“It is always temperate. Its purity, judging from its effects on the lungs, and from other circumstances, is remarkable, though in what its purity consists, I know not. But, be its composition what it may, it is certain its effects upon the spirits and bodily powers of visiters, are extremely exhilarating; and that it is not less salubrious than enlivening. The nitre diggers were a famously healthy set of men; it was a common and humane practice to employ laborers of enfeebled constitutions, who were soon restored to health and strength, though kept at constant labour; and more joyous, merry fellows were never seen. The oxen, of which several were kept day and night in the Cave, hauling the nitrous earth, were after a month or two of toil, in as fine condition for the shambles, as if fattened in the stall. The ordinary visiter, though rambling a dozen hours or more, over paths of the roughest and most difficult kind, is seldom conscious of fatigue, until he returns to the upper air; and then it seems to him, at least in the summer season, that he has exchanged the atmosphere of paradise for that of a charnel warmed by steam—all without is so heavy, so dank, so dead, so mephitic. Awe and even apprehension, if that has been felt, soon yield to the influence of the delicious air of the Cave; and after a time a certain jocund feeling is found mingled with the deepest impressions of sublimity, which there are so many objects to awaken. I recommend all broken hearted lovers and dyspeptic dandies to carry their complaints to the Mammoth Cave, where they will undoubtedly find themselves “translated” into very buxom and happy persons before they are aware of it.”
[Illustration: STAR CHAMBER. On Stone by T. Campbell Bauer & Teschemacher’s Lith.]
Star Chamber—Salts Room—Indian Houses—Cross Rooms—Black Chambers— A Dinner Party—Humble Chute—Solitary Care—Fairy Grotto—Chief City or Temple—Lee’s Description—Return to the Hotel.
The Star Chamber next attracted our attention. It presents the most perfect optical illusion imaginable; in looking up to the ceiling, which is here very high, you seem to see the very firmament itself, studded with stars; and afar off, a comet with its long, bright tail. Not far from this Star Chamber, may be seen, in a cavity in the wall on the right, and about twenty feet above the floor, an oak pole about ten feet long and six inches in diameter, with two round sticks of half the thickness and three feet long, tied on to it transversely, at about four feet apart. By means of a ladder we ascended to the cavity, and found the pole to be firmly fixed—one end resting on the bottom of the cavity, and the other reaching across and forced into a crevice about three feet above. We supposed that this was a ladder once used by the former inhabitants of the Cave, in getting the salts which are incrusted on the walls