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of mildness and patient endurance could beam from the eye of a being to which nature has given a form so repulsive, and which ignorance has invested with venomous malignancy.4 There is not, in fact, the least shadow of truth in these fabulous accounts of the venom of the toad, notwithstanding the authority of Shakspeare, and the day-dreams of the old naturalists."
5. Equally destitute of foundation is the notion that the salamander is the most venomous of animals. The Romans, who looked upon it with horror, had a proverb, that he who was bitten by a salamander had need of as many physicians as the animal had spots; and another more hopeless, “ If a salamander bites you, put on a shroud.”
But the greatest absurdity was the belief that the salamander was incombustible—that it not only resisted the action of fire, but extin. guished it: an idea which had no other foundation than the fact that its body is covered with warty glands, from which it emits, in time of danger, a milky fluid. Thus a very small fire might be extinguished by it.
6. The sirens, which are found only in North America, are the most singular of all the reptiles, as they have permanent branchial organs, which project from the sides of the neck, and can breathe equally well in the water and out of it. They may therefore be considered the only true amphibians. The siren of the Carolinas, found in the muddy water of the rice-swamps, is nearly two feet long, and has only two legs. The Mexican siren, or axolot, has four legs. It is cooked like eels, and is regarded as a great delicacy. It was so plentiful when Cortez invaded Mexico that he is said to have subsisted his army upon it.
7. But I must bid adieu to my subject, and close this series of letters. If I have interested you, dispelled some prejudices, disposed you to look with more complacency upon this part of God's creation, and prepared you the better to appreciate the great whole of animated nature, the little time which both of us have given to this subject will not have been spent in vain. Had you passed this subject by, it would not only have been to you a link broken in the chain of animal life, but your future acquisitions in other allied sciences would thereby have been rendered incomplete and unsatisfactory. 1 TRANS-FOR-MĀ'-TION, a met-a-mèrph'-0-13 VĚN'-om-ous, spiteful, poisonous. sis, a change of form.
4 MA-LIG'-NAN-CY, extreme malice or hos2 BRANCH'-I-AL, pertaining to the branchice, tility.
LESSON 1.—TO A GIRL IN HER THIRTEENTH YEAR.
1. The smiles, thy talk, thy aimless plays,
So beautiful approve thee,
I can not choose but love thee.
Is like the summer air,
To plant a soft kiss there.
Between the child and woman,
And other years are coming :
And thou shalt be more deeply fair,
More precious to the heart,
That lovely thing thou art!
Of fancy-fed affection;
And waken cold reflection.
O’er pleasures unreturning,
Unto the cares of morning.
Of joyous expectation,
The freshling of creation !
Her early lamp with gladness,
Her comforter in sadness.
All rich in Nature's treasure,
Of self-renewing pleasure.
Of mirth, till time shall end it;
And who shall reprehend it?-SIDNEY WALKER.
We can not honor our country with too deep a reverence; we can not love her with an affection too pure and fervent; we can not serve her with an energy of purpose or a faithfulness of zeal too steadfast and ardent. And what is our country? It is not the East, with her hills and her valleys, with her countless sails, and the rocky ramparts of her shores. It is not the North, with her thousand villages and her harvesthome, with her frontiers of the lake and the ocean.
It is not the West, with her forest-sea and her inland isles, with her luxuriant expanses, clothed in the verdant corn; with her beautiful Ohio, and her verdant Missouri. Nor is it yet the South, opulent in the mimic snow of the cotton, in the rich plantations of the rustling cane, and in the golden robes of the rice-field. What are these but the sister families of one greater, better, holièr family, OUR COUNTRY ?-GRIMKE.
LESSON III.- À NOBLE REVENGE. 1. A YOUNG officer had so far forgotten himself, in a moment of irritation, as to strike a private soldier, full of personal dignity, and distinguished for his courage. The inexorable laws of military discipline forbade to the injured soldier any practical redress—he could look for no retaliation by acts. Words only were at his command, and, in a tumult of indignation, as he turned away, the soldier said to his officer that he would“ make him repent it.” This, wearing the shape of a menace, naturally rekindled the officer's anger, and intercepted any disposition which might be rising within him toward a sentiment of remorse; and thus the irritation between the two young men grew hotter than before.
2. Some weeks after this a partial action took place with the enemy. Suppose yourself a spectator, and looking down into a valley occupied by the two armies. They are facing each other, you see, in martial array. But it is no more than a skirmish which is going on; in the course of which, however, an occasion suddenly arises for a desperate service. A redoubt, which has fallen into the enemy's hands, must be recaptured at any price, and under circumstances of all but hopeless difficulty.
3. A strong party has volunteered for the service; there is a cry for somebody to head them; you see a soldier step out from the ranks to assume this dangerous leadership; the party move rapidly forward; in a few minutes it is swallowed up
from your eyes in clouds of smoke ; for one half hour, from behind these clouds, you receive hieroglyphic reports of bloody strife-fierce repeating signals, flashes from the guns, rolling musketry, and exulting hurras advancing or receding, slackening or redoubling.
4. At length all is over; the redoubt has been recovered; that which was lost is found again; the jewel which had been made captive is ransomed with blood. Crimsoned with glorious gore, the wreck of the conquering party is relieved, and
, at liberty to return. From the river you see it ascending. The plume-crested officer in command rushes forward, with his left hand raising his hat in homage to the blackened fragments of what once was a flag, while with his right hand he seizes that of the leader, though not more than a private from the ranks. That perplexes you not; mystery you see none in that. For distinctions of order perish, ranks are confounded; “high and low” are words without a meaning, and to wreck goes every notion or feeling that divides the noble from the noble, or the brave man from the brave.
5. But wherefore is it that now, when suddenly they wheel into mutual recognition, suddenly they pause? This soldier, this officer—who are they? O reader! once before they had stood face to face—the soldier that was struck, the officer that struck him. Once again they are meeting; and the gaze of armies is upon them. If for a moment a doubt divides them, in a moment the doubt has perished. One glance exchanged between them publishes the forgiveness that is sealed for
6. As one who recovers a brother whom he has accounted dead, the officer sprang forward, threw his arms around the neck of the soldier, and kissed him, as if he were some martyr glorified by that shadow of death from which he was returning; while, on his part, the soldier, stepping back, and carrying his hand through the beautiful motions of the military salute to a superior, makes this immortal answer—that answer which shut up forever the memory of the indignity offered to him, even for the last time alluding to it: “Sir," he said, “I told you before that I would make you repent it.”
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.
LESSON IV.-HAMLET'S SOLILOQUY. (Hamlet contemplates suicide to end his troubles, but is deterred by “the dread of something after death."]
To be', or not' to be? That is the question':
To sleep'! perchance to dream; Ay', there's the rub';