Edgar Allan Poe

The Domain of Arnheim

The garden like a lady fair was cut,

That lay as if she slumbered in delight,

And to the open skies her eyes did shut.

The azure fields of Heaven were 'sembled right

In a large round, set with the flowers of light.

The flowers de luce, and the round sparks of dew.

That hung upon their azure leaves did shew

Like twinkling stars that sparkle in the evening blue.

--Giles Fletcher

FROM his cradle to his grave a gale of prosperity bore my friend Ellison along. 
Nor do I use the word prosperity in its mere worldly sense. I mean it as 
synonymous with happiness. The person of whom I speak seemed born for the 
purpose of foreshadowing the doctrines of Turgot, Price, Priestley, and 
Condorcet–of exemplifying by individual instance what has been deemed the 
chimera of the perfectionists. In the brief existence of Ellison I fancy that I 
have seen refuted the dogma, that in man's very nature lies some hidden 
principle, the antagonist of bliss. An anxious examination of his career has 
given me to understand that in general, from the violation of a few simple laws 
of humanity arises the wretchedness of mankind–that as a species we have in our 
possession the as yet unwrought elements of content–and that, even now, in the 
present darkness and madness of all thought on the great question of the social 
condition, it is not impossible that man, the individual, under certain unusual 
and highly fortuitous conditions, may be happy.

With opinions such as these my young friend, too, was fully imbued, and thus it 
is worthy of observation that the uninterrupted enjoyment which distinguished 
his life was, in great measure, the result of preconcert. It is indeed evident 
that with less of the instinctive philosophy which, now and then, stands so well 
in the stead of experience, Mr. Ellison would have found himself precipitated, 
by the very extraordinary success of his life, into the common vortex of 
unhappiness which yawns for those of pre-eminent endowments. But it is by no 
means my object to pen an essay on happiness. The ideas of my friend may be 
summed up in a few words. He admitted but four elementary principles, or more 
strictly, conditions of bliss. That which he considered chief was (strange to 
say!) the simple and purely physical one of free exercise in the open air. "The 
health," he said, "attainable by other means is scarcely worth the name." He 
instanced the ecstasies of the fox-hunter, and pointed to the tillers of the 
earth, the only people who, as a class, can be fairly considered happier than 
others. His second condition was the love of woman. His third, and most 
difficult of realization, was the contempt of ambition. His fourth was an object 
of unceasing pursuit; and he held that, other things being equal, the extent of 
attainable happiness was in proportion to the spirituality of this object.

Ellison was remarkable in the continuous profusion of good gifts lavished upon 
him by fortune. In personal grace and beauty he exceeded all men. His intellect 
was of that order to which the acquisition of knowledge is less a labor than an 
intuition and a necessity. His family was one of the most illustrious of the 
empire. His bride was the loveliest and most devoted of women. His possessions 
had been always ample; but on the attainment of his majority, it was discovered 
that one of those extraordinary freaks of fate had been played in his behalf 
which startle the whole social world amid which they occur, and seldom fail 
radically to alter the moral constitution of those who are their objects.

It appears that about a hundred years before Mr. Ellison's coming of age, there 
had died, in a remote province, one Mr. Seabright Ellison. This gentleman had 
amassed a princely fortune, and, having no immediate connections, conceived the 
whim of suffering his wealth to accumulate for a century after his decease. 
Minutely and sagaciously directing the various modes of investment, he 
bequeathed the aggregate amount to the nearest of blood, bearing the name of 
Ellison, who should be alive at the end of the hundred years. Many attempts had 
been made to set aside this singular bequest; their ex post facto character 
rendered them abortive; but the attention of a jealous government was aroused, 
and a legislative act finally obtained, forbidding all similar accumulations. 
This act, however, did not prevent young Ellison from entering into possession, 
on his twenty-first birthday, as the heir of his ancestor Seabright, of a 
fortune of four hundred and fifty millions of dollars.<1>

When it had become known that such was the enormous wealth inherited, there 
were, of course, many speculations as to the mode of its disposal. The magnitude 
and the immediate availability of the sum bewildered all who thought on the 
topic. The possessor of any appreciable amount of money might have been imagined 
to perform any one of a thousand things. With riches merely surpassing those of 
any citizen, it would have been easy to suppose him engaging to supreme excess 
in the fashionable extravagances of his time–or busying himself with political 
intrigue–or aiming at ministerial power–or purchasing increase of nobility–or 
collecting large museums of virtu- or playing the munificent patron of letters, 
of science, of art–or endowing, and bestowing his name upon extensive 
institutions of charity. But for the inconceivable wealth in the actual 
possession of the heir, these objects and all ordinary objects were felt to 
afford too limited a field. Recourse was had to figures, and these but sufficed 
to confound. It was seen that, even at three per cent., the annual income of the 
inheritance amounted to no less than thirteen millions and five hundred thousand 
dollars; which was one million and one hundred and twenty-five thousand per 
month; or thirty-six thousand nine hundred and eighty-six per day; or one 
thousand five hundred and forty-one per hour; or six and twenty dollars for 
every minute that flew. Thus the usual track of supposition was thoroughly 
broken up. Men knew not what to imagine. There were some who even conceived that 
Mr. Ellison would divest himself of at least one-half of his fortune, as of 
utterly superfluous opulence–enriching whole troops of his relatives by division 
of his superabundance. To the nearest of these he did, in fact, abandon the very 
unusual wealth which was his own before the inheritance.

I was not surprised, however, to perceive that he had long made up his mind on a 
point which had occasioned so much discussion to his friends. Nor was I greatly 
astonished at the nature of his decision. In regard to individual charities he 
had satisfied his conscience. In the possibility of any improvement, properly so 
called, being effected by man himself in the general condition of man, he had (I 
am sorry to confess it) little faith. Upon the whole, whether happily or 
unhappily, he was thrown back, in very great measure, upon self.

In the widest and noblest sense he was a poet. He comprehended, moreover, the 
true character, the august aims, the supreme majesty and dignity of the poetic 
sentiment. The fullest, if not the sole proper satisfaction of this sentiment he 
instinctively felt to lie in the creation of novel forms of beauty. Some 
peculiarities, either in his early education, or in the nature of his intellect, 
had tinged with what is termed materialism all his ethical speculations; and it 
was this bias, perhaps, which led him to believe that the most advantageous at 
least, if not the sole legitimate field for the poetic exercise, lies in the 
creation of novel moods of purely physical loveliness. Thus it happened he 
became neither musician nor poet–if we use this latter term in its every-day 
acceptation. Or it might have been that he neglected to become either, merely in 
pursuance of his idea that in contempt of ambition is to be found one of the 
essential principles of happiness on earth. Is it not indeed, possible that, 
while a high order of genius is necessarily ambitious, the highest is above that 
which is termed ambition? And may it not thus happen that many far greater than 
Milton have contentedly remained "mute and inglorious?" I believe that the world 
has never seen–and that, unless through some series of accidents goading the 
noblest order of mind into distasteful exertion, the world will never see- that 
full extent of triumphant execution, in the richer domains of art, of which the 
human nature is absolutely capable.

Ellison became neither musician nor poet; although no man lived more profoundly 
enamored of music and poetry. Under other circumstances than those which 
invested him, it is not impossible that he would have become a painter. 
Sculpture, although in its nature rigorously poetical was too limited in its 
extent and consequences, to have occupied, at any time, much of his attention. 
And I have now mentioned all the provinces in which the common understanding of 
the poetic sentiment has declared it capable of expatiating. But Ellison 
maintained that the richest, the truest, and most natural, if not altogether the 
most extensive province, had been unaccountably neglected. No definition had 
spoken of the landscape-gardener as of the poet; yet it seemed to my friend that 
the creation of the landscape-garden offered to the proper Muse the most 
magnificent of opportunities. Here, indeed, was the fairest field for the 
display of imagination in the endless combining of forms of novel beauty; the 
elements to enter into combination being, by a vast superiority, the most 
glorious which the earth could afford. In the multiform and multicolor of the 
flowers and the trees, he recognised the most direct and energetic efforts of 
Nature at physical loveliness. And in the direction or concentration of this 
effort–or, more properly, in its adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it 
on earth–he perceived that he should be employing the best means–laboring to the 
greatest advantage–in the fulfilment, not only of his own destiny as poet, but 
of the august purposes for which the Deity had implanted the poetic sentiment in 

"Its adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it on earth." In his 
explanation of this phraseology, Mr. Ellison did much toward solving what has 
always seemed to me an enigma:–I mean the fact (which none but the ignorant 
dispute) that no such combination of scenery exists in nature as the painter of 
genius may produce. No such paradises are to be found in reality as have glowed 
on the canvas of Claude. In the most enchanting of natural landscapes, there 
will always be found a defect or an excess–many excesses and defects. While the 
component parts may defy, individually, the highest skill of the artist, the 
arrangement of these parts will always be susceptible of improvement. In short, 
no position can be attained on the wide surface of the natural earth, from which 
an artistical eye, looking steadily, will not find matter of offence in what is 
termed the "composition" of the landscape. And yet how unintelligible is this! 
In all other matters we are justly instructed to regard nature as supreme. With 
her details we shrink from competition. Who shall presume to imitate the colors 
of the tulip, or to improve the proportions of the lily of the valley? The 
criticism which says, of sculpture or portraiture, that here nature is to be 
exalted or idealized rather than imitated, is in error. No pictorial or 
sculptural combinations of points of human liveliness do more than approach the 
living and breathing beauty. In landscape alone is the principle of the critic 
true; and, having felt its truth here, it is but the headlong spirit of 
generalization which has led him to pronounce it true throughout all the domains 
of art. Having, I say, felt its truth here; for the feeling is no affectation or 
chimera. The mathematics afford no more absolute demonstrations than the 
sentiments of his art yields the artist. He not only believes, but positively 
knows, that such and such apparently arbitrary arrangements of matter constitute 
and alone constitute the true beauty. His reasons, however, have not yet been 
matured into expression. It remains for a more profound analysis than the world 
has yet seen, fully to investigate and express them. Nevertheless he is 
confirmed in his instinctive opinions by the voice of all his brethren. Let a 
"composition" be defective; let an emendation be wrought in its mere arrangement 
of form; let this emendation be submitted to every artist in the world; by each 
will its necessity be admitted. And even far more than this:–in remedy of the 
defective composition, each insulated member of the fraternity would have 
suggested the identical emendation.

I repeat that in landscape arrangements alone is the physical nature susceptible 
of exaltation, and that, therefore, her susceptibility of improvement at this 
one point, was a mystery I had been unable to solve. My own thoughts on the 
subject had rested in the idea that the primitive intention of nature would have 
so arranged the earth's surface as to have fulfilled at all points man's sense 
of perfection in the beautiful, the sublime, or the picturesque; but that this 
primitive intention had been frustrated by the known geological 
disturbances–disturbances of form and color–grouping, in the correction or 
allaying of which lies the soul of art. The force of this idea was much 
weakened, however, by the necessity which it involved of considering the 
disturbances abnormal and unadapted to any purpose. It was Ellison who suggested 
that they were prognostic of death. He thus explained:–Admit the earthly 
immortality of man to have been the first intention. We have then the primitive 
arrangement of the earth's surface adapted to his blissful estate, as not 
existent but designed. The disturbances were the preparations for his 
subsequently conceived deathful condition.

"Now," said my friend, "what we regard as exaltation of the landscape may be 
really such, as respects only the moral or human point of view. Each alteration 
of the natural scenery may possibly effect a blemish in the picture, if we can 
suppose this picture viewed at large–in mass–from some point distant from the 
earth's surface, although not beyond the limits of its atmosphere. It is easily 
understood that what might improve a closely scrutinized detail, may at the same 
time injure a general or more distantly observed effect. There may be a class of 
beings, human once, but now invisible to humanity, to whom, from afar, our 
disorder may seem order–our unpicturesqueness picturesque, in a word, the earth-
angels, for whose scrutiny more especially than our own, and for whose death-
refined appreciation of the beautiful, may have been set in array by God the 
wide landscape-gardens of the hemispheres."

In the course of discussion, my friend quoted some passages from a writer on 
landscape-gardening who has been supposed to have well treated his theme:

"There are properly but two styles of landscape-gardening, the natural and the 
artificial. One seeks to recall the original beauty of the country, by adapting 
its means to the surrounding scenery, cultivating trees in harmony with the 
hills or plain of the neighboring land; detecting and bringing into practice 
those nice relations of size, proportion, and color which, hid from the common 
observer, are revealed everywhere to the experienced student of nature. The 
result of the natural style of gardening, is seen rather in the absence of all 
defects and incongruities–in the prevalence of a healthy harmony and order–than 
in the creation of any special wonders or miracles. The artificial style has as 
many varieties as there are different tastes to gratify. It has a certain 
general relation to the various styles of building. There are the stately 
avenues and retirements of Versailles; Italian terraces; and a various mixed old 
English style, which bears some relation to the domestic Gothic or English 
Elizabethan architecture. Whatever may be said against the abuses of the 
artificial landscape–gardening, a mixture of pure art in a garden scene adds to 
it a great beauty. This is partly pleasing to the eye, by the show of order and 
design, and partly moral. A terrace, with an old moss–covered balustrade, calls 
up at once to the eye the fair forms that have passed there in other days. The 
slightest exhibition of art is an evidence of care and human interest."

"From what I have already observed," said Ellison, "you will understand that I 
reject the idea, here expressed, of recalling the original beauty of the 
country. The original beauty is never so great as that which may be introduced. 
Of course, every thing depends on the selection of a spot with capabilities. 
What is said about detecting and bringing into practice nice relations of size, 
proportion, and color, is one of those mere vaguenesses of speech which serve to 
veil inaccuracy of thought. The phrase quoted may mean any thing, or nothing, 
and guides in no degree. That the true result of the natural style of gardening 
is seen rather in the absence of all defects and incongruities than in the 
creation of any special wonders or miracles, is a proposition better suited to 
the grovelling apprehension of the herd than to the fervid dreams of the man of 
genius. The negative merit suggested appertains to that hobbling criticism 
which, in letters, would elevate Addison into apotheosis. In truth, while that 
virtue which consists in the mere avoidance of vice appeals directly to the 
understanding, and can thus be circumscribed in rule, the loftier virtue, which 
flames in creation, can be apprehended in its results alone. Rule applies but to 
the merits of denial–to the excellencies which refrain. Beyond these, the 
critical art can but suggest. We may be instructed to build a "Cato," but we are 
in vain told how to conceive a Parthenon or an "Inferno." The thing done, 
however; the wonder accomplished; and the capacity for apprehension becomes 
universal. The sophists of the negative school who, through inability to create, 
have scoffed at creation, are now found the loudest in applause. What, in its 
chrysalis condition of principle, affronted their demure reason, never fails, in 
its maturity of accomplishment, to extort admiration from their instinct of 

"The author's observations on the artificial style," continued Ellison, "are 
less objectionable. A mixture of pure art in a garden scene adds to it a great 
beauty. This is just; as also is the reference to the sense of human interest. 
The principle expressed is incontrovertible–but there may be something beyond 
it. There may be an object in keeping with the principle–an object unattainable 
by the means ordinarily possessed by individuals, yet which, if attained, would 
lend a charm to the landscape-garden far surpassing that which a sense of merely 
human interest could bestow. A poet, having very unusual pecuniary resources, 
might, while retaining the necessary idea of art or culture, or, as our author 
expresses it, of interest, so imbue his designs at once with extent and novelty 
of beauty, as to convey the sentiment of spiritual interference. It will be seen 
that, in bringing about such result, he secures all the advantages of interest 
or design, while relieving his work of the harshness or technicality of the 
worldly art. In the most rugged of wildernesses- in the most savage of the 
scenes of pure nature–there is apparent the art of a creator; yet this art is 
apparent to reflection only; in no respect has it the obvious force of a 
feeling. Now let us suppose this sense of the Almighty design to be one step 
depressed–to be brought into something like harmony or consistency with the 
sense of human art–to form an intermedium between the two:–let us imagine, for 
example, a landscape whose combined vastness and definitiveness–whose united 
beauty, magnificence, and strangeness, shall convey the idea of care, or 
culture, or superintendence, on the part of beings superior, yet akin to 
humanity–then the sentiment of interest is preserved, while the art intervolved 
is made to assume the air of an intermediate or secondary nature–a nature which 
is not God, nor an emanation from God, but which still is nature in the sense of 
the handiwork of the angels that hover between man and God."

It was in devoting his enormous wealth to the embodiment of a vision such as 
this–in the free exercise in the open air ensured by the personal 
superintendence of his plans–in the unceasing object which these plans 
afforded–in the high spirituality of the object–in the contempt of ambition 
which it enabled him truly to feel–in the perennial springs with which it 
gratified, without possibility of satiating, that one master passion of his 
soul, the thirst for beauty, above all, it was in the sympathy of a woman, not 
unwomanly, whose loveliness and love enveloped his existence in the purple 
atmosphere of Paradise, that Ellison thought to find, and found, exemption from 
the ordinary cares of humanity, with a far greater amount of positive happiness 
than ever glowed in the rapt day-dreams of De Stael.

I despair of conveying to the reader any distinct conception of the marvels 
which my friend did actually accomplish. I wish to describe, but am disheartened 
by the difficulty of description, and hesitate between detail and generality. 
Perhaps the better course will be to unite the two in their extremes.

Mr. Ellison's first step regarded, of course, the choice of a locality, and 
scarcely had he commenced thinking on this point, when the luxuriant nature of 
the Pacific Islands arrested his attention. In fact, he had made up his mind for 
a voyage to the South Seas, when a night's reflection induced him to abandon the 
idea. "Were I misanthropic," he said, "such a locale would suit me. The 
thoroughness of its insulation and seclusion, and the difficulty of ingress and 
egress, would in such case be the charm of charms; but as yet I am not Timon. I 
wish the composure but not the depression of solitude. There must remain with me 
a certain control over the extent and duration of my repose. There will be 
frequent hours in which I shall need, too, the sympathy of the poetic in what I 
have done. Let me seek, then, a spot not far from a populous city–whose 
vicinity, also, will best enable me to execute my plans."

In search of a suitable place so situated, Ellison travelled for several years, 
and I was permitted to accompany him. A thousand spots with which I was 
enraptured he rejected without hesitation, for reasons which satisfied me, in 
the end, that he was right. We came at length to an elevated table-land of 
wonderful fertility and beauty, affording a panoramic prospect very little less 
in extent than that of Aetna, and, in Ellison's opinion as well as my own, 
surpassing the far-famed view from that mountain in all the true elements of the 

"I am aware," said the traveller, as he drew a sigh of deep delight after gazing 
on this scene, entranced, for nearly an hour, "I know that here, in my 
circumstances, nine-tenths of the most fastidious of men would rest content. 
This panorama is indeed glorious, and I should rejoice in it but for the excess 
of its glory. The taste of all the architects I have ever known leads them, for 
the sake of 'prospect,' to put up buildings on hill-tops. The error is obvious. 
Grandeur in any of its moods, but especially in that of extent, startles, 
excites–and then fatigues, depresses. For the occasional scene nothing can be 
better–for the constant view nothing worse. And, in the constant view, the most 
objectionable phase of grandeur is that of extent; the worst phase of extent, 
that of distance. It is at war with the sentiment and with the sense of 
seclusion–the sentiment and sense which we seek to humor in 'retiring to the 
country.' In looking from the summit of a mountain we cannot help feeling abroad 
in the world. The heart-sick avoid distant prospects as a pestilence."

It was not until toward the close of the fourth year of our search that we found 
a locality with which Ellison professed himself satisfied. It is, of course, 
needless to say where was the locality. The late death of my friend, in causing 
his domain to be thrown open to certain classes of visiters, has given to 
Arnheim a species of secret and subdued if not solemn celebrity, similar in 
kind, although infinitely superior in degree, to that which so long 
distinguished Fonthill.

The usual approach to Arnheim was by the river. The visiter left the city in the 
early morning. During the forenoon he passed between shores of a tranquil and 
domestic beauty, on which grazed innumerable sheep, their white fleeces spotting 
the vivid green of rolling meadows. By degrees the idea of cultivation subsided 
into that of merely pastoral care. This slowly became merged in a sense of 
retirement–this again in a consciousness of solitude. As the evening approached, 
the channel grew more narrow, the banks more and more precipitous; and these 
latter were clothed in rich, more profuse, and more sombre foliage. The water 
increased in transparency. The stream took a thousand turns, so that at no 
moment could its gleaming surface be seen for a greater distance than a furlong. 
At every instant the vessel seemed imprisoned within an enchanted circle, having 
insuperable and impenetrable walls of foliage, a roof of ultramarine satin, and 
no floor–the keel balancing itself with admirable nicety on that of a phantom 
bark which, by some accident having been turned upside down, floated in constant 
company with the substantial one, for the purpose of sustaining it. The channel 
now became a gorge–although the term is somewhat inapplicable, and I employ it 
merely because the language has no word which better represents the most 
striking–not the most distinctive-feature of the scene. The character of gorge 
was maintained only in the height and parallelism of the shores; it was lost 
altogether in their other traits. The walls of the ravine (through which the 
clear water still tranquilly flowed) arose to an elevation of a hundred and 
occasionally of a hundred and fifty feet, and inclined so much toward each other 
as, in a great measure, to shut out the light of day; while the long plume-like 
moss which depended densely from the intertwining shrubberies overhead, gave the 
whole chasm an air of funereal gloom. The windings became more frequent and 
intricate, and seemed often as if returning in upon themselves, so that the 
voyager had long lost all idea of direction. He was, moreover, enwrapt in an 
exquisite sense of the strange. The thought of nature still remained, but her 
character seemed to have undergone modification, there was a weird symmetry, a 
thrilling uniformity, a wizard propriety in these her works. Not a dead 
branch–not a withered leaf–not a stray pebble–not a patch of the brown earth was 
anywhere visible. The crystal water welled up against the clean granite, or the 
unblemished moss, with a sharpness of outline that delighted while it bewildered 
the eye.

Having threaded the mazes of this channel for some hours, the gloom deepening 
every moment, a sharp and unexpected turn of the vessel brought it suddenly, as 
if dropped from heaven, into a circular basin of very considerable extent when 
compared with the width of the gorge. It was about two hundred yards in 
diameter, and girt in at all points but one–that immediately fronting the vessel 
as it entered–by hills equal in general height to the walls of the chasm, 
although of a thoroughly different character. Their sides sloped from the 
water's edge at an angle of some forty-five degrees, and they were clothed from 
base to summit–not a perceptible point escaping–in a drapery of the most 
gorgeous flower-blossoms; scarcely a green leaf being visible among the sea of 
odorous and fluctuating color. This basin was of great depth, but so transparent 
was the water that the bottom, which seemed to consist of a thick mass of small 
round alabaster pebbles, was distinctly visible by glimpses–that is to say, 
whenever the eye could permit itself not to see, far down in the inverted 
heaven, the duplicate blooming of the hills. On these latter there were no 
trees, nor even shrubs of any size. The impressions wrought on the observer were 
those of richness, warmth, color, quietude, uniformity, softness, delicacy, 
daintiness, voluptuousness, and a miraculous extremeness of culture that 
suggested dreams of a new race of fairies, laborious, tasteful, magnificent, and 
fastidious; but as the eye traced upward the myriad-tinted slope, from its sharp 
junction with the water to its vague termination amid the folds of overhanging 
cloud, it became, indeed, difficult not to fancy a panoramic cataract of rubies, 
sapphires, opals, and golden onyxes, rolling silently out of the sky.

The visiter, shooting suddenly into this bay from out the gloom of the ravine, 
is delighted but astounded by the full orb of the declining sun, which he had 
supposed to be already far below the horizon, but which now confronts him, and 
forms the sole termination of an otherwise limitless vista seen through another 
chasm–like rift in the hills.

But here the voyager quits the vessel which has borne him so far, and descends 
into a light canoe of ivory, stained with arabesque devices in vivid scarlet, 
both within and without. The poop and beak of this boat arise high above the 
water, with sharp points, so that the general form is that of an irregular 
crescent. It lies on the surface of the bay with the proud grace of a swan. On 
its ermined floor reposes a single feathery paddle of satin-wood; but no oarsmen 
or attendant is to be seen. The guest is bidden to be of good cheer- that the 
fates will take care of him. The larger vessel disappears, and he is left alone 
in the canoe, which lies apparently motionless in the middle of the lake. While 
he considers what course to pursue, however, he becomes aware of a gentle 
movement in the fairy bark. It slowly swings itself around until its prow points 
toward the sun. It advances with a gentle but gradually accelerated velocity, 
while the slight ripples it creates seem to break about the ivory side in 
divinest melody-seem to offer the only possible explanation of the soothing yet 
melancholy music for whose unseen origin the bewildered voyager looks around him 
in vain.

The canoe steadily proceeds, and the rocky gate of the vista is approached, so 
that its depths can be more distinctly seen. To the right arise a chain of lofty 
hills rudely and luxuriantly wooded. It is observed, however, that the trait of 
exquisite cleanness where the bank dips into the water, still prevails. There is 
not one token of the usual river debris. To the left the character of the scene 
is softer and more obviously artificial. Here the bank slopes upward from the 
stream in a very gentle ascent, forming a broad sward of grass of a texture 
resembling nothing so much as velvet, and of a brilliancy of green which would 
bear comparison with the tint of the purest emerald. This plateau varies in 
width from ten to three hundred yards; reaching from the river-bank to a wall, 
fifty feet high, which extends, in an infinity of curves, but following the 
general direction of the river, until lost in the distance to the westward. This 
wall is of one continuous rock, and has been formed by cutting perpendicularly 
the once rugged precipice of the stream's southern bank, but no trace of the 
labor has been suffered to remain. The chiselled stone has the hue of ages, and 
is profusely overhung and overspread with the ivy, the coral honeysuckle, the 
eglantine, and the clematis. The uniformity of the top and bottom lines of the 
wall is fully relieved by occasional trees of gigantic height, growing singly or 
in small groups, both along the plateau and in the domain behind the wall, but 
in close proximity to it; so that frequent limbs (of the black walnut 
especially) reach over and dip their pendent extremities into the water. Farther 
back within the domain, the vision is impeded by an impenetrable screen of 

These things are observed during the canoe's gradual approach to what I have 
called the gate of the vista. On drawing nearer to this, however, its chasm-like 
appearance vanishes; a new outlet from the bay is discovered to the left–in 
which direction the wall is also seen to sweep, still following the general 
course of the stream. Down this new opening the eye cannot penetrate very far; 
for the stream, accompanied by the wall, still bends to the left, until both are 
swallowed up by the leaves.

The boat, nevertheless, glides magically into the winding channel; and here the 
shore opposite the wall is found to resemble that opposite the wall in the 
straight vista. Lofty hills, rising occasionally into mountains, and covered 
with vegetation in wild luxuriance, still shut in the scene.

Floating gently onward, but with a velocity slightly augmented, the voyager, 
after many short turns, finds his progress apparently barred by a gigantic gate 
or rather door of burnished gold, elaborately carved and fretted, and reflecting 
the direct rays of the now fast-sinking sun with an effulgence that seems to 
wreath the whole surrounding forest in flames. This gate is inserted in the 
lofty wall; which here appears to cross the river at right angles. In a few 
moments, however, it is seen that the main body of the water still sweeps in a 
gentle and extensive curve to the left, the wall following it as before, while a 
stream of considerable volume, diverging from the principal one, makes its way, 
with a slight ripple, under the door, and is thus hidden from sight. The canoe 
falls into the lesser channel and approaches the gate. Its ponderous wings are 
slowly and musically expanded. The boat glides between them, and commences a 
rapid descent into a vast amphitheatre entirely begirt with purple mountains, 
whose bases are laved by a gleaming river throughout the full extent of their 
circuit. Meantime the whole Paradise of Arnheim bursts upon the view. There is a 
gush of entrancing melody; there is an oppressive sense of strange sweet 
odor,–there is a dream–like intermingling to the eye of tall slender Eastern 
trees–bosky shrubberies–flocks of golden and crimson birds–lily-fringed lakes-
meadows of violets, tulips, poppies, hyacinths, and tuberoses–long intertangled 
lines of silver streamlets–and, upspringing confusedly from amid all, a mass of 
semi-Gothic, semi-Saracenic architecture sustaining itself by miracle in mid-
air, glittering in the red sunlight with a hundred oriels, minarets, and 
pinnacles; and seeming the phantom handiwork, conjointly, of the Sylphs, of the 
Fairies, of the Genii and of the Gnomes.

<1> An incident, similar in outline to the one here imagined, occurred, not very 
long ago, in England. The name of the fortunate heir was Thelluson. I first saw 
an account of this matter in the "Tour" of Prince Puckler Muskau, who makes the 
sum inherited ninety millions of pounds, and justly observes that "in the 
contemplation of so vast a sum, and of the services to which it might be 
applied, there is something even of the sublime." To suit the views of this 
article I have followed the Prince's statement, although a grossly exaggerated 
one. The germ, and in fact, the commencement of the present paper was published 
many years ago–previous to the issue of the first number of Sue's admirable 
"Juif Errant," which may possibly have been suggested to him by Muskau's