Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XI >> Page 177

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Page 177

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription SHENANDOAHI VALLEY. 177
spects, was, also, no little of a humbug. His superlatives were
apt to be bestowed, even where his imagination was unexcited.
It is barely possible that he himself felt the wonders which he
described as visible in this region; but to most other persons his
description appears to be the superb of hyperbole. The scene
is undoubtedly a fine one�pleasing and picturesque. The
junction, of two broad rivers, at the feet of double mountain ran-
ges, can not be otherwise. Beauty is here, and dignity, and
the eye lingers with gratification upon the sweet pictures which
are made of the scene, at the rising and the setting of the sun.
Standing upon a jagged peak below the junction, and suffering
the eye to sweep over the two broad gorges within its range
green slopes gradually ascending from, or abrupt rocks sullenly
hanging above, the shallow waters glittering in the sunlight,
you will naturally choose a hundred different spots upon which
you would fancy the appearance of a Gothic or Grecian cottage.
J3ut no ideas of majesty, grandeur, force, power or sublimity, lift
you into the regions of enthusiasm. The rivers are shallow and
forceless. There are no impetuous rages, no fierce, impulsive
gusliings, no fearful strifes with crag, and boulder�no storms,
no torrents, no agonies of conflict between rock and river. The
waters are not only placid, but quiet even to tameness. They
seem to have made their way through the rocks insidiously ;
with the gliding sinuosity of the snake, rather than the wild
flight of the eagle, or the mighty rush of the tiger. They have
sapped the mountain citadels, not stormed them ; and never
could have possessed the volume to have done otherwise. The
description of Mr. Jefferson would better suit the French Broad
in North Carolina, to which the scene at Harper's Ferry can
not for a moment compare, whether as regards beauty, majesty,
or sublimity. In contrast, the streams are absolutely sluggish.
They neither rive, nor rend, nor rage, nor roar among the rocks.
They have no wild rapids, no foaming wrath, no headlong plun-
ges, no boiling abysses, and to him who goes thither, with his
mind full of Mr. Jefferson's description, there is nothing in reserve
but disappointment.
But what of the Shenandoah Valley as a whole ?"" The valley of the Shenandoah might realize to the youthful
romancer his most perfect idea of Arcadia. Reposing cosily in