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where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
I have passed through the Chapel, and listened to the description given me of its statues, its pillars, and its paintings. I have admired the Great Hall, with the costly productions of the pencil of sir James Thornhill, and of other celebrated artists. I have glanced at the schools, upper and lower, and mentally given my blessing to the boys and girls who are there instructed, and I am now gazing on Flamstead House, or the Royal Observatory. This place is the meridian whence English astronomers make their calculations, and it contains some of the best astronomical instruments in Europe. Groups of children are running down the adjoining hill. Bless their young and happy hearts! I could almost join them in their sport. May the Father of mercies satisfy them early with his mercy, and give them to rejoice all their days!
This park is indeed a famous place to ramble in, with its broad plains, romantic hills, antlered herd, and beautiful view of the river. What glorious trees are spreading out their wide branches, and what gigantic stems, in goodly avenues, intercept the view of distant objects! Seated under them, on the benches, are visitors of all ages. Childhood and youth, manhood and old age are there; and the clusters of grey-headed veterans, weather-beaten old tars, diversify the scene. Yonder sits one, alone, beneath a spreading chestnut, idly pushing aside with his stick the dry leaves and prickly chestnut balls that lie at his feet. "Man of years, what are thy musings? Does the stormy fight of Copenhagen or Trafalgar—the battle of the Nile or of Navarino, occupy thy thoughts? Come, come, thou art a gray-headed and a very old man, and it is high time for thee and for me to be thinking of different things. 'Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth V 'We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.' •The wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.'"
I have had my ramble from the park entrance to Blackheath, talked with the old pensioners and the young children, peeped through the telescopes, gazed on the deer, mused beneath the trees, and enjoyed the bright heavens above me, and the fair prospect around; and now I quit the place, with groups of old pensioners and cheerful parties of all ages around me, the language of my heart is, "Young men and maidens, old men and children, praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. Praise ye the Lord," Psalm cxlviii. 12—14.
DIORAMA AND COSMORAMA.
The Shrine Of The Nativity.—The panoramas which are exhibited, from time to time, are on a much more extended scale, and the cosmoramas present a greater variety of views to the eye than the dioramas; but the latter are far more arresting than either of the former. The peculiarity of the style in which they are painted, the varied lights cast upon them, and the changes they exhibit, give them a decided advantage over every other exhibition of paintings, so far as an approach to reality is concerned. The illusion, indeed, after gazing for a short time, is so complete, that an effort of the mind is required to convince the spectator that he is not gazing on tangible things, but on a shadowy resemblance of them.
Perhaps, of all the dioramas hitherto exhibited in London, that of the Shrine of the Nativity at Bethlehem is the most successful in its influence over the spectator. It is true, that the scene it presents is not at all likely, of itself, to carry back our associations to that lowly stable at Bethlehem, where the holy Child Jesus was born. The commonest woodcut of the manger and the oxen, that ever yet was appended to the Cradle Hymn of Dr. Watts, would be more likely to produce this effect, than the sumptuous, the splendid, the magnificent spectacle of the shrine of the nativity; but in the power of impressing the gazer with the reality of the objects presented to the eye, the glittering lamps, the stately pillars, the shrine, the crucifix, and the pictures, it is unrivalled.
I have ascended the staircase, passed through the darkened room at its summit, and groped my way downwards, with my hand against the wall, to a seat immediately in front of the part appointed for the exhibition. Audible voices tell me that half a dozen or a dozen persons must be present, but as yet I can discern no one. Scribbling with my pencil, in darkness, I am gazing on the illuminated lamps, which seem to cast no light, except round the immediate place where they are suspended. A female voice is indulging in a levity quite at variance with the impressive gloom, and an occasional laugh is heard from the opposite end of the benches.
The low, tremulous toll of a distant bell has vibrated through the place, and, by slow and scarcely perceptible degrees, the other lamps of the picture have been illuminated. There is the shrine of the Nativity, a correct resemblance of the one now in existence in Bethlehem, said to be erected where our Saviour was born. "And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda; for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel," Matt. ii. 6.
At this moment, the ardent fervour of an oriental fancy could scarcely surpass, in its creations, the magnificent scene before me. The silvery sparkling of the burning lights; the golden glare of the lamps, chains, and picture frames; the rich yellow, topaz-like radiance that is shed around; and the deep, mellow shadows, with the bold relief they afford, are truly exquisite.
The two worshippers seen at their devotions, the one kneeling, with his face buried in his hands; the other, altogether prostrated on the floor, add much to the awfulness of the scene. Brilliant and varied hues, striking objects, with strong lights and shadows, are blending their influence, with that of stillness, solemnity, and interesting associations. The light-hearted female has ceased her jocose remarks; the scene has subdued her hilarity, and a breathless silence reigns around.
To the right is the spot intended to denote where the manger stood, and near it is an altar to mark the place where the magi worshipped the