Page images
PDF
EPUB

and cannot exist out of it. Now if these sishes possessed at sirst the fame natures as they do at present, their element was, of necessity falt. This question seems therefore decided, without enqniring how the faltness of the sea is appointed to prevent its putrefaction? for in small quantities, at least falt-water, the most strongly will putrify; and those who have been long becalmed. in sultry regions, have but witnessed a similar disposition in the ocean itself. Nevertheless this is no putrid disposition in the water, but in that immense quantity of animal particles, which in so many ages have replenished the ocean. As to the degree of saltness in the sea, it varies in the fame places at different seasons, sometimes at different depths, but in general it is found fastest where the fun is vertical and where the water suffer! the severest heat."

We are also assured by philosophers, that the stawater around thejhores of Britain, contains about onetwenty-eighth, or one-thirtieth of sea-falt, an"d about oneeightieth of magnesia falt.

After the enumeration of these particulars relative to the sea, you will permit me just to call your attention to two writers, who with peculiar beauty have dwelt on this subject.

Dr. James Fordycethus expresses himself in his Vieio cf the Sea, and the passage was forcibly suggested to my mind, when contemplating the fame grand object at Sidmouth.

"In this place of security," fays that elegant writer^ "I view unaffrighted, though not unawed, the majestic ocean, spread out before me. Stupendous image of thy power, Omnipotent Creator! nor less of thy benevolence, Univerfal Parent I Was it not formed by thee to unite in bonds of mutual intercourse, thy wide extended family of mankind; to carry through various and distant nations the respective productions and discoveries of each, to relieve or diminish their mutual wants, and N 2 disseminate disseminate the blessings of religion and humanity unto the ends of the earth? But who can number the tribes or tell the diversity of living creatures with which thou hast replenished this mighty receptacle of waters, sitting all to enjoy their native element, and many to supply a rich and wholesome nourishment for man? May he receive it with thanksgiving as one of those benesits that, when placed within his power, were intended to employ his industry and strengthen him for thy service? rJor would I forget to acknowledge that benignant Providence which hath, in so many other ways, rendered the fame element conducive to health and comfort, by furnishing stores of falt to season and preserve our food, by refreshing the.adjacent coasts with falutary breezes, by invigorating the weak and restoring the diseased, that bathe in its briny waves I"

You will perceive that these observations are much the Came as those suggested by Durham, only expressed in more elegant language, and sublimed by the servor of devotion.

The other writer to whom I alluded, as having dwelt with peculiar beauty on this subject, is the late Mr. Robinson, of Cambridge, who, by a reserence to the Sea, thus.strikingly illustrates the character of the Deity: "rVoiir sear of God is excessive. The cause of this dretd is a partial knowledge of God. Recollect what I faid w you sometime ago, concerning knowing only part of a/ubjetl. This is your case: you have attended to the judgments of God:—to his threatening* against the wicked* and to that punishment which awaits them in another state; but you.have not turned your attention to the Mercy of God expressed in his promises, and in his dispenfations of goodness to others in your condition. Suppose I could take 3 person, one who had never seen the Sea, and carry him in an instant to the sea-side, and set him down there; and suppose the sea, at that instant, to be in a florin; the great black and dismal

clouds clouds rolling, thunders bellowing, lightening* flashing, the winds roaring, the sea dashing, ten thoufand watery mountains one against the other—the beach, covered with shattered timber and cordage, merchandizes and corpses; this man would instantly conceive a dreadsul idea of the sea, and would shudder and shriek, and fly for his lise I It would be hard to give this man a pleafant notion of the sea, especially is he had been well informed that several of his relations and friends had perished in the tempest; yet this man would have but half-a, right notion of the sea. For could he be prevailed upon to go down to the beach a sew days after—the heavens would smile, the air be serene, the water smooth, the seamen whistling and singing; here a vessel of trade failing before the wind, there a fleet of men of war coming into harbour; yonder, pleasure boats basking in the sun, the flute making melody to the breeze; the company, even the softer sex, enjoying themselves without sear: this man would form the other half-notion of the Sea, and the two put together, would be thejujl and true idea of it." Apply this to our subject.

You will readily join with me in admiring the apposueness of this illustration, since you have often regretted tome that religion should ever be clothed in the fable garb of melancholy; for True Religion is the adoration of that great and wonderful being, by whose extensive operations the selicity of the whole intelligent creation will be ultimately accomplished.

Wandering one day on the beach, early in the morning, I met.with an aged sisherman, seated under the cliff of a rock, and employed (like James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, of old) in mending his nets. I entered into converfation with him, and learnt from him many things with which I was previously unacquainted. Among other particulars, he told me, that these coasts had, of late years, been in a measure, dels 3 serted lerted by the sinny tribe. For this Tact no fatisfactory reasons could be assigned. This spirit of emigration, by no means uncommon, at present, amongst the human species, has, it seems, seized the picatory race; nor is it yet ascertained to what (bores they have betaken themselves. I gave this son of misfortune a trifle, for which he appeared extremely grateful. Indeed I pitied the po r old man, who lamented the desertion, as it had been the occafion of narrowing the means of his subsistence. On his brow was indented many a furrow, and his physiognomy assured me that he had, oftentimes, borne the " the pitiless pelting of the storm!"

Mackare), however, are caught here in abundance. I faw a draught brought ashore one evening, and poured from the net into a large basket. J was struck .with their appearance, and handled them, for their colours were beautiful beyond expression. The silvery white was (haded by purple dyes, and the quivering agonies of dissolution produced a thoufand variations, marked by the most exquisite delicacy. Upon my return from this scene, I found the band belonging to the Sidmouth volunteers playing on the beach, which, combined with the murmurs of the " wide weltering waves," generated the most pleasing senfations. The company were parading backwards and forwards—the fun rapidly setting in the west, while, by the approaching shades of darkness, we were admonished that day was closing upon us, and the empire of night about to be tesumed. Indeed at that instant, to adopt the language of a celebrated semale author—" J contemplated all nature at rest; the rocks, even grown darker in their appearance, looked as if they partook of the general repose, and reclined more heavily on their foundations."

The chief purport of my visit to Sidmouth, was to enjoy the company of a valuable friend, who, on account of indisposition, had been obliged to quit the mettopolis, and chose to retire into this sequestered

pare

part of the country. Him, and his Amiable family I found embosomed in a vale, which, for the softness of its air and the richness of its prospect, was delightful beyond expression. Their mansion was neat and commodious; their view on the left extended towards the sea, and on the right was terminated by a rising hill, whilst the declivity of the opposite mountain, intersected by inclosures, and spotted with (heep, imparted a most picturesque scene to the eye of the beholder. Near the foot of the door ran a rivulet; which, by its pleasing murmurs soothed the ear, and by its transparency gratisied the imagination. About the distance of two sields above the mansion, the sea beautifully unT folded itself to view between the hills, and vessels were constantly appearing and difappearing, not wholly unlike the objects passing through a magic lantern; though certainly the scene had no connection with the ludicrous, nor were the objects transmitted with equal rapidity. At the top of the hill was an ancient encampment; but whether of Roman or Danish otigin cannot be ascertained with certainty. There is no doubt, however, that these coasts were frequently insested by the enemy in the earlier periods of Britilh history. From this eminence we looked down on the other side into the little village of Sidbury, and its clustered cottages fug-? gested to the mind those flattering images ot selicity which we usually connect with harmless rusticity.

My principal abode was at the house of my friend. Thence we often fallied forth to survey the adjacent prospects ; but the weather was by no means favourable to our excursions. One sine day, however, we ascended the opposite hill, clambering up its side with difficulty. But its summit amply recompensed the toil which we had endured. Though totally unaccustomed to the art of drawing, yet seating myself upon a hillock, I was tempted to take a rough sketch of the cottage we had left, and of the hills, with which it was surrounded. The

whole

« PreviousContinue »