It holds up an almost perfectly level and spotless mirror to the temper of the earlier Renaissance.
These cave flowers are unfolded by pressure, as if a sheaf were forced through a tight binding, or the crystal fibres curl outward from the centre of the group. Thus spotless arches of 50 ft.
The purity and integrity of his life are commemorated in a sentence by Daniel Webster: "When the spotless ermine of the judicial robe fell on John Jay, it touched nothing less spotless than itself."
Even in Upper Egypt a few decades ago, there was a tomb of the Mahommedan sheikh Heridi, who - it is alleged - was transformed into a serpent; in cases of sickness a spotless virgin entered the cave and the serpentoccupant might permit itself to be taken in procession to the patient.
In October 1881 he wrote a touching sonnet on the death of President Garfield, and in January 1882, when the hand of death was already upon him, his poem, Hermes Trismegistus, in which he gives utterance, in language as rich as that of the early gods, to that strange feeling of awe without fear, and hope without form, with which every man of spotless life and upright intellect withdraws from the phenomena of time to the realities of eternity.
The house, with its bare, unplastered log walls, was not overclean--it did not seem that those living in it aimed at keeping it spotless--but neither was it noticeably neglected.