THE ECONOMY OF VEGETATION.
AGAIN the GODDESS speaks!—glad Echo swells The tuneful tones along her shadowy dells, Her wrinkling founts with soft vibration shakes, Curls her deep wells, and rimples all her lakes, 5 Thrills each wide stream, Britannia's isle that laves, Her headlong cataracts, and circumfluent waves. —Thick as the dews, which deck the morning flowers, Or rain-drops twinkling in the sun-bright showers, Fair Nymphs, emerging in pellucid bands, 10 Rise, as she turns, and whiten all the lands.
I. "YOUR buoyant troops on dimpling ocean tread, Wafting the moist air from his oozy bed, AQUATIC NYMPHS!—YOU lead with viewless march The winged vapours up the aerial arch, 15 On each broad cloud a thousand sails expand, And steer the shadowy treasure o'er the land, Through vernal skies the gathering drops diffuse, Plunge in soft rains, or sink in silver dews.— YOUR lucid bands condense with fingers chill 20 The blue mist hovering round the gelid hill; In clay-form'd beds the trickling streams collect, Strain through white sands, through pebbly veins direct; Or point in rifted rocks their dubious way, And in each bubbling fountain rise to day.
[The winged vapours. l. 14. See additional note No. XXV. on evaporation.]
[On each broad cloud. l. 15. The clouds consist of condensed vapour, the particles of which are too small separately to overcome the tenacity of the air, and which therefore do not descend. They are in such small spheres as to repel each other, that is, they are applied to each other by such very small surfaces, that the attraction of the particles of each drop to its own centre is greater than its attraction to the surface of the drop in its vicinity; every one has observed with what difficulty small spherules of quicksilver can be made to unite, owing to the same cause; and it is common to see on riding through shallow water on a clear day, numbers of very small spheres of water as they are thrown from the horses feet run along the surface for many yards before they again unite with it. In many cases these spherules of water, which compose clouds, are kept from uniting by a surplus of electric fluid; and fall in violent showers as soon as that is withdrawn from them, as in thunder storms. See note on Canto I. l. 553.
If in this state a cloud becomes frozen, it is torn to pieces in its descent by the friction of the air, and falls in white flakes of snow. Or these flakes are rounded by being rubbed together by the winds, and by having their angles thawed off by the warmer air beneath as they descend; and part of the water produced by these angles thus dissolved is absorbed into the body of the hailstone, as may be seen by holding a lump of snow over a candle, and there becomes frozen into ice by the quantity of cold which the hailstone possesses beneath the freezing point, or which is produced by its quick evaporation in falling; and thus hailstones are often found of greater or less density according as they consist of a greater portion of snow or ice. If hailstones consisted of the large drops of showers frozen in their descent, they would consist of pure transparent ice.
As hail is only produced in summer, and is always attended with storms, some philosophers have believed that the sudden departure of electricity from a cloud may effect something yet unknown in this phenomenon; but it may happen in summer independent of electricity, because the aqueous vapour is then raised higher in the atmosphere, whence it has further to fall, and there is warmer air below for it to fall through.]
[Or sink in silver dews. l. 18. During the coldness of the night the moisture before dissolved in the air is gradually precipitated, and as it subsides adheres to the bodies it falls upon. Where the attraction of the body to the particles of water is greater than the attractions of those particles to each other, it becomes spread upon their surface, or slides down them in actual contact; as on the broad parts of the blades of moist grass: where the attraction of the surface to the water is less than the attraction of the particles of water to each other, the dew stands in drops; as on the points and edges of grass or gorse, where the surface presented to the drop being small it attracts it so little as but just to support it without much changing its globular form: where there is no attraction between the vegetable surface and the dew drops, as on cabbage leaves, the drop does not come into contact with the leaf, but hangs over it repelled, and retains it natural form, composed of the attraction and pressure of its own parts, and thence looks like quicksilver, reflecting light from both its surfaces. Nor is this owing to any oiliness of the leaf, but simply to the polish of its surface, as a light needle may be laid on water in the same manner without touching it; for as the attractive powers of polished surfaces are greater when in actual contact, so the repulsive power is greater before contact.]
[The blue mist. l. 20. Mists are clouds resting on the ground, they generally come on at the beginning of night, and either fill the moist vallies, or hang on the summits of hills, according to the degree of moisture previously dissolved, and the eduction of heat from them. The air over rivers during the warmth of the day suspends much moisture, and as the changeful surface of rivers occasions them to cool sooner than the land at the approach of evening, mists are most frequently seen to begin over rivers, and to spread themselves over moist grounds, and fill the vallies, while the mists on the tops of mountains are more properly clouds, condensed by the coldness of their situation.
On ascending up the side of a hill from a misty valley, I have observed a beautiful coloured halo round the moon when a certain thickness of mist was over me, which ceased to be visible as soon as I emerged out of it; and well remember admiring with other spectators the shadow of the three spires of the cathedral church at Lichfield, the moon rising behind it, apparently broken off, and lying distinctly over our heads as if horizontally on the surface of the mist, which arose about as high as the roof of the church. There are some curious remarks on shadows or reflexions seen on the surface of mists from high mountains in Ulloa's Voyages. The dry mist of summer 1783, was probably occasioned by volcanic eruption, as mentioned in note on Chunda, Vol. II. and therefore more like the atmosphere of smoke which hangs on still days over great cities.
There is a dry mist, or rather a diminished transparence of the air, which according to Mr. Saussure accompanies fair weather, while great transparence of air indicates rain. Thus when large rivers two miles broad, such as at Liverpool, appear narrow, it is said to prognosticate rain; and when wide, fair weather. This want of transparence of the air in dry weather, may be owing to new combinations or decompositions of the vapours dissolved in it, but wants further investigation. Essais sur L'Hygromet, p. 357.]
[Round the gelid hill. l. 20. See additional notes, No. XXVI. on the origin of springs.]
25 "NYMPHS! YOU then guide, attendant from their source, The associate rills along their sinuous course; Float in bright squadrons by the willowy brink, Or circling slow in limpid eddies sink; Call from her crystal cave the Naiad-Nymph, 30 Who hides her fine form in the passing lymph, And, as below she braids her hyaline hair, Eyes her soft smiles reflected in the air; Or sport in groups with River-Boys, that lave Their silken limbs amid the dashing wave; 35 Pluck the pale primrose bending from its edge, Or tittering dance amid the whispering sedge.—
"Onward YOU pass, the pine-capt hills divide, Or feed the golden harvests on their side; The wide-ribb'd arch with hurrying torrents fill, 40 Shove the slow barge, or whirl the foaming mill. OR lead with beckoning hand the sparkling train Of refluent water to its parent main, And pleased revisit in their sea-moss vales Blue Nereid-forms array'd in shining scales, 45 Shapes, whose broad oar the torpid wave impels, And Tritons bellowing through their twisted shells.
"So from the heart the sanguine stream distils, O'er Beauty's radiant shrine in vermil rills, Feeds each fine nerve, each slender hair pervades, 50 The skins bright snow with living purple shades, Each dimpling cheek with warmer blushes dyes, Laughs on the lips, and lightens in the eyes. —Erewhile absorb'd, the vagrant globules swim From each fair feature, and proportion'd limb, 55 Join'd in one trunk with deeper tint return To the warm concave of the vital urn.
II. 1."AQUATIC MAIDS! YOU sway the mighty realms Of scale and shell, which Ocean overwhelms; As Night's pale Queen her rising orb reveals, 60 And climbs the zenith with refulgent wheels, Car'd on the foam your glimmering legion rides, Your little tridents heave the dashing tides, Urge on the sounding shores their crystal course, Restrain their fury, or direct their force.
[Car'd on the foam. l. 61. The phenomena of the tides have been well investigated and satisfactorily explained by Sir Isaac Newton and Dr. Halley from the reciprocal gravitations of the earth, moon, and sun. As the earth and moon move round a centre of motion near the earth's surface, at the same time that they are proceeding in their annual orbit round the sun, it follows that the water on the side of the earth nearest this centre of motion between the earth and moon will be more attracted by the moon, and the waters on the opposite side of the earth will be less attracted by the moon, than the central parts of the earth. Add to this that the centrifugal force of the water on the side of the earth furthest from the centre of the motion, round which the earth and moon move, (which, as was said before, is near the surface of the earth) is greater than that on the opposite side of the earth. From both these causes it is easy to comprehend that the water will rise on two sides of the earth, viz. on that nearest to the moon, and its opposite side, and that it will be flattened in consequence at the quadratures, and thus produce two tides in every lunar day, which consists of about twenty- four hours and forty-eight minutes.
These tides will be also affected by the solar attraction when it coincides with the lunar one, or opposes it, as at new and full moon, and will also be much influenced by the opposing shores in every part of the earth.
Now as the moon in moving round the centre of gravity between itself and the earth describes a much larger orbit than the earth describes round the same centre, it follows that the centrifugal motion on the side of the moon opposite to the earth must be much greater than the centrifugal motion of the side of the earth opposite to the moon round the same centre. And secondly, as the attraction of the earth exerted on the moon's surface next to the earth is much greater than the attraction of the moon exerted on the earth's surface, the tides on the lunar sea, (if such there be,) should be much greater than those of our ocean. Add to this that as the same face of the moon always is turned to the earth, the lunar tides must be permanent, and if the solid parts of the moon be spherical, must always cover the phasis next to us. But as there are evidently hills and vales and volcanos on this side of the moon, the consequence is that the moon has no ocean, or that it is frozen.]
65 2."NYMPHS! YOU adorn, in glossy volumes roll'd, The gaudy conch with azure, green, and gold. You round Echinus ray his arrowy mail, Give the keel'd Nautilus his oar and sail; Firm to his rock with silver cords suspend 70 The anchor'd Pinna, and his Cancer-friend; With worm-like beard his toothless lips array, And teach the unwieldy Sturgeon to betray.— Ambush'd in weeds, or sepulcher'd in sands, In dread repose He waits the scaly bands, 75 Waves in red spires the living lures, and draws The unwary plunderers to his circling jaws, Eyes with grim joy the twinkling shoals beset, And clasps the quick inextricable net. You chase the warrior Shark, and cumberous Whale, 80 And guard the Mermaid in her briny vale; Feed the live petals of her insect-flowers, Her shell-wrack gardens, and her sea-fan bowers; With ores and gems adorn her coral cell, And drop a pearl in every gaping shell.
[The gaudy conch. l. 66. The spiral form of many shells seem to have afforded a more frugal manner of covering the long tail of the fish with calcareous armour; since a single thin partition between the adjoining circles of the fish was sufficient to defend both surfaces, and thus much cretaceous matter is saved; and it is probable that from this spiral form they are better enabled to feel the vibrations of the element in which they exist. See note on Canto IV. l. 162. This cretaceous matter is formed by a mucous secretion from the skin of the fish, as is seen in crab-fish, and others which annually cast their shells, and is at first a soft mucous covering, (like that of a hen's egg, when it is laid a day or two too soon,) and which gradually hardens. This may also be seen in common shell snails, if a part of their shell be broken it becomes repaired in a similar manner with mucus, which by degrees hardens into shell.
It is probable the calculi or stones found in other animals may have a similar origin, as they are formed on mucous membranes, as those of the kidney and bladder, chalk-stones in the gout, and gall-stones; and are probably owing to the inflammation of the membrane where they are produced, and vary according to the degree of inflammation of the membrane which forms them, and the kind of mucous which it naturally produces. Thus the shelly matter of different shell-fish differs, from the courser kinds which form the shells of crabs, to the finer kinds which produces the mother-pearl.
The beautiful colours of some shells originate from the thinness of the laminae of which they consist, rather than to any colouring matter, as is seen in mother-pearl, which reflects different colours according to the obliquity of the light which falls on it. The beautiful prismatic colours seen on the Labrodore stone are owing to a similar cause, viz. the thinness of the laminae of which it consists, and has probably been formed from mother-pearl shells.
It is curious that some of the most common fossil shells are not now known in their recent state, as the cornua ammonis; and on the contrary, many shells which are very plentiful in their recent state, as limpets, sea-ears, volutes, cowries, are very rarely found fossil. Da Costa's Conchology, p. 163. Were all the ammoniae destroyed when the continents were raised? Or do some genera of animals perish by the increasing power of their enemies? Or do they still reside at inaccessible depths in the sea? Or do some animals change their forms gradually and become new genera?]
[Echinus. Nautilus. l. 67, 68. See additional notes, No. XXVII.]
[Pinna. Cancer. l. 70. See additional notes, No. XXVII.]
[With worm-like beard. l. 71. See additional notes, No. XXVIII.]
[Feed the live petals. l. 82. There is a sea-insect described by Mr. Huges whose claws or tentacles being disposed in regular circles and tinged with variety of bright lively colours represent the petals of some most elegantly fringed and radiated flowers as the carnation, marigold, and anemone. Philos. Trans. Abridg. Vol. IX. p. 110. The Abbe Dicquemarre has further elucidated the history of the actinia; and observed their manner of taking their prey by inclosing it in these beautiful rays like a net. Phil. Trans. Vol. LXIII. and LXV. and LXVII.]
[And drop a pearl. l. 84. Many are the opinions both of antient and modern concerning the production of pearls. Mr. Reaumur thinks they are formed like the hard concretions in many land animals as stones of the bladder, gallstones, and bezoar, and hence concludes them to be a disease of the fish, but there seems to be a stricter analogy between these and the calcareous productions found in crab-fish called crab's eyes, which are formed near the stomach of the animal, and constitute a reservoir of calcareous matter against the renovation of the shell, at which time they are re-dissolved and deposited for that purpose. As the internal part of the shell of the pearl oyster or muscle consists of mother-pearl which is a similar material to the pearl and as the animal has annually occasion to enlarge his shell there is reason to suspect the loose pearls are similar reservoirs of the pearly matter for that purpose.]
85 3. "YOUR myriad trains o'er stagnant ocean's tow, Harness'd with gossamer, the loitering prow; Or with fine films, suspended o'er the deep, Of oil effusive lull the waves to sleep. You stay the flying bark, conceal'd beneath, 90 Where living rocks of worm-built coral breathe; Meet fell TEREDO, as he mines the keel With beaked head, and break his lips of steel; Turn the broad helm, the fluttering canvas urge From MAELSTROME'S fierce innavigable surge. 95 —'Mid the lorn isles of Norway's stormy main, As sweeps o'er many a league his eddying train, Vast watery walls in rapid circles spin, And deep-ingulph'd the Demon dwells within; Springs o'er the fear-froze crew with Harpy-claws, 100 Down his deep den the whirling vessel draws; Churns with his bloody mouth the dread repast, The booming waters murmuring o'er the mast.
[Or with fine films. l. 87. See additional notes, No. XXIX.]
[Where living rocks. l. 90. The immense and dangerous rocks built by the swarms of coral infects which rise almost perpendicularly in the southern ocean like walls are described in Cook's voyages, a point of one of these rocks broke off and stuck in the hole which it had made in the bottom of one of his ships, which would otherwise have perished by the admission of water. The numerous lime-stone rocks which consist of a congeries of the cells of these animals and which constitute a great part of the solid earth shew their prodigious multiplication in all ages of the world. Specimens of these rocks are to be seen in the Lime-works at Linsel near Newport in Shropshire, in Coal-brook Dale, and in many parts of the Peak of Derbyshire. The insect has been well described by M. Peyssonnel, Ellis, and others. Phil. Trans. Vol. XLVII. L. LII. and LVII.]
[Meet fell Teredo. l. 91. See additional notes, No. XXX.]
[Turn the broad helm. l 93. See additional notes, No. XXXI.]
III. "Where with chill frown enormous ALPS alarms A thousand realms, horizon'd in his arms; 105 While cloudless suns meridian glories shed From skies of silver round his hoary head, Tall rocks of ice refract the coloured rays, And Frost sits throned amid the lambent blaze; NYMPHS! YOUR thin forms pervade his glittering piles, 110 His roofs of chrystal, and his glasy ailes; Where in cold caves imprisoned Naiads sleep, Or chain'd on mossy couches wake and weep; Where round dark crags indignant waters bend Through rifted ice, in ivory veins descend, 115 Seek through unfathom'd snows their devious track, Heave the vast spars, the ribbed granites crack, Rush into day, in foamy torrents shine, And swell the imperial Danube or the Rhine.— Or feed the murmuring TIBER, as he laves 120 His realms inglorious with diminish'd waves, Hears his lorn Forum sound with Eunuch-strains, Sees dancing slaves insult his martial plains; Parts with chill stream the dim religious bower, Time-mouldered bastion, and dismantled tower; 125 By alter'd fanes and nameless villas glides, And classic domes, that tremble on his sides; Sighs o'er each broken urn, and yawning tomb, And mourns the fall of LIBERTY and ROME.
[Where round dark craggs. l. 113. See additional notes, No. XXXII.]
[Heave the vast spars. l. 116. Water in descending down elevated situations if the outlet for it below is not sufficient for its emission acts with a force equal to the height of the column, as is seen in an experimental machine called the philosophical bellows, in which a few pints of water are made to raise many hundred pounds. To this cause is to be ascribed many large promontories of ice being occasionally thrown down from the glaciers; rocks have likewise been thrown from the sides of mountains by the same cause, and large portions of earth have been removed many hundred yards from their situations at the foot of mountains. On inspecting the locomotion of about thirty acres of earth with a small house near Bilder's Bridge in Shropshire, about twenty years ago, from the foot of a mountain towards the river, I well remember it bore all the marks of having been thus lifted up, pushed away, and as it were crumpled into ridges, by a column of water contained in the mountain.
From water being thus confined in high columns between the strata of mountainous countries it has often happened that when wells or perforations have been made into the earth, that springs have arisen much above the surface of the new well. When the new bridge was building at Dublin Mr. G. Semple found a spring in the bed of the river where he meant to lay the foundation of a pierre, which, by fixing iron pipes into it, he raised many feet. Treatise on Building in Water, by G. Semple. From having observed a valley north-west of St. Alkmond's well near Derby, at the head of which that spring of water once probably existed, and by its current formed the valley, (but which in after times found its way out in its present situation,) I suspect that St. Alkmond's well might by building round it be raised high enough to supply many streets in Derby with spring-water which are now only supplied with river-water. See an account of an artificial spring of water, Phil. Trans. Vol. LXXV. p. 1.
In making a well at Sheerness the water rose 300 feet above its source in the well. Phil. Trans. Vol. LXXIV. And at Hartford in Connecticut there is a well which was dug seventy feet deep before water was found, then in boring an augur-hole through a rock the water rose so fast as to make it difficult to keep it dry by pumps till they could blow the hole larger by gunpowder, which was no sooner accomplished than it filled and run over, and has been a brook for near a century. Travels through America. Lond. 1789. Lane.]
IV. "Sailing in air, when dark MONSOON inshrouds 130 His tropic mountains in a night of clouds; Or drawn by whirlwinds from the Line returns, And showers o'er Afric all his thousand urns; High o'er his head the beams of SIRIUS glow, And, Dog of Nile, ANUBIS barks below. 135 NYMPHS! YOU from cliff to cliff attendant guide In headlong cataracts the impetuous tide; Or lead o'er wastes of Abyssinian sands The bright expanse to EGYPT'S shower-less lands. —Her long canals the sacred waters fill, 140 And edge with silver every peopled hill; Gigantic SPHINX in circling waves admire; And MEMNON bending o'er his broken lyre; O'er furrow'd glebes and green savannas sweep, And towns and temples laugh amid the deep.
[Dark monsoon inshrouds. l. 129. When from any peculiar situations of land in respect to sea the tropic becomes more heated, when the sun is vertical over it, than the line, the periodical winds called monsoons are produced, and these are attended by rainy seasons; for as the air at the tropic is now more heated than at the line it ascends by decrease of its specific gravity, and floods of air rush in both from the South West and North East, and these being one warmer than the other the rain is precipitated by their mixture as observed by Dr. Hutton. See additional notes, No. XXV. All late travellers have ascribed the rise of the Nile to the monsoons which deluge Nubia and Abyssinia with rain. The whirling of the ascending air was even seen by Mr. Bruce in Abyssinia; he says, "every morning a small cloud began to whirl round, and presently after the whole heavens became covered with clouds," by this vortex of ascending air the N.E. winds and the S.W. winds, which flow in to supply the place of the ascending column, became mixed more rapidly and deposited their rain in greater abundance.
Mr. Volney observes that the time of the rising of the Nile commences about the 19th of June, and that Abyssinia and the adjacent parts of Africa are deluged with rain in May, June, and July, and produce a mass of water which is three months in draining off. The Abbe Le Pluche observes that as Sirius, or the dog-star, rose at the time of the commencement of the flood its rising was watched by the astronomers, and notice given of the approach of inundation by hanging the figure of Anubis, which was that of a man with a dog's head, upon all their temples. Histoire de Ciel.]
[Egypt's shower-less lands. l. 138. There seem to be two situations which may be conceived to be exempted from rain falling upon them, one where the constant trade-winds meet beneath the line, for here two regions of warm air are mixed together, and thence do not seem to have any cause to precipitate their vapour; and the other is, where the winds are brought from colder climates and become warmer by their contact with the earth of a warmer one. Thus Lower Egypt is a flat country warmed by the sun more than the higher lands of one side of it, and than the Mediterranean on the other; and hence the winds which blow over it acquire greater warmth, which ever way they come, than they possessed before, and in consequence have a tendency to acquire and not to part with their vapour like the north-east winds of this country. There is said to be a narrow spot upon the coast of Peru where rain seldom occurs, at the same time according to Ulloa on the mountainous regions of the Andes beyond there is almost perpetual rain. For the wind blows uniformly upon this hot part of the coast of Peru, but no cause of devaporation occurs till it begins to ascend the mountainous Andes, and then its own expansion produces cold sufficient to condense its vapour.]
145 V. 1. "High in the frozen North where HECCLA glows, And melts in torrents his coeval snows; O'er isles and oceans sheds a sanguine light, Or shoots red stars amid the ebon night; When, at his base intomb'd, with bellowing sound 150 Fell GIESAR roar'd, and struggling shook the ground; Pour'd from red nostrils, with her scalding breath, A boiling deluge o'er the blasted heath; And, wide in air, in misty volumes hurl'd Contagious atoms o'er the alarmed world; 155 NYMPHS! YOUR bold myriads broke the infernal spell, And crush'd the Sorceress in her flinty cell.
[Fell Giesar roar'd. l. 150. The boiling column of water at Giesar in Iceland was nineteen feet in diameter, and sometimes rose to the height of ninety-two feet. On cooling it deposited a siliceous matter or chalcedony forming a bason round its base. The heat of this water before it rose out of the earth could not be ascertained, as water looses all its heat above 212 (as soon as it is at liberty to expand) by the exhalation of a part, but the flinty bason which is deposited from it shews that water with great degrees of heat will dissolve siliceous matter. Van Troil's Letters on Iceland. Since the above account in the year 1780 this part of Iceland has been destroyed by an earthquake or covered with lava, which was probably effected by the force of aqueous steam, a greater quantity of water falling on the subterraneous fires than could escape by the antient outlets and generating an increased quantity of vapour. For the dispersion of contagious vapours from volcanos see an account of the Harmattan in the notes on Chunda, Vol. II.]
2. "Where with soft fires in unextinguish'd urns, Cauldron'd in rock, innocuous Lava burns; On the bright lake YOUR gelid hands distil 160 In pearly mowers the parsimonious rill; And, as aloft the curling vapours rise Through the cleft roof, ambitious for the skies, In vaulted hills condense the tepid steams, And pour to HEALTH the medicated streams. 165 —So in green vales amid her mountains bleak BUXTONIA smiles, the Goddess-Nymyh of Peak; Deep in warm waves, and pebbly baths she dwells, And calls HYGEIA to her sainted wells.
[Buxtonia smiles. l. 166. Some arguments are mentioned in the note on Fucus Vol. II. to shew that the warm springs of this country do not arise from the decomposition of pyrites near the surface of the earth, but that they are produced by steam rising up the fissures of the mountains from great depths, owing to water falling on subterraneous fires, and that this steam is condensed between the strata of the incumbent mountains and collected into springs. For further proofs on this subject the reader is referred to a Letter from Dr. Darwin in Mr. Pilkington's View of Derbyshire, Vol I. p. 256.]
"Hither in sportive bands bright DEVON leads 170 Graces and Loves from Chatsworth's flowery meads.— Charm'd round the NYMPH, they climb the rifted rocks; And steep in mountain-mist their golden locks; On venturous step her sparry caves explore, And light with radiant eyes her realms of ore; 175 —Oft by her bubbling founts, and shadowy domes, In gay undress the fairy legion roams, Their dripping palms in playful malice fill, Or taste with ruby lip the sparkling rill; Croud round her baths, and, bending o'er the side, 180 Unclasp'd their sandals, and their zones untied, Dip with gay fear the shuddering foot undress'd, And quick retract it to the fringed vest; Or cleave with brandish'd arms the lucid stream, And sob, their blue eyes twinkling in the steam. 185 —High o'er the chequer'd vault with transient glow Bright lustres dart, as dash the waves below; And Echo's sweet responsive voice prolongs The dulcet tumult of their silver tongues.— O'er their flush'd cheeks uncurling tresses flow, 190 And dew-drops glitter on their necks of snow; Round each fair Nymph her dropping mantle clings, And Loves emerging shake their showery wings.
[And sob, their blue eyes. l. 184. The bath at Buxton being of 82 degrees of heat is called a warm bath, and is so compared with common spring-water which possesses but 48 degrees of heat, but is nevertheless a cold bath compared to the heat of the body which is 98. On going into this bath there is therefore always a chill perceived at the first immersion, but after having been in it a minute the chill ceases and a sensation of warmth succeeds though the body continues to be immersed in the water. The cause of this curious phenomenon is to be looked for in the laws of animal sensation and not from any properties of heat. When a person goes from clear day-light into an obscure room for a while it appears gloomy, which gloom however in a little time ceases, and the deficiency of light becomes no longer perceived. This is not solely owing to the enlargement of the iris of the eye, since that is performed in an instant, but to this law of sensation, that when a less stimulus is applied (within certain bounds) the sensibility increases. Thus at going into a bath as much colder than the body as that of Buxton, the diminution of heat on the skin is at first perceived, but in about a minute the sensibility to heat increases and the nerves of the skin are equally excited by the lessened stimulus. The sensation of warmth at emerging from a cold-bath, and the pain called the hot-ach, after the hands have been immersed in snow, depend on the same principle, viz. the increased sensibility of the skin after having been previously exposed to a stimulus less than usual.]
"Here oft her LORD surveys the rude domain, Fair arts of Greece triumphant in his train; 195 LO! as he steps, the column'd pile ascends, The blue roof closes, or the crescent bends; New woods aspiring clothe their hills with green, Smooth slope the lawns, the grey rock peeps between; Relenting Nature gives her hand to Taste, 200 And Health and Beauty crown the laughing waste.
[Here oft her Lord. l. 193. Alluding to the magnificent and beautiful crescent, and superb stables lately erected at Buxton for the accomodation of the company by the Duke of Devonshire; and to the plantations with which he has decorated the surrounding mountains.]
VI. "NYMPHS! YOUR bright squadrons watch with chemic eyes The cold-elastic vapours, as they rise; With playful force arrest them as they pass, And to pure AIR betroth the flaming GAS. 205 Round their translucent forms at once they fling Their rapturous arms, with silver bosoms cling; In fleecy clouds their fluttering wings extend, Or from the skies in lucid showers descend; Whence rills and rivers owe their secret birth, 210 And Ocean's hundred arms infold the earth.
[And to pure air. l. 204. Until very lately water was esteemed a simple element, nor are all the most celebrated chemists of Europe yet converts to the new opinion of its decomposition. Mr. Lavoisier and others of the French school have most ingeniously endeavoured to shew that water consists of pure air, called by them oxygene, and of inflammable air, called hydrogene, with as much of the matter of heat, or calorique, as is necessary to preserve them in the form of gas. Gas is distinguished from steam by its preserving its elasticity under the pressure of the atmosphere, and in the greatest degrees of cold yet known. The history of the progress of this great discovery is detailed in the Memoires of the Royal Academy for 1781, and the experimental proofs of it are delivered in Lavoisier's Elements of Chemistry. The results of which are that water consists of eighty-five parts by weight of oxygene, and fifteen parts by weight of hydrogene, with a sufficient quantity of Calorique. Not only numerous chemical phenomena, but many atmospherical and vegetable facts receive clear and beautiful elucidation from this important analysis. In the atmosphere inflammable air is probably perpetually uniting with vital air and producing moisture which descends in dews and showers, while the growth of vegetables by the assistance of light is perpetually again decomposing the water they imbibe from the earth, and while they retain the inflammable air for the formation of oils, wax, honey, resin, &c. they give up the vital air to replenish the atmosphere.]
"So, robed by Beauty's Queen, with softer charms SATURNIA woo'd the Thunderer to her arms; O'er her fair limbs a veil of light she spread, And bound a starry diadem on her head; 215 Long braids of pearl her golden tresses grac'd, And the charm'd CESTUS sparkled round her waist. —Raised o'er the woof, by Beauty's hand inwrought, Breathes the soft Sigh, and glows the enamour'd Thought; Vows on light wings succeed, and quiver'd Wiles, 220 Assuasive Accents, and seductive Smiles. —Slow rolls the Cyprian car in purple pride, And, steer'd by LOVE, ascends admiring Ide; Climbs the green slopes, the nodding woods pervades, Burns round the rocks, or gleams amid the shades. 225 —Glad ZEPHYR leads the train, and waves above The barbed darts, and blazing torch of Love; Reverts his smiling face, and pausing flings Soft showers of roses from aurelian wings. Delighted Fawns, in wreathes of flowers array'd, 230 With tiptoe Wood-Boys beat the chequer'd glade; Alarmed Naiads, rising into air, Lift o'er their silver urns their leafy hair; Each to her oak the bashful Dryads shrink, And azure eyes are seen through every chink. 235 —LOVE culls a flaming shaft of broadest wing, And rests the fork upon the quivering string; Points his arch eye aloft, with fingers strong Draws to his curled ear the silken thong; Loud twangs the steel, the golden arrow flies, 240 Trails a long line of lustre through the skies; "'Tis done!" he shouts, "the mighty Monarch feels!" And with loud laughter shakes the silver wheels; Bends o'er the car, and whirling, as it moves, His loosen'd bowstring, drives the rising doves. 245 —Pierced on his throne the slarting Thunderer turns, Melts with soft sighs, with kindling rapture burns; Clasps her fair hand, and eyes in fond amaze The bright Intruder with enamour'd gaze. "And leaves my Goddess, like a blooming bride, 250 "The fanes of Argos for the rocks of Ide? "Her gorgeous palaces, and amaranth bowers, "For cliff-top'd mountains, and aerial towers?" He said; and, leading from her ivory seat The blushing Beauty to his lone retreat, 255 Curtain'd with night the couch imperial shrouds, And rests the crimson cushions upon clouds.— Earth feels the grateful influence from above, Sighs the soft Air, and Ocean murmurs love; Etherial Warmth expands his brooding wing, 260 And in still showers descends the genial Spring.
[And steer'd by love. l. 222. The younger love, or Cupid, the son of Venus, owes his existence and his attributes to much later times than the Eros, or divine love, mentioned in Canto I. since the former is no where mentioned by Homer, though so many apt opportunities of introducing him occur in the works of that immortal bard. Bacon.]
[And in still showers. l. 260. The allegorical interpretation of the very antient mythology which supposes Jupiter to represent the superior part of the atmosphere or ether, and Juno the inferior air, and that the conjunction of these two produces vernal showers, as alluded to in Virgil's Georgics, is so analogous to the present important discovery of the production of water from pure air, or oxygene, and inflammable air, or hydrogene, (which from its greater levity probably resides over the former,) that one should be tempted to believe that the very antient chemists of Egypt had discovered the composition of water, and thus represented it in their hieroglyphic figures before the invention of letters.
In the passage of Virgil Jupiter is called ether, and descends in prolific showers on the bosom of Juno, whence the spring succeeds and all nature rejoices.
Tum pater omnipotens foecundis imbribus Aether Conjugis in gremium laetae descendit, et omnes Magnus alit, magno commixtus corpore, faetus.
Virg. Georg. Lib. II. l. 325.]
VII. "NYMPHS OF AQUATIC TASTE! whose placid smile Breathes sweet enchantment o'er BRITANNIA'S isle; Whose sportive touch in showers resplendent flings Her lucid cataracts, and her bubbling springs; 265 Through peopled vales the liquid silver guides, And swells in bright expanse her freighted tides. YOU with nice ear, in tiptoe trains, pervade Dim walks of morn or evening's silent shade; Join the lone Nightingale, her woods among, 270 And roll your rills symphonious to her song; Through fount-full dells, and wave-worn valleys move, And tune their echoing waterfalls to love; Or catch, attentive to the distant roar, The pausing murmurs of the dashing shore; 275 Or, as aloud she pours her liquid strain, Pursue the NEREID on the twilight main. —Her playful Sea-horse woos her soft commands, Turns his quick ears, his webbed claws expands, His watery way with waving volutes wins, 280 Or listening librates on unmoving fins. The Nymph emerging mounts her scaly seat, Hangs o'er his glossy sides her silver feet, With snow-white hands her arching veil detains, Gives to his slimy lips the slacken'd reins, 285 Lifts to the star of Eve her eye serene, And chaunts the birth of Beauty's radiant Queen.— O'er her fair brow her pearly comb unfurls Her beryl locks, and parts the waving curls, Each tangled braid with glistening teeth unbinds 290 And with the floating treasure musks the winds.— Thrill'd by the dulcet accents, as she sings, The rippling wave in widening circles rings; Night's shadowy forms along the margin gleam With pointed ears, or dance upon the stream; 295 The Moon transported stays her bright career, And maddening Stars shoot headlong from the sphere.
[Her playful seahorse. l. 277. Described form an antique gem.]
VIII. "NYMPHS! whose fair eyes with vivid lustres glow For human weal, and melt at human woe; Late as YOU floated on your silver shells, 300 Sorrowing and slow by DERWENT'S willowy dells; Where by tall groves his foamy flood he steers Through ponderous arches o'er impetuous wears, By DERBY'S shadowy towers reflective sweeps, And gothic grandeur chills his dusky deeps; 305 You pearl'd with Pity's drops his velvet sides, Sigh'd in his gales, and murmur'd in his tides, Waved o'er his fringed brink a deeper gloom, And bow'd his alders o'er MILCENA'S tomb.
[O'er Milcena's tomb. l. 308. In memory of Mrs. French, a lady who to many other elegant accomplishments added a proficiency in botany and natural history.]
"Oft with sweet voice She led her infant-train, 310 Printing with graceful step his spangled plain, Explored his twinkling swarms, that swim or fly, And mark'd his florets with botanic eye.— "Sweet bud of Spring! how frail thy transient bloom, "Fine film," she cried, "of Nature's fairest loom! 315 "Soon Beauty fades upon its damask throne!"— —Unconscious of the worm, that mined her own!— —Pale are those lips, where soft caresses hung, Wan the warm cheek, and mute the tender tongue, Cold rests that feeling heart on Derwent's shore, 320 And those love-lighted eye-balls roll no more!
—HERE her sad Consort, stealing through the gloom Of Hangs in mute anguish o'er the scutcheon'd hearse, Or graves with trembling style the votive verse.
325 "Sexton! oh, lay beneath this sacred shrine, When Time's cold hand shall close my aching eyes, Oh, gently lay this wearied earth of mine, Where wrap'd in night my loved MILCENA lies.
"So shall with purer joy my spirit move, 330 When the last trumpet thrills the caves of Death, Catch the first whispers of my waking love, And drink with holy kiss her kindling breath.
"The spotless Fair, with blush ethereal warm, Shall hail with sweeter smile returning day, 335 Rise from her marble bed a brighter form, And win on buoyant step her airy way.
"Shall bend approved, where beckoning hosts invite, On clouds of silver her adoring knee, Approach with Seraphim the throne of light, 340 —And BEAUTY plead with angel-tongue for Me!"
IX. "YOUR virgin trains on BRINDLEY'S cradle smiled, And nursed with fairy-love the unletter'd child, Spread round his pillow all your secret spells, Pierced all your springs, and open'd all your wells.— 345 As now on grass, with glossy folds reveal'd, Glides the bright serpent, now in flowers conceal'd; Far shine the scales, that gild his sinuous back, And lucid undulations mark his track; So with strong arm immortal BRINDLEY leads 350 His long canals, and parts the velvet meads; Winding in lucid lines, the watery mass Mines the firm rock, or loads the deep morass, With rising locks a thousand hills alarms, Flings o'er a thousand streams its silver arms, 355 Feeds the long vale, the nodding woodland laves, And Plenty, Arts, and Commerce freight the waves. —NYMPHS! who erewhile round BRINDLEY'S early bier On show-white bosoms shower'd the incessant tear, Adorn his tomb!—oh, raise the marble bust, 360 Proclaim his honours, and protect his dust! With urns inverted, round the sacred shrine Their ozier wreaths let weeping Naiads twine; While on the top MECHANIC GENIUS stands, Counts the fleet waves, and balances the lands.
[On Brindley's cradle smiled. l. 341. The life of Mr. Brindley, whose great abilities in the construction of canal navigation were called forth by the patronage of the Duke of Bridgwater, may be read in Dr. Kippis's Biographia Britannica, the excellence of his genius is visible in every part of this island. He died at Turnhurst in Staffordshire in 1772, and ought to have a monument in the cathedral church at Lichfield.]
365 X. "NYMPHS! YOU first taught to pierce the secret caves Of humid earth, and lift her ponderous waves; Bade with quick stroke the sliding piston bear The viewless columns of incumbent air;— Press'd by the incumbent air the floods below, 370 Through opening valves in foaming torrents flow, Foot after foot with lessen'd impulse move, And rising seek the vacancy above.— So when the Mother, bending o'er his charms, Clasps her fair nurseling in delighted arms; 375 Throws the thin kerchief from her neck of snow, And half unveils the pearly orbs below; With sparkling eye the blameless Plunderer owns Her soft embraces, and endearing tones, Seeks the salubrious fount with opening lips, 380 Spreads his inquiring hands, and smiles, and sips.
[Lift her ponderous waves. l. 366. The invention of the pump is of very antient date, being ascribed to one Ctesebes an Athenian, whence it was called by the Latins machina Ctesebiana; but it was long before it was known that the ascent of the piston lifted the superincumbent column of the atmosphere, and that then the pressure of the surrounding air on the surface of the well below forced the water up into the vacuum, and that on that account in the common lifting pump the water would rise only about thirty-five feet, as the weight of such a column of water was in general an equipoise to the surrounding atmosphere. The foamy appearance of water, when the pressure of the air over it is diminished, is owing to the expansion and escape of the air previously dissolved by it, or existing in its pores. When a child first sucks it only presses or champs the teat, as observed by the great Harvey, but afterwards it learns to make an incipient vacuum in its mouth, and acts by removing the pressure of the atmosphere from the nipple, like a pump.]
"CONNUBIAL FAIR! whom no fond transport warms To lull your infant in maternal arms; Who, bless'd in vain with tumid bosoms, hear His tender wailings with unfeeling ear; 385 The soothing kiss and milky rill deny To the sweet pouting lip, and glistening eye!— Ah! what avails the cradle's damask roof, The eider bolster, and embroider'd woof!— Oft hears the gilded couch unpity'd plains, 390 And many a tear the tassel'd cushion stains! No voice so sweet attunes his cares to rest, So soft no pillow, as his Mother's breast!— —Thus charm'd to sweet repose, when twilight hours Shed their soft influence on celestial bowers, 395 The Cherub, Innocence, with smile divine Shuts his white wings, and sleeps on Beauty's shrine.
[Ah! what avails. l. 387. From an elegant little poem of Mr. Jerningham's intitled Il Latte, exhorting ladies to nurse their own children.]
XI. "From dome to dome when flames infuriate climb, Sweep the long street, invest the tower sublime; Gild the tall vanes amid the astonish'd night, 400 And reddening heaven returns the sanguine light; While with vast strides and bristling hair aloof Pale Danger glides along the falling roof; And Giant Terror howling in amaze Moves his dark limbs across the lurid blaze. 405 NYMPHS! you first taught the gelid wave to rise Hurl'd in resplendent arches to the skies; In iron cells condensed the airy spring, And imp'd the torrent with unfailing wing; —On the fierce flames the shower impetuous falls, 410 And sudden darkness shrouds the shatter'd walls; Steam, smoak, and dust in blended volumes roll, And Night and Silence repossess the Pole.—
[Hurl'd in resplendent arches. l. 406. The addition of an air-cell to machines for raising water to extinguish fire was first introduced by Mr. Newsham of London, and is now applied to similar engines for washing wall-trees in gardens, and to all kinds of forcing pumps, and might be applied with advantage to lifting pumps where the water is brought from a great distance horizontally. Another kind of machine was invented by one Greyl, in which a vessel of water was every way dispersed by the explosion of gun-powder lodging in the centre of it, and lighted by an adapted match; from this idea Mr. Godfrey proposed a water-bomb of similar construction. Dr. Hales to prevent the spreading of fire proposed to cover the floors and stairs of the adjoining houses with earth; Mr. Hartley proposed to prevent houses from taking fire by covering the cieling with thin iron-plates, and Lord Mahon by a bed of coarse mortar or plaister between the cieling and floor above it. May not this age of chemical science discover some method of injecting or soaking timber with lime-water and afterwards with vitriolic acid, and thus fill its pores with alabaster? or of penetrating it with siliceous matter, by processes similar to those of Bergman and Achard? See Cronstadt's Mineral. 2d. edit. Vol. I. p. 222.]
"Where were ye, NYMPHS! in those disasterous hours, Which wrap'd in flames AUGUSTA'S sinking towers? 415 Why did ye linger in your wells and groves, When sad WOODMASON mourn'd her infant loves? When thy fair Daughters with unheeded screams, Ill-fated MOLESWORTH! call'd the loitering streams?— The trembling Nymph on bloodless fingers hung 420 Eyes from the tottering wall the distant throng, With ceaseless shrieks her sleeping friends alarms, Drops with singed hair into her lover's arms.— The illumin'd Mother seeks with footsteps fleet, Where hangs the safe balcony o'er the street, 425 Wrap'd in her sheet her youngest hope suspends, And panting lowers it to her tiptoe friends; Again she hurries on affection's wings, And now a third, and now a fourth, she brings; Safe all her babes, she smooths her horrent brow, 430 And bursts through bickering flames, unscorch'd, below. So, by her Son arraign'd, with feet unshod O'er burning bars indignant Emma trod.
[Footnote: Woodmason, Molesworth. l. 416. The histories of these unfortunate families may be seen in the Annual Register, or in the Gentleman's Magazine.]
"E'en on the day when Youth with Beauty wed, The flames surprized them in their nuptial bed;— 435 Seen at the opening sash with bosom bare, With wringing hands, and dark dishevel'd hair, The blushing Beauty with disorder'd charms Round her fond lover winds her ivory arms; Beat, as they clasp, their throbbing hearts with fear, 440 And many a kiss is mix'd with many a tear;— Ah me! in vain the labouring engines pour Round their pale limbs the ineffectual shower!— —Then crash'd the floor, while shrinking crouds retire, And Love and Virtue sunk amid the fire!— 445 With piercing screams afflicted strangers mourn, And their white ashes mingle in their urn.
XII. "PELLUCID FORMS! whose crystal bosoms show The shine of welfare, or the shade of woe; Who with soft lips salute returning Spring, 450 And hail the Zephyr quivering on his wing; Or watch, untired, the wintery clouds, and share With streaming eyes my vegetable care; Go, shove the dim mist from the mountain's brow, Chase the white fog, which floods the vale below; 455 Melt the thick snows, that linger on the lands, And catch the hailstones in your little hands; Guard the coy blossom from the pelting shower, And dash the rimy spangles from the bower; From each chill leaf the silvery drops repel, 460 And close the timorous floret's golden bell.
[Shove the dim mist. l. 453. See note on l. 20 of this Canto.]
[Catch the hail-stones. l. 456. See note on l. 15 of this Canto.]
[From each chill leaf. l. 459. The upper side of the leaf is the organ of vegetable respiration, as explained in the additional notes, No. XXXVII, hence the leaf is liable to injury from much moisture on this surface, and is destroyed by being smeared with oil, in these respects resembling the lungs of animals or the spiracula of insects. To prevent these injuries some leaves repel the dew-drops from their upper surfaces as those of cabbages; other vegetables close the upper surfaces of their leaves together in the night or in wet weather, as the sensitive plant; others only hang their leaves downwards so as to shoot the wet from them, as kidney-beans, and many trees. See note on l. 18 of this Canto.]
[Golden bell. l. 460. There are muscles placed about the footstalks of the leaves or leaflets of many plants, for the purpose of closing their upper surfaces together, or of bending them down so as to shoot off the showers or dew-drops, as mentioned in the preceeding note. The claws of the petals or of the divisions of the calyx of many flowers are furnished in a similar manner with muscles, which are exerted to open or close the corol and calyx of the flower as in tragopogon, anemone. This action of opening and closing the leaves or flowers does not appear to be produced simply by irritation on the muscles themselves, but by the connection of those muscles with a sensitive sensorium or brain existing in each individual bud or flower. 1st. Because many flowers close from the defect of stimulus, not by the excess of it, as by darkness, which is the absence of the stimulus of light; or by cold, which is the absence of the stimulus of heat. Now the defect of heat, or the absence of food, or of drink, affects our sensations, which had been previously accustomed to a greater quantity of them; but a muscle cannot be said to be stimulated into action by a defect of stimulus. 2. Because the muscles around the footstalks of the subdivisions of the leaves of the sensitive plant are exerted when any injury is offered to the other extremity of the leaf, and some of the stamens of the flowers of the class Syngenesia contract themselves when others are irritated. See note on Chondrilla, Vol. II. of this work.
From this circumstance the contraction of the muscles of vegetables seems to depend on a disagreeable sensation in some distant part, and not on the irritation of the muscles themselves. Thus when a particle of dust stimulates the ball of the eye, the eye-lids are instantly closed, and when too much light pains the retina, the muscles of the iris contract its aperture, and this not by any connection or consent of the nerves of those parts, but as an effort to prevent or to remove a disagreeable sensation, which evinces that vegetables are endued with sensation, or that each bud has a common sensorium, and is furnished with a brain or a central place where its nerves were connected.]
"So should young SYMPATHY, in female form, Climb the tall rock, spectatress of the storm; Life's sinking wrecks with secret sighs deplore, And bleed for others' woes, Herself on shore; 465 To friendless Virtue, gasping on the strand, Bare her warm heart, her virgin arms expand, Charm with kind looks, with tender accents cheer, And pour the sweet consolatory tear; Grief's cureless wounds with lenient balms asswage, 470 Or prop with firmer staff the steps of Age; The lifted arm of mute Despair arrest, And snatch the dagger pointed to his breast; Or lull to slumber Envy's haggard mien, And rob her quiver'd shafts with hand unseen. 475 —Sound, NYMPHS OF HELICON! the trump of Fame, And teach Hibernian echoes JONES'S name; Bind round her polish'd brow the civic bay, And drag the fair Philanthropist to day.— So from secluded springs, and secret caves, 480 Her Liffy pours his bright meandering waves, Cools the parch'd vale, the sultry mead divides, And towns and temples star his shadowy sides.
[Jones's name. l. 476. A young lady who devotes a great part of an ample fortune to well chosen acts of secret charity.]
XIII. "CALL YOUR light legions, tread the swampy heath, Pierce with sharp spades the tremulous peat beneath; 485 With colters bright the rushy sward bisect, And in new veins the gushing rills direct;— So flowers shall rise in purple light array'd, And blossom'd orchards stretch their silver shade; Admiring glebes their amber ears unfold, 490 And Labour sleep amid the waving gold.
"Thus when young HERCULES with firm disdain Braved the soft smiles of Pleasure's harlot train; To valiant toils his forceful limbs assign'd, And gave to Virtue all his mighty mind, 495 Fierce ACHELOUS rush'd from mountain-caves, O'er sad Etolia pour'd his wasteful waves, O'er lowing vales and bleating pastures roll'd, Swept her red vineyards, and her glebes of gold, Mined all her towns, uptore her rooted woods, 500 And Famine danced upon the shining floods. The youthful Hero seized his curled crest, And dash'd with lifted club the watery Pest; With waving arm the billowy tumult quell'd, And to his course the bellowing Fiend repell'd.
[Fierce Achelous. l. 495. The river Achelous deluged Etolia, by one of its branches or arms, which in the antient languages are called horns, and produced famine throughout a great tract of country, this was represented in hieroglyphic emblems by the winding course of a serpent and the roaring of a bull with large horns. Hercules, or the emblem of strength, strangled the serpent, and tore off one horn from the bull; that is, he stopped and turned the course of one arm of the river, and restored plenty to the country. Whence the antient emblem of the horn of plenty. Dict. par M. Danet.]
505 "Then to a Snake the finny Demon turn'd His lengthen'd form, with scales of silver burn'd; Lash'd with restless sweep his dragon-train, And shot meandering o'er the affrighted plain. The Hero-God, with giant fingers clasp'd 510 Firm round his neck, the hissing monster grasp'd; With starting eyes, wide throat, and gaping teeth, Curl his redundant folds, and writhe in death.
"And now a Bull, amid the flying throng The grisly Demon foam'd, and roar'd along; 515 With silver hoofs the flowery meadows spurn'd, Roll'd his red eye, his threatening antlers turn'd. Dragg'd down to earth, the Warrior's victor-hands Press'd his deep dewlap on the imprinted sands; Then with quick bound his bended knee he fix'd 520 High on his neck, the branching horns betwixt, Strain'd his strong arms, his sinewy shoulders bent, And from his curled brow the twisted terror rent. —Pleased Fawns and Nymphs with dancing step applaud, And hang their chaplets round the resting God; 525 Link their soft hands, and rear with pausing toil The golden trophy on the furrow'd soil; Fill with ripe fruits, with wreathed flowers adorn, And give to PLENTY her prolific horn.
[Dragg'd down to earth. l. 517. Described from an antique gem.]
XIV. "On Spring's fair lap, CERULEAN SISTERS! pour 530 From airy urns the sun-illumined shower, Feed with the dulcet drops my tender broods, Mellifluous flowers, and aromatic buds; Hang from each bending grass and horrent thorn The tremulous pearl, that glitters to the morn; 535 Or where cold dews their secret channels lave, And Earth's dark chambers hide the stagnant wave, O, pierce, YE NYMPHS! her marble veins, and lead Her gushing fountains to the thirsty mead; Wide o'er the shining vales, and trickling hills 540 Spread the bright treasure in a thousand rills. So shall my peopled realms of Leaf and Flower Exult, inebriate with the genial shower; Dip their long tresses from the mossy brink, With tufted roots the glassy currents drink; 545 Shade your cool mansions from meridian beams, And view their waving honours in your streams.
[Spread the bright treasure. l. 540. The practice of flooding lands long in use in China has been but lately introduced into this country. Besides the supplying water to the herbage in dryer seasons, it seems to defend it from frost in the early part of the year, and thus doubly advances the vegetation. The waters which rise from springs passing through marl or limestone are replete with calcareous earth, and when thrown over morasses they deposit this earth and incrust or consolidate the morass. This kind of earth is deposited in great quantity from the springs at Matlock bath, and supplies the soft porous limestone of which the houses and walls are there constructed; and has formed the whole bank for near a mile on that side of the Derwent on which they stand.
The water of many springs contains much azotic gas, or phlogistic air, besides carbonic gas, or fixed air, as that of Buxton and Bath; this being set at liberty may more readily contribute to the production of nitre by means of the putrescent matters which it is exposed to by being spread upon the surface of the land; in the same manner as frequently turning over heaps of manure facilitates the nitrous process by imprisoning atmospheric air in the interstices of the putrescent materials. Water arising by land-floods brings along with it much of the most soluble parts of the manure from the higher lands to the lower ones. River-water in its clear state and those springs which are called soft are less beneficial for the purpose of watering lands, as they contain less earthy or saline matter; and water from dissolving snow from its slow solution brings but little earth along with it, as may be seen by the comparative clearness of the water of snow-floods.]
"Thus where the veins their confluent branches bend, And milky eddies with the purple blend; The Chyle's white trunk, diverging from its source, 550 Seeks through the vital mass its shining course; O'er each red cell, and tissued membrane spreads In living net-work all its branching threads; Maze within maze its tortuous path pursues, Winds into glands, inextricable clues; 555 Steals through the stomach's velvet sides, and sips The silver surges with a thousand lips; Fills each fine pore, pervades each slender hair, And drinks salubrious dew-drops from the air.
"Thus when to kneel in Mecca's awful gloom, 560 Or press with pious kiss Medina's tomb, League after league, through many a lingering day, Steer the swart Caravans their sultry way; O'er sandy wastes on gasping camels toil, Or print with pilgrim-steps the burning soil; 565 If from lone rocks a sparkling rill descend, O'er the green brink the kneeling nations bend, Bathe the parch'd lip, and cool the feverish tongue, And the clear lake reflects the mingled throng."
The Goddess paused,—the listening bands awhile 570 Still seem to hear, and dwell upon her smile; Then with soft murmur sweep in lucid trains Down the green slopes, and o'er the pebbly plains, To each bright stream on silver sandals glide, Reflective fountain, and tumultuous tide.
575 So shoot the Spider-broods at breezy dawn Their glittering net-work o'er the autumnal lawn; From blade to blade connect with cordage fine The unbending grass, and live along the line; Or bathe unwet their oily forms, and dwell 580 With feet repulsive on the dimpling well.
So when the North congeals his watery mass, Piles high his snows, and floors his seas with glass; While many a Month, unknown to warmer rays, Marks its slow chronicle by lunar days; 585 Stout youths and ruddy damsels, sportive train, Leave the white soil, and rush upon the main; From isle to isle the moon-bright squadrons stray, And win in easy curves their graceful way; On step alternate borne, with balance nice 590 Hang o'er the gliding steel, and hiss along the ice.
Argument of the Fourth Canto.
Address to the Sylphs. I. Trade-winds. Monsoons. N.E. and S.W. winds. Land and sea breezes. Irregular winds. 9. II. Production of vital air from oxygene and light. The marriage of Cupid and Psyche. 25. III. 1. Syroc. Simoom. Tornado. 63. 2. Fog. Contagion. Story of Thyrsis and Aegle. Love and Death. 79. IV. 1. Barometer. Air-pump. 127. 2. Air- balloon of Mongulfier. Death of Rozier. Icarus. 143. V. Discoveries of Dr. Priestley. Evolutions and combinations of pure air. Rape of Proserpine. 165. VI. Sea-balloons, or houses constructed to move under the sea. Death of Mr. Day. Of Mr. Spalding. Of Captain Pierce and his Daughters. 195. VII. Sylphs of music. Cecelia singing. Cupid with a lyre riding upon a lion. 233. VIII. Destruction of Senacherib's army by a pestilential wind. Shadow of Death. 263. IX. 1. Wish to possess the secret of changing the course of the winds. 305. 2. Monster devouring air subdued by Mr. Kirwan. 321. X. 1. Seeds suspended in their pods. Stars discovered by Mr. Herschel. Destruction and resuscitation of all things. 351. 2. Seeds within seeds, and bulbs within bulbs. Picture on the retina of the eye. Concentric strata of the earth. The great seed. 381. 3. The root, pith, lobes, plume, calyx, coral, sap, blood, leaves respire and absorb light. The crocodile in its egg. 409. XI. Opening of the flower. The petals, style, anthers, prolific dust. Transmutation of the silkworm. 441. XII. 1. Leaf-buds changed into flower-buds by wounding the bark, or strangulating a part of the branch. 461. 2. Ingrafting. Aaron's rod pullulates. 477. XIII. 1. Insects on trees. Humming-bird alarmed by the spider-like apearance of Cyprepedia. 491. 2. Diseases of vegetables. Scratch on unnealed glass. 511. XIV. 1. Tender flowers. Amaryllis, fritillary, erythrina, mimosa, cerea. 523. 2. Vines. Oranges. Diana's trees. Kew garden. The royal family. 541. XV. Offering to Hygeia. 587. Departure of the Goddess. 629.
THE ECONOMY OF VEGETATION.
As when at noon in Hybla's fragrant bowers CACALIA opens all her honey'd flowers; Contending swarms on bending branches cling, And nations hover on aurelian wing; 5 So round the GODDESS, ere she speaks, on high Impatient SYLPHS in gawdy circlets fly; Quivering in air their painted plumes expand, And coloured shadows dance upon the land.
[Cacalia opens. l. 2. The importance of the nectarium or honey-gland in the vegetable economy is seen from the very complicated apparatus, which nature has formed in some flowers for the preservation of their honey from insects, as in the aconites or monkshoods; in other plants instead of a great apparatus for its protection a greater secretion of it is produced that thence a part may be spared to the depredation of insects. The cacalia suaveolens produces so much honey that on some days it may be smelt at a great distance from the plant. I remember once counting on one of these plants besides bees of various kinds without number, above two hundred painted butterflies, which gave it the beautiful appearance of being covered with additional flowers.]
I. "SYLPHS! YOUR light troops the tropic Winds confine, 10 And guide their streaming arrows to the Line; While in warm floods ecliptic breezes rise, And sink with wings benumb'd in colder skies. You bid Monsoons on Indian seas reside, And veer, as moves the sun, their airy tide; 15 While southern gales o'er western oceans roll, And Eurus steals his ice-winds from the Pole. Your playful trains, on sultry islands born, Turn on fantastic toe at eve and morn; With soft susurrant voice alternate sweep 20 Earth's green pavilions and encircling deep. OR in itinerant cohorts, borne sublime On tides of ether, float from clime to clime; O'er waving Autumn bend your airy ring, Or waft the fragrant bosom of the Spring.
[The tropic winds. l. 9. See additional notes, No. XXXIII.]
25 II. "When Morn, escorted by the dancing Hours, O'er the bright plains her dewy lustre showers; Till from her sable chariot Eve serene Drops the dark curtain o'er the brilliant scene; You form with chemic hands the airy surge, 30 Mix with broad vans, with shadowy tridents urge. SYLPHS! from each sun-bright leaf, that twinkling shakes O'er Earth's green lap, or shoots amid her lakes, Your playful bands with simpering lips invite, And wed the enamour'd OXYGENE to LIGHT.— 35 Round their white necks with fingers interwove, Cling the fond Pair with unabating love; Hand link'd in hand on buoyant step they rise, And soar and glisten in unclouded skies. Whence in bright floods the VITAL AIR expands, 40 And with concentric spheres involves the lands; Pervades the swarming seas, and heaving earths, Where teeming Nature broods her myriad births; Fills the fine lungs of all that breathe or bud, Warms the new heart, and dyes the gushing blood; 45 With Life's first spark inspires the organic frame, And, as it wastes, renews the subtile flame.
[The enamour'd oxygene. l. 34. The common air of the atmosphere appears by the analysis of Dr. Priestley and other philosophers to consist of about three parts of an elastic fluid unfit for respiration or combustion, called azote by the French school, and about one fourth of pure vital air fit for the support of animal life and of combustion, called oxygene. The principal source of the azote is probably from the decomposition of all vegetable and animal matters by putrefaction and combustion; the principal source of vital air or oxygene is perhaps from the decomposition of water in the organs of vegetables by means of the sun's light. The difficulty of injecting vegetable vessels seems to shew that their perspirative pores are much less than those of animals, and that the water which constitutes their perspiration is so divided at the time of its exclusion that by means of the sun's light it becomes decomposed, the inflammable air or hydrogene, which is one of its constituent parts, being retained to form the oil, resin, wax, honey, &c. of the vegetable economy; and the other part, which united with light or heat becomes vital air or oxygene gas, rises into the atmosphere and replenishes it with the food of life.
Dr. Priestley has evinced by very ingenious experiments that the blood gives out phlogiston, and receives vital air, or oxygene-gas by the lungs. And Dr. Crawford has shewn that the blood acquires heat from this vital air in respiration. There is however still a something more subtil than heat, which must be obtained in respiration from the vital air, a something which life can not exist a few minutes without, which seems necessary to the vegetable as well as to the animal world, and which as no organized vessels can confine it, requires perpetually to be renewed. See note on Canto I. l. 401.]
"So pure, so soft, with sweet attraction shone Fair PSYCHE, kneeling at the ethereal throne; Won with coy smiles the admiring court of Jove, 50 And warm'd the bosom of unconquer'd LOVE.— Beneath a moving shade of fruits and flowers Onward they march to HYMEN'S sacred bowers; With lifted torch he lights the festive train, Sublime, and leads them in his golden chain; 55 Joins the fond pair, indulgent to their vows, And hides with mystic veil their blushing brows. Round their fair forms their mingling arms they fling, Meet with warm lip, and clasp with rustling wing.— —Hence plastic Nature, as Oblivion whelms 60 Her fading forms, repeoples all her realms; Soft Joys disport on purple plumes unfurl'd, And Love and Beauty rule the willing world.
[Fair Psyche. l. 48. Described from an antient gem on a fine onyx in possession of the Duke of Marlborough, of which there is a beautiful print in Bryant's Mythol. Vol II. p. 392. And from another antient gem of Cupid and Psyche embracing, of which there is a print in Spence's Polymetis. p. 82.]
[Repeoples all her realms. l. 60.
Quae mare navigerum et terras frugiferentes Concelebras; per te quoniam genus omne animantum Concipitur, visitque exortum lumina folis. Lucret.]
III. 1. "SYLPHS! Your bold myriads on the withering heath Stay the fell SYROC'S suffocative breath; 65 Arrest SIMOOM in his realms of sand, The poisoned javelin balanced in his hand;— Fierce on blue streams he rides the tainted air, Points his keen eye, and waves his whistling hair; While, as he turns, the undulating soil 70 Rolls in red waves, and billowy deserts boil.
[Arrest Simoom. l. 65. "At eleven o'clock while we were with great pleasure contemplating the rugged tops of Chiggre, where we expected to solace ourselves with plenty of good water, Idris cried out with a loud voice, "fall upon your faces, for here is the simoom!" I saw from the S.E. a haze come in colour like the purple part of a rainbow, but not so compressed or thick; it did not occupy twenty yards in breadth, and was about twelve feet high from the ground. It was a kind of a blush upon the air, and it moved very rapidly, for I scarce could turn to fall upon the ground with my head to the northward, when I felt the heat of its current plainly upon my face. We all lay flat upon the ground, as if dead, till Idris told us it was blown over. The meteor, or purple haze, which I saw was indeed passed; but the light air that still blew was of heat to threaten suffocation. For my part I found distinctly in my breast, that I had imbibed a part of it; nor was I free of an asthmatic sensation till I had been some months in Italy." Bruce's Travels. Vol. IV. p. 557.
It is difficult to account for the narrow track of this pestilential wind, which is said not to exceed twenty yards, and for its small elevation of twelve feet. A whirlwind will pass forwards, and throw down an avenue of trees by its quick revolution as it passes, but nothing like a whirling is described as happening in these narrow streams of air, and whirlwinds ascend to greater heights. There seems but one known manner in which this channel of air could be effected, and that is by electricity.
The volcanic origin of these winds is mentioned in the note on Chunda in Vol. II. of this work; it must here be added, that Professor Vairo at Naples found, that during the eruption of Vesuvius perpendicular iron bars were electric; and others have observed suffocating damps to attend these eruptions. Ferber's Travels in Italy, p. 133. And lastly, that a current of air attends the passage of electric matter, as is seen in presenting an electrized point to the flame of a candle. In Mr. Bruce's account of this simoom, it was in its course over a quite dry desert of sand, (and which was in consequence unable to conduct an electric stream into the earth beneath it,) to some moist rocks at but a few miles distance; and thence would appear to be a stream of electricity from a volcano attended with noxious air; and as the bodies of Mr. Bruce and his attendants were insulated on the sand, they would not be sensible of their increased electricity, as it passed over them; to which it may be added, that a sulphurous or suffocating sensation is said to accompany flames of lightning, and even strong sparks of artificial electricity. In the above account of the simoom, a great redness in the air is said to be a certain sign of its approach, which may be occasioned by the eruption of flame from a distant volcano in these extensive and impenetrable deserts of sand. See Note on l. 294 of this Canto.]
You seize TORNADO by his locks of mist, Burst his dense clouds, his wheeling spires untwist; Wide o'er the West when borne on headlong gales, Dark as meridian night, the Monster sails, 75 Howls high in air, and shakes his curled brow, Lashing with serpent-train the waves below, Whirls his black arm, the forked lightning flings, And showers a deluge from his demon-wings.
[Tornado's. l. 71. See additional notes, No. XXXIII.]
2. "SYLPHS! with light shafts YOU pierce the drowsy FOG, 80 That lingering slumbers on the sedge-wove bog, With webbed feet o'er midnight meadows creeps, Or flings his hairy limbs on stagnant deeps. YOU meet CONTAGION issuing from afar, And dash the baleful conqueror from his car; 85 When, Guest of DEATH! from charnel vaults he steals, And bathes in human gore his armed wheels.
[On stagnant deeps. l. 82. All contagious miasmata originate either from animal bodies, as those of the small pox, or from putrid morasses; these latter produce agues in the colder climates, and malignant fevers in the warmer ones. The volcanic vapours which cause epidemic coughs, are to be ranked amongst poisons, rather than amongst the miasmata, which produce contagious diseases.]
"Thus when the PLAGUE, upborne on Belgian air, Look'd through the mist and shook his clotted hair, O'er shrinking nations steer'd malignant clouds, 90 And rain'd destruction on the gasping crouds. The beauteous AEGLE felt the venom'd dart, Slow roll'd her eye, and feebly throbb'd her heart; Each fervid sigh seem'd shorter than the last, And starting Friendship shunn'd her, as she pass'd. 95 —With weak unsteady step the fainting Maid Seeks the cold garden's solitary shade, Sinks on the pillowy moss her drooping head, And prints with lifeless limbs her leafy bed. —On wings of Love her plighted Swain pursues, 100 Shades her from winds, and shelters her from dews, Extends on tapering poles the canvas roof, Spreads o'er the straw-wove matt the flaxen woof, Sweet buds and blossoms on her bolster strows, And binds his kerchief round her aching brows; 105 Sooths with soft kiss, with tender accents charms, And clasps the bright Infection in his arms.— With pale and languid smiles the grateful Fair Applauds his virtues, and rewards his care; Mourns with wet cheek her fair companions fled 110 On timorous step, or number'd with the dead; Calls to its bosom all its scatter'd rays, And pours on THYRSIS the collected blaze; Braves the chill night, caressing and caress'd, And folds her Hero-lover to her breast.— 115 Less bold, LEANDER at the dusky hour Eyed, as he swam, the far love-lighted tower; Breasted with struggling arms the tossing wave, And sunk benighted in the watery grave. Less bold, TOBIAS claim'd the nuptial bed, 120 Where seven fond Lovers by a Fiend had bled; And drove, instructed by his Angel-Guide, The enamour'd Demon from the fatal bride.— —SYLPHS! while your winnowing pinions fan'd the air, And shed gay visions o'er the sleeping pair; 125 LOVE round their couch effused his rosy breath, And with his keener arrows conquer'd DEATH.
[The beauteous Aegle. l. 91. When the plague raged in Holland in 1636, a young girl was seized with it, had three carbuncles, and was removed to a garden, where her lover, who was betrothed to her, attended her as a nurse, and slept with her as his wife. He remained uninfected, and she recovered, and was married to him. The story is related by Vinc. Fabricius in the Misc. Cur. Ann. II. Obs. 188.]
IV. 1. "You charm'd, indulgent SYLPHS! their learned toil, And crown'd with fame your TORRICELL, and BOYLE; Taught with sweet smiles, responsive to their prayer, 130 The spring and pressure of the viewless air. —How up exhausted tubes bright currents flow Of liquid silver from the lake below, Weigh the long column of the incumbent skies, And with the changeful moment fall and rise. 135 —How, as in brazen pumps the pistons move, The membrane-valve sustains the weight above; Stroke follows stroke, the gelid vapour falls, And misty dew-drops dim the crystal walls; Rare and more rare expands the fluid thin, 140 And Silence dwells with Vacancy within.— So in the mighty Void with grim delight Primeval Silence reign'd with ancient Night.
[Torricell and Boyle. l. 128. The pressure of the atmosphere was discovered by Torricelli, a disciple of Galileo, who had previously found that the air had weight. Dr. Hook and M. Du Hamel ascribe the invention of the air-pump to Mr. Boyle, who however confesses he had some hints concerning its construction from De Guerick. The vacancy at the summit of the barometer is termed the Torricellian vacuum, and the exhausted receiver of an air pump the Boylean vacuum, in honour of these two philosophers.
The mist and descending dew which appear at first exhausting the receiver of an air-pump, are explained in the Phil. Trans. Vol. LXXVIII. from the cold produced by the expansion of air. For a thermometer placed in the receiver sinks some degrees, and in a very little time, as soon as a sufficient quantity of heat can be acquired from the surrounding bodies, the dew becomes again taken up. See additional notes, No. VII. Mr. Saussure observed on placing his hygrometer in a receiver of an air- pump, that though on beginning to exhaust it the air became misty, and parted with its moisture, yet the hair of his hygrometer contracted, and the instrument pointed to greater dryness. This unexpected occurrence is explained by M. Monge (Annales de Chymie, Tom. V.) to depend on the want of the usual pressure of the atmosphere to force the aqueous particles into the pores of the hair; and M. Saussure supposes, that his vesicular vapour requires more time to be redissolved, than is necessary to dry the hair of his thermometer. Essais sur l'Hygrom. p. 226. but I suspect there is a less hypothetical way of understanding it; when a colder body is brought into warm and moist air, (as a bottle of spring-water for instance,) a steam is quickly collected on its surface; the contrary occurs when a warmer body is brought into cold and damp air, it continues free from dew so long as it continues warm; for it warms the atmosphere around it, and renders it capable of receiving instead of parting with moisture. The moment the air becomes rarefied in the receiver of the air-pump it becomes colder, as appears by the thermometer, and deposits its vapour; but the hair of Mr. Saussure's hygrometer is now warmer than the air in which it is immersed, and in consequence becomes dryer than before, by warming the air which immediately surrounds it, a part of its moisture evaporating along with its heat.]
2. "SYLPHS! your soft voices, whispering from the skies, Bade from low earth the bold MONGULFIER rise; 145 Outstretch'd his buoyant ball with airy spring, And bore the Sage on levity of wing;— Where were ye, SYLPHS! when on the ethereal main Young ROSIERE launch'd, and call'd your aid in vain? Fair mounts the light balloon, by Zephyr driven, 150 Parts the thin clouds, and sails along the heaven; Higher and yet higher the expanding bubble flies, Lights with quick flash, and bursts amid the skies.— Headlong He rushes through the affrighted air With limbs distorted, and dishevel'd hair, 155 Whirls round and round, the flying croud alarms, And DEATH receives him in his sable arms!— So erst with melting wax and loosen'd strings Sunk hapless ICARUS on unfaithful wings; His scatter'd plumage danced upon the wave, 160 And sorrowing Mermaids deck'd his watery grave; O'er his pale corse their pearly sea-flowers shed, And strew'd with crimson moss his marble bed; Struck in their coral towers the pausing bell, And wide in ocean toll'd his echoing knell.
[Young Rosiere launch'd. l. 148. M. Pilatre du Rosiere with a M. Romain rose in a balloon from Boulogne in June 1785, and after having been about a mile high for about half an hour the balloon took fire, and the two adventurers were dashed to pieces on their fall to the ground. Mr. Rosiere was a philosopher of great talents and activity, joined with such urbanity and elegance of manners, as conciliated the affections of his acquaintance and rendered his misfortune universally lamented. Annual Register for 1784 and 1785, p. 329.]
[And wide in ocean. l. 164. Denser bodies propagate vibration or sound better than rarer ones; if two stones be struck together under the water, they may be heard a mile or two by any one whose head is immersed at that distance, according to an experiment of Dr. Franklin. If the ear be applied to one end of a long beam of timber, the stroke of a pin at the other end becomes sensible; if a poker be suspended in the middle of a garter, each end of which is pressed against the ear, the least percussions on the poker give great sounds. And I am informed by laying the ear on the ground the tread of a horse may be discerned at a great distance in the night. The organs of hearing belonging to fish are for this reason much less complicated than of quadrupeds, as the fluid they are immersed in so much better conveys its vibrations. And it is probable that some shell-fish which have twisted shells like the cochlea and semicircular canals of the ears of men and quadrupeds may have no appropriated organ for perceiving the vibrations of the element they live in, but may by their spiral form be in a manner all ear.]
165 V. "SYLPHS! YOU, retiring to sequester'd bowers, Where oft your PRIESTLEY woos your airy powers, On noiseless step or quivering pinion glide, As sits the Sage with Science by his side; To his charm'd eye in gay undress appear, 170 Or pour your secrets on his raptured ear. How nitrous Gas from iron ingots driven Drinks with red lips the purest breath of heaven; How, while Conferva from its tender hair Gives in bright bubbles empyrean air; 175 The crystal floods phlogistic ores calcine, And the pure ETHER marries with the MINE.
[Where oft your Priestley. l. 166. The fame of Dr. Priestley is known in every part of the earth where science has penetrated. His various discoveries respecting the analysis of the atmosphere, and the production of variety of new airs or gasses, can only be clearly understood by reading his Experiments on Airs, (3 vols. octavo, Johnson, London.) the following are amongst his many discoveries. 1. The discovery of nitrous and dephlogisticated airs. 2. The exhibition of the acids and alkalies in the form of air. 3. Ascertaining the purity of respirable air by nitrous air. 4. The restoration of vitiated air by vegetation. 5. The influence of light to enable vegetables to yield pure air. 6. The conversion by means of light of animal and vegetable substances, that would otherwise become putrid and offensive, into nourishment of vegetables. 7. The use of respiration by the blood parting with phlogiston, and imbibing dephlogisticated air.
The experiments here alluded to are, 1. Concerning the production of nitrous gas from dissolving iron and many other metals in nitrous acid, which though first discovered by Dr. Hales (Static. Ess. Vol. I. p. 224) was fully investigated, and applied to the important purpose of distinguishing the purity of atmospheric air by Dr. Priestley. When about two measures of common air and one of nitrous gas are mixed together a red effervescence takes place, and the two airs occupy about one fourth less space than was previously occupied by the common air alone.
2. Concerning the green substance which grows at the bottom of reservoirs of water, which Dr. Priestley discovered to yield much pure air when the sun shone on it. His method of collecting this air is by placing over the green substance, which he believes to be a vegetable of the genus conferva, an inverted bell-glass previously filled with water, which subsides as the air arises; it has since been found that all vegetables give up pure air from their leaves, when the sun shines upon them, but not in the night, which may be owing to the sleep of the plant.
3. The third refers to the great quantity of pure air contained in the calces of metals. The calces were long known to weigh much more than the metallic bodies before calcination, insomuch that 100 pounds of lead will produce 112 pounds of minium; the ore of manganese, which is always found near the surface of the earth, is replete with pure air, which is now used for the purpose of bleaching. Other metals when exposed to the atmosphere attract the pure air from it, and become calces by its combination, as zinc, lead, iron; and increase in weight in proportion to the air, which they imbibe.]
"So in Sicilia's ever-blooming shade When playful PROSERPINE from CERES stray'd, Led with unwary step her virgin trains 180 O'er Etna's steeps, and Enna's golden plains; Pluck'd with fair hand the silver-blossom'd bower, And purpled mead,—herself a fairer flower; Sudden, unseen amid the twilight glade, Rush'd gloomy DIS, and seized the trembling maid.— 185 Her starting damsels sprung from mossy seats, Dropp'd from their gauzy laps the gather'd sweets, Clung round the struggling Nymph, with piercing cries, Pursued the chariot, and invoked the skies;— Pleased as he grasps her in his iron arms, 190 Frights with soft sighs, with tender words alarms, The wheels descending roll'd in smoky rings, Infernal Cupids flapp'd their demon wings; Earth with deep yawn received the Fair, amaz'd, And far in Night celestial Beauty blaz'd.
[When playful Proserpine. l. 178. The fable of Proserpine's being seized by Pluto as she was gathering flowers, is explained by Lord Bacon to signify the combination or marriage of etherial spirit with earthly materials. Bacon's Works, Vol. V. p. 470. edit. 4to. Lond. 1778. This allusion is still more curiously exact, from the late discovery of pure air being given up from vegetables, and that then in its unmixed state it more readily combines with metallic or inflammable bodies. From these fables which were probably taken from antient hieroglyphics there is frequently reason to believe that the Egyptians possessed much chemical knowledge, which for want of alphabetical writing perished with their philosophers.]
195 VI. "Led by the Sage, Lo! Britain's sons shall guide Huge SEA-BALLOONS beneath the tossing tide; The diving castles, roof'd with spheric glass, Ribb'd with strong oak, and barr'd with bolts of brass, Buoy'd with pure air shall endless tracks pursue, 200 And PRIESTLEY'S hand the vital flood renew.— Then shall BRITANNIA rule the wealthy realms, Which Ocean's wide insatiate wave o'erwhelms; Confine in netted bowers his scaly flocks, Part his blue plains, and people all his rocks. 205 Deep, in warm waves beneath the Line that roll, Beneath the shadowy ice-isles of the Pole, Onward, through bright meandering vales, afar, Obedient Sharks shall trail her sceptred car, With harness'd necks the pearly flood disturb, 210 Stretch the silk rein, and champ the silver curb; Pleased round her triumph wondering Tritons play, And Seamaids hail her on the watery way. —Oft shall she weep beneath the crystal waves O'er shipwreck'd lovers weltering in their graves; 215 Mingling in death the Brave and Good behold With slaves to glory, and with slaves to gold; Shrin'd in the deep shall DAY and SPALDING mourn, Each in his treacherous bell, sepulchral urn!— Oft o'er thy lovely daughters, hapless PIERCE! 220 Her sighs shall breathe, her sorrows dew their hearse.— With brow upturn'd to Heaven, "WE WILL NOT PART!" He cried, and clasp'd them to his aching heart,— —Dash'd in dread conflict on the rocky grounds, Crash the mock'd masts, the staggering wreck rebounds; 225 Through gaping seams the rushing deluge swims, Chills their pale bosoms, bathes their shuddering limbs, Climbs their white shoulders, buoys their streaming hair, And the last sea-shriek bellows in the air.— Each with loud sobs her tender sire caress'd, 230 And gasping strain'd him closer to her breast!— —Stretch'd on one bier they sleep beneath the brine, And their white bones with ivory arms intwine!