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growth of stunted trees and shrubbery. Higher up, on the Illinois shore of the river, is a mass of rock, nearly sixty feet high, which from its peculiar shape, and from an aperture in the southern side, has obtained the appellation of · The Devil's Bake-Oven.'
This latter appears to have been, by some violent means, separated from the adjacent cliff which overhangs it. In descending the Mississippi, on approaching Grand Tower, there will be noticed in its neighborhood several other masses of rock, resembling columns or towers; these, however, are not isolated, but are connected with the shore, whereas the tower stands alone in the river, in the centre of a deep channel, breasting a current that is here stronger than any where else on the river, below the Rapids. In the vicinage, on both shores, are several other curiously formed rocks, which have obtained fanciful appellations, as the
Devil's Pulpit,' • Devil's Grave,' etc. A few miles farther up, on the Missouri shore, are the “Cornice Rocks,' so called from the appearance of their tops, which look as if regularly wrought into a cornice. These rocks extend to the height of one hundred and fifty feet perpendicularly above the surface of the river. They form a solid wall, which rises right out of the water, and stretches along its margin for a considerable distance, marked the whole way by the cornice, which seems to have been produced by the abrasion of a mighty current that formerly swept near the top of the rocks. The Cornice Rocks, Grand Tower, etc., on the Missouri side of the Mississippi, form what may be termed the spur of the Merrimack hills, a line of highlands that extend north-westwardly to the Gasconade river. The Devil's Bake-Oven, diagonally opposite the Grand Tower, is the abrupt termination of the · Illinois Bluffs,' those stupendous cliffs, averaging one hundred and fifty feet in height, which enclose the American Bottom and extend semi-circularly from above the mouth of the Missouri to this point, having all the way the same cornice, or water-marks, which characterize the Cornice Rocks. These facts have led many to adopt the theory, that the Mississippi was once dammed or blocked up at the Grand Tower, and that, here was a water-fall more mighty than that of Niagara ; that the American Bottom and much of the Missouri shore formed the bed of a large lake, fed by the river, whose upper current wore the cornices in the rocks, until by some violent convulsion, a channel was forced through at the tower, and the lake was in a great part drained, leaving its bed to form the rich alluvion of the American Bottom. The fact that pine and other trees have been found, in digging for water, in the neighborhood of St. Louis, fifty feet below the surface of the earth, is also an argument in favor of this theory.
Before steam navigation was introduced, Grand Tower was one of the most dangerous places to the navigator on the whole Mississippi. The current being remarkably swift, the voyagers in keels and barges had to ascend the river bank in advance of their vessels, which were then drawn by ropes through the swift current, that would not admit of the ordinary means of poling against the stream. The boats were not only in great danger of being wrecked against the rocks, but they also ran great risk from pirates or robbers, consisting of renegade whites and Indians, who had their haunts in the neighborhood of the Tower, and
committed frequent depredations upon traders on the river. The nar. rowness of the Mississippi at this point, and the peculiar character of the shore on either side, gave to the freebooters great advantages, and they became the scourge and terror of the early navigators.
Not the least remarkable features in the Great Western Valley are the Prairies, which are found in every direction over the face of its vast territory. They are of two kinds, the swelling or rolling, and the level or flat. The former consist of undulating fields, broken into swells or reaches of various lengths and breadths, extending sometimes to an altitude of sixty or seventy feet. Between these swells are sloughs, or sloos,' which are generally marshy, and in many instances contain small lakes or pools, and some, which are dry, exhibit the appearance of funnels, and answer a similar purpose in carrying off water into the caverns beneath, the existence of which is indicated by the soil above. The flat prairies are plains of rich alluvion, grown with long lank grass, and occasionally presenting a lake, and often studded here and there with groves of the wild crab-apple, and clusters of forest trees, that look like emerald isles in sea of waving green.
The Prairies are of various extent, from one mile to hundreds of miles. The largest are in the far-off West, the home of the buffalo and the red hunter. Wherever they are partly cultivated, as most of them are, in the States, and where the annual fires are discontinued, they soon grow up with timber. The soil is, with very few exceptions, entirely alluvial, and yields immense crops of Indian corn and other coarse grain. When they exist in the neighborhood of settlements, they afford excel. lent pasturage for horses and cattle, and fine ranges for swine, and are traversed by herds of deer, the number of which increases near the plantations, when not in too close proximity, as their greatest enemies, the black and prairie wolves, decrease as cultivation advances. Wild turkies, ducks, prairie fowls or grouse, and quails, and rabbits, also abound on the prairies, and afford great amusemeni to sportsmen. Numerous other animals, as the gopher, the opossum, the racoon, etc., etc., are found in them, or on their borders.
The wayfarer over these wide savannahs will sometimes be startled by a sound as of hounds on the hunt, and anon a noble • buck of ten tines' will leap past him, followed by a pack of hungry wolves, yelping as they run in hot pursuit; but he will look in vain for the sportsmen of the field: he can but fancy that invisible hunters, "horsed on the viewless couriers of the air,' are tracking their game, and urging the wild chase. Some theorists believe the Prairies to have been very anciently the beds of lakes or of the sea. This opinion finds arguments in the alluvious cha. racter of their soil, and in the marine shells, which are invariably found embedded in the limestone of the adjacent bluffs.
When the grass is thoroughly ripe, in the autumn, toward the close of November, most of the Prairies are burned. The fires sometimes ori. ginate by accident, but more often from the design of the hunters, to facilitate them in the destruction of game. The dry grass, which then
is often as high as the head of a man on horseback, burns with a fierce and terrible rapidity, and extends the flames for miles in a few minutes, impressing the beholder with the idea of a general conflagration. If the wind chances to be high, tufts of the burning material dart like flaming meteors through the air; and, far as the eye can reach, a pall of black smoke stretches to the horizon and overhangs the scene, while all below is lighted up, and blazing with furious intensity; and ever and anon, flaming wisps of grass flash up, revolving and circling in the glowing atmosphere, and lending to the imagination a semblance of convict-spirits tossing in a lake of fire. The birds, startled and bewildered, scream wildly, and tumble and roll about above the flames; the affrighted deer leaps from his covert and courses madly away, and the terrified wolf, forgetful of the chase, runs howling in an adverse di. rection.
When an experienced hunter finds himself upon a prairie, to which fire has been applied, he immediately kindles a fire near him (as did the old trapper in Cooper's novel of. The Prairie,') and the wind bears the flames onward, burning a path before him, which he follows to a place of safety, and thus escapes a horrid fate, that but for his sagacity would have been inevitable. A prairie on fire can sometimes be seen at a distance of fifty miles. The fire continues until the grass is all consumed, and not unfrequently it is carried by the wind into the adjacent forest, which it blasts and devastates, until checked by a watercourse. Early in the spring, the prairies renew their verdant clothing, and long before their next autumnal burning, all vestiges of the prece. ding conflagrations are gone, unless perhaps some worm-eaten and sapless tree, in one of the island-like clusters, may show by its blackened trunk and leafless branches that the flames have been there.
In no possible condition can the prairies be seen, without exciting feel. ings of a peculiar and most lively interest. They are gloriously beautiful or awfully terrible, according to the times and seasons in which they are beheld. When viewed in the broad glare of day, they seem like large lakes, gently undulating in the breeze, and their variegated flowers flash in the sun like phosphorescent sparkles on the surface of the water. Seen by moonlight, they appear calm and placid as the lagunes of Venice, and the beholder almost wonders why they do not reflect back the starry glories of the sky above them In storms, the clouds that hang over them seem to come more near the earth than is their wont' in other places, and the lightning sweeps closely to their surface, as if to mow them with a fiery scythe; while, as the blast blows through them, the tall grass bends and surges before it, and gives forth a shrill whistling sound, as if every fibre were a harp-string of Æolus. In the spring they put forth their rich verdure, embossed with the early wild flowers of many hues, spreading a gorgeous carpeting, which no Turkish fabric can equal. At this season, in the early dawn, while the mists hang upon their borders, curling in folds like curtains, through which the morning sheds a softened light, “half revealed half concealed' by the vapory shadows that float fitfully over the scene, they appear now light, now shaded, and present a panorama ever varying, brightening and darkening, until the mists roll up, and the uncurtained sun reveals himself in the full brightness of his rising. In the summer, the long grass stoops and swells with every breath of the breeze, like the waves of the heaving ocean, and the bright blossoms seem to dance and laugh in the sunshine, as they toss their gaudy heads to the rustling music of the passing wind. The prairies are however most beautiful when the first tints of autumn are upon them; when their lovely flowers, in ten thousand varieties, are decked in their gorgeous foliage; when the gold and pu.ple blossoms are contrasted with the emerald-green surface and silver linings of their rich leaves, and all the hues of the iris, in every modification, show themselves on all sides, to dazzle, bewilder and amaze. Bleak, desolate, and lonely as a Siberian waste, the prai. rie exhibits itself in winter, pathless and trackless; one vast expanse of snow, seemingly spread out to infinity, like the winding-sheet of a world.
The traveller to the Rocky Mountains may rise with the early morning, from the centre of one of the great prairies, and pursue his solitary journey until the setting of the sun, and yet not reach its confines, which recede into the dim, distant horizon, that seems its only boundary. He will hear, however, the busy hum of the bee, and mark the myriads of parti-colored butterflies and other insects, that Ait around him; he will behold tens of thousands of buffaloes grazing in the distance, and the savage but now peaceful Indian intent upon the hunt; and he will see troops of wild horses speeding over the plain, shaking the earth with their unshod hoofs, tossing their free manes like streamers in the wind, and snorting fiercely with distended nostrils; the fleet deer will now and then dart by him; the wolf will rouse from his lair, and look askance and growl at him; and the little prairie-dog will run to the top of its tiny mound and bark at him before it retreats to its den within it. No human being may be the companion of the traveller in the immense solitude, yet will he feel that he is not alone; the wide expanse is populous with myriads of creatures; and, in the emphatic language of the red man, "The Great Spirit is upon the Prairie !
197 · 198 201 202 203 208 209
ART. L. SKETCHES OF THE GREAT WEST. BY LEWIS C. THOMAS,
II. THE WEEPER'S DREAM. BY WILLIAM WILSON,
242 243 248
LITERARY Notices :
1. NOAH'S DISCOURSE ON THE RESTORATION OF THE JEWS,
249 250 255 255
256 2. THE PAYMENT OF THE PENNSYLVANIA INTEREST,
257 3. SOCIETY FOR THE PROMOTION OF MUTUAL ADMIRATION,
259 4. RANK TO THE DESERVING : STEAM-ENGINEERS,
266 5. BOOK -KEEPING: OR THE RICH MAN IN SPITE OF HIMSELF,
261 6. THE LATE MATTHEW C. FIELD: PHAZMA' AT NIAGARA,
262 7. GOSSIP WITH READERS AND CORRESPONDENTS, 1. THE BISHOP CONTROVERSY. 2. GEORGE JONES AND HIS PROTEGE WILLIAM
SHAKSPEARE. 3. HANS PLACE: Miss LANDON. 4. BACHELOR'S BALL AT THE AsTOR-HOUSE: POETICAL INVITATION TO MARRY. 5. OUR MAGAZINE: PERIODICAL READING. 6. A SERENADE: THE POWER OF Music. 7. A FEBRUARY SNOWSTORM. 8. BOARDING-HOUSES: THE EXEMPLARY LODGER. 9. CANINE LATINITY: A LATIN EPISTLE. 10. Hoop's PENSION: THE CAPTAIN's Cow: SITTING FOR A PORTRAIT. 11. WORDY OR BULKY AUTHORS. 12. What is ELOQUENCE? MR. GOUGH. 13. NATIONAL RAIL-ROAD TO THE PACIFIC. 14. SEEING OURSELVES not as OTHERS SEE US:'MR. SMIT.' 15. AMERICAN vs. ENGLISH CONGRESSIONAL MANNERS. 16. THE BARBERS' VICTIMS. 17. PREGNANT POETICAL AND PROSE PASSAGES FROM PUNCH. 18. LANMAN'S LETTERS FROM A LANDSCAPE-PAINTER.' 19. A CONNOISSEUR OF A COUP-DE-PIED. 20. ELEGIAC STANZAS.' 21. MR. LONGFELLOW: GROUNDLESS CHARGE OF PLAGIARISM. 22. A COLLEGE REMINISCENCE: 'SABBATH MORNING.' 23. NEW SHAKSPERIAN READING: THE 'OLD GENTLEMAN IN SPECS.' 24. ROGERS' POEMS AND TASTES: MR. HALLECK. 25. POPULAR PREACHING 26. TARDY HONORS: MR. QUOZZLE. 27. OUR RELIGIOUS' SHORT-COMINGS. 28. OFFICE-HUNTING. 29. THE LATE LADY HESTER STANHOPE. 30. MR. HENRY INMAN ABROAD. 31. RATIONALE' OF Ass's EARS, 32. MUSICAL LATIN COUPLET. 33. UNBOUGHT SUFFRAGE.' 34. A PLAGIARISM. 35. LIGHT BREAD AND Costs.' 36. DECORATIVE PAINTING. 37. BON-BON MOTTOES. 38. KNEELAND, THE SCULPTOR. 39. KNICKERBOCKER' PENS. 40. OUR NEW CONTRIBUTORS. 41. EGOTISM OF SMALL AUTHORS. 42. NEWSPAPORIAL MATTERS. 43. PUNCH IN THE EAST. 44. NOTICES TO CORRESPONDENTS, ETC.