« AnteriorContinuar »
The formation of every proximate in nature is assisted by its presence, and no proximate or product used in the arts, remains of value or can retain its figure, quality, or properties, when excluded from the effect of water either as pervading atmosphere or pervading the mass.
The last effort of inert materials before losing their structure, is to part with water; thus decaying paper in its last stages loses its water, becomes brittle, and all the laws governing the cohesion of its particles seem to be suspended when it divides into its ultimates for reappropriation.
Even the hardest minerals owe their qualities to water. Combined with pure charcoal, it forms the hardest known substance, the diamond, which, without its water of crystallization, would be but carbon.
In the atmosphere it exists past the observance of man; for in the dryest, hottest day of summer, it is there held in large but not observable quantities. The whole fifty miles of atmosphere is pervaded by it, and cold substances presented to the sun-beam condense and segregate from the atmosphere drops of water, and when thus dilute through all the space in direct contact with the surfaces of the sphere, still has the power of receiving and retaining in its invisible condition, all the exhalations of the earth's surface arising from the decay of men, animals, plants, and food, returning to the earth in the form of rains and dews, and re-depositing these for reäppropriation.
The gases vomited forth from the chimneys of our large cities, are all restored for reässimilation by the next falling dew, leaving the atmosphere cleansed for the use of man. From the stomach of the greatest animal to the ultimate of the finest feather, from the roaring cataract to the eye of the most minute insect, all are sustained in being by the functions of water and its ultimates. So general are its properties, that it is called an element. To it is due the color of every Hower, and the life of every living thing. In its various forms it composes in part every substance. As clouds it saves us from the scorching sun. During its evaporation and consequent enlargement, it receives and renders latent all excessive heat. It pervades every configuration and cools the fevered lip of the invalid, giving back this very heat in colder localities by being condensed, and thus maintains the equilibrium of nature. In the ocean it receives the cleansing of continents, brings ultimate in contact with ultimate, causing new creations, new life, supplying conditions for their continuance, and in various forms restores again to continents their lost treasures. It is to all nature what the physical heart of man is to his body, carrying with it God's wisdom, active at every pulsation, until all nature in her gladness smiles from its effects.
With these facts before us, we can no longer doubt the necessity of so preparing soils by deep and thorough disintegration, as to present cold surfaces to the atmosphere pervading soils, and thus securing at all times, even during the severest drouth, the presence of water; for while we sleep this great lubricator will perform the most kindly offices for our growing crops. The peculiar refractive powers of water on light, and the part it plays as an assistant to the effects of solar heat, will be treated of in a separate paper.
The Two Sisters: or, Love and Pride.
A TRUE STORY OF THE REVOLUTION
BY THE AUTII OE OF 'STORIES OF GENERAL WARREN
It was a beautiful spring morning when a happy family might have been seen assembled in the porch of their dwelling, situated on a small peninsula jutting into the ocean. A noble orchard, planted by the hands of its much-respected owner, formed that combination of country and sea-side with which it is so rare to meet. The air was soft, and wafted the sweet perfume of the apple-blossom around the circle at the door, and it seemed as though naught could or ought to disturb the tranquillity of the scene.
Can it be true, dear mother, that French soldiers are actually coming to take possession of our quiet home?' was the sudden exclamation of a beautiful young girl who formed one of this group, as, shaking back her auburn curls, which clustered round her fair high forehead, she gave a glance at the anxious gaze of her mother, whose eyes were fixed on the broad expanse of ocean which was spread out before her, and on which could be discerned vessels bearing the gay flags of a nation whose emblems they had until now ever beheld with pleasure.
• No, my daughter,' was the gentle but sad reply ; 'the French are not coming to take possession of our home, but to be for a time our guests, that they may aid in protecting us from the oppression of those whose first desire and duty should have been to guard those rights which they have recently with so much injustice invaded. We must make every effort that may conduce to the comfort of our foreign friends; and although our domestic happiness may be somewhat disturbed during their residence within our household, yet it will, I trust, be made more permanent for the future.'
The family circle to which we have thus introduced our readers, consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Collins and their two daughters. Margaret, the elder, possessed an almost masculine character, having an uncommon degree of self-reliance, and a power of self-command which was equal to any emergency. In this respect she differed from her sister Adeline, whose abrupt question had just interrupted the silence of the thoughtful party. The latter united with a highly cultivated mind a loveliness of person which greatly surpassed that of her sister.
Her character was of a gentle and reserved nature, resembling the beautiful sensitive plant, which retires within itself at the slightest collision with an unfamiliar object. It is not surprising, then, that she was distressed at the thought that strangers were coming to reside under her immediate roof, especially when those strangers were not only military men but foreigners. Her father, fearing that his house would indeed be no place for delicate females, urged his wife and daughters to
remove into the interior of the State. But they at once refused their consent to any such arrangement, as they felt that all their hospitality was requisite for these generous foreigners, who had left their own happy fire-sides to protect the homes of a distant land. That the facility of intercourse might be made more agreeable between himself and his expected guests, Mr. Collins, although advanced in years, having arrived at the age of three-score, studied, and ere long was enabled to converse with ease in their own language, which was far from being at that time, as it is now in this country, a familiar branch of education.
As the day approached on which the French officers were to take up their abode in this quiet mansion, Adeline was finally persuaded to visit some friends in the beautiful city of Philadelphia. In that city, so celebrated for its hospitality, she was at once thrown into the society of the refined and cultivated, and among them was one who seemed particularly interested in the retiring and gentle manners of Adeline, and in whose affection and kindness she in a short time found almost the fondness of a beloved parent. This was the wife of General Mifflin, so well known as one of the heroes of the Revolution. By his eloquence in animating the militia, and his strenuous exertions in some of the darkest moments of our struggle for liberty, he did much in causing its glorious result.
Situated thus pleasantly, Adeline would have experienced much enjoyment if her mind could have felt at ease with regard to the friends she had left. She, however, gathered from the letters she received that the society of their foreign guests had proved far more agreeable than could have been anticipated. Like true Frenchmen, though earnestly anxious to exert their utmost efforts in the cause they came to support, yet they were never forgetful of the duties of politeness, and endeavored in every way to lighten the burden which they felt their presence must be to those on whom they were quartered.
One little incident occurred soon after Adeline's departure from her home which, although of a private character, gave her many sad reflections ; for in it was a striking development of the marked traits of her sister's character. Edward Mordaunt, the son of a respectable although not wealthy neighboring farmer, had been the constant companion from infancy of Margaret Collins. The games of childhood had changed into pursuits more in accordance with their riper years, and the love for the same studies had thrown them more and more constantly together. Great was the surprise of Margaret's friends, therefore, when it was known that in these troubled times, Edward, who was much beloved for his manly and sterling traits of character, had taken this opportunity to offer his heart and hand to that friend whose slightest wish had ever been considered by him of paramount importance to that of all others, and had been refused. When it was also understood that poor Edward after his disappointment had at once left his home and chosen a life upon the ocean as his profession, grief was added to their astonishment ; for the only reason given by Margaret for this unexpected action on her part was, that her resolution never to be tempted to ally herself with poverty was unalterable. Her sister Adeline knew that, although pride had prompted this decision, the struggle must have been severe, and she earnestly wished that it might have been possible for her to have been at Margaret's side before Edward's abrupt departure. As it was now too late for her mild influence to be exerted to any purpose, her parents were unwilling she should leave so soon those kind friends to whom she had become greatly endeared.
In the delightful reunions assembled weekly in Mrs. Mifflin's drawing-room, Adeline met most of those whose names were daily becoming more celebrated. At times, General Washington himself might be seen entering with his whole heart into the social enjoyments of those around him, whenever his arduous duties permitted such relaxation ; and Mrs. Washington, for whose character was cherished the deepest love and admiration, and in whose society alone was sufficient attraction, constituted one of Mrs. Miffin's most frequent guests. Amid this brilliant circle, from which Adeline was never permitted to be absent, was one whose fine countenance, polished manners, and the intelligence which beamed from his large black eye, distinguished him from all around him. Attracted by Adeline's grace and beauty, he soon paid her marked attention, and their interest in each other gradually became mutual.
From a deeper knowledge of the mind and character of her new friend, Adeline found that they fully equalled his external appearance. Friendship soon ripened into love, and ere she returned to her home, he had warmly urged her to share his fortunes. Dr. W — was a young man of high standing in his profession, his medical and surgical experience having already acquired him fame.
. With mingled emotions of pain and pleasure, Adeline bade adieu to the kind friends with whom she had now been for several months on the closest terms of intimacy, and was soon once more in her muchloved home. She found it somewhat changed ; the sweet blossoms of spring had given place to the rich hues of autumn, and her beloved parents appeared to have grown older than was natural during so short a separation. Anxiety for the fate of their country had indeed imprinted its traces on their brows; and even her sister Margaret evinced that the struggle she had experienced between love and pride had faded the roses on her cheeks, and given to her character that appearance of restlessness which a mind ill at ease often produces. But their affection for her who had been so long absent was as ardent as ever, and with eager interest did Adeline listen to the narration of the different events which had transpired in the momentous interval during which they had been separated. The tranquillity of this reünited family was not of long duration ; for on the appearance of Dr. W— , it was soon very evident to Adeline's parents that the daughter, of whose society they had been so long deprived, must ere long leave for ever the paternal roof. Dr. W — 's character and talents were universally respected and admired, and he won almost immediately the warm regard of Mr. and Mrs. Collins. Margaret strenuously opposed her sister's union with one who had as little wealth to offer as he whose suit she had herself so recently rejected ; and she vividly depicted to Adeline the life of toil and anxiety which must necessarily be the consequence of such a marriage. But Adeline did not waver; in her mind such considerations could have no power. Having fully considered the