed of its flight, The tempest itself lags behind,
And the swift-winged arrows of light.
In a moment I seem to be there;
Soon hurries me back to despair.
7. But the sea-fowl is gone to her nest,
The beast is laid down in his lair;
And I to my cabin repair.
There's mercy in every place;
And mercy - encouraging thought!
LXXVIII.-NOTHING LIVES FOR ITSELF
1. What does God teach in His works? What is the lesson which He there bids us read concerning the great end of life? On the frail little stem in the garden hangs the opening rose. Go speak to it: “Why do you hang there, beautiful flower?”
2. “I hang here to sweeten the air which man breathes, to open my beauties to kindle emotion in his eye, to show him the hand of God who penciled every leaf, and laid it thus carefully on my bosom; and whether you find me here to greet him every morning with my opening face, or folding myself up under the cool curtains of evening, my end is the same. I live not to myself alone."
3. “But suppose you hung on the distant mountain side, instead of the garden ?”
4. “Why, then I should live in brightness, under the bare possibility that man might direct his footsteps there, and smile to see me already awaiting his arrival, or that other spirits might see that God loves to give so freely, that He throws His glories even on the desert in profusion. Even there I should not live to myself alone.”
5. Beside yon highway stands an aged tree, solitary and alone. You see no living thing near it, and you say, Surely that must stand and live for itself alone!” 6. “No," says the tree; “God never made me for a purpose so small. I am old. I have stood here more than a hundred years. In the summer I have spread out my arms and sheltered the pauting flocks which hastened to my shade. In my bosom I have concealed and protected the broods of young birds as they lay and rocked in their nests.
7. “In the storm I have more than once received in my body the lightning's bolt, which had else destroyed the traveler. The acorns which I matured from year to year have been carried far and wide, and groves of forest oaks can claim me as their parent.
-8. “I have lived for the eagle which has perched on my top; for the humming-bird that has paused and refreshed its giddy wings, ere it danced away again like a blossom of the air; for the insect that has found a home within the folds of my bark; and when I fall it will be by the hands of man, that I may strengthen the ship which makes him lord of the ocean, or go to his dwelling, to warm his hearth and cheer his home. I live
I not to myself.”
9. On yonder mountain side comes down the silver brook, in the distance resembling a ribbon of silver; running and leaping as it dashes joyously and fearlessly down. Go ask that leaper: “Why are you doing thus?”
10. "I was born high up the mountain, but there I could do no good; and so I am hurrying down, running where I can and leaping where I must, but hastening down to create the sweet valley, where the thirsty cattle may drink, where the lark may sing on my margin, where I may
drive the mill for the convenience of man, and then widen into the great river, and bear up his steamboats and shipping, and finally plunge into the ocean, to rise again in vapor, and perhaps come back in the cloud to my own native mountain to live
short life over again. Not a drop of water comes down my channel on