« PreviousContinue »
and took the branch which we left at our right on emerging from the Cabinet.
Pursuing the uneven path for some distance, we reached “Sereno's Arbor." The descent to the “ arbor" seemed so perilous, from the position of the loose rocks around, that several of the party would not venture.
Those of us who scrambled down regarded this as the crowning object of interest. The 66 arbor” is not more than twelve feet in diameter, and of about the same height, of a circular form; but is of itself, floor, sides, roof and ornaments, one perfect, seamless stalactite, of a beautiful hue, and exquisite workmanship. Folds or blades of stalactical matter hang like drapery around the sides, reaching half way to the floor; and opposite the door a canopy of stone projects, elegantly ornamented, as if it were the resting place of a fairy bride.
Every thing seemed fresh and new: indeed, the invisible architect has not quite finished this master-piece; for you can see the pure water trickling down its tiny channels, and perfecting the delicate points of some of the stalactites. Victoria, with all her splendor, has not in Windsor Castle so beautiful an apartment as “Sereno's Arbor.” Reluctantly leaving the “ arbor," we reascended the rocky mountains," and passed leisurely through the “ Cabinet.”
We visited, on our return, an immense Dome, viewing it from a window broken into its side. Although illuminated with a Bengal light, neither the floor or ceiling were visible. It must be two hundred feet high, and one hundred and fifty feet in circumference. Directly over this dome is the “ Bat room,” which we
were too weary to visit. We spent a moment in the “ Bacon room," answering well to its name.
If two or three hundred hams were suspended from the ceiling of a low room, at perfectly regular intervals, each in a canvass sack, the appearance would be similar to that presented here.
At about six o'clock we made our way out of the cave, having been eleven hours in the bowels of the earth. And now I would say to the reader, do not omit any good opportunity of visiting the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, for here you may see two hundred and twenty-six avenues, forty-seven domes, with a subterranean world of wonders.
* Stalagmite-A deposit of calcareous matter.
THE LAST NIGHT OF THE VOYAGE.
THOSE who have deserved the most at the hands of this world, have fared the worst. Poverty and persecution have been the lot of genius; the stake and the cross, the reward of piety. We have a striking illustration of this, in the treatment which Christopher Columbus received from his fellow men. A nobler man never breathed this air; and yet, he was murdered with obloquy! He whose merit a crown could not have met, was glad of a refuge in the grave. Succeeding generations have made retribution to his memory; but justice is mockery to the dead. The repose of Colum
bus would have been as sweet, and his eternal glory as great, without our fruitless homage.
We have followed this wonderful man with growing interest, from the beginning to the end of his career. We have watched him from the first faint glimmer of his grand conception, until it shone upon him with the burning brightness of a sun, filling the whole heavens with its glory, and drowning every feebler luminary in its light. But if we were searching his life for a scene of surpassing sublimity, we would fix on the last night of his voyage.
Man never started on an enterprise more grand or perilous than Columbus. He was about to search the wide wastes of an unexplored ocean, for a world which even the most sanguine only dared to hope had an existence. Columbus left Spain with three vessels, so small and poorly constructed that a madman at the present day would hardly venture in them a hundred miles from land. Two of them had no decks in the centre; and the other, which carried the High Admiral, was but little better fitted to meet the storm.
In such plight as this, on Friday, the third of August, 1492, after almost eighteen years of fruitless supplication, Columbus and his followers set sail from the port of Palos. Day after day they keep on their course to the West. They reach waters which no keel had ploughed, no line sounded; and still, no signs of land! Week follows week, until thousands of miles stretch between them and their native shores; and still, no signs of land! Their provisions are nearly gone — the sails hang in rags about the spars—the vessels groan as they mount each succeeding wave --and still, no signs of
land! Faith, weary with watching, ceases to expect --Hope, worn by its vigils, no longer looks.
Never did a darker night overtake man, than the last night of that gloomy voyage. To-morrow, by mutual agreement between the Admiral and his crews, if no land api ar, they are to turn their bows toward Spain. But even this scarcely afforded hope. Before they could reach the nearest port, their provisions might be exhausted, or the relentless tempest might send their shattered barques to the bottom.
They turn into their hammocks; but not to sleep. Sad remembrances, gloomy forebodings, weigh down their souls. They chide the folly which allured them from Spain. They think of the friends who stood on the beach and waved an ominous farewell; and, oh! they must meet them again no more, until the sea give up the dead that are in it. But, ah! as they turn on their faces and abandon themselves to despair, what sound is that which comes from the deck! It is the voice of their leader - it is the electric
66 LAND! LAND!” Yes, “ LAND! LAND!" rises for the first time over that unsounded sea.
They leap from their hammocks — they rush to the decks-and, gazing with strained eye-balls over the bows, see a faint light in the distance, moving, as it seem's, from place to place. Hoping, hardly daring to hope, they wait for morning ; when, lo! as it breaks, one of those fair isles which stud the ocean, rises from the shades of receding night. It rises in native loveliness, unmarred by man, unprofaned by the axe, its fields kissing the waters, its forests saluting the clouds. Transported with joy, forgetful of the past, anticipating the
glory of the future, - they simultaneously break forth in praise to God. From every vessel, from every tongue, one glad song ascends to Heaven ; and the “Te Deum” swells where waves had roared and wild winds wailed.
RETURN AND RECEPTION OF COLUMBUS.
The fame of his discovery had resounded throughout the nation, and as his route lay through several of the finest and most populous provinces of Spain, his journey appeared like the progress of a sovereign. Wherever he passed, the surrounding country poured forth its inhabitants, who lined the road and thronged the villages. In the large towns, the streets, windows, and balconies, were filled with eager spectators, who rent the air with acclamations.
His journey was continually impeded by the multitude pressing to gain a sight of him, and of the Indians, who were regarded with as much admiration as if they were natives of another planet. It was impossible to satisfy the craving curiosity which assailed himself and his attendants, at every stage, with innumerable questions: popular rumor, as usual, had exaggerated the truth, and had filled the newly found country with all kinds of wonders.
It was about the middle of April, that Columbus arrived at Barcelona, where every preparation had