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[Illustration: FLORA attired by the ELEMENTS]
_A Poem, in Two Parts._
THE ECONOMY OF VEGETATION.
THE LOVES OF THE PLANTS.
The general design of the following sheets is to inlist Imagination under the banner of Science; and to lead her votaries from the looser analogies, which dress out the imagery of poetry, to the stricter, ones which form the ratiocination of philosophy. While their particular design is to induce the ingenious to cultivate the knowledge of Botany, by introducing them to the vestibule of that delightful science, and recommending to their attention the immortal works of the celebrated Swedish Naturalist, LINNEUS.
In the first Poem, or Economy of Vegetation, the physiology of Plants is delivered; and the operation of the Elements, as far as they may be supposed to affect the growth of Vegetables. In the second Poem, or Loves of the Plants, the Sexual System of Linneus is explained, with the remarkable properties of many particular plants.
It may be proper here to apologize for many of the subsequent conjectures on some articles of natural philosophy, as not being supported by accurate investigation or conclusive experiments. Extravagant theories however in those parts of philosophy, where our knowledge is yet imperfect, are not without their use; as they encourage the execution of laborious experiments, or the investigation of ingenious deductions, to confirm or refute them. And since natural objects are allied to each other by many affinities, every kind of theoretic distribution of them adds to our knowledge by developing some of their analogies.
The Rosicrucian doctrine of Gnomes, Sylphs, Nymphs, and Salamanders, was thought to afford a proper machinery for a Botanic poem; as it is probable, that they were originally the names of hieroglyphic figures representing the elements.
Many of the important operations of Nature were shadowed or allegorized in the heathen mythology, as the first Cupid springing from the Egg of Night, the marriage of Cupid and Psyche, the Rape of Proserpine, the Congress of Jupiter and Juno, Death and Resuscitation of Adonis, &c. many of which are ingeniously explained in the works of Bacon, Vol. V. p. 47. 4th Edit. London, 1778. The Egyptians were possessed of many discoveries in philosophy and chemistry before the invention of letters; these were then expressed in hieroglyphic paintings of men and animals; which after the discovery of the alphabet were described and animated by the poets, and became first the deities of Egypt, and afterwards of Greece and Rome. Allusions to those fables were therefore thought proper ornaments to a philosophical poem, and are occasionally introduced either as represented by the poets, or preserved on the numerous gems and medallions of antiquity.
POEM ON THE LOVES OF THE PLANTS.
BY THE REV. W.B. STEPHENS.
Oft tho’ thy genius, D—-! amply fraught With native wealth, explore new worlds of mind; Whence the bright ores of drossless wisdom brought, Stampt by the Muse’s hand, enrich mankind;
Tho’ willing Nature to thy curious eye, Involved in night, her mazy depths betray; Till at their source thy piercing search descry The streams, that bathe with Life our mortal clay;
Tho’, boldly soaring in sublimer mood Through trackless skies on metaphysic wings, Thou darest to scan the approachless Cause of Good, And weigh with steadfast hand the Sum of Things;
Yet wilt thou, charm’d amid his whispering bowers Oft with lone step by glittering Derwent stray, Mark his green foliage, count his musky flowers, That blush or tremble to the rising ray;
While FANCY, seated in her rock-roof’d dell, Listening the secrets of the vernal grove, Breathes sweetest strains to thy symphonious shell, And gives new echoes to the throne of Love.
_Repton, Nov. 28, 1788._
_Argument of the First Canto._
The Genius of the place invites the Goddess of Botany. 1. She descends, is received by Spring, and the Elements, 59. Addresses the Nymphs of Fire. Star-light Night seen in the Camera Obscura, 81. I. Love created the Universe. Chaos explodes. All the Stars revolve. God. 97. II. Shooting Stars. Lightning. Rainbow. Colours of the Morning and Evening Skies. Exterior Atmosphere of inflammable Air. Twilight. Fire-balls. Aurora Borealis. Planets. Comets. Fixed Stars. Sun’s Orb, 115. III. 1. Fires at the Earth’s Centre. Animal Incubation, 137. 2. Volcanic Mountains. Venus visits the Cyclops, 149. IV. Heat confined on the Earth by the Air. Phosphoric lights in the Evening. Bolognian Stone. Calcined Shells. Memnon’s Harp, 173. Ignis fatuus. Luminous Flowers. Glow-worm. Fire-fly. Luminous Sea-insects. Electric Eel. Eagle armed with Lightning, 189. V. 1. Discovery of Fire. Medusa, 209. 2. The chemical Properties of Fire. Phosphorus. Lady in Love, 223. 3. Gunpowder, 237. VI. Steam-engine applied to Pumps, Bellows, Water-engines, Corn-mills, Coining, Barges, Waggons, Flying-chariots, 253. Labours of Hercules. Abyla and Calpe, 297. VII. 1. Electric Machine. Hesperian Dragon. Electric kiss. Halo round the heads of Saints. Electric Shock. Fairy- rings, 335. 2. Death of Professor Richman, 371. 3. Franklin draws Lightning from the Clouds. Cupid snatches the Thunder-bolt from Jupiter, 383. VIII. Phosphoric Acid and Vital Heat produced in the Blood. The great Egg of Night, 399. IX. Western Wind unfettered. Naiad released. Frost assailed. Whale attacked, 421. X. Buds and Flowers expanded by Warmth, Electricity, and Light. Drawings with colourless sympathetic Inks; which appear when warmed by the Fire, 457. XI. Sirius. Jupiter and Semele. Northern Constellations. Ice-islands navigated into the Tropic Seas. Rainy Monsoons, 497. XII. Points erected to procure Rain. Elijah on Mount-Carmel, 549. Departure of the Nymphs of Fire like sparks from artificial Fireworks, 587.
ECONOMY OF VEGETATION.
STAY YOUR RUDE STEPS! whose throbbing breasts infold The legion-fiends of Glory, or of Gold! Stay! whose false lips seductive simpers part, While Cunning nestles in the harlot-heart!– 5 For you no Dryads dress the roseate bower, For you no Nymphs their sparkling vases pour; Unmark’d by you, light Graces swim the green, And hovering Cupids aim their shafts, unseen.
“But THOU! whose mind the well-attemper’d ray 10 Of Taste and Virtue lights with purer day; Whose finer sense each soft vibration owns With sweet responsive sympathy of tones; So the fair flower expands it’s lucid form To meet the sun, and shuts it to the storm;– 15 For thee my borders nurse the fragrant wreath, My fountains murmur, and my zephyrs breathe; Slow slides the painted snail, the gilded fly Smooths his fine down, to charm thy curious eye; On twinkling fins my pearly nations play, 20 Or win with sinuous train their trackless way; My plumy pairs in gay embroidery dress’d Form with ingenious bill the pensile nest, To Love’s sweet notes attune the listening dell, And Echo sounds her soft symphonious shell.
[ _So the fair flower_. l. 13. It seems to have been the original design of the philosophy of Epicurus to render the mind exquisitely sensible to agreeable sensations, and equally insensible to disagreeable ones.]
25 “And, if with Thee some hapless Maid should stray, Disasterous Love companion of her way, Oh, lead her timid steps to yonder glade, Whose arching cliffs depending alders shade; There, as meek Evening wakes her temperate breeze, 30 And moon-beams glimmer through the trembling trees, The rills, that gurgle round, shall soothe her ear, The weeping rocks shall number tear for tear; There as sad Philomel, alike forlorn, Sings to the Night from her accustomed thorn; 35 While at sweet intervals each falling note Sighs in the gale, and whispers round the grot; The sister-woe shall calm her aching breast, And softer slumbers steal her cares to rest.–
[_Disasterous Love_. l. 26. The scenery is taken from a botanic garden about a mile from Lichfield, where a cold bath was erected by Sir John Floyer. There is a grotto surrounded by projecting rocks, from the edges of which trickles a perpetual shower of water; and it is here represented as adapted to love-scenes, as being thence a proper residence for the modern goddess of Botany, and the easier to introduce the next poem on the Loves of the Plants according to the system of Linneus.]
“Winds of the North! restrain your icy gales, 40 Nor chill the bosom of these happy vales! Hence in dark heaps, ye gathering Clouds, revolve! Disperse, ye Lightnings! and, ye Mists, dissolve! –Hither, emerging from yon orient skies, BOTANIC GODDESS! bend thy radiant eyes; 45 O’er these soft scenes assume thy gentle reign, Pomona, Ceres, Flora in thy train;
O’er the still dawn thy placid smile effuse, And with thy silver sandals print the dews; In noon’s bright blaze thy vermil vest unfold, 50 And wave thy emerald banner star’d with gold.”
Thus spoke the GENIUS, as He stept along, And bade these lawns to Peace and Truth belong; Down the steep slopes He led with modest skill The willing pathway, and the truant rill, 55 Stretch’d o’er the marshy vale yon willowy mound, Where shines the lake amid the tufted ground, Raised the young woodland, smooth’d the wavy green, And gave to Beauty all the quiet scene.–
She comes!–the GODDESS!–through the whispering air, 60 Bright as the morn, descends her blushing car; Each circling wheel a wreath of flowers intwines, And gem’d with flowers the silken harness shines; The golden bits with flowery studs are deck’d, And knots of flowers the crimson reins connect.– 65 And now on earth the silver axle rings, And the shell sinks upon its slender springs; Light from her airy seat the Goddess bounds, And steps celestial press the pansied grounds.
Fair Spring advancing calls her feather’d quire, 70 And tunes to softer notes her laughing lyre; Bids her gay hours on purple pinions move, And arms her Zephyrs with the shafts of Love, Pleased GNOMES, ascending from their earthy beds, Play round her graceful footsteps, as she treads; 75 Gay SYLPHS attendant beat the fragrant air On winnowing wings, and waft her golden hair; Blue NYMPHS emerging leave their sparkling streams, And FIERY FORMS alight from orient beams; Musk’d in the rose’s lap fresh dews they shed, 80 Or breathe celestial lustres round her head.
[_Pleased Gnomes_. l. 73. The Rosicrucian doctrine of Gnomes, Sylphs, Nymphs, and Salamanders affords proper machinery for a philosophic poem; as it is probable that they were originally the names of hieroglyphic figures of the Elements, or of Genii presiding over their operations. The Fairies of more modern days seem to have been derived from them, and to have inherited their powers. The Gnomes and Sylphs, as being more nearly allied to modern Fairies are represented as either male or female, which distinguishes the latter from the Aurae of the Latin Poets, which were only female; except the winds, as Zephyrus and Auster, may be supposed to have been their husbands.]
First the fine Forms her dulcet voice requires, Which bathe or bask in elemental fires; From each bright gem of Day’s refulgent car, From the pale sphere of every twinkling star, 85 From each nice pore of ocean, earth, and air, With eye of flame the sparkling hosts repair, Mix their gay hues, in changeful circles play, Like motes, that tenant the meridian ray.– So the clear Lens collects with magic power 90 The countless glories of the midnight hour; Stars after stars with quivering lustre fall, And twinkling glide along the whiten’d wall.– Pleased, as they pass, she counts the glittering bands, And stills their murmur with her waving hands; 95 Each listening tribe with fond expectance burns, And now to these, and now to those, she turns.
I. “NYMPHS OF PRIMEVAL FIRE! YOUR vestal train Hung with gold-tresses o’er the vast inane, Pierced with your silver shafts the throne of Night, 100 And charm’d young Nature’s opening eyes with light; When LOVE DIVINE, with brooding wings unfurl’d, Call’d from the rude abyss the living world. “–LET THERE BE LIGHT!” proclaim’d the ALMIGHTY LORD, Astonish’d Chaos heard the potent word;– 105 Through all his realms the kindling Ether runs, And the mass starts into a million suns; Earths round each sun with quick explosions burst, And second planets issue from the first; Bend, as they journey with projectile force, 110 In bright ellipses their reluctant course; Orbs wheel in orbs, round centres centres roll, And form, self-balanced, one revolving Whole. –Onward they move amid their bright abode, Space without bound, THE BOSOM OF THEIR GOD!
[_Nymphs of primeval fire_. l. 97. The fluid matter of heat is perhaps the most extensive element in nature; all other bodies are immersed in it, and are preserved in their present state of solidity or fluidity by the attraction of their particles to the matter of heat. Since all known bodies are contractible into less space by depriving them of some portion of their heat, and as there is no part of nature totally deprived of heat, there is reason to believe that the particles of bodies do not touch, but are held towards each other by their self- attraction, and recede from each other by their attraction to the mass of heat which surrounds them; and thus exist in an equilibrium between these two powers. If more of the matter of heat be applied to them, they recede further from each other, and become fluid; if still more be applied, they take an aerial form, and are termed Gasses by the modern chemists. Thus when water is heated to a certain degree, it would instantly assume the form of steam, but for the pressure of the atmosphere, which prevents this change from taking place so easily; the same is true of quicksilver, diamonds, and of perhaps all other bodies in Nature; they would first become fluid, and then aeriform by appropriated degrees of heat. On the contrary, this elastic matter of heat, termed Calorique in the new nomenclature of the French Academicians, is liable to become consolidated itself in its combinations with some bodies, as perhaps in nitre, and probably in combustible bodies as sulphur and charcoal. See note on l. 232, of this Canto. Modern philosophers have not yet been able to decide whether light and heat be different fluids, or modifications of the same fluid, as they have many properties in common. See note on l. 462 of this Canto.]
[_When Love Divine_. l. 101. From having observed the gradual evolution of the young animal or plant from its egg or seed; and afterwards its successive advances to its more perfect state, or maturity; philosophers of all ages seem to have imagined, that the great world itself had likewise its infancy and its gradual progress to maturity; this seems to have given origin to the very antient and sublime allegory of Eros, or Divine Love, producing the world from the egg of Night, as it floated in Chaos. See l. 419. of this Canto.
The external crust of the earth, as far as it has been exposed to our view in mines or mountains, countenances this opinion; since these have evidently for the most part had their origin from the shells of fishes, the decomposition of vegetables, and the recrements of other animal materials, and must therefore have been formed progressively from small beginnings. There are likewise some apparently useless or incomplete appendages to plants and animals, which seem to shew they have gradually undergone changes from their original state; such as the stamens without anthers, and styles without stigmas of several plants, as mentioned in the note on Curcuma, Vol. II. of this work. Such is the halteres, or rudiments of wings of some two-winged insects; and the paps of male animals; thus swine have four toes, but two of them are imperfectly formed, and not long enough for use. The allantoide in some animals seems to have become extinct; in others is above tenfold the size, which would seem necessary for its purpose. Buffon du Cochon. T. 6. p. 257. Perhaps all the supposed monstrous births of Nature are remains of their habits of production in their former less perfect state, or attempts towards greater perfection.]
[_Through all his realms_. l. 105. Mr. Herschel has given a very sublime and curious account of the construction of the heavens with his discovery of some thousand nebulae, or clouds of stars; many of which are much larger collections of stars, than all those put together, which are visible to our naked eyes, added to those which form the galaxy, or milky zone, which surrounds us. He observes that in the vicinity of these clusters of stars there are proportionally fewer stars than in other parts of the heavens; and hence he concludes, that they have attracted each other, on the supposition that infinite space was at first equally sprinkled with them; as if it had at the beginning been filled with a fluid mass, which had coagulated. Mr. Herschel has further shewn, that the whole sidereal system is gradually moving round some centre, which may be an opake mass of matter, Philos. Trans. V. LXXIV. If all these Suns are moving round some great central body; they must have had a projectile force, as well as a centripetal one; and may thence be supposed to have emerged or been projected from the material, where they were produced. We can have no idea of a natural power, which could project a Sun out of Chaos, except by comparing it to the explosions or earthquakes owing to the sudden evolution of aqueous or of other more elastic vapours; of the power of which under immeasurable degrees of heat, and compression, we are yet ignorant.
It may be objected, that if the stars had been projected from a Chaos by explosions, that they must have returned again into it from the known laws of gravitation; this however would not happen, if the whole of Chaos, like grains of gunpowder, was exploded at the same time, and dispersed through infinite space at once, or in quick succession, in every possible direction. The same objection may be stated against the possibility of the planets having been thrown from the sun by explosions; and the secondary planets from the primary ones; which will be spoken of more at large in the second Canto, but if the planets are supposed to have been projected from their suns, and the secondary from the primary ones, at the beginning of their course; they might be so influenced or diverted by the attractions of the suns, or sun, in their vicinity, as to prevent their tendency to return into the body, from which they were projected.
If these innumerable and immense suns thus rising out of Chaos are supposed to have thrown out their attendant planets by new explosions, as they ascended; and those their respective satellites, filling in a moment the immensity of space with light and motion, a grander idea cannot be conceived by the mind of man.]
115 II. “ETHEREAL POWERS! YOU chase the shooting stars, Or yoke the vollied lightenings to your cars, Cling round the aërial bow with prisms bright, And pleased untwist the sevenfold threads of light; Eve’s silken couch with gorgeous tints adorn, 120 And fire the arrowy throne of rising Morn. –OR, plum’d with flame, in gay battalion’s spring To brighter regions borne on broader wing; Where lighter gases, circumfused on high, Form the vast concave of exterior sky; 125 With airy lens the scatter’d rays assault, And bend the twilight round the dusky vault; Ride, with broad eye and scintillating hair, The rapid Fire-ball through the midnight air; Dart from the North on pale electric streams, 130 Fringing Night’s sable robe with transient beams. –OR rein the Planets in their swift careers, Gilding with borrow’d light their twinkling spheres; Alarm with comet-blaze the sapphire plain, The wan stars glimmering through its silver train; 135 Gem the bright Zodiac, stud the glowing pole, Or give the Sun’s phlogistic orb to roll.
[_Chase the shooting stars_. l. 115. The meteors called shooting stars, the lightening, the rainbow, and the clouds, are phenomena of the lower regions of the atmosphere. The twilight, the meteors call’d fire-balls, or flying dragons, and the northern lights, inhabit the higher regions of the atmosphere. See additional notes, No. I.]
[_Cling round the aerial bow_. l. 117. See additional notes, No. II]
[_Eve’s silken couch_. l. 119. See additional notes, No. III.]
[_Where lighter gases_. l. 123. Mr. Cavendish has shewn that the gas called inflammable air, is at least ten times lighter than common air; Mr. Lavoisier contends, that it is one of the component parts of water, and is by him called hydrogene. It is supposed to afford their principal nourishment to vegetables and thence to animals, and is perpetually rising from their decomposition; this source of it in hot climates, and in summer months, is so great as to exceed estimation. Now if this light gas passes through the atmosphere, without combining with it, it must compose another atmosphere over the aerial one; which must expand, when the pressure above it is thus taken away, to inconceivable tenuity.
If this supernatural gasseous atmosphere floats upon the aerial one, like ether upon water, what must happen? 1. it will flow from the line, where it will be produced in the greatest quantities, and become much accumulated over the poles of the earth; 2. the common air, or lower stratum of the atmosphere, will be much thinner over the poles than at the line; because if a glass globe be filled with oil and water, and whirled upon its axis, the centrifugal power will carry the heavier fluid to the circumference, and the lighter will in consequence be found round the axis. 3. There may be a place at some certain latitude between the poles and the line on each side the equator, where the inflammable supernatant atmosphere may end, owing to the greater centrifugal force of the heavier aerial atmosphere. 4. Between the termination of the aerial and the beginning of the gasseous atmosphere, the airs will occasionally be intermixed, and thus become inflammable by the electric spark; these circumstances will assist in explaining the phenomena of fire-balls, northern lights, and of some variable winds, and long continued rains.
Since the above note was first written, Mr. Volta I am informed has applied the supposition of a supernatant atmosphere of inflammable air, to explain some phenomena in meteorology. And Mr. Lavoisier has announced his design to write on this subject. Traité de Chimie, Tom. I. I am happy to find these opinions supported by such respectable authority.]
[_And bend the twilight_. l. 126. The crepuscular atmosphere, or the region where the light of the sun ceases to be refracted to us, is estimated by philosophers to be between 40 and 50 miles high, at which time the sun is about 18 degrees below the horizon; and the rarity of the air is supposed to be from 4,000 to 10,000 times greater than at the surface of the earth. Cotes’s Hydrost. p. 123. The duration of twilight differs in different seasons and in different latitudes; in England the shortest twilight is about the beginning of October and of March; in more northern latitudes, where the sun never sinks more than 18 degrees, below the horizon, the twilight continues the whole night. The time of its duration may also be occasionally affected by the varying height of the atmosphere. A number of observations on the duration of twilight in different latitudes might afford considerable information concerning the aerial strata in the higher regions of the atmosphere, and might assist in determining whether an exterior atmosphere of inflammable gas, or Hydrogene, exists over the aerial one.]
[_Alarm with Comet-blaze_. l. 133. See additional notes, No. IV.]
[_The Sun’s phlogistic orb_. l. 136. See additional notes, No. V.]
III. NYMPHS! YOUR fine forms with steps impassive mock Earth’s vaulted roofs of adamantine rock; Round her still centre tread the burning soil, 140 And watch the billowy Lavas, as they boil; Where, in basaltic caves imprison’d deep, Reluctant fires in dread suspension sleep; Or sphere on sphere in widening waves expand, And glad with genial warmth the incumbent land. 145 So when the Mother-bird selects their food With curious bill, and feeds her callow brood; Warmth from her tender heart eternal springs, And pleased she clasps them with extended wings.
[_Round the still centre_. l. 139. Many philosophers have believed that the central parts of the earth consist of a fluid mass of burning lava, which they have called a subterraneous sun; and have supposed, that it contributes to the production of metals, and to the growth of vegetables. See additional notes, No. VI.]
[_Or sphere on sphere_. l. 143. See additional notes, No. VII.]
“YOU from deep cauldrons and unmeasured caves 150 Blow flaming airs, or pour vitrescent waves; O’er shining oceans ray volcanic light, Or hurl innocuous embers to the night.– While with loud shouts to Etna Heccla calls, And Andes answers from his beacon’d walls; 155 Sea-wilder’d crews the mountain-stars admire, And Beauty beams amid tremendous fire.
[_Hurl innocuous embers_. l. 152. The immediate cause of volcanic eruptions is believed to be owing to the water of the sea, or from lakes, or inundations, finding itself a passage into the subterraneous fires, which may lie at great depths. This must first produce by its coldness a condensation of the vapour there existing, or a vacuum, and thus occasion parts of the earth’s crust or shell to be forced down by the pressure of the incumbent atmosphere. Afterwards the water being suddenly raised into steam produces all the explosive effects of earthquakes. And by new accessions of water during the intervals of the explosions the repetition of the shocks is caused. These circumstances were hourly illustrated by the fountains of boiling water in Iceland, in which the surface of the water in the boiling wells sunk down low before every new ebullition.
Besides these eruptions occasioned by the steam of water, there seems to be a perpetual effusion of other vapours, more noxious and (as far as it is yet known) perhaps greatly more expansile than water from the Volcanos in various parts of the world. As these Volcanos are supposed to be spiracula or breathing holes to the great subterraneous fires, it is probable that the escape of elastic vapours from them is the cause, that the earthquakes of modern days are of such small extent compared to those of antient times, of which vestiges remain in every part of the world, and on this account may be said not only to be innocuous, but useful.]
“Thus when of old, as mystic bards presume, Huge CYCLOPS dwelt in Etna’s rocky womb, On thundering anvils rung their loud alarms, 160 And leagued with VULCAN forged immortal arms; Descending VENUS sought the dark abode, And sooth’d the labours of the grisly God.– While frowning Loves the threatening falchion wield, And tittering Graces peep behind the shield, 165 With jointed mail their fairy limbs o’erwhelm, Or nod with pausing step the plumed helm; With radiant eye She view’d the boiling ore, Heard undismay’d the breathing bellows roar, Admired their sinewy arms, and shoulders bare, 170 And ponderous hammers lifted high in air, With smiles celestial bless’d their dazzled sight, And Beauty blazed amid infernal night.
IV. “EFFULGENT MAIDS! YOU round deciduous day, Tressed with soft beams, your glittering bands array; 175 On Earth’s cold bosom, as the Sun retires, Confine with folds of air the lingering fires; O’er Eve’s pale forms diffuse phosphoric light, And deck with lambent flames the shrine of Night. So, warm’d and kindled by meridian skies, 180 And view’d in darkness with dilated eyes, BOLOGNA’S chalks with faint ignition blaze, BECCARI’S shells emit prismatic rays. So to the sacred Sun in MEMNON’s fane, Spontaneous concords quired the matin strain; 185 –Touch’d by his orient beam, responsive rings The living lyre, and vibrates all it’s strings; Accordant ailes the tender tones prolong, And holy echoes swell the adoring song.
[_Confine with folds of air_. l. 176. The air, like all other bad conductors of electricity, is known to be a bad conductor of heat; and thence prevents the heat acquired from the sun’s rays by the earth’s surface from being so soon dissipated, in the same manner as a blanket, which may be considered as a sponge filled with air, prevents the escape of heat from the person wrapped in it. This seems to be one cause of the great degree of cold on the tops of mountains, where the rarity of the air is greater, and it therefore becomes a better conductor both of heat and electricity. See note on Barometz, Vol. II. of this work.
There is however another cause to which the great coldness of mountains and of the higher regions of the atmosphere is more immediately to be ascribed, explained by Dr. Darwin in the Philos. Trans. Vol. LXXVIII. who has there proved by experiments with the air-gun and air-pump, that when any portion of the atmosphere becomes mechanically expanded, it absorbs heat from the bodies in its vicinity. And as the air which creeps along the plains, expands itself by a part of the pressure being taken off when it ascends the sides of mountains; it at the same time attracts heat from the summits of those mountains, or other bodies which happen to be immersed in it, and thus produces cold. Hence he concludes that the hot air at the bottom of the Andes becomes temperate by its own rarefaction when it ascends to the city of Quito; and by its further rarefaction becomes cooled to the freezing point when it ascends to the snowy regions on the summits of those mountains. To this also he attributes the great degree of cold experienced by the aeronauts in their balloons; and which produces hail in summer at the height of only two or three miles in the atmosphere.]
[_Diffuse phosphoric light_. l. 177. I have often been induced to believe from observation, that the twilight of the evenings is lighter than that of the mornings at the same distance from noon. Some may ascribe this to the greater height of the atmosphere in the evenings having been rarefied by the sun during the day; but as its density must at the same time be diminished, its power of refraction would continue the same. I should rather suppose that it may be owing to the phosphorescent quality (as it is called) of almost all bodies; that is, when they have been exposed to the sun they continue to emit light for a considerable time afterwards. This is generally believed to arise either from such bodies giving out the light which they had previously absorbed; or to the continuance of a slow combustion which the light they had been previously exposed to had excited. See the next note.]
[_Beccari’s shells_. l. 182. Beccari made many curious experiments on the phosphoric light, as it is called, which becomes visible on bodies brought into a dark room, after having been previously exposed to the sunshine. It appears from these experiments, that almost all inflammable bodies possess this quality in a greater or less degree; white paper or linen thus examined after having been exposed to the sunshine, is luminous to an extraordinary degree; and if a person shut up in a dark room, puts one of his hands out into the sun’s light for a short time and then retracts it, he will be able to see that hand distinctly and not the other. These experiments seem to countenance the idea of light being absorbed and again emitted from bodies when they are removed into darkness. But Beccari further pretended, that some calcareous compositions when exposed to red, yellow, or blue light, through coloured glasses, would on their being brought into a dark room emit coloured lights. This mistaken fact of Beccari’s, Mr. Wilson decidedly refutes; and among many other curious experiments discovered, that if oyster-shells were thrown into a common fire and calcined for about half an hour, and then brought to a person who had previously been some minutes in a dark room, that many of them would exhibit beautiful irises of prismatic colours, from whence probably arose Beccari’s mistake. Mr. Wilson from hence contends, that these kinds of phosphori do not emit the light they had previously received, but that they are set on fire by the sun’s rays, and continue for some time a slow combustion after they are withdrawn from the light. Wilson’s Experiments on Phosphori. Dodsley, 1775.
The Bolognian stone is a selenite, or gypsum, and has been long celebrated for its phosphorescent quality after having been burnt in a sulphurous fire; and exposed when cold to the sun’s light. It may be thus well imitated: Calcine oyster-shells half an hour, pulverize them when cold, and add one third part of flowers of sulphur, press them close into a small crucible, and calcine them for an hour or longer, and keep the powder in a phial close stopped. A part of this powder is to be exposed for a minute or two to the sunbeams, and then brought into a dark room. The calcined Bolognian stone becomes a calcareous hepar of sulphur; but the calcined shells, as they contain the animal acid, may also contain some of the phosphorus of Kunkel.]
[_In Memnon’s fane_. l. 183. See additional notes. No. VIII.]
“YOU with light Gas the lamps nocturnal feed, 190 Which dance and glimmer o’er the marshy mead; Shine round Calendula at twilight hours, And tip with silver all her saffron flowers; Warm on her mossy couch the radiant Worm, Guard from cold dews her love-illumin’d form, 195 From leaf to leaf conduct the virgin light, Star of the earth, and diamond of the night. You bid in air the tropic Beetle burn, And fill with golden flame his winged urn; Or gild the surge with insect-sparks, that swarm 200 Round the bright oar, the kindling prow alarm; Or arm in waves, electric in his ire, The dread Gymnotus with ethereal fire.– Onward his course with waving tail he helms, And mimic lightenings scare the watery realms, 205 So, when with bristling plumes the Bird of JOVE Vindictive leaves the argent fields above, Borne on broad wings the guilty world he awes, And grasps the lightening in his shining claws.
[_The lamps nocturnal_. l. 189. The ignis fatuus or Jack a lantern, frequently alluded to by poets, is supposed to originate from the inflammable air, or Hydrogene, given up from morasses; which being of a heavier kind from its impurity than that obtained from iron and water, hovers near the surface of the earth, and uniting with common air gives out light by its slow ignition. Perhaps such lights have no existence, and the reflection of a star on watery ground may have deceived the travellers, who have been said to be bewildered by them? if the fact was established it would much contribute to explain the phenomena of northern lights. I have travelled much in the night, in all seasons of the year, and over all kinds of soil, but never saw one of these Will o’wisps.]
[_Shine round Calendula_. l. 191. See note on Tropaeolum in Vol. II.]
[_The radiant Worm_. l. 193. See additional notes, No. IX.]
[_The dread Gymnotus_. l. 202. The Gymnotus electricus is a native of the river of Surinam in South America; those which were brought over to England about eight years ago were about three or four feet long, and gave an electric shock (as I experienced) by putting one finger on the back near its head, and another of the opposite hand into the water near its tail. In their native country they are said to exceed twenty feet in length, and kill any man who approaches them in an hostile manner. It is not only to escape its enemies that this surprizing power of the fish is used, but also to take its prey; which it does by benumbing them and then devouring them before they have time to recover, or by perfectly killing them; for the quantity of the power seemed to be determined by the will or anger of the animal; as it sometimes struck a fish twice before it was sufficiently benumbed to be easily swallowed.
The organs productive of this wonderful accumulation of electric matter have been accurately dissected and described by Mr. J. Hunter. Philos. Trans. Vol. LXV. And are so divided by membranes as to compose a very extensive surface, and are supplied with many pairs of nerves larger than any other nerves of the body; but how so large a quantity is so quickly accumulated as to produce such amazing effects in a fluid ill adapted for the purpose is not yet satisfactorily explained. The Torpedo possesses a similar power in a less degree, as was shewn by Mr. Walch, and another fish lately described by Mr. Paterson. Philo. Trans. Vol. LXXVI.
In the construction of the Leyden-Phial, (as it is called) which is coated on both sides, it is known, that above one hundred times the quantity of positive electricity can be condensed on every square inch of the coating on one side, than could have been accumulated on the same surface if there had been no opposite coating communicating with the earth; because the negative electricity, or that part of it which caused its expansion, is now drawn off through the glass. It is also well known, that the thinner the glass is (which is thus coated on both sides so as to make a Leyden-phial, or plate) the more electricity can be condensed on one of its surfaces, till it becomes so thin as to break, and thence discharge itself.
Now it is possible, that the quantity of electricity condensible on one side of a coated phial may increase in some high ratio in respect to the thinness of the glass, since the power of attraction is known to decrease as the squares of the distances, to which this circumstance of electricity seems to bear some analogy. Hence if an animal membrane, as thin as the silk-worm spins its silk, could be so situated as to be charged like the Leyden bottle, without bursting, (as such thin glass would be liable to do,) it would be difficult to calculate the immense quantity of electric fluid, which might be accumulated on its surface. No land animals are yet discovered which possess this power, though the air would have been a much better medium for producing its effects; perhaps the size of the necessary apparatus would have been inconvenient to land animals.]
[_In his shining claws_. l. 208. Alluding to an antique gem in the collection of the Grand Duke of Florence. Spence.]
V. 1. “NYMPHS! Your soft smiles uncultur’d man subdued, 210 And charm’d the Savage from his native wood; You, while amazed his hurrying Hords retire From the fell havoc of devouring FIRE, Taught, the first Art! with piny rods to raise By quick attrition the domestic blaze, 215 Fan with soft breath, with kindling leaves provide, And lift the dread Destroyer on his side. So, with bright wreath of serpent-tresses crown’d, Severe in beauty, young MEDUSA frown’d; Erewhile subdued, round WISDOM’S Aegis roll’d 220 Hiss’d the dread snakes, and flam’d in burnish’d gold; Flash’d on her brandish’d arm the immortal shield, And Terror lighten’d o’er the dazzled field.
[_Of devouring fire_. l. 212. The first and most important discovery of mankind seems to have been that of fire. For many ages it is probable fire was esteemed a dangerous enemy, known only by its dreadful devastations; and that many lives must have been lost, and many dangerous burns and wounds must have afflicted those who first dared to subject it to the uses of life. It is said that the tall monkies of Borneo and Sumatra lie down with pleasure round any accidental fire in their woods; and are arrived to that degree of reason, that knowledge of causation, that they thrust into the remaining fire the half-burnt ends of the branches to prevent its going out. One of the nobles of the cultivated people of Otaheita, when Captain Cook treated them with tea, catched the boiling water in his hand from the cock of the tea-urn, and bellowed with pain, not conceiving that water could become hot, like red fire.
Tools of steel constitute another important discovery in consequence of fire; and contributed perhaps principally to give the European nations so great superiority over the American world. By these two agents, fire and tools of steel, mankind became able to cope with the vegetable kingdom, and conquer provinces of forests, which in uncultivated countries almost exclude the growth of other vegetables, and of those animals which are necessary to our existence. Add to this, that the quantity of our food is also increased by the use of fire, for some vegetables become salutary food by means of the heat used in cookery, which are naturally either noxious or difficult of digestion; as potatoes, kidney-beans, onions, cabbages. The cassava when made into bread, is perhaps rendered mild by the heat it undergoes, more than by expressing its superfluous juice. The roots of white bryony and of arum, I am informed lose much of their acrimony by boiling.]
[_Young Medusa frowned_. l. 218. The Egyptian Medusa is represented on antient gems with wings on her head, snaky hair, and a beautiful countenance, which appears intensely thinking; and was supposed to represent divine wisdom. The Grecian Medusa, on Minerva’s shield, as appears on other gems, has a countenance distorted with rage or pain, and is supposed to represent divine vengeance. This Medusa was one of the Gorgons, at first very beautiful and terrible to her enemies; Minerva turned her hair into snakes, and Perseus having cut off her head fixed it on the shield of that goddess; the sight of which then petrified the beholders. Dannet Dict.]
2. NYMPHS! YOU disjoin, unite, condense, expand, And give new wonders to the Chemist’s hand; 225 On tepid clouds of rising steam aspire, Or fix in sulphur all it’s solid fire; With boundless spring elastic airs unfold, Or fill the fine vacuities of gold;
With sudden flash vitrescent sparks reveal, 230 By fierce collision from the flint and steel; Or mark with shining letter KUNKEL’s name In the pale Phosphor’s self-consuming flame. So the chaste heart of some enchanted Maid Shines with insidious light, by Love betray’d; 235 Round her pale bosom plays the young Desire, And slow she wastes by self-consuming fire.
[_Or fix in sulphur_. l. 226. The phenomena of chemical explosions cannot be accounted for without the supposition, that some of the bodies employed contain concentrated or solid heat combined with them, to which the French Chemists have given the name of Calorique. When air is expanded in the air-pump, or water evaporated into steam, they drink up or absorb a great quantity of heat; from this analogy, when gunpowder is exploded it ought to absorb much heat, that is, in popular language, it ought to produce a great quantity of cold. When vital air is united with phlogistic matter in respiration, which seems to be a slow combustion, its volume is lessened; the carbonic acid, and perhaps phosphoric acid are produced; and heat is given out; which according to the experiments of Dr. Crawford would seem to be deposited from the vital air. But as the vital air in nitrous acid is condensed from a light elastic gas to that of a heavy fluid, it must possess less heat than before. And hence a great part of the heat, which is given out in firing gunpowder, I should suppose, must reside in the sulphur or charcoal.
Mr. Lavoisier has shewn, that vital air, or Oxygene, looses less of its heat when it becomes one of the component parts of nitrous acid, than in any other of its combinations; and is hence capable of giving out a great quantity of heat in the explosion of gunpowder; but as there seems to be great analogy between the matter of heat, or Calorique, and the electric matter; and as the worst conductors of electricity are believed to contain the greatest quantity of that fluid; there is reason to suspect that the worst conductors of heat may contain the most of that fluid; as sulphur, wax, silk, air, glass. See note on l. 174 of this Canto.]
[_Vitrescent sparks_. l. 229. When flints are struck against other flints they have the property of giving sparks of light; but it seems to be an internal light, perhaps of electric origin, very different from the ignited sparks which are struck from flint and steel. The sparks produced by the collision of steel with flint appear to be globular particles of iron, which have been fused, and imperfectly scorified or vitrified. They are kindled by the heat produced by the collision; but their vivid light, and their fusion and vitrification are the effects of a combustion continued in these particles during their passage through the air. This opinion is confirmed by an experiment of Mr. Hawksbee, who found that these sparks could not be produced in the exhausted receiver. See Keir’s Chemical Dict. art. Iron, and art. Earth vitrifiable.]
[_The pale Phosphor_. l. 232. See additionable notes, No. X.]
3. “YOU taught mysterious BACON to explore Metallic veins, and part the dross from ore; With sylvan coal in whirling mills combine 240 The crystal’d nitre, and the sulphurous mine; Through wiry nets the black diffusion strain, And close an airy ocean in a grain.– Pent in dark chambers of cylindric brass Slumbers in grim repose the sooty mass; 245 Lit by the brilliant spark, from grain to grain Runs the quick fire along the kindling train; On the pain’d ear-drum bursts the sudden crash, Starts the red flame, and Death pursues the flash.– Fear’s feeble hand directs the fiery darts, 250 And Strength and Courage yield to chemic arts; Guilt with pale brow the mimic thunder owns, And Tyrants tremble on their blood-stain’d thrones.
[_And close an airy ocean_. l. 242. Gunpowder is plainly described in the works of Roger Bacon before the year 1267. He describes it in a curious manner, mentioning the sulphur and nitre, but conceals the charcoal in an anagram. The words are, sed tamen salis petrae _lure mope can ubre_, et sulphuris; et sic facies tonitrum, et corruscationem, si scias, artificium. The words lure mope can ubre are an anagram of carbonum pulvere. Biograph. Britan. Vol. I. Bacon de Secretis Operibus, Cap. XI. He adds, that he thinks by an artifice of this kind Gideon defeated the Midianites with only three hundred men. Judges, Chap. VII. Chamb. Dict. art. Gunpowder. As Bacon does not claim this as his own invention, it is thought by many to have been of much more antient discovery.
The permanently elastic fluid generated in the firing of gunpowder is calculated by Mr. Robins to be about 244 if the bulk of the powder be 1. And that the heat generated at the time of the explosion occasions the rarefied air thus produced to occupy about 1000 times the space of the gunpowder. This pressure may therefore be called equal to 1000 atmospheres or six tons upon a square inch. As the suddenness of this explosion must contribute much to its power, it would seem that the chamber of powder, to produce its greatest effect, should be lighted in the centre of it; which I believe is not attended to in the manufacture of muskets or pistols.
From the cheapness with which a very powerful gunpowder is likely soon to be manufactured from aerated marine acid, or from a new method of forming nitrous acid by means of mangonese or other calciform ores, it may probably in time be applied to move machinery, and supersede the use of steam.
There is a bitter invective in Don Quixot against the inventors of gun- powder, as it levels the strong with the weak, the knight cased in steel with the naked shepherd, those who have been trained to the sword, with those who are totally unskilful in the use of it; and throws down all the splendid distinctions of mankind. These very reasons ought to have been urged to shew that the discovery of gunpowder has been of public utility by weakening the tyranny of the few over the many.]
VI. NYMPHS! You erewhile on simmering cauldrons play’d, And call’d delighted SAVERY to your aid; 255 Bade round the youth explosive STEAM aspire In gathering clouds, and wing’d the wave with fire; Bade with cold streams the quick expansion stop, And sunk the immense of vapour to a drop.– Press’d by the ponderous air the Piston falls 260 Resistless, sliding through it’s iron walls; Quick moves the balanced beam, of giant-birth, Wields his large limbs, and nodding shakes the earth.
[_Delighted Savery_. l. 254. The invention of the steam-engine for raising water by the pressure of the air in consequence of the condensation of steam, is properly ascribed to Capt. Savery; a plate and description of this machine is given in Harris’s Lexicon Technicum, art. Engine. Though the Marquis of Worcester in his Century of Inventions printed in the year 1663 had described an engine for raising water by the explosive power of steam long before Savery’s. Mr. Desegulier affirms, that Savery bought up all he could procure of the books of the Marquis of Worcester, and destroyed them, professing himself then to have discovered the power of steam by accident, which seems to have been an unfounded slander. Savery applied it to the raising of water to supply houses and gardens, but could not accomplish the draining of mines by it. Which was afterwards done by Mr. Newcomen and Mr. John Cowley at Dartmouth, in the year 1712, who added the piston.
A few years ago Mr. Watt of Glasgow much improved this machine, and with Mr. Boulton of Birmingham has applied it to variety of purposes, such as raising water from mines, blowing bellows to fuse the ore, supplying towns with water, grinding corn and many other purposes. There is reason to believe it may in time be applied to the rowing of barges, and the moving of carriages along the road. As the specific levity of air is too great for the support of great burthens by balloons, there seems no probable method of flying conveniently but by the power of steam, or some other explosive material; which another half century may probable discover. See additional notes, No. XI.]
“The Giant-Power from earth’s remotest caves Lifts with strong arm her dark reluctant waves; 265 Each cavern’d rock, and hidden den explores, Drags her dark coals, and digs her shining ores.– Next, in close cells of ribbed oak confined, Gale after gale, He crowds the struggling wind; The imprison’d storms through brazen nostrils roar, 270 Fan the white flame, and fuse the sparkling ore. Here high in air the rising stream He pours To clay-built cisterns, or to lead-lined towers; Fresh through a thousand pipes the wave distils, And thirsty cities drink the exuberant rills.– 275 There the vast mill-stone with inebriate whirl On trembling floors his forceful fingers twirl. Whose flinty teeth the golden harvests grind, Feast without blood! and nourish human-kind.
[_Feast without blood!_ l. 278. The benevolence of the great Author of all things is greatly manifest in the sum of his works, as Dr. Balguy has well evinced in his pamphlet on Divine Benevolence asserted, printed for Davis, 1781. Yet if we may compare the parts of nature with each other, there are some circumstances of her economy which seem to contribute more to the general scale of happiness than others. Thus the nourishment of animal bodies is derived from three sources: 1. the milk given from the mother to the offspring; in this excellent contrivance the mother has pleasure in affording the sustenance to the child, and the child has pleasure in receiving it. 2. Another source of the food of animals includes seeds or eggs; in these the embryon is in a torpid or insensible state, and there is along with it laid up for its early nourishment a store of provision, as the fruit belonging to some seeds, and the oil and starch belonging to others; when these are consumed by animals the unfeeling seed or egg receives no pain, but the animal receives pleasure which consumes it. Under this article may be included the bodies of animals which die naturally. 3. But the last method of supporting animal bodies by the destruction of other living animals, as lions preying upon lambs, these upon living vegetables, and mankind upon them all, would appear to be a less perfect part of the economy of nature than those before mentioned, as contributing less to the sum of general happiness.]
“Now his hard hands on Mona’s rifted crest, 280 Bosom’d in rock, her azure ores arrest; With iron lips his rapid rollers seize The lengthening bars, in thin expansion squeeze; Descending screws with ponderous fly-wheels wound The tawny plates, the new medallions round; 285 Hard dyes of steel the cupreous circles cramp, And with quick fall his massy hammers stamp. The Harp, the Lily and the Lion join, And GEORGE and BRITAIN guard the sterling coin.
[_Mona’s rifted crest_. l. 279. Alluding to the very valuable copper- mines in the isle of Anglesey, the property of the Earl of Uxbridge.]
[_With iron-lips_. l. 281. Mr. Boulton has lately constructed at Soho near Birmingham, a most magnificent apparatus for Coining, which has cost him some thousand pounds; the whole machinery is moved by an improved steam-engine, which rolls the copper for half-pence finer than copper has before been rolled for the purpose of making money; it works the coupoirs or screw-presses for cutting out the circular pieces of copper; and coins both the faces and edges of the money at the same time, with such superior excellence and cheapness of workmanship, as well as with marks of such powerful machinery as must totally prevent clandestine imitation, and in consequence save many lives from the hand of the executioner; a circumstance worthy the attention of a great minister. If a civic crown was given in Rome for preserving the life of one citizen, Mr. Boulton should be covered with garlands of oak! By this machinery four boys of ten or twelve years old are capable of striking thirty thousand guineas in an hour, and the machine itself keeps an unerring account of the pieces struck.]
“Soon shall thy arm, UNCONQUER’D STEAM! afar 290 Drag the slow barge, or drive the rapid car; Or on wide-waving wings expanded bear The flying-chariot through the fields of air. –Fair crews triumphant, leaning from above, Shall wave their fluttering kerchiefs as they move; 295 Or warrior-bands alarm the gaping crowd, And armies shrink beneath the shadowy cloud.
“So mighty HERCULES o’er many a clime Waved his vast mace in Virtue’s cause sublime, Unmeasured strength with early art combined, 300 Awed, served, protected, and amazed mankind.– First two dread Snakes at JUNO’S vengeful nod Climb’d round the cradle of the sleeping God; Waked by the shrilling hiss, and rustling sound, And shrieks of fair attendants trembling round, 305 Their gasping throats with clenching hands he holds; And Death untwists their convoluted folds. Next in red torrents from her sevenfold heads Fell HYDRA’S blood on Lerna’s lake he sheds; Grasps ACHELOUS with resistless force, 310 And drags the roaring River to his course; Binds with loud bellowing and with hideous yell The monster Bull, and threefold Dog of Hell.
[_So mighty Hercules_. l. 297. The story of Hercules seems of great antiquity, as appears from the simplicity of his dress and armour, a lion’s skin and a club; and from the nature of many of his exploits, the destruction of wild beasts and robbers. This part of the history of Hercules seems to have related to times before the invention of the bow and arrow, or of spinning flax. Other stories of Hercules are perhaps of later date, and appear to be allegorical, as his conquering the river- god Achilous, and bringing Cerberus up to day light; the former might refer to his turning the course of a river, and draining a morass, and the latter to his exposing a part of the superstition of the times. The strangling the lion and tearing his jaws asunder, are described from a statue in the Museum Florentinum, and from an antique gem; and the grasping Anteus to death in his arms as he lifts him from the earth, is described from another antient cameo. The famous pillars of Hercules have been variously explained. Pliny asserts that the natives of Spain and of Africa believed that the mountains of Abyla and Calpè on each side of the straits of Gibraltar were the pillars of Hercules; and that they were reared by the hands of that god, and the sea admitted between them. Plin. Hist. Nat. p. 46. Edit. Manut. Venet. 1609.
If the passage between the two continents was opened by an earthquake in antient times, as this allegorical story would seem to countenance, there must have been an immense current of water at first run into the Mediterranean from the Atlantic; since there is at present a strong stream sets always from thence into the Mediterranean. Whatever may be the cause, which now constantly operates, so as to make the surface of the Mediterranean lower than that of the Atlantic, it must have kept it very much lower before a passage for the water through the streights was opened. It is probable before such an event took place, the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean extended much further into that sea, and were then for a great extent of country, destroyed by the floods occasioned by the new rise of water, and have since remained beneath the sea. Might not this give rise to the flood of Deucalion? See note Cassia, V. II. of this work.]
“Then, where Nemea’s howling forests wave, He drives the Lion to his dusky cave; 315 Seized by the throat the growling fiend disarms, And tears his gaping jaws with sinewy arms; Lifts proud ANTEUS from his mother-plains, And with strong grasp the struggling Giant strains; Back falls his fainting head, and clammy hair, 320 Writhe his weak limbs, and flits his life in air;– By steps reverted o’er the blood-dropp’d fen He tracks huge CACUS to his murderous den; Where breathing flames through brazen lips he fled, And shakes the rock-roof’d cavern o’er his head.
325 “Last with wide arms the solid earth He tears, Piles rock on rock, on mountain mountain rears; Heaves up huge ABYLA on Afric’s sand, Crowns with high CALPÈ Europe’s saliant strand, Crests with opposing towers the splendid scene, 330 And pours from urns immense the sea between.– –Loud o’er her whirling flood Charybdis roars, Affrighted Scylla bellows round his shores, Vesuvio groans through all his echoing caves, And Etna thunders o’er the insurgent waves.
335 VII. 1. NYMPHS! YOUR fine hands ethereal floods amass From the warm cushion, and the whirling glass; Beard the bright cylinder with golden wire, And circumfuse the gravitating fire.
Cold from each point cerulean lustres gleam, 340 Or shoot in air the scintillating stream. So, borne on brazen talons, watch’d of old The sleepless dragon o’er his fruits of gold; Bright beam’d his scales, his eye-balls blazed with ire, And his wide nostrils breath’d inchanted fire.
[_Ethereal floods amass_. l. 335. The theory of the accumulation of the electric fluid by means of the glass-globe and cushion is difficult to comprehend. Dr. Franklin’s idea of the pores of the glass being opened by the friction, and thence rendered capable of attracting more electric fluid, which it again parts with, as the pores contract again, seems analogous in some measure to the heat produced by the vibration, or condensation of bodies, as when a nail is hammered or filed till it becomes hot, as mentioned in additional Notes, No. VII. Some philosophers have endeavoured to account for this phenomenon by supposing the existence of two electric fluids which may be called the vitreous and resinous ones, instead of the plus and minus of the same ether. But its accumulation on the rubbed glass bears great analogy to its accumulation on the surface of the Leyden bottle, and can not perhaps be explained from any known mechanical or chemical principle. See note on Gymnotus. l. 202, of this Canto.]
[_Cold from each point_. l. 339. See additional note, No. XIII.]
345 “YOU bid gold-leaves, in crystal lantherns held, Approach attracted, and recede repel’d; While paper-nymphs instinct with motion rife, And dancing fauns the admiring Sage surprize. OR, if on wax some fearless Beauty stand, 350 And touch the sparkling rod with graceful hand; Through her fine limbs the mimic lightnings dart, And flames innocuous eddy round her heart; O’er her fair brow the kindling lustres glare, Blue rays diverging from her bristling hair; 355 While some fond Youth the kiss ethereal sips. And soft fires issue from their meeting lips. So round the virgin Saint in silver streams The holy Halo shoots it’s arrowy beams.
[_You bid gold leaves_. l. 345. Alluding to the very sensible electrometer improved by Mr. Bennett, it consists of two slips of gold- leaf suspended from a tin cap in a glass cylinder, which has a partial coating without, communicating with the wooden pedestal. If a stick of sealing wax be rubbed for a moment on a dry cloth, and then held in the air _at the distance of two or three feet_ from the cap of this instrument, the gold leaves seperate, such is its astonishing sensibility to electric influence! (See Bennet on electricity, Johnson, Lond.) The nerves of sense of animal bodies do not seem to be affected by less quantities of light or heat!]
[_The holy Halo_. l. 358. I believe it is not known with certainty at what time the painters first introduced the luminous circle round the head to import a Saint or holy person. It is now become a part of the symbolic language of painting, and it is much to be wished that this kind of hieroglyphic character was more frequent in that art; as it is much wanted to render historic pictures both more intelligible, and more sublime; and why should not painting as well as poetry express itself in metaphor, or in indistinct allegory? A truly great modern painter lately endeavoured to enlarge the sphere of pictorial language, by putting a demon behind the pillow of a wicked man on his death bed. Which unfortunately for the scientific part of painting, the cold criticism of the present day has depreciated; and thus barred perhaps the only road to the further improvement in this science.]
“YOU crowd in coated jars the denser fire, 360 Pierce the thin glass, and fuse the blazing wire; Or dart the red flash through the circling band Of youths and timorous damsels, hand in hand. –Starts the quick Ether through the fibre-trains Of dancing arteries, and of tingling veins, 365 Goads each fine nerve, with new sensation thrill’d, Bends the reluctant limbs with power unwill’d; Palsy’s cold hands the fierce concussion own, And Life clings trembling on her tottering throne.– So from dark clouds the playful lightning springs, 370 Rives the firm oak, or prints the Fairy-rings.
[_With new sensation thrill’d_. l. 365. There is probably a system of nerves in animal bodies for the purpose of perceiving heat; since the degree of this fluid is so necessary to health that we become presently injured either by its access or defect; and because almost every part of our bodies is supplied with branches from different pairs of nerves, which would not seem necessary for their motion alone: It is therefore probable, that our sensation of electricity is only of its violence in passing through our system by its suddenly distending the muscles, like any other mechanical violence; and that it is general pain alone that we feel, and not any sensation analogous to the specific quality of the object. Nature may seem to have been niggardly to mankind in bestowing upon them so few senses; since a sense to have perceived electricity, and another to have perceived magnetism might have been of great service to them, many ages before these fluids were discovered by accidental experiment, but it is possible an increased number of senses might have incommoded us by adding to the size of our bodies.]
[_Palsy’s cold hands_. l. 367. Paralytic limbs are in general only incapable of being stimulated into action by the power of the will; since the pulse continues to beat and the fluids to be absorbed in them; and it commonly happens, when paralytic people yawn and stretch themselves, (which is not a voluntary motion,) that the affected limb moves at the same time. The temporary motion of a paralytic limb is likewise caused by passing the electric shock through it; which would seem to indicate some analogy between the electric fluid, and the nervous fluid, which is seperated from the blood by the brain, and thence diffused along the nerves for the purposes of motion and sensation. It probably destroys life by its sudden expansion of the nerves or fibres of the brain; in the same manner as it fuses metals and splinters wood or stone, and removes the atmosphere, when it passes from one object to another in a dense state.]
[_Prints the Fairy rings_. l. 370. See additional note No. XIII.]
2. NYMPHS! on that day YE shed from lucid eyes. Celestial tears, and breathed ethereal sighs! When RICHMAN rear’d, by fearless haste betrayed, The wiry rod in Nieva’s fatal shade;– 375 Clouds o’er the Sage, with fringed skirts succeed, Flash follows flash, the warning corks recede; Near and more near He ey’d with fond amaze The silver streams, and watch’d the saphire blaze; Then burst the steel, the dart electric sped, 380 And the bold Sage lay number’d with the dead!– NYMPHS! on that day YE shed from lucid eyes Celestial tears, and breathed ethereal sighs!
[_When Richman reared_. l. 373. Dr. Richman Professor of natural philosophy at Petersburgh about the year 1763, elevated an insulated metallic rod to collect the aerial electricity, as Dr. Franklin had previously done at Philadelphia; and as he was observing the repulsion of the balls of his electrometer approached too near the conductor, and receiving the lightening in his head with a loud explosion, was struck dead amidst his family.]
3. “YOU led your FRANKLIN to your glazed retreats, Your air-built castles, and your silken seats; 385 Bade his bold arm invade the lowering sky, And seize the tiptoe lightnings, ere they fly; O’er the young Sage your mystic mantle spread, And wreath’d the crown electric round his head.– Thus when on wanton wing intrepid LOVE 390 Snatch’d the raised lightning from the arm of JOVE; Quick o’er his knee the triple bolt He bent, The cluster’d darts and forky arrows rent, Snapp’d with illumin’d hands each flaming shaft, His tingling fingers shook, and stamp’d, and laugh’d; 395 Bright o’er the floor the scatter’d fragments blaz’d, And Gods retreating trembled as they gaz’d; The immortal Sire, indulgent to his child, Bow’d his ambrosial locks, and Heaven relenting smiled.
[_You led your Franklin_. l. 383. Dr. Franklin was the first that discovered that lightening consisted of electric matter, he elevated a tall rod with a wire wrapped round it, and fixing the bottom of a rod into a glass bottle, and preserving it from falling by means of silk- strings, he found it electrified whenever a cloud parted over it, receiving sparks by his finger from it, and charging coated phials. This great discovery taught us to defend houses and ships and temples from lightning, and also to understand, _that people are always perfectly safe in a room during a thunder storm if they keep themselves at three or four feet distance from the walls_; for the matter of lightning in passing from the clouds to the earth, or from the earth to the clouds, runs through the walls of a house, the trunk of a tree, or other elevated object; except there be some moister body, as an animal in contact with them, or nearly so; and in that case the lightning leaves the wall or tree, and passes through the animal; but as it can pass through metals with still greater facility, it will leave animal bodies to pass through metallic ones.
If a person in the open air be surprized by a thunderstorm, he will know his danger by observing on a second watch the time which passes between the flash and the crack, and reckoning a mile for every four seconds and a half, and a little more. For sound travels at the rate of 1142 feet in a second of time, and the velocity of light through such small distances is not to be estimated. In these circumstances a person will be safer by lying down on the ground, than erect, and still safer if within a few feet of his horse; which being then a more elevated animal will receive the shock, in preference as the cloud passes over. See additional notes, No. XIII.]
[_Intrepid Love_. l. 389. This allegory is uncommonly beautiful, representing Divine Justice as disarmed by Divine Love, and relenting of his purpose. It is expressed on an agate in the Great Duke’s collection at Florence. Spence.]
VIII. “When Air’s pure essence joins the vital flood, 400 And with phosphoric Acid dyes the blood, YOUR VIRGIN TRAINS the transient HEAT dispart, And lead the soft combustion round the heart; Life’s holy lamp with fires successive feed, From the crown’d forehead to the prostrate weed, 405 From Earth’s proud realms to all that swim or sweep The yielding ether or tumultuous deep. You swell the bulb beneath the heaving lawn, Brood the live seed, unfold the bursting spawn; Nurse with soft lap, and warm with fragrant breath 410 The embryon panting in the arms of Death; Youth’s vivid eye with living light adorn, And fire the rising blush of Beauty’s golden morn.
[_Transient heat dispart_. l. 401. Dr. Crawford in his ingenious work on animal heat has endeavoured to prove, that during the combination of the pure part of the atmosphere with the phlogistic part of the blood, that much of the matter of the heat is given out from the air; and that this is the great and perpetual source of the heat of animals; to which we may add that the phosphoric acid is probably produced by this combination; by which acid the colour of the blood is changed in the lungs from a deep crimson to a bright scarlet. There seems to be however another source of animal heat, though of a similar nature; and that is from the chemical combinations produced in all the glands; since by whatever cause any glandular secretion is increased, as by friction or topical imflammation, the heat of that part becomes increased at the same time; thus after the hands have been for a time immersed in snow, on coming into a warm room, they become red and hot, without any increased pulmonary action. BESIDES THIS there would seem to be another material received from the air by respiration; which is so necessary to life, that the embryon must learn to breathe almost within a minute after
its birth, or it dies. The perpetual necessity of breathing shews, that the material thus acquired is perpetually consuming or escaping, and on that account requires perpetual renovation. Perhaps the spirit of animation itself is thus acquired from the atmosphere, which if it be supposed to be finer or more subtle than the electric matter, could not long be retained in our bodies, and must therefore require perpetual renovation.]
“Thus when the Egg of Night, on Chaos hurl’d, Burst, and disclosed the cradle of the world; 415 First from the gaping shell refulgent sprung IMMORTAL LOVE, his bow celestial strung;– O’er the wide waste his gaudy wings unfold, Beam his soft smiles, and wave his curls of gold;– With silver darts He pierced the kindling frame, 420 And lit with torch divine the ever-living flame.”
[_Thus when the egg of Night_. l. 413. There were two Cupids belonging to the antient mythology, one much elder than the other. The elder cupid, or Eros, or divine Love, was the first that came out of the great egg of night, which floated in Chaos, and was broken by the horns of the celestial bull, that is, was hatched by the warmth of the spring. He was winged and armed, and by his arrows and torch pierced and vivified all things, producing life and joy. Bacon, Vol. V. p. 197. Quarto edit. Lond. 1778. “At this time, (says Aristophanes,) sable-winged night produced an egg, from whence sprung up like a blossom Eros, the lovely, the desirable, with his glossy golden wings.” Avibus. Bryant’s Mythology, Vol. II. p. 350. second edition. This interesting moment of this sublime allegory Mrs. Cosway has chosen for her very beautiful painting. She has represented Eros or divine Love with large wings having the strength of the eagle’s wings, and the splendor of the peacocks, with his hair floating in the form of flame, and with a halo of light vapour round his head; which illuminates the painting; while he is in the act of springing forwards, and with his hands separating the elements.]
IX. The GODDESS paused, admired with conscious pride The effulgent legions marshal’d by her side, Forms sphered in fire with trembling light array’d, Ens without weight, and substance without shade; 425 And, while tumultuous joy her bosom warms, Waves her white hand, and calls her hosts to arms,
“Unite, ILLUSTRIOUS NYMPHS! your radiant powers, Call from their long repose the VERNAL HOURS. Wake with soft touch, with rosy hands unbind 430 The struggling pinions of the WESTERN WIND; Chafe his wan cheeks, his ruffled plumes repair, And wring the rain-drops from his tangled hair. Blaze round each frosted rill, or stagnant wave, And charm the NAIAD from her silent cave; 435 Where, shrined in ice, like NIOBE she mourns, And clasps with hoary arms her empty urns. Call your bright myriads, trooping from afar, With beamy helms, and glittering shafts of war; In phalanx firm the FIEND OF FROST assail, 440 Break his white towers, and pierce his crystal mail; To Zembla’s moon-bright coasts the Tyrant bear, And chain him howling to the Northern Bear.
[_Of the Western Wind_. l. 430. The principal frosts of this country are accompanied or produced by a N.E. wind, and the thaws by a S.W. wind; the reason of which is that the N.E. winds consist of regions of air brought from the north, which appear to acquire an easterly direction as they advance; and the S.W. winds consist of regions of air brought from the south, which appear to acquire a westerly direction as they advance. The surface of the earth nearer the pole moves slower than it does in our latitude; whence the regions of air brought from thence, move slower, when they arrive hither, than the earth’s surface with which they now become in contact; that is they acquire an apparent easterly direction, as the earth moves from west to east faster than this new part of its atmosphere. The S.W. winds on the contrary consist of regions of air brought from the south, where the surface of the earth moves faster than in our latitude; and have therefore a westerly direction when they arrive hither by their moving faster than the surface of the earth, with which they are in contact; and in general the nearer to the west and the greater the velocity of these winds the warmer they should be in respect to the season of the year, since they have been brought more expeditiously from the south, than those winds which have less westerly direction, and have thence been less cooled in their passage.
Sometimes I have observed the thaw to commence immediately on the change of the wind, even within an hour, if I am not mistaken, or sooner. At other times the S.W. wind has continued a day, or even two, before the thaw has commenced; during which time some of the frosty air, which had gone southwards, is driven back over us; and in consequence has taken a westerly direction, as well as a southern one. At other times I have observed a frost with a N.E. wind every morning, and a thaw with a S.W. wind every noon for several days together. See additional note, XXXIII.]
[_The Fiend of Frost_. l. 439. The principal injury done to vegetation by frost is from the expansion of the water contained in the vessels of plants. Water converted into ice occupies a greater space than it did before, as appears by the bursting of bottles filled with water at the time of their freezing. Hence frost destroys those plants of our island first, which are most succulent; and the most succulent parts first of other plants; as their leaves and last year’s shoots; the vessels of which are distended and burst by the expansion of their freezing fluids, while the drier or more resinous plants, as pines, yews, laurels, and other ever-greens, are less liable to injury from cold. The trees in vallies are on this account more injured by the vernal frosts than those on eminencies, because their early succulent shoots come out sooner. Hence fruit trees covered by a six-inch coping of a wall are less injured by the vernal frosts because their being shielded from showers and the descending night-dews has prevented them from being moist at the time of their being frozen: which circumstance has given occasion to a vulgar error amongst gardeners, who suppose frost to descend.
As the common heat of the earth in this climate is 48 degrees, those tender trees which will bear bending down, are easily secured from the frost by spreading them upon the ground, and covering them with straw or fern. This particularly suits fig-trees, as they easily bear bending to the ground, and are furnished with an acrid juice, which secures them from the depredations of insects; but are nevertheless liable to be eaten by mice. See additional notes, No. XII.]
“So when enormous GRAMPUS, issuing forth From the pale regions of the icy North; 445 Waves his broad tail, and opes his ribbed mouth, And seeks on winnowing fin the breezy South; From towns deserted rush the breathless hosts, Swarm round the hills, and darken all the coasts; Boats follow boats along the shouting tides, 450 And spears and javelins pierce his blubbery sides; Now the bold Sailor, raised on pointed toe, Whirls the wing’d harpoon on the slimy foe; Quick sinks the monster in his oozy bed, The blood-stain’d surges circling o’er his head, 455 Steers to the frozen pole his wonted track, And bears the iron tempest on his back.
X. “On wings of flame, ETHEREAL VIRGINS! sweep O’er Earth’s fair bosom, and complacent deep; Where dwell my vegetative realms benumb’d, 460 In buds imprison’d, or in bulbs intomb’d, Pervade, PELLUCID FORMS! their cold retreat, Ray from bright urns your viewless floods of _heat_; From earth’s deep wastes _electric_ torrents pour, Or shed from heaven the scintillating shower; 465 Pierce the dull root, relax its fibre-trains, Thaw the thick blood, which lingers in its veins; Melt with warm breath the fragrant gums, that bind The expanding foliage in its scaly rind; And as in air the laughing leaflets play, 470 And turn their shining bosoms to the ray, NYMPHS! with sweet smile each opening glower invite, And on its damask eyelids pour the _light_.
[_In buds imprison’d_. l. 460. The buds and bulbs of plants constitute what is termed by Linneus the Hybernaculum, or winter cradle of the embryon vegetable. The buds arise from the bark on the branches of trees, and the bulbs from the caudex of bulbous-rooted plants, or the part from which the fibres of the root are produced, they are defended from too much moisture, and from frosts, and from the depredations of insects by various contrivances, as by scales, hairs, resinous varnishes, and by acrid rinds.
The buds of trees are of two kinds, either flower-buds or leaf buds; the former of these produce their seeds and die; the latter produce other leaf buds or flower buds and die. So that all the buds of trees may be considered as annual plants, having their embryon produced during the preceeding summer. The same seems to happen with respect to bulbs; thus a tulip produces annually one flower-bearing bulb, sometimes two, and several leaf-bearing bulbs; and then the old root perishes. Next year the flower-bearing bulb produces seeds and other bulbs and perishes; while the leaf-bearing bulb, producing other bulbs only, perishes likewise; these circumstances establish a strict analogy between bulbs and buds. See additional notes, No. XIV.]
[_Viewless floods of heat_. l. 462. The fluid matter of heat, or Calorique, in which all bodies are immersed, is as necessary to vegetable as to animal existence. It is not yet determinable whether heat and light be different materials, or modifications of the same materials, as they have some properties in common. They appear to be both of them equally necessary to vegetable health, since without light green vegetables become first yellow, that is, they lose the blue colour, which contributed to produce the green; and afterwards they also lose the yellow and become white; as is seen in cellery blanched or etiolated for the table by excluding the light from it.
The upper surface of leaves, which I suppose to be their organ of respiration, seems to require light as well as air; since plants which grow in windows on the inside of houses are equally sollicitous to turn the upper side of their leaves to the light. Vegetables at the same time exsude or perspire a great quantity from their leaves, as animals do from their lungs; this perspirable matter as it rises from their fine vessels, (perhaps much finer than the pores of animal skins,) is divided into inconcievable tenuity; and when acted upon by the Sun’s light appears to be decomposed; the hydrogene becomes a part of the vegetable, composing oils or resins; and the Oxygene combined with light or calorique ascends, producing the pure part of the atmosphere or vital air. Hence during the light of the day vegetables give up more pure air than their respiration injures; but not so in the night, even though equally exposed to warmth. This single fact would seem to shew, that light is essentially different from heat; and it is perhaps by its combination with bodies, that their combined or latent heat is set at liberty, and becomes sensible. See additional note, XXXIV.]
[_Electric torrents pour_. l. 463. The influence of electricity in forwarding the germination of plants and their growth seems to be pretty well established; though Mr. Ingenhouz did not succeed in his experiments, and thence doubts the success of those of others. And though M. Rouland from his new experiments believes, that neither positive nor negative electricity increases vegetation; both which philosophers had previously been supporters of the contrary doctrine; for many other naturalists have since repeated their experiments relative to this object, and their new results have confirmed their former ones. Mr. D’Ormoy and the two Roziers have found the same success in numerous experiments which they have made in the last two years; and Mr. Carmoy has shewn in a convincing manner that electricity accelerates germination.
Mr. D’Ormoy not only found various seeds to vegetate sooner, and to grow taller which were put upon his insulated table and supplied with electricity, but also that silk-worms began to spin much sooner which were kept electrified than those of the same hatch which were kept in the same place and manner, except that they were not electrified. These experiments of M. D’Ormoy are detailed at length in the Journal de Physique of Rozier, Tom. XXXV. p. 270.
M. Bartholon, who had before written a tract on this subject, and proposed ingenious methods for applying electricity to agriculture and gardening, has also repeated a numerous set of experiments; and shews both that natural electricity, as well as the artificial, increases the growth of plants, and the germination of seeds; and opposes Mr. Ingenhouz by very numerous and conclusive facts. Ib. Tom. XXXV. p. 401.
Since by the late discoveries or opinions of the Chemists there is reason to believe that water is decomposed in the vessels of vegetables; and that the Hydrogene or inflammable air, of which it in part consists, contributes to the nourishment of the plant, and to the production of its oils, rosins, gums, sugar, &c. and lastly as electricity decomposes water into these two airs termed Oxygene and Hydrogene, there is a powerful analogy to induce us to believe that it accelerates or contributes to the growth of vegetation, and like heat may possibly enter into combination with many bodies, or form the basis of some yet unanalised acid.]
“So shall my pines, Canadian wilds that shade, Where no bold step has pierc’d the tangled glade, 475 High-towering palms, that part the Southern flood With shadowy isles and continents of wood, Oaks, whose broad antlers crest Britannia’s plain, Or bear her thunders o’er the conquer’d main, Shout, as you pass, inhale the genial skies, 480 And bask and brighten in your beamy eyes; Bow their white heads, admire the changing clime, Shake from their candied trunks the tinkling rime; With bursting buds their wrinkled barks adorn, And wed the timorous floret to her thorn; 485 Deep strike their roots, their lengthening tops revive, And all my world of foliage wave, alive.
“Thus with Hermetic art the ADEPT combines The royal acid with cobaltic mines;
Marks with quick pen, in lines unseen portrayed, 490 The blushing mead, green dell, and dusky glade; Shades with pellucid clouds the tintless field, And all the future Group exists conceal’d; Till waked by fire the dawning tablet glows, Green springs the herb, the purple floret blows, 495 Hills vales and woods in bright succession rise, And all the living landscape charms his eyes.
[_Thus with Hermetic art_. l. 487. The sympathetic inks made by Zaffre dissolved in the marine and nitrous acids have this curious property, that being brought to the fire one of them becomes green, and the other red; but what is more wonderful, they again lose these colours, (unless the heat has been too great,) on their being again withdrawn from the fire. Fire-screens have been thus painted, which in the cold have shewn only the trunk and branches of a dead tree, and sandy hills, which on their approach to the fire have put forth green leaves and red flowers, and grass upon the mountains. The process of making these inks is very easy, take Zaffre, as sold by the druggists, and digest it in aqua regia, and the calx of Cobalt will be dissolved; which solution must be diluted with a little common water to prevent it from making too strong an impression on the paper; the colour when the paper is heated becomes of a fine green-blue. If Zaffre or Regulus of Cobalt be dissolved in the same manner in spirit of nitre, or aqua fortis, a reddish colour is produced on exposing the paper to heat. Chemical Dictionary by Mr. Keir, Art. Ink Sympathetic.]
XI. “With crest of gold should sultry SIRIUS glare, And with his kindling tresses scorch the air; With points of flame the shafts of Summer arm, 500 And burn the beauties he designs to warm;– –So erst when JOVE his oath extorted mourn’d, And clad in glory to the Fair return’d; While Loves at forky bolts their torches light, And resting lightnings gild the car of Night; 505 His blazing form the dazzled Maid admir’d, Met with fond lips, and in his arms expir’d;– NYMPHS! on light pinion lead your banner’d hosts High o’er the cliffs of ORKNEY’S gulphy coasts; Leave on your left the red volcanic light, 510 Which HECCLA lifts amid the dusky night; Mark on the right the DOFRINE’S snow-capt brow, Where whirling MAELSTROME roars and foams below; Watch with unmoving eye, where CEPHEUS bends His triple crown, his scepter’d hand extends; 515 Where studs CASSIOPE with stars unknown Her golden chair, and gems her sapphire zone; Where with vast convolution DRACO holds The ecliptic axis in his scaly folds, O’er half the skies his neck enormous rears, 520 And with immense meanders parts the BEARS; Onward, the kindred BEARS with footstep rude Dance round the Pole, pursuing and pursued.
[_With stars unknown_. l. 515. Alluding to the star which appeared in the chair of Cassiopea in the year 1572, which at first surpassed Jupiter in magnitude and brightness, diminished by degrees and disappeared in 18 months; it alarmed all the astronomers of the age, and was esteemed a comet by some.–Could this have been the Georgium sidus?]
“There in her azure coif and starry stole, Grey TWILIGHT sits, and rules the slumbering Pole; 525 Bends the pale moon-beams round the sparkling coast, And strews with livid hands eternal frost. There, NYMPHS! alight, array your dazzling powers, With sudden march alarm the torpid Hours; On ice-built isles expand a thousand sails, 530 Hinge the strong helms, and catch the frozen gales; The winged rocks to feverish climates guide, Where fainting Zephyrs pant upon the tide; Pass, where to CEUTA CALPE’S thunder roars, And answering echoes shake the kindred shores; 535 Pass, where with palmy plumes CANARY smiles, And in her silver girdle binds her isles; Onward, where NIGER’S dusky Naiad laves A thousand kingdoms with prolific waves, Or leads o’er golden sands her threefold train 540 In steamy channels to the fervid main, While swarthy nations croud the sultry coast, Drink the fresh breeze, and hail the floating Frost, NYMPHS! veil’d in mist, the melting treasures steer, And cool with arctic snows the tropic year. 545 So from the burning Line by Monsoons driven Clouds sail in squadrons o’er the darken’d heaven; Wide wastes of sand the gelid gales pervade, And ocean cools beneath the moving shade.
[_On ice-built isles_. l. 529. There are many reasons to believe from the accounts of travellers and navigators, that the islands of ice in the higher northern latitudes as well as the Glaciers on the Alps continue perpetually to increase in bulk. At certain times in the ice- mountains of Switzerland there happen cracks which have shewn the great thickness of the ice, as some of these cracks have measured three or four hundred ells deep. The great islands of ice in the northern seas near Hudson’s bay have been observed to have been immersed above one hundred fathoms beneath the surface of the sea, and to have risen a fifth or sixth part above the surface, and to have measured between three and four miles in circumference. Phil. Trans. No. 465. Sect. 2.
Dr. Lister endeavoured to shew that the ice of sea-water contains some salt and perhaps less air than common ice, and that it is therefore much more difficult of solution; whence he accounts for the perpetual and great increase of these floating islands of ice. Philos. Trans. No. 169.
As by a famous experiment of Mr. Boyles it appears that ice evaporates very fast in severe frosty weather when the wind blows upon it; and as ice in a thawing state is known to contain six times more cold than water at the same degree of sensible coldness, it is easy to understand that winds blowing over islands and continents of ice perhaps much below nothing on Farenheit’s scale, and coming from thence into our latitude must bring great degrees of cold along with them. If we add to this the quantity of cold produced by the evaporation of the water as well as by the solution of the ice, we cannot doubt but that the northern ice is the principle source of the coldness of our winters, and that it is brought hither by the regions of air blowing from the north, and which take an apparent easterly direction by their coming to a part of the surface of the earth which moves faster than the latitude they come from. Hence the increase of the ice in the polar regions by increasing the cold of our climate adds at the same time to the bulk of the Glaciers of Italy and Switzerland.
If the nations who inhabit this hemisphere of the globe, instead of destroying their sea-men and exhausting their wealth in unnecessary wars, could be induced to unite their labours to navigate these immense masses of ice into the more southern oceans, two great advantages would result to mankind, the tropic countries would be much cooled by their solution, and our winters in this latitude would be rendered much milder for perhaps a century or two, till the masses of ice became again enormous.
Mr. Bradley describes the cold winds and wet weather which sometimes happen in May and June to the solution of ice-islands accidentally floating from the north. Treatise on Husbandry and Gardening, Vol. II. p. 437. And adds, that Mr. Barham about the year 1718, in his voyage from Jamaica to England in the beginning of June, met with ice-islands coming from the north, which were surrounded with so great a fog that the ship was in danger of striking upon them, and that one of them measured fifty miles in length.
We have lately experienced an instance of ice-islands brought from the Southern polar regions, on which the Guardian struck at the beginning of her passage from the Cape of Good Hope towards Botany Bay, on December 22, 1789. These islands were involved in mist, were about one hundred and fifty fathoms long, and about fifty fathoms above the surface of the water. A part from the top of one of them broke off and fell into the sea, causing an extraordinary commotion in the water and a thick smoke all round it.]
[_Threefold train_. l. 539. The river Niger after traversing an immense tract of populous country is supposed to divide itself into three other great rivers. The Rio Grande, the Gambia, and the Senegal. Gold-dust is obtained from the sands of these rivers.]
[_Wide wastes of sand_. l. 547. When the sun is in the Southern tropic 36 deg. distant from the zenith, the thermometer is seldom lower than 72 deg. at Gondar in Abyssinia, but it falls to 60 or 53 deg. when the sun is immediately vertical; so much does the approach of rain counteract the heat of the sun. Bruce’s Travels, Vol. 3. p. 670.]
XII. Should SOLSTICE, stalking through the sickening bowers, 550 Suck the warm dew-drops, lap the falling showers; Kneel with parch’d lip, and bending from it’s brink From dripping palm the scanty river drink; NYMPHS! o’er the soil ten thousand points erect, And high in air the electric flame collect. 555 Soon shall dark mists with self-attraction shroud The blazing day, and sail in wilds of cloud; Each silvery Flower the streams aerial quaff, Bow her sweet head, and infant Harvest laugh.
[_Ten thousand points erect_. l. 553. The solution of water in air or in calorique, seems to acquire electric matter at the same time, as appears from an experiment of Mr. Bennet. He put some live coals into an insulated funnel of metal, and throwing on them a little water observed that the ascending steam was electrised plus, and the water which descended through the funnel was electrised minus. Hence it appears that though clouds by their change of form may sometimes become electrised minus yet they have in general an accumulation of electricity. This accumulation of electric matter also evidently contributes to support the atmospheric vapour when it is condensed into the form of clouds, because it is seen to descend rapidly after the flashes of lightning have diminished its quantity; whence there is reason to conclude that very numerous metallic rods with fine points erected high in the air might induce it at any time to part with some of its water.
If we may trust the theory of Mr. Lavoisier concerning the composition and decomposition of water, there would seem another source of thunder- showers; and that is, that the two gasses termed oxygene gas or vital air, and hydrogene gas or inflammable air, may exist in the summer atmosphere in a state of mixture but not of combination, and that the electric spark or flash of lightning may combine them and produce water instantaneously.]
“Thus when ELIJA mark’d from Carmel’s brow 560 In bright expanse the briny flood below; Roll’d his red eyes amid the scorching air, Smote his firm breast, and breathed his ardent prayer; High in the midst a massy altar stood, And slaughter’d offerings press’d the piles of wood; 565 While ISRAEL’S chiefs the sacred hill surround, And famish’d armies crowd the dusty ground; While proud Idolatry was leagued with dearth, And wither’d famine swept the desert earth.– “OH, MIGHTY LORD! thy woe-worn servant hear, 570 “Who calls thy name in agony of prayer; “Thy fanes dishonour’d, and thy prophets slain, “Lo! I alone survive of all thy train!– “Oh send from heaven thy sacred fire,–and pour “O’er the parch’d land the salutary shower,– 575 “So shall thy Priest thy erring flock recal,– “And speak in thunder, “THOU ART LORD OF ALL.”– He cried, and kneeling on the mountain-sands, Stretch’d high in air his supplicating hands. –Descending flames the dusky shrine illume; 580 Fire the wet wood, the sacred bull consume; Wing’d from the sea the gathering mists arise, And floating waters darken all the skies; The King with shifted reins his chariot bends, And wide o’er earth the airy flood descends; 585 With mingling cries dispersing hosts applaud, And shouting nations own THE LIVING GOD.”
The GODDESS ceased,–the exulting tribes obey, Start from the soil, and win their airy way; The vaulted skies with streams of transient rays 590 Shine, as they pass, and earth and ocean blaze. So from fierce wars when lawless Monarch’s cease, Or Liberty returns with laurel’d Peace; Bright fly the sparks, the colour’d lustres burn, Flash follows f
595 Blue serpents sweep along the dusky air, Imp’d by long trains of scintillating hair; Red rockets rise, loud cracks are heard on high, And showers of stars rush headlong from the sky, Burst, as in silver lines they hiss along, 600 And the quick flash unfolds the gazing throng.
_Argument of the Second Canto._
Address to the Gnomes. I. The Earth thrown from a volcano of the Sun; it’s atmosphere and ocean; it’s journey through the zodiac; vicissitude of day-light, and of seasons, 11. II. Primeval islands. Paradise, or the golden Age. Venus rising from the sea, 33. III. The first great earthquakes; continents raised from the sea; the Moon thrown from a volcano, has no atmosphere, and is frozen; the earth’s diurnal motion retarded; it’s axis more inclined; whirls with the moon round a new centre. 67. IV. Formation of lime-stone by aqueous solution; calcareous spar; white marble; antient statue of Hercules resting from his labours. Antinous. Apollo of Belvidere. Venus de Medici. Lady Elizabeth Foster, and Lady Melbourn by Mrs. Damer. 93. V. 1. Of morasses. Whence the production of Salt by elutriation. Salt-mines at Cracow, 115. 2. Production of nitre. Mars and Venus caught by Vulcan, 143. 3. Production of iron. Mr. Michel’s improvement of artificial magnets. Uses of Steel in agriculture, navigation, war, 183. 4. Production of acids, whence Flint. Sea-sand. Selenite. Asbestus. Fluor. Onyx, Agate, Mocho, Opal, Sapphire, Ruby, Diamond. Jupiter and Europa, 215. VI. 1. New subterraneous fires from fermentation. Production of Clays; manufacture of Porcelain in China; in Italy; in England. Mr. Wedgwood’s works at Etruria in Staffordshire. Cameo of a Slave in Chains; of Hope. Figures on the Portland or Barberini vase explained, 271. 2. Coal; Pyrite; Naphtha; Jet; Amber. Dr. Franklin’s discovery of disarming the Tempest of it’s lightning. Liberty of America; of Ireland; of France, 349. VII. Antient central subterraneous fires. Production of Tin, Copper, Zink, Lead, Mercury, Platina, Gold and Silver. Destruction of Mexico. Slavery of Africa, 395. VIII. Destruction of the armies of Cambyses, 431. IX. Gnomes like stars of an Orrery. Inroads of the Sea stopped. Rocks cultivated. Hannibal passes the Alps, 499. X. Matter circulates. Manures to Vegetables like Chyle to Animals. Plants rising from the Earth. St. Peter delivered from Prison, 537. XI. Transmigration of matter, 565. Death and resuscitation of Adonis, 575. Departure of the Gnomes, 601.
ECONOMY OF VEGETATION.
AND NOW THE GODDESS with attention sweet Turns to the GNOMES, that circle round her feet; Orb within orb approach the marshal’d trains, And pigmy legions darken all the plains; 5 Thrice shout with silver tones the applauding bands, Bow, ere She speaks, and clap their fairy hands. So the tall grass, when noon-tide zephyr blows, Bends it’s green blades in undulating rows; Wide o’er the fields the billowy tumult spreads, 10 And rustling harvests bow their golden heads.
I. “GNOMES! YOUR bright forms, presiding at her birth, Clung in fond squadrons round the new-born EARTH; When high in ether, with explosion dire, From the deep craters of his realms of fire, 15 The whirling Sun this ponderous planet hurl’d, And gave the astonish’d void another world. When from it’s vaporous air, condensed by cold, Descending torrents into oceans roll’d; And fierce attraction with relentless force 20 Bent the reluctant wanderer to it’s course.
[_From the deep craters_. l. 14. The existence of solar volcanos is countenanced by their analogy to terrestrial, and lunar volcanos; and by the spots on the sun’s disk, which have been shewn by Dr. Wilson to be excavations through its luminous surface, and may be supposed to be the cavities from whence the planets and comets were ejected by explosions. See additional notes, No. XV. on solar volcanos.]
[_When from its vaporous air_. l. 17. If the nucleus of the earth was thrown out from the sun by an explosion along with as large a quantity of surrounding hot vapour as its attraction would occasion to accompany it, the ponderous semi-fluid nucleus would take a spherical form from