among the mountains and the forests, by the rivers and the ocean, a
tinge of what the everyday world would not fail to term fantastic. My
wanderings amid such scenes have been many, and far-searching, and often
solitary; and the interest with which I have strayed through many a dim,
deep valley, or gazed into the reflected Heaven of many a bright lake,
has been an interest greatly deepened by the thought that I have strayed
and gazed alone. What flippant Frenchman was it who said in allusion
to the well-known work of Zimmerman, that, "la solitude est une belle
chose; mais il faut quelqu'un pour vous dire que la solitude est une
belle chose?" The epigram cannot be gainsayed; but the necessity is a
thing that does not exist.
It was during one of my lonely journeyings, amid a far distant region
of mountain locked within mountain, and sad rivers and melancholy tarn
writhing or sleeping within all--that I chanced upon a certain rivulet
and island. I came upon them suddenly in the leafy June, and threw
myself upon the turf, beneath the branches of an unknown odorous shrub,
that I might doze as I contemplated the scene. I felt that thus only
should I look upon it--such was the character of phantasm which it wore.
On all sides--save to the west, where the sun was about sinking--arose
the verdant walls of the forest. The little river which turned sharply
in its course, and was thus immediately lost to sight, seemed to have
no exit from its prison, but to be absorbed by the deep green foliage of
the trees to the east--while in the opposite quarter (so it appeared to
me as I lay at length and glanced upward) there poured down noiselessly
and continuously into the valley, a rich golden and crimson waterfall
from the sunset fountains of the sky.
About midway in the short vista which my dreamy vision took in, one
small circular island, profusely verdured, reposed upon the bosom of the
So blended bank and shadow there
That each seemed pendulous in air--so mirror-like was the glassy water,
that it was scarcely possible to say at what point upon the slope of the
emerald turf its crystal dominion began.
My position enabled me to include in a single view both the eastern and
western extremities of the islet; and I observed a singularly-marked
difference in their aspects. The latter was all one radiant harem of
garden beauties. It glowed and blushed beneath the eyes of the slant
sunlight, and fairly laughed with flowers. The grass was short,
springy, sweet-scented, and Asphodel-interspersed.
No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous.Page 1
And thus were produced a multitude of gaudy and fantastic appearances.Page 2
But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes, (which embrace three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies,) there came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before.Page 3
There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion.Page 4
But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death.Page 5
He had come like a thief in the night.