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We looked upon a world unknown,
As night drew on, and, from the crest
Until the old, rude-furnished room
Shut in from all the world without,
What matter how the night behaved ? What matter how the north-wind raved ? Blow high, blow low, not all its snow Could quench our hearth-fire's ruddy glow.
John G. WHITTIER.
Biography.-For biographical sketch of John Greenleaf Whittier, see page 83.
Notes. – Pisa's (Pee' să's) leaning miracle. At Pisa, Italy, there is a round, marble tower, 180 feet high, called the Leaning Tower, on account of its deviating fourteen feet from the perpendicular. Although this wonderful tower is apparently about to fall, it has stood firm for more than seven hundred years.
Silhouette (sil'oo et) is a shadow outline filled in with a dark color. A hundred years ago, the profile silhouettes of individuals were cut out of black paper, and were kept as likenesses. Humorous illustrations of the silhouette order are now common in pictorial papers.
Elocution— With what tone of voice should this poem be read ?
89.–THE RUBBER TREES OF THE AMAZON. eon vol' vu lī, climbing plants măno gröves, certain tropical with bell-shaped flowers.
trees. är bo rěs'çent, tree-like. ā'ğūeş, chills. a'růmş, lilies.
pre çise'ly, exactly. ěst'ū a ry, an arm of the sea. eo ăğ'ù lätęs, becomes thick.
Ascending the Mississippi from its mouth, one passes by four great tributaries, the Red, Arkansas, Ohio, and Missouri; the Missouri, in its turn, receives the Platte and Yellowstone, so that we can reckon altogether six branches which exceed seven hundred miles in length. This is a larger number than the Asiatic or African rivers possess.
The Niger has no large branches at all; the Nile has only three or four, which are almost dry during half of the year; the Yang-tse-kiang has no single branch as long as the Ohio; and so with the rest. In South America, the Parana receives the Uraguay and Paraguay, each as large as the Red River. So far, the comparison is favorable to the Mississippi.
Now glance at a map of the Amazon. There are at least sixteen tributaries that measure more than
seven hundred miles in length; the most of them exceed a thousand. Some of these great branches receive streams almost as large as themselves, and the lesser rivers that flow into the Amazon would count up a full hundred or more. King of rivers, the Amazon bears a princely train.
In studying the great valley of the Amazon, our first step will be to distinguish between the mainland and the flood-plain; we must separate these two in our minds as sharply as they are defined in nature. The main-land is always beyond reach of the floods, though it may be only a few inches above them; it has a foundation of older rock, which crops out in many places. The flood-plain, on the contrary, has clearly been formed by the river itself; its islands and flats are built up of mud and clay, with an occasional sand bank; but they are never stony, and only isolated points are a few inches above the highest floods.
Our first rambles will be among the islands and channels of the varzeas, or flood-plains, with their swampy forests, and great stretches of meadow, and half submerged plantations. Any one who is not blind must feel his soul moved within him by the marvelous beauty of the vegetation. Not a bit of ground is seen; straight up from the water the forest rises like a wall-dense, dark, impenetrable, a hundred feet of leafy splendor. And breaking out every-where from among the heaped-up masses are the palm-trees by thousands. For here the palms hold court: nowhere else on the broad earth is their glory unveiled as
it. If palms, standing alone, are esteemed the most beautiful of trees, what shall we say when their numbers are counted,
not by scores, nor hundreds, but by thousands, and all in a ground-work of such forest as is never seen outside of the tropics?
The scene is infinitely varied: sometimes the palm-trees are hidden, but even then the great rolling mass is full of wonderful changes, from the hundred or more kinds of trees that compose it; and again the palms hold undivided sway, or only shrubs and low climbing vines soften their splendor. Down by the water's edge the flowering convolvuli are mingled with shield-like leaves of the arborescent arums, and mangroves standing aloft on their stilt-like roots, where they are washed by the estuary tides.
The Indian pilot points out numbers of rubbertrees, and we learn to recognize their white trunks, and shining, bright-green foliage. This low tideregion is one of the most important rubber districts, and hundreds of natives are employed in gathering and preparing the crude gum. Occasionally we see their thatched huts along the shore, built on piles, and always damp, reeking, dismal, suggestive of agues and rheumatism; for the tidelowlands, glorious as they are from the river, are sodden marshes within, where many a rubber gatherer has found disease and death.
The rubber-trees are scattered through marshy forests, where we clamber over logs, and sink into pools of mud, and leap the puddles; where the mosquitoes are blood-thirsty, and nature is damp and dark and threatening; where the silence is unbroken by beast and bird -a silence that can be felt.
In the early morning, men and women come