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THE FAIRY'S SONG
Over hill, over dale,
Through bush, through brier,
Through flood, through fire,
In those freckles live their savors:
We were at the foot of the American Fall. I could see an immense torrent of water tearing headlong down from some great height, but had no idea of shape or situation, or anything but vague immensity.
When we were seated in the little ferryboat, and were crossing the swollen river immediately before both cataracts, I began to see what it was; but I was in a manner stunned, and unable to comprehend the vastness of the scene. It was not until I came on Table Rock, and looked-great heaven! on what a fall of bright green water ! — that it came upon me in its full might and majesty.
Then, when I felt how near to my Creator I was standing, the first effect, and the enduring one — instant and lasting — of the tremendous spectacle, was peace. Peace of mind, tranquillity, calm recollections of the dead, great thoughts of eternal rest and happiness ; nothing of gloom or terror. Niagara was at once stamped upon my heart, an image of beauty, to remain there changeless and indelible, until its pulses ceased to beat, forever.
Oh, how the strife and trouble of daily life receded from my view and lessened in the distance, during the ten memorable days we passed on that enchanted ground! What voices spoke from out the thundering water; what faces, faded from the earth, looked out upon me from its gleaming depths ; what heavenly promise glistened in those angels' tears, the drops of many hues, that showered around, and twined themselves about the gorgeous arches which the changing rainbows made !
To wander to and fro all day, and see the cataracts from all points of view; to stand upon the edge of the great Horseshoe Fall, marking the hurried water gathering strength as it approached the verge, yet seeming, too, to pause before it shot into the gulf below; to gaze from the river's level up at the torrent as it came streaming down; to climb the neighboring heights and watch it through the trees, and see
the wreathing water in the rapids hurrying on to take its fearful plunge; to linger in the shadow of the solemn rocks three miles below, watching the river, as, stirred by no visible cause, it heaved and eddied and awoke the echoes, being troubled yet, far down beneath the surface, by its giant leap; to have Niag. ara before me, lighted by the sun and by the moon, red in the day's decline, and gray as evening slowly fell upon it; to look upon it every day, and wake up in the night and hear its ceaseless voice: this was enough.
I think in every quiet season now, still do these waters roll and leap, and roar and tumble, all day long; still are the rainbows spanning them, a hundred feet below. Still, when the sun is on them, do they shine and glow like molten gold. Still, when the day is gloomy, do they fall like snow, or seem to crumble away like the front of a great chalk cliff, or roll down the rock like dense white smoke.
But always does the mighty stream appear to die as it comes down, and always from its unfathomable grave arises that tremendous ghost of spray and mist which is never laid; which has haunted this place with the same dread solemnity since darkness brooded on the deep, and that first flood before the deluge light — came rushing on creation at the word of God.
A SUMMER DAY.
DONALD GRANT MITCHELL was born at Norwich, Connecticut, April 12, 1822. He graduated at Yale College. Fifty years have passed since, under the pen name “Ik Marvel,” he first published “Dream Life” and “Reveries of a Bachelor,” but those graceful books have not lost their attractiveness. In 1853 he served as United States consul in Venice; subsequently he was for two years editor of the Atlantic Monthly magazine. He has written charming books of various kinds, and has edited in twenty volumes a series of selections from English literature.
Two days since I was sweltering in the heat of the city, jostled by the thousands of eager workers, and panting under the shadow of the walls. But I have stolen away; and for two hours of healthful regrowth into the darling past I have been lying this blessed summer morning upon the grassy bank of a stream that babbled me to sleep in boyhood.
Dear old stream! unchanging, unfaltering, with no harsher notes now than then, never growing old, smiling in your silver rustle, and calming yourself in the broad, placid pools, I love you as I love a friend.
But now that the sun has grown scalding hot, and the waves of heat have come rocking under the shadow of the meadow oaks, I have sought shelter in a chamber of the old farmhouse.
The window blinds are closed; but some few of them are sadly shattered, and I have intertwined in them a few branches of the late-blossoming white azalea, so that every puff of the summer air comes to me cooled with fragrance. A dimple or two of the sunlight still steals through my flowery screen, and dances (as the breeze moves the branches) upon the oaken floor of the farmhouse.
Through one little gap indeed I can see the broad stretch of meadow, and the workmen in the field bending and swaying to their scythes. I can see, too, the glistening of the steel, as they wipe their blades, and can just catch floating on the air the measured, tinkling thwack of the rifle stroke.
Here and there a lark, scared from its feeding place in the grass, soars up, bubbling forth his melody in globules of silvery sound, and settles upon some tall tree, and waves his wings, and sings to the swaying twigs.
I hear, too, a quail piping from the meadow fence, and another trilling his answering whistle from the hills. Nearer by, a tyrant kingbird is poised on the topmost branch of a veteran pear tree, and now and then dashes down, assassin-like, upon some homebound, honey-laden bee, and then with a smack of his bill resumes his predatory watch.
A chicken or two lie in the sun, with a wing and a leg stretched out, lazily picking at the gravel, or relieving their ennui from time to time with a spas