Scenery Of The Ohio
( Originally Published 1851 )
The heart must indeed be cold that would not glow among scenes like these. Rightly did the French call this stream La Belle Rivière, (the beautiful river). The sprightly Canadian, plying his oar in cadence with the wild notes of the boat-song, could not fail to find his heart enlivened by the beautiful symmetry of the Ohio. Its current is always graceful, and its shores every where roman-tic. Every thing here is on a large scale. The eye of the traveller is continually regaled with magnificent scenes. Here are no pigmy mounds dignified by the name of mountains; no rivulets swelled into rivers. Nature has worked with a rapid but masterly hand; every touch is bold, and the %%hole is grand as well as beautiful; while room is left for art to embellish and fertilize that which nature lias created with a thousand capabilities. There is much sameness in the character of the scenery; but that sameness is in itself delightful, as it consists in the recurrence of noble traits, which are too pleasing ever to be viewed with indifference; like the regular features which we sometimes find in the face of a beautiful woman, their charm consists in their own intrinsic gracefulness, rather than in the variety of their expressions. The Ohio. has not the sprightly, fanciful wildness of the Niagara, the St. Lawrence, or the Susquehanna, whose impetuous torrents, rushing over beds of rocks, or dashing against the jutting cliff's, arrest the ear by their murmurs, and delight the eye with their eccentric wanderings. Neither is it like the Hudson, margined at one spot by the meadow and the village, and overhung at another by threatening precipices and stupendous mountains. It has a wild, solemn, silent sweetness, peculiar to itself. The noble stream, clear, smooth, and unruffled, sweeps onward with regular majestic force. Continually changing its course, as it rolls from vale to vale, it always winds with dignity, and, avoiding those acute angles which are observable in less powerful streams, sweeps round in graceful bends, as if disdaining the opposition to which Nature forces it to submit. On each side rise the romantic hills, piled on each other to a tremendous height ; and between them are deep, abrupt, silent glens, which at a distance seem inaccessible to the human foot; while the whole is covered with timber of a gigantic size, and a luxuriant foliage of the deepest hues. Throughout this scene there is a pleasing solitariness, that speaks peace to the mind, and invites the fancy to soar abroad among the tranquil haunts of meditation. Sometimes the splashing of the oar is heard, and the boatman's song awakens the surrounding echoes; but the most usual music is that of the native songsters, whose melody steals pleasingly on the ear, with every modulation, at all hours. The poet, in sketching these solitudes, might, by throwing his scene a few years back, add the light canoe, and the war-song of the Indians; but the peaceful traveller rejoices in the absence of that which would bring danger, as well as variety within his reach. Hall's Letters from the West.