Lehigh University
The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 138 [09-30-1853]

              rock walls on either side of which do not (you fancy) reach sheer up to the
ceiling which, like a midnight firmament seen from the depths of a ravine,
broods over you.  But it is but that the ribbed rocks are of a lighter hue
than the gypsum covered roof, where small and multitudinous bits having drop-
ped off have besprinkled this subterranean sky with innumerable stars.   A
more marvelous and perfect illusion can not be conceived.    In thus describing
it, I think of it as the reality of that which it is but the similitude.
That solemn star-bespangled firmament may, for all the gazer knows, (as
his back against the rock wall he stares upwards,) be at an immensity of
distance overhead.        Meantime, taking our lamps, Stephen crosses the
hall, and disappears in an unseen cavity in the floor. Dimmer becomes
the lamp glare, and as we gaze aloft, blackly passing athwart that
solemn sky overhead goes a slow thunder cloud � Stephen�s hand over
the lamps!       Anon blackness rushes down upon us, overwhelming and over
powering, a darkness that may be felt, and thus we stand till a lamp
down afar behind from the other end of the crevice passage which the guide 
has passed through.       This �Star Chamber business� is perchance the very
finest thing in the Mammoth Cave.        On proceeding, over the rough
loose stones, the Mackarel Ceiling and Floating Clouds overhead, we
pass through the Banquet Hall. (Branching off here, unvisited by us,
lie the Black Chambers, wild savage scenery, forming an avenue
a mile and a half in length, then abruptly terminating.)    And Solitary
Cave, small but full of fine stalactites is also undisturbed, and I know
not what other places hereabout.    Salts, gypsum, quartz and ochre are here-
by found.        But we approach the end of the Main Cave, � 4 1/2 miles
from its entrance.  Passing a Cascade we are in the Chief City or
Temple, a monstrous room, where standing on a great mountain of
stones we may learn that �tis 900 feet long, 300 wide, and 100 in height.
  And now we turn backwards, to the gladsome day, and a hearty meal               
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