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Rural Hours, Susan Fenimore Cooper -- Summer


There is certainly no natural object, among all those which make up a landscape, winning so much upon our affection, as water. It is and essential part of prospects, widely different in character. Mountains form a more striking and imposing feature, and they give to a country a character of majesty which cannot exist without them; but not even the mountains, with all their sublime prerogative, can wholly satisfy the mind, when stripped of torrent, cascade, or lake; while, on the other hand, if there be only a quiet brook running through a meadow in some familiar spot, the eye will often turn, unconsciously, in that direction, and linger with interest upon the humble stream. Observe, also, that the waters in themselves are capable of the highest degree of beauty, without the aid of any foreign element to enhance their dignity; give them full sway, let them spread themselves into their widest expanse, let them roll into boundless seas, enfolding the earth in their embrace, with half the heavens for their canopy, and assuredly they have no need to borrow from the mountain or the forest. 


Even in a limited water-view, there is a flow of life, a ceaseless variety, which becomes a perpetual source of delight; every passing hour throws over the trans parent countenance of the lake, or river, some fresh tent of coloring, calls up some new plate of expression beneath the changing influences of the sun, the winds, the clouds, and we are all but cheated into the belief that the waters know something of the sorrows and joys of our own hearts; we turn to them with more than admiration — with the partiality with which we turn to the face of a friend. In the morning, perhaps, we behold the waves charged with the wild power of the storm, dark and threatening, and the evening sun of the same day finds the flood lulled to rest, calmly reflecting the intelligent labors of man, and the sublime works of the Almighty, as though in conscious repose.

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