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its matchless colour. The folding of the wave, producing as it does a series of longitudinal protuberances and furrows which act like cylindrical lenses, introduces variations in the intensity of the light, and materially enhances its beauty.

JOHN TYNDALL.

ASPECTS OF NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN

COUNTRIES.

The charts of the world which have been drawn up by modern science have thrown into a narrow space the expression of a vast amount of knowledge, but

have never yet seen any one pictorial enough to enable the spectator to imagine the kind of contrast in physical character which exists between Northern and Southern countries. We know the differences in detail, but we have not that broad glance and grasp which would enable us to feel them in their fulness. We know that gentians grow on the Alps, and olives on the Apennines ; but we do not enough conceive for ourselves that variegated mosaic of the world's surface which a bird sees in its migration, that difference between the district of the gentian and of the olive which the stork and the swallow see far off, as they lean upon the sirocco wind.

Let us, for a moment, try to raise ourselves even above the level of their flight, and imagine the Mediterranean lying beneath us like an irregular lake, and all its ancient promontories sleeping in the sun : here and there an angry spot of thunder, a grey stain of storm, moving upon the burning field; and here and there a fixed wreath of white volcano smoke, surrounded by its circle of ashes ; but for the most part a great peacefulness of light, — Syria and Greece, Italy and Spain, laid like pieces of a golden pavement into the sea-blue, chased, as we stoop nearer to them, with bossy beaten work of mountain chains, and glowing softly with terraced gardens, and flowers heavy with frankincense, mixed among masses of laurel and orange and plumy palm, that abate with their grey-green shadows the burning of the marble rocks, and of the ledges of porphyry sloping under lucent sand.

Then let us pass further towards the North, until we see the orient colours change gradually into a vast belt of rainy green, where the pastures of Switzerland, and poplar valleys

[graphic]

of France, and dark forests of the Danube and Carpathians, stretch from the mouths of the Loire to those of the Volga, seen through clefts in grey swirls of rain-cloud and flaky veils of the mist of the brooks, spreading low along the pasture lands: and then, farther north still, to see the earth heave into mighty masses of leaden rock and heathy moor, bordering with a broad waste of gloomy purple that belt of field and wood, and splintering into irregular and grisly islands amidst the northern seas beaten by storm and chilled by ice-drift, and tormented by furious pulses of contending tide, until the roots of the last forests fail from among the hill ravines, and the hunger of the north wind bites their peaks into barrenness; and, at last, the wall of ice, durable like iron, sets, death-like, its white teeth against us out of the polar twilight.

And, having once traversed in thought this gradation of the zoned iris of the earth in all its material vastness, let us go down nearer to it, and watch the parallel change in the belt of animal life: the multitudes of swift and brilliant creatures that glance in the air and sea, or tread the sands of the southern zone ; striped zebras and spotted leopards, glistening serpents, and birds arrayed in purple and scarlet. Let us contrast their delicacy and brilliancy of colour, and swiftness of motion, with the frost-cramped strength, and shaggy covering, and dusky pluinage of the northern tribes ; contrast the Arabian horse with the Shetland, the tiger and leopard with the wolf and bear, the antelope with the elk, the bird of paradise with the osprey ; and then, submissively acknowledging the great laws by which the earth and all that it bears are ruled throughout their being, let us not condemn, but rejoice in the expression by man of his own rest in the statutes of the lands that gave him birth. Let us watch him with reverence as he sets side by side the burning gems, and smooths with soft sculpture the jasper pillars, that are to reflect a ceaseless sunshine, and rise into a cloudless sky: but not with less reverence let us stand bị him, when, with rough strength and hurried stroke, he smites an uncouth animation out of the rocks which he has torn from among the moss of the moorland, and heaves into the darkened air the pile of iron buttress and rugged wall, instinct with work of an imagination as wild and wayward as the northern sea ; creations of ungainly shape and rigid limb, but full of wolfish life ; fierce as the winds that beat, and changeful as the clouds that shade them.

JOHN RUSKIN.

THOUGHTS IN MID-CHANNEL.

Now upon English soil I soon shall stand,
Homeward from climes that fancy dreams more fair ;
And well I know that there will greet me there
No soft foam fawning upon smiling strand,
No scent of orange-groves, no zephyrs bland,
But Amazonian March, with breast half bare,
And sleety arrows whistling through the air,
Will be my welcome from that burly land.
Yet he who boasts his birthplace yonder lies,
Owns in his heart a mood akin to scorn
For sensuous slopes that bask ’neath Southern skies,
Teeming with wine and prodigal of corn,
And, gazing through the mist with misty eyes,
Blesses the brave bleak land where he was born.

And wherefore feels he thus? Because its shore
Nor conqueror's foot nor despot's may defile,
But Freedom walks unarmed about the isle,
And Peace sits cooing beside each man's door.
Beyond these straits the wild-beast mob may roar,
Elsewhere the veering demagogue beguile:
We, hand in hand with the Past, look on and smile,
And tread the ways our fathers trod before.
What though some wretch, whose glory you may trace
Past lonely hearths and unrecorded graves,
Round his sword-sceptre summoning swarms of slaves,
Menace our shores with conflict or disgrace,-
We laugh behind the bulwark of the waves,
And Aling the foam defiant in his face.

ALFRED AUSTIN.

THERMOPYLÆ.

men,

With an army of 300 Spartans and 4000 allies, Leonidas marched to defend Thermopylæ against two millions of

It was a prevailing belief in later ages-one perhaps that became current immediately after his death—that when he set out on his expedition he distinctly foresaw its fatal issue. And Herodotus gives some colour to the opinion, by recording that he selected his Spartan followers among those who had sons to leave behind them. But Plutarch imagined that before his departure from Sparta he and his little band solemnized their own obsequies by funeral games in the presence of their parents ; and that it was on this occasion he spoke of them as a small number to fight, but enough to die. One fact destroys this fiction. Before his arrival at Thermopylæ he did not know of the path over the mountains by which he might be attacked in the rear ; the only danger he had before his eyes was one which could not have shaken the courage of any brave warrior, that of making a stand for a few days against incessant attacks, but from small bodies, in a narrow space where he would be favoured by the ground. The whole

shut in between the eastern promontory of Eta, called Callidromus, which towers above it in rugged precipices, and the shore of the Malian gulf is four or five miles in length : it is narrowest at either end ; where the mountain is said once to have left room only for a single carriage. But between these points the pass first widens, and then is again contracted, though not into quite so narrow a space, by the cliffs of Callidromus. At the foot of these rocks a hot sulphureous spring gushes up in a copious stream, and other slenderer veins trickle across the road. This is the pass properly called Thermopylæ. On the side of the sea it was once guarded no less securely than by the cliffs ; for it runs along the edge of a deep morass, which the mud, brought down by the rivers from the vale of the Spercheius,

pass

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