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The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 20, No. 583, December 29, 1832 online

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THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.

VOL. XX, NO. 583.] SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29, 1832. [PRICE 2d.

* * * * *

[Illustration: NATURAL TUNNEL, IN VIRGINIA.]




NATURAL TUNNEL, IN VIRGINIA.


Rock Bridges occupy the same pre-eminence amongst the sublimities of
nature, that artificial bridges maintain amidst the labours of man.
Both alike inspire us with admiration, though we are enabled to obtain
but unequal results as to their respective origins. The bridge, built
by human hands, is, indeed, a triumph of the perfection of skilful
contrivance; the strength and beauty of the arch are among the most
simple yet exquisite results of science, wonderful as they may appear
to the untaught beholder: but how shall we explain the formation of
stupendous rock-arches across deep ravines and rolling torrents, in
countries where none but the wild and picturesque forms of nature rise
to gladden the eye and heart of the inquiring traveller? Of the latter
description are the natural bridges which abound in the State of
Virginia; as Rockbridge, which gives name to the county in which it is
situated, and the wild and fantastic bridges of Icognozo; all of which
are more extensively recognised among the wonders of creation than the
specimen here presented to the reader.

This Tunnel is in Scott county, Virginia; but was so little known beyond
its immediate neighbourhood, as to induce Lieut.-Col. Long, (U.S. Army,)
to communicate its description to Mr. Featherstonhaugh's _American
Journal of Geology and Natural Science_; and the following narrative
of the Colonel's Excursion will be read with interest: -

"During the past summer, I visited a remarkable natural bridge in Scott
county, Virginia, to which I have given the name of Natural Tunnel, on
account of its striking resemblance to artificial structures of that
kind.

"The immediate locality of this tunnel is upon a small stream called
Buck-eye, or Stock Creek. This last name owes its origin to its valley
having been resorted to by the herdsmen of the country, for the
attainment of a _good range_, or choice pasture-ground, for their
cattle. The creek rises in Powell's mountain, and is tributary to Clinch
river, which it enters at the distance of between two and three miles
below the tunnel. The aspect of the surrounding country, and especially
of that to the northward of the tunnel, and constituting the southerly
slope of the mountain just mentioned, is exceedingly diversified, and
broken by elevated spurs and ridges, separated from each other by deep
chasms, walled with cliffs and mural precipices, often presenting
exceedingly narrow passes, but occasionally widening into meadows or
bottoms of considerable extent. The mural precipices just mentioned
occur very frequently, bounding the valleys of the streams generally in
this part of the country, and opposing ramparts of formidable height,
and in many places utterly insurmountable. Such are the features
peculiarly characteristic of _Wild Cat Valley_, the _Valley of
Copper Creek_, of Powell's and Clinch rivers, and of numerous other
streams of less note, all of which are situated within a few miles of
the Natural Tunnel.

"To form an adequate idea of this remarkable and truly sublime object,
we have only to imagine the creek to which it gives a passage,
meandering through a deep, narrow valley, here and there bounded on both
sides by walls, or _revetements_, of the character above intimated,
and rising to the height of two or three hundred feet above the stream;
and that a portion of one of these chasms, instead of presenting an
open, _thorough cut_ from the summit to the base of the high
grounds, is intercepted by a continuous unbroken ridge, more than three
hundred feet high, extending entirely across the valley, and perforated
transversely at its base, after the manner of an artificial tunnel, and
thus affording a spacious subterranean channel for the passage of the
stream.

"The entrance to the Natural Tunnel on the upper side of the ridge
is imposing and picturesque in a high degree; but on the lower side
the grandeur of the scene is greatly heightened by the superior
magnitude of the cliffs, which exceed in loftiness, and which rise
perpendicularly - and, in some instances, in an impending manner - two
or three hundred feet; and by which the entrance on this side is
almost environed, as it were, by an amphitheatre of rude and frightful
precipices.

"The observer, standing on the brink of the stream, at the distance
of about one hundred yards below the debouchure of the Natural Tunnel,
has, in front, a view of its arched entrance, rising seventy or eighty
feet above the water, and surmounted by horizontal stratifications of
yellowish, white, and grey rocks, in depth nearly twice the height of
the arch. On his left, a view of the same mural precipice, deflected
from the springing of the arch in a manner to pass thence in a
continuous curve quite to his rear, and towering in a very impressive
manner above his head. On his right, a sapling growth of buck-eye,
poplar, linden, &c., skirting the margin of the creek, and extending
obliquely to the right, and upward, through a narrow, abrupt ravine,
to the summit of the ridge, which is here and elsewhere crowned with
a timber-growth of pines, cedars, oaks, and shrubbery of various
kinds. On his extreme right is a gigantic cliff, lifting itself up,
perpendicularly from the water's edge, to the height, of about three
hundred feet, and accompanied by an insulated cliff, called the Chimney,
of about the same altitude, rising, in the form of a turret, at least
sixty feet above its basement, which is a portion of the imposing cliff
just before mentioned.

"Desirous of illustrating this paper by a front view of the Natural
Tunnel where the creek issues from it, I have, with the assistance
of a particular friend in this city - to whom I am indebted for the
accompanying drawing[1] - been enabled to furnish a sketch which very
faithfully represents some of the appearances I have described. The
embellishments last mentioned, however, viz. the chimney and its
accompaniments, could not be comprised in the landscape.

"The following passages are from my own private journal: -

"Saturday, Aug. 13, 1831. Having ascended Cove ridge, we turned aside
from our route to visit the natural bridge, or tunnel, situated on
Buck-eye, or Stock creek, about a mile below the Sycamore camp,[2] and
about one and a half miles from a place called Rye cove, which occupies
a spacious recess between two prominent spurs of Powell's mountain, the
site of the natural tunnel being included within a spur of Cove ridge,
which is one of the mountain spurs just alluded to. Here is presented
one of the most remarkable and attractive curiosities of its kind, to be
witnessed in this or any other country. The creek, which is about seven
yards wide, and has a general course about S. 15 W., here passes through
a hill elevated from two to three hundred feet above the surface of the
stream, winding its way through a huge subterraneous cavern, or grotto,
whose roof is vaulted in a peculiar manner, and rises from thirty to
seventy or eighty feet above its floor. The sides of this gigantic
cavern rise perpendicularly in some places to the height of fifteen or
twenty feet, and, in others, are formed, by the springing of its vaulted
roof immediately from its floor. The width of the tunnel varies from
fifty to one hundred and fifty feet. Its course is that of a continuous
curve, resembling the letter S; first winding to the right as we enter
on the upper side, then to the left, again to the right, and then again
to the left on arriving at the entrance on the lower side. Such is its
peculiar form, that an observer, standing at a point about midway of its
subterranean course, is completely excluded from a view of either
entrance, and is left to grope in the dark through a distance of about
twenty yards, occupying an intermediate portion of the tunnel. When the
sun is near the meridian, and his rays fall upon both entrances, the
light reflected from both extremities of the tunnel contributes to
mollify the darkness of this interior portion into a dusky twilight.

"The extent of the tunnel, from its upper to its lower extremity,
following its meanders, is about 150 yards; in which distance the stream
falls about ten feet, emitting, in its passage over a rocky bed, an
agreeable murmur, which is rendered more grateful by its reverberations
upon the roof and sides of the grotto. The discharge of a musket
produces a crash-like report, succeeded by a roar in the tunnel; which
has a deafening effect upon the ear.

"The hill through which this singular perforation leads, descends in a
direction from east to west, across the line of the creek, and affords a
very convenient passage for a road which traverses it at this place,
having a descent in the direction just mentioned of about four degrees.

"The rocks found in this part of the country are principally sandstone
and limestone, in stratifications nearly horizontal, with occasional
beds of clay slate. A mixture of the two former frequently occurs among
the alternations presented by these rocks. A variety of rock resembling
the French burr occurs in abundance on Butcher's-fork of Powell's river,
about twenty miles northwardly of the Natural Tunnel. Fossils are more
or less abundant, in these and other rocks. Fossil bones, of an
interesting character, have been found in several places. Saltpetre
caves are numerous. Coves, sinks, and subterranean caverns, are
strikingly characteristic, not only of the country circumjacent to the
Natural Tunnel, but of the region generally situated between the
Cumberland mountain, and the Blue ridge or Apalachian mountain.
Bituminous coal, with its usual accompaniments, abounds in the northerly
parts of this region; and in the intermediate and southerly portions,
iron, variously combined, often magnetic, together with talcose rocks,
&c. &c. are to be met with in great abundance.

"The mountains in this vicinity - long. 82° to 84° W. from Greenwich,
lat. 35° to 36° N. - are among the most lofty of the Allegheny range.
Several knobs[3] in this part of the range, among which may be
enumerated the Roan, the Unaka, the Bald, the Black, and Powell's
mountains, rise to the height of at least four thousand five hundred
feet above tide."

Mr. Featherstonhaugh remarks, that the Natural Tunnel has not been
worn through the rock by the long-continued action of running water is
evident, not from the cavernous structure alone of the general country,
but from the form of Powell's mountain, in a spur of which the Tunnel
passes transversely.

Mr. Featherstonhaugh further concludes the Tunnel to be a natural cavity
in the rock, for, if such had not been the case, "it is evident that the
stream would have been deflected from its line; would have followed the
base of the hill, and have turned the extreme point."

Little is known of the geology of the country in which this Tunnel is
situate, notwithstanding the popularity of the natural bridges of the
State. The rock before us would appear to belong to that class which
geologists commonly term Perforated Mountains, which some suppose
to have been bored through, in part, at least, by the persevering
industry of man. "Such phenomena," observes Maltebrun, "are, however,
mere eccentricities of nature, and differ from caverns only from
the circumstance of having a passage entirely through them. The
Pierre-Pertuise in Mount Jura, and Pausilippo, near Naples, are
instances of this kind. The Torghat, in, Norway, is pierced by an
opening 150 feet high, and 3,000 long. At certain seasons of the year,
the sun can be seen darting its rays from one extremity to the other of
this vault. Near New Zealand is a rocky arch through which the waves of
the sea pass at high water."[4] The latter, one of the Piercy Islands,
will be found engraved and described in _The Mirror_, vol. xix. p. 145.


[1] See the Cut.

[2] This designation has been given to a spot in the Valley of the
creek, where formerly stood a hollow sycamore (platanus
occidentalis) tree of an enormous size, the remains of which
are still to be seen, and in the cavity of which, whilst it
stood, fifteen persons are said to have encamped at the same
time together.

[3] Out-liers of any particular ridge.

[4] Physical Geography, book viii.

* * * * *


THE LATE SIR WALTER SCOTT.

(_From the Note Book of a Tourist_.)

In the summer of 1829, I made a Tour of the Borders. On the 16th of
August, I arrived in Melrose. I came on the top of the coach from
Jedburgh, in company with two intelligent fellows, a young Englishman of
fortune (apparently,) and a Russian nobleman. We put up at the George,
where we found about five tourists, redolent of sketch and note books,
drinking toddy and lying in wait to catch a sight of the lion of the
neighbourhood, Sir Walter. The voracity with which they devoured any
anecdotes of him was amusing. In the evening it came on a peppering
storm. I had foreseen this on our route from _Jeddart_. The Eildons
had mounted their misty cap, always a sure prognostic of rain; in fact
they are the barometer of the district. I then prevailed on my two
companions to forego their visit to the Abbey that night. We therefore
had in old Davidson, the landlord of the Inn, and my companions
submitted him to an interrogatory of three long hours' duration.
One little anecdote of fresh occurrence struck me as possessing some
interest. I will record it. About a month before, a poor maniac
presented herself at the gates of Abbotsford. She desired to see Sir
Walter. The servant denied her admittance, but such was the earnestness
of the poor creature, that _auld Saunders_, on her pressing
application, went and informed his master, "that a puir demented lassie
was at the gett (gate) greetin' like a bairn." Sir Walter had the
kindest of hearts; "O admit her puir thing," he said. The woman no
sooner entered than she fell on her knees in reverential awe before Sir
Walter. Her story was simply this. She belonged to Aberdeen; she was
married to a young farmer in that neighbourhood and had not long before
given birth to a beautiful infant, the first pledge of their loves.
The pains of birth had injured her mental equanimity, and eluding the
vigilance of her keepers she set forward one evening in search of the
great enchanter, whose works had in happier hours beguiled her with
their beauty. She travelled for a week; the distance from Aberdeen to
Abbotsford was about a hundred and fifty miles. She had walked every
step. Sir Walter did what he could to soothe her distracted mind,
and get her wasted frame recruited. But after some time he deemed it
advisable to exercise his judicial power and put her in a place of
security, until definite intelligence could be procured of her friends
and relations. Jedburgh is the county town of Roxburgh; and thither all
wanderers of this and a less gentle race are sent. A post-chaise was
sent for from old Davidson, of the George, and when it was at the door
of Abbotsford, Sir Walter induced the poor girl to enter it, promising
to accompany her "out a ridin'." She entered - looking for him to follow.
The door was instantly closed, and the post-boy lashing and spurring his
horses, darted off in a second. She gave a piercing shriek, looked
wildly round her, and abandoned herself to the most agonizing despair;
exclaiming in a tone of the utmost pathos, "ah! deceitfu' man, hae ye
beguiled me too!" - and then she sunk back in the carriage, and buried
herself in the deepest silence. * *

18th August. Set out to view the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey. Called
on Capt. (now Sir David) Erskine, from whom I received the politest
attention. His housekeeper acted as my cicerone, and conducted me over
the venerable pile. These time-worn ruins stand on the north bank of
the Tweed, by which they are almost surrounded, and are backed by hills
covered with wood, of the richest foliage. The abbey as well as the
modern mansion house of the proprietor, is completely embosomed in wood.
Around this sylvan spot the Tweed winds in a beautiful crescent form,
and the scene is extremely interesting, embracing both wood and water,
mountain and rock scenery. The whole gives rise to sentiments of the
most pleasing, devotional tranquillity. The place, however, at which I
paused, was St. Mary's Aisle: "here," I said to myself, "will the mighty
minstrel sleep, when his harp shall be silent!" - and here I offered the
votive tribute in anticipation, which thousands will follow me in, now
that he is, too truly, alas! no more. At the little iron palisading I
stood, and said, "here Scott will sleep:" in this, fate has not deceived
me. He rests there now. Peace to his manes!

August 20. Down at the Abbey this night. It would be absolute folly
to note down what I saw or thought of this most remarkable monastic
structure. Every album possesses it, in all the beauty of its fairy
architecture; its tabernacles, its niches and canopies, and statues,
pinnacles, pediments, spires, and the tracery of its vaultings.

The decorated work is most exquisitely executed. The mouldings are
still so sharp, that they seem as lately from the chisel of the mason.
The south transept window and door are the most perfect of the ruins.
The day light of the window is twenty-four feet by sixteen, divided by
four mullions. The tracery and cuspings are all of the decorated style
of the Gothic. It is furnished with crotchets and creeping foliage.
There are a number of niches, canopies, and tabernacles, on the south
transept; and the corbels that support the statues, are carved with
grotesque figures; some representing monks with cowls upon their heads,
others musicians playing upon different kinds of instruments; some are
most hideous to look at. Sir Walter procured casts of many of these
grotesque figures, which on a visit to Abbotsford, I observed placed in
the ceiling of the hall. He has clothed them in a new dress, more suited
to the social scene of their present locality. But, I always ramble
into the _shop_, when I get on architecture. Let me narrate the
occurrence of this night. As I was pacing the great aisle of the abbey,
a carriage drove up to the gate. "Sir Walter Scott!" said the keeper,
brushing past me to receive him. A lady alighted. I heard "good night!"
responded by a person in the carriage, who drove off with it. Who can
this be, thought I to myself. It was dusk - the lady advanced with a
stately step. I moved aside. "In these deep solitudes and awful cells!"
methought I heard her say. She ascended to the bell-tower. "Who is that
lady?" said I to the keeper when he entered. "That, sir," said he,
"is Mistress Hemmins, the poet writer, wha is on a visit to Maistre
Lockhart, and she cam just noo in Sir Walter's carriage, and she wants
to be alane, sir, by hersel." I took the hint, and made for the George
and my glass of toddy, unwilling to deprive the world of those lays,
which Melrose, the rush of the Tweed, and midnight would, no doubt,
inspire in the fair authoress.

August 23. At Galashiels, a semi-rural demi-manufacturing town on the
banks of the "braw, braw Gala water." Not having the good fortune to get
to Abbotsford from Melrose, I started over the hill which looks down on
Galashiels, towards that destination. Abbotsford I need not render an
account of. But my approach to it was not deficient in interest.

On arriving at the summit of the hill overlooking the Tweed, it burst
upon my sight. I looked down on the grounds in which it is settled, as
on a map. The skill and industry of Sir Walter is not more remarkable in
his literary than in his rural works. The house stands in a bare, barren
corner of Selkirkshire, (I think) but by admirable management, he has
enclosed it with fine, hardy young wood, and quite altered its
appearance.

At the bottom of the hill I took the boat at the ferry, and resting in
the middle of the stream, the Tweed, and looked around me. I saw a
person on the opposite bank appearing and disappearing in the wood which
comes down to the water's edge. I drew near. He was dressed in a short,
green coat and cap, and was amusing himself with the antics of a large
dog. The place - the time - the air - the gait - every thing conspired:
"Who's that, lassie?" said I to my little boat rower; "That, sir? that's
_himsel_, that's the shirra" (sheriff.) Yes, it was the man - he
himself - the pride of Scotland - her boast - the intellectual beacon of
her hills - it was Sir Walter Scott!

Sept. 3. At Selkirk. At Mitchell's Inn, where I was introduced to the
celebrated Jamie Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd. He had come, I think, from
a fair held at the Eildons. We got over a jug of toddy. Our conversation
turned on the church service of the kirk of Scotland, and we rambled
into poetry in conversing on the psalms. I pointed out to the shepherd,
that a fair fame might be achieved by arranging the Psalms of David, and
superseding the barbarities of Sternhold and Hopkins. James maintained
that the present edition in use in Scotland, could _not_ be
improved. He said that the question had been agitated in the General
Assembly, and Sir Walter Scott was applied to, to furnish an improved
versification, but he answered, stating that it would be a more
difficult matter to get the people to adopt them, than to furnish the
same. Any alteration in this respect would be looked upon as little
better than sacrilege, and he therefore advised that the present form
should be continued in. "Watty's a sensible chap," said the shepherd,
speaking familiarly of Sir Walter, "and if he laid a finger on o'or
venerable psalmody, I wad pitch a louse at him, wha hae ever loved the
man as my ain brether."

* * * * *

During the last years of Sir Walter's life, he visited in the counties
of Berwick, Roxburgh, and Selkirk, the various scenes which his graphic
pen has delineated and incorporated in his minstrelsy and romance. The
summer when the preceding notes were made, I happened to be in Kelso,
and took ride one day to visit the worthy minister of a neighbouring
parish, in which the celebrated border _keep_ Smailholme tower is
situated, the scene of the fearful legend embodied in the poem "The Eve
of St. John."

We rode over to it: it is situated on a crag or ridge of rock, high
in the north range of hills, the Lammer-muir, which spring from the
splendid vale of Teviot and Tweed, commanding an unbounded prospect
on the east and west; the south is terminated by the Cheviots and
the English border.

We found the Tower in possession of a party, and the Rev. Mr. C - - rode
forward to report, in case we should be deemed intruders. He came back
shortly, and it was no other than Sir Walter himself, with several
members of his family, who had accompanied him to bid a final farewell
to _Smaillum keep_. As I afterwards heard, he was in the highest
spirits, and repeated the poem for the gratification of his party, in
that impressive manner for which he was remarkable, in giving the
necessary effect to his own compositions. The party brought a cold
collation with them: before leaving, Sir Walter surveyed the beautiful
prospect at his feet, the Tweed and Teviot meeting in sisterly
loveliness, and joining their waters in the valley, with the golden
fields of England in the distance; when filling a glass of wine he drank
with fervour, in which all joined him, "baith sides of the Tweed."

I.

* * * * *


OLD ENGLISH ARMOUR.

(_From a Correspondent._)

Previous to the time of Edward I., the body-armour may be distinguished
by the appellations of _trelliced, ringed, rustred, mascled, scalad,
tegulated, single-mailed_, and _banded_. The _trelliced_ method
has not been properly ascertained: it probably consisted of leather
thongs, crossed, and so disposed as to form large squares placed
angularly, with a round knob or stud in the centre of each. The
_ringed_ consisted of flat rings of steel, placed contiguous to
each other, on quilted linen. The _rustred_ was nothing more than
one row of flat rings, about double the size of those before used, laid
half over the other, so that two in the upper partially covered one
below. _Mascled_; the hauberk composed of several folds of linen,
covered with diamond-shaped pieces of steel touching each other, and


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Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 20, No. 583, December 29, 1832 → online text (page 1 of 4)