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The last days of Herculaneum.« 1. A GREAT city, situated amidst all that nature could create of beauty and profusion, or art collect of science and magnificence,--the growth of many ages,—the residence of enlightened multitudes,—the scene of splendor, and festivity, and happiness,-in one moment withered as by a
-its palaces, its streets, its temples, its gardens, glowing with eternal spring,” and its inhabitants in the full enjoyment of all life's blessings, obliterated from their very place in creation,-not by war, or famine, or dis ase, or any of the natural causes of destruction to which earth had been accustomed, -but in a single night, as if by magic,d and amid the conflagration, as it were, of nature itself,- presented a subject on which the wildest imagination might grow weary, without even equaling the grand and terrible reality.
2. The eruptione of Vesuvius, by which Herculaneum and Pompeii where overwhelmed, has been chiefly described to us in the letters of Pliny the younger to Tacitus, giving an account of his uncle's fate, and the situation of the writer and his mother. The elder Pliny had just returned from the bath, and was retired to his study, when a small speck or cloud, which seemed to ascend from Mount Vesuvius, attracted his attention.
3. This cloud gradually increased, and at length assumed the shape of a pine tree, the trunk of earth and vapor, and the leaves, "red cinders.” Pliny ordered his galley,' and, urged by his philosophic spirit, went forward to inspect the pheno
In a short time, however, philosophy gave way to humanity, and he zealously and adventurously emploved his galley, in saving the inhabitants of the various beautiful villas which studded that enchanting coast. Among others he went to the assistance of his friend Pomponianus, who was then at Strabiæ.
4. The storm of fire, and the tempest of earth, increased ; and the wretched inhabitants were obliged, by the continual rocking of their houses, to rush out into the fields with pillows tied down by napkins upon their heads, as their sole defense against the shower of stones which fell on them. This, in the course of nature, was in the middle of the day; but a deeper darkness than that of a winter night had closed a Her-cu la'-ne-um, a city in Italy.
d Mag-ic, dealing with spirits.
er.runtion, a breaking forth, c Ob lit-e-ra-ted, blotted out, destroyed. f Gal-ley, a kind of vessel
Spe!!, a charm.
around the ill-fated inmates of Herculaneum. This artificial darkness continued for three days and nights, and when, at length, the sun again appeared over the spot where Herculaneum stood, his rays fell upon an ocean of lava !
5. There was neither tree, nor shrub, nor field, nor house, nor living creature; nor visible remnant of what human hands had reared,—there was nothing to be seen but one black extended surface, still streaming with mephitica vapor, and heaved into calcined" waves by the operation of fire, and the undulations of the earthquake! Pliny was found dead upon the sea-shore, stretched upon a cloth which had been spread for him, where it was conjectured he had perisked early, his corpulent and apoplectic habit rendering bim an easy prey to the suffocating atmosphere.
Passage of the Potomac (und Shenandoah Rivers through the
Blue Pidge. 1. The passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge, is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vento On your left approaches the Potomac, in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the inountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea.
2. The first glance of this scene hurries our senses into the opinion, that this earth has been created in time; that the mountains were formed first ; that the rivers began to flow afterwards; that, in this place particularly, they have been dammed up by the Blue Ridge of mountains, and have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley; that, continuing to rise, they have at length broken over at this spot, and have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base. The piles of rock on each hand, particularly the Shenandoah,—the evident marks of their disrupture and avulsiond from their beds, by the most powerful agents of nature, corroborate this impression.
3. But the distant finishing which nature has given to the picture, is of a very different character. It is a true contrast to the fore-ground. That is as placid and delightful, as this is wild and tremendous. The mountain being cloven asunder, presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch a Me-phit'-ic, poisonous, novious. • Calcinell, reduced to a powder by heat a A vul-sion, a pulling one from another. of smooth blue horizon,a at an infinite distance in the plain country, inviting you as it were from the riot and tumult roaring round, to pass through the breach, and participate of the calm below.
cun-du-lations, waving motions.
4. Here the eye ultimately composes itself; and that way, too, the road happens actually to lead. You cross the Potomac above the junction, pass along its side through the base of the mountain for three miles,-its terrible precipices hanging in fragments over you. This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic; yet here, as in the neighborhood of the Natural Bridge, are people who have passed their lives within half a dozen miles, and have never been to survey these monuments of a war between rivers and mountains, bihich must have shaken the earth itself to its center.
The Egyptian Pyramids. 1. The pyramids of Egypt are well entitled to a place, among the most interesting curiosities in the world. The principal ones stand opposite Cairo, on the west side of the river Nile. They are built of stones, which overleap each other, and thus form steps from the bottom to the top. The perpendicular height of the largest is about 500 feet, and the aread of its basis contains nearly 500.000 square feet, or something more than eleven English acres of ground. Some idea may be formed of the cost and labor in the structure of this pyramid, from the fact that thirty years were spent in building it, and that 100,000 men were constantly employed on the work.
2. Such were the famous Egyptian pyramids, which by their figure as well as size have triumphed over the injuries of time and the barbarians. But whatever efforts men make, their own nothingness will always appear. These pyramids were tombs; and there is still to be seen, in the middle of the largest, an empty sepulcher, cut out of entire stone, about three feet deep and broad, and a little above six feet long.
3. Thus, all this bustle, all this expense, and all the labor of so many thousand men, ended in procuring a prince, in this vast and almost boundless pile of buildings, a little vault six feet in length. Besides, the kings who built these pyramids had it not in their power to be buried in them, and a Ho-ri'-zon, the line which bounds the c Ca-i'-ro, a city in Egypt.
d A-re-a, the superficial contents Jurc'tion, act of joining, union. e Sep'-ul-cher, a grave, a tomb.
so did not enjoy the sepulcher they had built. The public hatred which they incurred by reason of their unheard of cruelties to their subjects, in laying such heavy tasks upon them, occasioned their being interred in some obscure place, to prevent their bodies from being exposed to the fury and vengeance of the populace.
4. This last circumstance, of which historians have taken particular notice, teaches us what judgment we ought to pass on these edifices, a so much boasted of by the ancients. It is but just to remark and esteem the noble genius which the Egyptians had for architecture,"—a genius that prompted them from the earliest times, and before they could have any models to imitate, to aim in all things at the grand and magnificent; and to be intent on real beauties, without deviating in the least from a noble simplicity, in which the highest perfection of the art consists.
5. But what idea ought we to form of those princes, who considered as something grand, the raising, by a multitude of hands and by the help of money, immense structures, with the sole view of rendering their names immortal ; and who did not scruple to destroy thousands of their subjects to satisfy their vain glory! They differed very much from the Romans, who sought to immortalize themselves by works of a magnificent kind, but at the same time of public utility.
6. Pliny gives us, in a few words, a just idea of these pyramids when he calls them a foolish and useless ostentation of the wealth of Egyptian kings; and adds, that by a just punishment their memory is buried in oblivion -historians not agreeing among themselves about the names of those who first raised those vain monuments. In a word, according to the judicious remark of Diodorus, the industry of the architects of those pyramids is no less valuable and praiseworthy, than the design of the Egyptian kings contemptible and ridiculous.
7. But what we should most admire in these ancient monuments, is, the true and standing evidence they give of the skill of the Egyptians in astronomy;d that is a science which seems incapable of being brought to perfection but by a long seriese of years, and a great number of observations. It has been found, that the four sides of the great pyramid named, were turned exactly to the four quarters of the world; and consequently showed the true meridian of that place.
8. As so exact a situation was in all probability purposely
a Ed-i-fi-ces, bulldings.
d As-tron'o.my, the science of the hear 6 Aich'.i-tect-ure, the science of building. venly bodies. COs-tent-a-tion vain show,
Seri-es, a connected succession of things.
pitched upon, by those who piled up this huge mass of stones, above three thousand years ago; it follows, that during so long a space of time there has been no alteration in the heavens in that respect, or, which amounts to the same thing, in the poles of the earth or the meridians.
Of the Forum, and other public Buildings at Rome. 1. The Roman Forum now lay extended before us-a scene in the ages of Roman greatness of unparalleled splendor and magnificence. It was bordered on both sides with temples, and lined with statues. It terminated in triumphal arches; and was bounded, here by the Palatine hill, with the imperiala residence glittering on its summit, and there by the Capitol, with its ascending ranges of porticos and of temples.
2. Thus it presented one of the richest exhibitions that eyes could behold, or human ingenuity invent. In the midst of these superb monuments,-the memorials of their greatness, and the trophies of their fathers,—the Roman people assembled to exercise their sovereign power, and to decide the fates of heroes, of kings, and of nations.
3. Nor did the contemplation of such glorious objects fail to produce a corresponding effect. Manlius, as long as he could extend his arm and fix the attention of the people on the Capitol which he had saved, suspended his fatal sentence. Caius Gracchus melted the hearts of his audience, when in the moment of distress he pointed to the Capitol, and asked with all the emphasis of despair, whether he could expect to find an asylum in that sanctuary, whose pavements still streamed with the blood of his brother.
4. Scipio Africanus, when accused by an envious faction, and obliged to appear before the people as a criminal, instead of answering the charge, turned to the Capitol, and invited the assembly to accompany him to the temple of Jupiter, and to give thanks to the Gods for the defeat of Annibal and the Carthaginians.
5. Such, in fact, was the influence of locality, and such the awe, interest, and even emotion, inspired by the surrounding edifices. Hence the frequent references that we find in the Roman historians and orators, of the Capitol, the Forum, the temples of the gods; and hence those noble addresses to the deities themselves, as appear in their respective sanctuaries. a Im-pe-ri-al, belonging to an emperor. d Faction, a political party,
o Trophies, memorials of virtoiy. CA-sylum, a refuge.
e Ju pi-ter, one of the heathen deities