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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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7645. RIVER, Potomac.—
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7645. RIVER, Potomac.—

The passage of
the Potomac through the Blue Ridge is, perhaps,
one of the most stupendous scenes in
nature. You stand on a very high point of
land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah,
having ranged along the foot of the mountain
an hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left
approaches the Potomac, in quest of a passage
also. In the moment of their junction, they
rush together against the mountain, rend it
asunder, and pass off to the sea. The first
glance of this scene hurries our senses into the
opinion, that this earth has been created in
time, that the mountains were formed first, that
the rivers began to flow afterwards, that in
this place, particularly, they have been dammed
up by the Blue Ridge of mountains, and have
formed an ocean which filled the whole valley;
that continuing to rise they have at length
broken over at this spot, and have torn the
mountain down from its summit to its base.
The piles of rock on each hand, but particularly
on the Shenandoah, the evident marks of their
disrupture and avulsion from their beds by the
most powerful agents of nature, corroborate the
impression. But the distant finishing which
nature has given to the picture, is of a very
different character. It is a true contrast to the
foreground. It is as placid and delightful as
that is wild and tremendous. For the mountain
being cloven asunder, she presents to your
eye, through the cleft, a small catch of smooth
blue horizon, at an infinite distance in the plain
country, inviting you, as it were, from the riot
and tumult roaring around, to pass through the
breach and participate of the calm below. Here
the eye ultimately composes itself; and that
way, too, the road happens actually to lead.
You cross the Potomac above the junction, pass
along its side through the base of the mountain
for three miles, its terrible precipices hanging
in fragments over you, and within about twenty
miles reach Fredericktown, and the fine country
round that. This scene is worth a voyage
across the Atlantic. Yet here, as in the neighborhood
of the Natural Bridge, are people who
have passed their lives within half a dozen
miles, and have never been to survey these
monuments of a war between rivers and
mountains, which must have shaken the earth
itself to its centre.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 264. Ford ed., iii, 102.