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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 237 [08-04-1883]

              [newspaper clipping]
		{MACKINAC HOUSE,
	MACKINAC ISLAND, Aug. 4, �83.}
  As a piece of great Nature�s work, this
island is fine.  Long years ago the mills of
God ground it slowly but surely down in a
glacial epoch of polar cold, and yet in
this its only exact and scientific importance
it has been scarcely noticed at all by its eulo-
gists.  Hundreds of thousands of people have
visited Sugar Loaf Rock, a cone-like pyramid
of solid stone rising from a broad base to a
peak perhaps ninety feet above the little
clearing in which it stands, and have looked
in blank wonderment upon it, without hav-
ing any clearer conception of its cause than
had the first savage who saw it there perhaps
thousands of years ago.  One hears bright re-
marks about it, of course, such as, �Oh, my,
isn�t it grand!�  �Just lovely!�  �Splen-
did!�  �Haow�d it git thar, d�ye s�pose?�
and so on, and finally it is settled that it was
made so in creation�s dawn, by the hand of
God.
  In geology it belongs to the upper Helder-
berg group, which once lay to the depth of a
hundred feet all over the island, and which
yet remains in the backbone ridge behind the
present fort, and on the summit of which
Fort George (now Holmes) was built, and
also in the Sugar Loaf.  The island has been
ground down and polished and set like a gem
on as lovely a bosom as ever was bared
to the sun.  Fair and fine as its summers are
in modern times, the age has been when all 
this romantic land lay buried and bound be-
neath vast fields of ice that pushed and slid
and moved over it, tearing and grinding and
wearing its solid rocky structure away.
  But if people are dumb as to the Sugar Loaf,
they are noisy with story and legend of every
bold cliff and cave and fallen rock around
the island shores.  Yet the literature and
legend are as often absurd as pretty.  Such, 
for instance, is that of Robinson�s Folly.
The great overhanging cliff at the southeast-
ern point of the island is the scene of the
folly, but Robinson spends his summers now
at the lower end of the island.  The story
goes that on summer evenings Robinson (who
was commandant of the post) was accus-
tomed to stroll upon the bluff.  One evening
he saw a very beautiful girl pass him and
walk over the precipice.  Next evening he
walked again, of course,��anybody would
have done so,��and again he saw the beauti-
ful girl, and again she disappeared so sud-
denly that the excited soldier could not tell
what became of her.
  Then he watched for her coming, and spoke
and begged that she would allow him to ad-
dress her.  She swiftly passed by him, and,
pausing on the very brink of the precipice,
turned and waved her arm as a warning for
him to approach no nearer.  But, maddened
by fear that he was about to lose the lovely
vision, he rushed forward to grasp her, and��
the next day his body was found broken and
torn upon the rocks beneath, but there was
no beautiful maiden there.  This was a mar-
vellous story, and, told in the ancient days of
this New World, it was readily accepted by
the nation whose servant he was, and his loss
was very properly accounted for.  Had it
been said that Robinson had a delirium, in
consequence of too much brandy, that o�er-
truthful tale would have been forgotten in
six months.  There is nothing like romance
in which to embalm the dead.  Honest men
and women die at their posts of duty, doing
it thoroughly to the end, and the world rolls
on, unconscious that they ever lived.
But weave a glamour of romance
about the veriest knave, and the same world
will remember him for ages.  The only curi-
osity about the island which bears a sugges-
tion of artistic truthfulness is the great high
chimney rock on the western bluff, called
Lover�s Leap, at the base of which is a
ragged, rough and dismal hole, known as the
Devil�s Kitchen.  In modern days lovers�
plunges into the lake of matrimony general-
ly end in a devil�s kitchen.
  The only object that one sees in the drive
over the island that are really worthy to ex-
cite admiration are Sugar Loaf and Arch
Rock.  But when one sees them, if he re-
flects upon the names and the things, he can-
not but exclaim at the persistent stupidity of
a �civilized� people who for generations have
applied such tame and lifeless designations
to them.  To the untaught savage, for ages
before a white man ever beheld it, that great
natural pyramid, standing there in its lonely,
silent, eternal grandeur, was quick with life
and power, a symbol and dwelling-place of
the Great Manitou.  To the civilized whites,
with schools and colleges, arts and sci-
ences, it is a sugar loaf, a thing of
pap, a tidbit for babes and sucklings!
Then, too, that other, the grand arch of solid
stone, the masonry of silent Nature, spanning
the shore, and reflected in the beautiful
bosom of the fair sea, has been to the whites
only Arch Rock, while to the untaught
savage it was the sacred gateway of the morn-
ing.  Through it the first bright beams of the
rising god fell softly upon the divine land.
Upon the huge rock on the narrow beach be-
neath it Manitou landed from his invisible
canoe, where he visited his island home, and
beneath the gigantic arch he mounted the
precipitous wall, and entered his rocky tem-
ple, there to watch for a while the fortunes of
his children of the wilderness!               
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