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• If Byron or SHAKSPEARE wrote CowPER'S 'Task;' 'If the tourist, fresh from classic quarters,
E'er met with the Pontiff's wife and daughters;'
The rich man sits in a costly pew,
'Neath floating tresses of nut-brown hair,
To wrap close her sweet MATILDA's shawl;
BEAUTIFUL, with a surpassing beauty, art thou, Lake C- , encircled in the shaggy arms of that long wilderness which stretches away in primeval luxuriance over hundreds of miles of hill and valley, even to the far shores of blue Ontario. The forests that surround thee are as God made them still. The breeze that stirs thy clear waters carries no taint to the sensitive nostril of the deer upon thy banks. The eagle yet soars above thee with exultant cry, and “the wild swan spreads his snowy sail' upon thy bosom, even as when the CREATOR first looked upon His work and saw that it was good. The evening and the morning that have visited thee since through the long, long past, have left no trace of their silent passage here. Still falls as in the beginning the luxuriant and ever-changing light upon thy surface, and still echoes the sad music of the wave upon thy shore. Fresh and bright as then, thou tellest no tale of the changes and chances, the life and the death of six thousand years gone by. Thou hast slept peacefully on through all.
But let me not name thy name, virgin lake. Let no whisper go forth of the dwelling-place of thy hidden and unsullied beauty, lest in some sad day of this restless generation thou be delivered over to the horrible lusts of summer travel. Then shall thy musical name, sole memorial of thine Indian lovers, thine 'early loved and lost,' be posted in handbills, hawked in newspapers, and shouted from the tobacco-reeking mouths of lying runners. Hotels ’ shall arise upon thy borders ; cockneys, gents, and tourists, gathering hither like locusts, shall inspect thee with eye-glasses, and insult thee with bad rhymes, and carve their dishonorable names upon thy magnificent trees. Pot-hunters and robingunners shall swarm upon thy banks, and complete anglers' paddle in thy waters. Instead of the notes of the eagle and the swan, fled away for ever in despair, shall be heard the twaddle of base men and the chatter of silly women ; while fast down the insatiable maw of the whole tribe shall pass all thy beautiful and graceful denizens, snared, pot-hunted, and murdered, in season and out of season - the trout that leaps in thy waters, the deer that couches by thy moss-covered springs, and the partridge that whirrs and drums in thy primeval woods. Thou shalt become a lost lake, a very Perdita among lakes. Be not the first sin upon my conscience.
There could be no more agreeable transition at the close of a long summer's day, than from the rattle of the railway and the jolting of the wagon to the skiff that is to carry us to the head of the lake. The sun is just setting in a flood of light, that throws an almost unearthly radiance over the wild and silent beauty of the wilderness. We have yet seven miles before us, well-nigh a two-hours' row for our sturdy woodsman, albeit he pulls with the strength and grace of a young bloodhorse. To row handsomely and well, by the way, is a rare accomplishment, almost as rare as a good bow. And there is a character in that, to the observant eye, which the dancing-master can neither give nor take away. Another still rarer gift possesses our friend — that of silence. Never word speaks he to break the reverie born of this delicious night. And so, reclining in the stern, and steering the boat on her devious pathway through marvellous regions of light and shadow, even as the last rays of the setting sun fade away, and the tremulous light of one star after another falls upon the water, fades away also the memory of the whirl and roar of the busy world behind, and of all those cares that infest the day,' before the better thoughts and more sacred feelings that steal upon the soul. We are too old to be sentimental ; but there is something soothing and purifying, even to the worst nature, in the beauty and the silence of such a night among the mountains.' The heart breathes freer as well as the lungs, and the poor vanities and vexations of life drop into the back-ground, and are for a while forgotten. And
while we are thus musing the fire kindleth,' and the moon, the round clear, glorious, full moon, comes up from among the hills. “Shield of an unfallen archangel !? What a radiance it scatters upon tree, rock, and mountain ! Seen through the leaves it is like 'glory's morning gate.' And as it rises higher and higher in the heavens, a bridge of light falls across the lake from shore to shore. Can this be the same pale glimmering moon that shines upon the crowded city ? Manifestly not. No astronomy can establish such an absurdity. This is the moon of the wilderness; light of the poet and the hunter; the token and the sentinel of the better world beyond. .
But the seven miles have drifted away behind us, and the light of the camp-fire is in sight. A merry voice, and a musical withal, floats over the water, and with it, putting all reverie to flight, comes the fragrance of coffee. By the beard of the Prophet! coffee that is coffee ! Rich, and strong enough to carry you away in imagiitation across the sea, where, amid mosque and minaret, muezzin is calling the turbaned faithful to prayer. A moment more and we are by the fire before the shanty, in the midst of friends well met; men of mark and pith, gentlemen all, free of that ancient order of nobility fast dying out in this Young American world. But what shall I say of thee, lady, love-star here, whose poet's heart and painter's eye have brought thee hither to find an enjoyment in the solitude of nature which all the flattery and worship of the gayest halls have failed to give ? What a charm has thy high-born courtesy and thorough breeding thrown upon the camp even to the rude huntsmen around the fire! One shall look in vain in many a saloon where gas-light falls upon diamonds for the simple and dignified politeness that pervades this log-cabin in the forest. And not alone in the elegancies of life dost thou excel. That small hand - marvel of slender grace! — can handle the oar, aye, an' by 'r Lady! the Manton if need be, with no common skill, while in the art and mystery of the hunting craft, and the thorough game spirit that belongs to it, thou wouldst put many a carpet-knight to the blush.
On! well mightst thou have lived and been
The heroine of song and story,
Trod by Love's light the path of glory.
Verily, 'God made food and the devil made cooks. What can surpass the flavor of these venison steaks and fresh trout broiled on the coals by the huntsmen, and undisguised by any of the trickery of the cuisine ? Fragrant exceedingly, likewise, is the taste of the • Mumm's Imperial,' and the ancient Port maketh glad the heart. Eat and drink, o dyspeptic! and fear not. There is health in every morsel, and renovation in every drop. And so with many a good tale well told, and good point well put, with rare jest and hearty laugh, steal away the hours. It is late ere, leaving the rude but hospitable board, we seek our ham. mocks, slung outside among the trees.
Gods! what a night! never made for sleep. His must be a tame heart that can resist the influence of the marvellous beauty that the moon, now high in heaven, has thrown over wilderness and water. There is a new and strange exhilaration in all that reaches the senses. The clearness and freshness of the air, the perfume of the woods, the many musical tones that mingle in Nature's evening hymn. We shall long court slumber in vain, swinging under the moving branches.
And now comes across the lake the long and loud hallo-o-o! the evening salutation of that prince of hearty roysterers, the loon. Hallo-o-o! again. What a voice! clear as the note of a bell, ringing away over the water and through the forest, waking a thousand echoes, and silencing for very shame all the night-walkers of the woods. Exulting, exuberant! even like the famous cock, Beneventano. Gloria in Excelsis! Never despair! Hide thy diminished heads, Grisi and Mario, before the Casta Diva wherewith this fellow saluteth the moon. Loon, thou rejoicest my heart? Such a note anywhere in this work-day world is refreshing. Whence hast thou that wonderful strength and tip-top condition of heart and lung? What panacea, what Indian vegetable elixir dost thou possess? Propound. Certify. Tell us thy * system,' thyology.' Thine must be a merry life. Hast ever a care? Hadst ever the heart-ache, loon? Hast ever loved with a love that was more than love,' some bright spirit that recked little for thee? Didst ever play the un qui aime to some fair une qui se laisse aimer whereof Voltaire discourseth — in all things infidel ! Verily there is the soul of heart-whole laughter in the ring of thy reply: "Not such a loon as that, i' faith. He was a far-away cousin of mine, town-bred. But,