Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.

          The sun on the hill forgot to die. 
          And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
          Came back to dream on the river.

Do you really think that the huntsman hunts only the deer?  He, himself, doubtless thinks that the trophy of the antlers was all he went out into the woods to win.  But there came a day to him when he missed the deer, and caught a glimpse instead of the divine huntress, Diana, high-buskined, short-kirtled, speeding with her hounds through the lonely woodland, and his thoughts ran no more on venison for that day.

The same truth is true of all men who go out into the green, blue-eyed wilderness, whether they go there in pursuit of game or butterflies.  They find something stranger and better than what they went out to seek, and, if they come home disappointed in the day’s bag or catch, there is yet something in their eyes, and across their brows, a light of peace, an enchanted calm, which tells those who understand that they, at all events, have seen the great god Pan, and heard the music he can make out of the pipy hemlocks or the lonely pines.



The charm of an old canal is one which every one seems to feel.  Men who care nothing about ruined castles or Gothic cathedrals light up with romantic enthusiasm if you tell them of some old disused or seldom-used canal, grass-grown and tree-shaded, along which, hardly oftener than once a week, a leisurely barge—­towed by an equally leisurely mule, with its fellow there on deck taking his rest, preparatory to his next eight-mile “shift”—­sleepily dreams its way, presumably on some errand and to some destination, yet indeed hinting of no purpose or object other than its loitering passage through a summer afternoon.  I have even heard millionaires express envy of the life lived by the little family hanging out its washing and smoking its pipe and cultivating its floating garden of nasturtiums and geraniums, with children playing and a house-dog to keep guard, all in that toy house of a dozen or so feet, whose foundations are played about by fishes, and whose sides are brushed by whispering reeds.  But the charm of an old canal is perhaps yet more its own when even so tranquil a happening as the passage of a barge is no longer looked for, and the quiet water is called upon for no more arduous usefulness than the reflection of the willows or the ferrying across of summer clouds.  Nature herself seems to wield a new peculiar spell in such association—­old quarries, the rusting tramways choked with fern; forgotten mines with the wild vine twining tenderly about the old iron of dismantled pit-tackle, grown as green as itself with the summer rains; roads once dusty with haste over which only the moss and the trailing arbutus now leisurely travel.  Wherever Nature is thus seen to be taking to herself, making her own, what man has first made and grown tired of, she is twice an enchantress, strangely combining in one charm the magic of a wistful, all but forgotten, past with her own sibyl-line mystery.

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Vanishing Roads and Other Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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