« AnteriorContinuar »
The sublimest operations in nature, which strike us with awe and wonder, are to be referred to the sound of distant echoes, as we hear them in thunderstorms.
We have two kinds of atmospheric electricity, one in which the fluid plays between an upper and lower tier of clouds; the other in which it darts from the cloud to the earth. The former is the most common, and not at all dangerous, though it is accompanied with a more appalling sound than the latter, which carries with it destruction and death.
The vertical shaft strikes the highest objects, and is to be distinguished more by a crackling noise, than the tremendous roll.
The thunder, which follows the horizontal shaft, may be explained upon the following principles :As the fluid darts from one side of the heavens to the other, it actually produces but one shock, or instantaneous sound; but, by the reflection of the upper tier on the lower tier, or stratum of clouds, the echoes are continued in one incessant roll, as if a heavy carriage was furiously driven over-head.* formance in York Cathedral, 1825, composed of six hundred performers, when only five auditors were present. Upon the first burst of the voices and instruments on the words Glory be to God, the effect was more than the senses could bear, so much was the sound augmented by the vast space of this noble building ; nor was it till those overpowering concussions ceased, that the imagination could recover itself, when the retiring of the sounds could only be compared to the distant roll and convulsion of nature. * Since the above was written, the author has met with the following
From the duration of the roll, it is not difficult to ascertain that the shaft of lightning darts eight or ten miles across the heavens in an instant of time.* On the lake of Ulleswater is heard an imitation of these effects. On firing a cannon at the head of the lake, the report is so bandied about, from mountain to mountain, as to produce an effect like thunder, which continues for a length of time, expiring in the distance with a noise not louder than the crumpling of a piece of paper.
There is a charm connected with mountains, so 'powerful, that the merest mention of their magnifi'cent features kindles the imagination, and carries 'the spirit at once into the bosom of their enchanted
regions. How the mind is filled with their vast 'solitude! Whoever has not climbed their long and
heathy ascents, and seen the trembling mountain'flowers, the glowing moss, the richly-tinted lichens
under foot; and scented the fresh aroma of the 'uncultivated sod; heard the wild-cry of the moun'tain-plover, the raven, and eagle; and seen the remarks in the Quarlerly Review, No. 88, which fully confirm this theory. The French astronomers, in making their experiments on (the velocity of sound, observed, that under a perfectly clear sky, the report of their guns was always single and sharp; whereas, wuen a cloud covered a considerable part of the horizon, the report was attended with a long and continued roll like thunder.'
* The sound of the great meteor in 1783, was not heard till ten minutes after it had appeared : though one hundred and twenty miles high, from its rapid motion it appeared so low, as scarcely to clear the roofs of the houses. It was seen all over Europe, and was in size supposed to be as large as the island of Great Britain.- Quarterly Review, No. 88.
russet hues of distant slopes, the livid gashes of ravines and precipices; the silver line of falling 'waters, and the whirling clouds at his feet; and 'cast his gaze over lakes, and forests, wide lands,
and smoaking towns, to the ocean's brink,-knows 'nothing of the splendid scenes this land affords.'*
The tremendous avalanches of snow from the summits of the high Alps in Switzerland, form another order of the most appalling echoes. Mr. Bakewell, speaking of the fall of these masses, says— The noise was indescribably deep and aw'ful; reverberating in long and repeated echoes, 'which truly might be called the music of the 'mountains, and was in perfect harmony with the vast sublimity of the scene. To these deep echoes
succeeded a solemn silence, till again an appalling 'crash from another part of the range was repeated by louder bursts, responding from mountain to mountain. It would have required no very poetic
imagination to have heard, amid these sounds, the 'mighty genii of the Alps holding conference to'gether, in an awful language, that spoke of the ' feebleness of human power, compared with the 'force and immensity of nature.' Descending from this vast theatre of sounds, into the haunts of men, how cheering to hear the joyful notes of the goatherd ringing through the valley, as he runs through the gamut at a breath; and, with a stentorian voice, calls up the echoes that surround him. Ac
* Howitt's Book of the Seasons.
companied with the lowing herds, and the murmur of waterfalls, how rich he pours his liquid song ! Ignorant of all the rules of art, and guided by his fancy alone, his voice in the deep solitude has a charm indescribable.
On turning to the sequestered spots of our own isle, let us seek the 'Wood nymph wild' with Izaak Walton. "Look,' says he, under the broad beech 'tree! I sat down when I was last this way a fish‘ing, and the birds in the adjoining grove seemed to 'have a friendly contention with an echo, whose
dead voice seemed to live in a hollow tree, near 'to the brow of that primrose hil). There I sat
viewing the silver stream glide silently towards 'the tempestuous sea; yet sometimes opposed by
rugged roots and pebbled stones, which broke their waves and turned them into foam; and now beguiled time by viewing the harmless lambs, some Jeaping securely in the cool shade, whilst others 'sported in the cheerful sun; and as I sat, these and other sights had so fully possessed my soul with content, that I thought, as the poet has happily expressed it,
I was for that time lifted above earth,
It is in rural scenes like these we hail the 'Nymph unseen,' and listen with delight to her wooing voice.
The flute is the most simple of all the wind instruments, and its antiquity may be referred to a period even prior to the Greeks and Romans; rude as it was in those ages, it ranked next to the lyre. It derives its name from Flutta, a lamprey, a sort of eel, which it resembles not only in figure, but also in the number and distance of its holes, similar to those observable in the sides of that slender fish. The instrument in the time of Shakespeare, no doubt, was the common flute, blown at the end like a flageolet, or child's toy. From Dryden's description, we may infer the same was in use in his day, who speaks of it as the
Soft-complaining flute. The introduction of the flauto traversa, or side flute, was a great improvement: this is now generally called the German flute. At first it was played with but one key, and aspired to no greater extent of notes than those of the female voice; but these were full and delicious. In this simple form it was often found in the hands of the village swain, who, after the toil of the day, played an artless melody. On a summer's eve I have heard with delight its complaining voice, concealed in the dark shade of