Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/263

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TO TIE A ROPE OF SAND.

mantled with beach grass, extended to the wide drive. To-day the drive is only broad enough for the easy passage of two vehicles, on the very verge of a ragged bluff. Along the top of this bluff runs a railing, originally intended to define a footpath now ruined by the breaking of the bluff. It is not now possible for any but an athlete to walk outside the rail from one end of the beach to the other.

This is merely one sample of the New Jersey beaches. All are "cut up" by every storm. Year by year the danger to property from extensive floods is increasingly apprehended. In September, 1889, the sea overran almost the entire coast of New Jersey, causing great destruction of property and some peril to life. A few landholders have at last reached the point of thinking that "something ought to be done."

In several European countries the danger from incursions of the sea has long been the theme of history and song; and with this is joined the menace from the sand dunes which, forming in many places the vanguard of ocean's forces, may by man's industry be converted into the guardians and ramparts of the coast.

In Germany, Denmark, Holland, France, and parts of Great Britain those stories of drowned cities, of convents and churches whose bells the waves are said to toll in time of storm, are not the fairy tales they seem to us, but solid history, or at worst credible tradition, the framework of poetry and unending romance, Heine sings:

"In bright moon-glances rests the sea,

The waves' soft murmur falling;
So heavy is my heart in me,
The ancient bard recalling—

"The ancient bard who sadly tells
Of cities lost in ocean,
Where sound of prayers and peal of bells
Rise through the waves' commotion.

"The ringing and the prayers, I wis,
Avail the cities never;
For that which once deep-buried is,

Returns no more forever."

Lovers of Hans Christian Andersen will recall a pathetic tale of Jutland, ending in an ancient church submerged by whirling sand from the dunes on the shore of the Baltic. This was no poetic invention. "Near the beginning of the last century the dunes, which had protected the western coast of the island of Sylt, began to roll to the east, and the sea followed closely as they retired. In 1757 the church of Rantum, a village upon that island, was . . . taken down in consequence of the advance of the sandhills; in 1791 these hills had passed beyond its site, the waves