Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

more so.

latitude must be admitted of in the distance of echoes according to time and place.

When experiments of this sort are making, it should always be remembered, that weather and the time of day have a vast influence on an echo; for a dull, heavy, moist air deadens and clogs the sound ; and hot sunshine renders the air thin and weak, and deprives it of all its springiness; and a ruffling wind quite defeats the whole. In a still, clear dewy evening, the air is most elastic; and perhaps the later the hour the

Echo has always been so amusing to the imagination, that the poets have personified her; and in their hands she has been the occasion of many a beautiful fiction. Nor need the gravest man be ashamed to appear taken with such a phenomenon, since it may become the subject of philosophical or mathematical inquiries.

One should have imagined that echoes, if not entertaining, must at least have been harmless and inoffensive : yet Virgil advances a strange notion, that they are injurious to bees. After enumerating some probable and reasonable annoyances, such as prudent owners would wish far removed from their bee-gardens, he adds,

Aut ubi concava pulsu
Saxa sonant, vocisque offensa resultat imago.”
Or where the hollow rocks emit a sound,
And echoed voices from the cliffs rebound.

This wild and fanciful assertion will hardly be admitted by the philosophers of these days, especially as they all now seem agreed that insects are not furnished with any organs of hearing at all.* But if it should be urged, that, though they cannot hear, yet perhaps they may feel the repercussion of sounds, I grant it is possible they may. Yet that these impressions are distasteful or hurtful I deny, because bees, in good summers, thrive well in my outlet, where the echoes are very strong; for this village is another Anathoth, a

* Bees certainly utter a murmuring sound when their hives have been tapped in the still of the evening as I have frequently ascertained. The chirping of the house-cricket is probably to induce the female to come to it.—Ed.

place of responses, or echoes. Besides, it does not appear from experiment that bees are in any way capable of being affected by sounds: for I have often tried my own with a large speaking trumpet held close to their hives, and with such an exertion of voice as would have hailed a ship at the distance of a mile, and still these insects pursued their various employments undisturbed, and without showing the least sensibility or resentment,

Some time since its discovery, this echo is become totally silent, the object or hop-kiln remains: nor is there any mystery in this defect, for the field between is planted as a hop-garden, and the voice of the speaker is totally absorbed and lost among the poles and entangled foliage of the hops. And when the poles are removed in autumn, the disappointment is the same; because a tall quick-set hedge, nurtured up for the purpose of shelter to the hop-ground, entirely interrupts the impulse and repercussion of the voice: so that, till those obstructions are removed, no more of its garrulity can be expected. Should

any gentleman of fortune think an echo in his park or outlet a pleasant incident, he might build one at little or no expense.

For, whenever he had occasion for a new barn, stable, dog-kennel, or the like structure, it would be only needful to erect this building on the gentle declivity of a hill, with a like rising opposite to it, at a few hundred yards distance; and perhaps success might be the easier insured could some canal, lake or stream, intervene. From a seat at the phonic centre, he and his friends might amuse themselves sometimes of an evening with the prattle of this loquacious nymph; of whose complacency and decent reserve, more may be said than can with truth of every individual of her sex; since she is

Quæ nec reticere loquenti,
Nec prior ipsa loqui, didicit resonabilis echo."
The vocal echo ne'er withholds reply,
But ne'er intrudes.

P.S. The classic reader will, I trust, pardon the following lovely quotation, so finely describing echoes, and so poetically accounting for their causes from popular superstition.

“ Quæ benè quom videas, rationem reddere possis

Tute tibi atque aliis, quo pacto per loca sola
Saxa pareis formas verborum ex ordine reddant,
Palanteis comites quom monteis inter opacos
Quærimus, et magna dispersos voce ciemus.
Sex etiam, aut septem loca vidi reddere voces
Unam quom jaceres : ita colles collibus ipsis
Verba repulsantes iterabant dicta referre.
Hæc loca capripedes Satyros, Nymphasque tenere
Finitimi fingunt, et Faunos esse loquuntur;
Quorum noctivago strepitu, ludoque jocanti
Adfirmant volgo taciturna silentia rumpi,
Chordarumque sonos fieri, dulceisque querelas,
Tibia quas fundit digitis pulsata canentum;
Et genus agricolùm latè sentiscere, quom Pan
Pinea semiferi capitis velamina quassans,
Unco sæpe labro calamos percurrit hianteis,
Fistula silvestrem ne esset fundere musam.”

LUCRETIUS, lib. iv. 1. 576.
This shows thee why, whilst men, through caves and groves,
Call their lost friends, or mourn unhappy loves,
The pitying rocks, the groaning caves return
Their sad complaints again, and seem to mourn :
This all observe, and I myself have known
Both rocks and hills return six words for one:
The dancing words from hill to hill rebound,
They all receive, and all restore the sound :
The vulgar and the neighbours think, and tell,
That there the Nymphs and Fauns, and Satyrs dwell :
And that their wanton sport, their loud delight,
Breaks through the quiet silence of the night:
Their music's softest airs fill all the plains,
And mighty Pan delights the list'ning swains :
The goat-faced Pan, whose flocks securely feed;
With long-bung lip he blows his oaken reed:
The horned, the half-beast god, when brisk and gay,
With pine-leaves crowned, provokes the swains to play.

VILI.F. DE LYON Hiblioth. du Palais des Arts

[graphic][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »