Page images
PDF
EPUB

made in 1755 near the abbey, exposed to view a series of Roman baths of the most perfect and magnificent description. The following account of them, given in the History of Somersetshire,” will show how far beyond us they were in the construction of such buildings :

6. The walls of those baths were eight feet in height, built of wrought stone, lined with a strong cement ; one of them was of a semicircular form, fifteen feet in diameter, with a stone seat round it eighteen inches high, and floored with very smooth flag-stones. The descent into it was by seven steps, and a small channel for conveying the water ran along the bottom, turning at a right angle towards the present king's bath. At a small distance from this was a very large oblong bath, having on three sides a colonnade surrounded with small pilasters, which were probably intended to support the roof. On one side of this bath were two sudatories, nearly square, the floors of which were composed of brick, covered with a strong coat of cement, and supported by pillars of brick, each brick being nine inches square, and two inches in thickness. The pillars were four feet and a half high, and set about fourteen inches asunder, composing a vault for the purpose of retaining the heat necessary for the rooms above. The interior walls of the apartment were set round with tubulated bricks or panels about eighteen inches long, with a small orifice opening inwards, by which the stream of heat was communicated to the apartments. The fireplace from which the heat was conveyed

was composed of a small conical arch at a little distance from the outward wall; and on each side of it, adjoining to the above-mentioned rooms, were two other small sudatories of a circular shape, with several small square baths, and a variety of apartments. These sumptuous buildings were upwards of two hundred and forty feet in length, and one hundred and twenty in breadth.”

Once these baths must have witnessed a thousand diversified scenes, as they were the great places of resort of the Roman people. The poet here recited his last composition, and the athletes amused the luxurious bather with a thousand feats of strength; and the song and the loud laugh caught the ear of many an old warrior as he anointed himself luxuriously with the precious ointments then in use; and little did the busy crowd beneath its portico imagine that a few centuries would bury it deep in the earth, and that the conquering people who were to come after them would inter their dead over the very spot that once contributed to the vigour of the living. Yet so it was: these baths were found full twenty feet below the present level of the soil, and four feet above them were discovered a number of stone coffins, evident'y Saxon, thus denoting that the place was used by our ancestors as a place of sepulture.

"The Land we Live in."

88.-DAY IN THE JUNGLE.

fer-vid
puls.a-tion
puz-zle

lar-væ
in-stinct-ive-ly
sedg-es

deaf-en-ing vol-u-bil-i-ty film-y

At length the fervid noon approaches, the sun mounts high, and all animated nature begins to yield to the oppression of his beams. The green enamelled dragon-flies still flash above every pool in pursuit of their tiny prey; but almost every other winged insect instinctively seeks the shade of the foliage. The hawks and falcons now sweep through the sky to mark the smaller birds which may be abroad in search of seeds and larvæ. The squirrels dart from bough to bough, uttering their shrill, quick cry; and the cicada on the stem of the palm-tree raises the deafening sound whose tone and volubility have won for him the expressive title of “Knife-grinder.”

It is during the first five hours of daylight that nature seems literally to teem with life and motion, the air melodious with the voice of birds, the woods resounding with the simmering hum of insects, and the earth replete with every form of living nature. But as the sun ascends to the meridian the scene is singularly changed, and nothing is more striking than the almost painful stillness that succeeds the vivacity of the early morning. Every animal disappears, escaping under the thick cover of the woods; the birds retire into the shade; the butterflies, if they flutter for a moment in the blazing sun, hurry back into the damp shelter of the trees, as though their filmy bodies had been parched by the brief exposure ; and at last silence reigns so profound, that the ticking of a watch is sensibly heard, and even the pulsations of the heart become audible. The buffalo now steals to the tanks and watercourses, concealing all but his gloomy head and shining horns in the mud and sedges; the elephant fans himself languidly with leaves, to drive away the flies which perplex him, and the deer cower in groups under the overarching jungle. Rustling from under the dry leaves, the brightgreen lizard springs up the rough stems of the trees, and pauses between each dart to look inquiringly around. The woodpecker makes the forest re-echo with the restless blows of his beak on the decaying bark, and the tortoise drops awkwardly into the still water which reflects the bright plumage of the kingfisher, as he keeps his lonely watch above it.

So long as the sun is about the meridian, every living creature seems to fly his beams, and linger in the closest shade. Man himself, as if baffled in all attempts to escape the exhausting glare, suspends his toil; and the traveller abroad since dawn reposes till the mid-day heat has passed. The cattle pant in their stifling sheds, and the dogs lie prone on the ground, their legs extended far in front and behind, as if to bring the utmost

portion of their body into contact with the cool earth.

Sir E. Tennent's Ceylon.

89.-GUIDANCE OF THE TONGUE.

chol-er
ob-serv-est

heark-en
as-sem-blies

in-stru-ment re-frain

He that cannot refrain from speaking is like a city without walls ; and less pains in the world a man cannot take than to hold his tongue. Therefore, if thou observest this rule in all assemblies, thou shalt seldom err : restrain thy choler, hearken much, and speak little ; for the tongue is the instrument of the greatest good and greatest evil that is done in the world.

Sir Walter Raleigh.

90.-SPITZBERGEN.

im-pas-si-bil-i-ty in-ter-rupt-ed
lus-tre

dumb-ness
av-al-anche cat-a-str-ophe

muf-fled
thrill-ing
ad-e-quate

It was at one o'clock in the morning of the 6th August 1856, that we came to an anchor in the silent haven of English Bay, Spitzbergen. And now, how shall I give you an idea of the wonderful panorama in the midst of which we found our

P

« PreviousContinue »