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SECOND CLASS BOOK.
ADVANTAGES OF HISTORY, AND DISCOVERY
OF NEW ENGLAND. 1. HISTORY has always been a persuasive method of instructing mankind. Many good men in every age employed it for this invaluable purpose. Though precepts and admonitions often have a commanding energy, an irresistible influence; though the pulpit will for ever stand oprivalled
the means of instruction and reformation, still history lends her alluring and powerful assistance.
2. Her salutary light is of incalculable importance. She displays the felicity of goodness, and the miseries of vica, unfolds the time when many prophecies have been fulfilled, and produces confidence in those which remain. Examples of individuals great and good, of communities distinguished for integrity and success, powerfully persuade to an imitation of their virtues.
3. If any country has merited the notice of history, New England has strong claims. Beginning in weakness and sufferings; at one time less than a half dozen persons able to defend themselves from the bosom of uncounted tribes of savages; from feebleness, poverty and contempt, she has risen in might and numbers and resources, till she may bid defiance to invasion from any power.
4. Her virtues, industry, frugality, piety, and valor, in the hands of God, have been the means of this unexampled prosperity. Her soil is not the most fertile, her climate is forbidding, yet her wealth is greater, and her population more numerous, than any other portion of the United States.
5. There is much truth in the remark of an European writer ; were not the cold climate of New England supplied with good laws and discipline, the barrenness of that country would never have brought people to it, nor have advanced it in consideration and formidableness above the other English plantations, exceeding it much in fertility and other inviting qualities.
6. America was discovered by Columbus in 1492. The news spread rapidly through Europe, and every maritime power, from the Baltic to the Adriatic sea, rushed forth to gaze on the amazing curiosity, a New World, or to seize a portion for themselves. Among these the English, ever forward in daring enterprises, took a conspicuous part.
7. In 1496, John Cabot, with two ships, sailed from England, having a commission from Henry 7th to discover unknown lands, and annex them to the British government. Directing his course for China, he fell in with Labrador, and coasted north to latitude 67o. The next year he made a second voyage, and discovered Newfoundland and New England, traversing the coast to Florida.
8. Thus was New England discovered in the summer of 1497; but no attempt for a permanent settlement was made for more than a century. A long night of obscurity covered this part of the American coast. The people of England were living at ease in the land of their nativity; the church was not prepared to fly for rest into this “wilderness ;" or the guilt of the natives had not ripened them for those judgments, which finally swept them away in war and pestilence, to make room for the holy pilgrims, the fathers of New England.
9. New England, now the north eastern grand division of the United States of America, lies in the form of a quarter of a circle around the great bay, or part of the Atlantic ocean, which sets up to the northwest between Cape Cod and Cape Sable. It contains the states of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and Connecticut; and is situated between 410 and 48° north latitude, and 10 and 100 east longitude from Philadelphia. Its extreme length from the south west corner of Connecticut, is about 626 miles; its breadth is very unequal, from fifty to two hundred miles. It contains about 72,000 square miles.
10. New England is bounded north by Lower Canada, east by the British province of New Brunswick and the Atlantic ocean, south by the same ocean, and Long Island sound, and west by the state of New York. Its west line begins at the mouth of Byram river, which empties into Long Island sound, at the south west corner of Connecticut, north latitude 41°, and runs a little to the east of north, till it strikes the 45th degree of latitude ; it then curves to the north east along the highlands, till it reaches about the 48th degree of north latitude.
Note. The Baltic is a large sea, between Denmark and Sweden, to the west, and Germany, Poland, and Russia to the east, from which run the gulfs of Bothnia, Finland, Riga and Dantzic. It is said this sea neither ebbs nor flows.--The Adriatic sea, or gulf of Venice, lies between Italy and a part of Turkey in Europe. Cane Cod is a peninsula 05 miles long and from 1 to 20 broad. It is the southernmost point of Massachusetts Bay.
ROCK BRIDGE IN VIRGINIA. 1. ON a lovely morning, towards the close of spring, I found myself in a very beautiful part of the Great Valley of Virginia. Spurred on by impatience, I beheld the sun rising in splendor, and changing the blue tints on the tops of the lofty Alleghany mountains, into streaks of the purest gold, nature seemed to smile in the freshness of beauty. A ride of about fifteen miles, and a pleasant woodland ramble of about two, brought myself and companion to the Natural Bridge.
2. Although I had been anxiously looking forward to this time, and my mind had been considerably excited by expectation, yet I was not altogether prepared for this visit. This great work of nature is considered by many as the second great curiosity in our country, Niagara falls being the first. I do not expect to convey a very correct idea of this bridge, for no description can do this.
3. The Natural Bridge is entirely the work of God. It is of solid limestone, and connects two huge mountains zogether by a most beautiful arch, over which there is a great wagon road. Its length, from one mountain to the other, is nearly 80 feet, its width about 35, its thickness 45, and its perpendicular height over the water is not far from 220 feet. A few bushes grow on its top, by which the traveller may hold himself as he looks over.
4. On each side of the stream, and near the bridge, are rocks projecting ten or fifteen feet over the water, and from 200 to 300 feet from its surface, all of limestone. The vie siter cannot give so good a description of this bridge, as he can of his feelings at the time. He softly creeps out on a shaggy projecting rock, and looking down a chasm of from 40 to 60 feet wide, he sees, nearly 300 feet below, a wild stream foaming and dashing against the rocks beneath, as if terrified at the rocks above.
5. This stream is called Cedar Creek. The visiter here sees trees under the arch, whose height is 70 feet ; and yet, to look down upon them, they appear like small bushes of perhaps two or three feet in height. I saw seve ral birds fly under the arch, and they looked like insects. I threw down a stone, and counted 34 before it reached the water. All hear of heights and of depths, but they here SEE what is high, and they tremble, and FEEL it to be deep.
6. The awful rocks present their everlasting butments, the water murmurs and foams far below, and the two mountains rear their proud heads on each side, separated by a channel of sublimity. Those who view the
moon, and the stars, and allow that none but GOD could make them, will here be impressed, that none but an Almighty God could have built a bridge like this.
7. The view of the bridge from below is as pleasing as the top view is awful. The arch from beneath would seem to be about two feet in thickness. Some idea of the dis tance from the top to the bottom may be formed, from the fact that as I stood on the bridge, and my companion be neath, neither of us could speak with sufficient loudness to be heard by the other. A man from either view does not appear more than four or five inches in height.
8. As we stood under this beautiful arch, we saw the place where visiters have often taken the pains to engrave their namnes upon the rock. Here Washington climbed up 25 feet and carved his own name, where it still remains. Some, wishing to immortalize their names, have engraven