prospects of the next election, or thinking out a copy of verses to send to his mother.
It was a smaller place, then, with fewer brick blocks, more
pigs in the street, and no custom-house in the Greek style.
But it had one feature which has not changed.
An island, seven miles long, but not two miles wide, once a part of the main land, lies opposite the town, at an apparent distance of half a mile, though in reality two miles and a half from the shore.
This island, which approaches the main land at either extremity, forms the harbor of Erie
, and gives to that part of the lake the effect of a river.
Beyond, the Great Lake
stretches away further than the eye can reach.
A great lake in fine weather is like the ocean only in one particular—you cannot see across it. The ocean asserts itself; it is demonstrative.
It heaves, it flashes, it sparkles, it foams, it roars.
On the stillest day, it does not quite go to sleep; the tide steals up the white beach, and glides back again over the shells and pebbles musically, or it murmurs along the sides of black rocks, with a subdued though always audible voice.
The ocean is a living and life-giving thing, “fair, and fresh, and ever free.”
The lake, on a fine day, lies dead.
No tide breaks upon its earthy shore.
It is as blue as a blue ribbon, as blue as the sky; and vessels come sailing out of heaven, and go sailing into heaven, and no eye can discern where the lake ends and heaven begins.
It is as smooth as a mirror's face, and as dull as a mirror's back.
Often a light mist gathers over it, and then the lake is gone
from the prospect; but for an occasional sail dimly descried, or a streak of black smoke left by a passing steamer, it would give absolutely no
sign of its presence, though the spectator is standing a quarter of a mile from the shore.
Oftener the mist gathers thickly along the horizon, and then; so perfect is the illusion, the stranger will swear he sees the opposite shore, not fifteen miles off. There is no excitement in looking upon a lake, and it has no effect upon the appetite or the complexion.
Yet there is a quiet, languid beauty hovering over it, a beauty all its own, a charm that grows upon the mind the longer you linger upon the shore.
The Castle of Indolence should have been placed upon the bank of Lake Erie
where its inmates could have lain on the grass and gazed down,