I was shown one day at the Arnold Arboretum, near Boston, the north side of a hill, steep and rocky, but clothed with giant Hemlocks from its lofty summit to the burbling beck at its base. No nobler sight can be imagined. I entered this forest at twilight, and I found it a temple, solemn and silent. The majestic trunks rose from their rocky base at wide intervals, climbing one above the other to the crest of the lofty eminence they crowned. Their close-knit branches far overhead formed a dense canopy through which the failing light came dimly, as befits a temple. So wild, so sylvan a spot, within the limits of a great city, can be found in no European park, however magnificent. It is unique and singularly imposing. On the southern slope of that hill no Hemlock grows, showing that what this noble tree demands for full development is shade and coolness, and shelter from summer winds, which burn and blight. That glimpse of ancient woodland, ages old, will always linger in my memory as a link between the bustling present and the silent past. The busy city presses around it, the hum of traffic is near. You step aside from the highway, pass a gate, cross a tiny brook that tumbles as carelessly at the foot of the hill as if it were racing through the wilds of Colorado, and you enter a domain apparently as remote, venerable, and silent as when the Indian was the sole occupant of Shawmut and found his way through the trackless forest to his hunting-grounds. A little path worn by the foot strays along beside the laughing stream; other paths may lead over the hill, but in the dimness I failed to see them, and the solitude seemed unbroken.
Night was falling, the air was chill, the murmur of the leaves far above was barely audible; the impression was indescribably solemn and church-like, as if the aisles of some great cathedral were there stretching away into the shadowy distance, full of mystery.
Stately and strong the old trees stood, as if they might be as eternal as the rocks and hill, and beautiful they were in their silent majesty, uplifting their venerable heads to the gray evening sky which had domed over them for centuries.
On an opposite hill a grove of young evergreens was springing up.
"That, too, will be fine in a hundred, years," said the Director, as we passed out of the great gate; and, with a thought of my baby forest at home which, perhaps, in a century or two, may be worth while, I went away grave but rejoicing, for I had seen a noble sight.