Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter II >> Page 17

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Page 17

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE BAY OP NEW YORK. 17
rived when the commanding physical aspects of the scene shall
possess an appropriate moral attraction ; when the temple shall
swell up with its vast range of marble pillars, crowning the em-
inence with a classic attraction, and addressing equally the
taste and patriotism ; � when groves and gardens, and palaces,
like those of Bagdad, shall appeal to that oriental fancy in the
spectator which is clearly the province of our sky and climate.
At present, these are somewhat repelled by the frequent and
manifest perversities of taste, as it seeks to minister to preten-
sion, at the expense of fine and imposing situations. The lawn
which spreads away upon the shore, terminating at once with a
West Indian verandah, a Dutch farmhouse, and probably a
Gothic cottage, scarcely persuades you to a second glance ; or,
if it does, only to prompt you to quarrel with the painful and
unfruitful labors of the architect in search of the picturesque.
In what is natural, it may be admitted that you find grace and
beauty, but somewhat injured by monotony; in what is done
by art you are annoyed by newness, and a taste still crude and
imperfectly developed.
The bay of New York is much more noble, I am inclined to
think, than the Hudson ; but the characteristics of the two are not
unlike. Depth, fullness, clearness � a coup d'ail which satisfies
the glance, and a sufficient variety in the groups and objects to
persuade the eye to wander�these are the constituents of both ;
and, in their combination, we find sweetness, grace and noble-
ness, but nowhere grandeur or sublimity. Green islets rise on
either hand, the shore lies prettily in sight, freshened with ver-
dure, and sprinkled by white cottages which you must not ex-
amine in detail, lest you suspect that they may be temples in
disguise. Here are forts and batteries, which are usually said
to frown, but, speaking more to the card, the grin is more fre-
quent than the frown ; and here, emerging through the gorge
of the Narrows, we gaze on pleasant heights and headlands,
which seem the prettiest places in the world for summer dwel-
lings and retreats. No one will deny the beauty of the scene,
as it is, or will question its future susceptibilities. Let us adopt
the right epithets. In passing out to sea, with the broad level
range of the Atlantic before us, glowing purple in the evening
sunlight, we find it easy to believe, gazing behinnd us upon the