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ROYAL ADELAIDE GALLERY,
There is no spot of earth that can be altogether uninteresting to the eye ofa Christian; and for this plain reason, wherever he goes, God has been there before him, and left some unequivocal trace of his almighty presence. The heavens are richly coloured, the earth is clothed with beauty! The change of seasons is but a change in the glorious exhibition of God's wondrous creation. Illimitable power, unsearchable wisdom, and inexhaustible goodness, are inscribed on even his "lowliest works." In the country, well may the heart beat, and the eye sparkle with gratitude and joy, for the sources of delight are unbounded; and he who is accustomed to look on all as the gift of God conferred for the good of man, will indeed find
"Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
That knowledge which connects earth with heaven has an increased enjoyment. It gives an added interest to the scenes around us:
And doubly sweet are rural hours,
Nor yet are the peopled pathways of the crowded city without absorbing interest, for there may be seen men and manners in all their varied modifications. There, too, is found all that is rare and curious, heaped up in a thousand treasure-houses; so that a man of observation may walk abroad with pleasure, and return home laden with instruction. London, indeed, abounds with exhibitions of interest, where every degree of intellect, and every variety of disposition, may find amusement and advantage. Whether my tent has been fixed in the "mart of all the earth," or elsewhere, I have always been a perambulator in the neighbourhood around me. No wonder, then, that the varied exhibitions of this mighty metropolis should have attracted me.
When any one, young or old, gazes for the first time on a steam-engine, without being prepared for such a sight, he is altogether confounded by the spectacle. He sees the machine, like a huge giant with a hundred arms, achieving wonders; but he is lost among the rods and cylinders, the revolving wheels, the heaving levers, the groaning axles, and the hissing steam; he confounds the effect and cause; he is astonished and perplexed, but not made wiser. But let any one, familiar with the engine, explain to him the principle of its action, so that he can distinguish between the mere machine and the mighty energy that keeps it in motion, and how different will be the amount of his pleasure and profit. In like manner, a slight degree of information given to him who, for the first time, visits any other exhibition, will not be useless.
Did you ever visit the Royal Adelaide Gallery? If not, thither will we bend our steps; the only advantage that I can claim over you is this, that I have been there already. Bear in mind that I neither undertake to play the part of a catalogue, by directing you to all that the gallery contains, nor yet to decide which things are the most entitled to your attention. My pleasure will be to roam here and there without restraint; and my business to implant in your memory useful knowledge, and to excite in your mind right feelings.
Well! we have passed the crowded Strand; we have walked along the Lowther Arcade; we have entered the Long Room of the Institution with a catalogue in our hands; and now, what use can we make of the models, the magnets, the steam-engines, boats, and carriages; the fire-escapes, safety-lamps, hydrometers, and air-pumps; the life-boats, rudders, anchors, paddles, and paddle-wheels; the rafts, blow-pipes, gas-meters, and electrifying machines; the life-preservers, cylinders, shafts, cog-wheels, pulleys, and inclined planes 1 Here are not less than three thousand models of machinery and works of art. If we attend to a tenth part of what is before us, we must stay here a week: let us look at a few of them, and be content.
How hard it would be to calculate the amount of mind that now lies before us! Almost every machine, model, and plan has been the result of intense study; days and nights, weeks, months, and even years, have been devoted to the perfecting of some of the designs presented to our view. We see the result only. The disappointments that have been endured, the difficulties which have been overcome, the unconquered patience and determined perseverance that have been exercised, we see not. We shall err, then, if we regard these miniature models as mere playthings to amuse an idle hour; they are, for the most part, efforts of the mind for the benefit of the human race.
Look at that model of Eddystone lighthouse. It is a mere bauble in itself; but when we consider, that the lighthouse which it exactly represents is really standing, like a warning angel, amid the stormy breakers of the British Channel, enduring the attacks of the heaving ocean, as it pours its roaring billows from the wild Atlantic, making signs to the mariners to keep aloof from the dangerous rocks that threaten him with destruction, it gives an indescribable interest. I must have another look before I leave it.
Why have you passed by that model of a raft so hastily? Come back again, and examine it afresh. Do you take it for a plaything? it is something better. You see these little barrels and strips of wood tied together. Now, by observing this model attentively, you may learn from it how human lives may be rescued from destruction in a season of extremity, by the use of materials ready to hand. Imagine that a vessel is foundering in the mighty deep: "it reels to and fro, and staggers like a drunken man," and the seamen are at their wits' end.
"One wide water all around them,
All above them one black sky:
Perhaps, when all seems lost, two or three steady-minded sailors step forward, and from the materials of little worth that a ship always carries with her, begin to form a raft of safety. Three or four empty water-casks are well lashed to a few spars and planks, or gratings; on which a chest, a bag of provisions, and a butt of water are quickly placed; rude as the construction may be, it floats upon the water with a score or two seamen on