List Of Contents | Contents of Their Pilgrimage, by Charles Dudley Warner
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the waters of the James, at sundown, in the midst of a splendid effect of
mountains and clouds in a thunderstorm, they came to Natural Bridge
station, where a coach awaited them.

This was old ground to King, who had been telling the artist that the two
natural objects east of the Rocky Mountains that he thought entitled to
the epithet "sublime" were Niagara Falls and the Natural Bridge; and as
for scenery, he did not know of any more noble and refined than this
region of the Blue Ridge.  Take away the Bridge altogether, which is a
mere freak, and the place would still possess, he said, a charm unique.
Since the enlargement of hotel facilities and the conversion of this
princely domain into a grand park, it has become a favorite summer
resort.  The gorge of the Bridge is a botanical storehouse, greater
variety of evergreens cannot be found together anywhere else in the
country, and the hills are still clad with stately forests.  In opening
drives, and cutting roads and vistas to give views, the proprietor has
shown a skill and taste in dealing with natural resources, both in regard
to form and the development of contrasts of color in foliage, which are
rare in landscape gardening on this side of the Atlantic.  Here is the
highest part of the Blue Ridge, and from the gentle summit of Mount
Jefferson the spectator has in view a hundred miles of this remarkable
range, this ribbed mountain structure, which always wears a mantle of
beauty, changeable purple and violet.

After supper there was an illumination of the cascade, and the ancient
gnarled arbor-vita: trees that lean over it-perhaps the largest known
specimens of this species-of the gorge and the Bridge.  Nature is apt to
be belittled by this sort of display, but the noble dignity of the vast
arch of stone was superior to this trifling, and even had a sort of
mystery added to its imposing grandeur.  It is true that the flaming
bonfires and the colored lights and the tiny figures of men and women
standing in the gorge within the depth of the arch made the scene
theatrical, but it was strange and weird and awful, like the fantasy of a
Walpurgis' Night or a midnight revel in Faust.

The presence of the colored brother in force distinguished this from
provincial resorts at the North, even those that employ this color as
servants.  The flavor of Old Virginia is unmistakable, and life drops
into an easy-going pace under this influence.  What fine manners, to be
sure!  The waiters in the diningroom, in white ties and dress-coats, move
on springs, starting even to walk with a complicated use of all the
muscles of the body, as if in response to the twang of a banjo; they do
nothing without excessive motion and flourish.  The gestures and good-
humored vitality expended in changing plates would become the leader of
an orchestra.  Many of them, besides, have the expression of class-
leaders--of a worldly sort.  There were the aristocratic chambermaid and
porter, who had the air of never having waited on any but the first
families.  And what clever flatterers and readers of human nature!  They
can tell in a moment whether a man will be complimented by the remark,
"I tuk you for a Richmond gemman, never shod have know'd you was from de
Norf," or whether it is best to say, "We depen's on de gemmen frum de
Norf; folks down hyer never gives noflin; is too pore."  But to a
Richmond man it is always, "The Yankee is mighty keerful of his money; we
depen's on the old sort, marse."  A fine specimen of the "Richmond
darkey" of the old school-polite, flattering, with a venerable head of
gray wool, was the bartender, who mixed his juleps with a flourish as if
keeping time to music.  "Haven't I waited on you befo', sah?  At Capon
Springs?  Sorry, sah, but tho't I knowed you when you come in.  Sorry,
but glad to know you now, sah.  If that julep don't suit you, sah, throw
it in my face."

A friendly, restful, family sort of place, with music, a little mild
dancing, mostly performed by children, in the pavilion, driving and
riding-in short, peace in the midst of noble scenery.  No display of
fashion, the artist soon discovered, and he said he longed to give the
pretty girls some instruction in the art of dress.  Forbes was a
missionary of "style."  It hurt his sense of the fitness of things to see
women without it.  He used to say that an ill-dressed woman would spoil
the finest landscape.  For such a man, with an artistic feeling so
sensitive, the White Sulphur Springs is a natural goal.  And he and his
friend hastened thither with as much speed as the Virginia railways,
whose time-tables are carefully adjusted to miss all connections, permit.

"What do you think of a place," he wrote Miss Lamont--the girl read me a
portion of his lively letter that summer at Saratoga--" into which you
come by a belated train at half-past eleven at night, find friends
waiting up for you in evening costume, are taken to a champagne supper at
twelve, get to your quarters at one, and have your baggage delivered to
you at two o'clock in the morning?"  The friends were lodged in "Paradise
Row"--a whimsical name given to one of the quarters assigned to single
gentlemen.  Put into these single-room barracks, which were neat but
exceedingly primitive in their accommodations, by hilarious negro
attendants who appeared to regard life as one prolonged lark, and who
avowed that there was no time of day or night when a mint-julep or any
other necessary of life would not be forthcoming at a moment's warning,
the beginning of their sojourn at "The White" took on an air of
adventure, and the two strangers had the impression of having dropped
into a garrison somewhere on the frontier.  But when King stepped out
upon the gallery, in the fresh summer morning, the scene that met his
eyes was one of such peaceful dignity, and so different from any in his
experience, that he was aware that he had come upon an original
development of watering-place life.

The White Sulphur has been for the better part of a century, as everybody
knows, the typical Southern resort, the rendezvous of all that was most
characteristic in the society of the whole South, the meeting-place of
its politicians, the haunt of its belles, the arena of gayety, intrigue,
and fashion.  If tradition is to be believed, here in years gone by were
concocted the measures that were subsequently deployed for the government
of the country at Washington, here historic matches were made, here
beauty had triumphs that were the talk of a generation, here hearts were
broken at a ball and mended in Lovers' Walk, and here fortunes were
nightly lost and won.  It must have been in its material conditions a
primitive place in the days of its greatest fame.  Visitors came to it in
their carriages and unwieldy four-horse chariots, attended by troops of
servants, making slow but most enjoyable pilgrimages over the mountain
roads, journeys that lasted a week or a fortnight, and were every day
enlivened by jovial adventure.  They came for the season.  They were all
of one social order, and needed no introduction; those from Virginia were
all related to each other, and though life there was somewhat in the
nature of a picnic, it had its very well-defined and ceremonious code of
etiquette.  In the memory of its old habitues it was at once the freest
and the most aristocratic assembly in the world.  The hotel was small and
its arrangements primitive; a good many of the visitors had their own
cottages, and the rows of these cheap structures took their names from
their occupants.  The Southern presidents, the senators, and statesmen,
the rich planters, lived in cottages which still have an historic
interest in their memory.  But cottage life was never the exclusive
affair that it is elsewhere; the society was one body, and the hotel was
the centre.

Time has greatly changed the White Sulphur; doubtless in its physical
aspect it never was so beautiful and attractive as it is today, but all
the modern improvements have not destroyed the character of the resort,
which possesses a great many of its primitive and old-time peculiarities.
Briefly the White is an elevated and charming mountain region, so cool,
in fact, especially at night, that the "season" is practically limited to
July and August, although I am not sure but a quiet person, who likes
invigorating air, and has no daughters to marry off, would find it
equally attractive in September and October, when the autumn foliage is
in its glory.  In a green rolling interval, planted with noble trees and
flanked by moderate hills, stands the vast white caravansary, having wide
galleries and big pillars running round three sides.  The front and two
sides are elevated, the galleries being reached by flights of steps, and
affording room underneath for the large billiard and bar-rooms.  From the
hotel the ground slopes down to the spring, which is surmounted by a
round canopy on white columns, and below is an opening across the stream
to the race-track, the servants' quarters, and a fine view of receding
hills.  Three sides of this charming park are enclosed by the cottages
and cabins, which back against the hills, and are more or less embowered
in trees.  Most of these cottages are built in blocks and rows, some
single rooms, others large enough to accommodate a family, but all
reached by flights of steps, all with verandas, and most of them
connected by galleries.  Occasionally the forest trees have been left,
and the galleries built around them.  Included in the premises are two
churches, a gambling-house, a couple of country stores, and a post-
office.  There are none of the shops common at watering-places for the
sale of fancy articles, and, strange to say, flowers are not
systematically cultivated, and very few are ever to be had.  The hotel
has a vast dining-room, besides the minor eating-rooms for children and
nurses, a large ballroom, and a drawing-room of imposing dimensions.
Hotel and cottages together, it is said, can lodge fifteen hundred

The natural beauty of the place is very great, and fortunately there is

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