And now we have reached the end of the travels of our drop of water. We have seen it drawn up by the fairy “heat,” invisible into the sky; there fairy “cohesion” seized it and formed it into water-drops and the giant, “gravitation,” pulled it down again to the earth. Or, if it rose to freezing regions, the fairy of “crystallization” built it up into snow-crystals, again to fall to the earth, and either to be melted back into water by heat, or to slide down the valleys by force of gravitation, till it became squeezed into ice. We have detected it, when invisible, forming a veil round our earth, and keeping off the intense heat of the sun’s rays by day, or shutting it in by night. We have seen it chilled by the blades of grass, forming sparkling dew-drops or crystals of hoar-frost, glistening in the early morning sun; and we have seen it in the dark underground, being drunk up greedily by the roots of plants. We have started with it from the tropics, and travelled over land and sea, watching it forming rivers, or flowing underground in springs, or moving onwards to the high mountains or the poles, and coming back again in glaciers and icebergs. Through all this, while it is being carried hither and thither by invisible power, we find no trace of its becoming worn out, or likely to rest from its labours. Ever onwards it goes, up and down, and round and round the world, taking many forms, and performing many wonderful feats. We have seen some of the work that it does, in refreshing the air, feeding the plants, giving us clear, sparkling water to drink, and carrying matter to the sea; but besides this, it does a wonderful work in altering all the face of our earth. This work we shall consider in the next lecture, on “The two great Sculptors — Water and Ice.”
Lecture V. The two great sculptors — water and ice.
In our last lecture we saw that water can exist in three forms:— 1st, as an invisible vapour; 2nd, as liquid water; 3rd, as solid snow and ice.
To-day we are going to take the two last of these forms, water and ice, and speak of them as sculptors.
To understand why they deserve this name we must first consider what the work of a sculptor is. If you go into a statuary yard you will find there large blocks of granite, marble, and other kinds of stone, hewn roughly into different shapes; but if you pass into the studio, where the sculptor himself is at work you will find beautiful statues, more or less finished; and you will see that out of rough blocks of stone he has been able to cut images which look like living forms. You can even see by their faces whether they are intended to be sad, or thoughtful, or gay, and by their attitude whether they are writhing in pain, or dancing with joy, or resting peacefully. How has all this history been worked out from the shapeless stone? It has been done by the sculptor’s chisel. A piece chipped off here, a wrinkle cut there, a smooth surface rounded off in another place, so as to give a gentle curve; all these touches gradually shape the figure and mould it out of the rough stone, first into a rude shape and afterwards, by delicate strokes, into the form of a living being.