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These confluent streams make some great river's
By stores still melting and descending fed; [head,
Thus from the aspiring mountains of the moon
Dissolving treasures rush in torrents down,
Which pass the sun-burnt realms and sandy soil,
And bless the' Egyptian nation with their Nile;
Then whosoe'er his secret rise would know,
Must climb the hills, and trace his head in snow;
And through the Rhine, the Danube, and the Rhone,
All ample rivers of our milder zone,
While they advance along the flats and plains,
Spread by the showers augmented, and the rains ;
Yet these their source and first beginning owe
To stores, that from the Alpine mountains flow;
Hence, when the snows in winter cease to weep,
And undissolv'd their flaky texture keep,
The banks with ease their humble streams contain,
Which swell in summer, and those banks disdain.
Be this account allow'd, say do not here
The' impressions of consummate art appear?
In every spacious realm a rising ground,
Observers tell, is in the middle found;
That all the streams, which flow from either side,
May through the valleys unobstructed glide.
What various kingdoms does the Danube lave,
Before the Euxine sea receives its wave!
How many nations of the sun-burnt soil
Fam'd Niger bless ! how many drink the Nile !
Through what vast regions, near the rising sun,
Does Indus, Ganges, and Hydaspes, run!
What happy empires, wide Euphrates, teen,
And pregnant grow by thy prolific stream!
How many spacious countries does the Rhine,
In winding banks, and mazes serpentine,
Traverse, before he splits in Belgia's plain,
And lost in sand creeps to the German main !
Floods which through Indian realms their course
That Mexico enrich, and wash Peru, (pursue,
With their unwearied streams yet further pass,
Before they reach the sea, and end their race.
And since the rivers and the floods demand,
For their descent, a prone and sinking land,
Does not this due declivity declare
A wise Director's providential care?
See, how the streams, advancing to the main
Through crooked channels, draw their crystal train!
While lingering thus, they in meanders glide,
They scatter verdant life on either side.
The valleys smile, and with their flowery face
And wealthy births confess the floods embrace.
But this great blessing would in part be lost,
Nor would the meads their blooming plenty boast;
Did uncheck'd rivers draw their fluid train
In lines direct, and rapid seek the main.
The sea does next demand our view; and there No less the marks of perfect skill appear. When first the atoms to the congress came, And by their concourse form’d the mighty frame, What did the liquid to the assembly call, To give their aid to form the ponderous ball ? First, tell us, why did any come? next, why In such a disproportion to the dry? Why were the moist in number so outdone, That to a thousand dry they are but one? When they united, and together clung, When undistinguish'd in one heap they hung, How was the union broke, the knot untied? What did the entangled elements divide :
Why did the moist disjoined, without respect
To their less weight, the lowest seat elect?
Could they dispense to lie below the land,
With nature's law, and unrepeal'd command ;
Which gives to lighter things the greatest height,
And seats inferior to superior weight?
Did they foresee, unless they lay so low, .
The restless flood the land would overflow, s
By which the delug'd earth would useless grow?)
What, but a conscious agent, could provide
The spacious hollow, where the waves reside?
Where, barrd with rock and fenc'd with hills, the
Does in its womb the floating treasures keep;
And all the raging regiments restrain
In stated limits, that the swelling main
May not in triumph o'er the frontier ride,
And through the land licentious spread its tide?
What other cause the frame could so contrive,
That, when tempestuous winds the ocean drive,
They cannot break the tie, nor disunite
The waves, which roll connected in their fight?
Their bands, though slack, no dissolution fear,
The' unsever'd parts the greatest pressure bear,
Though loose, and fit to flow, they still cohere. S
This apt, this wise contexture of the sea,
Makes it the ships, driv'n by the winds, obey ;
Whence hardy merchants sail from shore to shore,
Bring Indian spices home, and Guinea's ore.
When you with liquid stores have fill'd the deep, What does the flood from putrefaction keep? Should it lie stagnant in its ample seat, The sun would through it spread destructive heat. The wise Contriver, on his end intent, Careful this fatal error to prevent, VOL. XV.
And keep the waters from corruption free,
Mix'd them with salt, and season'd all the sea.
What other cause could this effect produce ?
The brackish tincture through the main diffuse?
You, who to solar beams this task assign,
To scald the waves, and turn the tide to brine,
Reflect, that all the fluid stores, which sleep
In the remotest caverns of the deep, .
Have of the briny force a greater share
Than those above, that meet the ambient air.
Others (but oh how much in vain !) erect
Mountains of salt, the ocean to infect.
Who, vers’d in nature, can describe the land,
Or fix the place on which those mountains stand?
Why have those rocks so long unwasted stood,
Since, lavish of their stock, they through the flood
Have, ages past, their melting crystal spread,
And with their spoils the liquid regions fed ?
Yet more, the wise Contriver did provide
(To keep the sea from stagnating) the tide;
Which now we see advance, and now subside. S
If you exclude this great Directing Mind,
Declare what cause of this effect you find.
You, who this globe round its own axis drive,
From that rotation this event derive :
You say the sea, which with unequal pace
Attends the earth in this its rapid race,
Does with its waves fall backward to the west,
And, thence repell’d, advances to the east :
While this revolving motion does endure,
The deep must reel, and rush from shore to shore :
Thus to the setting, and the rising sun,
Alternate tides in stated order run.
The' experiments you bring us to explain
This notion, are impertinent and vain :
An orb or ball round its own axis whirl,
Will not the motion to a distance hurl
Whatever dust or sand you on it place,
And drops of water from its convex face?
If this rotation does the seas affect,
The rapid motion rather would eject
The stores the low capacious caves contain,
And from its ample basin cast the main ;
Aloft in air would make the ocean fly,
And dash its scatter'd waves against the sky.
If you, to solve the appearance, have recourse
To the bright sun's or moon's impulsive force;
Do you, who call for demonstration, tell
How distant orbs the obedient food impel?
This song mysterious influence explain,
By which, to swell the waves, they press the main.
But if you choose magnetic power, and say
Those bodies by attraction move the sea;
Till with new light you make this secret known,
And tell us, how 'tis by attraction done;
You leave the mind in darkness still involv’d,
Nor have you, like philosophers, resolv'd
The doubts, which we to reasoning men refer,
But with a cant of words abuse the ear.
Those who assert the lunar orb presides,
O'er humid bodies, and the ocean guides;
Whose waves obsequious ebb, or swelling run,
With the declining or increasing moon;
With reason seem her empire to maintain,
As mistress of the rivers and the main,
Perhaps her active influences cause
The' alternate flood, and give the billow laws;
The waters seem her orders to obey,
And ebb and flow, determin’d by her sway.