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“So I go to the stars," said the Poet, so well wrapped in his own comfortable enthusiasm that he did not care or even perceive how many intervals below his own pitch was his friend's phlegmatic tone. “So I go to the stars in the chariot of desires consummated ! Fame takes me by the hand, and smiles over her shoulder at me as she leads me along sure ways. Estrella is mine; and now we can marry and be happy without exposing ourselves to the reproach of that unwisdom you cold worldings fancy inseparable from poetic weddings. Love will not fly out our windows, for we shail have means to entertain him on more dainty fare than crusts. Yes, dear friend, my dreams are realised : I reach happiness in my own way, without paying any toll to the low creeping worm of the world, without cutting off a single bright pinnacle from the towering summit of my desires. O stars of my hope, my love, my pride! what a joy to me that I never turned my eyes away from ye, yet have kept my feet from stumbling and my heart from growing cold! O stars, my own stars ! diamondplanted piers by which Hope bridges over the measureless vault of eternity, I go to you at last!” " That is very well
, my friend,” answered the Philosopher, calmly, “and I can sympathise with your exultation, the more so that I am aware such voyages imaginaires require no baggage nor passport, and cost only a few of the cheapest coins in the world, which are idle thoughts. However, speaking of stars, do you propose to continue your astronomical observations — young Tycho that you are - after marriage?”
“Why not?” cried the Poet, indignantly. "Does marriage shorten one's vision and make the stars grow dimmer? Does it give one a crick in the neck, so that he cannot look upward ? Does it prevent any one from elevating and spiritualising himself?”
“Not that I know of,” answered the Philosopher. “I asked for information. Of course, then, you will begin practising yourself in the necessary art of making telescopes out of button-holes.”
“What do you mean, Philosopher?” demanded the Poet.
“I mean no more than what you find yourself strong enough to be able to despise : common sense. The experience of the world, which I occupy my time in collecting, and which you inspired beings naturally transcend — how else would you go to the stars or fetch the stars down to you ? — this experience of the world teaches me that poets never see the stars more than sixty days after marriage, unless they are able to make telescopes of button-holes.”
“It is a calumny!” cried ihe Poet.
“There is but a single known exception to the rule,” continued the imperturbable Philosopher; "and that is in the person of the poet Shelley, who was of such an abstracted nature that he was never conscious of the button-holes, even when held right up before his eyes ; but blinded by them all the same, went on placidly rhapsodising about the stars darkened from him, but which he fancied he saw plainly as ever."
“ But what must I do?" asked the Poet.
“I do not see the imperative need for marrying ; unless, indeed, you fear the race of poets may become extinct, and are ready to immolate your ideal on the altar of benevolent intention.”
“Give up my Estrella !” cried the Poet. “Never, never!”
"Perhaps, then, you could dispense with seeing the stars; at least with the poet's clear, steadfast vision, which perceives so much more than common eyes take in.”
“Barter my Ideal for a comfortable Real! Turn huckster and trade off what I have that is best for pelf! Is that your advice to me, Philosopher!” said the Poet in a tone of mournful reproach.
" By no means, my friend,” answered the Philosopher; “ to you is to practise yourself in the indispensable art of seeing stars through button-holes.”
The Poet wept. He gave himself up to fine frenzies. · He vowed he would not be amenable to the common law, even of poets, but would heroically set himself against the course of nature, and mark monumentally a new point of departure in the annals of the race. These were very fine words, but the Poet did not care to immolate himself in too many ways at once, and so he married his Estrella all the same as if these fine words had never been uttered. Then it all came to pass just as the Philosopher had said it would. The Poet never knew how it happened, nor whether gazing so closely into Estrella's eyes had got his own out of focus for more distant objects; but very soon the stars grew dim and remote in his vision. He was very sad about it, and indeed it was a thousand pities; but the idea of trying to make telescopes out of button-holes, in order to remedy his impaired sight, was so absurd that he put it away at once, without trial, and retired peremptorily from star-gazing.
The Poet went into trade of some kind, and a good many children grew up around him, though there were no young poets among them ; and he was very prosperous, in a worldly sense, I believe. He gave himself no more concern about star-gazing, unless we are to consider his attentions to his Estrella — who, having grown fat, had changed from a star of the sixth to one of the first magnitude - as genuine efforts in that direction. But one night in summer, undressing him-: self by the open window in the dark on account of the mosquitoes which bit the children so, he chanced to raise his head as he pulled his shirt off over it, and behold through the button-holes (which needed mending) his old dear immemorial stars serenely shining bright and clear as ever! He was delighted. A sweet ihrill ran through his frame, and a gush of the old time inspiration surged to his praecordium and tingled along his nerves with a tumultuous throbbing He did not wake his Estrella, however, to share his new born feelings, for he was not sure she would care to have her slumbers disturbed ; but quickly resuming his attire, he strode away into the silent night, watching the stars and awaking the suspicions of the policeman by occasional irrepressible outbursts of his ecstasy.
In this mood he came by the house of his friend the Philosopher, and, seeing a light in the study, and not knowing that the sage was addicted to the composition of leading articles for the morning press at so much a column, went in. The Philosopher received him as usual, and heard his narrative without interruption.
“Yours is a common case, I believe,” he said, when the Poet was done, and he removed his spectacles and gazed soberly in his friend's
face. "Take my advice and give yourself no concern about it; all the symptoms will disappear in a day or two, and everything will go on as usual."
The poor Poet was aghast. Do you mean to tell me the inspiration is not real -- that my old poetic insight has not returned to me?"
“I think that is the case precisely."
“You are wrong now, Philosopher, just as I was wrong formerly. Teach me the use of the button-hole, and I shall surely see the stars with a vision still purer than of old.”
But the Philosopher gravely answered: "Deceive not yourself, my friend! Mistake not a morbid condition of the retina for a restoration of sight. You are blind, I tell you, stone-blind, and you will remain so henceforth! The powers who wait on noble deeds, as a poet sings, have cancelled your sense misused — for neglect is misuse. never expect to see more in button-holes than the rest of us. Make up your mind to that.”
The poet wailed and wept — his tribe are gifted that way - and cursed his neglect and selfishness that had brought this occultation
“Take comfort, O foolish Poet,” the Philosopher said again, "for your loss is not irreparable. Had you been a real poet, your soul would have risen superior to button-holes."
A VISIT TO THE BLUE LAKES.
NE of the most beautiful parts of the State of California, yet
one which has seldom been visited by the tourist or pleasureseeker, in comparison with the numbers that flock to the Geysers, or Big Trees, or Yo Semite, is Lake county. This county was for many years a part of Napa county, but was shut off from the valley that now bears that name by a range of mountains covered with chaparral and grease-wood, and requiring a very toilsome travel to reach. The mountains, a part of the cascade or coast-range known as the Myacamas range, are very steep, and their ascent is over rough roads, by sudden turns and rapid ascents over sharp spurs, following along ridges from which the sides rapidly descend hundreds and in some places thousands of feet, all combining to make the journey seem perilous. There were no gold or silver mines in this range to tempt the cupidity of the miner, and the tales of the dangerous cliffs and dark ravines, of contests with the fiercer denizens of the forests, of the laborious work required to pass over the mountains, told by the old hunters, deterred all but the adventurous hunter and determined sight-seer for many years from venturing beyond the foot-hills on the southern borders where the counties of Sonoma and Napa touched it. Mendocino county on the west was almost as unknown and untravelled as Lake. Soon, however, those who visited Lake county in the spirit of adventure, returned with glowing accounts of the beauty beyond the mountains. A vast lake which rivalled Tahor or Biglû and the line of lakes between California and Nevada, had been discovered. Its waters were as clear and sparkling as crystal. Fish of various kinds sported in its pellucid depths, and were caught in the greatest abundance. A dark grim old mountain rose out of the lake, joining the mainland on one side and almost dividing it into two large bodies. The tales of the game found in the cai gulches, and valleys of this mountain emulated those told of the fish in the lakes; and soon pleasure-seekers, and sportsmen with guns and fishing-rods, were flocking from all parts of the country, to gaze upon the beautiful and grand scenes which Nature had thrown together in such lavish profusion, or to hunt the woods or fish the streams. None were disappointed. The scenery combines greater variety than almost any other in the State. The woods were alive with small game, as well as deer, antelope and grizzly bears, while the immense numbers of fish found in its lakes and streams are incredible to one who has never fished in virgin waters. Even as late as 1872, paragraphs which truthfully describe the numbers seen by an eyewitness, a gentleman of known veracity, have been copied all over the States east of the Rocky Mountains as "veritable fish stories,” and a proof of the Munchausenism of Californians.
The climate of California is well adapted for pleasure excursions. From the first of June until the first of December the traveller feels certain that not one drop of rain will fall. The earth is so dry that he can sleep upon it at night with perfect safety. Insect life is not found as it is in moister climes, and the sleeper is seldom annoyed in that way; while the cloudless, beautiful nights distill but comparatively little dew. The air is always healthful and invigorating, and Californians as a general thing spend much of their time out of doors. Hundreds of families with small children, even infants, yearly spend from a week to several months during the dry season in renewing their energies amid the lovely scenes and healthful climate of the foot-hills. All they need in the way of eating are the condiments, with flour, sugar, and coffee. Their meat they find in the woods everywhere; their fish abounds in the streams. The large ferns, some of them growing from two to ten feet in height, and pineboughs, surnish a soft bed; a blanket or two serves for bedding: Their cooking utensils need only be a camp-kettle, a coffee-pot, and a frying-pan; and the most extensive culinary apparatus only adds a small Dutch oven. A few tin cups and plates, with knives, forks, and spoons, complete the table furniture ; and thus hundreds wander away, leading a half sypsy life of enjoyment, part of every year. The horse or horses can be staked out to an abundance of hay; the wild oats abound, and cure in the dry climate in great perfection.
Among those who had wandered to Lake county were a more adventurous set, who made their way through masses of tangled undergrowth and matted vines, making new roads and new discoveries. They followed the courses of the streams, and along valleys for miles, and found lake after lake, scene after scene, beauty after beauty, which rewarded their zeal and research a thousandfold. Springs were found gushing with medicinal waters possessing healing powers, and vast plains white with encrusted salts of curious taste. Some specimens of virgin ore of the base metals had been picked up, and quite an emigration began to move towards the regions around Clear Lake, not only of transient visitors, but of permanent settlers. Beautiful and fertile plains clad with luxuriant vegetation were seen from the tops of the mountains; and soon the sounds of the industrious farmer and builder were heard preparing for settlement. Herds of cattle were now wending their way over the lofty mountains to the spot, and several small towns have sprung up. A county has been organised, political aspirations are being gratified and disappointed. Twelve miles above Clear Lake — for this name has been given to the principal sheet of water covering over two hundred square miles of the county — three beautiful little lakes have been found embosomed among the hills. Their waters, it was asserted, were surrounded on all sides by precipitous mountains, while in many places jutting crags so overhung that from their summit the eye might gaze directly down into the deep water beneath. They had never been sounded, though many efforts had been made; they were of a most beautiful blue color, and this color has given to them the name “The Blue Lakes.” They were hidden from every route of travel; and as the Indians carefully avoided them, going miles out of their way to keep clear of a sight of them, and the whites, when on their hunting excursions, generally followed the slight Indian trails, they had remained undiscovered for a long time. Those who first saw them came back with startling tales of the number and the size of the fish found in them. Around them seemed thrown a spell of silence, a weird-like silence as that of enchantment. No bird's song was heard there; the gray squirrel's bark seemed hushed or absent; even the whirr of the quail was unheard : naught but harsh and discordant screams from the lower of the three lakes and the splash of some immense fish occasionally breaking the dreary silence. All animal life, save the venomous rattlesnake, seemed to avoid the place. The hunters declared they could find no game on the sides of the mountains which hung over the lakes; but those who had been there asserted that the most wonderful beauty was displayed around the place. The trees of home Eastern growth — the white, the red, the chesnut, and the black ak — threw their delightful shades over the ground; the hill-sides were covered with the maple, the elm, the fir, and the gum; they said in autumn the red-berried dogwood with its green leaves stood surrounded with the brilliant display of an Eastern forest, so unusual in California, which lent a charm perfectly indescribable to the scene; but all, each one, even the most enthusiastic,