Skaneateles, Perhaps

Skaneateles by Dixon

In 1873, the Christian Weekly ran a short piece entitled “Skaneateles Lake,” illustrated with a woodblock engraving from a drawing by Paul Dixon.

“There are a multitude of spots in this country, out of the track of the ordinary tourist, which were they in Europe would long ago have been famed in poetry and song. They waste, as we may say, their sweetness on the desert air.* At least they do not attract the attention which their intricate merits deserve. Such a spot is Skaneateles Lake in Onondaga County, N.Y. This beautiful sheet of water is some sixteen miles long by two miles wide. It affords a fine opportunity for the fisherman to enjoy his favorite sport, and gives to the lover of the picturesque abundant gratification. ­ For complete rest, apart from the bustle of busy city life, away from the chains of fashion, the tyrannical goddess, such spots as these are to be sought. Here body and mind and heart can be refreshed; here the restoring power of nature can be enjoyed to the full, and from here one can return to the burdensome duties of life with memories of beauties that will be a constant joy.”

*An allusion to a line in Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751): “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,/And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

The picture is odd, in that it doesn’t appear to be a view of Skaneateles Lake. In May of 1872, Dixon had done the picture below for Appleton’s Journal; note the similarities, including the “Boats to Let” sign. One wonders if Dixon didn’t use an earlier sketch of a different lake for the Christian Weekly assignment.

Picture Dixon Boat