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The first appearance of this phenomenon is generally in showers of falling rays, like those thrown from a rocket, although not so bright. These being in constant and agitated motion, have the appearance of trickling down the sky. Large masses of light succeeded next in order, alternating from a glow resembling the milky way, to the most vivid flashes, and which stream and shoot in every direction with the effect of sheet lightning, except that, after the flash, the aurora still continues to be seen.
The sudden glare and rapid burst of those wondrous showers of fire, render it impossible to observe them, without fancying they produce a rushing sound: but I am confident that there is no actual noise attending the changes, and that the idea is erroneous.
I frequently stood for hours together on the ice, to ascertain this fact, at a distance from any noise but my own breathing, and thus I formed my opinion. Neither did I observe any variety of color in the flashes, which were to my eye always of the same shade, as the milky way and vivid sheet lightning. The stars which gleam through the aurora, certainly emit a milder ray, as if a curtain of the finest gauze were interposed.
It is remarkable that whenever the weather is calm, the aurora has a tendency to form an arch, at whatever position it may occupy in the heavens. On the 29th of the month we were particularly gratified by a beautiful exhibition of this kind at near midnight. A perfect arch was formed to the southward, stretching from east to west; its centre elevated about two degrees above the horizon.
The nights was serene and dark, which added considerably to the effect, and the appearance continued unchanged for about a quarter of an hour; but on a slight breeze springing up, small rays shot occasionally to the zenith, and the arch became agitated by a gentle and undulating motion, after which it spread irregularly, and separating unto the usual streamers, soon diffused itself over the whole sky.
In stormy weather, the northern lights fly with the rapidity of lightning, and with a corresponding wildness to the gale which is blowing, giving an indescribable air of magic to the whole scene. I have never contemplated the aurora without experiencing the most awful sensations, and can readily excuse the poor untutored Indians for supposing, that, in the restless motions of the northern lights, they behold the spirits of their fathers roaming in freedom through the land of souls.
Anecdote of Washington.-ANONYMOUS.
IMMEDIATELY after the organization of the present government, Gen. Washington repaired to Fredericksburg, to pay his humble duty to his mother, preparatory for his departure to New York. An affecting scene ensued. The son feelingly remarked the ravages, which a torturing disease had made upon the aged frame of his mother, and thus addressed her.
'The people, Madam, have been pleased, with the most flattering unanimity, to elect me to the chief magistracy of the United States, but before I can assume the functions of my office, I have come to bid you an affectionate farewell. So soon as the public business, which must necessarily be encountered in arranging a new government, can be disposed of, I shall hasten to Virginia, and'
Here the matron interrupted him. You will see me no more. My great age, and the disease, which is fast approaching my vitals, warn me I shall not be long of this world. I trust in God, I am somewhat prepared for a better. But go, George, fulfil the high destinies which Heaven appears to assign to you; go, my son, and may that Heaven, and your mother's blessing be with you always.'
The President was deeply affected. His head rested upon the shoulder of his parent, whose aged arm feebly, yet fondly encircled his neck. That brow, on which fame had wreathed the purest laurel virtue ever gave to created man, relaxed from its lofty bearing. That look, which could have awed a Roman senate in its Fabrician day, was bent in filial tenderness upon the time-worn features of this venerable
The great man wept. A thousand recollections crowded upon his mind, as memory, retracing scenes long past, carried him back to the maternal mansion, and the days of his youth; and there the centre of attraction was his mother, whose care, instruction and discipline had prepared him to reach the topmost height of laudable ambition; yet how were his glories forgotten while he gazed upon her, from whom, wasted by time and malady, he must soon part to meet no
The matron's predictions were true. The disease, which
had so long preyed upon her frame, completed its triumph, and she expired at the age of eighty-five, confiding in the promises of immortality to the humble believer.
To the North Star.-ANONYMOUS.
The brightest jewel on Night's ebon brow,
Far in the northern pole
Thy clear and steady flame burns without end:
But thou, O beacon bright in heaven's blue sea!
The mariner, when his bark
Is driven across the ocean, bleak and drear,
Casts o'er the waste his straining eye,
The moon shines when the eve grows dim;
But thou dost never pale thy flame,
The planets in their orbits disappear,
Thou art a beauteous type, bright Star!
Upon the troublous seas of life,
The Pilgrim they laid in a large upper chamber, whose window opened towards the sun-rising; the name of the chamber was Peace; where he slept till break of day, and then he awoke and sang.'
Now, brighter than the host, that, all night long,
Stood watch, thou com'st to wait the morning's song.
Thou bid'st me turn to God, and seek my rest in Him.
'Canst thou grow sad,' thou say'st, 'as earth grows bright? And sigh, when little birds begin discourse
In quick, low voices, e'er the streaming light
A sharer be, if that thine heart be pure.
And breathe in kindred calm, and teach thee to endure.'
I feel its calm. But there's a sombrous hue
And all the woods and hill-tops stand outspread
And ended, all alike, grief, mirth, love, hate, and wrong.
But wrong, and hate, and love, and grief, and mirth,
Nor binds his heart with soft and kindly ties:
And 't is because man useth so amiss
Her dearest blessings, Nature seemeth sad;
Not lift the veil, in revelation glad,
From her fair face?-It is that man is mad!
Then chide me not, clear star, that I repine,
When Nature grieves; nor deem this heart is bad.
Thou look'st towards earth: but yet the heavens are thine; While I to earth am bound:--When will the heavens be mine?
If man would but his finer nature learn,
Of simpler things; could Nature's features stern
But not for this alone, the silent tear
Steals to mine eyes, while looking on the morn,