Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

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opposite to the first, tne attraction and repulsion of
the different poles> of the two magnets might be
shown, which would explain the phenomena of the
sagacious swan. The power of the magnet in at-
tracting needles, small keys, penknives, &c. might at
the same time be shown. A pocket-compass mif^ht
likewise be exhibited, and its use described ; and the
attractive and repulsive powers of the magnet
shown, by presenting it alternately to the nonh and
south poles of the compa.<^needlc It might also be
shown, that the magnetic power passes through in-
terposing substances, by placing aboard between
the pocket-compass ana the magnet, and causing
the pupils to observe that the needle is made to turn
round, by the influence of the magnet tran.<«mitted
through the board. This is only one example, oat
of a hundred that might be produced, of rendering
entertaining experiments interesting and instructive
to children ; and when truths are in this way asso-
ciated with sensible representations and experi-
ments, they are seldom era<^ from their minus to
the latest periods of their exisJtence.

In the next stage of English reading, the ppil
might enter*on the perusal of a volume containing
le.ssons on subjects of a higher order, such as those
formerly described— which might be subsiitalcd in
the phce of our common school-collections. The
lessons in such a volume should be distinguished for
the perspicuity and neatness of their stjrle, althongh
specimens of what Is termed elegance and fine wri-
ting may be occasionally introduced. The follow-
ing may serve as a specimen of the manner in which
such lessons may be constructed: —

Description of Volcanoes

Volcanoes are mountains, generally of a large
size, from the summits of which i.«sue fire and smoke.
On the top of these mountains there is a vast open-
ing callecl the crater, sometimes two or three miles
in circumference, reaching from their summits to
an immeasurable depth in the bowels of the earth.
From these dreadful openings are freouently thrown
up to an immense height, torrents of nre and .^moke,
clouds of ashes and cinders, and red-hot s-tones, to-
gether with torrents of melted lava, which roll down
the declivity of the mountain like an immense flam-
ing river. These alarmiag appearances are fn-
3uently accompanied with thunders, lightnings,
arkness, quakmgs of the earth, and horrid snbter-
raneous sounds, producing the most tcrriWe devas-
tations through all the surrounding country. Pre-
vious to an eruption, the smoke, which is continu-
ally ascending from the crater, increases and shoots
up to an immense height ; forked lightning issnes
from the ascending colunm : showers of ashes are
thrown to the distance of forty or fifty miles; vol-
leys of red-hot stones are discharecS to a great
height in the air ; the sky appears thick and dar*,
and the luminaries of heaven disappear. When
thc.^ alarming phenomena have continued for some
time, the lava, or stream of melted minerals, begins
to make its appearance, either boiling over the top,
or forcing its way through the side of the moaatain.



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65



This fiery deluge runs down the declivity of the
moaotaio, fcrmiog a dismal flaming stream, some-
times 14 miles loDg, 6 miles broad, and 200 feet
deep. In its course it destroys orchards, vineyards,
cornfields, and villages ; and sometimes cities, con-
taining 90,000 inhabitants, hav« been consumed and
buried under the burning lava. There are reckon-
ed about fourteen of these volcanoes in Europe ; of
which the principal are, Mount Hecla in Iceland,
Mount Vesuvias, near the citjr of Naples, Mount
Etna in Sicily, and Stromboli in one of the Lipari
islands. Etna and Vesuvius are often quiet for
many months, and even years, without the appear-
ance of fire, though the smoke is always a.sceDding
from their craters; but the mountain Stromboli is
ever at work, and appears to be the only volcano
that burns without ceasing; and for ages past, it has
been looked upon as the great lighthouse of the sur-
foimding seas. Several phenomena of awful sub-
limity and terrific grandeur frequentlv accompanv
the eruptions of these volcanoes. Hecla in Iceland,
is a mountain nearly a mile in perpendicular eleva-
tion, and a considerable portion of it is covered with
anow. In an eruption of this volcano in 1755, a
stone weighing 290 pounds was thrown to the dis-
tance of 24 English miles. Not far from this moun-
tain, in the year 1783, there happened a most dread-
M and appalling eruption, which was preceded by
a violent earthquake, which lasted for a fortnight :
after which the lava broke out from the earth, in
three difi^rent places, forming three dreadful FHre-
Spouts. These fire-«pouts, or .streams of burning
lava, after having risen a considerable height into
the air, united into one, arriving at last at such an
amazing altitude, as to be seen at the distance of
more than 200 miles. The height to which this fiery
stream ascended was reckoned to be not less than
two miles above the surface of the earth. Thib fire



first became visible on the 8:h of June, and conti-
nued to produce devastation and terror till the 16th
of August following. In one direction, it formed a
lake of fire spreading out itself in length and breadth
more than 36 miles; and, having converted all this
track of land into a sea of fire, it stretched itself out
in another direction, and rushed down the channel
of a laree river with violent impetuosity, tearing up
iKt earui, and cartying on its mx{kc€ flaining wcxids,



and every thing it met with in its course, and form-
ing other lakes of fire. The whole extent of ground
covered by this fiery inundation, was no less than 90
miles long, by ^ in breadth, or 3780 square miles,
the depth of the lava being from 96 to 120 feet. All
the time of this great eruption, the whole atmosphere
was loaded with smoke, steam, ashes, and sulphur-
eous vapors. The sun was frequently invisible, or,
when seen, was of a dismal reddish color ; and the
rain which fell through the smoke and steam was
so impregnated with salt and sulphureous matter,
that the hair, and even the skin, of the cattle were
destroyed^and the ^rass of the neld:> rendered poi-
sonous. Twelve rivers were dried up byihw fiery
inundation, many lakes were filled up, 20 villages
were destroyed, many thousands of stieep and cattle
perished, and more than 240 human beines were
destroyed. After this eruption, two islands were
thrown up from the bottom of the sea, 100 miles
southwest from Iceland — one of them three miles in
circumference, and about a mile in height^ which
continued for some time to bum with ffreat violence.
In an eruption of Vesuvius in 1769, about mid-
night, a fountain of fire was shot up to an amazing
height, casting so bright a li^ht, that the smallest
objects were clearly distinguishable at any place
within six or seven miles of the mountain. On the
next day a most violent report was heard, which
shook the houses of the town of Portici to such a de-
gree, that the windows were broken and the walls
rent by the concussion of the air; and, in an instant,
a fountain of liquid transparent fire began to rise,
and, gradually increasing, arrived at length at the
amazing height of 10,000 feet and upwards, when
its blaze was reflected with awful grandeur from
ihe sea. A gentleman at Sorrento, twelve miles dis-
tant from Vesuviu.«, read the title-page of a book bv
that volcanic light. Mount Etna is the largest vol-



, cano in Europe. It is above two miles in perpendi-
- cular height ; it is about thirty miles in a straight
; line along its declivity to the top: its circumference
I at its base is above ISO miles, and its crater above 3
' miles in circumference. In 1669, burning rock% 16
j feet long, and fifty in circumference, were thrown
! to the distance of a mile, and showers of cinders and
ashes to the distance of more than 60 miles. A fiery
' stream barst from the mountain 14 miles long and



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6 miles broad, which destroy^ in its coarsK the ha-
bitations of neariy 90,000 persons ; and meeting with
a lake foar miles in compas^(, not only filled it up,
bat made a mountain in its place. The quantity of
materials thrown out by volcanoes is prodigious. It
was calculated that, in this eruption, the matter
thrown out amounted to 150,000,000 cubical yards ;
so that, had it been extended in length upon the sur-
face of the earth, i( would have reached nearly four
times round the circumference of the globe. The
nifise emitted by volcanoes has been compared to a
mixed sound made up of the raging of a tempest,
the murmur ofatrouoled sea, and the roaring of
thunder and artillery, confused altogether. The
roarings of Cotppazi,'in South America, one of the
largest volcanoes in the world, have been heard at
the distance of more than 300 miles. Volcanoes are
found in every quarter of the world. Forty have
been observed constantly burning between Cotopaxi
and the Pacific Ocean ; 20 have been seen in the
chain of mountains that stretches aloncrKamtschat-
ka ; and many of them are to be fouacl in the Phi-
lippines, the Moluccas, the Cape de Verd, the Sand-
wich, the Ladrone, and other islands in the Pacific
Ocean. About 305 volcanoes are known to exist,
of which 107 are in islands, and 98 on the great con-
tinents. All these grand and terrific phenomena of
nature are under the direction and control of the
Creator of the universe; and they afiford presump-
tive proofs that man has fallen from his original
rectitude, and is no longer in a state of innocence.

Q:uesHotu on the preceding Lessen.

(1.) What is the nature of a volcano 1 What part
of a volcano is its crater? What substances are
thrown out from volcanoes'? What appearances
generally accompany their eruptions'! What are
the signs or forerunners of an eruption? What is
meant by lava? What appearances does it present,
and what eff*ects does it produce 1 Which are the
principal volcanoes in Europe 1 What is peculiar
with respect to Strombolil Describe the size and
situation of Hecla. What preceded the eruption in
Iceland in 17831 What extraordinary appearance
did this eruption exhibit? Of what did the fire-
spouts consist? at what distance were they seen 7
and to what height did they rise? How long did
they continue to bom ? How large a track of country
was covered by the burning materials? and what
devastations did they produce? What was the
depth of the burning stream ? What was the ap-
pearance of the sun during this eruption? What
efiects were produced by the rain, and what was the
state of the atma<tphere ? What striking appear-
ance was beheld during an eruption of Vesuvius?
At what time of the day or night was it seen ? What
happened before another awful appearance? De-
scribe the size of Mount Etna, and state the circum-
ference of its crater. What were the circumstances
attending its eruption in 1669, and what efiects did
they produce ? (2.) What number of volcanoes has
been ascenained? In what countries are they
found ? How many are in Europe ? How many in
the mountains of Kamtscbatka? What size of
atones have been thrown out of Etna and Hccla, and
to what distance were they thrown ? How manv
villages were destroyed by the eruption in Iceland ?
What effect did it produce on the lakes and rivers?
and upon animated beings? Were any men and
worom destroyed? What were the length and
breadth of one of the lakes of fire formed by this
eruption ? Describe the dimensions of the fiery
stream which ran down Mount Etna in 1669. To
what has the noise of volcanoes been compared ?
What efifect did this noise produce In the town of
Portiei 1 At wlmt distance was a gentteioun ena-



bled to read by the flame of a volcano ? What was
reckoned the neight of the stream of fire which as-
cended from Vesuvius? How many habitatioas
were destroyed by the eruption of Etna? and what
efR^t did it produce on a lake ? Have any volca-
noes ever risen from the bottom of the sea? From
what part of a volcanic mountain does the eroptioa
of lava proceed ? and does it always issue from the
same part ? What was the size of one of the islands
thrown up from the sea near Iceland ? To what
distance have .sand and ashes been thrown in the
eruptions of volcanoes ? What is generally the ap-
pearance of the sky, and of the luminaries of hea-
ven, previous to an eruption, and during its cootiDo-
ance ? At what distance have the sounds of the ?o)-
cano Cotopaxi been heard ? What is the meaniag
of the word stUfteiraneous? whence is it derived,
and of what words is it compounded? Describe,
likewise, the meaning of the woTt\H phenomena, mm-
miif devastation^ inmndaiion^ lava, Ac. Point, oa
the map of Europe, to the situations of Hecla, Ve-
suvios, Stromboli, and Etna. Point, on the map«f
the World, to the situations of the other volcanoes
mentioned in the lesson. How many volcanoes ara
situated in islands? What length of ajonmey is
requisite in ascending to the top of Etna? Under
whose superintendence are the operations of volca-
noes? and what moral instructions may we leini
fVom their terrific and destructive efiects ?

The above lesson is compiled from five or six
different sources, so as to condense as many inter-
esting facts as possible in one description. The
language of the original authors has been altered
and^implified, and .some original sentences inte^
woven. It is seldom that a mere extract will be
found, in all its parts, sufficiently perspicuous and
interesting to the young; and therefore it would re-
quire a considerable degree of labor and reteareh
to arrange and compile a volume or two on the plan
proposed. The q^iestions are intended lo exci'e the
attention and judgment of the pnpil. and the answers
are understood to be prepared by him. previoos lo
his reading the lesson alon^ with his class. At the
same time, the teacher has it in his power to pat to
his pupils as many subordinate questions connected
with tne subject as he may deem expedient, and to
illustrate, by familiar descriptions, any objects either
directly or indirectly connected with the facts stated
in the lesson.— -The first twenty-six questions are
stated nearly in the order of the lesson; the remain-
ing queries, beginning at No. 9, are intlntionallf
arranged in a dififerent order, to exercise the judg-
ment of the pupil, and to prevent him getting his
answers by rote. This arrangement would require
to be adopted in almost every lesson. Each lesson
should contain a perspicuous description of somt
well-defined scene or object, the knowledge of which
would form a portion of tne foundations of useful
science. And, were all the ideas comprised in a
lesson of this description to be impressed upon the
mind of the pupil every day, it cannot be doubted,
that in the course of a year, when above three hun-
dred such lessons would be studied, a very conside^
able portion of useful information would be com-
municated—far superior in utility and extent to all
that has hitherto been acquired by the peruni of
Epilogues oi stage-players, Speeches in tne Roman
Senate, Parliamentary debates, the encounters of
knights and warriors, essays on cYriicism and ora-
tory, and all the other prosing dissertations with
which so many of our school-collections arc oocn*
p'H.

Besides the questions referring to the descriptions
contained in the lessons, a variety of wtsc^Umeon
questions, in reference to the common appearances
of nature, and the difflsrent branches of poptlar
science, might oeeasionaDy be proposed to (be pa



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pilA to excite their curiosity, and exerdst dieir nt^
woojmg powers. For exanple^

How menf miles should we reqaire to tratel be-
fore we could go quire rowid the world! Whtt
prooft can you girt that the earth is round like a
globe 1 Is there more land or water on the surtee
of the earth 1 What is meant hy the atmosphere t
Has the air anr weight 1 By what experiments
can you prove that the air presses upon oar bodies,
and upon all parts of the earth? How doyou
prove ttiat air exists, since it cannot be seen 1 What
IS the appearance of the sky during a thunder-
storm 1 Whether is the lightning seen before or
aAer a peal of th under 1 By what means could you
measure the distance between the earth and a thun-
der-cloud 1 What effects does lightniar sometimes
prodaee I^How many senses has man 1 Which is
the organ of vision t What part of the eye lets in
the light 1 Is the opening which lets in the light
always of the same size 1 What knowledge do we
derive by meame of the setne of weiogi Have all
animals the same aumber of eves 1 what ts pecu-
liar in the eyes of flies and other insects 1~ What
are some of the different kinds of atiimals that live
in the air, the waters, and the earth 1 What is the
dilference between a beast, a bird, and a fish 1 be-
tween a reptile and an insect % &c. Is a lobster a
beast, a reptile, or a fish 1 What are the difierent
parts of a plant 1 What part of a plant is the stem
or trunk? What enables plants to stand upright,
although they are tossed with the wind 1 Do all
plants grow upright 1 What plants are useful for
fcod t for buikling 1 for clothing 1 &c. What parts
of our clothing are made from plants 1 CoaM we
have clothing finom animals, if no plants existed?
What would DC the appearance of fields and moun-
tains if there were no plants? — ^What are the tides?
How often do they ebb and flow in the course of a
day ? At what periods of the moon are the tides
highest ? Does the sun appear round ? Does the
moon always appear round i What other phases or
shapes does she assume ? At what period of the
day or night does the moon rise when she appears
with a round Aill face ? In what direction does she
appear after sunset, when she assumes the form of
a slender crescent ? — If you take a wine-glass, fill
it with water, and pres^ a piece of paper trpon the
mouth of it, and then turn it upside down, will the
water run out of the glass? If you take a glass
tube and fill it with water, and pre^ your thumb
hard upon the top of it, what is the reason that the
water will not run out at the bottom of the tube, al-
though it is open? When a boy's sucker is moist-
ened with water, and pressed upon a smooth stone,
what is the reason why it is able to lift up a stone
of a pretty large size ? Would the sucker produce
Cbe eflect if it were not moistened with %ater ?

Biany thousands of queries of this description
might be proposed to the young, which, if judicious-
ly selected, explained, and illustrated, could not fiiil
of gratlQring their curiosity, and of imparting the
•laments of useful knowledge, and, above all, of
exciting a spirit of observation, of fixing the atten-
tion, and of promoting a habit of reasoning on the
various objects and operations they perceive around
them. An hour or more, during two or three days
in the week, might be profitably spent in such exer-
cises, which should alwavs be accompanied with
fhmiliar and minute explanations, and, where the
subject admits of it, with amusmg and illustrative
experiments.*



• A considerable Tariety of such questions as
those to which I allude, will be found In an excel*
lMtt)itttetMrii,by Mr.Jacob Abbot, Prinoipd of



Another occasional exercise might coasist in ex-
hibiting to a class a variety of objects,iboth natoral
and artificial,-^snch as, the model of a ship, a pair
of bellows, a mineral substance, a shnib, a flower, a
leaf, a bird, an insect, or any other object— and caus-
ing the pumh to describe the parts or qualities of the
ob]ect exhibited, and the characteristics by which
it IS distinguished ft;om every other class of objects.
If it t)e a skip, the mases, the yard-arms, the bow,
the poop, the keel, the difierent kinds of sails, Ac
their uses, properties, and the terms by which tbev
are distinguished, may be pointed out and described.
— If it be a JUwer^ the calyx, corolla, stamina and

{>istn, may be po^ed out, the class to which it be-
ong» described, and the chamcteristics b^ which it
may be known from everv other flower distinguisb-
ed. After having several times exhibited and de-
scribed such objects, they mav afterwards be held
up to the view of a class, or handed round aaosg
the pupils for their inspection, and each of them, or
at least a few of the more intelligent, interrogated
respectittff the parts, qualities, uses, or circumstances
connected witn the object exhibited. The objects
which mav be thus described are Mmost innumera-
ble ; and hence the necessity, in such a system of
instruction, of collecting for eveiy school an exten*
sive museum of natural and artificial objects,— or
having an extensive plot of ground connected with
the seminary, for rearing trees^ shrubs, and flowers
of difierent kind^— and of enjoyfng an extensive
prospect from the roof of the building, with the
view of descrying as many objects as possible, for
the purpose of docidation and iostructioB.— The
foltowine example, taken from the *' Lessons on
Objects,'^ as given in a Pestaloxnan school at
Cheam, will partly illustrate the plan here suggest-
ed :—

Lesson on CfUus.^Tht pupils are supposed to be
arranged before a black board, upon which the re-
sult of their observations is written. The glasN is
passed round the party to be examined by each in-
dividual, so that his attention and powers may be
exercised about it.

" Teacher. What is that which I hold tn my hand 1
Children. A piece of glass. T. Can you spell the
word ' glass?* [The teacher then writes the word
* glass* upon the slate, which is thus presented to
the whole class as the subject of the lesson.] You
have all examined the glass, what do you observe?
what can you say that it is ? C. It is briarht. [The
teacher, having written the word ' qualities,' writes
under it, * It is bright.*] T. Take it in your hand
and feel it. C. It is cold. [Written on the board
under the former quality.] T. Feel it again, and
compare it with the piece of spunge which is tied
to vour slate, and then tall me what vou perceive in
the glass. C. It is smooth, it is bard. T. Is there
any other glass in the room ? C. Ye^ the windows.
T. Close the shutters : can you see the garden now ?
C. No. T. Why cannot you ? C. We cannot see
through the shutters. T. What can you sav, then,
of the glass ? C. We can see through it. T. Can
you tell me any word that will expres:«thi8auality?
C. No. T. I will tell you then ; pay attention that
you may recollect it. U is transparent. What shall
you now understand when I tell you that a substance
IS transparent ? C. We can see through it T.
You are right; tryand recollect something that is
transparent. C. Water. T. If I were to let this
glass fall, or you were to throw a ball at the win-
dow, what would be the consequence? C. The
glass would be broken. It is brittle. 7. Could I
in the same manner break the shutters ? C. No.

the Mount Veman School, entitled, " Ths LifUa
Philosopher."



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7. Cookl I break it if I ased great forced C. Yes.
T. Woald»)a therefore call the wood britUe 1 C.
Na T, What sabeiances then do you call brittle)
C. Those which are easily broken."

These are probably as many qnalities as would
ocoar to children at their first attempt, which, being
arranged on the slate or board, form an exercise in
spelling. They should then be effiiced, and if the
pupils are able to write, thejr may endeayor to re-
member the lesson, and put it down on their slates.
Varioos other qaalitics of glass might ailerwards
be described to the pupils, particularly its power of
forming images and magnifying objects, when
ground into convex lenses, and combined m tele-
scopes and microscopes, which unfold to our view
the wonders of the heavens, and the minute parts
of creation. The chief business of a teacher, in
vttch exercisea, is, to draw out the ideas of children,
to direct them in a right channel, to teach them to
fix their attention on what is immediately before
them, and to employ their reasoning powers in
drawing the proper conclusions from tne objects
thev contemplate. Contrary to the almost univer-
sally prevailing practice, the idea of any object
shoula generally precede the iem by which it is
designated ; so that a child having acquired a clear
conception of an object, may feel the want of a
term or terms by which its nature or Qualities may



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 84 of 121)