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Pour out my unpremeditated verse
But what a narrow space Just underneath! In many a heap the ground Heaves, as though Ruin in a frantic mood Had done his utmost. Here and there appears, As left to show his handiwork, not ours, An idle column, a half-buried arch, A wall of some great temple. It was once The Forum, whence a mandate, eagle-winged, Went to the ends of the earth. Let us descend Slowly. At every step much may be lost. The very dust we tread stirs as with life, And not the slightest breath that sends not up Something of human grandeur. We are come, Are now where once the mightiest spirits met In terrible conflict; this, while Rome was free, The noblest theatre on this side heaven!
Here the first Brutus stood-when o'er the corse
Here Cincinnatus passed, his plow the while
Consuls, dictators, still in curule pomp
Now all is changed, and here, as in the wild,
SELECT ETYMOLOGIES.-Chamber: L. cam'era, a vault. Classic: L. classicus; fr. class'is, class; relating to the classes of the Roman people, and especially to the first class; h., the term classic is applied to Greek and Latin authors of confirmed celebrity. . . . Column: L. colum'na; fr. cello, cel'sus, to urge on, to raise; h., colonnade. . . . Curule: L. curu'lis, of or pertaining to a chariot; fr. currus, a chariot; fr. cur'ro, cur'sus, to run; h., car, career, carry, con-course, con-cur, corridor, courier, course, current, curricle, cursory, dis-course, dis-cursive, ex-cursion, in-cur, intercourse, oc-cur (oc = ob), pre-cursor, re-course, suc-cor (suc sub), etc.... Descend: L. descen'do, descen'sum, to come down; fr. de and scan'do, I climb: v. ASCEND. . . . Discuss: L. discu'tio, discus'sum, to shake asunder; fr. dis, and cut'io, cus'sum (a form of quàt'io, quas'sum) to shake; h., con-cussion, per-cussion, res-cue (res = re), etc. Exceed: L. exce'do, exces'sum, to go out; fr. ex, out, and ce'do, ces'sum, to go, to yield; h., ac-cede, an-cestor (an =an'te), ante-cedent (an'te, before), cease, cede, cession, con-cede, de-cease, in-cessant, inter-cede, pre-cede, pre-cedent, pre-de-cessor, pro-ceed, re-cede, se-cede, suc-ceed, suc-cess, suc-cession, sur-cease, etc. . . . Fortitude: L. fortitu'do, strength; fr. for'tis, strong; h., comfort, to make strong, ejfort, force, fort, fortify, etc. . . . Illustrious: L. illus'tris, lighted up: v. ILLUMINATE. ... Image: L. ima'go, ima'ginis; allied to im'itor, imita'tus, to imitate; h., imagination, inimitable, etc. . . . Inscribe: L. inscribo, inscrip-lum, to write in or upon; fr. in and scribo, I write; h., a-scribe (aad), circum-scribe, de-scribe, de-scriptive, im-pre-scriptible, manu-script (ma'nus, hand), pre-scribe, pro-scribe, scribble, scribe, scrip, Scripture, subscribe, tran-scribe. Maintain: F. maintenir (main and tenir); fr. the L. man'us, a hand, ten'eo, I hold; to hold in hand; to keep.. Massacre: F. massacrer, to slaughter; probably connected with L. macellum, a meat market. . . . Mausoleum : fr. the gorgeous tomb of Mau'solus, king of Caria, which his widow erected. . . . Modern: F. moderne; fr. L. mō'do, just now, but of late.
LXXVII.—ADDRESS TO A WILD DEER.
By the WEATHER-GLEAM the poet means a sudden shoot of light in the direction from which the wind blows. In line 7 BORNE is not a perfect rhyme to MORN; in borne o is long as in bore; in morn it has the sound of o in nor. In lines 33, 34, SHONE should be pronounced shon, GONE, gon. The unaccented vowel is sounded in ves'sel, but not in heav'en.
MAGNIFICENT creature! so stately and bright!
O'er a hundred hill-tops since the mists of the morn!
Up, up to yon cliff, like a king to the throne,
Unto footsteps so fleet and so fearless as thine.
Aloft on the weather-gleam, scorning the earth,
In dalliance with danger he bounded in bliss
His voyage is o'er! As if struck by a spell
LXXVIII. THE COAL IN THE FIRE.
1. "You say that coal is transformed vegetable matter, but can you show us how the transformation takes place? Is it possible, according to known natural laws?" The chemist must answer that. And he tells us that wood can become lignite, or wood-coal, by parting with its oxygen in the shape of carbonic acid gas or choke-damp, and then common or bituminous coal by parting with its hydrogen chiefly in the form of carbureted hydrogen-the gas with which we light our streets. That is about as much as the unscientific reader need know. But it is a fresh corroboration of the theory that coal has been once vegetable fibre, for it shows how vegetable fibre can, by the laws of nature, become coal. And it certainly helps us to believe that a thing has been done if we are shown that it can be done.
2. This fact explains also why, in mines of wood-coal, carbonic acid-i. e., choke-damp-alone is given off. For in the wood-coal a great deal of the hydrogen still remains. But in mines of true coal, not only is choke-damp given off, but that more terrible pest of the miners, fire-damp or explosive carbureted hydrogen and olefiant gases. Now, the occurrence of that fire-damp in mines proves that changes are still going on in the coal; that it is getting rid of its hydrogen and so progressing toward the state of anthracite or culm-stone-coal, as it is sometimes called. In the Pennsylvanian coal-fields, some of the coal has actually done this, under the disturbing force of earthquakes, for the coal, which is bituminous, becomes gradually anthracite.
3. And is a further transformation possible? Yes, and more than one. If we conceive the anthracite cleared of all but its last atoms of oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, till it has become all but pure carbon, it would become, as it has become in certain rocks of immense antiquity, graphite, what we miscall black lead. And after that it might go through one transformation more, and that the most startling of all. It would need only perfect purification and crystallization to become a diamond; nothing less. We may consider the coal upon the fire as the middle term of a series, of which the first is live wood and the last diamond, and indulge safely in the fancy that every diamond in the world has probably, at some remote, epoch, formed part of a growing plant. A strange transformation, which will look to us more strange, more truly poetical, the more steadily we consider it.
4. The coal on the fire, the table at which I write, what are they made of? Gas and sunbeams with a small percentage of ash or earthy salts, which need hardly be taken in account. Gas and sunbeams. Strange, but true. The life of the growing plant-and what that life is, who can tell?-laid hold of the gases in the air and in the soil, of the carbonic acid, the atmospheric air, the water, for that too is gas. It drank them in through its rootlets; it breathed them in through its leafpores, that it might distill them into sap and bud and leaf and