« PreviousContinue »
The shadows rushed afar into the void, and a solemn, Sabbath twilight reigned around.
I was now startled by a fluttering in my gondola. It was my carrier pigeon. I had forgotten him entirely. I attached a string to his neck, with a label, announcing my height, then nearly four miles, and the state of the barometer.
As he sat on the side of the car, and turned his tender eyes upon me in mute supplication, every feather shivering with apprehension, I felt that it was a guilty act to push him into the waste beneath. But it was done; he attempted to rise, but I outsped him; he then fell obliquely, fluttering and moaning, till I lost him in the haze. My greatest altitude had not yet been reached. I was now five miles from terra firma. I began to breathe with difficulty. The atmosphere was too rare for safe respiration. I pulled my valve cord to descend.
It refused to obey For a moment I was horror-struck. What was to be done? If I ascended much higher, the balloon would explode. I threw over some tissue paper to test my progress.
It is well known that this will rise very swiftly. It fell, as if blown downward by a wind from the zenith. I was going upward like an arrow.
I at tempted to pray, but my parched lips could not move. I seized the cord again, with desperate energy.
Blessed heaven! it moved.
I threw out more tissue. It rose to me like a wing of joy. I was descending. Though far from sunset, it was now dark about me, except a track of blood-red haze in the direction of the sun. I encountered a strong current of wind; mist was about me; it lay like dew upon my
coat. At last, a thick bar of vapor being past, what a scene was disclosed ! A storm was sweeping through the sky, nearly a mile beneath ; and I looked down upon an ocean of rainbows, rolling in indescribable grandeur, to the music of the thunder peal, as it moaned afar and near, on the coming and dying wind.
A frightened eagle had ascended through the tempest and sailed for minutes by my side, looking at me with panting weariness and quivering mandibles, but with a dilated eye, whose keen iris flashed unsubdued. Proud emblem of my country! As he fanned me with his heavy wing, and looked with a human intelligence at the car, my pulse bounded with exulting rapture. Like the genius of my native land, he had risen above every storm, unfettered and FREE.
But my transports were soon at an end. He attempted to light on the balloon, and my heart sank; I feared his huge claws would tear the silk. I pulled my cord; he rose, as I sank, and the blast swept him from my view in a moment. A flock of wild fowl, beat by the storm, were coursing below, on bewildered pinions; and, as I was nearing them, I knew I was descending. A breaking rift now admitted the sun. The rainbows tossed and gleamed ; chains of fleecy rack, shining in prismatic rays of gold and purple and emerald, “ beautiful exceedingly,” spread on every hand.
Vast curtains of clouds pavilioned the immensity brighter than celestial roses ; masses of mist were lifted on high, like strips of living fire, more radiant than the sun himself, when his glorious noontide culminates from the equator. A kind of aerial Euroclydon now smote my car, and three of the cords parted, which tilted my gondola
to the side, filling me with terror. I caught the broken cords in my hand, but could not tie them.
The storm below was now rapidly passing away, and beneath its waving outline, to the southeast, I saw the
Ships were speeding on their course, and their bright sails melting into distance; a rainbow hung afar; and the rolling anthems of the Atlantic came like celestial hymnings to my ear. Presently all was clear below me. The fresh air played around. I had taken a noble circuit; and my last view was better than the first. far over the bay, “ a-floating sweetly to the west.” The city, colored by the last blaze of day, brightened remotely to the view.
Below, the far country lay smiling like an Eden. Bright rivers ran like ribbons of gold and silver, till they were lost in the vast inland, stretching beyond the view; the gilded mountains were finging their purple shadows over many a vale; bays were blushing to the farewell day beams; and now I was passing over a green island. I sailed to the mainland ; saw the tall, old trees waving to the evening breeze; heard the rural lowing of herds and the welcome sound of human voices; and, after sweeping over forest tops and embowered villages, at last descended with the sun, among a kind-hearted, surprised, and hospitable community, in as pretty a town as one could desire to see,
“ safe and well.”
DEFINITIONS. As sěm'blage, company. In com'par a blý, not to be compared with anything else. Gòn'do lá, a kind of bout used in Venice ; the word here means the car or basket attached to the balloon. Asēr ā stăt, a balloon. Ba rõm'e ter, an instrument for measuring the pressure of air. Eū rõc'lý don, a tempestuous northwest wind which blows on the Mediter
E'den, the garden of Paradise.
RAIN UPON THE ROOF.
By Coates KINNEY.
When the humid shadows gather
Over all the starry spheres, And the melancholy darkness
Gently weeps in rainy tears, 'Tis a joy to press the pillow
Of a cottage-chamber bed, And to listen to the patter
Of the soft rain overhead.
Every tinkle on the shingles
Has an echo in the heart;
Into busy being start ;
Weave their bright hues into woof, As I listen to the patter
Of the rain upon the roof.
There, in fancy, comes my mother,
As she did in years agone, To survey the infant sleepers
Ere she left them till the dawn.
As I listen to the strain
By the patter of the rain.
Then my little seraph sister,
And her bright-eyed cherub brother,
A serene angelic pair,
With their praise or mild reproof,
Of the soft rain on the roof.
There is naught in art's bravuras
That can work with such a spell,
Whence the holy passions swell,
That subdued, subduing strain,
By the patter of the rain.
DEFINITIONS.-Hü'mid, moist, damp. Sphēres, globes.
Sphēreş, globes. Woof, a woven fabric. A gone', long past. Sěr'aph, angel. Chěr'ub, angel. Se rēne', bright. Bra vū'raş, music written for effect.
A STORY OF CHIEF JUSTICE MARSHALL.
By John ESTEN COOKE.
Among the great men of Virginia, John Marshall will always be remembered with honor and esteem. He was the son of a poor inan, and his early life was spent in poverty ; but he was not afraid of labor, and everybody saw that he was a person of more than common ability. Little by little he rose to distinction, and there was scarcely any public office in the gift of the people that he might not have had for the asking. He served in the legislature of Virginia ;