Rambles in the Mammoth Cave, during the Year 1844 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 66 pages of information about Rambles in the Mammoth Cave, during the Year 1844.

[Illustration:  RIVER SCENE.  On Stone by T. Campbell Bauer & Teschemacher’s Lith.]

“The cave, or the River Hall,” remarks a fair and distinguished authoress, whose description of the river scenery is so graphic, that I cannot do better than transcribe it throughout:  “The River Hall descends like the slope of a mountain; the ceiling stretches away—­away before you, vast and grand as the firmament at midnight.”  Going on, and gradually ascending and keeping close to the right hand wall, you observe on your left “a steep precipice, over which you can look down by the aid of blazing missiles, upon a broad black sheet of water, eighty feet below, called the Dead Sea.  This is an awfully impressive place; the sights and sounds of which, do not easily pass from memory.  He who has seen it, will have it vividly brought before him, by Alfieri’s description of Filippo, ’only a transient word or act gives us a short and dubious glimmer, that reveals to us the abysses of his being—­dark, lurid and terrific, as the throat of the infernal pool.’  Descending from the eminence, by a ladder of about twenty feet, we find ourselves among piles of gigantic rocks, and one of the most picturesque sights in the world, is to see a file of men and women passing along those wild and scraggy paths, moving slowly—­slowly, that their lamps may have time to illuminate their sky-like ceiling and gigantic walls—­disappearing behind high cliffs—­sinking into ravines—­their lights shining upwards through fissures in the rocks—­then suddenly emerging from some abrupt angle, standing in the bright gleam of their lamps, relieved by the towering black masses around them.  He, who could paint the infinite variety of creation, can alone give an adequate idea of this marvellous region.  As you pass along, you hear the roar of invisible waterfalls; and at the foot of the slope, the river Styx lies before you, deep and black, overarched with rock.  The first glimpse of it brings to mind, the descent of Ulysses into hell,

  “Where the dark rock o’erhangs the infernal lake,
  And mingling streams eternal murmurs make.”

Across (or rather down) these unearthly waters, the guide can convey but four passengers at once.  The lamps are fastened to the prow; the images of which, are reflected in the dismal pool.  If you are impatient of delay, or eager for new adventures, you can leave your companions lingering about the shore, and cross the Styx by a dangerous bridge of precipices overhead.  In order to do this, you must ascend a steep cliff, and enter a cave above, 300 yards long, from an egress of which, you find yourself on the bank of the river, eighty feet above its surface, commanding a view of those in the boat, and those waiting on the shore.  Seen from this height, the lamps in the canoe glare like fiery eye-balls; and the passengers, sitting there so hushed and motionless, look like shadows.  The scene is so strangely funereal and spectral, that it seems as if the Greeks must have witnessed it, before they imagined Charon conveying ghosts to the dim regions of Pluto.  Your companions thus seen, do indeed—­

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Rambles in the Mammoth Cave, during the Year 1844 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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