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and seen all that they describe ; still the description is so accurate that it alone would have enabled me to form a pretty good idea of one:" and Clara again repeated, “The long and ample deck, where scatter'd lie, Baskets, and cloaks, and shawls of scarlet dye."
“ And the dogs and children"-continued she, “ there, there they are and even the old fiddler—the old Welsh harper-is not forgotten !”
“ As you seem to admire those lines so much, on account of the accuracy of the description, my dear,” said Mr. C., “ let me hear whether you understand every allusion contained in the poem.”
“I believe I do," replied Clara; and she satisfactorily answered all her father's questions till he came to “That which, all silver'd with the moon's pale beam,
Precedes the mighty Geyser's upcast stream."
Here she stopped, and was obliged to refer to Maria for an explanation...
“Do you know where Iceland is ?” said her sister.
“ Certainly: it is a small island in the Frozen Ocean, and a long, long way north of Scotland.” . “Very well; you have probably heard of Heckla, the volcanic mountain of Iceland, but I do not know that you have ever heard of the Geysers, for which it is also remarkable.”
“ Geysers !” said Clara. “No! that was the word that puzzled me when papa was repeating those lines.”
“ They are supposed to be the effect of subterranean fires,” continued Maria, “and are, in reality, springs which throw up jets of boiling water, every now and then, preceded by immense volleys of steam."
.“.What! and are these Geysers continually playing?”
“ Yes, at stated times, however: the spring resembles a prodigious basin, with an opening at the bottom, in which the hot water is perpetually rising and falling. An eruption is usually preceded by a loud subterranean noise, which resembles the discharge of distant cannon, and after this the columns of boiling water rise and fall for some minutes amidst clouds of steam. Then they suddenly disappear in the opening at the bottom of the basin, and there is a short pause or cessation, while the water again rises in preparation for the next eruption. I suppose you now comprehend those lines and the reference to the Geysers."
“ Yes: but will you explain the two last? Whilst travellers from their skin-spread couches
rise To gaze upon the sight with wondering eyes.?” “ They may probably refer to that
enterprising traveller, Mackenzie," said Maria,“ who tells us that he and his friends, when travelling in Iceland, anxious to be present at an eruption of the great Geyser, one night pitched a tent near the spot, and laid down to repose on some sheep-skins, in order to be ready to witness the spectacle as soon as the preparatory signal should be heard; and highly gratified indeed they were with gazing upon the magnificent column of water which presently rose to the height of ninety feet in the air, preceded and followed by quickly-rolling clouds of steam and vapour.”
“ Iceland appears to abound in natural curiosities," said Clara, “ though I think, from the descriptions of it, that it must be a very desolate country to live in. In fact I should not much admire a residence in any part of the frigid
“Now we have descriptive poetry on the tapis,” said Mr. C., “I will give you a poetical description of the polar regions." ;
“ Ah, papa, you mean Dryden's," said Fanny. “Let me repeat it.” “Do, my dear.”
(Fanny repeats.) “The sun from far peeps with a sickly face, Too weak the clouds and mighty fogs to chase; Swift rivers are with sudden ice constrained ; And studded wheels are on their back sustained. The brazen caldrons with the frost are flawed; The garments stiff with ice at hearths are thawed; With axes first they cleave the wine, and thence By weight the solid portions they dispense. From locks uncoinbed, and from the frozen beard, Long icicles, depend and crackling sounds are
heard. Meantime perpetual sleet and driving snow Obscure the skies, and hang on herds below. The starving cattle perish in their stalls, Huge oxen stand enclosed in wintry walls Of snow concealed; whole herds are buried there Of mighty stags, and scarce their horns appear.