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PAGE 4

Springs
by [?]

Of like copiousness and splendor is the Caledonia spring, or springs, in western New York. They give birth to a white-pebbled, transparent stream, several rods wide and two or three feet deep, that flows eighty barrels of water per second, and is alive with trout. The trout are fat and gamy even in winter.

The largest spring in England, called the Well of St. Winifred, at Holywell, flows less than three barrels per second. I recently went many miles out of my way to see the famous trout spring in Warren County, New Jersey. This spring flows about one thousand gallons of water per minute, which has a uniform temperature of fifty degrees winter and summer. It is near the Musconetcong Creek, which looks as if it were made up of similar springs. On the parched and sultry summer day upon which my visit fell, it was well worth walking many miles just to see such a volume of water issue from the ground. I felt with the boy Petrarch, when he first beheld a famous spring, that “were I master of such a fountain I would prefer it to the finest of cities.” A large oak leans down over the spring and affords an abundance of shade. The water does not bubble up, but comes straight out with great speed, like a courier with important news, and as if its course underground had been a direct and an easy one for a long distance. Springs that issue in this way have a sort of vertebra, a ridgy and spine-like centre that suggests the gripe and push there is in this element.

What would one not give for such a spring in his back yard, or front yard, or anywhere near his house, or in any of his fields? One would be tempted to move his house to it, if the spring could not be brought to the house. Its mere poetic value and suggestion would be worth all the art and ornament to be had. It would irrigate one’s heart and character as well as his acres. Then one might have a Naiad Queen to do his churning and to saw his wood; then one might “see his chore done by the gods themselves,” as Emerson says, or by the nymphs, which is just as well.

I know a homestead, situated on one of the picturesque branch valleys of the Housatonic, that has such a spring flowing by the foundation walls of the house, and not a little of the strong overmastering local attachment that holds the owner there is born of that, his native spring. He could not, if he would, break from it. He says that when he looks down into it he has a feeling that he is an amphibious animal that has somehow got stranded. A long, gentle flight of stone steps leads from the back porch down to it under the branches of a lofty elm. It wells up through the white sand and gravel as through a sieve, and fills the broad space that has been arranged for it so gently and imperceptibly that one does not suspect its copiousness until he has seen the overflow. It turns no wheel, yet it lends a pliant hand to many of the affairs of that household. It is a refrigerator in summer and a frost-proof envelope in winter, and a fountain of delights the year round. Trout come up from the Weebutook River and dwell there and become domesticated, and take lumps of butter from your hand, or rake the ends of your fingers if you tempt them. It is a kind of sparkling and ever-washed larder. Where are the berries? where is the butter, the milk, the steak, the melon? In the spring. It preserves, it ventilates, it cleanses. It is a board of health and a general purveyor. It is equally for use and for pleasure. Nothing degrades it, and nothing can enhance its beauty. It is picture and parable, and an instrument of music. It is servant and divinity in one. The milk of forty cows is cooled in it, and never a drop gets into the cans, though they are plunged to the brim. It is as insensible to drought and rain as to heat and cold. It is planted upon the sand, and yet it abideth like a house upon a rock. It evidently has some relation to a little brook that flows down through a deep notch in the hills half a mile distant, because on one occasion, when the brook was being ditched or dammed, the spring showed great perturbation. Every nymph in it was filled with sudden alarm and kicked up a commotion.