Page images

A reference to the extremes of temperature will be equally unfavourable to Mr. Volney's position. Mr. Legaux states 1° 8 below 0, as about the mean of extreme cold at Spring-mill. The mean of extreme cold at this place from five successive years' observations, is 6o4 below 0. The greatest degrees of cold observed at this place within six years, were 6o, 7°, 8° and 11° below 0. But on the 8th of January, 1797, governor Sargent witnessed the thermometer sunk to 18° below 0; and during the same winter Dr. Doniphan of Mason county, Kentucky, in latitude about 38° 40′ observed the mercury at 1°, 12° and 14° 5 below 0, on three successive mornings. The greatest degree of cold observed at Spring-mill from 1787 to 1806 was 17° 5 below O, and the greatest that has yet been recorded as occurring in Pennsylvania was according to Dr. Rush, 22° below 0.

The average of the greatest heats at Spring-mill for several years, is stated at 99° 5-in July 1793, the mercury rose to 104° 5. The average of the greatest heats at this place, for five years, is 94° 5. The greatest heat observed here, during that period, was 98°. During the Summer and Autumn of 1805 at Spring-mill, the thermometer was at or above 90°, 61 times. During the Summer and Autumn of 1808, the warmest experienced here since regular observations were made, the thermometer was at or above 90°, only 32 times.

Concerning Mr. Volney's assertion that the thermometer in this country seldom sinks below 20° or 18°, and that for 60 or 70 days ensuing the summer solstice, it fluctuates between 90° and 95°, after what has been stated, nothing need be said. His information was palpably incorrect.*

Let us now advert to Mr. Volney's facts. One of them is the residence of the paroquet in this country. It is true, that this bird is found throughout the whole year in our valleys as high as 39° 30′ latitude. But it is certainly not mildness of climate, that either attracted, or retains it here. The mean temperature of January 1809, was 25°-could this be grateful to a

* In a single month at this place, the thermometer has been at or below 20 degrees 17 times.

[blocks in formation]

bird, that is said to be repulsed by the genial climate of the maritime portions of southern Virginia, in 361° latitude? That eminent zoologist, Dr. Barton, suspects that the southern course of our rivers favoured the migration of this bird to so high a latitude; an ingenious correspondent suggests, that the seeds of the sycamore, (platanus occidentalis) on which the paroquet delights to feed, have allured it into this country. The suppositions may be combined. The sycamore of the Mississippi may have attracted hither the paroquet, in consequence of that river running from N. to S. while in the Atlantic states, as the rivers of N. Carolina and Virginia run nearly from W. to E. there are between them tracts which afford but little of the sycamore, and over which the paroquet, according to this hypothesis, has no inducement to pass. Possibly, however, the existence of this bird in these regions has been coeval with its existence in Florida and South America.

Mr. Volney asserts that many vegetables are found in this country, that do not grow as far north by 3° in the Atlantic states. A part of this error has been corrected by his commentator Dr. Mease, in the compilation entitled a Geological View of the United States. The cultivation of cotton is not thought worthy of attention, north of the valley of Green River in Kentucky, about latitude 37° 30'. The sassafras, botanical writers inform us, is found on the borders of Lake Champlain. The pawpaw, I believe, is found in the western parts of Atlantic Virginia. The pican or Illinois nut is peculiar to the western country, and therefore cannot be a subject of comparison. The reed and catalpa grow in the fertile parts of this country as high as 38° 30' and furnish to Mr. Volney's assertion a better support than his other facts. Whether, however, they really indicate a milderclimate (athing which notwithstanding these invalidatory statements may be strongly suspected) or whether the amazing fertility of our soil enables them to dispense with a portion of heat, is yet to be determined.

Mr. Volney states, that in the times of harvest at Monticello and Kaskaskia, places in the same latitude, and at nearly the same level above the sea, there is an exact coincidence. From this, certainly no inference in favour of a diversity of cli



THE Susquehanna river enters the state of Pennsylvania about twelve miles from the Delaware, and after winding among lofty hills, turns at the GREAT BEND, to the north, and three miles further passes again through the state line at the twentieth mile stone. On the south west side of the Great Bend, stands a handsome little village. At this place the turnpike road to Newburg, in the state of Newyork, crosses the river, and is carried up the valley formed by the Salt-Lick creek, a part of which is seen in the annexed sketch, The county to which the Susquehanna has given a name, was formerly a part of Lu



He who is at all acquainted with my inquisitive humour and my studious habits, will promptly credit me, when I assert that I am not absolutely a stranger to the comedies of Terence, and the fragments of Menander, and that the sublimity of Grecian tragedy is perfectly familiar to my memory and my heart. But all the plays of Plautus, merry as they unquestionably are, and all the scenes, however solemn, of Eschylus and Euripides, are less than nothing, and altogether vanity, in comparison with the sterling gold of Shakspeare. But the bard of Avon, like every other erring mortal, has his egregious faults, and in the middle of his brightest rainbows we sometimes painfully discern the offensive vapour and the murky cloud. For the most part, no writer is more unequal; but, sometimes, like his own sublime eagle, in his pride of place, the Muse of the poet wings the boldest flight of elevated dignity. She scorns the base earth, and rises on sustained pinion to the brilliant zenith of sunny glory.

The peerless tragedy of Othello justifies these preliminary remarks. There is scarcely a character of minor importance in the whole play. We are introduced to the company of gallant

soldiers, accomplished ladies, dignified noblemen, and gay cavaliers. Even Emilia is a perfect woman of the world, and even Bianca, the courtezan, reveals none of the grossness of her trade. Roderigo is not a Bartholomew Fair buffoon, as is generally represented on the stage. Though loquacious, credulous and indiscreet,in consequence of an absurd and hopeless passion, we must remember that he has all the vivacity of a Venetian and all the manners of a gentleman, that he is generous and brave. In the noisy and nocturnal scene with the disturbed Brabantio, our love-sick Venetian accosts the grave senator in a tone of equal tenderness, friendship and simplicity; and in the final scenes of the tragedy, he expostulates sensibly, and behaves bravely. There is nothing like idiocy in his language, nor nothing like imbecility in his action. * Ludovico, Montano, and Gratiano, though the subalterns of the scene, are indeed like three lads of Cyprus, noble, swelling spirits,

Who hold their honours in a wary distance,

The very elements of a warlike isle."

Othello, who is apparently the hero of the fable, is one of the most memorable personages whose character and exploits are recorded, either in fictitious or legitimate history. Though the vulgar idea, which figures him black, as an African, is absurd, yet he is unquestionably tawny as a Moor. He is a grim warrior in the wane of life, without any affectation of the courtier's

* In the energetic language of Emilia, this young man ofrank and fashion is represented as eminently beautiful. Desdemona declares that he is eloquent, and her attendant, with her accustomed glow of sentiment and expression, avers that she knew a lady in Venice, who would have walked barefoot to Palestine, for a touch of his nether lip. Of this character in the scene, the honourable history is admirably recorded by Othello himself, even, when, in consequence of the midnight brawl, in the court of the castle at Cyprus, he is vehemently incensed against all the officers, implicated in that disgraceful carousal.

Worthy Montano, you were wont be civil,
The gravity and stillness of your youth
The world hath noted, and your name is great
In mouths of wisest censure. What's the matter

That you unlace your reputation thus

[ocr errors][merged small]

softness, and without the least pretence to toilet beauty.


all a soldier's frankness, he declares that he is but moderately skilled in the arts either of public or private eloquence. He painfully alludes to the character of his complexion, and the harshness of his speech. Yet all this is nothing but thé amiable modesty of sterling merit. We know from the context, that he is as valiant as Cæsar, as frank as Antony, as magnanimous as Themistocles, and as sage as Solon. His intrepidity is of that genuine sort which is always tempered by the coolness of prudence and moderation. His nature is noble, his deportment dignified, his language undissembling, and his heart in his hand. The world's suffrage is on his side. He has all the confidence of the state, and all the fondness of his friends. He is of royal lineage; and, in the forcible language of the poet, who has immortalised him, is every inch a king. He has the daring courage of an adventurer, and the prescience and sagacity of a statesman. He has experienced all of the vicissitudes of life, and has surveyed the wide world both as a soldier and a pilgrim. He is as patient of hardshigs as Lucius Cataline, nor less in love than he of the arduous, the romantic and the incredible. The flinty and steel couch of war is his thrice driven bed of down.

What is rugged to others is smooth to him. In strange and mysterious alliance he unites the soul of candour and the facility of a man of the world with the stratagem of war, and the dignified reserve of a politician. Montano pronounces him a complete soldier, and Desdemona declares him to be an irresistible wooer. Othello himself, in his speech in the castle hall, when he counsels his officers to sobriety, utters a sentiment, which may defy a comparison with all the aphorisms of the ancients.

Good Michael, look you to the guard to night:

Let's teach ourselves that honourable stop,

Not to outsport discretion.

Even his bitterest foe is compelled to acknowledge that his affections are ardent, constant and generous.

By the artlessness, truth, and honor of narrative, he subdues the repugnance of the prejudiced Brabantio, and by his warlike energies compels all the magnificoes of Venice to depute him as

« PreviousContinue »