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“ To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been;
This is not solitude— tis but to hold
Two or three miles above the perpendicular rock, on the eastern shore of the stream, and in a spot equally beautiful and romantic, stands an edifice of great antiquity,connected with which there are a number of interesting associations. It is built nearly on the summit of a slope that stretches into a ravine, walled in on three sides by elevated hills, thickly covered with foliage. The building is of stone, three stories high, with numerous windows, four to each chamber, of uniform size and appearance; sixty years ago there was a balcony around the second story, and the old-fashioned eaves, plastered in semi-circular form, still to be seen, exhibit the architectural taste and style of a past century. The date of its erection is supposed to be the year 1706, and its founders a society of religious Germans, probably known as Pietists or Seven day Baptists, who no doubt selected this secluded situation in order to secure peace and quietness in their religious devotions. Many of the aged inhabitants of the neighbourhood remember this monastery, as a building of unchanged appearance, even from the days of their boyhood, and some have connected therewith curious traditions of romance and legends of mystic tale. Notwithstanding the edifice has lately undergone a thorough alteration, and is now the permanent residence of a highly respectable and very intelligent family, it still bears the reputation of being visited by spirits.
The fact of this building having been occupied as a monastery, by a brotherhood of Germans, is, however, involved in doubt. One tradition alleges, that it was tenanted, for some time, by a fraternity of Capuchins, or White Friars, who took upon themselves vows of abstinence and poverty, and who slept upon wooden or stone pillows, with places scolloped out for the head. In confirmation of this tradition, an ancient burial place near the premises, now under tillage, is pointed out, where repose the remains of many of the brotherhood. Another and more probable story is, that the building was actually erected for a religious society, professing a faith similar to that of of the Seven day Baptists at Ephrata, near Lancaster, but never occupied, as those, for whom it was designed, deemed it expedient to leave the neighbourhood and join the settlement at Ephrata. The Chronica Ephrata expressly states that previous to the formation of that community, in May, 1733, they had dwelt-in separate places as hermits, and “ the hermits of the Ridge” are frequently mentioned. That there was a feeling of affection between these hermits and the brotherhood in Ephrata, is beyond all doubt, as the Chronica, in another place, speaks of some brothers of single devotedness at Roxborough,“ who subsequently fell in with the spirit of the world and married.”
Kelpius, probably the first of the hermits on the Wissahiccon, died in the year 1708. . He was succeeded by Seelig, who survived him many years, and who was contemporary with Conrad Matthias, another recluse, whose cave was near the Schuylkill.
Ikill. Tradition speaks of these Germans as being men of undoubted piety and great learning. Kelpius wrote several languages, and his journal, in Latin, is now in the possession of a distinguished antiquarian of Philadelphia. He waited the
coming of the “ Lady of the Wilderness,"—the “woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars,” spoken of in the Scriptures, as having “fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” (Rev. xii.) We may wonder that such a man as Kelpius should labour under a delusion of this character, but those who will visit the spot he selected for his “ prayerful waiting,” will agree with me in opinion that it was singularly well chosen to harmonise with and foster his eccentric views and romantic religious expectations.
There is another interesting legend, connected with the monastery on the Wissahiccon, which I feel inclined to allude to, if I may do so without being held responsible for its veracity. It is a tale of unhappy love, and relates to a young, beautiful and accomplished French lady, who followed her lover to the Indian wars, who fought in disguise by his side, and who closed his eyes when he fell at her feet, mortally wounded. Being subsequently admitted, for temporary shelter, into the monastery, she passed a day or two in unavailing grief, and died heart-broken at the loss of all she held near and dear on earth. The particulars of the melancholy fate of the beautiful Louisa, I may hereafter unfold to the reader, but I beg my young friends who may discover the mound which covers her remains at the foot of a weeping willow, washed by the gurgling stream, to shed a tear to the memory of one whose beauty and virtues deserved a hap
I have thus attempted to give a sketch of the ever-delightful Wissahiccon, and to cast a hasty glance at a few of the prominent incidents with which it was once asso
ciated. If I have failed to excite interest in the mind of the reader, let him not hesitate to attribute the circumstance to the feeble powers of the writer, rather than to the paucity of the subject to which his attention has been called. Beautiful and magnificent beyond comparison are the picturesqne views of this romantic stream, and for ages to come may
its crystal waters continue to course through the valley, affording peaceful enjoyment to the pedestrian on its banks, and unqualified delight to those who may ramble through its attractive forests.
BY C. C. CONWELL.
HASTE to yon hallowed spot,
Earth's dearest daughterHaste to my viny cot,
O’er the blue water Tell me not dearest one
How the world views us, Envy and spite alone
Make them abuse us. What if the world disprove
Coldly and drearlySweetest, while thus we love
Fondly and dearlyTell me not how the vow
Fervently plighted, Warm from affection now,
E'er can be blightedSay not that love can flee
Forms that embow'r it, And, like the sated bee,
Leave the spoil'd flowret. Love, like the rose-fly, his
Plant still must cherish,
Die if it perish.
Gaze on my treasure,