The Land of Contrasts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 289 pages of information about The Land of Contrasts.

The paragraph on a previous page is not meant to imply that the United States are destitute of scenic, artistic, picturesque, and historic interest.  The worst that can be said of American scenery is that its best points are separated by long intervals; the best can hardly be put too strongly.  Places like the Yosemite Valley (of which Mr. Emerson said that it was the only scenery he ever saw where “the reality came up to the brag"), the Yellowstone Park, Niagara, and the stupendous Canon of the Colorado River amply make good their worldwide reputation; but there are innumerable other places less known in Europe, such as the primeval woods and countless lakes of the Adirondacks, the softer beauties of the Berkshire Hills, the Hudson (that grander American Rhine), the Swiss-like White Mountains, the Catskills, the mystic Ocklawaha of Florida, and the Black Mountains of Carolina that would amply repay the easy trouble of an Atlantic passage under modern conditions.  The historic student, too, will find much that is worthy of his attention, especially in the older Eastern States; and will, perhaps, be surprised to realise how relative a term antiquity is.  In a short time he will find himself looking at an American building of the seventeenth century with as much reverence as if it had been a contemporary of the Plantagenets; and, indeed, if antiquity is to be determined by change and development rather than by mere flight of time, the two centuries of New York will hold their own with a cycle of Cathay.  It is, as Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes remarked to the present writer, like the different thermometrical scales; it does not take very long to realise that twenty-five degrees of Reaumur mean as great a heat as ninety degrees of Fahrenheit.  Such a city as Boston amply justifies its inclusion in a “Historic Towns” series, along with London and Oxford; and it is by no means a singular instance.  Even the lover of art will not find America an absolute Sahara.  To say nothing of the many masterpieces of European painters that have found a resting-place in America, where there is at least one public picture gallery and several private ones of the first class, the best efforts of American painters, and perhaps still more those of American sculptors, are full of suggestion and charm; while I cannot believe that the student of modern architecture will anywhere find a more interesting field than among the enterprising and original works of the American school of architecture.

This book will be grievously misunderstood if it is supposed to be in any way an attempt to cover, even sketchily, the whole ground of American civilisation, or to give anything like a coherent appreciation of it.  In the main it is merely a record of personal impressions, a series of notes upon matters which happened to come under my personal observation and to excite my personal interest.  Not only the conditions under which I visited the country, but also my own disqualifications of taste and knowledge, have prevented

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The Land of Contrasts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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