+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

As I gazed the dragon faded,
And, instead, sat Pluto crowned,
By a lake of burning fire;
Spirits dark were crouching round.

That was gone, and lo! before me,
A cathedral vast and grim;
I could almost hear the organ
Roll along the arches dim.

As I watched the wreathed pillars,
A thick grove of palms arose.
And a group of swarthy Indians
Stealing on some sleeping foes.

Stay; a cataract glancing brightly,
Dashed and sparkled; and beside
Lay a broken marble monster.
Mouth and eyes were staring wide.

Then I saw a maiden wreathing
Starry flowers in garlands sweet;
Did she see the fiery serpent
That was wrapped about her feet?

That fell crashing all and vanished;
And I saw two armies close
I could almost hear the clarions
And the shouting of the foes.

They were gone; and lo! bright angels,
On a barren mountain wild,
Raised appealing arms to heaven,
Bearing up a little child.

And I gazed, and gazed, and slowly
Gathered in my eyes sad tears,
And the fiery pictures bore me
Back through distant dreams of years.

Once again I tasted sorrow,
With past joy was once more gay,
Till the shades had gathered round me
And the fire had died away.


There is a good deal of romance to be
found even in the details of pure science, and
a book of wonders could very well be made
out of what might be called the social history
of optical discoveries. Much of it would be
co-extensive with a history of the black arts
dark sciences that often get their darkness
out of light.

Everyone has been told that the old
priests of Egypt and of Greece were better
skilled in optics than in necromancy; that
many an awful ghost, riding upon a cloud,
was the result of hocussing and focussing.
Any commentator is entitled to suppose
that an old form of incantation (said to
have had a more sacred origin) has
become slightly corrupted by the exchange of
convertible letters in the lapse of time, and
was in the first instance, really hocus, focus,
Let him take up a pseudoscope, and look
through it, properly focussed. Let him look
at some man on the other side of the way.
He will not appear to be on the other side at
all, the street will have come in doors, and
the house will be turned out of window. Let
him look at a friend's face. The cheeks will
so decidedly fall in, that the face will become
no face but a hollow mould. Let him look
into the bottom of a teacup. For a minute
he may see it as it is; butO, hocus, focus
in the twinkling of an eye, it has turned
inside out. It has no hollow, but is all solid.
Let him look at a framed picture hung
against the wall. It will seem to be, not
hung against the wall, but to be let into it
The frame will appear to surround it like a
moat. There is a pretty instrument for turning
everything hindside foremost! If it
were possible to take a bird's-eye view of the
whole world through a pseudoscope, and get
it all at one time into focus, every mountain
would appear to be a valley, every valley
would exalt itself into a mountain. Such
abasement of the lofty, and such exaltation
of the lowly, such bringing forward of the
backward, and putting backward of the
forward, is effected by two simple prisms of
glassproperly focussed.

Again, a couple of flat daguerreotype
pictures of any scene are put into a little box.
When they are looked at in a couple of
reflectors properly arranged, the scene itself
seems to be visible in bold relief. So, for
example, we may perchance look in upon the
river Volga flowing between its banks, and
inspect the piles and works of a great
unfinished bridge, forming a track partly across
the tide from bank to bank, every post as
round and real as though the river and its
banks and the great work there in progress
had been modelled by the fairies. Goethe
tells a story of a fairy who was carried about
by a mortal in a small box, through the
chinks of which there could be seen her
sumptuous palace. Here is a box of about
the same size, containing any fairy-scene that
by the help of photography we may be
disposed to conjure up. It is called the Stereoscope.
And of what use is its magic? To
go no farther than the particular picture just
suggested, of very great use. The Emperor
of all the Russias is in a great hurry for the
completion of the bridge therein represented.
He used to make frequent long expeditions
to the works, and if he remained long absent,
the architect never seemed to him to be
sufficiently industrious. The architect now
saves all trouble to his imperial master, and
maintains his own credit, by having a couple
of true and undeniable copies of the works
taken once a fortnight by the sun, and sent to
St. Petersburg. There they are put into a
stereoscope, with which the emperor may sit
in his own room, and in which he may count
every dam and post, see every ripple of the
distant tide.

The pseudoscope is of the same parentage
as the stereoscope. In speaking of
photography we said about the stereoscope, that it
was invented some years since by Professor
Wheatstone to illustrate his discovery of the