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the tornado and whirlwind, laying prostrate in their furious course every impediment to their destructive progress, and to witness the fall of the powerful oak and the whirlings of its cleft branches in the sea of matter above, crushing and overwhelming the most formidable obstacles of art. These are scenes in which'the spirit of the enthusiast revels, and they are scenes which strike the soul with awe, speaking trumpet-tongued of the presence of an Almighty power! of the omnipotence of his authority, of the insignificance of human effort, and the frailty of human life.
The scenery near the mouth of the Wissahiccon is of a wild, romantic and imposing character, beautiful in its ever-varying aspect, and interesting in its mystic associations. High hills, occasionally assuming the appearance of mountains, rise on either side, covered with a dense and beautifully variegated foliage. The dogwood, with, its beautiful flowers, the chestnut, the locust, the melancholy willow, the sumac, the gum, with its vermillion leaves, and the gloomy hemlock, flourish here in all their native grandeur, and the lofty oak, the father of the forest, stretches out his thickly covered branches to afford shade and shelter to the weary pedestrian. Wild flowers, in great number and varieties, rivalling each other in loveliness, are found in the underwood, giving effect to the drapery of the verdant trees, by enlivening the dark hues of the thickly-growing and overshadowed forest. Some of these flowers and plants are of rare quality and surpassing beauty, and far eclipse in attraction many that are culvated with care and pride in our horticultural gardens; but here they spring up, year after year, in silence and solitude, being literally
“ Born to blush unseen, And waste their fragrance on the desert air."
In the valley of the stream along the eastern side of which, for a mile or two, a convenient road has been chiseled and scooped out of the sides of the stony hill, the vision is completely obstructed by the imposing banks, and hills rising above hills, on either shore, and but for the unpoetic noise of a labouring mill, and the span of a rude bridge which crosses to a small cavern or clevity in the rocky slope, there would be nothing to betray the presence of man, or to mark the contiguity of human enterprise. Alas! that not one spot-not even the glorious Wissahiccon_bearing the undoubted impress of the hand of the God of nature-can escape the desolating depredations and officious interference of the onward march of civilisation.
The carriage road commencing at the mouth of the Wissahiccon, crosses the stream on a covered bridge, about a mile and a half above, winds up a hill of considerable elevation and passes over to the Ridge. From the covered bridge access along the creek is obtained by means of a foot path, on the western side, which is marked through the forest, over crags and cliffs, rugged rocks and rooted trees, until it reaches a beautiful green lawn, a little parlour in the wilderness, celebrated as the resort of occasional pic nic parties of young ladies and gentlemen from the city, and where, on the grassy floor, youth and beauty have often mingled in the graceful dance, and joined in the merry song of innocence and gay hilarity. It is a sweet spot, and surrounded as it is, by scenery of the wildest and most romantic character, may, very appropriately, he designated the “ oasis of the Wissahiccon.” Near this place, immediately on the water's edge, the ruins of an antiquated stone building are discovered, scattered over the ground, and as no trace of the original appearance of the edifice can be found, the imagination is
permitted to enjoy free scope in dwelling upon the character and pursuits of its ancient founders. On the opposite side, the banks rise up, in many places almost perpendicularly, to the height of mountains, and but few have the temerity to attempt a passage along the course of the stream, as a single false step might hurl them among the dangerous rocks and jutting cliffs below. Here, as well as on the western side, several clevities and caverns in the granite rocks may be found, but it does not appear that they extend to any great depth under the massive structure; and here upon the edge of a hill, may be seen the point at which it was some time since proposed to throw a bridge over the stream, to carry the rail-road from Philadelphia to Norristown. The projectors of the scheme reached thus far in their onward progress, but in casting a glance over the precipice into the gulph below, were struck with dismay at the formidable obstacles which appeared, and prudently abandoned the hazardous and wildly-conceived undertaking.
Near Garsed's flax mill, the foot-path crosses to the eastern shore of the stream, on a rude log chained to an adjacent stone, and passes up through a forest overhanging the sluggish waters, and through a thick underwood, which, in some places, is almost impenetrable. Occasional openings in the dense foliage, which become more frequent as the pedestrian progresses up the stream, afford highly picturesque and enchanting views of the surrounding hills, such as those who appreciate nature in her majesty, would journey miles upon miles, and endure pain and fatigue without murmuring, to behold. direction the scenes unfolded to the eye are rich and enchanting beyond description, and remind the visiter who associates therewith ideas of intellectual pleasure and enjoyment, of the beautiful lines of the poet:
- Dear solitary groves, where peace does dwell!
One of the most interesting spots on the Wissahiccon, is in the immediate vicinity of the great perpendicular rock of granite, opposite Rittenhouse's mill. Here the dark shadows of the hill fall, with beautiful effect, upon the gurgling stream, and the rich and deep wood-land foliage, the tangled shrubbery, redolent of fragrance, the towering cliffs on the one side, and imposing hills and dales on the other, give to the place a charm and fascination, which the reflecting mind may enjoy, but of which it is impossible to convey with the pen, any accurate description. It was near this enchanting place, on the sun side of a high hill, as is currently believed, that Kelpius and his friend, scholars of Germany, located themselves about the close of the seventeenth century, and where for years they dwelt in quiet and religious meditation, awaiting, with anxious prayer, the coming of the “ Lady of the Wilderness,” and where they died, as we now know,“ without the sight." It was here, that, at a period long anterior to the arrival of Kelpius, the untamed monarch of these wilds, came to enjoy the rich treasures of nature, and to worship in silence, the goodness and bounty of the Great Spirit. It was here, perhaps, on the summit of this very hill, that the original owners of the soil assembled for the war dance and to make preparations for a furious and bloody contest; or mayhap it was here that the chiefs of different tribes as
sembled to bury the hachet of war and to smoke the calumet of amity and peace. Perhaps it was here that the noble young warrior, flushed with the honours of victory, stole silently at the midnight hour, to breathe his tale of love and his vows of devotion, into the ear of his blushing and affianced bride; and surely no spot can be found, in the whole range of our wide spread territory, so suitable for scenes of this character. Here is the abode of romance; here the spirit of nature holds undisputed swayand here, among these rugged rocks and in this dense foliage--by the side of this poetic stream, with its associations of woody heights and shady dells—it is fitting that pure and holy vows of love should be uttered, where Heaven, in every leaf of the forest, in every blade of grass, may be called upon to bear witness to their sincerity and truth.
But the Wissahiccon has fallen into other hands. The untutored savage no longer strolls over these silent mountains and vales, for his abode has been removed far away, beyond the western waters. The bones of his warrior father lie bleached and neglected in the depths of the valley, for the high-bounding spirit of the son is tamed, by the contaminating influence of his civilised brethren. The active deer no longer bounds over the hills and dales of the Wissahiccon, for he has been driven to more sequestered abodes. The stream is, however, much the same -its placid waters are still beautiful as mirrors-its shores are still romantic—its groves are still enchanting -and so may they ever remain, undisturbed, untouched by the dilapidating hand of man! The place should ever be reserved as a refreshing retreat, where the soul may be uplifted in devotion, and the heart gladdened in sweet contemplation-where no sound shall be heard but the notes of melody and joy, in delightful unison with the tones of the murmuring rill.