Globalization Poverty Development Sustainability
It seems to me that imagination and reasoning have reached magnificent heights with some writers, especially poets. Among them, I strongly believe, the highest ever was Edgar Allan Poe. With Baudelaire I state that "le poete est souverainement intelligent, qu'il est l'intelligence par excellence, -et que l'imagination est la plus scientifique des facultes, parce que seule elle comprend l'analogie universelle...". One of those poets was Edgar Allan Poe. I reproduce here "The Works of Edgar Allan Poe" as a gesture against what Baudelaire called "la ferocite de l'hypocrisie bourgeoise", and what I personally call mediocrity, imbecility, and comprehensive intellectual dishonesty, all of which is presented as "realistic thinking". And, as we know, contemporary development studies are full of  "realistic thinking". So, let us learn something from Edgar Allan Poe!.  (Róbinson Rojas)
The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe V. 1
Volume 1 of the Raven Edition  #6 in our series by Edgar Allan Poe

VOLUME II  Contents
The Purloined Letter
The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherezade
A Descent into the Maelström
Von Kempelen and his Discovery
Mesmeric Revelation
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
The Black Cat
The Fall of the House of Usher
Silence -- a Fable
The Masque of the Red Death
The Cask of Amontillado
The Imp of the Perverse
The Island of the Fay
The Assignation
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Premature Burial
The Domain of Arnheim
Landor's Cottage
William Wilson
The Tell-Tale Heart
Eleonora                                       BACK TO MAIN INDEX
     The garden like a lady fair was cut,
     That lay as if she slumbered in delight,
     And to the open skies her eyes did shut.
     The azure fields of Heaven were 'sembled right
     In a large round, set with the flowers of light.
     The flowers de luce, and the round sparks of dew.
     That hung upon their azure leaves did shew
     Like twinkling stars that sparkle in the evening blue.
     Giles Fletcher.
FROM his cradle to his grave a gale of prosperity bore my friend
Ellison along. Nor do I use the word prosperity in its mere worldly
sense. I mean it as synonymous with happiness. The person of whom I
speak seemed born for the purpose of foreshadowing the doctrines of
Turgot, Price, Priestley, and Condorcet -- of exemplifying by
individual instance what has been deemed the chimera of the
perfectionists. In the brief existence of Ellison I fancy that I have
seen refuted the dogma, that in man's very nature lies some hidden
principle, the antagonist of bliss. An anxious examination of his
career has given me to understand that in general, from the violation
of a few simple laws of humanity arises the wretchedness of mankind
-- that as a species we have in our possession the as yet unwrought
elements of content -- and that, even now, in the present darkness
and madness of all thought on the great question of the social
condition, it is not impossible that man, the individual, under
certain unusual and highly fortuitous conditions, may be happy.
With opinions such as these my young friend, too, was fully imbued,
and thus it is worthy of observation that the uninterrupted enjoyment
which distinguished his life was, in great measure, the result of
preconcert. It is indeed evident that with less of the instinctive
philosophy which, now and then, stands so well in the stead of
experience, Mr. Ellison would have found himself precipitated, by the
very extraordinary success of his life, into the common vortex of
unhappiness which yawns for those of pre-eminent endowments. But it
is by no means my object to pen an essay on happiness. The ideas of
my friend may be summed up in a few words. He admitted but four
elementary principles, or more strictly, conditions of bliss. That
which he considered chief was (strange to say!) the simple and purely
physical one of free exercise in the open air. "The health," he said,
"attainable by other means is scarcely worth the name." He instanced
the ecstasies of the fox-hunter, and pointed to the tillers of the
earth, the only people who, as a class, can be fairly considered
happier than others. His second condition was the love of woman. His
third, and most difficult of realization, was the contempt of
ambition. His fourth was an object of unceasing pursuit; and he held
that, other things being equal, the extent of attainable happiness
was in proportion to the spirituality of this object.
Ellison was remarkable in the continuous profusion of good gifts
lavished upon him by fortune. In personal grace and beauty he
exceeded all men. His intellect was of that order to which the
acquisition of knowledge is less a labor than an intuition and a
necessity. His family was one of the most illustrious of the empire.
His bride was the loveliest and most devoted of women. His
possessions had been always ample; but on the attainment of his
majority, it was discovered that one of those extraordinary freaks of
fate had been played in his behalf which startle the whole social
world amid which they occur, and seldom fail radically to alter the
moral constitution of those who are their objects.
It appears that about a hundred years before Mr. Ellison's coming of
age, there had died, in a remote province, one Mr. Seabright Ellison.
This gentleman had amassed a princely fortune, and, having no
immediate connections, conceived the whim of suffering his wealth to
accumulate for a century after his decease. Minutely and sagaciously
directing the various modes of investment, he bequeathed the
aggregate amount to the nearest of blood, bearing the name of
Ellison, who should be alive at the end of the hundred years. Many
attempts had been made to set aside this singular bequest; their ex
post facto character rendered them abortive; but the attention of a
jealous government was aroused, and a legislative act finally
obtained, forbidding all similar accumulations. This act, however,
did not prevent young Ellison from entering into possession, on his
twenty-first birthday, as the heir of his ancestor Seabright, of a
fortune of four hundred and fifty millions of dollars. {*1}
When it had become known that such was the enormous wealth inherited,
there were, of course, many speculations as to the mode of its
disposal. The magnitude and the immediate availability of the sum
bewildered all who thought on the topic. The possessor of any
appreciable amount of money might have been imagined to perform any
one of a thousand things. With riches merely surpassing those of any
citizen, it would have been easy to suppose him engaging to supreme
excess in the fashionable extravagances of his time -- or busying
himself with political intrigue -- or aiming at ministerial power --
or purchasing increase of nobility -- or collecting large museums of
virtu -- or playing the munificent patron of letters, of science, of
art -- or endowing, and bestowing his name upon extensive
institutions of charity. But for the inconceivable wealth in the
actual possession of the heir, these objects and all ordinary objects
were felt to afford too limited a field. Recourse was had to figures,
and these but sufficed to confound. It was seen that, even at three
per cent., the annual income of the inheritance amounted to no less
than thirteen millions and five hundred thousand dollars; which was
one million and one hundred and twenty-five thousand per month; or
thirty-six thousand nine hundred and eighty-six per day; or one
thousand five hundred and forty-one per hour; or six and twenty
dollars for every minute that flew. Thus the usual track of
supposition was thoroughly broken up. Men knew not what to imagine.
There were some who even conceived that Mr. Ellison would divest
himself of at least one-half of his fortune, as of utterly
superfluous opulence -- enriching whole troops of his relatives by
division of his superabundance. To the nearest of these he did, in
fact, abandon the very unusual wealth which was his own before the
I was not surprised, however, to perceive that he had long made up
his mind on a point which had occasioned so much discussion to his
friends. Nor was I greatly astonished at the nature of his decision.
In regard to individual charities he had satisfied his conscience. In
the possibility of any improvement, properly so called, being
effected by man himself in the general condition of man, he had (I am
sorry to confess it) little faith. Upon the whole, whether happily or
unhappily, he was thrown back, in very great measure, upon self.
In the widest and noblest sense he was a poet. He comprehended,
moreover, the true character, the august aims, the supreme majesty
and dignity of the poetic sentiment. The fullest, if not the sole
proper satisfaction of this sentiment he instinctively felt to lie in
the creation of novel forms of beauty. Some peculiarities, either in
his early education, or in the nature of his intellect, had tinged
with what is termed materialism all his ethical speculations; and it
was this bias, perhaps, which led him to believe that the most
advantageous at least, if not the sole legitimate field for the
poetic exercise, lies in the creation of novel moods of purely
physical loveliness. Thus it happened he became neither musician nor
poet -- if we use this latter term in its every-day acceptation. Or
it might have been that he neglected to become either, merely in
pursuance of his idea that in contempt of ambition is to be found one
of the essential principles of happiness on earth. Is it not indeed,
possible that, while a high order of genius is necessarily ambitious,
the highest is above that which is termed ambition? And may it not
thus happen that many far greater than Milton have contentedly
remained "mute and inglorious?" I believe that the world has never
seen -- and that, unless through some series of accidents goading the
noblest order of mind into distasteful exertion, the world will never
see -- that full extent of triumphant execution, in the richer
domains of art, of which the human nature is absolutely capable.
Ellison became neither musician nor poet; although no man lived more
profoundly enamored of music and poetry. Under other circumstances
than those which invested him, it is not impossible that he would
have become a painter. Sculpture, although in its nature rigorously
poetical was too limited in its extent and consequences, to have
occupied, at any time, much of his attention. And I have now
mentioned all the provinces in which the common understanding of the
poetic sentiment has declared it capable of expatiating. But Ellison
maintained that the richest, the truest, and most natural, if not
altogether the most extensive province, had been unaccountably
neglected. No definition had spoken of the landscape-gardener as of
the poet; yet it seemed to my friend that the creation of the
landscape-garden offered to the proper Muse the most magnificent of
opportunities. Here, indeed, was the fairest field for the display of
imagination in the endless combining of forms of novel beauty; the
elements to enter into combination being, by a vast superiority, the
most glorious which the earth could afford. In the multiform and
multicolor of the flowers and the trees, he recognised the most
direct and energetic efforts of Nature at physical loveliness. And in
the direction or concentration of this effort -- or, more properly,
in its adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it on earth -- he
perceived that he should be employing the best means -- laboring to
the greatest advantage -- in the fulfilment, not only of his own
destiny as poet, but of the august purposes for which the Deity had
implanted the poetic sentiment in man.
"Its adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it on earth." In his
explanation of this phraseology, Mr. Ellison did much toward solving
what has always seemed to me an enigma: -- I mean the fact (which
none but the ignorant dispute) that no such combination of scenery
exists in nature as the painter of genius may produce. No such
paradises are to be found in reality as have glowed on the canvas of
Claude. In the most enchanting of natural landscapes, there will
always be found a defect or an excess -- many excesses and defects.
While the component parts may defy, individually, the highest skill
of the artist, the arrangement of these parts will always be
susceptible of improvement. In short, no position can be attained on
the wide surface of the natural earth, from which an artistical eye,
looking steadily, will not find matter of offence in what is termed
the "composition" of the landscape. And yet how unintelligible is
this! In all other matters we are justly instructed to regard nature
as supreme. With her details we shrink from competition. Who shall
presume to imitate the colors of the tulip, or to improve the
proportions of the lily of the valley? The criticism which says, of
sculpture or portraiture, that here nature is to be exalted or
idealized rather than imitated, is in error. No pictorial or
sculptural combinations of points of human liveliness do more than
approach the living and breathing beauty. In landscape alone is the
principle of the critic true; and, having felt its truth here, it is
but the headlong spirit of generalization which has led him to
pronounce it true throughout all the domains of art. Having, I say,
felt its truth here; for the feeling is no affectation or chimera.
The mathematics afford no more absolute demonstrations than the
sentiments of his art yields the artist. He not only believes, but
positively knows, that such and such apparently arbitrary
arrangements of matter constitute and alone constitute the true
beauty. His reasons, however, have not yet been matured into
expression. It remains for a more profound analysis than the world
has yet seen, fully to investigate and express them. Nevertheless he
is confirmed in his instinctive opinions by the voice of all his
brethren. Let a "composition" be defective; let an emendation be
wrought in its mere arrangement of form; let this emendation be
submitted to every artist in the world; by each will its necessity be
admitted. And even far more than this: -- in remedy of the defective
composition, each insulated member of the fraternity would have
suggested the identical emendation.
I repeat that in landscape arrangements alone is the physical nature
susceptible of exaltation, and that, therefore, her susceptibility of
improvement at this one point, was a mystery I had been unable to
solve. My own thoughts on the subject had rested in the idea that the
primitive intention of nature would have so arranged the earth's
surface as to have fulfilled at all points man's sense of perfection
in the beautiful, the sublime, or the picturesque; but that this
primitive intention had been frustrated by the known geological
disturbances -- disturbances of form and color -- grouping, in the
correction or allaying of which lies the soul of art. The force of
this idea was much weakened, however, by the necessity which it
involved of considering the disturbances abnormal and unadapted to
any purpose. It was Ellison who suggested that they were prognostic
of death. He thus explained: -- Admit the earthly immortality of man
to have been the first intention. We have then the primitive
arrangement of the earth's surface adapted to his blissful estate, as
not existent but designed. The disturbances were the preparations for
his subsequently conceived deathful condition.
"Now," said my friend, "what we regard as exaltation of the landscape
may be really such, as respects only the moral or human point of
view. Each alteration of the natural scenery may possibly effect a
blemish in the picture, if we can suppose this picture viewed at
large -- in mass -- from some point distant from the earth's surface,
although not beyond the limits of its atmosphere. It is easily
understood that what might improve a closely scrutinized detail, may
at the same time injure a general or more distantly observed effect.
There may be a class of beings, human once, but now invisible to
humanity, to whom, from afar, our disorder may seem order -- our
unpicturesqueness picturesque, in a word, the earth-angels, for whose
scrutiny more especially than our own, and for whose death -- refined
appreciation of the beautiful, may have been set in array by God the
wide landscape-gardens of the hemispheres."
In the course of discussion, my friend quoted some passages from a
writer on landscape-gardening who has been supposed to have well
treated his theme:
"There are properly but two styles of landscape-gardening, the
natural and the artificial. One seeks to recall the original beauty
of the country, by adapting its means to the surrounding scenery,
cultivating trees in harmony with the hills or plain of the
neighboring land; detecting and bringing into practice those nice
relations of size, proportion, and color which, hid from the common
observer, are revealed everywhere to the experienced student of
nature. The result of the natural style of gardening, is seen rather
in the absence of all defects and incongruities -- in the prevalence
of a healthy harmony and order -- than in the creation of any special
wonders or miracles. The artificial style has as many varieties as
there are different tastes to gratify. It has a certain general
relation to the various styles of building. There are the stately
avenues and retirements of Versailles; Italian terraces; and a
various mixed old English style, which bears some relation to the
domestic Gothic or English Elizabethan architecture. Whatever may be
said against the abuses of the artificial landscape -- gardening, a
mixture of pure art in a garden scene adds to it a great beauty. This
is partly pleasing to the eye, by the show of order and design, and
partly moral. A terrace, with an old moss -- covered balustrade,
calls up at once to the eye the fair forms that have passed there in
other days. The slightest exhibition of art is an evidence of care
and human interest."
"From what I have already observed," said Ellison, "you will
understand that I reject the idea, here expressed, of recalling the
original beauty of the country. The original beauty is never so great
as that which may be introduced. Of course, every thing depends on
the selection of a spot with capabilities. What is said about
detecting and bringing into practice nice relations of size,
proportion, and color, is one of those mere vaguenesses of speech
which serve to veil inaccuracy of thought. The phrase quoted may mean
any thing, or nothing, and guides in no degree. That the true result
of the natural style of gardening is seen rather in the absence of
all defects and incongruities than in the creation of any special
wonders or miracles, is a proposition better suited to the grovelling
apprehension of the herd than to the fervid dreams of the man of
genius. The negative merit suggested appertains to that hobbling
criticism which, in letters, would elevate Addison into apotheosis.
In truth, while that virtue which consists in the mere avoidance of
vice appeals directly to the understanding, and can thus be
circumscribed in rule, the loftier virtue, which flames in creation,
can be apprehended in its results alone. Rule applies but to the
merits of denial -- to the excellencies which refrain. Beyond these,
the critical art can but suggest. We may be instructed to build a
"Cato," but we are in vain told how to conceive a Parthenon or an
"Inferno." The thing done, however; the wonder accomplished; and the
capacity for apprehension becomes universal. The sophists of the
negative school who, through inability to create, have scoffed at
creation, are now found the loudest in applause. What, in its
chrysalis condition of principle, affronted their demure reason,
never fails, in its maturity of accomplishment, to extort admiration
from their instinct of beauty.
"The author's observations on the artificial style," continued
Ellison, "are less objectionable. A mixture of pure art in a garden
scene adds to it a great beauty. This is just; as also is the
reference to the sense of human interest. The principle expressed is
incontrovertible -- but there may be something beyond it. There may
be an object in keeping with the principle -- an object unattainable
by the means ordinarily possessed by individuals, yet which, if
attained, would lend a charm to the landscape-garden far surpassing
that which a sense of merely human interest could bestow. A poet,
having very unusual pecuniary resources, might, while retaining the
necessary idea of art or culture, or, as our author expresses it, of
interest, so imbue his designs at once with extent and novelty of
beauty, as to convey the sentiment of spiritual interference. It will
be seen that, in bringing about such result, he secures all the
advantages of interest or design, while relieving his work of the
harshness or technicality of the worldly art. In the most rugged of
wildernesses -- in the most savage of the scenes of pure nature --
there is apparent the art of a creator; yet this art is apparent to
reflection only; in no respect has it the obvious force of a feeling.
Now let us suppose this sense of the Almighty design to be one step
depressed -- to be brought into something like harmony or consistency
with the sense of human art -- to form an intermedium between the
two: -- let us imagine, for example, a landscape whose combined
vastness and definitiveness -- whose united beauty, magnificence, and
strangeness, shall convey the idea of care, or culture, or
superintendence, on the part of beings superior, yet akin to humanity
-- then the sentiment of interest is preserved, while the art
intervolved is made to assume the air of an intermediate or secondary
nature -- a nature which is not God, nor an emanation from God, but
which still is nature in the sense of the handiwork of the angels
that hover between man and God."
It was in devoting his enormous wealth to the embodiment of a vision
such as this -- in the free exercise in the open air ensured by the
personal superintendence of his plans -- in the unceasing object
which these plans afforded -- in the high spirituality of the object
-- in the contempt of ambition which it enabled him truly to feel --
in the perennial springs with which it gratified, without possibility
of satiating, that one master passion of his soul, the thirst for
beauty, above all, it was in the sympathy of a woman, not unwomanly,
whose loveliness and love enveloped his existence in the purple
atmosphere of Paradise, that Ellison thought to find, and found,
exemption from the ordinary cares of humanity, with a far greater
amount of positive happiness than ever glowed in the rapt day-dreams
of De Stael.
I despair of conveying to the reader any distinct conception of the
marvels which my friend did actually accomplish. I wish to describe,
but am disheartened by the difficulty of description, and hesitate
between detail and generality. Perhaps the better course will be to
unite the two in their extremes.
Mr. Ellison's first step regarded, of course, the choice of a
locality, and scarcely had he commenced thinking on this point, when
the luxuriant nature of the Pacific Islands arrested his attention.
In fact, he had made up his mind for a voyage to the South Seas, when
a night's reflection induced him to abandon the idea. "Were I
misanthropic," he said, "such a locale would suit me. The
thoroughness of its insulation and seclusion, and the difficulty of
ingress and egress, would in such case be the charm of charms; but as
yet I am not Timon. I wish the composure but not the depression of
solitude. There must remain with me a certain control over the extent
and duration of my repose. There will be frequent hours in which I
shall need, too, the sympathy of the poetic in what I have done. Let
me seek, then, a spot not far from a populous city -- whose vicinity,
also, will best enable me to execute my plans."
In search of a suitable place so situated, Ellison travelled for
several years, and I was permitted to accompany him. A thousand spots
with which I was enraptured he rejected without hesitation, for
reasons which satisfied me, in the end, that he was right. We came at
length to an elevated table-land of wonderful fertility and beauty,
affording a panoramic prospect very little less in extent than that
of Aetna, and, in Ellison's opinion as well as my own, surpassing the
far-famed view from that mountain in all the true elements of the
"I am aware," said the traveller, as he drew a sigh of deep delight
after gazing on this scene, entranced, for nearly an hour, "I know
that here, in my circumstances, nine-tenths of the most fastidious of
men would rest content. This panorama is indeed glorious, and I
should rejoice in it but for the excess of its glory. The taste of
all the architects I have ever known leads them, for the sake of
'prospect,' to put up buildings on hill-tops. The error is obvious.
Grandeur in any of its moods, but especially in that of extent,
startles, excites -- and then fatigues, depresses. For the occasional
scene nothing can be better -- for the constant view nothing worse.
And, in the constant view, the most objectionable phase of grandeur
is that of extent; the worst phase of extent, that of distance. It is
at war with the sentiment and with the sense of seclusion -- the
sentiment and sense which we seek to humor in 'retiring to the
country.' In looking from the summit of a mountain we cannot help
feeling abroad in the world. The heart-sick avoid distant prospects
as a pestilence."
It was not until toward the close of the fourth year of our search
that we found a locality with which Ellison professed himself
satisfied. It is, of course, needless to say where was the locality.
The late death of my friend, in causing his domain to be thrown open
to certain classes of visiters, has given to Arnheim a species of
secret and subdued if not solemn celebrity, similar in kind, although
infinitely superior in degree, to that which so long distinguished
The usual approach to Arnheim was by the river. The visiter left the
city in the early morning. During the forenoon he passed between
shores of a tranquil and domestic beauty, on which grazed innumerable
sheep, their white fleeces spotting the vivid green of rolling
meadows. By degrees the idea of cultivation subsided into that of
merely pastoral care. This slowly became merged in a sense of
retirement -- this again in a consciousness of solitude. As the
evening approached, the channel grew more narrow, the banks more and
more precipitous; and these latter were clothed in rich, more
profuse, and more sombre foliage. The water increased in
transparency. The stream took a thousand turns, so that at no moment
could its gleaming surface be seen for a greater distance than a
furlong. At every instant the vessel seemed imprisoned within an
enchanted circle, having insuperable and impenetrable walls of
foliage, a roof of ultramarine satin, and no floor -- the keel
balancing itself with admirable nicety on that of a phantom bark
which, by some accident having been turned upside down, floated in
constant company with the substantial one, for the purpose of
sustaining it. The channel now became a gorge -- although the term is
somewhat inapplicable, and I employ it merely because the language
has no word which better represents the most striking -- not the most
distinctive-feature of the scene. The character of gorge was
maintained only in the height and parallelism of the shores; it was
lost altogether in their other traits. The walls of the ravine
(through which the clear water still tranquilly flowed) arose to an
elevation of a hundred and occasionally of a hundred and fifty feet,
and inclined so much toward each other as, in a great measure, to
shut out the light of day; while the long plume-like moss which
depended densely from the intertwining shrubberies overhead, gave the
whole chasm an air of funereal gloom. The windings became more
frequent and intricate, and seemed often as if returning in upon
themselves, so that the voyager had long lost all idea of direction.
He was, moreover, enwrapt in an exquisite sense of the strange. The
thought of nature still remained, but her character seemed to have
undergone modification, there was a weird symmetry, a thrilling
uniformity, a wizard propriety in these her works. Not a dead branch
-- not a withered leaf -- not a stray pebble -- not a patch of the
brown earth was anywhere visible. The crystal water welled up against
the clean granite, or the unblemished moss, with a sharpness of
outline that delighted while it bewildered the eye.
Having threaded the mazes of this channel for some hours, the gloom
deepening every moment, a sharp and unexpected turn of the vessel
brought it suddenly, as if dropped from heaven, into a circular basin
of very considerable extent when compared with the width of the
gorge. It was about two hundred yards in diameter, and girt in at all
points but one -- that immediately fronting the vessel as it entered
-- by hills equal in general height to the walls of the chasm,
although of a thoroughly different character. Their sides sloped from
the water's edge at an angle of some forty-five degrees, and they
were clothed from base to summit -- not a perceptible point escaping
-- in a drapery of the most gorgeous flower-blossoms; scarcely a
green leaf being visible among the sea of odorous and fluctuating
color. This basin was of great depth, but so transparent was the
water that the bottom, which seemed to consist of a thick mass of
small round alabaster pebbles, was distinctly visible by glimpses --
that is to say, whenever the eye could permit itself not to see, far
down in the inverted heaven, the duplicate blooming of the hills. On
these latter there were no trees, nor even shrubs of any size. The
impressions wrought on the observer were those of richness, warmth,
color, quietude, uniformity, softness, delicacy, daintiness,
voluptuousness, and a miraculous extremeness of culture that
suggested dreams of a new race of fairies, laborious, tasteful,
magnificent, and fastidious; but as the eye traced upward the
myriad-tinted slope, from its sharp junction with the water to its
vague termination amid the folds of overhanging cloud, it became,
indeed, difficult not to fancy a panoramic cataract of rubies,
sapphires, opals, and golden onyxes, rolling silently out of the sky.
The visiter, shooting suddenly into this bay from out the gloom of
the ravine, is delighted but astounded by the full orb of the
declining sun, which he had supposed to be already far below the
horizon, but which now confronts him, and forms the sole termination
of an otherwise limitless vista seen through another chasm -- like
rift in the hills.
But here the voyager quits the vessel which has borne him so far, and
descends into a light canoe of ivory, stained with arabesque devices
in vivid scarlet, both within and without. The poop and beak of this
boat arise high above the water, with sharp points, so that the
general form is that of an irregular crescent. It lies on the surface
of the bay with the proud grace of a swan. On its ermined floor
reposes a single feathery paddle of satin-wood; but no oarsmen or
attendant is to be seen. The guest is bidden to be of good cheer --
that the fates will take care of him. The larger vessel disappears,
and he is left alone in the canoe, which lies apparently motionless
in the middle of the lake. While he considers what course to pursue,
however, he becomes aware of a gentle movement in the fairy bark. It
slowly swings itself around until its prow points toward the sun. It
advances with a gentle but gradually accelerated velocity, while the
slight ripples it creates seem to break about the ivory side in
divinest melody-seem to offer the only possible explanation of the
soothing yet melancholy music for whose unseen origin the bewildered
voyager looks around him in vain.
The canoe steadily proceeds, and the rocky gate of the vista is
approached, so that its depths can be more distinctly seen. To the
right arise a chain of lofty hills rudely and luxuriantly wooded. It
is observed, however, that the trait of exquisite cleanness where the
bank dips into the water, still prevails. There is not one token of
the usual river debris. To the left the character of the scene is
softer and more obviously artificial. Here the bank slopes upward
from the stream in a very gentle ascent, forming a broad sward of
grass of a texture resembling nothing so much as velvet, and of a
brilliancy of green which would bear comparison with the tint of the
purest emerald. This plateau varies in width from ten to three
hundred yards; reaching from the river-bank to a wall, fifty feet
high, which extends, in an infinity of curves, but following the
general direction of the river, until lost in the distance to the
westward. This wall is of one continuous rock, and has been formed by
cutting perpendicularly the once rugged precipice of the stream's
southern bank, but no trace of the labor has been suffered to remain.
The chiselled stone has the hue of ages, and is profusely overhung
and overspread with the ivy, the coral honeysuckle, the eglantine,
and the clematis. The uniformity of the top and bottom lines of the
wall is fully relieved by occasional trees of gigantic height,
growing singly or in small groups, both along the plateau and in the
domain behind the wall, but in close proximity to it; so that
frequent limbs (of the black walnut especially) reach over and dip
their pendent extremities into the water. Farther back within the
domain, the vision is impeded by an impenetrable screen of foliage.
These things are observed during the canoe's gradual approach to what
I have called the gate of the vista. On drawing nearer to this,
however, its chasm-like appearance vanishes; a new outlet from the
bay is discovered to the left -- in which direction the wall is also
seen to sweep, still following the general course of the stream. Down
this new opening the eye cannot penetrate very far; for the stream,
accompanied by the wall, still bends to the left, until both are
swallowed up by the leaves.
The boat, nevertheless, glides magically into the winding channel;
and here the shore opposite the wall is found to resemble that
opposite the wall in the straight vista. Lofty hills, rising
occasionally into mountains, and covered with vegetation in wild
luxuriance, still shut in the scene.
Floating gently onward, but with a velocity slightly augmented, the
voyager, after many short turns, finds his progress apparently barred
by a gigantic gate or rather door of burnished gold, elaborately
carved and fretted, and reflecting the direct rays of the now
fast-sinking sun with an effulgence that seems to wreath the whole
surrounding forest in flames. This gate is inserted in the lofty
wall; which here appears to cross the river at right angles. In a few
moments, however, it is seen that the main body of the water still
sweeps in a gentle and extensive curve to the left, the wall
following it as before, while a stream of considerable volume,
diverging from the principal one, makes its way, with a slight
ripple, under the door, and is thus hidden from sight. The canoe
falls into the lesser channel and approaches the gate. Its ponderous
wings are slowly and musically expanded. The boat glides between
them, and commences a rapid descent into a vast amphitheatre entirely
begirt with purple mountains, whose bases are laved by a gleaming
river throughout the full extent of their circuit. Meantime the whole
Paradise of Arnheim bursts upon the view. There is a gush of
entrancing melody; there is an oppressive sense of strange sweet
odor, -- there is a dream -- like intermingling to the eye of tall
slender Eastern trees -- bosky shrubberies -- flocks of golden and
crimson birds -- lily-fringed lakes -- meadows of violets, tulips,
poppies, hyacinths, and tuberoses -- long intertangled lines of
silver streamlets -- and, upspringing confusedly from amid all, a
mass of semi-Gothic, semi-Saracenic architecture sustaining itself by
miracle in mid-air, glittering in the red sunlight with a hundred
oriels, minarets, and pinnacles; and seeming the phantom handiwork,
conjointly, of the Sylphs, of the Fairies, of the Genii and of the
~~~ End of Text ~~~
Notes-- Domain of Arnheim
{*1} An incident, similar in outline to the one here imagined,
occurred, not very long ago, in England. The name of the fortunate
heir was Thelluson. I first saw an account of this matter in the
"Tour" of Prince Puckler Muskau, who makes the sum inherited _ninety
millions of pounds_, and justly observes that "in the contemplation
of so vast a sum, and of the services to which it might be applied,
there is something even of the sublime." To suit the views of this
article I have followed the Prince's statement, although a grossly
exaggerated one. The germ, and in fact, the commencement of the
present paper was published many years ago -- previous to the issue
of the first number of Sue's admirable _Juif Errant_, which may
possibly have been suggested to him by Muskau's account.