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Title: A Tour to the River Saguenay, in Lower Canada
Author: Lanman, Charles
Language: English
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                              A   T O U R

                                 TO THE

                     R I V E R   S A G U E N A Y ,

                                   IN

                       L O W E R   C A N A D A .

                                   BY
                            CHARLES LANMAN,
                AUTHOR OF “A SUMMER IN THE WILDERNESS.”

                             PHILADELPHIA:
                     C A R E Y   A N D   H A R T .
                                 1848.



     Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1847, by
                            CAREY AND HART,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of
                             Pennsylvania.

                             PHILADELPHIA:
                   T. K. AND P. G. COLLINS, PRINTERS.



                                   TO
                        SOLOMON T. NICOLL, ESQ.,
                           OF NEW YORK CITY.
    MY DEAR SIR,

    To you, in testimony of my friendship, I inscribe this little
    volume.

    On a pleasant morning in May last, I awoke from a piscatorial
    dream, haunted by the idea that I _must_ spend a portion of the
    approaching summer in the indulgence of my passion for angling.
    Relinquishing my editorial labors for a time, I performed a
    pilgrimage which has resulted in the production of this volume,
    and I hope it may entertain those of my friends and the public
    who have heretofore received my literary efforts with favor. The
    work will be found to contain a record of adventures in the
    valleys of the Hudson, St. Lawrence and St. Johns, and along
    some of the rivers of New England.

                                         Truly, your friend,
                                                   CHARLES LANMAN.
      NEW YORK, _Autumn of 1847_.



                               CONTENTS.


                               CHAPTER I.

    The Catskill Mountains—South Peak Mountain—A thunder
    storm—Midnight on the mountains—Sunrise—Plauterkill
    Clove—Peter Hummel—Trout fishing—Stony Clove—The Kauterskill
    Fall—The Mountain House—The Mountain Lake

                              CHAPTER II.

    A spring day—The sky—The mountains—The streams—The
    woods—The open fields—Domestic animals—Poetry—The poultry
    yard

                              CHAPTER III.

                         The Corn Planting Bee

                              CHAPTER IV.

    Lake Horicon—Sketches of its scenery—Information for
    anglers—Sabbath Day Point—War memories—The insect city—Death
    of a deer—Rogers’ Slide—Diamond Island—The snake
    charmer—Snake stories—Night on Horicon

                               CHAPTER V.

    The Scaroon country—Scaroon Lake—Pike fishing by
    torchlight—Trout fishing—Lyndsay’s Tavern—Paradox Lake

                              CHAPTER VI.

    The Adirondac Mountains—Trout fishing in the Boreas River—A
    night in the woods—Moose Lake—Lake Delia—The Newcomb
    Farm—Mount Tahawus—The Indian Pass—Lakes Sanford and
    Henderson—The McIntyre iron works

                              CHAPTER VII.

         John Cheney, the Adirondac hunter—Some of his exploits

                             CHAPTER VIII.

              Burlington—Lake Champlain—Distinguished men

                              CHAPTER IX.

    Stage coach—The Winooski—The Green Mountains—The ruined
    dwelling—The White Mountains—The Flume—A deep pool—The Old
    Man of the Mountains—The Basin—Franconia Notch—View of the
    mountains—Mount Washington—The Notch Valley

                               CHAPTER X.

                                Montreal

                              CHAPTER XI.

                                 Quebec

                              CHAPTER XII.

        A sail down the St. Lawrence—Sword-fish chasing a whale

                             CHAPTER XIII.

    The Saguenay River—Storm picture—The Hudson’s Bay
    Company—Eminent merchant—The Mountaineer
    Indians—Tadousac—Ruin of a Jesuit establishment

                              CHAPTER XIV.

                     The salmon—Several adventures

                              CHAPTER XV.

          Seal hunting on the St. Lawrence—The white porpoise

                              CHAPTER XVI.

                   The Esquimaux Indians of Labrador

                             CHAPTER XVII.

                         The Habitans of Canada

                             CHAPTER XVIII.

    The Grand Portage into New Brunswick—Lake Timiscouta—The
    Madawaska River

                              CHAPTER XIX.

                              The Acadians

                              CHAPTER XX.

           Sail down the Madawaska—The Falls of the St. John

                              CHAPTER XXI.

                        The Hermit of Aroostook

                             CHAPTER XXII.

                           The River St. John

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

                          The Penobscot River

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

                 Moosehead Lake and the Kennebeck River

                              CHAPTER XXV.

       A fishing party on the Thames—Watch Hill—Night adventures

                             CHAPTER XXVI.

    A week in a fishing smack—Fishermen—A beautiful morning at
    sea—A day at Nantucket—Wreck of a ship—Night on the
    Sound—Safe arrival



                              A   T O U R
                                 TO THE
                      R I V E R   S A G U E N A Y.

                 *        *        *        *        *


                           C H A P T E R   I.

    The Catskill Mountains—South Peak Mountain—A thunder
    storm—Midnight on the mountains—Sunrise—Plauterkill
    Clove—Peter Hummel—Trout fishing—Stony Clove—The Kauterskill
    Fall—The Mountain House—The Mountain Lake.

                                             _Plauterkill Clove, May._

I commence this chapter in the language of Leather Stocking:—“You know
the Catskills, lad, for you must have seen them on your left, as you
followed the river up from York, looking as blue as a piece of clear
sky, and holding the clouds on their tops, as the smoke curls over the
head of an Indian chief at a council-fire.” Yes, everybody is acquainted
with the names of these mountains, but few with their peculiarities of
scenery. They are situated about eight miles from the Hudson, rise to an
average elevation of about thirty-five hundred feet, and running in a
straight line from north to south, cover a space of some twenty-five
miles. The fertile valley on the east is as beautiful as heart could
desire; it is watered by the Kauterskill, Plauterkill and Esopus creeks,
inhabited by a sturdy Dutch yeomanry, and is the agricultural mother of
Catskill, Saugerties and Kingston. The upland on the west for about
forty miles is rugged, dreary and thinly settled, but the winding valley
of Schoharie beyond is possessed of many charms peculiarly American. The
mountains themselves are covered with dense forests abounding in cliffs
and waterfalls, and for the most part untrodden by the footsteps of man.
Looking at them from the Hudson, the eye is attracted by two deep
hollows, which are called “Cloves.” The one nearest to the Mountain
House, Kauterskill Clove, is distinguished for a remarkable fall, which
has been made familiar to the world by the pen of Bryant and the pencil
of Cole; but this Clove is rapidly filling up with human habitations;
while the other, Plauterkill Clove, though yet possessing much of its
original glory, is certain of the same destiny. The gorge whence issues
the Esopus, is among the Shandaken mountains, and not visible from the
Hudson.

My nominal residence, at the present time, is at the mouth of
Plauterkill Clove. To the west, and only half a mile from my abode, are
the beautiful mountains, whose outlines fade away to the north, like the
waves of the sea when covered with a visible atmosphere. The nearest,
and to me the most beloved of these, is called South Peak. It is nearly
four thousand feet high, and covered from base to summit with one vast
forest of trees, varying from eighty to an hundred feet in height. Like
its brethren, it is a wild and uncultivated wilderness, abounding in all
the interesting features of mountain scenery. Like a corner-stone, does
it stand at the junction of the northern and western ranges of the
Catskills; and as its huge form looms against the evening sky, it
inspires one with awe, as if it were the ruler of the world:—yet I have
learned to love it as a friend. I have pondered upon its impressive
features when reposing in the noontide sunshine, when enveloped in
clouds, when holding communion with the most holy night, and when
trembling under the influence of a thunder-storm and encircled by a
rainbow. It has filled my soul with images of beauty and sublimity, and
made me feel the omnipotence of God.

A day and a night was it lately my privilege to spend upon this
mountain, accompanied by a poet friend. We started at an early hour,
equipped in our brown fustians, and laden with well-filled
knapsacks—one with a hatchet in his belt, and the other with a brace of
pistols. We were bound to the extreme summit of the peak, where we
intended to spend the night, witness the rising of the sun, and return
at our leisure on the following day. But when I tell my readers that our
course lay right up the almost perpendicular side of the mountain, where
there was no path save that formed by a torrent or a bear, they will
readily believe it was somewhat rare and romantic. But this was what we
delighted in; so we shouted “excelsior!” and commenced the ascent. The
air was excessively sultry, and the very first effort we made caused the
perspiration to start most profusely. Upward, upward was our course, now
climbing through a tangled thicket, or under the spray of a cascade, and
then, again, supporting ourselves by the roots of saplings, or
scrambling under a fallen tree;—now, like the samphire gatherer,
scaling a precipice, and then again clambering over a rock, or
“shinning” up a hemlock tree to reach a desired point.

Our first halt was made at a singular spot called “Hunter’s Hole,” which
is a spacious cavern or pit, forty feet deep, and twenty wide, and
approached only by a fissure in the mountain, sufficiently large to
admit a man. Connected with this place is the following story. Many
years ago, a farmer, residing at the foot of the mountain, having missed
a favorite dog, and being anxious for his safety, called together his
neighbors, and offered a reward for the safe return of his canine
friend. Always ready to do a kind deed, a number of them started in
different directions for the hunt. A barking sound having been heard to
issue from this cavern, it was discovered, and at the bottom of it the
lost dog, which had probably fallen therein while chasing a fox. “But
how shall he be extricated from this hole?” was the general inquiry of
the now assembled hunters. Not one of all the group would venture to
descend, under any circumstances; so that the poor animal remained a
prisoner for another night. But the next morning he was released, and by
none other than a brave boy, the son of the farmer and playmate of the
dog. A large number of men were present on the occasion. A strong rope
was tied around the body of the child, and he was gently lowered down.
On reaching the bottom, and finding, by the aid of his lamp, that he was
in a “real nice place,” the little rogue concluded to have some sport,
whereupon he proceeded to pull down more rope, until he had made a coil
of two hundred feet, which was bewildering enough to the crowd above;
but nothing happened to him during the adventure, and the dog was
rescued. The young hero having played his trick so well, it was
generally supposed, for a long time after, that this cavern was two
hundred feet deep, and none were ever found sufficiently bold to enter
in, even after a beautiful fox. The bravery of the boy, however, was the
cause of his death, for he was cut down by a leaden ball in the war of
1812.

The next remarkable place that we attained in ascending South Peak, was
the Bear Bank, where, in the depth of winter, may be found an abundance
of these charming creatures. It is said that they have often been seen
sunning themselves, even from the hills east of the Hudson.

We were now upon a beetling precipice, three hundred feet high, and
under the shadow of a huge pine, we enjoyed a slice of bread and pork,
with a few drops of genuine mountain dew. Instead of a dessert of
strawberries and cream, however, we were furnished by venerable dame
Nature with a thunder-storm. It was one that we had noticed making a
great commotion in the valley below. It had, probably, discovered two
bipeds going towards its home, the sky, and seemed to have pursued us
with a view of frightening us back again. But, “knowing that Nature
never did betray the heart that loved her,” we awaited the
thunder-storm’s reply to our obstinate refusal to descend. The cloud was
yet below us, but its unseen herald, a strong east wind, told us that
the conflict had commenced. Presently, a peal of thunder resounded
through the vast profound, which caused the mountain to tremble to its
deep foundation. And then followed another, and another, as the storm
increased; and the rain and hail poured down in floods. Thinking it more
safe to expose ourselves to the storm than remain under the pine, we
retreated without delay, when we were suddenly enveloped in the heart of
the cloud, only a few rods distant. Then a stroke of lightning blinded
us, and the towering forest monarch was smitten to the earth. We were in
the midst of an unwritten epic poem about that time, but we could not
appreciate its beauties, for another peal of thunder, and another stroke
of lightning, attracted our whole attention. Soon as these had passed, a
terrible gale followed in their wake, tumbling down piles of loose
rocks, and bending to the dust, as though in passion, the resisting
forms of an army of trees; and afterwards, a glorious rainbow spanned
the mountain, appearing like those distinguishing circles around the
temples of the Mighty and Holy, as portrayed by the painters of old. The
commotion lasted for an hour, when the region of the Bear Bank became as
serene as the slumber of a babe. A spirit of silent prayer was brooding
upon the earth and in the air, and with a shadow of thoughtfulness at
our hearts, we resumed our upward march.

Our next halting place was upon a sort of peninsula called the Eagle’s
Nest, where, it is said, an Indian child was formerly carried by one of
those birds, and cruelly destroyed, and whence the frantic mother, with
the mangled body of her babe, leaped into the terrible abyss below. From
this point we discovered a host of clouds assembled in council above
High Peak, as if discussing the parched condition of the earth, and the
speediest mode of affording relief to a still greater extent than they
had done; and far away to the west, was another assembly of clouds,
vying, like sporting children, to outrun and overleap each other in
their aerial amphitheatre.

After this we surmounted another point called Rattlesnake Ledge. Here
the rocks were literally covered with the white bones of those reptiles,
slaughtered by the hunter in by-gone years, and we happened to see a
pair of them that were alive. One was about four feet long, and the
other, which was only half as large, seemed to be the offspring of the
old one, for, when discovered, they were playing together like an
affectionate mother with her tender child. Soon as we appeared in their
presence, the serpents immediately ceased their sport, and in the
twinkling of an eye coiled themselves in the attitude of battle. The
conflict was of short duration, and to know the result you need only
look into my cabinet of curiosities.

Higher yet was it our lot to climb. We went a little out of our course
to obtain a bird’s-eye view of a mountain lake. In its tranquil bosom
the glowing evening sky and mountain sides were vividly reflected, and
the silence surrounding it was so profound that we could almost hear the
ripples made by a solitary duck, as it swam from one shore to the other
in its utter loneliness. Very beautiful, indeed, was this picture, and
as I reflected upon it, I thought that as the Infant of Bethlehem was
tenderly protected by the parents who watched over its slumbers, so was
this exquisite lake cradled and protected in the lap of the mountains.

One sight more did we behold before reaching the summit of South Peak.
It was the sunset hour, and on a jutting cliff which commanded an
immense view, our eyes were delighted by the sight of a deer, standing
still, and looking down upon the silent void below, which was then
covered with a deep purple atmosphere, causing the prospect to resemble
the boundless ocean. It was the last of its race we could not but fancy,
bidding the human world good night, previous to taking to its heathery
couch in a nameless ravine.

One effort more and the long-desired eminence was attained, and we were
a little nearer the evening star than we had ever been before. It was
now the hour of twilight, and as we were about done over with fatigue,
it was not long before we had pitched our leafy tent, eaten some supper,
and yielded ourselves to the embrace of sleep, “dear mother of fresh
thoughts and joyous health!”

At midnight, a cooling breath of air having passed across my face, I was
awakened from a fearful dream, which left me in a nervous and excited
state of mind. A strange and solemn gloom had taken possession of my
spirit, which was greatly enhanced by the doleful song of a neighboring
hemlock grove. Our encampment having been made a little below the summit
of the peak, and feeling anxious to behold the prospect at that hour,
from that point, I awakened my companion, and we seated ourselves upon
the topmost rock, which was nearly bare of shrubs, but covered with a
rich moss, softer and more beautiful than the finest carpet. But how can
I describe the scene that burst upon our enraptured vision? It was
unlike anything I had ever seen before, creating a lone, lost feeling,
which I supposed could only be realized by a wanderer in an uninhabited
wilderness, or on the ocean, a thousand leagues from home. Above, around
and beneath us, ay, far _beneath_ us, were the cold bright stars, and to
the eastward the “young moon with the old moon in her arms.” In the west
were floating a little band of pearly clouds, which I almost fancied to
be winged chariots, and that they were crowded with children, the absent
and loved of other years, who, in a frolic of blissful joy, were out
upon the fields of heaven. On one side of us reposed the long broad
valley of the Hudson, with its cities, towns, villages, woods, hills and
plains, whose crowded highway was diminished to a narrow girdle of deep
blue. Towards the south, hill beyond hill, field beyond field receded to
the sky, occasionally enlivened by a peaceful lake. On our right a
multitudinous array of rugged mountains lay piled up, apparently as
impassable as the bottomless gulf. In the north, old High Peak, King of
the Catskills, bared his bosom to the moonlight, as if demanding and
expecting the homage of the world. Strange and magnificent, indeed, was
the prospect from that mountain watch-tower, and it was with reluctance
that we turned away, as in duty bound, to slumber until the dawn. The
dawn! and now for a sunrise picture among the mountains, with all the
illusive performances of the mists and clouds! He comes! he comes! “the
king of the bright days!” Now the crimson and golden clouds are parting,
and he bursts on the bewildered sight! One moment more, and the whole
earth rejoices in his beams, falling alike as they do upon the prince
and the peasant of every land. And now, on either side and beneath the
sun an array of new-born clouds are gathering—like a band of cavaliers,
preparing to accompany their leader on a journey. Out of the Atlantic
have they just arisen; at noon, they will have pitched their tents on
the cerulean plains of heaven; and when the hours of day are numbered,
the far-off waters of the Pacific will again receive them in its cool
embrace. Listen! was not that the roar of waves? Naught but the report
of thunder in the valley below. Are not the two oceans coming together?
See! we are on a rock in the midst of an illimitable sea, and the tide
is surely rising—rising rapidly! Strange! it is still as death, and yet
the oceans are covered with billows! Lo! the naked masts of a ship,
stranded on a lee shore!—and yonder, as if a reef were hidden there to
impede their course, the waves are struggling in despair, now leaping to
the sky, and now plunging into a deep abyss! And when they have passed
the unseen enemy, how rapid and beautiful are their various evolutions,
as they hasten to the more distant shore! Another look, and what a
change! The mists of morning are being exhaled by the rising sun,
already the world of waters is dispersed, and in the valley of the
Hudson, far, far away, are reposing all the enchanting features of the
green earth.

We descended the mountain by a circuitous route, that we might enjoy the
luxury of passing through Plauterkill Clove. The same spring that gives
rise to Schoharie Creek, which is the principal tributary of the Mohawk,
also gives rise to the Plauterkill. In its very infancy, it begins to
leap and laugh with the gladness of a boy. From its source to the plain,
the distance is only two miles, and yet it has a fall of twenty-five
hundred feet; but the remainder of its course, until it reaches the
Esopus, is calm and picturesque, and on every side, and at every turn,
may be seen the farm-houses of a sturdy yeomanry.

The wild gorge or dell through which it passes, abounds in waterfalls of
surpassing beauty, varying from ten to a hundred feet in height, whose
rocks are green with the moss of centuries, and whose brows are ever
wreathed with the most exquisite of vines and flowers. Here is the
double leap, with its almost fathomless pool, containing a hermit trout
that has laughed at the angler’s skill for a score of years; the fall of
the Mountain Spirit, haunted, as it is said, by the disembodied spirit
of an Indian girl, who lost her life here while pursuing a phantom of
the brain; and here is the Blue-bell Fall, forever guarded by a
multitudinous array of those charming flowers. Caverns, too, and chasms
are here, dark, deep, chilly and damp; where the toad, the lizard and
snake, and strange families of insects, are perpetually multiplying, and
actually seeming to enjoy their loathsome lives; and here is the Black
Chasm, and the Devil’s Chamber, the latter with a perpendicular wall of
twice the height of old Trinity, and with a wainscoting of pines and
hemlocks which have “braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze.”
Plauterkill Clove is an eddy of the great and tumultuous world, and in
itself a world of unwritten poetry, whose primitive loveliness has not
yet been disfigured by the influence of Mammon. It has been consecrated
by a brotherhood of friends, well-tried and true, to the pure religion
of Nature; and after spending a summer-day therein, and then emerging
under the open sky, their feelings are always allied to those of a
pilgrim in a strange land, passing through the dreamy twilight of an old
cathedral.

But it is time that I should change my tune, as I desire to record a few
fishing adventures which I have lately experienced among the Catskills.
My first excursion was performed along the margin of Sweetwater Brook,
which flows out of the lake already mentioned. My guide and companion
was a notorious hunter of this region, named Peter Hummel, whose
services I have engaged for all my future rambles among the mountains.
He is, decidedly, one of the wildest and rarest characters I have ever
known, and would be a valuable acquisition to a menagerie. He was born
in a little hut at the foot of South Peak, is twenty-seven years of age,
and has never been to school a day in his life, nor, in his travels
towards civilization, further away from home than fifteen miles. He was
_educated_ for a bark-gatherer, his father and several brothers having
always been in the business; but Peter is averse to common-place labor,
to anything, in fact, that will bring money. When a boy of five years,
he had an inkling for the mountains, and once had wandered so far, that
he was found by his father in the den of an old bear, playing with her
cubs. To tramp among the mountains, with a gun and dog, is Peter’s chief
and only happiness. He is, probably, one of the best specimens of a
hunter now living; and very few, I fancy, could have survived the
dangers to which he has exposed himself. As to his constitution, he
seems to be one of those iron mortals who never die with age and
infirmity, but who generally meet with a sudden death, as if to
recompense them for their heedlessness. But with all his wildness and
recklessness, Peter Hummel is as amiable and kind-hearted a man as ever
breathed. He is an original wit withal, and shrewd and very laughable
are many of his speeches, and his stories are the cream of romance and
genuine mountain poetry.

But to my story. As usual, we started on our tramp at an early hour, he
with a trout-basket in his hand, containing our dinner, and I with my
sketch-book and a “pilgrim staff.” After a tiresome ascent of three
hours up the side of a mountain, over ledges, and through gloomy
ravines, we at last reached the wished-for brook. All the day long were
we cheered by its happy song, as we descended; now leaping from one deep
pool to another, and now scrambling over green-coated rocks, under and
around fallen trees, and along the damp, slippery sides of the
mountains, until we reached its mouth on a plain, watered by a charming
river, and sprinkled with the rustic residences of the Dutch yeomanry.
We were at home by sunset, having walked the distance of twenty miles,
and captured one hundred and fifty trout, the most of which we
distributed among the farm-houses in our way, as we returned. The trout
were quite small, varying from three to eight ounces in weight, and of a
dark-brown color.

On another occasion, I had taken my sketch-book and some fishing tackle,
and gone up a mountain road to the banks of Schoharie Creek, nominally
for the purpose of sketching a few trees. In the very first hole of the
stream into which I accidentally peered, I discovered a large trout,
lying near the bottom, just above a little bed of sand, whence rose the
bubbles of a spring. For some thirty minutes I watched the fellow with a
“yearning tenderness,” but as he appeared to be so very happy, and I was
in a kindred mood, I thought that I would let him live. Presently,
however, a beautiful fly lighted on the water, which the greedy hermit
swallowed in a minute, and returned to his cool bed, with his
conscience, as I fancied, not one whit troubled by what he had done.
Involuntarily I began to unwind my line, and having cut a pole, and
repeated to myself something about “diamond cut diamond,” I whipped on a
red hackle, and passed it over the pool. The rogue of a trout, however,
saw me, and scorned for a while to heed my line; but I coaxed and coaxed
until, at last, he darted for it, apparently out of mere spite.
Something similar to a miniature water-spout immediately arose, and the
monarch of the brook was in a fair way of sharing the same fate which
had befallen the innocent fly. I learned a salutary lesson from this
incident, and as I had yielded to the temptation of the brook, I
shouldered my sketch-book with a strap, and descended the stream. At
noon, I reached a farm-house, where I craved something to eat. A good
dinner was given me, which was seasoned by many questions, and some
information concerning trout. That afternoon, in company with a little
boy, I visited a neighboring stream, called the Roaring Kill, where I
caught one hundred and sixty fish. I then returned to the farm-house,
and spent the evening in conversation with my new acquaintances. After
breakfast, on the following morning, I set out for home, and reached
there about noon, having made only two additions to my sketches. Long
shall I remember the evening spent with this family, and their
hospitality towards an entire stranger. A pleasant family was that night
added to my list of friends.

Another of my trouting pilgrimages was to a famous place called Stony
Clove, among the mountains of Shandaken. It is a deep perpendicular cut
or gorge between two mountains, two thousand feet in depth, from twenty
feet to four hundred in width, and completely lined from base to summit
with luxuriant vegetation. It is watered by a narrow but deep brook,
which is so full of trout that some seven hundred were captured by
myself and two others in a single day. When I tell my readers that this
spot is only about one hundred miles from New York, they will be
surprised to learn that in its immediate vicinity we saw no less than
two bears, one doe with two fawns, and other valuable game. In some
parts of this clove the sunshine never enters, and whole tons of the
purest ice may be found there throughout the year. It is, indeed, a most
lonely and desolate corner of the world, and might be considered a
fitting type of the valley of the shadow of death; in single file did we
have to pass through that gorge, and in single file do the sons of men
pass into the grave. To spend one day there we had to encamp two nights,
and how we generally manage that affair I will mention presently.

In returning from Stony Clove, we took a circuitous route, and visited
the Mountain House. We approached it by way of the celebrated Catskill
Falls, which I will describe in the graphic language of Cooper, as my
readers may not remember the passage in his Pioneer. “Why, there’s a
fall in the hills, where the water of two little ponds, that lie near
each other, breaks out of their bounds, and runs over the rocks into the
valley. The stream is, may be, such a one as would turn a mill, if so
useless a thing was wanted in the wilderness. _But the hand that made
that ‘Leap’ never made a mill!_ Then the water comes croaking and
winding among the rocks, first so slow that a trout might swim in it,
and then starting and running, like any creature that wanted to make a
fair spring, till it gets to where the mountain divides, like the cleft
foot of a deer, leaving a deep hollow for the brook to tumble into. The
first pitch is nigh two hundred feet, and the water looks like flakes of
snow afore it touches the bottom, and then gathers itself together again
for a new start, and, may be, flutters over fifty feet of flat rock,
before it falls for another hundred feet, when it jumps from shelf to
shelf, first running this way and that way, striving to get out of the
hollow, till it finally comes to the plain.”

Our party, on this occasion, consisted of three—Peter Hummel, a
bark-gatherer and myself. I had chosen these fellows for the expedition,
because of their friendship for me and their willingness to go; and I
resolved to give them a “treat” at the “Grand Hotel,” which the natives
of this region look upon as a kind of paradise. You are aware, I
suppose, reader, that the Mountain House is an establishment vying in
its style of accommodations with the best of hotels. Between it and the
Hudson, there is, during the summer, a semi-daily line of stages, and it
is the transient resort of thousands, who visit it for the novelty of
its location as well as for the surrounding scenery. The edifice itself
stands on a cliff, within a few feet of the edge, and commands a
prospect extending from Long Island Sound to the White Mountains. The
first time I visited this spot, I spent half the night at my bed-room
window, watching the fantastic performances of a thunder-storm far below
me, which made the building tremble like a ship upon a reef, while the
sky above was cloudless, and studded with stars. Between this spot and
South Peak, “there’s the High Peak and the Round Top, which lay back,
like a father and mother among their children, seeing they are far above
all the other hills.”

But to proceed. Coarsely and comically dressed as we were, we made a
very unique appearance as we paraded into the office of the hotel. I met
a few acquaintances there to whom I introduced my comrades, and in a
short time each one was spinning a mountain legend to a crowd of
delighted listeners. In due time I ushered them into the dining-hall,
where was enacted a scene which can be better imagined than described;
the fellows were completely out of their element, and it was laughable
in the extreme, to see them stare and hear them talk, as the servants
bountifully helped them to the turtle soup, ice-cream, charlotte russe
and other fashionable dainties.

About the middle of the afternoon we commenced descending the beautiful
mountain-road leading towards the Hudson. In the morning there had been
a heavy shower, and a thousand happy rills attended us with a song. A
delightful nook on this road is pointed out as the identical spot where
Rip Van Winkle slept away a score of his life. I reached home in time to
spend the twilight hour in my own room, musing upon the much-loved
mountains. I had but one companion, and that was a whippoorwill, which
nightly comes to my window-sill, as if to tell me a tale of its love, or
of the woods and solitary wilderness.

But the most unique and interesting of my fishing adventures remains to
be described. I had heard a great deal about the good fishing afforded
by the lake already mentioned, and I desired to visit it and spend a
night upon its shore. Having spoken to my friend Hummel, and invited a
neighbor to accompany us, whom the people had named “White Yankee,” the
noontide hour of a pleasant day found us on our winding march: and such
a grotesque appearance as we made was exceedingly amusing. The group was
mostly _animated_ when climbing the steep and rocky ravines which we
were compelled to pass through. There was Peter, “long, lank, and lean,”
and wild in his attire and countenance as an eagle of the wilderness,
with an axe in his hand, and a huge knapsack on his back, containing our
provisions and utensils for cooking. Next to him followed White Yankee,
with three blankets lashed upon his back, a slouched white hat on his
head, and nearly half a pound of tobacco in his mouth. Crooked-legged
withal, and somewhat sickly was this individual, and being wholly
unaccustomed to this kind of business, he went along groaning, grunting,
and sweating, as if he was “sent for and _didn’t want_ to come.” In the
rear tottered along your humble friend, dear reader, with a gun upon his
shoulder, a powder-horn and shot-pouch at his side, cowhide boots on his
feet, and a cap on his head, his beard half an inch long, and his
flowing hair streaming in the wind.

We reached our place of destination about five o’clock, and halted under
a large impending rock, which was to be our sleeping place. We were
emphatically under the “shadow of a rock in a weary land.” Our first
business was to build a fire, which we did with about one cord of green
and dry wood. Eighty poles were then cut, to which we fastened our
lines. The old canoe in the lake was bailed out, and, having baited our
hooks with the minnows we had brought with us, we planted the poles in
about seven feet of water all around the lake shore. We then prepared
and ate our supper, and awaited the coming on of night. During this
interval I learned from Peter the following particulars concerning the
lake. It was originally discovered by a hunter named Shew. It is
estimated to cover about fifty acres, and in the centre to be more than
two hundred feet in depth. For my part, however, I do not believe it
contains over five acres, though the mountains which tower on every side
but one, are calculated to deceive the eye; but, as to its depth, I
could easily fancy it to be bottomless, for the water is remarkably
dark. To the number of trout in this lake there seems to be no end. It
is supposed they reach it, when small, through Sweetwater Brook, when
they increase in size, and multiply. It also abounds in green and
scarlet lizards, which are a serious drawback to the pleasures of the
fastidious angler. I asked Peter many questions concerning his
adventures about the lake, and he told me that the number of “harmless
murders” he had committed here was about three hundred. In one day he
shot three deer; at another time a dozen turkeys; at another twenty
ducks; one night an old bear; and again half-a-dozen coons; and on one
occasion annihilated a den of thirty-seven rattlesnakes.

At nine o’clock we lighted a torch, and went to examine our lines; and
it was my good fortune to haul out not less than forty-one trout,
weighing from one to two pounds a-piece. These we put into a spring of
very cold water, which bubbled from the earth a few paces from our
camping place, and then retired to repose. Branches of hemlock
constituted our couch, and my station was between Peter and White
Yankee. Little did I dream, when I first saw these two bipeds, that I
should ever have them for my bed-fellows; but who can tell what shall be
on the morrow? My friends were in the land of Nod in less than a dozen
minutes after we had retired; but it was difficult for me to go to sleep
in the midst of the wild scene which surrounded me. There I lay, flat on
my back, a stone and my cap for a pillow, and wrapped in a blanket, with
my nose exposed to the chilly night air. And what pictures did my fancy
conjure up, as I looked upon the army of trunks around me, glistening in
the firelight. One moment they were a troop of Indians from the
spirit-land, come to revisit again the hunting-grounds of their fathers,
and weeping because the white man had desecrated their soil; and again I
fancied them to be a congress of wild animals, assembled to try,
execute, and devour us, for the depredations our fellows had committed
upon their kind during the last one hundred years. By and by a star
peered out upon me from between the branches of a tree, and my thoughts
ascended heavenward. And now my eyes twinkled and blinked in sympathy
with the star, and I was a dreamer.

An hour after the witching time of night, I was startled from my sleep
by a bellowing halloo from Peter, who said it was time to examine the
lines again. Had you heard the echoes which were then awakened, far and
near, you would have thought yourself in enchanted land. But there were
_living_ answers to that shout, for a frightened fox began to bark, an
owl commenced its horrible hootings, a partridge its drumming, and a
wolf its howl. There was not a breeze stirring, and

            “Naught was seen in the vault on high
            But the moon and the stars and a cloudless sky,
            And a river of white in the welkin blue.”

Peter and Yankee went out to haul in the trout, but I remained on shore
to attempt a drawing, by moonlight, of the lake before me. The opposite
side of the mountain, with its dark tangled forests, was perfectly
mirrored in the waters below, the whole seeming as solid and variegated
as a tablet of Egyptian marble. The canoe with its inmates noiselessly
pursued its way, making the stillness more profound. In the water at my
feet I distinctly saw lizards sporting about, and I could not but wonder
why such reptiles were ever created. I thought with the Ancient Mariner,

                   “A thousand slimy things lived on,
                   And so did I.”

Again did we retire to rest, slumbering until the break of day. We then
partook of a substantial trout breakfast, gathered up our plunder, and
with about one hundred handsome trout, started for home.

The accidents we met with during the night were harmless, though
somewhat ridiculous. A paper of matches which Peter carried in his
breeches-pocket took fire, and gave him such a scorching that he
bellowed lustily;—while Yankee, in his restless slumbers, rolled so
near our watch-fire, that he barely escaped with a corner of his
blanket, the remainder having been consumed. As for me I only fell into
the water among the lizards, while endeavoring to reach the end of a log
which extended into the lake. In descending the mountain we shot three
partridges, and confoundedly frightened a fox, and by the middle of the
afternoon were quietly pursuing our several avocations among our fellow
men of the lower world.



                              CHAPTER II.


    A spring day—The sky—The mountains—The streams—The
    woods—The open fields—Domestic animals—Poetry—The poultry
    yard.

                                             _Plauterkill Clove, May._

May is near its close, and I am still in the valley of the Hudson.
Spring is indeed come again, and this, for the present year, has been
its day of triumph. The moment I awoke, at dawn, this morning, I knew by
intuition that it would be so, and I bounded from my couch like a
startled deer, impatient for the cool delicious air. Spring is upon the
earth once more, and a new life is given me of enjoyment and hope. The
year is in its childhood, and my heart clings to it with a sympathy that
I feel must be immortal and divine. What I have done to-day I cannot
tell. I only know that my body has been tremulous with feeling, and my
eyes almost blinded with seeing. Every hour has been fraught with a new
emotion of delight, and presented to my vision numberless pictures of
surpassing beauty. I have held communion with the sky, the mountains,
the streams, the woods, and the fields; and these, if you please, shall
be the themes of my present chapter.

The sky! it has been of as deep an azure and as serene as ever canopied
the world. It seemed as if you could look _through_ it into the
illimitable home of the angels—could almost behold the glory which
surrounds the Invisible. Three clouds alone have attracted my attention.
One was the offspring of the dawn, and encircled by a rim of gold; the
next was the daughter of noon, and white as the driven snow, and the
last, of evening, and robed in deepest crimson. Wayward and coquettish
creatures were these clouds! their chief ambition seemed to be to
display their charms to the best advantage, as if conscious of their
loveliness; and, at sunset, when the light lay pillowed on the
mountains, it was a joyous sight to see them, side by side, like three
sweet sisters, as they were, _going home_. Each one was anxious to favor
the world with its own last smile, and by their changing places so
often, you would have thought they were all unwilling to depart. But
they were the ministers of the sun, and he would not tarry for them; and
while he beckoned them to follow on, the evening star took his station
in the sky, and bade them depart; and when I looked again, they were
gone. Never more, thought I, will those clouds be a source of joy to a
human heart. And in this respect, also, they seemed to me to be the
emblems of those beautiful but thoughtless maidens, who spend the flower
of youth trifling with the affections of all whom they have the power to
fascinate.

The mountains! in honor of the season which has just clothed them in the
richest green, they have, this day, displayed every one of their varied
and interesting charms. At noon, as I lay under the shadow of a tree,
watching them “with a look made of all sweet accord,” my face was
freshened by a breeze. It appeared to come from the summit of South
Peak, and to be the voice of the Catskills. I listened, and these were
the words which echoed through my ear.

“Of all the seasons, oh Spring! thou art the most beloved, and, to us,
always the most welcome. Joy and gladness ever attend thy coming, for we
know that the ‘winter is past, the rains are over and gone, the time of
the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in
our land.’ And we know, too, that from thy hands flow unnumbered
blessings. Thou softenest the earth, that the husbandman may sow his
seed, which shall yield him a thousand fold at the harvest. Thou
releasest the rivers from their icy fetters, that the wings of commerce
may be unfurled once more. Thou givest food to the cattle upon a
thousand hills, that they, in their turn, may furnish man with necessary
food, and also assist him in his domestic labors. Thou coverest the
earth with a garniture of freshest loveliness, that the senses of man
may be gratified, and his thoughts directed to Him who hath created all
things, and pronounced them good. And, finally, thou art the hope of the
year, and thine admonitions, which are of the future, have a tendency to
emancipate the thoughts of man from this world, and the troubles which
may surround him here, and fix them upon that clime where an everlasting
spring abides.” “The voice in my dreaming ear melted away,” and I heard
the roaring of the streams, as they fretted their way down the rocky
steeps.

The streams! such “trumpets” as they have blown to-day would, I am
afraid, have caused Mr. Wordsworth to exclaim:

“The cataracts—_make a devilish noise up yonder_!”

The fact is, as “all the earth is gay,” and all the springs among the
mountains are “giving themselves up to jollity,” the streams are full to
overflowing, and rush along with a “vindictive looseness,” because of
the burden they have to bear. The falls and cascades, which make such
exquisite pictures in the summer months, are now fearful to behold, for,
in their anger, every now and then they toss some giant tree into an
abyss of foam, which makes one tremble with fear. But after the streams
have left the mountains, and are running through the bottom lands, they
still appear to be displeased with something, and at _every turn_ they
take, _delve_ into the “bowels of the harmless earth,” making it
dangerous for the angler to approach too near, but rendering the haunt
of the trout more spacious and commodious than before. The streams are
about the only things I cannot praise to-day, and I hope it will not
_rain_ for a month to come, if this is the way they intend to act
whenever we have a number of delightful showers.

The woods! A goodly portion of the day have I spent in one of their most
secret recesses. I went with Shakspeare under my arm; but I could not
read any more than fly, so I stretched myself at full length on a huge
log, and kept a sharp look-out for anything that might send me a waking
dream. The brotherhood of trees clustered around me, laden with leaves
just bursting into full maturity, and possessing that delicate and
peculiar green which lasts but a single day, and never returns. A fitful
breeze swept through them, so that ever and anon I fancied a gushing
fountain to be near, or that a company of ladies fair was come to visit
me, and that I heard the rustle of their silken kirtles. And now my eyes
rested on a tree that was entirely leafless, and almost without a limb.
Instead of grass at its foot, was a heap of dry leaves, and not a bush
or a vine grew anywhere near it; but around its neighbors they grew in
great abundance. It seemed branded with a curse; alone, forsaken of its
own, and despised by all. Can this, thought I, be an emblem of any human
being? Strange that it should be, but it is nevertheless too true. Only
one week ago, I saw a poor miserable maniac, bound hand and foot, driven
from “home and all its treasures,” and carried to a dark, damp
prison-house in a neighboring town. I can be reconciled to the mystery
of a poisonous reptile’s existence; but it is very hard to understand
for what good purpose a maniac is created. Another object I noticed, was
a little tree about five feet high, completely covered with blossoms of
a gaudy hue. At first, I tried to gather something poetical out of this
thing, but with all my endeavors I could not. It caused me a real hearty
laugh, as the idea expanded, for it reminded me of a certain maiden lady
of my acquaintance, who is _old_, _stunted_, very fond of _tall men_,
and always strutting among her fellows under a weight of _jewelry_. But
oh! what beautiful flowers did I notice in that shady grove, whose
whispering filled me with delight! Their names? I cannot tell them to
you, fair reader—they _ought_ to have no names, any more than a cloud,
or a foam-bell on the river. Some were blue, some white, some purple,
and some scarlet. There were little parties of them on every side, and
as the wind swayed their delicate stems, I could not but fancy they were
living creatures; the personified thoughts, perhaps, of happy and
innocent children. Occasionally, too, I noticed a sort of straggler
peeping at me from beside a hillock of moss, or from under the branches
of a fallen tree, as if surprised at my temerity in entering its
secluded haunt. Birds, also, were around me in that green-wood
sanctuary, singing their hymns of praise to the Father of Mercies for
the return of spring. The nests of the females being already built, they
had nothing to do but be happy, anticipating the time when they
themselves should be the “dealers-out of some small blessings” to their
helpless broods. As to their mates, they were about as independent,
restless, and noisy as might be expected, very much as any rational man
would be who was the husband of a young and beautiful wife.

But the open fields to-day have superabounded with pictures to please
and instruct the mind. I know not where to begin to describe them. Shall
it be at the very threshold of our farm-house? Well, then, only look at
those lilac trees in the garden, actually top-heavy with purple and
white flowering pyramids. The old farmer has just cut a number of large
branches, and given them to his little daughter to carry to her mother,
who will distribute them between the mantle-piece, the table, and the
fire-place of the family sitting-room. But what ambrosial odor is that
which now salutes the senses! It comes not from the variegated corner of
the garden, where the tulip, the violet, the hyacinth, the bluebell and
the lily of the valley are vying to outstrip each other in their attire;
nor from the clover-covered lawn, besprinkled with buttercups,
strawberry blossoms, and honeysuckles, but from the orchard, every one
of whose trees are completely covered with snow-white blossoms. And from
their numberless petals emanates the murmur of bees as they are busy
extracting the luscious honey. What an abundance of fruit—of apples,
cherries, peaches and pears, do these sweet blossoms promise! But next
week there _may_ be a bitter _frost_; and this is the lesson which my
heart learns. Now that I am in the spring-time of life, my hopes, in
numbers and beauty, are like the blossoms of trees, and I know not but
that they may even on the morrow be withered by the chilly breath of the
grave. But let us loiter farther on. The western slope of this gentle
hill is equally divided, and of two different shades of green; one is
planted with rye and the other with wheat. The eastern slope of the hill
has lately been loosened by the plough, and is of a sombre color, but to
my eyes not less pleasing than the green. And this view is enlivened
with figures besides—for a farmer and two boys are planting corn, the
latter opening the beds with their hoes and the former dropping in the
seed (which he carries in a bag slung at his side), and covering it with
his foot. And now, fluttering over their heads is a roguish bobolink,
_scolding_ about something in their _wake_; at a _respectful_ distance,
and hopping along the ground, are a number of robins, and on the nearest
fence a meadow-lark and bluebird are “holding on for a bite.” But there
is no end to these rural pictures, so I will just take my reader into
this neighboring meadow-pasture, thence into the poultry-yard at home,
and conclude my present rhapsody.

Here we are, then, in the midst of various domestic animals. Yonder a
couple of black colts are chasing each other in play, while their
venerable mother (for they are brothers, though not twins) is standing a
little way off, watching their antics, and twisting about her ears, as
she remembers the happy days of her own colt-hood. Here are some half
dozen hearty cows, lying down and grazing, each one with a “pledge of
affection” sporting about her. There are six or eight oxen, eating away
as fast as they can, while one who seems to be a sentinel, occasionally
rolls up his eye to see if the farmer is coming to renew his song of
“haw! gee! gee! haw!” Under the shadows of that old oak is a flock of
sheep, with their lambs bounding beside them, as to the “tabor’s sound;”
but to me there comes no “thought of grief” at the sight, wherein I must
be suffered to disagree with Wordsworth, to whom I have already alluded
once or twice, and whose celebrated and most wonderful ode has been
echoing in my heart all the day long. Some of the lines in it are
appropriate to the day, the charms of which I am attempting to make you
_feel_, reader, and you will oblige me by conning and inwardly digesting
the following fragments of a whole and yet really complete poem:—

                  “The sunshine is a glorious birth.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

            “The winds come to me from the fields of sleep.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

              “And the babe leaps up on his mother’s arm.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

            “Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

          “Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,
          And custom lie upon thee with a weight
          Heavy as fate, and deep almost as life.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

                      “O joy, that in our embers
                      Is something that doth live,
                      That nature yet remembers
                      What was so fugitive.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

            “To me the meanest flower that blooms, can give
            Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”

Strange that a man, after dwelling upon such poetry, should be willing
to go into a _poultry_ yard. But why not? I would rather do this
_willingly_ than be compelled, as I have been, and may be again, to hear
a man say, after reading to him Wordsworth’s great Ode, “Why! of what
_use_ is such _stuff_? what does it _prove_? will it furnish a man with
_bread and butter_? will it make the _pot boil_?” The people of the
poultry-yard have been in such glee to-day, and contributed so much to
the gladness of the day, that I must pay them a passing tribute. In the
first place, our old gobbler, with his retinue of turkey wives, has been
at the point of bursting with pride ever since sunrise. If the Grand
Sultan of Turkey, (who must be the father of all turkeys,) cuts the same
kind of capers in the presence of his hundred ladies, Turkey must be a
great country for lean people to “laugh and grow fat.” Our gobbler is a
feathered personification of Jack Falstaff, possessing his prominent
trait of cowardice to perfection. I flourished a red handkerchief in his
face this morning, and, by the way he strutted round and gobbled, you
would have thought he was going to devour you. About ten minutes after
this, I threw down a handful of corn, which was intended for his
particular palate. While he was busy picking it up, a certain cock
stepped alongside, and commenced picking too. The intruder, having got
in the way of the gobbler, was suddenly pushed aside; whereupon the
gentleman with spurs chuckled and “showed fight;” but the gobbler for a
moment heeded him not. This the cock could not bear, so he pounced upon
his enemy, and whipped him without mercy, until the coward and fool ran
away, with his long train of affectionate wives following behind.

The cocks, hens and chickens which have figured in the yard to-day,
would more than number a hundred; and such cackling, crowing, chuckling,
and crying as they have made, was anything but a “_concord_ of sweet
sounds.” But the creatures have been happy, and it was therefore a
pleasure to look at them. A young hen, this morning, made her first
appearance with a large brood of chickens, yellow as gold, and this
caused quite a sensation among the feathered husbands generally. The
mother, as she rambled about, seemed to say, by her pompous air, to her
daughterless friends—“Ar’n’t they beautiful? don’t you wish you had a
few?” It was also very funny to see with what looks of astonishment the
youthful cocks surveyed these “infant phenomenons.” As to our ducks, and
geese, and guinea-hens, they have minded their business very well—the
two former paddling about the creek and mud-puddles, and the latter,
“between meals,” roaming at large through the orchard and garden,
altogether the most beautiful and rational of the feathered tribes.

A mountaineer, who is to take this queer record to the post-office, is
waiting for me below, and I must close,—hoping that the country
pictures I have endeavored to sketch, may have a tendency to make you
feel a portion of that joy which has characterized this delightful
Spring Day.



                              CHAPTER III.


                         The Corn Planting Bee.
                                             _Plauterkill Clove, May._

The people who inhabit that section of country lying between the
Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River, are undoubtedly the legitimate
descendants of the far-famed Rip Van Winkle. Dutch blood floweth in
their veins, and their names, appearance, manners, are all Dutch, and
Dutch only. The majority of them are engaged in tilling the soil, and as
they seem to be satisfied with a bare competency, the peacefulness of
their lives is only equalled by their ignorance of books and the world
at large. The height of their ambition is to enjoy a frolic, and what
civilized people understand by that term, they designate a Bee. Not only
have they their wedding and funeral bees, but they commemorate their
agricultural labors with a bee, and of these the corn planting bee,
which I am about to describe, is a specimen.

A certain old Dutchman of my acquaintance had so long neglected the
field where he intended to plant his corn, that he found it necessary to
retrieve his reputation by getting up a bee. He therefore immediately
issued his invitations, and at two o’clock on the appointed day, about
seventy of his neighbors, including men and women, made their appearance
at his dwelling, each one of them furnished with a hoe and a small bag
to carry the seed. After supplying his guests with all they wanted in
the way of _spiritual_ drink, my friend gave the signal, and shouldering
a large hoe, started off for the field of action, closely followed by
his neighbors, who fell to work quite lustily. The field was large, but
as the laborers were numerous, it was entirely planted at least two
hours before sunset, when the party was disbanded, with the express
understanding resting upon their minds that they should invite their
children to the dance, which was to take place in the evening at the
bee-giver’s residence.

The house of my farmer friend having been originally built for a tavern,
it happened to contain a large ball-room, and on this occasion it was
stripped of its beds and bedding, and the walls thereof decked from top
to bottom with green branches and an occasional tallow candle, and
conspicuous at one end of the hall was a refreshment establishment, well
supplied with pies, gingerbread, molasses candy and sugars, and with an
abundance of _colored alcohols_. The number of young men and women who
came together on this occasion was about one hundred, and while they
were trimming for the approaching dance, the musician, a long-legged,
huge and bony Dutchman, was tuning a rusty fiddle. The thirty minutes
occupied by him in this interesting business were employed by the male
portion of the guests in “wetting their whistles.” The dresses worn on
this occasion were eminently rustic and unique. Those of the gentlemen,
for the most part, were made of coarse gray cloth, similar to that worn
by the residents on Blackwell’s Island, while the ladies were arrayed in
white cotton dresses, trimmed with scarlet ribbon. Pumps being out of
vogue, cowhide boots were worn by the former and calf brogans by the
latter.

All things being now ready, a terribly loud screech came from the poor
little fiddle, and the clattering of heels commenced, shaking the
building to its very foundation. “On with the dance, let joy be
unconfined,” seemed to be the motto of all present, and from the start,
there seemed to be a strife between the male and female dancers as to
who should leap the highest and make the most noise. Desperate were the
efforts of the musician, as he toiled away upon his instrument, keeping
_discord_ with his heels; and every unusual wail of the fiddle was the
forerunner of a shower of sweat, which came rolling off the fiddler’s
face to the floor. And then the joyous delirium of the musician was
communicated to the dancers, and as the dance proceeded, their efforts
became still more desperate; the women wildly threw back their hair, and
many of the men took off their coats, and rolled up their shirt sleeves,
for the purpose of keeping cool. In spite of every effort, however, the
faces of the dancers became quite red with the rare excitement, and the
hall was filled with a kind of heated fog, in which the first
“breakdown” of the evening concluded.

Then followed the refreshment scene. The men drank whisky and smoked
cigars, while the women feasted on mince pies, drank small beer, and
sucked molasses candy. Some of the smaller men or boys, who were too
lazy to dance, sneaked off into an out-of-the-way room, for the purpose
of pitching pennies, while a few couples, who were victims to the tender
passion, retired to some cozy nook to bask unobserved in each other’s
smiles.

But now the screeching fiddle is again heard above the murmur of talking
and laughing voices, and another rush is made for the sanded floor.
Another dance is then enjoyed, differing from the one already described
only in its increased extravagance. After sawing away for a long time as
if for dear life, the musician is politely requested to play a new tune.
Promptly does he assent to the proposition; but having started on a
fresh key, he soon falls into the identical strain which had kept him
busy for the previous hour; so that the philosophic listener is
compelled to conclude either that the fiddler cannot play more than one
tune, or that he has a particular passion for the monotonous and
nameless one to which he so closely clings. And thus with many
indescribable variations does the ball continue throughout the entire
night.

I did not venture to trip the “light fantastic toe” on the occasion in
question, but my enjoyment as a calm spectator was very amusing and
decidedly original. Never before had I seen a greater amount of labor
performed by men and women in the same time. I left this interesting
assembly about midnight, fully satisfied with what I had seen and heard,
but I was afterwards told that I missed more than “half the fun.”

When the music was loudest, so it appears, and the frenzy of the dance
at its climax, a select party of Dutch gentlemen were suddenly seized
with an appetite for some more substantial food than any that had yet
been given them. They held a consultation on the important subject, and
finally agreed to ransack the garret and cellar of their host for the
purpose of satisfying their natural desires. In the former place they
found a good supply of dried beef, and in the latter, a few loaves of
bread and a jar of rich cream, upon which they regaled themselves
without favor, but with some fear. The giver of the bee subsequently
discovered what had been done, and though somewhat more than “three
sheets in the wind,” slyly sent for a pair of constables, who soon made
their appearance, and arrested the thieving guests, who were held to
bail in the sum of fifty dollars each. I was also informed that the
dance was kept up until six o’clock in the morning, and that the
appearance of my friend’s establishment and the condition of his guests
at seven o’clock were ridiculous in the extreme. A small, proportion of
the bee-party only had succeeded in starting for home, so that the
number who from excess of drinking and undue fatigue had retired to
repose, was not far from three score and ten. The sleeping
accommodations of the host were limited, and the consequence was that
his guests had to shift for themselves as they best could. The floors of
every room in the house, including the pantries, were literally covered
with men and women,—some of them moaning with a severe headache, some
breathing audibly in a deep sleep, and others snoring in the loudest and
most approved style. By twelve o’clock the interesting company had
stolen off to their several homes, and the corn planting bee, among the
Catskills, was at an end.



                              CHAPTER IV.


    Lake Horicon—Sketches of its scenery—Information for
    anglers—Sabbath Day Point—War memories—The insect city—Death
    of a deer—Rogers’ Slide—Diamond Island—The snake
    charmer—Snake stories—Night on Horicon.

                                               _Lyman’s Tavern, June._

If circumstances alone could make one poetical, then might you expect
from me, on this occasion, a paper of rare excellence and beauty. My
sketch-book is my desk; my canopy from the sunshine, an elm tree; the
carpet under my feet, a rich green sprinkled with flowers; the music in
my ear of singing birds; and the prospect before me, north, east, and
south, the tranquil bosom of Lake George, with its islands and
surrounding mountains; whose waters, directly at my side, are alive with
many kinds of fish, sporting together on a bed of sand. Yes, the
far-famed Lake George is my subject; but in what I write, I shall not
use that title,—for I do not like the idea of christening what belongs
to us with the name of an English monarch, however much his memory
deserves to be respected. Shall it be Lake St. Sacrament, then? No! for
that was given to it by the Pope, and the French nation. Horicon—a
musical and appropriate word, meaning pure water, and given to it by the
poor Indian—is the name which rightfully belongs to the lake which is
now my theme.

Lake Horicon is one of the few objects in Nature which did not
disappoint me after reading the descriptions of travellers. I verily
believe that, in point of mere beauty, it has not its superior in the
world. Its length is thirty-four miles, and its width from two to four.
Its islands number about three hundred, and vary from ten feet to a mile
in length;—a great many of them are located in the centre of the lake,
at a place called the Narrows. It is completely surrounded with
mountains; the most prominent of which are, Black Mountain, on the east
of the Narrows, Tongue Mountain, directly opposite, and French Mountain,
at the southern extremity. The first is the most lofty, and remarkable
for its wildness, and the superb prospect therefrom; the second is also
wild and uninhabited, but distinguished for its dens of rattlesnakes;
and the latter is somewhat cultivated, but memorable for having been the
camping-ground of the French during the Revolutionary War. The whole
eastern border is yet a comparative wilderness; but along the western
shore are some respectable farms, and a good coach road from Caldwell to
Ticonderoga, which affords many admirable views of the sky-blue lake.
There are three public houses here which I can recommend: the Lake
House, for those who are fond of company—Lyman’s Tavern for the hunter
of scenery and lover of quiet—and Garfield’s House for the fisherman. A
nice little steamboat, commanded by a gentleman, passes through every
morning and evening, (excepting Sundays,) and though a convenient affair
to the traveller, it is an eyesore to the admirer of the wilderness.
Identified with this boat is an eccentric man named _Old Dick_, who
amuses the tourist, and collects an occasional shilling by exhibiting a
number of rattlesnakes. When, in addition to all these things, it is
remembered that Horicon is the centre of a region made classic by the
exploits of civilized and savage warfare, it can safely be pronounced
one of the most interesting portions of our country for the summer
tourist to visit. I have looked upon it from many a peak whence might be
seen almost every rood of its shore. I have sailed into every one of its
bays, and, like the pearl-diver, have repeatedly descended into its cold
blue chambers, so that I have learned to love it as a faithful and
well-tried friend. Since the day of my arrival here, I have kept a
journal of my adventures, and, as a memorial of Horicon, I will extract
therefrom, and embody in this chapter the following passages.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Six pencil sketches have I executed upon the lake to-day. One of them
was a view of the distant mountains, whose various outlines were
concentrated at one point, and whose color was of that delicate, dreamy
blue, created by a sunlight atmosphere, with the sun directly in front.
In the middle distance was a flock of islands, with a sail-boat in their
midst, and in the foreground a cluster of rocks, surmounted by a single
cedar, which appeared like the sentinel of a fortress. Another was of
the ruins of Fort George, with a background of dark-green mountains,
made quite desolate by a flock of sheep sleeping in one of its shady
moats. Another was of a rowing-race between two rival fishermen, at the
time they were only a dozen rods from the goal, and when every nerve of
their aged frames was strained to the utmost. Another was of a neat
log-cabin, on a quiet lawn near the water, at whose threshold a couple
of ragged, but beautiful children were playing with a large dog, while
from the chimney of the house ascended the blue smoke with a thousand
fantastic evolutions. Another was of a huge pine tree, which towered
conspicuously above its kindred on the mountain side, and seemed to me
an appropriate symbol of Webster in the midst of a vast concourse of his
fellow men. And the last was of a thunder-storm, driven away from the
mountain top by the mild radiance of a rainbow, which partly encircled
Horicon in a loving embrace.

                 *        *        *        *        *

I have been fishing to-day, and, while enduring some poor sport, indited
in my mind the following information, for the benefit of my piscatorial
friends. The days of trout-fishing in Lake Horicon are nearly at an end.
A few years ago, it abounded in salmon-trout, which were frequently
caught weighing twenty pounds. But their average weight, at the present
time, is not more than one pound and a half, and they are scarce even at
that. In taking them, you first have to obtain a sufficient quantity of
sapling bark to reach the bottom in sixty feet of water, to one end of
which must be fastened a stone, and to the other a stick of wood, which
designates your fishing-ground, and is called a buoy. A variety of more
common fish are then caught, such as suckers, perch, and eels, which are
cut up and deposited, some half a peck at a time, in the vicinity of the
buoy. In a few days the trout will begin to assemble, and so long as you
keep them well fed, a brace of them may be captured at any time during
the summer. But the fact is, this is only another way for “paying too
dear for the whistle.” The best angling, after all, is for the common
brook trout, which is a bolder biting fish, and better for the table
than the salmon trout. The cause of the great decrease in the large
trout of this lake, is this:—in the autumn, when they have sought the
shores for the purpose of spawning, the neighboring barbarians have been
accustomed to spear them by torch-light; and if the heartless business
does not soon cease, the result will be, that in a few years they will
be extinct. There are two other kinds of trout in the lake, however,
which yet afford good sport,—the silver trout, caught in the summer,
and the fall trout. But the black bass, upon the whole, is now mostly
valued by the fisherman. They are in their prime in the summer months.
They vary from one to five pounds in weight; are taken by trolling, and
with a drop line, and afford fine sport. Their haunts are along the
rocky shores, and it is often the case, that on a still day you may see
them from your boat, swimming about in herds where the water is twenty
feet deep. They have a queer fashion, when hooked, of leaping out of the
water, for the purpose of getting clear, and it is seldom that a novice
in the gentle art can keep them from succeeding. But, alas! their
numbers also are fast diminishing, by the same means and the same hands
that have killed the trout. My advice to those who come here exclusively
for the purpose of fishing is, to continue their journey to the sources
of the Hudson, Scaroon Lake, Long Lake, and Lake Pleasant; in whose
several waters there seems to be no end to every variety of trout, and
where may be found much wild and beautiful scenery. The angler of the
present day will be disappointed in Lake Horicon.

                 *        *        *        *        *

When issuing from the Narrows on your way down the Horicon, the most
attractive object, next to the mountains, is a strip of low, sandy land,
extending into the lake, called Sabbath Day Point. It was so christened
by Abercrombie, who encamped and spent the sabbath there, when on his
way to Ticonderoga, where he was so sadly defeated. I look upon it as
one of the most enchanting places in the world; but the pageant with
which it is associated was not only enchanting and beautiful, but
magnificent. Only look upon the picture. It is the sunset hour, and
before us, far up in the upper air, and companion of the evening star,
and a host of glowing clouds, rises the majestic form of Black Mountain,
enveloped in a mantle of rosy atmosphere. The bosom of the lake is
without a ripple, and every cliff, ravine and island has its counterpart
in the pure waters. A blast of martial music from drums, fifes, bagpipes
and bugle horns now falls upon the ear, and the immense procession comes
in sight; one thousand and thirty-five batteaux, containing an army of
seventeen thousand souls, headed by the brave Abercrombie and the red
cross of England,—the scarlet uniforms and glistening bayonets forming
a line of light against the darker background of the mountain. And
behind a log in the foreground is a crouching Indian runner, who, with
the speed of a hawk, will carry the tidings to the French nation, that
an army is coming—“numerous as the leaves upon the trees.” Far from the
strange scene fly the affrighted denizens of mountain and wave,—while
thousands of human hearts are beating happily at the prospect of
victory, whose bodies, in a few hours, will be food for the raven on the
plains of Ticonderoga.

                 *        *        *        *        *

A goodly portion of this day have I been musing upon the olden times,
while rambling about Fort George, and Fort William Henry. Long and with
peculiar interest did I linger about the spot near the latter, where
were cruelly massacred the followers of Monroe, at which time Montcalm
linked his name to the title of a heartless Frenchman, and the name of
Webb became identified with all that is justly despised by the human
heart. I profess myself to be an enemy to wrong and outrage of every
kind, and yet a lover and defender of the Indian race; but when I picked
up one after another the flinty heads of arrows, which were mementos of
an awful butchery, my spirit revolted against the red man, and for a
moment I felt a desire to condemn him. Yes, I will condemn that
particular band of murderers, but I cannot but defend the race. Cruel
and treacherous they were, I will allow, but do we not forget the
treatment they ever met with from the while man? The most righteous of
battles have ever been fought for the sake of sires and wives and
children, and for what else did the poor Indian fight, when driven from
the home of his youth into an unknown wilderness, to become thereafter a
by-word and a reproach among the nations? “Indians,” said we, “we would
have your lands, and if you will not be satisfied with the gewgaws we
proffer, our powder and balls will teach you that power is but another
name for right.” And this is the principle that has guided the white man
ever since in his warfare against the aborigines of our country. I
cannot believe that we shall ever be a happy and prosperous people until
the King of kings shall have forgiven us for having, with a yoke of
tyranny, almost annihilated an hundred nations.

                 *        *        *        *        *

A portion of this afternoon I whiled away on a little island, which
attracted my attention by its charming variety of foliage. It is not
more than one hundred feet across at the widest part, and is encircled
by a yellow sand bank, and shielded by a regiment of variegated rocks.
But what could I find there to interest me, it may be inquired? My
answer is this. This island, hidden in one of the bays of Horicon, is an
insect city, and more populous than was Rome in the days of her glory.
There the honeybee has his oaken tower, the wasp and humble-bee their
grassy nests, the spider his den, the butterfly his hammock, the
grasshopper his domain, the beetle and cricket and hornet their decayed
stump, and the toiling ant her palace of sand. There they were born,
there they flourish and multiply, and there they die, symbolizing the
career and destiny of man. I was a “distinguished stranger” in that
city, and I must confess that it gratified my ambition to be welcomed
with such manifestations of regard as the inhabitants thought proper to
bestow. My approach was heralded by the song of a kingly bee; and when I
had thrown myself upon a mossy bank, multitudes of people gathered
round, and, with their eyes intently fixed upon me, stood still, and let
“expressive silence muse my praise.” To the “natives,” I was
emphatically a source of astonishment, and as I wished to gather
instruction from the incident, I wondered in my heart whether I would be
a _happier_ man if my presence in a human city should create a kindred
excitement. At any rate it would be a “great excitement on a small
capital.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

While quietly eating my dinner this noon in the shady recess of an
island near Black Mountain, I was startled by the yell of a pack of
hounds coming down one of its ravines. I knew that the chase was after a
deer, so I waited in breathless anxiety for his appearance, and five
minutes had hardly elapsed before I discovered a noble buck at bay on
the extreme summit of a bluff which extended into the lake. There were
five dogs yelping about him, but the “antlered monarch” fought them like
a hero. His hoof was the most dangerous weapon he could wield, and it
seemed to me that the earth actually trembled every time that he struck
at his enemies. Presently, to my great joy, one of the hounds was
killed, and another so disabled, that he retired from the contest. But
the hunters made their appearance, and I knew that the scene would soon
come to a tragic close, and when the buck beheld them, I could not but
believe that over his face a “tablet of _agonizing_ thoughts was
traced,” for he fell upon his knees, then made a sudden wheel, and with
a frightful bound, as a ball passed through his heart, cleared the rock
and fell into the lake below. The waters closed over him, and methought
that the waves of Horicon and the leaves of the forest murmured a
requiem above the grave of the wilderness king. I turned away and partly
resolved that I would never again have a dog for my friend, or respect
the character of a hunter, but then I looked into the crystal waters of
the lake, and thought of the _beam_ in my own eye, and stood convicted
of a kindred cruelty.

                 *        *        *        *        *

One of the most singular precipices overlooking Horicon is about five
miles from the outlet, and known as Rogers’ Slide. It is some four
hundred feet high, and at one point not a fissure or sprig can be
discovered to mar the polished surface of the rock till it reaches the
water. Once on a time in the winter, the said Rogers was pursued by a
band of Indians to this spot, when, after throwing down his knapsack he
carefully retraced the steps of his snow-shoes for a short distance, and
descending the hill by a circuitous route, continued his course across
the frozen lake. The Indians, on coming to the jumping-off place,
discovered their enemy on the icy plain; but when they saw the neglected
knapsack below, and no signs of returning footsteps where they stood,
they thought the devil was in the man, and gave up the pursuit.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The most famous, and one of the most beautiful islands in this lake, is
Diamond Island, so called from the fact that it abounds in crystalized
quartz. It is half a mile in length, but the last place which would be
thought of as the scene of a battle. It is memorable for the attack made
by the Americans on the British, who had a garrison there, during the
Revolution. The American detachment was commanded by Col. Brown, and
being elated with his recent triumphs on Lake Champlain, he resolved to
attack Diamond Island. The battle was bloody, and the British fought
like brave men “long and well;” the Americans were defeated, and this
misfortune was followed by the sufferings of a most painful retreat over
the almost impassable mountains between the Lake and what is now
Whitehall. While wandering about the island it was a difficult matter
for me to realize that it had ever resounded with the roar of cannon,
the dismal wail of war, and the shout of victory. That spot is now
covered with woods, whose shadowy groves are the abode of a thousand
birds, forever singing a song of peace or love, as if to condemn the
ambition and cruelty of man.

                 *        *        *        *        *

In the vicinity of French Mountain is an island celebrated as the
burial-place of a rattlesnake hunter, named Belden. From all that I can
learn, he must have been a strange mortal indeed. His birth-place and
early history were alike unknown. When he first made his appearance at
this lake, his only companions were a brotherhood of rattlesnakes, by
exhibiting which he professed to have obtained his living; and it is
said that, during the remainder of his life, he acquired a handsome sum
of money by selling the oil and gall of his favorite reptile. And I have
recently been told that the present market price of a fat snake, when
dead, is not less than half a dollar. Another mode peculiar to old
Belden for making money, was to suffer himself to be bitten, at some
tavern, after which he would return to his cabin to apply the remedy,
when he would come forth again just as good as new. But he was not
always to be a solemn trifler. For a week had the old man been missing,
and on a pleasant August morning, his body was found on the island
alluded to, sadly mutilated and bloated, and it was certain that he had
died actually surrounded with rattlesnakes. His death bed became his
grave, and rattlesnakes were his only watchers;—thus endeth the story
of his life.

But this reminds me of two little adventures. The other day as I was
seated near the edge of a sand bar, near the mouth of a brook, sketching
a group of trees and the sunset clouds beyond, I was startled by an
immense black snake, that landed at my side, and pursued its way
directly under my legs, upon which my drawing-book was resting. Owing to
my perfect silence, the creature had probably looked upon me as a mere
stump. But what was my surprise a few moments after, when re-seated in
the same place, to find another snake, and that a large spotted adder,
passing along the same track the former had pursued. The first fright
had almost disabled me from using the pencil, but when the second came,
I gave a lusty yell, and forgetful of the fine arts, started for home on
the keen run.

At another time when returning from a fishing excursion, in a boat
accompanied by a couple of “green-horns,” we discovered on the water,
near Tongue Mountain, an immense rattlesnake with his head turned
towards us. As the oarsman in the bow of the boat struck at him with his
oar, the snake coiled round it, and the fool was in the very act of
dropping the devilish thing in my lap. I had heard the creature rattle,
and not knowing what I did, as he hung suspended over me, overboard I
went, and did not look behind until I had reached the land. The
consequence was, that for one while I was perfectly disgusted even with
Lake Horicon, and resolved to leave it without delay. The snake was
killed without doing any harm, however, but such a blowing up as I gave
the green-horn actually made his hair stand straight with fear.

One more snake story, and I will conclude: On the north side of Black
Mountain is a cluster of some half dozen houses, in a vale, which spot
is called the Bosom, but from what cause I do not know. The presiding
geniuses of the place are a band of girls, weighing two hundred pounds
apiece, who farm it with their fathers for a living, but whose principal
_amusement_ is rattlesnake hunting. Their favorite play-ground is the
notorious cliff on Tongue Mountain, where they go with naked feet
(rowing their own boats across the lake), and pull out by their tails
from the rocks the pretty playthings, and, snapping them to death, they
lay them away in a basket as trophies of their skill. I was told that in
one day last year they killed the incredible number of eleven hundred.
What delicious wives would these Horicon ladies make. Since the Florida
Indians have been driven from their country by blood-hounds, would it
not be a good idea for Congress to secure the services of these amazons
for the purpose of exterminating the rattlesnakes upon our mountains.
This latter movement would be the most ridiculous, but the inhumanity of
the former is without a parallel.

                 *        *        *        *        *

A clear and tranquil summer night, and I am alone on the pebbly beach of
this paragon of lakes. The countless hosts of heaven are beaming upon me
with a silent joy, and more impressive and holy than a poet’s dream are
the surrounding mountains, as they stand reflected in the unruffled
waters. Listen! what sound is that so like the wail of a spirit? Only a
loon, the lonely night-watcher of Horicon, whose melancholy moan, as it
breaks the profound stillness, carries my fancy back to the olden Indian
times, ere the white man had crossed the ocean. All these mountains and
this beautiful lake were then the heritage of a brave and noble-hearted
people, who made war only upon the denizens of the forest, whose lives
were peaceful as a dream, and whose manly forms, decorated with the
plumes of the eagle, the feathers of the scarlet bird, and the robe of
the bounding stag, tended but to make the scenery of the wilderness
beautiful as an earthly Eden. Here was the quiet wigwam village, and
there the secluded abode of the thoughtful chief. Here, unmolested, the
Indian child played with the spotted fawn, and the “Indian lover wooed
his dusky mate;” here the Indian hunter, in the “sunset of his life,”
watched with holy awe the sunset in the west, and here the ancient
Indian prophetess sung her uncouth but religious chant. Gone—all, all
gone—and the desolate creature of the waves, now pealing forth another
wail, seems the only memorial that they have left behind. There—my
recent aspirations are all quelled, I can walk no further
to-night;—there is a sadness in my soul, and I must seek my home. It is
such a blessed night, it seems almost sinful that a blight should rest
on the spirit of man; yet on mine a gloom will sometimes fall, nor can I
tell whence the cloud that makes me wretched.



                               CHAPTER V.


    The Scaroon country—Scaroon Lake Pike fishing by
    torchlight—Trout fishing—Lyndsay’s Tavern—Paradox Lake.

                                             _Lyndsay’s Tavern, June._

Emptying into the Hudson River, about fifteen miles north of Glen’s
Falls, is quite a large stream, sometimes called the East Branch of the
Hudson, but generally known as Scaroon River.[1] Its extreme length is
not far from fifty miles. It is a clear, cold, and rapid stream, winds
through a mountainous country, and has rather a deep channel. The valley
through which it runs is somewhat cultivated, but the mountains which
frown upon it on either side, are covered with dense forests. The valley
of the Scaroon abounds in beautiful lakes and brooks; and as I have
explored them pretty thoroughly during the past week, I will now record
the result of my observations.

The most prominent pictorial feature of this region is Scaroon Lake,
through which the river of that name forms a channel. It is ten miles in
length and averages about one in width. Excepting a little hamlet at its
head, and two or three farms at the southern extremity, it is yet
surrounded with a wilderness of mountains. The waters thereof are deep
and clear, and well supplied with fish, of which the salmon trout and
pike are the most valuable. The trout are more abundant here than in
Lake George, but owing to the prevailing custom of spearing them in the
autumn, they are rapidly becoming extinct. I made a desperate effort to
capture one as a specimen, but without success, though I was told that
they varied in weight from ten to fifteen pounds. My efforts, however,
in taking pike were more encouraging. But, before giving my experience,
I must mention an interesting fact in natural history. Previous to the
year 1840, Scaroon Lake was not known to contain a single pike, but
during that year, some half dozen males and females were brought from
Lake Champlain and deposited therein, since which time they have
multiplied so rapidly as to be quite abundant, not only in Scaroon Lake,
but in all the neighboring waters, and as they are frequently taken
weighing some twenty pounds, the fact seems to be established that this
fish grows quite rapidly, and is not of slow growth, as many naturalists
have supposed.

But to my pike story. A number of lumbermen were going out for the
purpose of taking pike by torch-light, and I was fortunate enough to
secure a seat in one of the three flat boats which contained the
fishermen. It was a superb night, and the lake was without a ripple. Our
torches were made of “fat pine,” as it is here called, and my polite
friends taking it for granted that I was a novice in the spearing
business, they cunningly awarded to me the dullest spear in their
possession, and gave me the poorest position in the boat. I said nothing
to all this, but inwardly resolved that I would give them a salutary
lesson, if possible. I fished from nine until twelve o’clock, and then
left my friends to continue the sport. The entire number of pike taken,
as I found out in the morning, was thirteen, and as fortune would have
it, four of this number were captured by myself, in spite of my poor
spear. I did not take the largest fish, which weighed eighteen pounds,
but the greatest number, with which success I was fully satisfied.—The
effect of my good luck was unexpected to my companions, but gratifying
to me, for there was afterwards a strife between them as to who should
show me the most attention in the way of piloting me about the country.
This little adventure taught me the importance of understanding even the
vagabond art of spearing.

The event of that night, however, which afforded me the purest
enjoyment, was the witnessing of a moonlight scene, immediately after
leaving the lake shore for the inn, where I was tarrying. Before me, in
wild and solemn beauty, lay the southern portion of the Scaroon, on
whose bosom were gliding the spearmen, holding high above their heads
their huge torches, which threw a spectral glare, not only upon the
water, but upon the swarthy forms watching for their prey. Just at this
moment, an immense cloud of fog broke away, and directly above the
summit of the opposite mountain, the clear, full moon made its
appearance, and a thousand fantastic figures, born of the fog, were
pictured in the sky, and appeared extremely brilliant under the
effulgence of the ruling planet; while the zenith of sky was of a deep
blue, cloudless, but completely spangled with stars. And what greatly
added to the magic of the scene, was the dismal scream of a loon, which
came to my ear from a remote portion of the lake, yet covered with a
heavy fog.

Rising from the western margin of Scaroon Lake, is quite a lofty
mountain, which was once painted by Thomas Cole, and by him named
Scaroon Mountain. There is nothing particularly imposing about it, but
it commands an uncommonly fine prospect of the surrounding country. When
I first came in sight of this mountain, it struck me as an old
acquaintance, and I reined in my horse for the purpose of investigating
its features. Before I resumed my course, I concluded that I was
standing on the very spot whence the artist had taken his original
sketch of the scene, by which circumstance I was convinced of the
fidelity of his pencil.

The largest island in Scaroon Lake lies near the northern extremity, and
studs the water like an emerald on a field of blue. It was purchased,
some years ago, by a gentleman of New York, named Keland, who has built
a summer residence upon it, for the accommodation of himself and
friends.

Emptying into the Scaroon River, just below the lake, is a superb
mountain stream, known as Trout Brook. It is thirty feet wide, twelve
miles long, and comes rushing down the mountains, forming a thousand
waterfalls and pools, and filling its narrow valley with an everlasting
roar of music. Not only is it distinguished for the quality and number
of its trout, but it possesses one attraction which will pay the tourist
for the weary tramp he must undergo to explore its remote recesses. I
allude to what the people about here call “the Stone Bridge.” At this
point, the wild and dashing stream has formed a channel directly through
the solid mountains, so that, in fishing down, the angler suddenly finds
himself standing upon a pile of dry stones. The extent of this natural
bridge is not more than twenty or, perhaps, thirty feet, but the wonder
is, that the unseen channel is sufficiently large to admit the passage
of the largest logs which the lumbermen float down the stream. I might
also add, that at the foot of this bridge is one of the finest pools
imaginable. It is, perhaps, one hundred feet long, and so very deep that
the clear water appears quite black. This is the finest spot in the
whole brook for trout, and my luck there may be described as follows: I
had basketed no less than nine half-pounders, when my fly was suddenly
seized, and my snell snapped in twain by the fierceness of his leaps.
The consequence of that defeat was, that I resolved to capture the
trout, if I had to remain there all night. I then ransacked the mountain
side for a living bait, and, with the aid of my companion, succeeded in
capturing a small mouse, and just as the twilight was coming on, I tied
the little fellow to my hook, and threw him on the water. He swam across
in fine style, but when he reached the centre of the pool, a large trout
leaped completely out of his element, and in descending, seized the
mouse, and the result was, that I broke my rod, but caught the trout,
and though the mouse was seriously injured, I had the pleasure of again
giving him his liberty.

The largest trout that I killed weighed nearly a pound, and though he
was the cause of my receiving a ducking, he afforded me some sport, and
gave me a new idea. When I first hooked him, I stood on the very margin
of the stream, knee deep in a bog, and just as I was about to basket
him, he gave a sudden leap, cleared himself, and fell into the water.
Quick as thought I made an effort to rescue him, but in doing so, lost
my balance, and was playing the part of a turtle in a tub of water. I
then became poetical, and thought it “would never do to give it up so,”
and after waiting some fifteen minutes, I returned and tried for the
lost trout again. I threw my fly some twenty feet above the place where
I had tumbled in, and recaptured the identical fish which I had lost. I
recognized him by his having a torn and bleeding mouth. This
circumstance convinced me that trout, like many of the sons of men, have
short memories, and also that the individual in question was a perfect
Richelieu or General Taylor in his way, for he seemed to know no such
word as fail. As to the trout that I did not capture, I verily believe
that he must have weighed two pounds; but as he was, probably, a
superstitious gentleman, he thought it the better part of valor,
somewhat like Santa Anna, to treat the steel of his enemy with contempt.

The brook of which I have been speaking, is only twenty-five miles from
Lake Horicon, and unquestionably one of the best streams for the angler
in the Scaroon valley. The Trout Brook Pavilion, at the mouth of it,
kept by one Lockwood, is a comfortable inn; and his right hand man,
named Kipp, is a very fine fellow and a genuine angler.

Speaking of the above friends, reminds me of another, a fine man, named
Lyndsey, who keepeth a tavern, about ten miles north of Scaroon Lake.
His dwelling is delightfully situated in the centre of a deep valley,
and is a nice and convenient place to stop at, for those who are fond of
fishing, and admire romantic scenery. His family, including his wife,
two daughters and one son, not only know how to make their friends
comfortable, but they seem to have a passion for doing kind deeds.
During my stay at this place, I had the pleasure of witnessing a most
interesting game, which seems to be peculiar to this part of the
country. It was played with the common ball and by one hundred sturdy
farmers. Previous to the time alluded to, fifty Scaroon players had
challenged an equal number of players from a neighboring village named
Moriah. The conditions were that the defeated party should pay for a
dinner to be given by my friend Lyndsey. They commenced playing at nine
o’clock, and the game was ended in about three hours, the Scaroon, party
having won by about ten counts in five hundred. The majority of the
players varied from thirty to thirty-five years of age, though some of
the most expert of them were verging upon sixty years. They played with
the impetuosity of school boys, and there were some admirable feats
performed in the way of knocking and catching the ball. Some of the men
could number their acres by thousands, and all of them were accustomed
to severe labor, and yet they thought it absolutely necessary to
participate occasionally in this manly and fatiguing sport. The dinner
passed off in fine style, and was spiced by many agricultural anecdotes,
and as the sun was setting, the parties separated in the best of spirits
and returned to their several homes.

For fear that I should forget my duty, I would now introduce to my
reader a sheet of water embosomed among these mountains, which glories
in the name of Lake Paradox. How it came by that queer title, I was not
able to learn, but this I know, that it is one of the most beautiful
lakes I have ever seen. It is five miles long, and surrounded with
uncultivated mountains, excepting at its foot, where opens a beautiful
plain, highly cultivated and dotted with a variety of rude but
exceedingly comfortable farm houses. The shores of Lake Paradox are
rocky, the water deep and clear, abounding in fish, and the lines of the
mountains are picturesque to an uncommon degree.

But it is time that I should turn from particulars to a general
description of the Scaroon Country.—Though this is an agricultural
region, the two principal articles of export are lumber and iron. Of the
former the principal varieties are pine, hemlock and spruce, and two
establishments for the manufacture of iron are abundantly supplied with
ore from the surrounding mountains. Potatoes of the finest quality
flourish here, also wheat and corn. The people are mostly Americans,
intelligent, virtuous and industrious, and are as comfortable and happy
as any in the State.

-----

[1] The word Schroon is bad English for the Indian word Scaroon, the
meaning of which is—“_child of the mountains_.” The river was
originally named by an Algonquin chief after a favorite daughter.



                              CHAPTER VI.


    The Adirondac Mountains—Trout fishing in the Boreas River—A
    night in the woods—Moose Lake—Lake Delia—The Newcomb
    Farm—Mount Tahawus—The Indian Pass—Lakes Sanford and
    Henderson—The McIntyre iron works.

                                          _John Cheney’s Cabin, June._

The Adirondac Mountains are situated on the extreme head waters of the
Hudson, in the counties of Essex and Hamilton, and about forty miles
west of Lake Champlain. They vary from five hundred to five thousand
feet in height, and, with few exceptions, are covered with dense
forests. They lord it over the most extensive wilderness region in the
Empire State, and as I have recently performed a pilgrimage among them,
I now purpose to give an account of what I saw and heard during my
expedition.

The tourist who visits these mountains, finds it necessary to leave the
mail road near Lyndsey’s Tavern, on the Scaroon. If Fortune smiles upon
him, he will be able to hire a horse to take him in the interior, or
perhaps obtain a seat in a lumber wagon; but if not, he must try the
mettle of his legs. With regard to my own case, fortune was
non-committal; for while she compelled me to go on foot, she supplied me
with a pair of temporary companions, who were going into the interior to
see their friends, and have a few days’ sport in the way of fishing and
hunting. One of my friends (both of whom were young men), was a farmer,
who carried a rifle, and the other a travelling country musician, who
carried a fiddle. Our first day’s tramp took us about fifteen miles,
through a hilly, thickly wooded, and houseless wilderness, to the Boreas
River, where we found a ruined log shantee, in which we concluded to
spend the night. We reached this lonely spot at about three o’clock in
the afternoon; and having previously been told that the Boreas was
famous for trout, two of us started after a mess of fish, while the
fiddler was appointed to the office of wood-chopper to the expedition.
The Boreas at this point is about one hundred feet broad,—winds through
a woody valley, and is cold, rapid, and clear. The entire river does not
differ materially, as I understand, from the point alluded to, for it
waters an unknown wilderness. I bribed my farmer friend to _ascend_ the
river, and having pocketed a variety of flies, I started down the
stream. I proceeded near half a mile, when I came to a still water pool,
which seemed to be quite extensive, and very deep. At the head of it,
midway in the stream, was an immense boulder, which I succeeded in
surmounting, and whence I threw a red hackle for upwards of three hours.
I never saw trout jump more beautifully, and it was my rare luck to
basket thirty-four; twenty-one of which averaged three-quarters of a
pound, and the remaining thirteen were regular two-pounders. Satisfied
with my luck, I returned to the shantee, where I found my companions;
one of them sitting before a blazing fire and fiddling, and the other
busily employed in cleaning the trout he had taken.

In due time followed the principal event of the day, which consisted in
cooking and eating a wilderness supper. We had brought a supply of pork
and bread, and each one having prepared for himself a pair of wooden
forks, we proceeded to roast our trout and pork before a huge fire,
using the drippings of the latter for seasoning, and a leather cup of
water for our beverage. We spent the two following hours in smoking and
telling stories, and having made a bed of spruce boughs, and repaired
the rickety partition which divided one end of the cabin from the other
end, which was all open, we retired to repose! We had no blankets with
us, and an agreement was therefore entered into, that we should take
turns in replenishing the fire during the night. An awfully dark cloud
settled upon the wilderness, and by the music of the wind among the
hemlock trees, we were soon lulled into a deep slumber.

A short time after midnight, while dreaming of a certain pair of eyes in
the upper part of Broadway, I was awakened by a footstep on the outside
of the cabin. I brushed open my eyes, but could see nothing but the
faint glimmer of an expiring ember on the hearth. I held my breath, and
listened for the mysterious footstep; I heard it not, but something a
little more exciting,—the scratching of a huge paw upon our slender
door. In an exceedingly short time, I roused my bed-fellows, and told
them what I had heard. They thought it must be a wolf, and as we were
afraid to frighten him away, yet anxious to take his hide, it was
resolved that I should hold a match, and the farmer should fire his
rifle in the direction of the mysterious noise; which operation was duly
performed. A large pine torch was then lighted, the rifle reloaded, and
the heroes of the adventure marched into the _outer hall_ of the cabin,
where we found a few drops of blood, and the muddy tracks of what we
supposed to be a wild cat. The rifleman and myself then commissioned the
fiddler to make a fire, when we again threw ourselves upon the hemlock
couch.

The fiddler attended faithfully to his duty, and in less than twenty
minutes, he had kindled a tremendous blaze. The brilliant and laughing
flame had such an exhilarating influence upon his nerves, that he seized
his instrument and commenced playing, partly for the purpose of keeping
off the wild animals, but mostly for his own amusement. Then laying
aside his fiddle, he began to sing a variety of uncouth, as well as
plaintive songs, one of which was vague, but mournful in sentiment, and
more wild in melody, as I thought at the time, than anything I had ever
before heard. I could not find out by whom it was written, or what was
its exact import, but in the lonely place where we were sleeping, and at
that hour, it made a very deep impression on my mind.

The burden of the song was as follows, and was in keeping with the
picture which the minstrel, the firelight, and the rude cabin presented.

            We parted in silence, we parted at night,
            On the banks of that lonely river,
            Where the shadowy trees their boughs unite,
            We met, and we parted forever;—
            The night bird sang, and the stars above
            Told many a touching story
            Of friends long passed to the mansions of rest,
            Where the soul wears her mantle of glory.

            We parted in silence; our cheeks were wet
            By the tears that were past controlling;—
            We vowed we would never, no never forget,
            And those vows at the time were consoling;—
            But the lips that echoed my vows
            Are as cold as that lonely river;
            The sparkling eye, the spirit’s shrine.
            Has shrouded its fire forever.

            And now on the midnight sky I look,
            My eyes grow full with weeping,—
            Each star to me is a sealed book,
            Some tale of that loved one keeping.
            We parted in silence, we parted in tears,
            On the banks of that lonely river;
            But the odor and bloom of by-gone years
            Shall hang o’er its waters forever.

But sleep, the “dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health,” soon
folded the singer and his listener in her embrace, and with the rising
sun we entered upon the labors of another day. While the fiddler
prepared our breakfast, (out of the few trout which certain _beastly_
robbers had not stolen during the night,) the rifleman went out and
killed a large hare, and I took a sketch of the cabin where we had
lodged.

After breakfast, we shouldered our knapsacks, and started for the
Hudson. We struck this noble river at the embryo city of Tahawus, where
we found a log house and an unfinished saw-mill. Here we also discovered
a canoe, which we boarded, and navigated the stream to Lake Sanford.
This portion of the Hudson is not more than one hundred feet broad, but
quite deep and picturesque. On leaving our canoe, we made our way up a
mountain road, and after walking about four miles, came out upon an
elevated clearing, of some two hundred acres, in the centre of which was
a solitary log cabin with a retinue of out-houses, and this was the
famous Newcomb Farm.

The attractions of this spot are manifold, for it lies in the vicinity
of Moose Lake and Lake Delia, and commands the finest distant prospect
of the Adirondac mountains which has yet been discovered.

Moose Lake lies at the west of the farm, and about six miles distant. It
is embosomed among mountains, and the fountain head of the Cold River,
which empties into the St. Lawrence. In form it is so nearly round that
its entire shore may be seen at one view; the bottom is covered with
white sand, and the water is remarkably cold and clear. Considering its
size, it is said to contain more trout than any lake in this wilderness,
and it is also celebrated as a watering place for deer and moose. In
fishing from the shore, one of our party caught no less than forty
pounds of trout in about two hours. There were two varieties, and they
varied from one to two pounds in weight. Our guide to this lake, where
we encamped for one night, was Steuben Hewitt, the keeper of the Newcomb
Farm, who is quite a hunter. This woodsman got the notion into his head
that he must have a venison steak for his supper. We had already seen
some half dozen deer walking along the opposite margin of the lake, but
Steuben told us that he would wait until after dark to capture his game.
He also told us that the deer were in the habit of visiting the wilder
lakes of this region at night, for the purpose of escaping the
tormenting flies, and as he spoke so confidently of what he intended to
accomplish, we awaited his effort with a degree of anxiety. Soon as the
quiet night had fairly set in, he shipped himself on board a wooden
canoe, (a rickety affair, originally bequeathed to this lake by some
departed Indian,) in the bow of which was a fire jack, or torch holder.
Separating this machine from himself, as he sat in the centre of the
canoe, was a kind of screen made of bark, which was sufficiently
elevated to allow him to fire his gun from underneath; and in this
predicament, with a loaded rifle by his side, did he paddle into the
lake. After floating upon the water for an hour, in perfect silence, he
finally heard a splashing near the shore, and immediately lighting his
torch, he noiselessly proceeded in the direction of the sound, when he
discovered a beautiful deer, standing knee deep in the water, and
looking at him in stupefied silence. The poor creature could discover
nothing but the mysterious light, and while standing in the most
interesting attitude imaginable, the hunter raised his rifle, and shot
it through the heart. In half an hour from that time, the carcass of the
deer was hanging on a dry limb near our camp fire, and I was lecturing
the hard-hearted hunter on the cruelty of thus capturing the innocent
creatures of the forest. To all my remarks, however, he replied, “They
were given us for food, and it matters not how we kill them.”

Lake Delia, through which you have to pass in going to Moose Lake, lies
about two miles west of the Newcomb Farm. It is four miles long, and
less than one mile in width, and completely surrounded with wood-crowned
hills. Near the central portion, this lake is quite narrow, and so
shallow that a rude bridge has been thrown across for the accommodation
of the Farm people. The water under this bridge is only about four feet
deep, and this was the only spot in the lake where I followed my
favorite recreation. I visited it on one occasion, with my companions,
late in the afternoon, when the wind was blowing, and we enjoyed rare
sport in angling for salmon trout, as well as a large species of common
trout. I do not know the number that we took, but I well remember that
we had more than we could conveniently carry. Usually, the salmon trout
are only taken in deep water, but in this, and in Moose Lake, they seem
to be as much at home in shallow as in deep water. On one occasion I
visited Lake Delia alone at an early hour in the morning. It so
happened, that I took a rifle along with me; and while quietly throwing
my fly on the old bridge, I had an opportunity of using the gun to some
purpose. My movements in that lonely place were so exceedingly still,
that even the wild animals were not disturbed by my presence; for while
I stood there, a large fat otter made his appearance, and when he came
within shooting distance, I gave him the contents of my gun, and he
disappeared. I related the adventure to my companions, on my return to
the farm, but they pronounced it a “fish story.” My veracity was
vindicated, however, for, on the following day, they discovered a dead
otter on the lake shore, and concluded that I had told the truth.

I must not conclude this chapter without giving my reader an additional
paragraph about the Newcomb Farm. My friend Steuben Hewitt’s nearest
neighbor is eight miles off, and as his family is small, it may be
supposed that he leads a retired life. One of the days that I spent at
his house, was quite an eventful one with him, for a town election was
held there. The electors met at nine o’clock, and the poll closed at
five; and as the number of votes polled was _seven_, it may well be
imagined that the excitement was intense. But with all its loneliness
the Newcomb Farm is well worth visiting, if for no other purpose than to
witness the panorama of mountains which it commands. On every side but
one may they be seen, fading away to mingle their deep blue with the
lighter hue of the sky, but the chief among them all is old Tahawus,
King of the Adirondacs. The country out of which this mountain rises, is
an imposing Alpine wilderness, and as it has long since been abandoned
by the red man, the solitude of its deep valleys and lonely lakes for
the most part, is now more impressive than that of the far off Rocky
Mountains. The meaning of the Indian word Tahawus is _sky piercer_ or
_sky splitter_; and faithfully describes the appearance of the mountain.
Its actual elevation above the level of the sea is five thousand four
hundred and sixty-seven feet, while that of Mount Washington, in New
Hampshire, is only six thousand two hundred and thirty-four, making a
difference of only seven hundred and sixty-seven feet in favor of
Washington. Though Tahawus is not quite so lofty as its New England
brother, yet its form is by far the most picturesque and imposing. Taken
together, they are the highest pair of mountains in the United States.

Before going one step further, I must allude to what I deem the folly of
a certain state geologist, in attempting to name the prominent peaks of
the Adirondac Mountains after a brotherhood of living men. If he is to
have his way in this matter, the beautiful name of Tahawus will be
superseded by that of Marcy, and several of Tahawus’ brethren are
hereafter to be known as Mounts Seward, Wright and Young. Now if this
business is not supremely ridiculous, I must confess that I do not know
the meaning of that word. A pretty idea, indeed, to scatter to the winds
the ancient poetry of the poor Indian, and perpetuate in its place the
names of living politicians. For my part, I agree most decidedly with
the older inhabitants of the Adirondac wilderness, who look with obvious
indifference upon the attempted usurpation of the geologist already
mentioned.

For nine months in the year old Tahawus is covered with a crown of snow,
but there are spots among its fastnesses where you may gather ice and
snow even in the dog days. The base of this mountain is covered with a
luxuriant forest of pine, spruce and hemlock, while the summit is
clothed in a net-work of creeping trees, and almost destitute of the
green which should characterize them. In ascending its sides when near
the summit, you are impressed with the idea that your pathway may be
smooth; but as you proceed, you are constantly annoyed by pitfalls, into
which your legs are foolishly poking themselves, to the great annoyance
of your back bone and other portions of your body which are naturally
straight.

I ascended Tahawus, as a matter of course, and in making the trip I
travelled some twenty miles on foot and through the pathless woods,
employing for the same the better part of two days. My companion on this
expedition was John Cheney, (of whom I have something to write
hereafter,) and as he did not consider it prudent to spend the night on
the summit, we only spent about one hour gazing upon the panorama from
the top, and then descended about half way down the mountain where we
built our watch fire. The view from Tahawus is rather unique. It looks
down upon what appears to be an uninhabited wilderness, with mountains,
fading to the sky in every direction, and where, on a clear day, you may
count not less than twenty-four lakes, including Champlain, Horicon,
Long Lake and Lake Pleasant.

While trying to go to sleep on the night in question, as I lay by the
side of my friend Cheney, he gave me an account of the manner in which
certain distinguished gentlemen have ascended Mount Tahawus, for it must
be known that he officiates as the guide of all travellers in this wild
region. Among those to whom he alluded were Ingham and Cole the artists,
and Hoffman and Headley the travellers. He told me that Mr. Ingham
fainted a number of times in making the ascent, but became so excited
with all that he saw, he determined to persevere, and finally succeeded
in accomplishing the difficult task. Mr. Hoffman, he said, in spite of
his lameness, would not be persuaded by words that he could not reach
the summit; and when he finally discovered that this task was utterly
beyond his accomplishment, his disappointment seemed to have no bounds.

The night that I spent on Tahawus was not distinguished by any event
more remarkable than a regular built rain-storm. Our canopy was composed
of hemlock branches, and our only covering was a blanket. The storm did
not set in until about midnight, and my first intimation of its approach
was the falling of rain drops directly into my ear, as I snugged up to
my bed-fellow for the purpose of keeping warm. Desperate, indeed, were
the efforts I made to forget my condition in sleep, as the rain fell
more abundantly, and drenched me, as well as my companion, to the very
skin. The thunder bellowed as if in the enjoyment of a very happy
frolic, and the lightning seemed determined to root up a few trees in
our immediate vicinity, as if for the purpose of giving us more room.
Finally Cheney rose from his pillow, (which was a log of wood,) and
proposed that we should quaff a little brandy, to keep us from catching
cold, which we did, and then made another attempt to reach the land of
Nod.  *  *  *  At the break of day we were awakened from a short but
refreshing sleep, by the singing of birds, and when the cheerful
moonlight had reached the bottom of the ravines, we were enjoying a
comfortable breakfast in the cabin of my friend.

The principal attractions associated with Tahawus, are the Indian Pass,
the Adirondac Lakes, the Adirondac iron works, and the mighty hunter of
the Adirondacs, John Cheney. The Pass, so called, is only an
old-fashioned notch between the mountains. On one side is a
perpendicular precipice, rising to the height of eleven hundred feet;
and, on the other, a wood-covered mountain, ascending far up into the
sky, at an angle of forty-five degrees. Through this pass flows a tiny
rivulet, over which the rocks are so thickly piled, as frequently to
form pitfalls that measure from ten to thirty feet in depth.—Some of
these holes are never destitute of ice, and are cool and comfortable
even at midsummer. The Pass is nearly half a mile in length, and, at one
point, certain immense boulders have come together and formed a cavern,
which is called the “meeting house,” and is, perhaps, capable of
containing one thousand people. The rock on either side of the Pass is a
gray granite, and its only inhabitants are eagles, which are quite
abundant, and occupy the most conspicuous crag in the notch.

The two principal lakes which gem the Adirondac wilderness, are named
Sanford and Henderson, after the two gentlemen who first purchased land
upon their borders. The former is five miles in length, and the latter
somewhat less than three, both of them varying in width from half a mile
to a mile and a half. The mountains which swoop down to their bosoms are
covered with forest, and abound in a great variety of large game. There
is not, to my knowledge, a single habitation on either of the lakes, and
the only smoke ever seen to ascend from their lonely recesses, comes
from the watch-fire of the hunter, or the encampment of surveyors and
tourists.—The water of these lakes is cold and deep, and moderately
supplied with salmon trout. Lake Henderson is admirably situated for the
exciting sport of deer hunting, and though it contains two or three
canoes, cannot be entered from the West Branch of the Hudson without
making a portage. Through Lake Sanford, however, the Hudson takes a
direct course, and there is nothing to impede the passage of a small
boat to within a mile of the iron works, which are located in a valley
between the two lakes. The fact is, during the summer there is quite an
extensive business done on Lake Sanford, in the way of “bringing in”
merchandize, and “carrying out” the produce of the forge. It was my
misfortune to make the inward passage of the lake in company with two
ignorant Irishmen. Their boat was small, heavily laden, very tottleish
and leaky. This was my only chance; and on taking my seat with a
palpitating heart, I made an express bargain with the men, that they
should keep along the shore on their way up. They assented to my wishes,
but immediately pulled for the very centre of the lake. I remonstrated,
but they told me there was no danger. The boat was now rapidly filling
with water, and though one was bailing with all his might, the rascals
were determined not to accede to my wishes. The conclusion of the matter
was that our shallop became water-logged, and on finally reaching the
shore, the merchandize was greatly damaged, and I was just about as wet
as I was angry at the miserable creatures, whose obstinacy had not only
greatly injured their employers, but also endangered my own plunder as
well as my life.

The iron works alluded to above, are located in a narrow valley, and in
the immediate vicinity of Lake Henderson, at a place called McIntyre.
Some time in the year 1830, a couple of Scottish gentlemen, named
Henderson and McIntyre, purchased a large tract of wild land lying in
this portion of New York. In the summer following, they passed through
this wilderness on an exploring expedition, and with the assistance of
their Indian guide, discovered that the bed of the valley in question
was literally blocked up with iron ore. On making farther
investigations, they found that the whole rocky region about them was
composed of valuable mineral, and they subsequently established a
regular-built iron establishment, which has been in operation ever
since. A gentleman named Robinson afterwards purchased an interest in
the concern, and it is now carried on by him and Mr. McIntyre, though
the principal stockholders are the wife and son of Mr. Henderson,
deceased.

The metal manufactured by this company is of the very best quality of
bar-iron; and an establishment is now in progress of erection at
Tahawus, twelve miles down the river, where a party of English gentlemen
intend to manufacture every variety of steel. The iron works give
employment to about one hundred and fifty men, whose wages vary from one
to four dollars per day. The society of the place, you may well imagine,
is decidedly original; but the prominent individual, and only remarkable
man who resides here, is John Cheney, the mighty hunter of the
Adirondacs. For an account of this man, the reader will please look into
the following chapter.



                              CHAPTER VII.


        John Cheney, the Adirondac hunter—Some of his exploits.
                                          _John Cheney’s Cabin, June._

John Cheney was born in New Hampshire, but spent his boyhood on the
shores of Lake Champlain, and has resided in the Adirondac wilderness
about thirteen years. He has a wife and one child, and lives in a
comfortable cabin in the wild village of McIntyre. His profession is
that of a hunter, and he is in the habit of spending about one-half of
his time in the woods. He is a remarkably amiable and intelligent man,
and as unlike the idea I had formed of him as possible. I expected from
all that I had heard, to see a huge, powerful, and hairy Nimrod; but,
instead of such, I found him small in stature, and bearing more the
appearance of a modest and thoughtful student.

The walls of his cosy little house, containing one principal room, are
ornamented with a large printed sheet of the Declaration of
Independence, and two engraved portraits of Washington and Jackson. Of
guns and pistols he has an abundant supply, and also a good stock of all
the conveniences for camping among the mountains. He keeps one cow,
which supplies his family with all the milk they need; but his favorite
animals are a couple of hunting dogs named Buck and Tiger.

As summer is not the time to accomplish much in the way of hunting, my
adventures with John Cheney have not been distinguished by any stirring
events; we have, however, enjoyed some rare sport in the way of fishing,
and obtained some glorious views from the mountain peaks of this region.
But the conversation of this famous Nimrod has interested me
exceedingly, and wherever we might be, under his own roof, or by the
side of our mountain watch-fires, I have kept him busy in recounting his
former adventures. I copied into my note-book nearly everything he said,
and now present my readers with a few extracts relating to his hunting
exploits. I shall use his own words as nearly as I can remember them.

                 *        *        *        *        *

“I was always fond of hunting, and the first animal I killed was a fox;
I was then ten years of age. Even from childhood, I was so in love with
the woods that I not only neglected school, but was constantly borrowing
a gun, or stealing the one belonging to my father, with which to follow
my favorite amusement. He found it a useless business to make a decent
boy of me, and in a fit of desperation he one day presented me with a
common fowling piece. I was the youngest of thirteen children, and was
always called the black sheep of the family. I have always enjoyed good
health, and am forty-seven years of age; but I have now passed my prime,
and don’t care about exposing myself to any useless dangers.

                 *        *        *        *        *

“You ask me if I ever hunt on Sunday; no, sir, I do not. I have always
been able to kill enough on week days to give me a comfortable living.
Since I came to live among the Adirondacs, I have killed _six hundred
deer, four hundred sable, nineteen moose, twenty-eight bears, six
wolves, seven wild cats, thirty otter, one panther and one beaver_.

                 *        *        *        *        *

“As to that beaver I was speaking about, it took me three years to
capture him, for he was an old fellow, and remarkably cunning. He was
the last, from all that I can learn, that was ever taken in the State.
One of the Long Lake Indians often attempted to trap him, but without
success; he usually found his trap sprung, but could never get a morsel
of the beaver’s tail; and so it was with me, too; but I finally fixed a
trap _under_ the water, near the entrance to his dam, and it so happened
that he one day stepped into it and was drowned.

                 *        *        *        *        *

“I was going to tell you something about my dogs, Buck and Tiger. I’ve
raised some fifty of these animals in my day, but I never owned such a
tormented smart one as that fellow Buck. I believe there’s a good deal
of the English mastiff in him, but a keener eye than he carries in his
head I never saw. Only look at that breast of his; did you ever see a
thicker or more solid one? He’s handsomely spotted, as you may see, but
some of the devilish Lake Pleasant Indians cut off his ears and tail
about a year ago, and he now looks rather odd. You may not believe it,
but I have seen a good many men who were not half as sensible as that
very dog. Whenever the fellow’s hungry he always seats himself at my
feet and gives three short barks, which is his way of telling me that he
would like some bread and meat. If the folks happen to be away from
home, and he feels a little sharp, he pays a regular visit to all the
houses in the village, and after playing with the children, barks for a
dry crust, which he always receives, and then comes back to his own
home. He’s quite a favorite among the children, and I’ve witnessed more
than one fight because some wicked little scamp had thrown a stone at
him. When I speak to him he understands me just as well as you do. I can
wake him out of a sound sleep, and by my saying, ‘Buck, go up and kiss
the baby,’ he will march directly to the cradle and lick the baby’s
face; and the way he watches that baby when it’s asleep, is perfectly
curious,—he’d tear you to pieces in three minutes if you were to try to
take it away. Buck is now four years old, and though he’s helped me to
kill several hundred deer, he never lost one for me yet. Whenever I go a
hunting, and don’t want him along, I have only to say, ‘Buck, you must
not go,’—and he remains quiet: there’s no use in chaining him, I tell
you, for he understands his business. This dog never starts after a deer
until I tell him to go, even if the deer is in sight. Why ’twas only the
other day that Tiger brought in a doe to Lake Colden, where the two had
a desperate fight within a hundred yards of the spot where Buck and
myself were seated. I wanted to try the metal of Tiger, and told Buck he
must not stir, though I went up to the doe to see what the result would
be between the fighters. Buck didn’t move out of his tracks, but the way
he howled for a little taste of blood was perfectly awful. I almost
thought the fellow would die in his agony. Buck is of great use to me,
when I am off hunting, in more ways than one. If I happen to be lost in
a snow storm, which is sometimes the case, I only have to tell him to go
home, and if I follow his tracks I am sure to come out in safety; and
when sleeping in the woods at night, I never have any other pillow than
Buck’s body. As to my black dog Tiger, he isn’t quite two years old yet,
but he’s going to make a great hunter. I am trying hard now-a-days to
break him of a very foolish habit of killing porcupines. Not only does
he attack every one he sees, but he goes out to hunt them, and often
comes home all covered with their quills. It was only the other day that
he came home with about twenty quills working their way into his snout.
It so happened, however, that they did not kill him, because he let me
pull them all out with a pair of pincers, and that too without budging
an inch. About the story people tell, that the porcupine _throws_ its
quills, I can tell you it’s no such thing,—it is only when the quills
touch the dog, that they come out and work their way through his body.

                 *        *        *        *        *

“As to deer hunting, I can tell you more stories in that line than you’d
care about hearing. They have several ways of killing them in this
quarter, and some of their ways are so infernal mean. I’m surprised that
there should be any deer left in the country. In the first place,
there’s the ‘still hunting’ fashion, when you lay in ambush near a salt
lick, and shoot the poor creatures when they’re not thinking of you. And
there’s the beastly manner of blinding them with a ‘torch light’ when
they come into the lakes to cool themselves, and get away from the
flies, during the warm nights of summer. Now I say, that no decent man
will take this advantage of wild game, unless he is in a starving
condition. The only manly way to kill deer is by ‘driving’ them, as I
do, with a couple of hounds.

“There isn’t a creature in this whole wilderness that I think so much of
as a deer. They are _so_ beautiful, with their bright eyes, graceful
necks, and sinewy legs; and they are so swift, and make such splendid
leaps when hard pressed; why, I’ve seen a buck jump from a cliff that
was forty feet high, and that, too, without injuring a hair. I wish I
could get my living without killing this beautiful animal!—but I must
live, and I suppose they were made to die. The cry of the deer, when in
the agonies of death, is the awfulest sound I ever heard;—I’d a good
deal rather hear the scream of the panther, provided I have a ball in my
pistol, and the pistol is in my hand. I wish they would never speak so.

“The time for taking deer is in the fall and winter. It’s a curious
fact, that when a deer is at all frightened, he cannot stand upon smooth
ice, while, at the same time, when not afraid of being caught, he will
not only walk, but actually trot across a lake as smooth as glass. It’s
a glorious sight to see them running down the mountains, with the dogs
howling behind; but I don’t think I ever saw a more beautiful race than
I once did on Lake Henderson, between a buck deer and my dog Buck, when
the lake was covered with a light fall of snow. I had put Buck upon a
fresh track, and was waiting for him on the lake shore. Presently, a
splendid deer bounded out of the woods upon the ice, and as the dog was
only a few paces off, he led the race directly across the lake. Away
they ran as if a hurricane was after them; crossed the lake, then back
again. Then they made another wheel, and having run to the extreme
southern point of the lake, again returned, when the deer’s wind gave
out, and the dog caught and threw the creature, into whose throat I soon
plunged my knife, and the race was ended.

“I never was so badly hurt in hunting any animal as I have been in
hunting deer. It was while chasing a buck on Cheney’s Lake, (which was
named after me by Mr. Henderson in commemoration of my escape,) that I
once shot myself in a very bad way. I was in a canoe, and had laid my
pistol down by my side, when, as I was pressing hard upon the animal, my
pistol slipped under me in some queer way, and went off, sending a ball
into my leg, just above the ankle, which came out just below the knee. I
knew something terrible had happened, and though I thought that I might
die, I was determined that the deer should die first; and I did succeed
in killing him before he reached the shore. But, soon as the excitement
was over, the pain I had felt before was increased a thousand-fold, and
I felt as if all the devils in hell were dragging at my leg, the weight
and the agony were so great. I had never suffered so before, and I
thought it strange. You may not believe it, but when that accident
happened, I was fourteen miles from home, and yet, even with that
used-up leg, I succeeded in reaching my home, where I was confined to my
bed from October until April. That was a great winter for hunting which
I missed; but my leg got entirely well, and is now as good as ever.

                 *        *        *        *        *

“The most savage animal that I hunt for among these mountains, is the
moose, or caraboo, as I have heard some people call them. They’re quite
plenty in the region of Long Lake and Lake Pleasant; and if the hunter
don’t understand their ways, he’ll be likely to get killed before he
thinks of his danger. The moose is the largest animal of the deer kind,
or, in fact, of any kind that we find in this part of the country. His
horns are very large, and usually look like a pair of crab-apple trees.
He has a long head, long legs, and makes a great noise when he travels;
his flesh is considered first rate, for he feeds upon grass, and the
tender buds of the moose maple. He is a rapid traveller, and hard to
tire out. In winter they run in herds; and when the snow is deep, they
generally live in one particular place in the woods which we call a
‘yard.’ The crack time for killing them is the winter, when we can
travel on the snow with our braided snow shoes.

“I once killed two moose before nine o’clock in the morning. I had been
out a hunting for two days, in the winter, and when night came on, I had
to camp out near the foot of old Tahawus. When I got up in the morning,
and was about to start for home, I discovered a yard, where lay a couple
of bull moose. I don’t know what they were thinking about, but just as
soon as they saw me, they jumped up, and made directly towards the place
where I was standing. I couldn’t get clear of their ugly feet without
running, so I put for a large dead tree that had blown over, and walking
to the butt end of it, which was some ten feet high, looked down in
safety upon the devils. They seemed to be very mad about something, and
did everything they could to get at me, by running around; and I
remember they ran together, as if they had been yoked. I waited for a
good chance to shoot, and when I got it, fired a ball clear through one
of the animals, into the shoulder of the second. The first one dropped
dead as a door nail, but the other took to his heels, and after going
about fifty rods, concluded to lie down. I then came up to him, keeping
my dogs back for the purpose of sticking him, when he jumped up again,
and put after me like lightning. I ran to a big stump, and after I had
fairly fixed myself, I loaded again, and again fired, when the fellow
tumbled in the snow quite dead. He was eight feet high, and a perfect
roarer.

                 *        *        *        *        *

“Another animal that we sometimes find pretty plenty in these woods, is
the big gray wolf; they are savage fellows, and dangerous to meet with
when angry. On getting up early one winter morning, I noticed, in the
back part of my garden, what I thought to be a wolf track. I got my gun,
called for my dogs, and started on the hunt. I found the fellow in his
den among the mountains. I kindled a fire, and smoked him out. I then
chased him for about two miles, when he came to bay. He was a big
fellow, and my dogs were afraid to clinch in;—dogs hate a wolf worse
than any other animal. I found I had a fair chance, so I fired at the
creature; but my gun missed fire. The wolf then attacked me, and in
striking him with my gun, I broke it all to pieces. I was in a bad fix,
I tell you, but I immediately threw myself on my back, with my snow
shoes above me, when the wolf jumped right on to my body, and, probably,
would have killed me, had it not been for my dog Buck, who worried the
wolf so badly, that the devil left me, to fight the dog. While they were
fighting with all their might, I jumped up, took the barrel of my gun,
and settled it right into the brain of the savage animal. That was the
largest wolf ever killed in this wilderness.

                 *        *        *        *        *

“One of the hardest fights I ever had in these woods was with a black
bear. I was coming from a winter hunt. The snow was very deep, and I had
on my snow shoes. It so happened, as I was coming down a certain
mountain, the snow suddenly gave way under me, and I fell into the hole
or winter quarters of one of the blackest and largest bears I ever saw.
The fellow was quite as much frightened as I was, and he scampered out
of the den in a great hurry. I was very tired, and had only one dog with
me at the time, but I put after him. I had three several battles with
him, and in one of these he struck my hand with such force as to send my
gun at least twenty or thirty feet from where we stood. I finally
managed to kill the rascal, however, but not until he had almost
destroyed the life of my dog. That was a noble dog; but in that battle
he received his death-wound. He couldn’t walk at the time, and though I
was nine miles from home, I took him up in my arms and brought him; but
with all my nursing I could not get him up again, for he died at the end
of a few weeks. That dog was one of the best friends I ever had.

                 *        *        *        *        *

“But the most dangerous animal in this country is the yellow panther or
painter. They are not very plenty, and so tormented cunning that it is
very seldom you can kill one. They are very ugly, but don’t often attack
a man unless cornered or wounded. They look and act very much like a
cat, only that they are very large; I never killed but one, and his body
was five feet long, and his tail between three and four. At night their
eyes look like balls of fire, and when they are after game they make a
hissing noise, which is very dreadful to hear. Their scream is also very
terrible, and I never saw the man who was anxious to hear it more than
once. They are seldom hunted as a matter of business, but usually killed
by accident.

“The panther I once killed, I came across in this manner. I was out on
Lake Henderson with two men, catching fish through the ice, when we saw
two wolves come on to the ice in great haste, looking and acting as if
they had been pursued. I proposed to the men that we should all go and
kill them if we could. They wanted to fish, or were a little afraid, so
I took my gun and started after the game. I followed them some distance,
when, as they were scaling a ledge, they were attacked by a big panther,
and a bloody fight took place. From the appearance of the animals, I
supposed that they had met before, which was the cause why the wolves
came upon the lake. During the scuffle between the animals, it is a
singular fact that they all three tumbled off the precipice and fell
through the air about one hundred feet. The wolves jumped up and ran
away, while the panther started in another direction. I followed his
track, and after travelling a number of hours, overtook him, and managed
to shoot him through the shoulder. He then got into a tree, and as he
was lashing his tail and getting ready to pounce upon me, I gave him
another ball, and he fell to the earth with a crash, and was quite dead.
I then went to the lake and got the men to help me home with my booty.”



                             CHAPTER VIII.


              Burlington—Lake Champlain—Distinguished men.
                                                   _Burlington, June._

Of all the towns which I have seen, Burlington, in Vermont, is decidedly
one of the most beautiful. It stands on the shore of Lake Champlain, and
from the water to its eastern extremity is a regular elevation, which
rises to the height of some three hundred feet. Its streets are broad
and regularly laid out; the generality of its buildings elegant, and its
inhabitants well educated, refined and wealthy. My visit here is now
about to close, and I cannot but follow the impulses of my heart, by
giving my reader a brief account of its principal picturesque
attractions, and some information concerning a few of its public men.

As a matter of course, my first subject is Lake Champlain. In
approaching it from the south, and particularly from Horicon, one is apt
to form a wrong opinion of its picturesque features; but you cannot pass
through it without being lavish in its praise. It extends, in a straight
line from south to north, somewhat over an hundred miles, and lies
between the States of New York and Vermont. It is the gateway between
the country on the St. Lawrence, and that on the Hudson, and it is,
therefore, extensively navigated by vessels and steamboats. It is
surrounded with flourishing villages, whose population is generally made
up of New Englanders and Canadians. Its width varies from half a mile to
thirteen; but its waters are muddy, excepting in the vicinity of
Burlington. Its islands are not numerous, but one of them, Grand Isle,
is sufficiently large to support four villages. Its scenery may be
denominated bold; on the west are the Adirondac Mountains, and at some
distance on the east, the beautiful Green Mountains, whose glorious
_commanders_ are Mansfield Mountain and the Camel’s Hump. Owing to the
width of the lake at Burlington, and the beauty of the western
mountains, the sunsets that are here visible, are exceedingly superb.

The classic associations of this lake are uncommonly interesting. Here
are the moss-covered ruins of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, whose present
occupants are the snake, the lizard and toad. Leaden and iron balls,
broken bayonets, and English flints have I picked up on their ramparts,
which I cannot look upon without thinking of death-struggles and the
horrible shout of war. And there, too, is Plattsburgh, in whose waters
Commodore McDonough vindicated the honor of the Stars and Stripes of
Freedom. As to the fishing of this lake, I have but a word to say.
Excepting trout, almost every variety of fresh water fish is found here
in abundance; but the water is not pure, which is ever a serious
drawback to my enjoyment in wetting the line. Lake Champlain received
its name from a French nobleman who discovered it in 1609, and who died
at Quebec in 1635.

The associations I am now to speak of are of a personal character; and
the first of the three names before me is that of Joseph Torrey, the
present Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy in the University
of Vermont. As a citizen, he is one of the most amiable and beloved of
men. As one of the faculty of the university, he occupies a high rank,
and is a particular favorite with all his students. A pleasing evidence
of the latter fact I noticed a few days since, when it was reported
among the students that the Professor had returned from a visit to the
Springs for his health. I was in company with some half-dozen of them at
the time, and these are the remarks they made. “How is his health?” “I
hope he has improved!” “Now shall I be happy—for ever since he went
away, the recitation room has been a cheerless place to me.” “Now shall
I be advised as to my essay!” “Now shall my poem be corrected!” “Now in
my trouble shall I have the sympathies of a true friend!” Much more
meaning is contained in these simple phrases than what meets the eye.
Surely, if any man is to be envied, it is he who has a place in the
affections of all who know him. As a scholar, too, Professor Torrey
occupies an exalted station, as will be proven to the world in due time.
He has never published anything but an occasional article for a review,
and the memoir of President Marsh, (who was his predecessor in the
university,) as contained in the admirable volume of his Remains, which
should occupy a conspicuous place in the library of every American
scholar and Christian. The memoir is, indeed, a rare specimen of that
kind of writing,—beautifully written, and pervaded by a spirit of
refinement that is delightful. But I was mostly interested in Mr. Torrey
as a man of taste in the Fine Arts. In everything but the mere
execution, he is a genuine artist, and long may I remember the counsels
of his experience and knowledge. A course of Lectures on the Arts forms
a portion of his instruction as Professor, and I trust that they will
eventually be published for the benefit of our country. He has also
translated from the German of Schelling, a most admirable discourse,
entitled “Relation of the Arts of Design to Nature;” a copy of which
ought to be in the possession of every young artist. Mr. Torrey has been
an extensive traveller in Europe, and being a lover, and an acute
observer of everything connected with literature and art, it is quite a
luxury to hear him expatiate upon “the wonders he has seen.” He also
examines everything with the eye of a philosopher, and his conclusions
are ever of practical utility. Not only can he analyze in a profound
manner the principles of metaphysical learning, but with the genuine
feelings of a poet, descant upon the triumphs of poetic genius, or point
out the mind-charms of a Claude or Titian. He is—but I will not say all
that I would, for fear that at our next meeting he would chide me for my
boyish personalities. Let me conclude, then, reader, with the advice,
that, if you ever chance to meet the Professor in your travels, you must
endeavor to secure an introduction, which I am sure you cannot but ever
remember with unfeigned pleasure.

John Henry Hopkins, D. D., Bishop of Vermont, is another of the
principal attractions of Burlington. The history of his life, the
expression of his countenance, and his general deportment all speak of
the “peace of God.” Considering the number and diversity of his
acquirements, I think him a very remarkable man. He is not only, in
point of character, well worthy of his exalted station as Bishop, but as
a theologian learned and eloquent to an uncommon degree. His
contributions to the world of letters are of rare value, as he has
published volumes entitled “Christianity Vindicated,” “The Primitive
Church,” “The Primitive Creed,” “The Church of Rome,” “British
Reformation,” and “Letters to the Clergy.” His style of writing is
persuasive, vigorous, and clear, and all his conclusions seem to have
been formed in full view of the Bible, which is a virtue well worth
noticing in these degenerate days. It is because of his honesty and
soundness, I suppose, that some of his own church are disaffected with
his straightforward conduct. Bishop Hopkins, as a divine, is of the same
school with the late Bishop White, and therefore among the most
eminently wise and good of his country.

The Bishop of Vermont is also a man of remarkable taste with regard to
Architecture, Music and Painting, in which departments, as an amateur,
he has done himself great credit. Not only did he plan and superintend
the building of an edifice for his recent school, but has published an
interesting book on Architecture, wherein he appears to be as much _at
home_ as if he were Christopher Wren. Knowing the market to be full of
sentimental nonsense in the way of songs, he composed, for the benefit
of his own children, a few with a moral tone, which he also set to
music, and are now published as a worthy tribute to his fine feelings
and the correctness of his ear. But he ranks still higher as a man of
taste in the capacity of Painter. The Vermont drawing-book, which he
published, is an evidence of his ability as a draftsman. The family
portraits which adorn his walls prove him to have an accurate eye for
color, and an uncommon knowledge of effect;—and his oil sketches of
scenes from nature give token of an ardent devotion to nature. But the
best, in my opinion, of all his artistical productions, is a picture
representing our “Saviour blessing little children.” Its conception,
grouping and execution are all of very great merit, and I am persuaded
will one day be looked upon with peculiar interest by the lovers and
judges of art in this country. Though done in water colors, and
considered by the artist as a mere sketch for a larger picture, there
are some heads in it that would have called forth a compliment even from
the lamented Allston. Would that he could be influenced to send it, for
exhibition, to our National Academy! And thus endeth my humble tribute
of applause to a gifted man.

I now come to the Hon. George P. Marsh, of whom, if I were to follow the
bent of my feelings, I could write a complete volume. Though yet in the
early prime of life, he is a sage in learning and wisdom. After leaving
college he settled in Burlington, where he has since resided, dividing
his time between his legal profession and the retirement of his study.
With a large and liberal heart, he possesses all the endearing and
interesting qualities which belong to the true and accomplished
gentleman. Like all truly great men, he is exceedingly retiring and
modest in his deportment, and one of that rare class who seem never
excited by the voice of fame. About four years ago, almost without his
knowledge, he was elected to a seat in the lower house of Congress,
where he at once began to make an impression as a statesman. Though few
have been his public speeches, they are remarkable for sound political
logic and the classic elegance of their language. As an orator, he is
not showy and passionate, but plain, forcible and earnest.

But it is in the walks of private life that Mr. Marsh is to be mostly
admired. His knowledge of the Fine Arts is probably more extensive than
that of any other man in this country, and his critical taste is equal
to his knowledge; but that department peculiarly his hobby, is
engraving. He has a passion for line engravings; and it is
unquestionably true, that his collection is the most valuable and
extensive in the Union. He is well acquainted with the history of this
art from the earliest period, and also with its various mechanical
ramifications. He is as familiar with the lives and peculiar styles of
the Painters and Engravers of antiquity, as with his household affairs;
and when he talks to you on his favorite theme, it is not to display his
learning, but to make you realize the exalted attributes and mission of
universal art.

As an author, Mr. Marsh has done but little in extent, but enough to
secure a seat beside such men as Edward Everett, with whom he has been
compared. He has published (among his numerous things of the kind) a
pamphlet, entitled “The Goths in New England,” which is a fine specimen
of chaste writing and beautiful thought; also another on the “History of
the Mechanic Arts,” which contains a great deal of rare and important
information. He has also written an “Icelandic Grammar” of 156 pages,
which created quite a sensation among the learned of Europe a few years
ago. As to his scholarship—it can be said of him that he is a _master_
in some twelve of the principal modern and ancient languages. He has not
learned them merely for the purpose of being considered a literary
prodigy, but to multiply his means of acquiring information, which
information is intended to accomplish some substantial end. He is not a
visionary, but a devoted lover of truth, whether it be in History,
Poetry, or the Arts.

But my chief object in speaking of this gentleman, was to introduce a
passing notice of his library, which is undoubtedly the most unique in
the country. The building itself, which stands near his dwelling, is of
brick, and arranged throughout with great taste. You enter it, as it was
often my privilege, and find yourself in a complete wilderness of
gorgeous books, and portfolios of engravings. Of books Mr. Marsh owns
some five thousand volumes. His collection of Scandinavian Literature is
supposed to be more complete than any out of the Northern Kingdoms. To
give you an idea of this literary treasure, I will mention a few of the
rarest specimens. In old Northern Literature, here may be found the
_Arna Magnæan_ editions of old Icelandic Sagas, all of those of _Suhm_,
all those of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, and in fact all
those printed at Copenhagen and Stockholm, as well as in Iceland, with
scarcely an exception. This library also contains the great editions of
_Heimskringla_, the two _Eddas_, _Kongs-Skugg-Sjo_, _Konunga_,
_Styrilse_, the Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, Scriptores Rerum Svecicarum,
Dansk Magazin, and _two_ complete editions of _Olaus Magnus_, _Saxo
Grammaticus_, the works of Bartholinus, Torfaus, Schöning, Suhmm,
Pontoppidann, Grundtvig, Petersen, Rask, the _Aplantica_ of Rudbeck, the
great works of _Sjöborg_, Liljegren, Geijer, Cronholm and Strinnholm,
all the collections of Icelandic, Danish and Swedish laws, and almost
all the writers, ancient and modern, who have treated of the language,
literature, or history of the ancient Scandinavian race.

In modern Danish Literature, here may be found the works of Holberg,
Wessel, Ewald, Hejberg, Baggesen, Ochlenschlseger, Nyerup, Ingemann,
with other celebrated authors; in Swedish, those of Leopold Oxenstjerna,
Bellman, Franzen, Atterbom, Tegner, Frederika Bremer, and, indeed,
almost all the _belles-lettres_ authors of Sweden, the Transactions of
the Royal Academy of Science, (more than one hundred volumes,) those of
the Swedish Academy, and of the Royal Academy of Literature, and many
collections in documentary history, besides numerous other works.

In Spanish and Portuguese, besides many modern authors, here are
numerous old chronicles, such as the Madrid collection of old Spanish
Chronicles, in seven volumes 4to.; the Portuguese _Livros ineditos da
Historia Portugueza_, five volumes folio; Fernam Lopez, de Brito, Duarte
Nunez de Liam, Damiam de Goes, de Barros, Castanheda, Resende, Andrada,
Osorio; also, de Menezes, Mariana, and others of similar character. In
Italian, most of the best authors who have acquired a European
reputation; several hundred volumes of French works, including many of
the ancient chronicles; a fine collection in German, including many
editions of Reyneke de Vos, the Nibelungen, and other works of the
middle ages. In classical literature, good editions of the most
celebrated Greek and Latin authors; and in English, a choice selection
of the best authors, among which should be mentioned as rare, in this
country, Lord Berners’ Froissart, Roger Ascham, the writings of King
James I., John Smith’s Virginia (edition of 1624), Amadis de Gaul, and
Palmerin of England. In lexicography, the best dictionaries and grammars
in all the languages of Western Europe, and many biographical
dictionaries and other works of reference in various languages. Many
works, too, are here, on astrology, alchemy, witchcraft, and magic; and
a goodly number of works on the situation of Plato’s Atlantis and
Elysian Fields, such as Rudbeck’s Atlantica, Goropius Becanus, de Grave
République des Champs Elysées, and a host of others in every department
of learning, the mere mention of which would cause the bookworm a thrill
of delight.

In the department of Art, Mr. Marsh possesses the Musée Français, Musée
Royal, (proof before letters,) Liber Veritatis, Houghton Gallery,
Florence Gallery, Publications of Dilettanti Society, and many other
illustrated works and collections of engravings; the works of Bartsch,
Ottley, Mengs, Visconti, Winchelmann, and other writers on the history
and theory of Art; old illustrated works, among which are the original
editions of Teuerdanck and Der Weiss Kunig; and many thousand steel
engravings, including many originals by Albert Dürer, Luke of Leyden,
Lucas Cranach, Aldegreuer, Wierx, the Sadelers Nauteuil, (among others
the celebrated Louis XIV., size of life, and a proof of the Cadet à la
Perle, by Masson,) Edelink, Drevet, Marc Antonio, and other old
engravers of the Italian school; Callot, Ostade, Rembrandt, (including a
most superb impression of the Christ Healing the Sick, the Hundred
Guilder Piece, and the Portrait of Renier Ansloo,) Waterloo, Woollett,
Sharp, Strange, Earlom, Wille, Ficquet Schmidt, Longhi, and Morghen; in
short, nearly all the works of all the great masters in chalcography
from the time of Dürer to the present day. It were folly for me to
praise these various works, and I have alluded to them merely for the
purpose of letting you know something of the taste and possessions of
Mr. Marsh. His library is one of the most delightful places it has ever
been my fortune to visit, and the day that I became acquainted with the
man, I cannot but consider as an era in my life. Morning, noon and
evening did I linger with the master-spirits of olden time, collected in
his library, and though I often stood in mute admiration of their
genius, I was compelled to shed a tear, as I thought of the destiny as a
writer which will probably be mine. Thank God, there is no such thing as
_ambition_ in that blessed world above the stars, which I hope to
attain,—no ambition to harass the soul,—for, then will it be free to
revel, and forever, in its holy and godlike conceptions. But a truce to
this strain of thought, and also to the Lions of Burlington, of whom I
now take my leave with a respectful bow.



                              CHAPTER IX.


    Stage coach—The Winooski—The Green Mountains—The ruined
    dwelling—The White Mountains—The Flume—A deep pool—The Old
    Man of the Mountain—The Basin—Franconia Notch—View of the
    mountains—Mount Washington—The Notch Valley.

                                             _In a Stage Coach.—June._

Three loud knocks upon my bed-room door awakened me from “a deep dream
of peace.” “The Eastern stage is ready,” said my landlord as he handed
me a light. Whereupon, in less than five minutes after the hour of
three, I was on my way to the White Mountains, inditing on the tablet of
my memory the following disjointed stage-coach rhapsody.

A fine coach, fourteen passengers, and six superb horses. My seat is on
the outside and my eyes on the alert for anything of peculiar interest
which I may meet with in my journey. Now do the beautiful Green
Mountains meet my view. The day is breaking, and lo! upon either side of
me, and like two leaders of an army, rise the peaks of Mansfield
Mountains and the Camel’s Hump. Around the former the cloud-spirits of
early morning are picturing the fantastic poetry of the sky; while just
above the summit of the other may be seen the new moon and the morning
star, waiting for the sun to come, like two sweet human sisters for the
smiles and kisses of a returning father. And now, as the sunbeams glide
along the earth, we are in the solitude of the mountains, and the
awakened mist-creatures are ascending from the cool and shady nooks in
the deep ravines.

Young Dana’s description of a ship under full sail is very fine, but it
does not possess the living beauty of that picture now before me, in
those six bay horses, straining every nerve to eclipse the morning
breeze. Hold your breath, for the road is hard and smooth as marble, and
the extended nostrils of those matchless steeds speak of a noble pride
within. There, the race is done, the victory theirs, and now, as they
trot steadily along, what music in the champing of those bits, and the
striking of those iron-bound hoofs! Of all the soulless animals on
earth, none do I love so dearly as the horse—I sometimes am inclined to
think that they have souls. I respect a noble horse more than I do some
men. Horses are the Indian chiefs of the brute creation.

The Winooski, along whose banks runs the most picturesque stage route in
Vermont, is an uncommonly interesting stream, rapid, clear, and cold. It
is remarkable for its falls and narrow passes, where perpendicular rocks
of a hundred feet or more frown upon its solitary pools. Its chief
pictorial attraction is the cataract at Waterbury, a deep and jagged
chasm in the granite mountain, whose horrors are greatly increased by
the sight and smothered howl of an avalanche of pure white foam. On its
banks and forty miles from its outlet near Burlington, is situated
Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. It is a compact town, mostly built
upon two streets, and completely hemmed in by rich and cultivated
mountains. Its chief attraction to my mind, however, during my short
stay, was a pair of deep black eyes, only half visible under their
drooping lids.

During one of my rambles near Montpelier, I discovered an isolated and
abandoned dwelling, which stands upon a little plot of green, in the lap
of the forest near the top of a mountain. I entered its deserted
chambers and spent a long time musing upon its solemn admonitions. The
cellar had become the home of lizards and toads. The spider and cricket
were masters of the hearth, where once had been spun the mountain legend
by an old man to the only child of his widowed son. They were, as I am
told, the last of a long line which once flourished in Britain, and with
them their name would pass into forgetfulness. Only the years of a
single generation have elapsed since then, but the dwellers of yonder
mountain are sleeping in the grave. And is this passing record of their
existence the only inheritance they have left behind? Most true; but
would it have been _better_ for them, or for us, had they bequeathed to
the world a noted name or immense possessions? What is our life?

The route between Montpelier and Danville lies along the Winooski, and
is not less beautiful than that down the river. Its chief picture is
Marshfield Waterfall. While at Montpelier a pleasure ride was got up by
some of my friends, and as they were bound to the East, and I was
honored with an invitation, I sent on my baggage and joined them, so
that the monotony of my journey was considerably relieved. We had our
fishing-rods with us, and having stopped at the fall, we caught a fine
mess of trout, which we had cooked for dinner at the next tavern on our
way,—and our dessert was fine singing from the ladies, and good stories
from the lips of Senator Phelps, who was of the party, and is celebrated
for his conversational powers. For further particulars concerning that
expedition, I would refer my reader to that pair of eyes which I just
now mentioned as having beamed upon me with a bewitching brilliancy. But
alas! the dear creature is already—excuse me, I cannot, I will not
speak the hateful word. The lucky fellow ought to carry a liberal and
kind soul hereafter, if he has never done so before.

At cock-crowing this morning I was again in my seat outside of the
stage-coach, anxiously waiting for the mists to evaporate in the East.
The sun proved to be my friend, and as soon as he appeared, they
vanished like a frightened troop, and he was marching up the sky in the
plenitude of his glory. And then, for the first time, did my vision rest
upon the White Mountains, as they reposed in the distance, like a mighty
herd of camels in the solitude of the desert. In the charming valley of
the Connecticut we only tarried about ten minutes, but long enough for
me to hear the mower whet his scythe, the “lark sing loud and high,” and
the pleasant tinkle of a cow bell far away in the broad meadow. While
there I took a sketch, wherein I introduced the father of New England
rivers, and the bald peak of Mount Lafayette, with the storm-inflicted
scar upon its brow. A noble monument is yonder mountain to the memory of
a noble man.

While breakfasting at Littleton this morning, I came to the conclusion
to leave my baggage and visit Franconia. I jumped into the stage, and
after a very pleasant ride of seventeen miles, found myself far _into_
the Notch, in the midst of whose scenery I am to repose this night. I
reached here in time to enjoy an early dinner with “mine host;” after
which I sallied forth to examine the wonders of the place, but I was so
delighted with everything around that I did not take time to make a
single sketch. I saw the Flume, and was astonished. It is a chasm in the
mountain, thirty feet wide, about a hundred deep, and some two thousand
long, and as regular in its shape as if it had been cut by the hand of
man. Bridging its centre is a rock of many tons weight, which one would
suppose could only have been hurled there from the heavens. Through its
centre flows a little brook, which soon passes over a succession of
rocky slides, and which are almost as smooth and white as marble. And to
cap the climax, this Flume is the centre of as perfect and holy a
wilderness of scenery as could be imagined.

I have also seen (what should be the pride of the Merrimack, as it is
upon one of its tributaries), the most superb pool in this whole
country. The fall above it is not remarkable, but the forest-covered
rocks on either side, and the pool itself are wonderfully fine. In the
first place, you must remember that the waters of this whole region are
cold as ice, and very clear. The pool forms a circle of about one
hundred feet in diameter, and is said to be fifty feet in depth. Owing
to the fall it is the “head-quarters” of the trout, which are found all
along the stream in great abundance. After I had completed a drawing, I
laid aside my pencils and fixed my fishing-rod. I threw the line _only_
about two hours, and caught forty-five trout. Among them was the
great-grandfather of all trout, as I thought at the time;—he was
seventeen inches long, and weighed two pounds and one ounce.

The Old Man of the Mountain is another of the lions of this place. It is
a cone-shaped mountain, (at the foot of which is a small lake,) upon
whose top are some rocks, which have a resemblance to the profile of an
old man. It is really a very curious affair. There the old fellow
stands, as he has stood perhaps for centuries, “looking the whole world
in the face.” I wonder if the thunder never frightens him! and does the
lightning play around his brow without making him wink? His business
there, I suppose, is to protect the “ungranted lands” of New Hampshire,
or keep Isaac Hill from lecturing the White Mountains on Locofocoism. He
need not trouble himself as to the first fear, for they could not be
deeded even to a bear; and as to the second, I don’t believe the
mountains could ever be persuaded to vote for the acquisition of new
territory. Every plant upon them speaks of freedom, and in their
fastnesses does the eagle find a home; their banner symbols are the
stars and stripes, and therefore they must be Whigs.

And another curiosity which everybody goes to see, is called the
Basin—an exquisite little spot—fit for the abode of a very angel. It
is formed in the solid rock, and though twenty feet in depth, you can
see a sixpence at the bottom—it is so wonderfully clear. But the wild
beauties of this Notch, unknown to fame, are charming beyond compare.
There goes the midnight warning of the clock, and I must retire. Would
that my dreams might be of yonder star, now beaming with intense
brightness above the dark outline of the nearest mountain!

The distance from Knight’s tavern to the western outlet of Franconia
Notch is eight miles. The eastern stage was to pass through about the
middle of the afternoon, so that after eating my breakfast I started on,
intending to enjoy a walk between the mountains. With the conceptions
and feelings that were with me then, I should have been willing to die,
for I was very happy. Now as I sat upon a stone to sketch a mass of
foliage, a little red squirrel came within five feet of me, and
commenced a terrible chattering, as if his lady-love had given him the
“mitten,” and he was blowing out against the whole female sex; and now
an old partridge with a score of children came tripping along the
shadowy road, almost within my reach, and so fearless of my presence,
that I would not have harmed one of them for a crown. Both of them were
exceedingly simple pictures, and yet they afforded me a world of
pleasure. I thought of the favorite haunts of these dear creatures,—the
hollow tree,—the bed of dry leaves,—the cool spring,—the mossy yellow
log,—the rocky ledges overgrown with moss,—the gurgling brooklet
stealing through the trees, with its fairy water-falls in a green shadow
and its spots of vivid sunlight,—and of a thousand other kindred gems
in the wonderful gallery of Nature. And now as I walked onward, peering
into the gloomy recesses of the forest on either side, or fixed my eyes
upon the blue sky with a few white clouds floating in their glory, many
of my favorite songs were remembered, and in a style _peculiarly_ my
own, I poured them upon the air, which were answered by unnumbered
mountain echoes. Nothing had they to do with the place or with each
other, but like the pictures around me, they were a divine food for my
soul—so that I was in the enjoyment of a heavenly feast. Now, as I
looked through the opening trees, I saw an eagle floating above the
summit of a mighty cliff,—now, with the speed of a falling star,
descending far into the leafy depths, and then, slowly but surely
ascending, until hidden from view by a passing cloud. Fly on, proud
bird, glorious symbol of my country’s freedom! What a godlike life is
thine! Thou art the “sultan of the sky,” and from thy craggy home
forever lookest upon the abodes of man with indifference and scorn. The
war-whoop of the savage, the roar of artillery on the bloody
battle-field, and the loud boom of the ocean cannon, have fallen upon
thy ear, and thou hast listened, utterly heedless as to whom belonged
the victory. What strength and power are in thy pinions! traversing in
an hour a wider space

            “Than yonder gallant ship, with all her sails
            Wooing the winds, can cross from morn till eve!”

When thy hunger-shriek echoes through the wilderness, with terror does
the wild animal seek his den, for thy talons are of iron and thine eyes
of fire. But what is thy message to the sun? Far, far into the zenith
art thou gone, forever gone—emblem of a mighty hope that once was mine.

My thoughts were upon the earth once more, and my feet upon a hill out
of the woods, whence might be seen the long broad valley of the
Amonoosack melting into that of the Connecticut. Long and intently did I
gaze upon the landscape, with its unnumbered farm-houses, reposing in
the sunlight, and surmounted by pyramids of light-blue smoke; and also
upon the cattle grazing on a thousand hills. Presently I heard the
rattling wheels of the stage-coach,—one more look over the charming
valley,—and I was in my seat beside the coachman.

In view of the foregoing and forthcoming facts, I cannot but conclude
that I am a most lucky fellow. My ride from Franconia to Littleton was
attended with this interesting circumstance. A very pretty young lady,
who was in the stage, found it necessary to change her seat to the
outside on account of the confinement within. Of course, I welcomed her
to my side with unalloyed pleasure. The scenery was fine, but what does
my reader suppose I cared for that, as I sat there talking in a most
eloquent strain to my companion, with my right arm around her waist to
keep her from falling? That conduct of mine may appear “shocking” to
those who have “never travelled,” but it was not only an act of
politeness, but of absolute necessity. Neither, as my patient’s smile
told me, “was it bad to take.” And how delightful it was to have her
cling to me, and hear the beating of her heart, as the driver swung his
whip and ran his horses down the hills! Animal Magnetism is, indeed, a
great invention—and I am a believer in it so far as the touch of a
beautiful woman is concerned.

Away, away—thoughts of the human world! for I am entering into the
heart of the White Mountains. Ah me! how can I describe these glorious
hierarchs of New England! How solemnly do they raise their rugged peaks
to Heaven! Now, in token of their royalty, crowned with a diadem of
clouds; and now with every one of their cliffs gleaming in the sunlight
like the pictures of a dream! For ages have they held communion with the
mysteries of the midnight sky. The earliest beams of the morning have
bathed them in living light, and theirs, too, have been the kisses of
departing day. Man and his empires have arisen and decayed; but they
have remained unchanged, a perpetual mockery. Upon their summits Time
has never claimed dominion. There, as of old, does the eagle teach her
brood to fly, and there does the wild bear prowl after his prey. There
do the waterfalls still leap and shout on their way to the dells below,
even as when the tired Indian hunter, some hundred ages agone, bent him
to quaff the liquid element. There, still, does the rank grass rustle in
the breeze, and the pine and cedar and hemlock take part in the howling
of the gale. Upon man alone falls the heavy curse of time; Nature has
never sinned, therefore is her glory immortal.

As is well known, the highest of these mountains was christened after
our beloved Washington, and with it, as with him, are associated the
names of Jefferson, Madison and Adams. Its height is said to be six
thousand and eight hundred feet above the sea, but owing to its
situation in the _centre_ of a brotherhood of hills, it does not
_appear_ to be so grand an object as South Peak Mountain among the
Catskills. Its summit, like most of its companions, is destitute of
vegetation, and therefore more desolate and monotonous. It is somewhat
of an undertaking to ascend Mount Washington, though the trip is
performed on horseback; but if the weather is clear, the traveller will
be well repaid for his labor. The painter will be pleased with the views
he may command in ascending the route from Crawford’s, which abounds in
the wildest and most diversified charms of mountain scenery. But the
prospect from the summit of Washington will mostly excite the soul of
the poet. Not so much on account of what he will behold, but for the
_breathless feeling_ which will make him deem himself for a moment to be
an angel or a God. And there, more than ever, if he is a Christian, will
he desire to be alone, so as to anticipate the bliss of Heaven by a holy
communication with the Invisible.

I spent a night upon this mountain, and my first view of the prospect
was at break of day, when, as Milton says,

            “——morn her rosy steps in the eastern clime
            Advancing, sow’d the earth with orient pearls,”

and,

              “Waked by the circling hours with rosy hand
              Unbarred the gates of light,”

or when, in the language of Shakspeare,

         “The gray-eyed morn smiled on the frowning night,
         Checkering the eastern clouds with streaks of light.”

Wonderfully vast and strangely indistinct and dreamy was the scene
spread out on every side. To the west lay the superb Connecticut, with
its fertile valley reposing in the gloom of night, while to the east,
the ocean-bounded prospect, just bursting into the life of light, was
faintly relieved by Winnipiseogee and Sebago lakes, and like rockets
along the earth, wandered away the Merrimack, the Saco and the
Androscoggin, to their ocean home,—the whole forming an _epic
landscape_, such as we seldom behold excepting in our sleep. Heavens!
with what exquisite delight did I gaze upon the scene, as in the eyes of
truth and fancy it expanded before my mind. Yonder, in one of a hundred
villages, a young wife, with her first-born child at her side, was in
the midst of her morning dream; and there, the pilgrim of fourscore
years was lying on his couch in a fitful slumber, as the pains of age
creeped through his frame. There, on the Atlantic shore, the fisherman
in the sheltering bay, hoisted anchor and spread his sail for the
sea;—and there the life-star of the lighthouse was extinguished, again
at its stated time to appear with increased brilliancy. In reality,
there was an ocean of mountains all around me; but in the dim light of
the hour, and as I looked _down_ upon them, it seemed to me that I stood
in the centre of a plain, boundless as the universe; and though I could
not see them, I felt that I was in a region of spirits, and that the
summit of the mount was holy ground. But the morning was advancing, the
rising mists obscured my vision, and, as I did not wish to have that
day-break picture dissipated from my mind, I mounted my faithful horse,
and with a solemn awe at heart descended the mountain.

The ride from the Notch House, kept by the celebrated hunter named
Crawford, through the Notch Valley some twelve miles long, is
magnificent. First is the Gap itself, only some twenty feet in width,
and overhung with jagged rocks of wondrous height; and then the tiny
spring, alive with trout, which gives birth to the untamed Saco. A few
more downward steps, and you are in full view of a bluff, whose
storm-scathed brow seems to prop the very heavens,—its gray shadows
strongly contrasting with the deep blue sky. A little further on, and
you find yourself in an amphitheatre of mountains, whose summits and
sides are barren and desolate, where the storms of a thousand years have
exhausted their fury. Downward still and further on, and you come to the
memorable Wiley cottage, whose inhabitants perished in the avalanche or
slide of 1826. The storm had been unceasing for some days upon the
surrounding country, and the dwellers of the cottage were startled at
midnight by the falling earth. They fled—and were buried in an instant,
and up to the present time, only one of the seven bodies has ever been
found. As it then stood, the dwelling still stands——a monument of
mysterious escape, as well as of the incomprehensible decrees of
Providence. The Saco river, which runs through the valley, was lifted
from its original bed, and forced into a new channel. The whole place,
which but a short time before was a “beautiful and verdant opening amid
the surrounding rudeness and deep shadow, is now like a stretch of
desolate sea-shore after a tempest,—full of wrecks, buried in sand and
rocks, crushed and ground to atoms.”

After witnessing so much of the grand and gloomy, I was glad to retrace
my course to a less dreary country. My _last_ view of Mount Washington
and its lordly companions was the most _beautiful_. The sun was near his
setting, and the whole sky was covered with a glow of richest yellow and
crimson, while to the eastward hung two immense copper-colored clouds
just touching the outline of the mountains; and through the hazy
atmosphere, the mountains themselves looked cloud-like, but with more of
the bright blue of heaven upon them. In the extensive middle distance
faded away wood-crowned hills; and in the foreground reposed an
exquisite little farm, with the husbandman’s happy abode, almost hidden
by groups of elms; and the simple figures, only a few paces off, of a
little girl sitting on a stone, with a bunch of summer flowers in her
hand, and a basket of berries and a dog at her side. One more yearning
gaze upon the dear old mountains, and I resumed my pilgrimage towards
the north.



                               CHAPTER X.


                               Montreal.
                                                     _Montreal, June._

With some things in Montreal I have been pleased, but with others a good
deal dissatisfied. The appearance which it presents from every point of
view is imposing in the extreme. Its numerous church towers and
extensive blocks of stores, its extensive shipping and noble stone
wharves, combine to give one an idea of great wealth and liberality. On
first riding to my hotel I was struck with the cleanliness of its
streets, and, on being shown to my room, I was convinced that the hotel
itself (Donegana’s) was of the first water. The city abounds in public
buildings, which are usually built of limestone, and it extends along
the river St. Lawrence about three miles. The streets, in the older
parts of the town, are as picturesque and narrow as those of the more
ancient cities of the Old World, but in the modern portions they are
quite regular and comfortable. The principal street is _Notre Dame_,
which always presents, on a pleasant clay, a gay, and elegant
appearance.

Generally speaking, its churches are below mediocrity, but it has one
architectural lion worth mentioning—the Catholic cathedral. It faces a
square called _Place d’Armes_, and presents an imposing appearance. It
is built of stone, and said to be after the Norman-Gothic order of
architecture; but I should think it a mixture of a dozen _dis-orders_.
Its extreme length is 225 feet, breadth 135, and its height 72 feet. It
also has two towers, which measure 220 feet to their summit. The windows
in these towers are closed with coarse boards, and yet it cost $400,000.
The ground floor is covered with pews capable of seating 8000 people,
while the aisles and galleries might hold 2000 more. The galleries are
supported by _wooden_ pillars, which reminded me of a New York barber’s
sign. The interior has a naked and doleful appearance; the large window
above the altar is wretchedly painted; the altar itself is loaded with
gewgaws; and of the many paintings which meet you in every direction
there is not one for which I would pay ten dollars. The organ resembles
a bird-house, and the music perpetrated there every day in the year
would jar upon the ear of even an American Indian. And when it is
remembered that this church was built by one of the wealthiest
corporations on the Continent, it is utterly impossible to entertain a
feeling of charity towards the founders thereof.

The population of Montreal is now estimated at forty thousand, one-half
of whom are Roman Catholics, one fourth Protestants, and the remainder
nothing in particular. By this statement it will be readily seen that
the establishments of the Catholics must be the most abundant. Nunneries
are consequently quite numerous, some of them well endowed, and, to
those who have a passion for such affairs, must be exceedingly
interesting.

But I wish to mention one or two additional specimens of architecture.
The market of Montreal is built of stone, located near the river, and
remarkably spacious and convenient in all its arrangements. It eclipses
anything of the kind that we can boast of in the States. The only
monument of any note in the city is a Doric column, surmounted with a
statue, and erected in honor of Lord Nelson. The entire column is
seventy feet high, and gives an air of elegance to that portion of Notre
Dame where it stands. On the four sides of the pedestal are pictorial
representations, in alto relievo, representing Nelson in some of his
memorable battles. It was erected by the British inhabitants of Montreal
at a cost of near six thousand dollars.

One of the most striking peculiarities of this city is the fact that
everybody has to live, walk and sleep at the point of a bayonet.
Military quarters are stationed in various portions of the city, and
soldiers meet you at every corner, marching to and fro, invariably
puffed up with ignorance and vanity. The last woman, I am sorry to say,
who has become an outcast from society, attributes her misfortune to a
soldier; the officers, however, who rule these military slaves, are,
generally, well educated and agreeable gentlemen. But these are not
without their faults, and, if I might be allowed the expression, I would
add, that they appear supremely ridiculous whenever they march into a
church, on the Sabbath, with their swords dangling between their legs,
and looking down upon the praying congregation in all the “pomp and
circumstance of war.”

The people whom you meet in the streets of Montreal seem to come from
almost every nation in the world. Now it may be the immensely pompous
Englishman, who represents some wilderness district in Parliament; and
now it may be the cunning Scotchman, or a half-famished Irishman.
Sometimes it is the speculating American, or the humble and industrious
Jew; the gay and polite Habitan, or a group of wandering Indians from
the far north. The better class of Montreal people (so called by a
fashionable world), are the British settlers, or, rather, the English
population. Generally speaking, they are highly intelligent, and
somewhat arbitrary in expressing their opinions; but they entertain
hospitable feelings towards strangers. They boast of their mother
country, as if her glory and power were omnipotent; and an occasional
individual may be found who will not scruple to insult an American if he
happens to defend his own. In religion, they are generally
Episcopalians; they hate the Habitan, look with contempt upon the poor
Irish, and address their brethren of Scotland with a patronizing air.
They drink immense quantities of wine, and those who happen to be the
illiterate members of the Provincial Parliament, think themselves the
greatest people on earth.

The island upon which Montreal is located, is seventy miles in
circumference, and was once (if not now), the property of an order of
Catholic priesthood. In the rear of the city rises a noble hill, called
Mount Royal, from which it derives its name. The hill itself is thickly
wooded; but the surrounding country is exceedingly fertile, and studded
with elegant country-seats, and the rural abodes of the peasantry. A
ride around the Mount, on a pleasant day, is one of the most delightful
imaginable, commanding a view of Montreal and the St. Lawrence valley
which is grand beyond compare.

To appreciate the unique features of Montreal, it is necessary that you
should be there on the Sabbath, the gala-day of the Catholics. Then it
is that the peasantry flock into the city from all directions, and, when
they are pouring into the huge cathedral by thousands, dressed in a
thousand fantastic fashions, cracking their jokes, and laughing as they
move along, the entire scene is apt to fill one with peculiar feelings.
It _was_ beautiful to look at; but the thought struck me that I should
hate to live in the shadow of that cathedral forever. But if you chance
to take a walk in the suburbs, on a Sabbath afternoon, you will notice
much that cannot but afford you real satisfaction. You will find almost
every cottage a fit subject for a picture; and the flocks of
neatly-dressed, happy, and polite children playing along the roads,
together with frequent groups of sober men, sitting in a porch, and the
occasional image of a beautiful girl, or contented mother leaning out of
a window,—all these things, I say, constitute a charm which is not met
with everywhere. But enough; Montreal is a tine city, and I trust that
it will yet be my fortune to visit it again, and see more of its
polished society.



                              CHAPTER XI.


                                Quebec.
                                                       _Quebec, June._

I came from Montreal to this city in the day time, and, consequently,
had an opportunity of examining this portion of the St. Lawrence. The
river opposite Montreal runs at the rate of six miles per hour, and is
two miles wide; it preserves this breadth for about sixty miles, and
then expands into the beautiful and emerald-looking lake of St. Peter,
after which it varies from one to five in width until it reaches Quebec,
which is distant from Montreal one hundred and eighty miles. Above St.
Peter the shores vary from five to fifteen feet in height, but below the
lake they gradually become more elevated until they measure some three
hundred feet in the vicinity of Quebec. The country between the two
Canadian cities is well cultivated, and on either side may be seen a
continued succession of rural cottages.

Our steamer approached Quebec at the sunset hour, and I must say that I
have never witnessed a more superb prospect than was presented by the
lofty citadel city, the contracted St. Lawrence, the opposite headland
called Point Levi, and the far distant land which I knew to be Cape
Tourment. A stiff breeze was blowing at the time, and some twenty ships
were sailing to and fro, while we had to make our way into port by
winding between and around some three hundred ships which were at
anchor.

I have seen much in this goodly city which has made a deep impression on
my mind. The promontory called Cape Diamond upon which it stands, is
formed by the junction of the St. Charles and St. Lawrence rivers, and
rises to the height of three hundred and fifty feet above the water. The
city is built from the water’s edge along the base of the cliff, and
from thence, in a circuitous manner, ascends to the very border of the
citadel and ramparts. There is but one street leading from the lower to
the upper town, and that is narrow and very steep, and the gateway is
defended by a number of large cannon. The city is remarkably irregular,
and, as many of the buildings are quite ancient, its appearance is
picturesque and romantic. The fortifications cover an area of forty
acres, and beneath them are many spacious and gloomy vaults for the
reception of ammunition and stores during a time of war.—Receding into
the interior, from the very brow of the fortress, are the plains of
Abraham, which are covered with a rich green sod, and planted with
unnumbered cannon. Their historical associations are numerous, and, as
they would fill a chapter in themselves, I will refrain from dwelling
upon them, at this time.

The religious establishments of Quebec are quite numerous, and belong
mostly to the Roman Catholics: like those of Montreal, they are quite
ancient and well endowed; but they did not interest me, and I am sure my
description of them would not interest my reader. As a matter of course,
I visited the French Cathedral. It seems to be as old as the hills, and
yet all the windows of the principal tower are roughly boarded up. On
entering the edifice, which is crowded with gilded ornaments, I could
not fix my eye upon a single object which suggested the idea of
richness. The sculpture, the paintings, and even the gilding, are all
without merit; and what greatly added to my disgust was, that I could
not obtain a civil answer from a single one of the many boorish men and
boys who were fussing about the church.

In the front of an extensive promenade, just below the citadel, stands
the monument erected to the memory of Montcalm and Wolfe. The gentleman
who contributed the largest sum for its erection was Lord Dalhousie. It
is a handsome obelisk, and was designed by a military gentleman named
Young. The _principal_ inscription on the column is characteristic of
the English nation, and is what a shrewd Yankee would call “a puff of
Dalhousie”—even though it be chiselled in Latin. The annoying effect of
this inscription, however, is counteracted by another, which is also in
Latin, and very beautiful. It was composed by J. C. Fisher, Esq.,
founder of the Quebec Gazette, and is as follows:

               “Military virtue gave them a common death,
               History a common fame,
               Posterity a common monument.”

The Golden dog is another curiosity which will attract the attention of
the visitor to Quebec. It is the figure of a dog, rudely sculptured in
relievo, and richly gilded, which stands above the entrance of an
ancient house, which was built by M. Phillibert, a merchant of this
city, in the time of M. Bigot, the last intendant under the French
government. Connected with it is the following curious story, which I
copy from an old record:—

“M. Phillibert and the intendant were on bad terms, but, under the
system then existing, the merchant knew that it was in vain for him to
seek redress in the colony, and determining at some future period to
prefer his complaint in France, he contented himself with placing the
figure of a sleeping dog, in front of his house, with the following
lines beneath it, in allusion to his situation with his powerful enemy:

                  “Je suis un chien qui ronge l’os,
                  En le rongeant je prends mon repos—
                  Un terme viendra qui n’est pas venu
                  Que je mordrai qui m’aura mordu.”

“This allegorical language was, however, too plain for Mons. Bigot to
misunderstand it. A man so powerful easily found an instrument to avenge
the insult, and M. Phillibert received, as the reward of his verse, the
sword of an officer of the garrison through his back, when descending
the Lower Town Hill. The murderer was permitted to leave the colony
unmolested, and was transferred to a regiment stationed in the East
Indies. Thither he was pursued by a brother of the deceased, who had
first sought him in Canada, when he arrived here to settle his brother’s
affairs. The parties, it is related, met in the public street of
Pondicherry, drew their swords, and, after a severe conflict, the
assassin met a more honorable fate than his crime deserved, and died by
the hand of his antagonist.”

I know not that there are any other curiosities in Quebec really worth
mentioning, and I willingly turn to its natural attractions. The
fortress itself is undoubtedly one of, if not the most formidable on the
continent; but I fell in love with it on account of its _observatory_
features. To ramble over its commanding ramparts, without knowing, or
caring to know a solitary individual, has been to me an agreeable and
unique source of entertainment. At one time I leaned upon the
balustrade, and looked down upon the Lower Town. It was near the hour of
noon. Horses and carriages, men, women and children, were hurrying
through the narrow streets, and ships were in the docks discharging
their cargoes. I looked down upon all these things at a single glance,
and yet the only noise I heard was a hum of business. Even the loud
clear shout of the sailor, as he tugged away at the mast-head of his
ship, could hardly be heard stealing _upward_ on the air. Doves were
flying about, high above the roofs; but they were so far below my point
of vision, that I could not hear the beating of their wings.

But the finest prospect that I have enjoyed in this city was from the
summit of the Signal House, which looms above the citadel. I visited
this spot just as the sun was setting, and everything was enveloped in a
golden atmosphere. Beneath me lay the city, gradually lulling itself to
repose; on the west, far as the eye could reach, faded away the valley
of the upper St. Lawrence; towards the north, winding its way between
high and well-cultivated hills, was the river St. Charles; towards the
eastward, rolling onwards, in its sublimity like an ocean, across the
continent, was the flood of the lower St. Lawrence, whitened by more
than a hundred sails; and towards the south reposed a picturesque
country of hills and dales, beyond which I could just discern some of
the mountain peaks of my own dear “Father Land.” Strange and beautiful
beyond compare was the entire panorama, and how was its influence upon
me deepened, as a strain of martial music broke upon the silent air, and
then melted into my very heart! I knew not whence it came, or who were
the musicians, but I “blessed them unaware,” and as my vision again
wandered over the far-off hills, I was quite happy.

The population of Quebec is estimated at thirty thousand, and the
variety is as great as in Montreal. A large proportion of the people
whom you see parading the streets are soldiers, and chief among them I
would mention the Scotch Highlanders, who are a noble set of men, and
dress in handsome style.

Quebec, upon the whole, is a remarkable place, and well worth visiting.
The environs of the city are also interesting; and a ride to the Falls
of Montmorency, seven miles down the river, and back again by an
interior road, will abundantly repay the tourist for all the trouble and
expense to which he may be subjected.



                              CHAPTER XII.


        A sail down the St. Lawrence—Sword-fish chasing a whale.
                                                     _Tadousac, June._

I have not visited Canada for the purpose of examining her cities, and
studying the character of her people, but solely with a view of hunting
up some new scenery, and having a little sport in the way of salmon
fishing. I am writing this chapter at the mouth of probably the most
remarkable river in North America. But before entering upon a
description of my sojourn here, it is meet, I ween, that I should give
you an account of my journey down the St. Lawrence.

On reaching Quebec, I was informed that there was no regular mode of
conveyance down the great river, and that I should have to take passage
in a transient ship or schooner, which would land me at my desired
haven. This intelligence had a tendency to dampen my spirits, and I had
to content myself with sauntering about the citadel city. Among the
places I visited was the fish market, where it was my good fortune to
find a small smack which had brought a load of fresh salmon to market,
and was on the point of returning to the Saguenay for another cargo. In
less than thirty minutes after I saw him, I had struck a bargain with
the skipper, transferred my luggage on board the smack, and was on my
way to a region which was to me unknown.

We hoisted sail at twelve o’clock, and were favored by a stiff westerly
breeze. Everything, in fact, connected with the voyage was beautifully
accidental, and I had “a glorious time.” In the first place, our craft
was just the thing—schooner-rigged, a fast sailer, and perfectly safe.
The skipper—named Belland—was a warm-hearted and intelligent
Frenchman, whose entire crew consisted of one boy. The day was superb,
and the scenery of the river appeared to me more like the work of
enchantment than nature.

The appearance of Quebec, from the eastward, is imposing in the extreme.
Standing as it does upon a lofty bluff, its massive ramparts and
tin-covered roofs, domes, and cupolas suggest the idea of immense power
and opulence. Just below the city, the St. Lawrence spreads out to the
width of three or four miles, while from the margin of either shore
fades away a continued succession of hills, which vary from five hundred
to fifteen hundred feet in height. Those upon the north shore are the
highest, and both sides of the river, for a distance of some twenty
miles below the city, are plentifully sprinkled with the white cottages
of the Canadian peasantry. As you proceed, however, the river gradually
widens, the hills upon the north shore become more lofty, reaching the
elevation of two thousand feet; and, while you only occasionally
discover a farm house upon their summits, the southern shore continues
to bear the appearance of a settled country, where the spire of a
Catholic church is frequently seen looming above a cluster of rural
residences. In descending the river, the first pictorial feature which
attracts attention is the Fall of Montmorency, pouring the waters of a
noble tributary immediately into the St. Lawrence. Just below this fall
the river is divided by the island of Orleans, which measures about
twenty miles in length, and five in breadth. It is partly covered with
forest, and partly cultivated; and, though the shores are rather low, it
contains a number of points which are a hundred feet high. At the
eastern termination of this island is the parish of St. Lawrent, a
remarkably tidy French village, whose inhabitants are said to be as
simple in their manners, as they are virtuous, and ignorant of the world
at large. On a smaller island, which lies some thirty miles below
Quebec, and directly opposite a noble cape called Tourment, is located
the quarantine station for the shipping of the river; and when I passed
this spot, I counted no less than forty-five ships at anchor, nearly all
of which were freighted with foreign paupers, who were then dying of the
ship fever, at the rate of one hundred and fifty individuals per day. I
might here mention that the vessels usually seen on this part of the St.
Lawrence are merchant ships and brigs, which are chiefly and extensively
employed in the lumber and timber trade. Another island in this portion
of the St. Lawrence, which attracts attention from its peculiar sylvan
beauty, is called Goose Island, and owned by a sisterhood of Nuns, who
have cultivated it extensively. The eastern portion of it is covered
with forest; the channels on either side are not far from ten miles
wide, and it is distant from Quebec about fifty miles.

We landed here at sunset; and while my companions were building a
watch-fire, and cooking a supper of fish, pork and onions, I amused
myself by taking sundry observations. I found the vegetation of the
island quite luxuriant, the common hard woods of the north prevailing,
but its foundation seemed to be composed of two distinct species of
slate stone. Both varieties were of the finest grain, and while one was
of a rich Indian red, the other was a deep blue. This portion of the St.
Lawrence is a good deal blocked up by extensive reefs, composed of these
identical slate stones, and at one point they extend so nearly across
the river as to render ship navigation extremely dangerous. On
subsequently examining the high hills on the north shore, I found them
to be of solid granite, veined with red marble and extensive beds of
quartz, and covered with a stunted forest of pine and hemlock. But this
geological dissertation is keeping my pen from describing a night
picture which it was my privilege to witness on this beautiful but
badly-named island, where, for sundry reasons, we concluded to spend the
night.

Our supper was ended, and the skipper had paid his last visit to the
little craft, and, with his boy, had smoked himself to sleep by our camp
fire. The sky was without a cloud, but studded with stars, and the
breeze which kissed my cheek was soft and pleasant as the breath of one
we dearly love. I had seated myself upon a rock, with my face turned
towards the north, when my attention was attracted by a column of light,
which shot upward to the zenith behind the distant mountains. The broad
expanse of the St. Lawrence was without a ripple, and the mountains,
together with the column of light and the unnumbered stars, were
distinctly mirrored in its bosom. While looking upon this scene, the
idea struck me that the moon was about to rise, but I soon saw a crimson
glow stealing up the sky, and knew that I was looking upon the fantastic
performances of the Northern Lights. Broad, and of the purest white,
were the many rays which shot upward from behind the mountains, and at
equal distances, between the horizon and the zenith, were displayed four
arches of a purple hue, the uppermost one melting imperceptibly in the
deep blue sky. On again turning my eyes upward, I discovered that the
columns and arches had all disappeared, and that the entire sky was
covered with a crimson color, which resembled a lake of liquid fire,
tossed into innumerable waves. Strange were my feelings as I looked upon
this scene, and thought of the unknown wilderness before me, and of the
Being whose ways are past finding out, and who holdeth the entire world,
with its cities, mountains, rivers, and boundless wildernesses, in the
hollow of His hand. Long and intently did I gaze upon this wonder of the
North; and at the moment it was fading away, a wild swan passed over my
head, sailing towards Hudson’s Bay, and as his lonely song echoed along
the silent air, I retraced my steps to the watch-fire and was soon a
dreamer.

That portion of the St. Lawrence extending between Goose Island and the
Saguenay is about twenty miles wide. The spring tides rise and fall a
distance of eighteen feet; the water is salt, but clear and cold, and
the channel very deep. Here it was that I first saw the black seal, the
white porpoise, and the black whale. But speaking of whales, reminds me
of “a whaling” fish story. A short distance above the Saguenay river,
there shoots out into the St. Lawrence, to the distance of about eight
miles, a broad sand bank, which greatly endangers the navigation. In
descending the great river, we had to double this cape, and it was at
this place that I first saw a whale. The fellow had been pursued by a
sword-fish, and when we discovered him, his head was turned towards the
beach, and he was moving with great rapidity, occasionally performing a
most fearful leap, and uttering a sound that resembled the bellowing of
a thousand bulls. The whale must have been forty feet long, and his
enemy nearly twenty; and as they hurried on their course with great
speed, the sight was, indeed, terrible. Frantic with rage and pain, it
so happened that the more unwieldy individual forgot his bearings, and
in a very few minutes he was floundering about on the sand bar, in about
ten feet of water, when the rascally sword immediately beat a retreat.
After a while, however, the whale concluded to rest himself, but as the
tide was going out, his intentions were soon changed, and he began to
roll himself about, and slap the water with his tail for the purpose of
getting clear. His efforts, in a short time, proved successful, and when
we last saw him, he was in the deepest part of the river, moving rapidly
towards the gulf, and spouting up the water, as if congratulating
himself upon his narrow escape.

In about two hours after witnessing this incident, our boat was moored
at the mouth of the Saguenay; and of the comparatively unknown
wilderness which this stream waters, my readers will find some
information in the next chapter.



                             CHAPTER XIII.


    The Saguenay River—Storm picture—The Hudson’s Bay
    Company—Eminent merchant—The Mountaineer
    Indians—Tadousac—Ruin of a Jesuit establishment.

                                                     _Tadousac, July._

About one hundred and fifty miles north of the St. Lawrence, and on one
of the trails leading to Hudson’s Bay, lies a beautiful lake called St.
John. It is about forty miles long, and surrounded with a heavily
timbered, and rather level country. Its inlets are numerous, and twelve
of them are regular rivers. Its waters are clear, and abound in a great
variety of uncommonly fine fish. The principal outlet to this lake is
the Saguenay River, which takes a southerly direction, and empties into
the St. Lawrence. It is the largest tributary of the great river, and
unquestionably one of the most remarkable on the continent. Its original
Indian name was Chicoutimi, signifying _deep water_; but the early
Jesuit missionaries, who have scattered their _Saint-anic_ names over
this entire country, thought proper to give it the name which it now
bears, and the roundabout interpretation of which is, _Nose of the
sack_. This name suggests to the world that the nose of St. John must
have been a very long nose, and may be looked upon as a unique specimen
of French poetry.

The scenery of the Saguenay is wild and romantic to an uncommon degree.
The first half of its course averages half a mile in width, and runs
through an untrodden wilderness of pine and spruce-covered hills; it
abounds in waterfalls and rapids, and is only navigable for the Indian
canoe. A few miles below the most southern fall on the river, is located
the village of Chicoutimi, where an extensive lumber business is
transacted, and the Hudson’s Bay Company have an important post. The
village has an ancient appearance, and contains about five hundred
inhabitants, chiefly Canadian French. The only curiosity in the place is
a rude Catholic church, which is said to have been built by Jesuit
missionaries upwards of one hundred years ago. It occupies the centre of
a grassy lawn, surrounded with shrubbery, backed by a cluster of
wood-crowned hills, and commands a fine prospect, not only of the
Saguenay, but also of a spacious bay, into which there empties a noble
mountain stream, now known as Chicoutimi River. In the belfry of this
venerable church hangs a clear-toned bell, with an inscription upon it
which the learning of Canada (with all its learned and unnumbered
priests,) has not yet been able to translate or expound. But, great as
is the mystery of this inscription, it is less mysterious to my mind
than are the _motives_ of the Romish Church in planting the cross in the
remotest corners of the earth, as well as in the mightiest of cities.

About ten miles south of Chicoutimi, there recedes from the west bank of
the Saguenay, to the distance of ten miles, a beautiful expanse of water
called Grand Bay. The original name of this bay was “Ha, Ha,”
descriptive of the surprise which the French experienced when they first
entered it, supposing that it was the Saguenay, until their shallop
grounded on the north-western shore. At the head thereof is another
settlement, similar to Chicoutimi. Between these two places the Saguenay
is rather shallow, (when compared with the remainder of its course,) and
varies in width from two and a half to three miles. The tides of the
ocean are observable as far north as Chicoutimi, and this entire section
of the river is navigable for ships of the largest class.

That portion of the Saguenay extending from Grand Bay to the St.
Lawrence, a distance of sixty miles, is greatly distinguished for its
wild and picturesque scenery. I know not that I can better portray to my
reader’s mind the peculiarity of this river, than by the following
method. Imagine, for a moment, an extensive country of rocky and
thinly-clad mountains, suddenly separated by some convulsion of nature,
so as to form an almost bottomless chasm, varying from one to two miles
in width; and then imagine this chasm suddenly half-filled with water,
and that the moss of centuries has softened the rugged walls on either
side, and you will have a pretty accurate idea of the Saguenay. The
shores of this river are composed principally of granite, and every bend
presents you with an imposing bluff, the majority of which are eight
hundred feet high, and many of them upwards of fifteen hundred. And,
generally speaking, these towering bulwarks are not content to loom
perpendicularly into the air, but they must needs bend over, as if to
look at their own savage features reflected in the deep. Ay, and that
word _deep_ but tells the simple truth; for the flood that rolls beneath
is black and cold as the bottomless pit. To speak without a figure, and
from actual measurement, I can state that many portions of the Saguenay
are one thousand feet deep; and the shallowest parts not much less than
one hundred. In many places, too, the water is as deep five feet from
the rocky barriers as it is in the centre of the stream. The feelings
which filled my breast, and the thoughts which oppressed my brain, as I
paddled by these places in my canoe, were allied to those which almost
overwhelmed me when I first looked upward from below the fall to the
mighty flood of Niagara. Awful beyond expression, I can assure you, is
the sensation which one experiences in sailing along the Saguenay, to
raise his eye heavenward, and behold hanging, directly over his head, a
mass of granite, apparently ready to totter and fall, and weighing,
perhaps, a million tons. Terrible and sublime, beyond the imagery of the
most daring poet, are these cliffs; and while they proclaim the
omnipotent power of God, they, at the same time, whisper into the ear of
man that he is but as the moth which flutters in the noontide air. And
yet, is it not enough to fill the heart of man with holy pride and
unbounded love, to remember that the soul within him shall have but
commenced its existence, when all the mountains of the world shall have
been consumed as a scroll?

It is to the Saguenay that I am indebted for one of the most imposing
storm pictures that I ever witnessed. It had been a most oppressive day,
and, as I was passing up the river at a late hour in the afternoon, a
sudden gust of wind came rushing down the stream, causing my Indian
companion to bow, as if in prayer, and then to urge our frail canoe
towards a little rocky island, upon which we immediately landed. Soon as
we had surmounted our refuge, the sky was overcast with a pall of
blackness, which completely enveloped the cliffs on either side, and
gave the roaring waters a death-like hue. Then broke forth, from above
our heads, the heavy roar of thunder, and as it gradually increased in
compass, and became more threatening and impetuous, its volleys were
answered by a thousand echoes, which seemed to have been startled from
every crag in the wilderness, while flashes of the most vivid lightning
were constantly illuminating the gloomy storm-made cavern which appeared
before us. Down upon his knees again fell my poor Indian comrade, and,
while I sat by his side, trembling with terror, the thought actually
flew into my mind that I was on the point of passing the narrow gateway
leading to hell. Soon, however, the wind ceased to blow, the thunder to
roar, and the lightning to flash; and, in less than one hour after its
commencement the storm had subsided, and that portion of the Saguenay
was glowing beneath the crimson rays of the setting sun.

From what I have written, my reader may be impressed with the idea that
this river is incapable of yielding pleasurable sensations. Sail along
its shores, on a pleasant day, when its cliffs are partly hidden in
shadow, and covered with a gauze-like atmosphere, and they will fill
your heart with images of beauty. Or, if you would enjoy a still greater
variety, let your thoughts flow away upon the blue smoke which rises
from an Indian encampment hidden in a dreamy-looking cove; let your eye
follow an eagle sweeping along his airy pathway near the summit of the
cliffs, or glance across the watery plain, and see the silver salmon
leaping by hundreds into the air for their insect food. Here, too, you
may always discover a number of seals, bobbing their heads out of water,
as if watching your every movement; and, on the other hand, a drove of
white porpoises, rolling their huge bodies along the waters, ever and
anon spouting a shower of liquid diamonds into the air. O yes, manifold,
indeed, and beautiful beyond compare, are the charms of the Saguenay.

Although my description of this river has, thus far, been of a general
character, I would not omit to mention, as perfect gems of scenery,
Trinity Point, Eternity Cape, The Tableau, and Le Tête du Boule. The
peculiarities of these promontories are so well described by their very
names, that I shall refrain from attempting a particular description of
my own.

The wilderness through which this river runs is of such a character that
its shores can never be greatly changed in their external appearance.
Only a small proportion of its soil can ever be brought under
cultivation; and, as its forests are a good deal stunted, its lumbering
resources are far from being inexhaustible. The wealth which it contains
is probably of a mineral character; and if the reports I hear are
correct, it abounds in iron ore. That it would yield an abundance of
fine marble, I am certain; for, in passing up this stream, the observing
eye will frequently fall upon a broad vein of an article as pure as
alabaster.

How is it, many people are led to inquire, that so little has been known
of the Saguenay country, until quite recently? The question is easily
solved. It is a portion of that vast territory which has heretofore been
under the partial jurisdiction of the Hudson’s Bay Company. I say
partially, for the right of that powerful monopoly, as I understand the
matter, extended only to the protection and use of its wild animals; but
it has endeavored to convince the would-be settler that it was the sole
proprietor of the immense domain, and that he had no right to live
thereon. Its Posts on the Saguenay and St. Lawrence, so far as
collecting furs is concerned, are a dead letter, and the journeys of its
distinguished Governor are hereafter to be confined to the extreme
north.

The man who deserves the most credit for encroaching upon the so-called
possessions of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and proving to the world that
its power is not without limit, is William Price, Esq., of Quebec. All
the saw-mills located on the Saguenay and the lower St. Lawrence were
established by him, and are now conducted at his expense. He gives
employment to some two or three thousand men, and sends to England
annually about one hundred ship loads of lumber, in the shape of deals.
He is a thorough-going business man, and, did I not know the fact to be
otherwise, I should set him down (with regard to his enterprise), as a
full-blooded native of the Union. Many of the ships alluded to ascend
the Saguenay to obtain lumber, as far as Chicoutimi, and it struck me as
singularly paradoxical to see ships winding up that river whose
legitimate home would seem to be the broad ocean. The current of the
Saguenay flows, in some places, at the rate of seven miles per hour, but
when there is any wind at all, it blows quite heavily directly from the
north or south, so that, with the assistance of the tide, the upward
bound ships or brigs manage to get along without much difficulty. The
only steamboat which navigates this river is the Pocahontas, and is the
property of Mr. Price. She is commanded by a gentleman who understands
his business; and I can assure the lovers of scenery everywhere that a
sail up the Saguenay, in this steamer, would be an event they could not
easily forget. For the benefit of summer-tourists, I would here mention
the fact, that, for about three months in the year, a Quebec steamer
makes an occasional trip to the mouth of the Saguenay, by way of the
river Du Loup, which is on the Canadian route to Halifax.

In speaking of the Saguenay, I must not omit to mention its original
proprietors, a tribe of Indians, who are known as the Mountaineers. Of
course it is the duty of my pen to record the fact that, where once
flourished a large nation of brave and heroic warriors, there now exists
a little band of about one hundred families. Judging from what I have
heard and seen, the Mountaineers were once the very flower of this
northern wilderness, even as the Chippewas were once the glory of the
Lake Superior region. The Mountaineers of the present day are
sufficiently educated to speak a smattering of French; but they know
nothing of the true God, and are as poor in spirit as they are indigent
with regard to the necessaries of life. The men of this nation are
rather short, but well-formed; and the women are beautiful. They are
proud in spirit, intelligent, and kind-hearted; and many of them, it is
pleasant to know, are no longer the victims of the baneful “fire-water.”
For this blessing they are indebted to the Romish priesthood, which fact
I record with great pleasure. The Mountaineers are a particularly honest
people, and great friends to the stranger white man. They are also
distinguished for their expertness in hunting, and take pleasure in
recounting the exploits of their forefathers. And their language,
according to a Catholic missionary, Pierre de Roche, is one of the
oldest and purest Indian languages on the continent. It abounds in Latin
words, and is capable of being regularly constructed and translated. The
qualities, in fine, which make the history of this people interesting,
are manifold; and it is sad to think of the rapidity with which they are
withering away, even as the leaves of a premature autumn.

But it is time that I should give you a brief description of Tadousac,
where I have been spending a few days, and whence I date my chapters.
The meaning of that word is a French corruption of the Indian word
Saguenay. It is situated directly at the mouth of the Saguenay, and
commands a fine prospect of that river, as well as of the St. Lawrence,
which, at this point, is nearly thirty miles in width. Immediately at
the base of the hill upon which the hamlet stands, is a beautiful bay,
hemmed in with mountains of solid rock. The place is composed of houses
belonging to an Indian trading-post, and another dwelling, occupied by a
worthy Scotchman, named Ovington, who is a pilot by profession. The door
of my friend’s cabin is always open to the admission of the tourist, and
if others who may chance to stop here are as kindly treated as I was,
they will be disposed to thank their stars. In front of the trading-post
are planted a few cannon, and directly beside them, at the present time,
is a small Indian encampment. In a rock-bound bay, about half a mile
north of my temporary residence, is an extensive lumbering
establishment, belonging to William Price. This spot is the principal
port of the Saguenay, and the one where belongs the Pocahontas
steamboat. About a dozen paces from the table, where I am now writing,
is the ruin of a Jesuit religious establishment, which is considered the
great curiosity of this region. The appearance of the ruin is not
imposing, as you can discover nothing but the foundations upon which the
ancient edifice rested; but it is confidently affirmed that upon this
spot once stood the first stone and mortar building ever erected on the
continent of North America. And this statement I am not disposed to
question, for from the very centre of the ruin has grown a cluster of
pine trees, which must have been exposed to the wintry blasts of at
least two hundred years. The fate, and the very names of those who first
pitched their tents in this wilderness, and here erected an altar to the
God of their fathers, are alike unknown. Who, who can tell what shall be
on the morrow?



                              CHAPTER XIV.


                     The salmon—Several adventures.
                                                     _Tadousac, July._

I intend to devote the present chapter to the acknowledged king of all
the finny tribes, the lithe, wild and beautiful salmon. He pays an
annual visit to all the tributaries of the St. Lawrence lying between
Quebec and Bic Island, (where commences the Gulf of St. Lawrence,) but
he is most abundant on the north shore, and in those streams which are
beyond the jurisdiction of civilization. He usually makes his first
appearance about the twentieth of May, and continues in season for two
months. Nearly all the streams in this region abound in waterfalls, but
those are seldom found which the salmon does not surmount in his
“excelsior” pilgrimage; and the stories related of his leaps are truly
wonderful. It is not often that he is found, _man bound_ at the head of
the streams he may have ascended; but when thus found and captured, his
flesh is white, skin black, and his form, “long, lank, and lean as is
the ribbed sea-sand.” His weight is commonly about fifteen pounds, but
he is sometimes taken weighing full forty pounds. The salmon is an
important article of export from this region, and is also extensively
used by the Indians. The common mode for taking them is with a
stationary net, which is set just on the margin of the river, at low
water. It is customary with the salmon to ascend the St. Lawrence as
near the shore as possible, and their running time is when the tide is
high; the consequence is, that they enter the net at one tide, and are
taken out at another; and it is frequently the case, that upwards of
three hundred are taken at one time. The Indian mode for taking them is
with the spear, by torchlight. Two Indians generally enter a canoe, and
while one paddles it noiselessly along, the other holds forth the light,
(which attracts the attention of the fish, and causes them to approach
their enemy,) and pierces them with the cruel spear. This mode of taking
the salmon is to be deprecated; but the savage must live, and possesses
no other means for catching them. It is but seldom that the Indian takes
more than a dozen during a single night, for he cannot afford to waste
the bounties which he receives from Nature. For preserving the salmon,
the Canadians have three modes:—First, by putting them in salt for
three days, and then smoking them; secondly, by regularly salting them
down as you would mackerel; and, thirdly, by boiling and then pickling
them in vinegar. The Indians smoke them; but only to a limited extent.

I must now give you some account of my experience in the way of
salmon-fishing with the fly, of which glorious sport I have recently had
an abundance. If, however, I should indite a number of episodes, you
will please remember that “it is my way,” and that I deem it a privilege
of the angler to be as wayward in his discourse as are the channels of
his favorite mountain streams.

My first salmon expedition of the season was to the St. Margaret River.
I had two companions with me; one, an accomplished fly-fisher of Quebec,
and the other, the principal man of Tadousac, a lumber manufacturer. We
went in a gig-boat belonging to the latter, and, having started at nine
o’clock, we reached our place of destination by twelve. We found the
river uncommonly high, and a little rily. We made a desperate effort,
however, and threw the line about three hours, capturing four salmon,
only one of which it was my privilege to take. He was a handsome fellow,
weighing seventeen pounds, and in good condition; he afforded my
companions a good deal of fun, and placed me in a peculiar situation. He
had taken the hook when I was wading in swift water up to my middle, and
soon as he discovered his predicament, he made a sudden wheel, and
started down the stream. My rod bent nearly double, and I saw that I
must allow him all the line he wanted; and having only three hundred
feet on my reel, I found it necessary to follow him with all speed. In
doing so, I lost my footing, and was swept by the current against a pile
of logs; meantime my reel was in the water, and whizzing away at a
tremendous rate. The log upon which I depended happened to be in a
balancing condition, and, when I attempted to surmount it, it plunged
into the current, and floated down the stream, having your humble
servant astride of one end, and clinging to it with all his might.
Onward went the salmon, the log, and the fisherman. Finally the log
found its way into an eddy of the river, and, while it was swinging
about, as if out of mere deviltry, I left it, and fortunately reached
the shore. My life having been spared, I was more anxious than ever to
take the life of the salmon which had caused my ducking, and so I held
aloft the rod, and continued down the stream, over an immense number of
logs and rocks, which seemed to have been placed there for my especial
botheration. On coming in sight of my fish, I found him in still water,
with his belly turned upward, and completely drowned. I immediately drew
him on a sand-bank near by, and, while engaged in the reasonable
employment of drying my clothes, my brother fishermen came up to
congratulate me upon my success, but laughing, in the mean time, most
heartily. The lumber merchant said that the log I had been riding
belonged to him, and it was his intention to charge me one shilling for
my passage from the rift where I had hooked the salmon, to the spot
where I had landed him, which was in full view of the Saguenay; and my
Quebec friend remarked, that he knew the people of Yankee-land had a
queer way of doing things, but he was not acquainted with their peculiar
mode of taking salmon. As may be readily imagined, we retraced our steps
back to the log shanty where we had stopped, and, having carefully
stowed away our salmon, we laid aside our fishing tackle, and made
arrangements for a little sport of another kind.

The hamlet of St. Margaret, where we spent the night, contains some
eight or ten log shantees, which are occupied by about twenty families,
composed of Canadians, Indians, and half-breeds. They obtain their
living by “driving” logs, and are as happy as they are ignorant. Anxious
to see what we could of society among this people, we sent forth a
manifesto, calling upon the citizens generally to attend a dance at the
cabin of a certain man whom we had engaged to give the party, at our
expense. Punctual to the appointed hour, the assembly came together.
Many of the men did not take the trouble even to wash their hands, or to
put on a coat before coming to the party; but the women were neatly
dressed with blue and scarlet petticoats, over which were displayed
night-gowns of white cotton. The fiddler was an Indian, and the dancing
hall (some twelve feet square), was lighted with a wooden lamp, supplied
with seal oil. The dance was without any particular method; and, when a
gentleman wished to trip the light fantastic toe he had only to station
himself on the floor, when one of his friends would select his partner,
and lead her up for his acceptance. The consequence was, that, if a man
wished to dance with any particular lady, he was obliged to make a
previous arrangement with his leading-up friend. The fiddler not only
furnished all the music, but also performed a goodly portion of the
dancing,—fiddling and dancing at the same time. The supper was laid on
the table at ten o’clock, and consisted principally of dried beaver
tail, and cariboo meat, fried and boiled salmon, (which was cooked out
of doors, near the entrance to the cabin,) rye bread, maple molasses,
and tea.

The party broke up at twelve o’clock, when we retired to the cabin,
where we had secured lodgings, and it is an actual fact that our
sleeping room on that night was occupied, not only by ourselves, but by
two women, one man, and four children, (divided into three beds,) all
members of the same family with whom we had succeeded in obtaining
_accommodations_. On the following morning we rose at an early hour, and
again tried our luck at salmon fishing, but only killed a few trout,
whereupon we boarded our gig, and started down the romantic Saguenay,
telling stories and singing songs.

Another river, in this region, which affords good salmon fishing, is the
Esquemain. It empties into the St. Lawrence, about twenty miles east of
Saguenay. It is a cold, clear and rapid stream, abounding in rapids and
deep pools. At its mouth is located a saw-mill, but its water-works are
so managed as not to interfere with the salmon. The fish of this stream
ascend to a great distance, and, though rather small, are exceedingly
abundant. The best fishing in the river is at the foot of the
water-fall, which forms a sheet of foam, about one mile above the mouth.
My Quebec friend accompanied me to this place, and though we only threw
the fly about six hours, (three in the evening and three in the
morning,) yet we killed thirteen salmon, without losing a single line,
and with the loss of only three flies. Owing to the bushy shores of the
stream, we were compelled to fish standing upon boulders, located in its
centre; and whenever we hooked a fish, there was no alternative but to
plunge into the current, and trust to fortune. For some unaccountable
reason, (of course, it could not have been _our_ fault,) we lost more
than half of those we hooked. But it was worth a moderate fortune to see
the magnificent leaps which the fish performed, not only when they took
the fly, but when they attempted to escape. There was not one individual
that did not give us a race of at least half a mile. The largest taken,
during this expedition, was killed by my companion, and caused more
trouble than all his other prizes. Not only did the fellow attempt to
clear himself by stemming the foam of a rapid, and rubbing his nose
against a rock, to break the hook, but he also swept himself completely
round a large boulder, poked his head into a net, and ran, with the
speed of lightning to the extreme end of his line. It took my friend
forty minutes to land this salmon, and I assure you he was particularly
pleased when he found that his fish weighed one pound more than the
largest I had taken. The fact was our rods were almost precisely alike,
in length and strength, and as two countries were represented in our
persons, the strife between us was quite desperate. I will acknowledge
that the Canada gentleman took the largest salmon, but the States angler
took them in the greatest number. Notwithstanding all the fine sport
that we enjoyed on the Esquemain, I am compelled to state that it was
more than counterbalanced by the sufferings we endured from the black
fly and musquetoe. The black fly is about half as large as the common
house fly, and, though it bites you only in the day time, they are as
abundant in the air as the sand upon the sea shore, and venomous to an
uncommon degree. The musquetoe of this region is an uncommonly gaunt,
long-legged, and hungry creature, and his howl is peculiarly horrible.
We had been almost devoured by the black flies, during the afternoon,
and as soon as darkness came, we secured a couple of beds in a
Frenchman’s house, and, as we tumbled in, congratulated ourselves upon a
little comfortable repose. It was an exceedingly sultry night, and
though we were both in a complete fever, from the fly poison circulating
in our veins, the heat excelled the fever, and our bodies were literally
in a melting condition. We endeavored to find relief by lying upon the
bare floor, with no covering but a single sheet, and this arrangement
might have answered, had it not been for the flood of musquetoes which
poured into the room, as one of us happened to open a window to obtain
fresh air. Every spot on our bodies which the flies had left untouched,
was immediately settled upon by these devils in miniature. They pierced
the very sheets that covered us, and sucked away at our blood without
any mercy. Unwilling to depart this life without one effort more to save
it, we then dressed ourselves, and sauntered into the open air. We made
our way towards a pile of lumber, near the saw-mill, and without a
particle of covering, endeavored to obtain a little sleep; but the
insect hounds soon found us out, and we bolted for another place. Our
course now lay towards the rude bridge which spans the Esquemain, just
above the mill. Our intentions at the time, though not uttered aloud, I
verily believe were of a fearful character. On reaching the bridge,
however, a refreshing breeze sprung up, and we enjoyed a brief respite
from our savage enemies. We now congratulated each other upon our good
fortune, and had just concluded to be quite happy, when we discovered a
number of Indians on the river, spearing salmon by torch light, and, as
it was after midnight, and the heathens were spearing on our fishing
ground, we mournfully concluded that our morning’s sport was at an end.
But while in the very midst of this agreeable mood of mind, a lot of
skylarking musquetoes discovered our retreat, and we were again
besieged. We now endeavored to find relief on board the boat which had
brought us from the Saguenay; and here it was that we spent the two last
hours of that most miserable night. Though not exactly in a fitting
condition to throw the fly with any degree of comfort, we made an effort
after salmon in the morning, and succeeded in killing a portion of the
thirteen already mentioned. That we enjoyed the good breakfast which we
had prepared for our especial benefit, and that we departed from
Esquemain as soon as possible, are facts which I consider self-evident.

The mouth of the Saguenay, as I have before remarked, is completely
hemmed in with barriers of solid rock, and, when the tide is flowing in
from one of these points, first rate salmon fishing may occasionally be
enjoyed. I have frequently had the pleasure of throwing the fly on the
point in question, and, on one occasion, was so carried away with the
sport, that I took no notice of the rising tide. It was near the sunset
hour, and on preparing for my departure home, I discovered that I was
completely surrounded with water, and that my situation was momently
becoming more dangerous. The water was bitter cold, and turbulent, and
the channel which separated me from the main shore was upwards of a
hundred yards wide. I was more than half a mile from the nearest
dwelling, and could not see a single sail on the Saguenay, or the still
broader St. Lawrence, excepting a solitary ship, which was ten leagues
away. My predicament, I assure you, was not to be envied. I could not
entertain the idea that I should lose my life; and, though I felt myself
to be in danger, my sensations were supremely ridiculous. But something,
I was persuaded, must be done, and that immediately; and so I commenced
throwing off my clothes for a final effort to save my life. I had
stripped off everything but shirt and pantaloons, and to a flock of
crows, which were cawing above my head, I must have presented an
interesting picture. I thought of the famous swimming adventures of
Leander and Lord Byron, and, also, of the inconveniences of being
drowned, (as Charles Lamb did of being hanged,) but just as I was about
to make the important plunge, an Indian in his canoe came gliding around
a neighboring point, and I was rescued, together with one salmon and
some dozen pounds of trout.

But I have not finished my story yet. On the night following this
incident I retired to bed in rather a sober mood, for I could not banish
the recollection of my narrow escape from a ducking, if not from a
watery grave. The consequence was, that, in my dreams, I underwent ten
times as much mental suffering as I had actually endured. I dreamed
that, in scaling the rocks which lead to the point alluded to, I lost my
footing, and fell into the water. While in this condition, drinking more
salt water than I wanted, floundering about, like a sick porpoise,
gasping for breath, and uttering a most doleful moan, I was suddenly
awakened, and found my good landlord at my side, tapping me on the
shoulder, for the purpose of summoning me—from the back of the
_nightmare_ I had been riding.

As I may not have another opportunity of alluding to this portion of the
Saguenay, and the rocky point already alluded to, I must give my reader
another, and a remarkable incident connected with them. Some years ago,
the Hudson’s Bay Company had in its employ, as clerk at Tadousac, an
intelligent and amiable young man, whose name was McCray. For some
unaccountable reason, he became deranged; and, on one occasion, a cold
and stormy winter night, he took it into his head to cross the Saguenay
upon the floating ice, which was coming down at the time. When first
discovered, he was half way across the stream, and making frightful
leaps of ten and fifteen feet from one block of ice to another. His
friends followed in close pursuit, with a boat, as soon as possible, but
on reaching the opposite shore, the unhappy man was not to be found. On
the day following, however, certain people, who were hunting for him in
the woods, discovered him, perched in the crotch of a tree, almost
frozen to death, and senseless as a clod of the valley. He was taken
home, the circulation of his blood restored, and he is now an inmate of
the Quebec Lunatic Asylum. The mind of this worthy man was thought to be
of a high order; and it is certain that he possessed an extensive
knowledge of botany and geology. From remarks that escaped him
subsequently to the wonderful feat he performed, it is supposed that, at
the time of starting across the river, he was thinking of a particular
book which he wished to obtain, and had been told could be purchased at
Quebec, towards which place (unattainable by land), he had set his face.
It is worthy of record that poor McCray is the only man that ever
crossed the deep and angry Saguenay on the ice, as it is never solidly
frozen; and it is almost certain that the feat he performed can never be
again repeated.

But to return to my piscatorial remarks. Next to the salmon, the finest
sporting fish of this region is the trout. Of these I have seen two
species,—the salmon and the common trout. Of the former, I believe
there is but one variety, but that is an exceedingly fine fish for
sport, or the table, and is found in the lower tributaries of the St.
Lawrence, from five to fifteen pounds. They are taken chiefly in the
salt water, and possess a flavor which the trout of our western lakes do
not. Of the common trout, I have seen at least six varieties, differing,
however, only in color; for some are almost entirely white, others
brown, some blue, some green, some black, and others yellow. These are
taken everywhere in the St. Lawrence, and in all its tributaries. Those
of the Saguenay are the largest, most abundant, and of the rarest
quality. Upon the whole, I am inclined to set this river down as
affording the finest trout-fishing that I have ever enjoyed, not even
excepting that which I have experienced at the Falls of St. Mary, in
Michigan. Almost every bay or cove in the Saguenay is crowded with
trout, and, generally speaking, the rocks upon which you have to stand
afford an abundance of room to swing and drop the fly. In some of the
coves alluded to, I have frequently taken a dozen two-pound trout during
the single hour before sunset. Trout-fishing in this region possesses a
charm which the angler seldom experiences in the rivers and lakes of the
United States, which consists in his uncertainty as to the character of
his prize before he has landed him, for it may be a common or salmon
trout, or a regular-built salmon, as these fish all swim in the same
water. It is reported of a celebrated angler of Quebec, that he once
spent a week on the Esquemain, and captured within that time, seventy
salmon, and upwards of a hundred trout. This is a very large story, but
I have faith enough to believe it true.

And now for a few remarks upon the fish of the lower St. Lawrence
generally. Cod are taken to a very great extent, and constitute an
important article of commerce. Herring and mackerel are abundant; also
the halibut and sardine. Shad are also taken, but not in sufficient
quantities to export. The lobster, flounder and oyster are also found in
this river, and, with a few unimportant exceptions, these are the only
fish that flourish in this portion of the great river. The sea bass, the
striped bass, the blue fish, and the black fish, for which I should
suppose these waters perfectly adapted, are entirely unknown.



                              CHAPTER XV.


          Seal hunting on the St. Lawrence—The white porpoise.
                                                     _Tadousac, July._

Before breakfast this morning, I had the pleasure of taking fifteen
common trout, and the remainder of the day I devoted to seal hunting.
This animal is found in great abundance in the St. Lawrence, and by the
Indians, and a few white people, is extensively hunted. There are
several varieties found in these waters, and the usual market price for
the oil and skin is five dollars. They vary in size from four to eight
feet, and are said to be good eating. Many people make them a principal
article of food; and while the Indians use their skins for many
purposes, they also light their cabins with the oil. In sailing the
river, they meet you at every turn, and when I first saw one, I thought
I was looking upon a drowning man; for they only raise their heads out
of water, and thus sustain themselves with their feet, fins, pads,
flippers, or whatever you may call them. They live upon fish, and in
many of their habits, closely resemble the otter. Their paws have five
claws, joined together with a thick skin; they somewhat resemble the
dog, and have a bearded snout like a cat, large bright eyes, and long
sharp teeth. They are a noisy animal, and when a number of them are
sunning themselves upon the sand, the screams they utter are doleful in
the extreme—somewhat resembling the cry of children.

My first seal expedition was performed in company with two professional
hunters. We started from shore with a yawl and a canoe, and made our
course for a certain spot in the St. Lawrence, where the waters of the
Saguenay and the flood tide came together, and caused a terrible
commotion. The canoe led the way, occupied by one man, who was supplied
with a harpoon, and a long line; while the other hunter and myself came
up in the rear, for the purpose of rescuing the harpooner in case an
accident should happen, and also for the purpose of shipping the
plunder. The seal seems to delight in frequenting the deepest water and
more turbulent whirlpools, and the object of using a canoe is to steal
upon him in the most successful manner. We had not floated about the
eddy more than twenty minutes, before a large black animal made his
appearance, about ten feet from the canoe; but, just as he was on the
point of diving, the hunter threw his harpoon, and gave him the line, to
which was attached a buoy. The poor creature floundered about at a great
rate, dove as far as he could towards the bottom, and then leaped
entirely out of the water; but the cruel spear would not loosen its
hold. Finally, after making every effort to escape, and tinging the
surrounding water with a crimson hue, he gasped for breath a few times,
and sunk to the end of the rope, quite dead. We then pulled him to the
side of the boat, and with a gaff-hook secured him therein, and the hunt
was renewed. In this manner did my companions capture no less than three
seals before the hour of noon.

On one occasion, I noticed quite a large number of seals sunning
themselves upon a certain sandy point; and as I felt an “itching palm”
to obtain, with my own hands, the material for a winter cap, I spent the
afternoon in the enjoyment of a “shooting frolic, all alone.” I borrowed
a rifle of one of my friends, and, having passed over to the sandy point
in a canoe, I secreted myself in the midst of some rocks, and awaited
the game. I had remained quiet but a short time, when a huge black seal
made its appearance, scrambling up the beach, where he kept a sharp
look-out for anything that might do him harm. I admired the apparent
intelligence of the creature, as he dragged his clumsy and legless body
along the ground, and almost regretted that he was doomed to die. True
to my ridiculous nature, however, I finally concluded to leave him
unmolested for the present, hoping that he would soon be accompanied by
one of his fellow-seals, and that I should have a chance of killing a
pair. I was not disappointed, and you will therefore please consider me
in full view of one of the finest marks imaginable, and in the attitude
of firing. Crack went the rifle, but my shot had only the effect of
temporarily rousing the animals, and I proceeded to reload my gun,
wondering at the cause of my missing, and feeling somewhat dissatisfied
with matters and things in general. Again was it my privilege to fire,
and I saw a stick fly into the air about thirty feet on the left of my
game. The animals were, of course, not at all injured, but just enough
frightened to turn their faces towards the water, into which they
shortly plunged, and entirely disappeared. I returned to my lodgings,
honestly told my story, and was laughed at for my pains and bad luck. It
so happened, however, that the owner of the gun imagined that something
might be the matter with the thing, and, on examination, found that one
of the sights had been accidentally knocked from its original position,
which circumstance had been the “cause of my anguish;” and, though it
restored to me my good name as a marksman, it afforded me but little
satisfaction.

But, that my paper about seals may be worth sealing, I will give you the
history of an incident which illustrates the sagacity of an Indian in
killing his game. A Mik-mak hunter, with his family, had reached the
shore of the St. Lawrence, hungry, and short of ammunition. On a large
sand-bank which lay before him, at a time when the tide was low, he
discovered an immense number of seals. He waited for the tide to flow,
and again to ebb, and as soon as the sand appeared above the water, he
hastened to the dry point in his canoe, carrying only a hatchet as a
weapon. On this spot he immediately dug a hole, into which he crept, and
covered himself with a blanket. He then commenced uttering a cry in
imitation of the seal, and in a short time had collected about him a
very large number of those animals. He waited patiently for the tide to
retire so far that the animals would have to travel at least a mile by
land before reaching the water; and, when the wished for moment arrived,
he suddenly fell upon the affrighted multitude, and with his tomahawk,
succeeded in slaughtering upwards of one hundred. To many, this may
appear to be an improbable story, but when it is remembered that this
amphibious animal is an exceedingly slow land traveller, it will be
readily believed. The manner in which our hunter managed to save his
game, was to tie them together with bark, and when the tide rose tow
them to the main shore.

Since I have brought my reader upon the waters of the St. Lawrence, I
will not permit him to go ashore until I have given him an account of
another inhabitant of the deep which is found in very great abundance,
not only in this river, but also in the Saguenay. I allude to the white
porpoise. The shape of this creature is similar to that of the whale,
though of a pure white color, and usually only about fifteen feet in
length. They are exceedingly fat, and yield an oil of the best quality,
while the skin is capable of being turned into durable leather. They are
extensively used as an article of food; the fins and tail, when pickled,
are considered a delicacy; and their value is about twenty-five dollars
a-piece. They are far from being a shy fish; and, when sailing about our
vessel in large numbers, as is often the case, they present a beautiful
and unique appearance. For taking this fish, the people of this region
have two methods. The first is to use a boat with a white bottom, behind
which the fisherman tows a small wooden porpoise, which is painted a
dark slate color, in imitation of the young of the species. With these
lures the porpoise is often brought into the immediate vicinity of the
harpoon, which is invariably thrown with fatal precision. In this manner
an expert man will often take three or four fine prizes in a day.
Another mode for taking these creatures is by fencing them in. It
appears that it is customary for this fish to wander over the sand bars,
at high water, for the purpose of feeding. Profiting by this knowledge,
the fishermen enclose one of the sandy reefs with poles set about three
feet apart, and sometimes covering a square mile. They leave an
appropriate opening for the porpoises, which are sure to enter at high
water, and, owing to their timidity, they are kept confined by the
slender barrier until the tide ebbs, when they are destroyed in great
numbers with very little trouble. It is reported that a party of
fishermen, some ninety miles above the Saguenay, once took one hundred
and forty porpoises at one tide; and it is also asserted that in
dividing the spoil the fishermen had a very bitter quarrel, since which
time, as the story goes, not a single porpoise has ever been taken on
the shoal in question.



                              CHAPTER XVI.


                   The Esquimaux Indians of Labrador.
                                                     _Tadousac, July._

The vast region of country lying on the north shore of the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, and extending to the eastward of the Saguenay as far as
Newfoundland, is generally known under the name of Labrador. It is an
exceedingly wild and desolate region, and, excepting an occasional
fishing hamlet or a missionary station belonging to the worthy
Moravians, its only inhabitants are Indians. Of these the more famous
tribes are the Red Indians, (now almost extinct,) the Hunting Indians,
the Mic-Maks, and the Esquimaux. The latter nation is by far the most
numerous, and it is said that their sway even extends to the coasts of
Hudson’s Bay. They are, at the same time, the wildest and most rude
inhabitants of this wilderness, and, in appearance, as well as manners
and customs, closely resemble the inhabitants of Greenland.

During one of my nautical expeditions down the St. Lawrence, I chanced
to be wind-bound for a couple of days at the mouth of the nameless river
on the north shore, where I found a small encampment of Esquimaux
Indians. The principal man of the party was exceedingly aged, and the
only one who could convey his thoughts in any other language than his
own. He had mingled much with the French fur-traders of the north, and
the French fishermen of the east, and possessed a smattering of their
tongue. Seated by the side of this good old man, in his lodge, with a
moose skin for a seat, a pack of miscellaneous furs to lean against, and
a rude seal-oil torch suspended over my head, I spent many hours of one
long-to-be-remembered night in questioning him about his people. The
substance of the information I then collected, it is now my purpose to
record; but it should be remembered that I speak of the nation at large,
and not of any particular tribe.

According to my informant, the extent of the Esquimaux nation is
unknown, for they consider themselves as numerous as the waves of the
sea. Much has been done to give them an education, and, though
missionaries of the cross have dwelt among them for about a century, yet
the majority of this people are, at the present time, in heathen
darkness. The men are chiefly employed in hunting and fishing, and the
domestic labor is all performed by the women. Their clothes are made in
the rudest manner imaginable, and generally of the coarser skins which
they secure in hunting. They believe in a Supreme Being, who has a
dwelling-place in the earth, the air, and the ocean, and who is both
good and evil; and they also believe in the immortality of the soul,
which they describe as similar to air, which they cannot feel. Their
principal men are magicians and conjurors, distinguished, as I infer
from good reason, for their profligacy. Whenever a man is sick, they
attribute the cause to the alleged fact that his soul has departed from
his body, and he is looked upon with contempt and pity. The first man
who came into the world sprang from the bosom of a beautiful valley; in
this valley he spent his infancy and childhood, feeding upon berries;
and having, on a certain occasion, picked up a flower which drooped over
one of his accustomed paths, it immediately became changed into a girl
with flowing hair, who became his playmate, and afterwards his wife, and
was the mother of all living. They believe in a heaven and a hell, and
consider that the road to the former is rugged and rocky, and that to
the latter, level, and covered with grass. Their ideas of astronomy are
peculiar, for they consider the sun, moon and stars as so many of their
ancestors, who have, for a great variety of reasons, been lifted to the
skies, and become celestial bodies. In accounting for the two former,
they relate that there was once a superb festival given by the
Esquimaux, in a glorious snow-palace of the north, where were assembled
all the young men and maidens of the land. Among them was a remarkably
brave youth, who was in love with an exceedingly beautiful girl. She,
however, did not reciprocate this attachment, and endeavored, by all the
means in her power, to escape from his caresses. To accomplish this end,
she called upon the Great Spirit to give her a pair of wings; and,
having received them, she flew into the air, and became the moon. The
youth also endeavored to obtain a pair of wings, and, after many months,
finally succeeded; and, on ascending to the sky, he became the sun. The
moon, they say, has a dwelling-place in the west, and the sun another in
the far east. They account for thunder and lightning by giving the story
of two women who lived together in a wigwam, and, on one occasion, had a
most furious battle. During the affray, the cabin tumbled in upon them,
causing a tremendous noise, while the women were so angry that their
eyes flashed fire. Rain, they say, comes from a river in the skies,
which, from the great number of people who sometimes bathe in it,
overflows its banks, and thus comes to the earth in showers.

When one of their friends has departed this life, they take all his
property and scatter it upon the ground, outside of his cabin, to be
purified by the air; but in the evening, they collect it together again,
and bury it by the side of his grave. They think it wrong for the men to
mourn for their friends, and consider themselves defiled if they happen
to touch the body of the deceased, and the individual who usually
performs the office of undertaker, is considered unclean for many days
after fulfilling his duty. The women do all the wailing and weeping, and
during their mourning season, which corresponds with the fame of the
deceased, they abstain from food, wear their hair in great disorder, and
refrain from every ablution. When a friendless man dies, his body is
left upon the hills to decay, as if he had been a beast. When their
children die, they bury the body of a dead dog in the same grave, that
the child may have a guide in his pathway to an unknown land, to which
they suppose all children go.

Polygamy, as such, among the Esquimaux, is practised only to a limited
extent; but married men and women are not over-scrupulous in their love
affairs. Unmarried women, however, observe the rules of modesty with
peculiar care, and the maiden who suffers herself to be betrayed, is
looked upon with infamy. When a young man wishes to marry, he first
settles the matter with his intended, and then, having asked and
obtained her father’s permission, he sends two old women to bring the
lady to his lodge, and they are considered one. The Esquimaux mother is
fond of her children, and never chastises them for any offence. Children
are taught to be dutiful to their parents, and until they marry they
always continue under the paternal roof.

The amusements of the Esquimaux do not differ, materially, from those of
the Indian tribes generally. The men are fond of dancing, playing ball,
and a species of dice game, while the women know of no recreation but
that of dancing and singing.

And thus endeth my mite of information respecting one of the most
extensive aboriginal nations of the far north.



                             CHAPTER XVII.


                         The Habitan of Canada.
                                                _River du Loup, July._

Since dating my last chapter from the Saguenay, I have completed my
pilgrimage through Lower Canada; but before leaving the province, I will
give you the result of my observations respecting some of its people.
These are divided into three classes—the descendants of the French
colonists, commonly called “Habitans,” the British settlers, and the
Indian tribes. The “Habitans,” of whom I am now to speak, are the most
numerous, and so peculiar in their appearance and manners, as to attract
the particular attention of travellers. The men are usually tall and
slender, of sinewy build, and with a dark-brown complexion; the girls
are black-eyed, and disposed to be beautiful, while the women are always
dumpy, but good-looking. Their dress is similar to that of the French
peasantry; the men wear the old-fashioned _capot_, on their heads every
variety of fantastic caps and hats, and, on their feet, a moccason made
of cowhide; the women wear jackets or mantelets, which are made of
bright colors, and, on their heads, either a cap or straw hat, made in
the gipsy-fashion. Occasionally, they make an effort to imitate the
English in their dress, and, at such times, invariably appear
ridiculous. As a class they are devoted, principally, to agriculture;
but as their opportunities for obtaining instruction are exceedingly
limited, their knowledge of the art of husbandry is precisely what it
was one hundred years ago. They seem to be entirely destitute of
enterprise, and tread in the beaten steps of their fathers. They who
live in the vicinity of Montreal and Quebec, generally supply those
markets with vegetables; but those who reside in the more obscure parts,
seem to be quite satisfied if they can only manage to raise enough off
their farms for the purpose of carrying them through the year. They are
partial to rye bread, and never consider it in a cooking condition until
it has been soured by age; and their standard dish, which they make use
of on all occasions, is a plain pea soup. The consequence is, the pea is
extensively cultivated. You seldom find a farmer who is so poor as not
to be able to sell from five to fifty bushels of wheat, and this article
he appropriates to the same use that most people do their money. Their
plough is distinguished for its rudeness, and their farming implements,
generally, would not be creditable even to a barbarous people. If an
individual happens to have a stony field, the idea does not enter his
head that he might build a fence with those very stones, and the
consequence is, that he piles them in one immense heap, in the centre of
the field, and draws his rails a distance, perhaps, of two miles. But
with all their ignorance of agriculture, the inhabitants are
sufficiently careful to make their little farms yield them all the
necessaries they require, particularly their clothing and shoes, their
candles, soap, and sugar. There are but few professional mechanics among
them, and the dwelling of the peasant is almost invariably the
production of his own individual labor. Their houses are distinguished
for pictorial beauty, always one story high, and, generally, neatly
white-washed. Their cattle are small, and, owing to their neglect in
feeding and protecting them, are exceedingly poor. Their horses are
nothing but ponies, but distinguished for their toughness. The Habitans
are partial to the luxury of riding, and their common vehicle is a rough
two-wheeled cart, and, occasionally, a calash.

The establishment which I employed for travelling in the settled parts
of Canada, was a fair specimen of the class. The cost of the horse (four
feet and a half high), was twenty dollars, and the cart (made entirely
of wood), was four dollars.—My _coachman_ was a Habitan, and, in
driving over a hilly road, on a certain day, I had a fine opportunity
for studying the conflicting traits of character which distinguish the
race. Whenever he wanted his horse to go fast, he pulled the reins with
all his might, and continued to utter a succession of horrible yells. He
invariably _ran_ his animal _up_ the hill, and deliberately _walked him
down_. When angry at his unoffending beast, he showered upon his head a
variety of oaths, which might be translated as follows: _infernal hog_,
_black toad_, and _hellish dog_; and yet when the animal was about to
drop to the ground from fatigue and heat, he would caress him, and do
everything in his power to restore the animal, and ease his own
conscience. I first employed this man to bring me to this place, and
said nothing about continuing my journey. On ascertaining, however, that
I was bound further down the St. Lawrence, he volunteered his services,
and I employed him, although he had informed his wife that he would
positively return on the night of the day he left her. I retained him in
my employ for two days, and was particularly struck with the anxiety he
manifested concerning the disappointment of his wife. He alluded to the
impropriety of his conduct at least a dozen times, and usually added,
“But you give me plenty money (it was only six dollars for taking me
forty miles), and _I will buy something pretty for my wife_, which will
make her very glad—I guess she won’t be sorry.” I asked him what it was
that he intended to purchase, and his answer was, “some ribbon, a pair
of scissors, with some needles, and a calico dress.” Who can deny that
it is pleasant to study the sunshine of the human heart “by which we
live?”

The Habitans profess the Roman Catholic religion with much zeal. Among
them, I believe, may be found many worthy Christians; but they manifest
their religious devotion in many peculiar ways. They are fond of social
intercourse, and spend a goodly portion of their time in visiting each
other. They reluctantly establish themselves beyond the sound of a
chapel bell, and I positively believe that they spend more than half of
their time in performing mass and horse racing. The Sabbath is their
great holiday, and always decidedly the noisiest day in the week. Their
general deportment, however, is inoffensive, and often highly
praiseworthy. They are seldom guilty of committing atrocious crimes, and
do not often engage in the personal conflicts which are so prevalent in
the United States. They treat all men with kindness, and in their
language and manners, are remarkably polite. The little girl, playing
with her doll in her father’s door, would think her conduct highly
improper should she omit to drop you a courtesy as you passed along; and
even the rude boy, when playing ball, or driving his team, invariably
takes off his hat to salute the traveller.

The Habitans are particularly fond of the river St. Lawrence, and their
settlements extend from Montreal, about two hundred miles along the
river on the north shore, and perhaps three hundred and fifty miles on
the southern shore. Their principal roads run parallel with the river;
are about half a mile apart, and, generally, completely lined with rural
dwellings.

The political opinions of the Habitans are extremely liberal, and not
much in accordance with the spirit of Canadian institutions. They hate
England by nature, and the advice of their priesthood, and scruple not
to declare themselves actually in love with what they call the American
Government. They complain that Englishmen treat them as if they were
slaves, while the people of the United States always hail them as
brothers. They are an unlettered race, but believe that their condition
would be much happier were they the subjects of a President, instead of
a Queen. That is a matter I consider questionable.



                             CHAPTER XVIII.


    The Grand Portage into New Brunswick—Lake Timiscouta—The
    Madawaska river.

                                             _On the Madawaska, July._

The traveller who would go from Quebec to Halifax by the recently
established government route, will have to take a steamer for one
hundred and twenty miles down the great river, and cross the Grand
Portage road, which commences at the river, Du Loup, and extends to lake
Timiscouta, a distance of thirty-six miles.

With the village of Du Loup I was well pleased. It contains about twelve
hundred inhabitants, and a more general mixture of English, Scotch and
French than is usually found in the smaller towns of Canada. The place
contains an Episcopal church, which must be looked upon as a curiosity
in this Roman Catholic country, for it is the only one, I believe, found
eastward of Quebec. The situation of the village is romantic to an
uncommon degree. It commands an extensive prospect of the St. Lawrence,
which is here upwards of twenty miles wide, and bounded, on the opposite
side, by a multitude of rugged mountains. The river is studded with
islands; and ships are constantly passing hither and thither over the
broad expanse; and when, from their great distance, all these objects
are constantly enveloped in a gauze-like atmosphere, there is a magic
influence in the scenery. The principal attraction is a water-fall,
about a mile in the rear of the village. At this point the waters of the
rapid and beautiful Du Loup dance joyously over a rocky bed, until they
reach a picturesque precipice of perhaps eighty or a hundred feet, over
which they dash in a sheet of foam, and, after forming an extensive and
shadowy pool, glide onward, through a pleasant meadow, until they mingle
with the waters of the St. Lawrence. But, as I intend to take you over
the Grand Portage, it is time that we should be off. The first ten miles
of this road are dotted with the box-looking houses of the Canadian
peasantry; but the rest of the route leads you up mountains and down
valleys as wild and desolate as when first created. The principal trees
of the forest are pine, spruce and hemlock, and the foundation of the
country seems to be granite. This region is watered by many sparkling
streams, which contain trout in great abundance. The only curiosity on
the road is of a geological character, and struck me as something
remarkable. Crossing the road, and running in a northerly direction, and
extending to the width of about two miles, is a singular bed of granite
boulders. The rocks are of every size and form, and while, from a
portion of them, rises a scanty vegetation, other portions are destitute
of even the common moss. In looking upon this region, the idea struck me
that I was passing through the bed of what once was a mighty river, but
whose fountains have become forever dry. This is only one, however, of
the unnumbered wonders of the world which are constantly appearing to
puzzle the philosophy of man. In passing over the Grand Portage, the
traveller has to resort to a conveyance which presents a striking
contrast with the usual national works of her ladyship, the Queen. It is
the same establishment which conveys the Royal Mail from Quebec to
Halifax, and consists of a common Canadian cart, a miserable Canadian
pony, and a yet more miserable Canadian driver. Such is the way they
order things in Canada, which, I fancy, is not exactly the way they do
in France. The Grand Portage road itself is all that one could desire,
and as there is a good deal of summer and winter travelling upon it, it
is surprising that the Government cannot afford a more comfortable
conveyance. But this recently “Disputed Territory,” owing to nobody’s
fault but the actual settlers, seems to be destitute of everything
desirable, and I know not but we ought to rejoice that Lord Ashburton
concluded the late treaty in the manner he did.

The eastern termination of the Grand Portage road is at Lake Timiscouta,
where is located a pleasant hamlet of Canadians, and a picketed fort,
which is now abandoned. The views from this spot are unique and
exceedingly beautiful, particularly a western view of the lake, when
glowing beneath the rays of the setting sun. The Indian word Timiscouta
signifies the _winding water_, and accurately describes the lake, which
has a serpentine course, is twenty-four miles long, and from two to
three wide. Excepting the cluster of houses already mentioned, there is
not a single cabin on the whole lake, and the surrounding mountains,
which are perhaps a thousand feet high, are the home of solitude and
silence. The only vessels that navigate the Lake are Indian canoes,
paddled by Canadians. Not only does the isolated settlers depend upon
them for the transportation of provisions, but even the English
nobleman, when travelling in this region, finds it necessary to sit like
a tailor in their straw-covered bottoms.

The only outlet to Lake Timiscouta is the Madawaska River, which is but
a contraction of the same water, but reduced to the width of a stone’s
throw, and leading to the St. John’s, a distance of some forty miles.
The meaning of Madawaska, as I am informed, is _never frozen_, and the
river obtained this name from the fact that certain portions, on account
of the current, are never ice-bound. The scenery of the river is
precisely similar to that of its parent lake, only that it is a little
cultivated. The waters of both are clear, but not very deep or cold.
They abound in fish, of which the common trout, the perch, and pickerel
(not pike), are the more valuable varieties.

The manner in which I sailed through Timiscouta and Madawaska, was
exceedingly pleasant, if not peculiar and ridiculous. My canoe was
manned by a couple of barbarous Canadians, and while they occupied the
extreme stern and bow, I was allowed the “largest liberty” in the body
thereof. It was an exceedingly hot day when I passed through, and having
stripped myself of nearly all my clothing, I rolled about at my own
sweet will, not only for the purpose of keeping cool, but that I might
do a good business in the way of killing time. At one moment I was
dipping my feet and hands in the water, humming a lightsome tune of
yore, and anon sketching the portrait of a mountain or a group of trees.
Now I lay flat upon my back, and while I watched the fantastic movements
of the clouds, as they crossed the blue of heaven, I attended to the
comforts of the inner man by sucking maple-sugar. Now I called upon the
boat-men to sing me a song, and, while they complied with my request, I
fixed myself in the poetical attitude of a Turk, and smoked a cigar. At
one time, we halted at a mountain spring, to obtain a refreshing drink,
and at another, the men pulled up to some rocky point, that I might have
the pleasure of throwing the fly. Thus vagabondizing, “pleasantly the
days of Thalaba went by.”

My voyage down the Madawaska was not without a characteristic incident.
There was quite a fleet of canoes descending at the same time, some of
them laden with women and babies, and some with furs, tin-kettles, and
the knapsacks of home-bound lumbermen. Two of the canoes were managed by
a Canadian and a Scotchman, who seemed to cherish a deeply-rooted
passion for racing. They paddled a number of heats, and as they were
alternately beaten, they both, finally, became angry, and began to bet
quite extravagantly. The conclusion of the whole matter was that they
went ashore on a bushy point among the mountains, and settled their
difficulty by a “private fight.” They fought, “like brave men, long and
well,” and by the time one had a tooth knocked out of his head, and the
other had nearly lost an eye, they separated, and quietly resumed their
way. These were the only wild animals that I saw in the Madawaska
wilderness.



                              CHAPTER XIX.


                             The Acadians.
                                       _Mouth of the Madawaska, July._

At the junction of the river Madawaska and St. John, and extending for
some miles down the latter, is a settlement of about three hundred
Acadians. How these people came by the name they bear, I do not exactly
understand, but of their history, I remember the following particulars.
In the year 1755, during the existence of the colonial difficulties
between England and France, there existed, in a remote section of Nova
Scotia, about fifteen thousand Acadians. Aristocratic French blood
flowed in their veins, and they were a peaceful and industrious race of
husbandmen. Even after the government of England had become established
in Canada, they cherished a secret attachment for the laws of their
native country. But this was only a feeling, and they continued in the
peaceful cultivation of their lands. In process of time, however, three
titled Englishmen, named Lawrence, Boscawan and Moysten, held a council
and formed the hard-hearted determination of driving this people from
their homes, and scattering them to the four quarters of the globe.
Playing the part of friends, this brotherhood of conquerors and heroes
sent word to the Acadians that they must all meet at a certain place, on
business which deeply concerned their welfare. Not dreaming of their
impending fate, the poor Acadians met at the appointed place, and were
there informed of the fact that their houses and lands were forfeited,
and that they must leave the country to become wanderers in strange and
distant lands. They sued for mercy, but the iron yoke of a Christian
nation was laid more heavily upon their necks, in answer to that prayer,
and they were driven from home and country, and as they sailed from
shore, or entered the wilderness, they saw in the distance, ascending to
Heaven, the smoke of all they had loved and lost. Those who survived,
found an asylum in the United States, and in the more remote portions of
the British empire, and when, after the war, they were invited to return
to their early homes, only thirteen hundred were known to be in
existence. It is a remnant of this very people who, with their
descendants, are now the owners of the Madawaska settlement, and it is
in an Acadian dwelling that I am now penning this chapter. But owing to
their many misfortunes, (I would speak in charity,) the Acadians have
degenerated into a more ignorant and miserable people than are the
Canadian French, whom they closely resemble in their appearance and
customs. They believe the people of Canada to be a nation of knaves, and
the people of Canada know them to be a half savage community.
Worshipping a miserable priesthood, is their principal business;
drinking and cheating their neighbors, their principal amusement. They
live by tilling the soil, and are content if they can barely make the
provision of one year take them to the entrance of another. They are, at
the same time, passionate lovers of money, and have brought the science
of fleecing strangers to perfection. Some of them by a life of meanness
have succeeded in accumulating a respectable property; but all the money
they obtain is systematically hoarded. It is reported of the principal
man of this place that he has in his house, at the present moment, the
sum of ten thousand dollars, in silver and gold, and yet this man’s
children are as ignorant of the alphabet as the cattle upon the hills.
But with all their ignorance, the Acadians are a happy people, though it
is the happiness of a mere animal nature.

The scenery of this place, which does not seem to possess a name, is
quite agreeable, but its attractive features are of an architectural
character. The first is a block house, and the second a Catholic church.
The block house occupies the summit of a commanding and rocky knoll, and
was built at a cost of near five thousand dollars, for the purpose of
defending this portion of New Brunswick, during the existence of the
late boundary difficulty. The edifice is built of stone and timber, and
may be described as a square box, placed upon another and large one in a
triangular fashion; the width may be thirty feet, and the height one
hundred and fifty. It is well supplied with port holes, entered by a
wooden flight of stairs, and covered with a tin roof. It contains two
stores, besides a well-filled magazine. It is abundantly supplied with
guns and cannon, and almost every variety of shot, shells and balls. It
was once occupied by three military companies, (about all that it would
possibly hold;) but the only human being who now has anything to do with
it, is a worthy man, who officiates as keeper. The panorama which this
fortress overlooks, is exceedingly picturesque, embracing both the
valley of the Madawaska and that of St. John, which fade away amid a
multitude of wild and uncultivated mountains. When I first looked upon
this block house, it struck me as being a most ridiculous affair, but on
further examination, I became convinced that it could not be taken
without the shedding of much blood.

Of the church to which I alluded, I have only to remark that it is a
very small, and, apparently, a venerable structure, built of wood,
painted yellow, with a red steeple. It is pleasantly located, amid a
cluster of rude cabins, on the margin of the St. John, and in the
immediate vicinity of a race course. It was my fate to spend a Sabbath
in this Madawaska settlement. As a matter of course, I attended church.
The congregation was large, and composed entirely of Acadians; decked
out in the most ridiculous gewgawish dresses imaginable. I noticed
nothing extraordinary on the occasion, only that at the threshold of the
church, was a kind of stand, where a woman was selling sausages and
small beer. The services were read in Latin, and a sermon preached in
French, which contained nothing but the most common-place advice, and
that all of a secular character. At the conclusion of the service, the
male portion of the congregation gradually collected together on the
neighboring green, and the afternoon was devoted to horse racing, the
swiftest horse belonging to the loudest talker, and heaviest stake
planter, and that man was—a disciple of the Pope, and the identical
priest whom I had heard preach in the morning. It will be hard for you
to believe this, but I have written the truth, as well as my last line
about the Acadian settlement on the Madawaska.



                              CHAPTER XX.


           Sail down the Madawaska—The Falls of the St. John.
                                        _Falls of the St. John, July._

In coming to this place, from the North, the traveller finds it
necessary to descend the river St. John in a canoe. The distance from
Madawaska is thirty-six miles, and the day that I passed down was
delightful in the extreme. My canoe was only about fifteen feet long,
but my voyageur was an expert and faithful man, and we performed the
trip without the slightest accident.

The valley of this portion of the river is mountainous, and its
immediate banks vary from fifteen to thirty feet in height. The water is
very clear and rapid, but of a brownish color, and quite warm, varying
in depth from three to thirty feet, and the width is about a quarter of
a mile. That portion of the stream (say some seventy miles of its
source), which belongs exclusively to the United States, runs through a
fertile and beautiful country, abounds in water-falls and rapids, and is
yet a wilderness. That portion which divides the United States from New
Brunswick is somewhat cultivated, but principally by a French
population. Owing to the fact that the farms all face the river, and are
very narrow, (but extend back to the distance of two or three miles,)
the houses have all been erected immediately on the river, so that, to
the casual observer, the country might appear to be thickly inhabited,
which is far from being the case. The principal business done on the
river is the driving of logs and timber for the market of St. John; and
excepting the worthy and hard-working lumbermen who toil in the forests,
the people are devoted to the tilling of their land, and are precisely
similar to the Acadians in their manners and customs, and probably from
the same stock. There is a miniature steamboat on the river, but as the
unnumbered canoes of the inhabitants are engaged in a kind of opposition
line, the fiery little craft would seem to have a hard time. In
navigating the river the voyageurs paddle down stream, but use a pole in
ascending; and two smart men, gracefully swinging their poles, and
sending their little vessel rapidly against the current, taken in
connection with the pleasant scenery of the river, present an agreeable
and novel sight.

We started from Madawaska at four o’clock in the morning, and having
travelled some twenty miles, we thought we would stop at the first
nice-looking tavern on the shore, (for about every other dwelling is
well supplied with liquor, and, consequently, considered a tavern,) for
the purpose of obtaining a breakfast. Carefully did we haul up our
canoe, and having knocked at the cabin door, were warmly welcomed by a
savage-looking man, whose face was completely besmeared with dirt, and
also by a dirty-looking woman, a couple of dirty-legged girls, and a
young boy. The only furniture in the room was a bed, and a small
cupboard, while the fire-place was without a particle of fire. In one
corner of the room was a kind of bar, where the boy was in attendance,
and seemed to be the spokesman of the dwelling. We asked him if we could
have some breakfast, and he promptly replied that we could.

“What can you give us?” was my next question.

“Anything you please,” replied the boy, in broken English.

“We’ll take some ham and eggs, then.”

“We haven’t any, only some eggs.”

“We’ll take some bread and milk.”

“We haven’t any bread, but plenty of milk.”

“Haven’t you any kind of meat?”

“_No, plenty of_ RUM. _What’ll you have?_”

I could stand this no longer, and having expressed my displeasure at the
ignorance of the boy, and condemned his father for pretending to keep a
tavern, I gave the former a sixpence, and took half a dozen eggs, with
which we returned to our canoe. While I was fixing my seat in the boat,
and commenting upon wilderness hospitality, my companion amused himself
by swallowing four of the purchased eggs in a leather cup of brandy. In
two hours after this little adventure, our little canoe was moored above
the Falls of the St. John, and we were enjoying a first-rate breakfast,
prepared by the lady of a Mr. Russell, who keeps a comfortable house of
entertainment in this place.

After I had finished my cigar, and enjoyed a resting spell, I pocketed
my sketch-book, and spent the entire day examining the scenery of the
Falls. After making a broad and beautiful sweep, the river St. John here
makes a sudden turn, and, becoming contracted to the width of about
fifty yards, the waters make a plunge of perhaps forty feet, which is
mostly in a solid mass, though rather disposed to form the third of a
circle from shore to shore. Below this pitch, and extending for about
two miles, is a continued succession of falls, which make the entire
descent upwards of eighty feet. The water rushes through what might be
termed a winding chasm, whose walls are perhaps one hundred and fifty or
two hundred feet high, and perpendicular. Generally speaking, the entire
distance from the first fall to the last, presents a perfect sheet of
foam, though around every jutting point is a black, and, apparently,
bottomless pool, which, when I peered into them, were quite alive with
salmon, leaping into the air, or swimming on the margin of the foam. On
the western side of the falls, to a great extent, the original forest
has been suffered to remain, and a walk through their shadowy recesses
is an uncommon treat; and on this side, also, is the ruin of an old
saw-mill, which, for a wonder, actually adds to the picturesque beauty
of the spot. On the eastern side of the falls is a commanding hill,
which has been stripped of its forest, and now presents a stump field,
of three hundred acres. It is a desolate spot, but in strict keeping
with the enterprise of the province. The expense of clearing, or,
rather, half clearing, the hill in question, was six thousand dollars,
and it was the original intention of the mother government to erect
thereon an extensive fortress; but owing to the birth of a sensible
reflection, the idea was abandoned. The barracks of the place, as they
now exist, consist of two log houses, which are occupied by a dozen
sprigs of the British Army. And thus endeth my account of the most
picturesque spot in New Brunswick, which, I doubt not, may hereafter
become a fashionable place of summer resort.



                              CHAPTER XXI.


                        The Hermit of Aroostook.
                                       _Mouth of the Aroostook, July._

I was on my way down the river St. John, in New Brunswick, and having
heard that the Aroostook (one of its principal tributaries), was famous
for its salmon and a picturesque water-fall, I had taken up my quarters
at a tavern near the mouth of that stream, with a view of throwing the
fly for a few days, and adding to my stock of sketches. I arrived at
this place in the forenoon, and after depositing my luggage in an upper
room, and ordering a dinner, I proceeded to arrange my tackle and
pencils for an afternoon expedition. This preparatory business I
performed in the sitting-room of the tavern, where there happened to be
seated at the time, and reading the New York Albion, an oddly-dressed,
but gentlemanly-looking man. In form, he was tall and slender, appeared
to be about fifty years of age, and there was such an air of refinement
in his appearance and manners that he attracted my particular attention.
I said nothing, however, and quietly continued my snelling operations,
until summoned to dinner. While at the table, I sent for the landlord to
inquire about the stranger whom I had noticed, and his reply was as
follows:—“His name is _Robert Egger_; he is a strange but good man, and
lives the life of a recluse; his house is above the fall, on the
Aroostook, and about four miles from here. He has been in this part of
the country for many years, but I seldom see him at my house, excepting
when he wants to read the news, put a letter in the office, or purchase
a bag of flour.”

With this intelligence I was quite delighted, for I fancied that I had
discovered a _character_, which eventually proved to be the case. On
returning to the room where the stranger was seated, I introduced myself
by offering him a cigar; and while fixing my rod, asked him a few
questions about the surrounding country. His replies proved him to be an
intelligent man, and as he happened to express himself a lover of the
“gentle art,” I offered him the use of some fishing tackle, and invited
him to accompany me. He refused my offer, but accepted my invitation,
and we started for the Aroostook. He officiated as my guide; and when we
approached the river, which was from two to five feet deep, about one
hundred yards wide, very rapid, and filled with bridge piers in ruin, we
jumped into a Frenchman’s canoe, and were landed on the northern shore.
Here we came into a road which passed directly along the bank of the
river; this we followed for one mile, until we arrived at a
flouring-mill, located at the mouth of a large and very beautiful brook,
where the road made a sudden turn towards the north. Directly opposite
the mill, on the Aroostook side, was a narrow and rapid rift, where, my
friend told me, I was sure to hook a salmon. I did not like the
appearance of the place, but took his advice and waded in. I tried my
luck for some thirty minutes, but could not tempt a single fish. This,
my friend did not understand; he said there were salmon there, and
thought that the fault was mine. I knew what he wanted, and therefore
handed him my rod, that he might try his fortune. He fished for nearly
half an hour, and then broke the fly-tip of my rod. As I was cherishing
an earnest desire to take at least one salmon, _under the fall_, which I
thought the only likely place to succeed, and towards which I had set my
face, this little accident made me exceedingly nervous. My friend
attempted to console me by remarking, that, as it was getting to be
toward evening, we had better return to the tavern, and take a fresh
start in the morning. But this proposition did not suit me at all, and I
promptly said so. “Just as you please,” replied my companion, and so we
repaired the rod, and continued up the river. Very rapid, with many and
deep pools, was this portion of the stream; and our course along the
shore, over logs and fallen trees, through tangled underbrush, and
around rocky points—was attended with every imaginable difficulty, and
so continued for at least two miles. On coming in sight of the fall,
however, I was more than amply repaid for all my trouble, by the
prospect which there presented itself. It was, perhaps, one hour before
sunset, and there was a delightful atmosphere resting upon the
landscape. Directly before me, in the extreme distance, and immediately
under the crimson sun, was a narrow rocky gorge, through which foamed
the waters of the Aroostook, over a precipice of some thirty feet; and
just below the fall, rose a perpendicular rock to the height of nearly a
hundred feet, dividing the stream into two channels. The entire middle
distance of the prospect was composed of a broad and almost circular
basin of very deep and dark water, skirted mostly with a rocky shore,
while directly across the surface of this pool, winding down the stream,
was a line of foam, distinguishing the main channel; while the
foreground of this picture consisted of a gravelly beach, two bark
wigwams, several canoes, and some half dozen Indians, who were enjoying
their evening meal by the side of an expiring fire.

We held a brief conversation with the Indians, and found out that they
had visited the basin for the purpose of spearing salmon by torchlight;
and while my companion sat down in their midst to rest himself, I jumped
into one of the canoes, and paddled to the foot of the fall, to try one
of my fancy flies. I fished for about thirty minutes—caught one small
salmon—lost two very large ones, and returned to the Indian camp, where
I had previously concluded to spend the night, provided my guide did not
insist upon returning to the tavern by moonlight. It so happened,
however, that my interesting plan was vetoed by my companion, who told
me that his dwelling was only a mile off, and that I must go and spend
the night with him. I willingly assented to this proposition, and having
picked up the salmon, we engaged the Indians to ferry us across the
basin, and proceeded on our way. Our path was somewhat narrow, crooked,
and intricate, and as I listened to the roaring of the water-fall, and
thought of the mystery which hung over my companion, I could not but
wonder what I was about, and to what strange place I was going.

In due time, however, we emerged from the woods, and came out upon the
side of a gentle hill, which sloped to the margin of the Aroostook, and
was sufficiently open to command an extensive view of the river. Here my
friend told me to tarry a few moments, for he had a canoe hidden among
some willows, and wished to hunt it up, that we might re-cross the river
once more. I heard his words, but neglected to assist him, for my whole
attention was riveted by the scene upon which I was gazing. The sober
livery of twilight had settled upon the world, and the flowing of the
river was so peaceful, that I could distinctly hear the hum of
unnumbered insects as they sported in the air. On the opposite shore was
a lofty forest-covered hill, and at the foot of it a small clearing, in
the centre of which stood a rude log cabin—the dwelling-place of my
friend. On my left, the river presented the appearance of a lake: and
apparently in the centre of it were two of the most exquisitely foliaged
islands imaginable. The valley seemed completely hemmed in with
mountains, and these, together with a glowing sky, were all distinctly
mirrored in the sleeping waters. Charming beyond compare was this
evening landscape, and the holy time “was quiet as a nun, breathless
with adoration.” But now my companion summoned me to a seat in the
canoe, and we passed over the stream in safety; he hauled up his
shallop, laid aside his paddle, and, slapping me on the shoulder, led
the way to his cabin, repeating, in a loud, clear voice, the following
words:

                   “Alone I live, between four hills;
                     Famed Roostook runs between:
                   At times, wild animals appear,
                     But men are seldom seen.”

On entering the hut, which was now quite dark, as it only contained one
window, my companion turned abruptly round, and after making a
frolicsome remark about my being in his power, he exclaimed—“That
poetry I repeated to you just now was a home-spun article; but as you
might fancy something a little more civilized, I would say to you, my
young friend, in the language of Wordsworth’s Solitary,

                          ‘This is my domain, my cell,
              My hermitage, my cabin, what you will—
              I love it better than a snail his house;
              But now ye shall be feasted with our best.’”

Soon as these words had fallen from his lips, my friend proceeded to
collect some wood for a fire, and while I was left to kindle the flame,
he seized a tin-pail, and went after some spring water, which, he said,
was some distance off. In a few moments, I produced a sufficient
quantity of light to answer my purpose, and then took occasion to survey
the room, into which I had been thus strangely introduced. Everything
about me seemed to be oddity itself. First was the huge fire-place,
rudely made of rough stones, and filled with ashes; then the blackish
appearance of the log walls around, and the hemlock rafters above. In
one corner stood a kind of wooden box, filled with blankets, which
answered the purpose of a bed; and in front of the only window in the
cabin was a pine table on which stood an inkstand and some writing
paper, and under which sat a large gray cat, watching my movements with
a suspicious eye. In one place stood a wooden chest, and a half-barrel
of meal, and the only things in the room to sit upon, were a couple of
wooden chairs. The crevices in the walls were stopped up with rags and
clay, and from various rafters depended bundles of mint, hemlock, and
other useful productions of the wood. A rusty old gun, and a home-made
fishing rod occupied one corner; and on every side, resting upon wooden
pegs, were numerous shelves, of every size and form, which were
appropriated to a variety of uses. On one or two of them were the
cooking utensils of my friend; on another, a lot of smoky books; and on
others, a little of everything, from a box of salt or paper of tea, down
to a spool of thread or a paper of needles.

In a few moments my friend entered the cabin, and immediately began to
prepare our evening meal, which consisted of bread, fried pork, and
salmon, and a cup of tea. Plain was our food, but it was as nicely
cooked as if it had been done by a pretty girl, instead of an old man,
and the comic pomposity with which every little matter was attended to,
afforded me much amusement. One thing I remember, which struck me as
particularly funny. My host was talking about the conduct of Sir Robert
Peel and the British Parliament, and while in the midst of his
discourse, opened a trap-door leading to his cellar, and descended
therein. I knew not what he was after, and waited his reappearance with
some anxiety, when suddenly he bobbed up his ghost-like head, resumed
the thread of his remarks, and held forth in one hand a huge piece of
fat pork, and as he became excited about the conduct of the Prime
Minister, he occasionally slapped the pork with the remaining hand, and
then shook it in the air, as if it had been one of the bloody Irishmen
to whom he was occasionally alluding. He reminded me of Shakspeare’s
grave-digger. I also remember, that, when my friend was kneading his
bread, the idea entered his head, from some remark that I had dropped,
that I did not comprehend the meaning of a certain passage in
Shakspeare; so he immediately wiped one of his hands, leaned over for
his ragged copy of the mighty bard, and immediately settled the question
to our mutual satisfaction.

Supper being ended, I pulled out of my pocket a couple of cigars which I
had brought with me, and we then seated ourselves comfortably before the
fire, and entered into a systematic conversation. The greater part of
the talking was done by my companion, and in the course of the evening,
I gathered the following particulars respecting his own history:

He told me he was a native of Hampshire, England, and had spent his
boyhood in the city of London, as a counting-house clerk. He claimed a
good name for his family, and added that Mr. Jerdan, editor of the
London Literary Gazette, was his brother-in-law, having married his only
sister. He avowed himself about sixty years of age, and had been a
resident of New Brunswick ever since the year 1809. He first came across
the Atlantic as a government agent, for the transaction of business
connected with the Fur Trade; and when he settled in the province, the
whole country was an untrodden wilderness. Since that time he had
followed a variety of employments, had acquired a competence, but lost
it through the rascality of friends. He told me he was a widower, and
that he had one son, who resided in Frederickton, and was rapidly
acquiring a reputation for his knowledge of engineering. “It does my
heart good to remember this fact,” continued my friend, “and I do hope
that my son will not disgrace his family, as some people seem to think I
have done. The God-forsaken inhabitants of this region have a habit of
calling me a crazy old man. God be praised! I _know_ they overshoot the
mark in that particular; if I have lost my reason, I can tell the
mocking world that I have endured trouble enough to make even a
philosopher a raving maniac. By patient and unwearied toil, I have won
two small fortunes, but both of them were snatched away, and I was left
a beggar. The home government took pity on me, and offered to make me a
present of land, adding that I was at liberty to make my own selection.
I accepted their offer, and selected five hundred acres on the
Aroostook, making the fall we visited this evening the centre of my
domain. I duly received a deed for the property, and having concluded
that my fellow-men were as tired of me as I was of them, I bolted for
the wilderness, and have lived here ever since. Yes, sir, for twelve
years have I been the only human inmate of this rude cabin; I ought to
except, however, ‘a lucid interval’ of some nine months, which I spent
in England, about four years ago, visiting my friends and the favorite
haunts of my childhood. To enjoy even that little luxury, I was
compelled to sacrifice a portion of my land.”

“But why do you not sell your entire property,” I remarked, “and take up
your abode among men, where your knowledge might be made available?”

“Knowledge, indeed!” replied the hermit philosopher; “all that I
possess, you might easily hide in the bowl of an acorn. I do know enough
to cast my eyes heavenward, when crushed by misfortune, but the same
knowledge was possessed by the worm upon which I accidentally trod this
morning. What is man, at his best estate, but a worm? But this is not
answering your question. My only reason for not selling this property
is, that I cannot find a purchaser. Most gladly would I jump at the
chance, and then I _would_ mingle with my fellow-men, and endeavor to be
_of_ them. Travellers, who sometimes pass through this region, tell me
that my property is worth $5000; I know it to be worth at least that
amount, but I should be glad to sell it for $3000, and that, too, on a
credit of ten years. The interest would, indeed, be a meagre income, but
I have schooled myself in the ways of poverty; and though it once cost
me $2000 to carry me through a single year, I can tell you that my
expenses for the last five years have not averaged more than _twenty
dollars_, which I have had to obtain as best I could. But you must not
misunderstand me. The little clearing which surrounds my rookery,
contains six acres, and as I cultivate them with all diligence, they
keep me from actual starvation.”

“But it strikes me, my dear sir, that you ask rather an extravagant
price for your uncultivated land?” I asked this question with a view of
obtaining some information in reference to the valley of the Aroostook,
and was not disappointed. The reply of my friend was as follows:

“I can convince you that you are mistaken. In the first place, the water
privilege which my land covers, is acknowledged to be the most valuable
on the Aroostook, and I may add that it is abundantly fertile. And then
think of the valley, at the very threshold of which I am located! It is
one of the most beautiful and luxuriant in this northern wilderness; and
the only thing against it, though I say it that should not, is the fact
that nearly five miles of its outlet belongs to the English government,
while the remainder belongs to the United States. The whole of it ought
to be yours; but if it were, I would not live here a year; I am near
enough to you now; directly on the boundary line between your country
and mine. The Aroostook, I verily believe, is one of the most important
branches of the St. John. Its general course is easterly, but it is
exceedingly serpentine, and according to some of your best surveyors,
drains upwards of a million acres of the best soil in Maine. Above my
place, there is hardly a spot that might not be navigated by a small
steamboat, and I believe the time is not far distant when your
enterprising Yankees will have a score of boats employed here, in
carrying their grain to market. Before that time comes, however, you
must dig a canal or build a railroad around my beautiful water-fall,
which, I am sure, could be done for $20,000. An extensive lumbering
business is now carried on in the valley, but its future prosperity must
depend upon its agriculture. Already are its shores dotted with
well-cultivated farms, and every year is adding to their number, and the
rural beauty of those already in existence. The soil of this valley is
rich, and composed principally of what is called _alluvial_ (not
interval) land, together with the quality known as _upland_. In many
portions, however, you will find some of the most charming intervals in
the world. The trees of this region are similar to those of your
northern States. The staple crop of the Aroostook farmer is wheat. Owing
to the shortness of our seasons, corn does not arrive at perfection, and
its cultivation is neglected. Rye, barley, and oats, all flourish here,
but much more buckwheat is raised than any other grain besides wheat.
Grasses flourish here in great perfection, and the farmer of Aroostook
will yet send to market immense quantities of cattle. As to the climate,
it is not so severe as is generally supposed. Snow falls early, and
continues late, which prevents the ground from freezing very deep. And
when summer comes, as you may testify, the weather is sufficiently warm
for every necessary purpose. Now, sir, do you not think I have made out
a clear case?” I answered in the affirmative, and thanked him for the
information he had given me. Like Oliver Twist, however, I was anxious
for “more,” and therefore endeavored to start him on another subject. In
this laudable effort I fully succeeded, and by merely expressing the
opinion that he must lead a very lonely life in this remote wilderness.

“Not at all, not at all,” replied my friend. “It is my good fortune to
belong to that class of men who depend upon books, the works of nature,
and themselves, for happiness, and not upon a selfish and heartless
world. As to my books, they are not very abundant, nor are they bound in
fancy morocco; but the substance of them is of the right sort. Foremost
among them is the Bible, which tells even a poor devil like me that he
is a man. Perfect in their generation are the truths of this glorious
old Book; they have an important bearing upon everything; and they
should be studied and cherished with jealous care. But the earth-born
men, with whom I hold daily communion, are the mighty Shakspeare, the
splendid Gibbon, the good and loving brother poets Thomson and
Wordsworth, the gifted but wayward Burns, the elegant and witty Addison,
and the ponderous Johnson. These are the minds which always afford me
solid satisfaction. As to the immense herd who keep the printing presses
of the present day constantly employed, I know nothing about them, and
care still less. And now as to the pleasures which are brought to me by
the revolving seasons. They are indeed manifold, and it is pleasant to
remember that ‘Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.’ The
hills which surround my cabin I look upon as familiar friends; not only
when crowned with a wreath of snow, but when rejoicing in their summer
bloom; and a more peaceful and heart-soothing stream can nowhere be
found, than the one which flows along by my door; and you know from
experience that it abounds in the finest of salmon and trout. The
surrounding woods furnish me with game, but their greatest treasures are
the ten thousand beautiful birds, which make melody in their little
hearts, and afford me unalloyed pleasure for at least one half the year.
I seldom have occasion to kill these feathered minstrels for food, and
the consequence is, whenever I go out into my fields to work, they
gather around me without fear, and often come so near, as to be in my
very way. The quail and the wren, the jay and the bluebird, the
mocking-bird, the partridge, the fish-hawk, the eagle, and the crow, and
also the swallow, the owl and whippoorwill, all build their nests within
a stone’s throw of my door, and they know that the friendless old man
will do them no harm. And then what exquisite pleasure do I continually
enjoy in watching the ever-varying changes of the year! First, when the
primrose tells me that the rains are over and gone, and I go forth in
the refreshing sunshine to sow my seeds; secondly, when the glorious
summer is in its prime, with its dewy mornings and lovely twilights;
also in the sober autumnal time, when I thoughtfully count the leaves
floating on the bosom of the stream; and then again when the cold winds
of winter are howling around my cabin, and I sit in my pleasant solitude
before a roaring fire, building palaces in my mind, as I peer into the
burning embers. Yes, sir, I have learned to live without excitement, and
to depend upon myself for the companionship I need. I do, indeed,
occasionally steal out of my beautiful vale, and mingle with my fellow
men; but I always return perfectly contented with my lot. After all, I
do not believe that the world _could_ add greatly to my stock of
happiness, even if I were a worshipper of Mammon, a brawling politician,
or a responsible statesman.”

“But, Mr. Egger, it strikes me that your manner of life is not in
keeping with the Bible, for which you have expressed so much reverence.”

“That may be true,” was the reply, “but I make no sanctimonious
pretensions. I do but little to promote the happiness of my fellow-men,
and I congratulate myself with the idea that I do as little to make them
miserable. The influence of my example amounts to nothing, and I give no
bread to the poor, because I have none to give. But let us drop the
subject; I feel that your questions may so annoy me, that I shall be
compelled to abandon this glorious old wilderness, and become a denizen
of the busy and noisy world.”

A breach having thus been made in our discourse, I examined my watch,
and found it to be near twelve o’clock. My companion took the hint, and
immediately proceeded to fix a sleeping place that would accommodate us
both. This was done by spreading the clothes of the wooden bedstead upon
the floor. While going through with this little operation, he held high
above his head a ragged old bed-quilt, and asked me what I thought Queen
Victoria would say, if she had such an article to rest her royal limbs
upon? He then pointed to the particular spot which he wanted me to
occupy, giving as a reason for the request, that there was a hole on the
opposite side of his mansion, where toads, rats, and weasels were
frequently in the habit of entering, and he was afraid that they might
annoy me, though he had never been disturbed by their nocturnal visits.
This information appeared to me somewhat peculiar, but did not prevent
me from undressing myself to lie down. When about half through this
business, however, I was actually compelled to take a seat on account of
a laughing fit brought upon me by one or two stories, which my host
related for my special benefit. _What_ a strange man, indeed! thought I,
and making another effort, I tumbled into bed. In the mean time, my
companion had stripped himself of everything but his shirt, and in spite
of the frailty of his “spindle shanks,” was throwing himself into the
attitudes for which Kemble was distinguished, whose acting he had often
witnessed in olden times. I was already quite exhausted with excess of
laughter, and I verily believed that the queer antics of the anchorite
and philosopher would be the death of me. But I felt that I must go to
sleep, and, in self-defence, partly covered my head with the end of a
quilt, and almost swore that I would not be disturbed again.

I did not swear, however, and was consequently again disturbed. I had
just fixed my head upon the pillow, as I thought, for the last time,
when I was startled by a tremendous yell proceeding from without the
cabin. I rushed out of the house as if the old Harry himself had been
after me, and beheld my spare and venerable friend sitting upon a stump,
gazing upon the rising moon, and listening to the distant howl of a
wolf, with one of his feet dangling to and fro like the pendulum of a
clock. “Wasn’t that a musical yell, my boy?” were the first words spoken
by the hermit mad-cap; and then he went on to point out all the finer
features of the scene spread out before us. Silently flowed the stream,
grand and sublime looked the mountains, clear and very blue the sky,
spirit-like the moon and stars, and above the neighboring water-fall
ascended a column of spray, which was fast melting into a snowy cloud.
After enjoying this picture for a reasonable time, my companion then
proposed that we should enjoy a swim in the river, to which arrangement
I assented, even as did the wedding-guest of Coleridge to the command of
the Ancient Mariner. Our bath ended, we returned to the cabin, and in
the course of half an hour, the hermit and the stranger were side by
side in the arms of sleep.

On opening my eyes in the morning, the pleasant sunshine was flooding
the floor through the open door, and my friend, who had risen without
disturbing me, was frying some trout which he had just taken in the
stream. I arose, rolled up the bed, and prepared myself for breakfast,
which was particularly relished by the giver and the receiver. I spent
the forenoon rambling about the estate of my old friend, and enjoying
the surrounding scenery; I then proposed to him that he should go down
and be my guest at the tavern on the St. John for a day or two, which
invitation was accepted. On my return, I took a sketch of the secluded
vale where stands the cottage of my friend, also a profile of his own
handsome face, and a view of his water-fall. The time of my departure
having arrived, I left my friend with a heavy heart, for my distant
city-home, while he returned to his solitary cottage among the
mountains.



                             CHAPTER XXII.


                          The River St. John.
                                                    _Woodstock, July._

I have recently performed a pilgrimage along the valley of the Lower St.
John, and as I am about to leave the river, it is meet that I should
give my reader a record of my observations. The distance from the Falls
of St. John to the city of that name, is two hundred and twenty miles.
The width of the river varies from a quarter of a mile to two miles, and
the depth from two to forty feet. That portion lying north of
Frederickton abounds in rapids and shallows, and is navigated only by
flat-bottomed boats, which are taken up stream by horse power, but
descend with the current. Here, for the most part, the shores are
mountainous, and only partly cultivated, with high and picturesque
banks; the lowest portion, however, is of a level character, and
presents the appearance of an ancient and highly cultivated country, and
is navigated by steamboats, and the common sail-craft of the country.
The soil all along the shores is good, but seems better adapted for
grass than wheat, and I can see no good reason for its not becoming
greatly distinguished as a grazing country.

The river is not distinguished for any pictorial feature, (though it
abounds in beautiful landscapes,) excepting a place called the Narrows,
situated at the southern extremity. At this point the stream is not more
than five hundred yards wide, and as it is bounded on either side by a
high rocky barrier, the current ordinarily passes through with great
rapidity. The tides of the ocean ascend about thirty miles, and it is
only when the tide is high that the point in question can be navigated.
Though these Narrows are a great annoyance to the navigator, by the
lover of the picturesque they are highly esteemed.—Not only are they
beautiful in themselves, but, owing to the peculiarity of the place, it
is frequently the case, that the broad expanse of water above it is
covered with a fleet of sloops, schooners, steamboats, towboats, and
timber crafts, which present a peculiar and agreeable panorama. The
river abounds with salmon and shad, and the former, though rather small,
may be taken by the angler in the principal tributaries. They are not
sufficiently abundant, however, to constitute an important article of
commerce, and the common modes of taking them are with the spear and the
drift net.

The principal towns on the St. John are, Woodstock, French Village,
Frederickton and St. John. The first of these is one hundred and fifty
miles from the mouth, and though a ragged, yet an interesting village.
So far as its natural productions are concerned, I am disposed to
compliment this province in the highest terms; but I must say, that the
ignorance, idleness, and gouging character of its common people, have
made me quite willing to take my departure therefrom. The expenses of
travelling are enormous. Stage fares average about twelve cents per
mile, and if you happen to spend a week at a miserable country tavern,
you will have to pay two dollars per day for board. With a few
exceptions, there is hardly a _country_ tavern in the province, where
the traveller is not in danger of being robbed. It was my good fortune
to be robbed only twice, but I was particularly fortunate. This is
rather severe, but I am driven to talk in this strain, though I would
not be understood as reflecting upon the better classes of the province.

The stage route from the Grand Falls to St. John passes through
Woodstock, but the distance from this place to the American town of
Houlton is ten miles, and in this direction there is also an established
stage route to Bangor.

The next place on the St. John of any note is French Village. It usually
contains a thousand souls—most of them Indians. They live in frame and
log houses, and though they pretend to do some farming, they are chiefly
engaged in hunting and fishing. They are a good-looking race, speak
English fluently, and are the followers of a Catholic priest, who lives
among them, and officiates in a small chapel which was built by the
Jesuits at an early day. This society is said to be one of the most
wealthy in the province. The chief of the village is one Louis Beir. He
lives in a very comfortable and well-furnished house, is rather a
handsome man, dresses in a half-savage manner, and while he offers his
visitor a comfortable chair, he invariably seats himself upon the floor
in the true Indian fashion.

Frederickton is at the head of the steamboat navigation, and distant
from St. John eighty miles. Between these two places there runs a
morning and evening boat, and the summer travel is quite extensive.
Frederickton contains about eight thousand inhabitants, composed,
principally, of Irish, Scotch and English. It contains three principal
streets, running north and south, and some half dozen handsome public
buildings, including an Episcopal church, after the Tuscan order, a
court house and a college. The town is situated on a level plain, and
its suburbs are made exceeding beautiful by the number of rural
residences which attract the eye in every direction. The elm and poplar
both seem to flourish here, and add much to the picturesqueness of the
place and vicinity. The business of Frederickton is only of a
second-rate character, and it has become what it is, merely from the
fact that it has heretofore been the seat of government. This fact has
also had a tendency to collect a good society in the place, and its
“ton,” though in a small way, have been disposed to cut quite a dash.
The “mother Parliament,” I believe, has recently removed the seat of
government to St. John, and the lovers of Frederickton are sorry and a
little angry.

The city of St. John stands at the mouth of the river of that name, and
is also laved by the waters of the Bay of Fundy. I hate cities, but
suppose that I must stop a moment in the one alluded to. It is a
business place, planted among rocks, contains some twenty thousand
inhabitants, (two-thirds of whom are Irish,) and in this port, at the
present time, is moored a fleet of two hundred ships. Its public
buildings are numerous, the finest of which are the court house, an
Episcopal church of the Doric order, another after the Gothic, and a
Presbyterian church after the Corinthian order. The city is defended by
a fortress, which presents a handsome appearance as you approach the
port. The merchants of the place are chiefly employed in the square
timber trade, and have, heretofore, done an extensive business. This
trade, however, I am inclined to believe, is rapidly running out. On the
opposite side of the St. John River is a picturesque point or hill,
which is called Carlton Hill. It is surmounted by a massive block-house,
and commands an extensive view of the Bay of Fundy, the spring tides of
which rise to the height of sixty feet, and when coming in, make a
terrible roar.



                             CHAPTER XXIII.


                          The Penobscot River.
                                       _Off the Coast of Maine, July._

One week ago I was fighting with musquetoes and flies, on the head
waters of the Penobscot, and now that I am upon the ocean once more, I
fancy that my feelings are allied to those of an old moose that I lately
saw standing in a mountain lake, with the water up to his chin. The
noble river which I have mentioned, is all my fancy painted it, and in
spite of its insect inhabitants, I shall ever remember it with pleasure.

The length of this stream from the mouth of its bay to where its
principal branches come together, is about one hundred and forty miles;
from this junction, to the fountain head of the west branch, the
distance is supposed to be one hundred and fifty miles, while the east
branch is probably only one hundred miles in length. Both of these
streams rise in the midst of a mountain wilderness, looming above which
is old Kathaden, the loftiest mountain in Maine, and elder brother to
Mount Washington, in New Hampshire. The mountain is distant from
Moosehead Lake only about twenty miles, but it towers into the sky so
grandly, that nearly all the people who inhabit the northern part of
Maine look upon it as a familiar friend. The two branches of the
Penobscot run through a mountainous region, both of them abounding in
rapids, though the west branch contains a number of picturesque falls.
The soil of this region, generally speaking, is good, but remains in its
original wildness. Its stationary inhabitants are few and far between;
but it gives employment to about three thousand lumbermen. They spend
the winter wielding the axe in the forests, and the spring and summer in
driving down the stream logs which they have prepared for the saw-mills,
which are mostly located on the lower part of the Penobscot. Nine months
in the year they labor without ceasing, but usually appropriate to
themselves a play spell of three months, which is the entire autumn.
They are a young and powerfully built race of men, mostly New
Englanders, generally unmarried, and, though rude in their manner, and
intemperate, are quite intelligent. They seem to have a passion for
their wild and toilsome life, and, judging from their dresses, I should
think possess a fine eye for the comic and fantastic. The entire apparel
of an individual usually consists of a pair of gray pantaloons and _two
red_ flannel shirts, a pair of long boots, and a woollen covering for
the head, and _all_ these things are worn at one and the same time. The
head-covering alluded to, when first purchased, is what might be called
a hat, but the wearers invariably take particular pains to transform the
article into such queer shapes as to render it indescribable. Sometimes
they take the crown and tie it in the shape of a fool’s cap, and
sometimes they trim the rims with a jack knife into many different
fashions. Their wages vary from twenty to thirty dollars per month, and
they are chiefly employed by the lumber merchants of Bangor, who furnish
them with necessary supplies.

The Penobscot, I suppose, is unquestionably the most fruitful lumber
river in the United States, and its pine and hemlock forests seem yet to
be inexhaustible; and the State of Maine is indebted to the lumber
business for many of its beautiful cities and towns.

From the Forks of the Penobscot to Bangor, the distance is about sixty
miles. This portion of the river is nearly a quarter of a mile wide. The
banks are rather low and level, and somewhat cultivated. The water is
deep and clear, and the current strong. Generally speaking, the scenery
of the river is not remarkable, and were it not for the numerous
islands, it might be considered tame, by the lover of a mountain land.
The islands alluded to, however, are exceedingly beautiful. Covered as
they are with venerable elms, and containing no underbrush, but a
continuous plot of green, they have all the appearance of cultivated
parks. The stage route from Woodstock, after reaching the Penobscot,
continues along the eastern bank, and as the coaches are comfortable,
and the horses good, the ride is quite pleasant. The principal village,
of which there are four, is Old Town. It is a busy little place, and the
present termination of a railroad from Bangor, which is twelve miles
distant. Directly opposite Old Town is a small island, where resides a
remnant of the Penobscot Indians. They number some four hundred souls,
and are just sufficiently civilized to lead a very miserable sort of
life.

I come now to speak of Bangor. It is a well built, and handsome city,
eighty miles from the ocean, and contains about eight thousand
inhabitants. It is at the head of tide water navigation, and has a good
harbor, where I counted, from one point, nearly two hundred sails. The
principal article of trade is lumber, which is distinguished for its
good qualities. All the heaviest merchants are engaged in the lumber
trade, and almost everybody deals in it to a limited extent. A few
thousand shingles will pay your tailor for a coat, a few loads of plank
will settle your account with the butcher, and bundles of clap-boards
are gladly received by the grocer, in exchange for his sugar and tea.

With the people of Bangor I was very much pleased. Their manners and
habits are stamped with the true New England character; they mind their
own business, and are distinguished for their intelligence, virtue and
hospitality. When I reached this place, my beard was more than half as
long as that of the Wandering Jew, and it took me nearly a whole day to
forget the bad French which I had acquired in Canada and New Brunswick,
and transform myself into the semblance of a civilized man. I had been
in the woods for so long a time, that I seized the first paper I saw to
find out whether I had forgotten to read. You may readily imagine,
therefore, what a refreshing effect the appearance and conversation of
intelligent people had upon my feelings. But the class of citizens who
made the deepest impression upon me, were the children of Bangor. I met
them at every corner, and heard their happy voices in every dwelling,
and a more perfectly beautiful race of creatures I never before saw in
any city.

The distance from Bangor to the ocean is eighty miles. For twenty miles,
the river averages three quarters of a mile in width, when it gradually
widens into an expansive bay or gulf. The water is deep, always covered
with vessels, and abounds in salmon, which are taken only with the net.
The shores are hilly and well cultivated, and the towns of Bucksport,
Frankfort, Belfast, and Thomaston, as you pass them, present each a
thriving and pleasant appearance.



                             CHAPTER XXIV.


                Moosehead Lake and the Kennebeck River.
                                                   _Portland, August._

Moosehead Lake is the largest and the wildest in New England. It lies in
the central portion of the State of Maine, and distant from the ocean
about one hundred and fifty miles. Its length is fifty miles, and its
width from five to fifteen. It is embosomed among a brotherhood of
mountains, whose highest peak hath been christened with the beautiful
name of Kathaden. All of them, from base to summit, are covered with a
dense forest, in which the pine is by far the most abundant. It is the
grand centre of a vast wilderness region, whose principal denizens are
wild beasts. During the summer months, its tranquil waters remain in
unbroken solitude, unless some scenery-hunting pilgrim, like myself,
happens to steal along its shores in his birchen canoe. But in the
winter, the case is very different, for then, all along its borders, may
be heard the sound of the axe, wielded by a thousand men. Then it is
that an immense quantity of logs are cut, which are manufactured into
lumber at the extensive mills down the Kennebeck, which is the only
outlet of the lake.

A winter at Moosehead must be attended with much that is rare, and wild,
and exciting, not only to the wealthy proprietor who has a hundred men
to superintend, but even to the toiling chopper himself. Look at a
single specimen of the gladdening scenes enacted in that forest world.
It is an awful night, the winds wailing, the snow falling, and the
forests making a moan. Before you is a spacious, but rudely built log
cabin, almost covered with snow. But now, above the shriek of the storm,
and the howl of the wolf, you hear a long, loud shout, from a score of
human mouths. You enter the cabin, and lo, a merry band of noble men,
some lying on a buffalo-robe, and some seated upon a log, while the huge
fire before them reveals every feature and wrinkle of their
countenances, and makes a picture of the richest coloring. Now the call
is for a song, and a young man sings a song of Scotland, which is his
native land; a mug of cider then goes round, after which an old pioneer
clears his throat for a hunting legend of the times of old; now the
cunning jest is heard, and peals of hearty laughter shake the building;
and now a soul-stirring speech is delivered in favor of Henry Clay. The
fire-place is again replenished, when, with a happy and contented mind,
each woodman retires to his couch, to sleep, and to dream of his wife
and children, or of the buxom damsel whom he loves.

The number of logs which these men cut in a single winter, is almost
incredible, and the business of conveying them to the lake upon the snow
gives employment to a great many additional men and their oxen. The
consequence is, that large quantities of flour, potatoes, pork, and hay,
are consumed; and as these things are mostly supplied by the farmers of
the Kennebeck, winter is the busiest season of the year throughout the
region. When the lake is released from its icy fetters in the spring, a
new feature of the logging business comes into operation, which is
called rafting. A large raft contains about eighteen thousand logs, and
covers a space of some ten acres. In towing them to the Kennebeck, a
small steamboat is employed, which, when seen from the summit of a hill,
looks like a living creature struggling with a mighty incubus. But the
most picturesque thing connected with this business is a floating
log-cabin, called a Raft House, which ever attends a raft on its way to
the river. During the summer, as before stated, Moosehead Lake is a
perfect solitude, for the “log-chopper” has become a “log driver” on the
Kennebeck—the little steamer having been moored in its sheltering bay,
near the tavern at the south end of the lake, and the toiling oxen been
permitted to enjoy their summer sabbath on the farm of their master.

The islands of Moosehead Lake, of any size, are only four: Moose and
Deer Islands at the southern extremity, Sugar Island in the large
eastern bay, and Farm Island in a north-western direction from that. All
of these are covered with beautiful groves, but the time is not far
distant when they will be cultivated farms. Trout are the principal fish
that flourish in its waters, and maybe caught at anytime in great
abundance. And thereby hangs a _fish story_.

It was the sunset hour, and with one of my companions, I had gone to a
rocky ledge for the purpose of trying my luck. Our bait was squirrel
meat, and I was the first to throw the line. It had hardly reached the
water, before I had the pleasure of striking and securing a two pound
trout. This threw my friend into a perfect fever of excitement, so that
he was everlastingly slow in cutting up the squirrel; and it may be
readily supposed that I was somewhat excited myself; so I grabbed the
animal out of his hands, and in less than a “jiffy,” and with my
_teeth_, made a number of good baits. The conclusion of the whole matter
was, that in less than forty minutes we had caught nearly seventy pounds
of salmon trout. But the fish of Moosehead are not to be compared with
those of Horicon in point of delicacy, though they are very large, and
very abundant. The reason of this is, that its waters are not remarkably
clear, and a good deal of its bottom is muddy. Moose River, which is the
principal tributary of the Lake, is a narrow, deep, and picturesque
stream, where may be caught the common trout, weighing from one to five
pounds.

In this portion of Maine every variety of forest game may be found; but
the principal kinds are the gray wolf, the black bear, the deer, and the
moose. Winter is the appropriate season for their capture, when they
afford a deal of sport to the hunter, and furnish a variety of food to
the forest laborers. Deer are so very plenty, that a certain resident
told me, that, in the deep snow of last winter, he caught some dozen of
them alive, and having cut a slit in their ears, let them go, that they
might recount to their kindred their marvellous escape. But the
homeliest animal, the most abundant, and the best for eating, is the
moose. I did not kill one, but spent a night with an old hunter who did.
During the warm summer night, these animals, for the purpose of getting
clear of the black fly, are in the habit of taking to the water, where,
with nothing but their heads in sight, they remain for hours. It was the
evening of one of those cloudless nights whose memory can never die. We
were alone far up the Moose River, and it seemed to me, “we were the
first that ever burst into that _forest_ sea.” On board a swan-like
birch canoe we embarked, and with our rifles ready, we carefully and
silently descended the stream. How can I describe the lovely pictures
that we passed? Now we peered into an ink-black recess in the centre of
a group of elms, where a thousand fire-flies were revelling in joy;—and
now a solitary duck shot out into the stream from its hidden home,
behind a fallen and decayed tree; now we watched the stars mirrored in
the sleeping waves, and now we listened to the hoot of the owl, the drum
of the partridge, the song of a distant water-fall, or the leap of a
robber-trout. It was not far from midnight when my companion whispered,
“Hush, hush!” and pointed to a dim spot some hundred yards below. The
first chance was allotted me, so I took the best aim I could, and fired.
I heard the ball skip along the water, and on coming near, found my mark
to be only a smooth rock. Two hours more passed on, one small moose was
killed, and at day-break we were in our cabin fast asleep.

The principal outlet of Moosehead Lake is the Kennebeck, which now
“demands my song.” It is the second river in Maine, and one of the most
beautiful I have ever seen. Instead of watering a wilderness, as I had
supposed, all along its valley, for over a hundred miles, are fertile
and extensive farms, with here and there a thriving village, inhabited
by an intelligent and industrious people. Its principal tributary is
Dead River, and the spot at the junction of the two is called the Forks.
The cultivated region stops here, and between this point and Moosehead,
the distance is about twenty-five miles, and this portion is yet a
forest wilderness.

The principal attraction at the Forks is a capital tavern, kept by one
Burnham, who is a capital fellow to guide the lover of Nature, or the
trout fisherman, to Moxy Fall or Nameless Lake, which are in the
immediate vicinity. The mountains about here are quite lofty, and
exceedingly picturesque, abounding in the maple, the oak, the pine and
hemlock. Emptying into the Kennebeck, a few miles north of the Forks, is
a superb mountain stream, named Moxy, after an Indian who was there
drowned many years ago. Winding for a long distance among wild ravines,
and eternally singing to the woods a trumpet song, it finally makes a
sudden plunge into a chasm more than a hundred feet in depth. The
perpendicular rocks on either side rise to an immense height, their tops
crowned with a “peculiar diadem of trees,” and their crevices filled up
with dark-green verdure, whence occasionally issues, hanging gracefully
in the air, beautiful festoons of the ivy, and clusters of the mountain
bluebell. The depth of the pool was never told, and its waters wash
against the granite walls in a perpetual gloom. On one occasion I
visited it when there was a high freshet, and saw what I could hardly
have believed from a description. I stood on an elevated point, in front
of the Fall, when my eyes rested upon an immense log, some sixty feet
long, coming down the foaming stream with all the fury of a maddened
steed; presently it reached the precipice,—then cleaved its airy
pathway down into the hell of waters,—was completely out of sight for
at least two minutes; then, like a creature endowed with life, it shot
upward again, clear out of the water, made another less desperate
plunge, and quietly pursued its course into the Kennebeck.

In speaking of _Nameless Lake_, it is necessary that I should be a
little egotistical. It is a fairy-like sheet of pure water in the heart
of the mountain wilderness, only about a mile in length, but full of
trout. The proprietor was of the party that accompanied me on my first
visit. While approaching it, the remark was made that it was yet without
a name; when it was agreed that it should be christened after that
individual who should on that day throw the most successful fly. As
fortune would have it, the honor was awarded to me; and on a guide-board
in the forest, three miles from Burnham’s, may be seen the figure of a
hand, and the words “Lake Lanman.” There stands my written name, exposed
“to the peltings of the pitiless storm;” and in a few years, at the
longest, it will be washed away, and the tree which supports it be
mingling with the dust. Will it be even thus with the _memory_ of my
name?

Not to attempt a description of the scenery of the Kennebeck, which
could be faithfully given only by the pictures of a Cole or Durand, I
will take my readers down its beautiful valley, and tell them what I
know respecting its beautiful villages.

The first in order is Bingham, situated on a fertile “interval,”
surrounded with picturesque hills, charming and quiet as a summer day,
and containing within the jurisdiction of its town an uncommonly fine
farm, belonging to a Mr. Parlin, who manufactures large quantities of
maple sugar.

Solon is the next village in the Kennebeck valley, remarkable for
nothing but Caritunk Falls, which are twenty feet high, and run through
a gorge fifty feet wide. Here I saw some twenty men “driving” the logs
that had been lodged all along the river when it was low. It is a
laborious life which these men lead, but they receive good pay, and meet
with many interesting adventures. They generally have the soul to enjoy
fine scenery, and therefore demand the respect of the intelligent
traveller.

Anson, though in the valley of the Kennebeck, is situated on Seven Mile
Brook, and is a flourishing business place. From its neighboring hills
may be seen the sky-piercing peaks of Mount Blue, Saddleback, Bigelow
and Mount Abraham, which are the guardian spirits of Maine. The town is
distinguished for its agricultural enterprise, and the abundance of its
wheat, having actually produced more than is reported from any other
town in the State.

Norridgwock, so named by the Kennebeck Indians, because, when fighting
with their enemies at this place, they could find _no-ridge-to-walk_
upon, which was a desirable object. It is a charming little village, and
associated with a celebrated Indian chief named Bomazeen, and also with
a Jesuit missionary, whose name I do not remember. Not far from here is
a picturesque fall, also a picturesque bend of the Kennebeck, where
empties Sandy River, upon which are many extensive farms.

Skowhegan is a thriving village, where there are fine falls, which I
could never look upon without thinking of the famous Glen’s Falls in New
York, of which they are a perfect counterpart, though on a smaller
scale. Many and very dear to me are my recollections of its “choice
bits” of scenery, of the fine singing I there heard, of the
acquaintances there formed, and of the pleasant literary communings
which were mine in company with one of the best and most intellectual of
women, and who has, for many years, been my “guide, counselor, and
friend.”

Waterville, the next town on the river, is the seat of a Baptist
college, and the head of navigation on account of the Ticonic Falls. It
is the centre of an extensive farming district, which fact, together
with the literary taste of its people, makes it an uncommonly
interesting place.

Augusta, the capital of the State, is also on the Kennebeck, and with
its State House and other state buildings, its admirably conducted
hotels, its commanding churches, its large bridge, and pleasant
residences, is one of the most picturesque and interesting towns in the
whole of New England.

Hallowell, two miles below Augusta, was once a great place for business,
and is still a very pleasant town, though unable to compete with its
rival the capital. In my mind, it is chiefly associated with some fine
people, and particularly with three beautiful sisters, who are great
lovers of poetry, and accomplished musicians.

Gardiner, further down, is a tremendous place for saw-mills; and
lumbering I look upon as one of the surest kinds of business. It
contains the handsomest church-building in the state, and a number of
fine residences belonging to its wealthy citizens, of which that one
belonging to Mr. Gardiner (after whom the place was named), is the
finest.

Bath is the next and most southern town on the Kennebeck; it is quite a
large place, where there is a great deal of shipping done, and is now in
a flourishing condition. The sail down the river from here is a most
delightful one, for the eye revels on a continual succession of pleasant
farms, quiet headlands, solitary islands, and vessels of every kind
passing up and down the stream. Even to the present day, the Kennebeck
abounds in salmon, which are caught with nets from the first of May till
midsummer. To take them with the hook is fine sport, indeed, and for the
manner in which I conquered a solitary individual, I refer my reader to
a certain passage in _Scrope on Salmon Fishing_. Few are the rivers that
I love more than the Kennebeck, and very dear to me are its manifold
associations.

I date this chapter from Portland, which is a thriving city of twenty
thousand inhabitants, and interesting to the lovers of literature as
being the native place of Prof. Longfellow, Mrs. Seba Smith, and John
Neal.



                              CHAPTER XXV.


       A fishing party on the Thames—Watch Hill—Night adventures.
                                             _Norwich, Conn., August._

A few mornings ago, just as the sun had risen above the eastern hills,
which look down upon the Thames at Norwich, the prettiest sail-boat of
the place left her moorings, and with a pleasant northerly breeze
started for the Sound. Her passengers consisted of six gentlemen, all
equipped in their sporting jackets, and furnished with fishing tackle,
and their place of destination was Watch Hill, which is a point of land
in Rhode Island, extending into the Atlantic, a few miles from
Stonington. We were on a fishing frolic, as a matter of course, and a
happier company, I ween, were never yet afloat, for the sport of a
morning breeze. What with the story, the jest, the iced lemonade and
exquisite cigar, the minutes glided by as swiftly and unobserved as the
tiny waves around us. Now we met a solitary fisherman, towing for bass,
and as we hailed him with a friendly shout, and passed by, he began to
talk in an under tone, and his voice did not die away until we had
turned a point. What would I not give for an accurate record of that old
man’s life! Anon, we witnessed the soothing picture of a well-conducted
farm, with its green-girt cottage, spacious barns, neat and flowing
fields, and its horses and oxen, cows, sheep, hogs, and poultry. Now we
saw some noble men, such as Vernet delighted to paint, hauling the
seine, and, as the “fruit of all their toil” were thrown upon the sand,
their flipping forms reflected back the sunlight, reminding us
of—anything the reader may be pleased to imagine. Now, we were
overtaken and tossed about by a steamer bound to New Haven; and then we
sailed in company with a boat, a sloop, and schooner; meeting others,
beating up, from Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. And the termination
of this pleasing panorama was composed of Gale’s Ferry, the commanding
town, fort, and monument of Groton, together with the city of New
London, among whose anchored shipping floated the saucy Revenue Cutter,
and at whose docks were chained a goodly number of storm-beaten whalers.

Having taken in “our stores,” and obtained from the fish-market a basket
of bait, we again hoisted sail, “bound first to Commit Rock,” and
“binding” ourselves to capture all of the watery enemy which might tempt
the power or the dexterity of our arms.

When about three miles from New London, all eyes were attracted by a
beautiful craft on our lee, laden with a party of ladies and gentlemen.
“They’re going towards a reef!” exclaimed our captain; and no sooner had
the words escaped his lips, than the stranger struck, and stove a hole
through her bottom. We were just in time to save the party from a watery
grave; and when we had landed them in safety on the beach, we were well
repaid for our trouble by the consciousness of having done a good act,
and by the thankful words and benignant smiles of the ladies fair. A
dozen minutes more and we were within oar’s length of the fishing rock.
“All ashore, that’s coming!” shouted our mate as he stood on the rock,
when we all leaped out, and plenty of line being given her, the boat
swung to, and “like a cradled thing at rest,” floated upon the waves.
Then commenced the sport. The breeze was refreshing, and the breath of
the salt sea-foam buoyed up our spirits to a higher pitch, and gave new
vigor to our sinews. The youngest of the party was the first who threw
his hook, which was snapped in the twinkling of an eye. Another trial,
and a four-pound blackfish lay extended upon the rock. Another, and
another, and another, until fourscore, even-numbered, came following
after. Tired of the sport, two of the party entered the boat, and
hoisted sail for a little cruize. Half an hour had elapsed, when the
steady breeze changed into a frightful gale, capsizing within hailing
distance a fishing boat with two old men in it. Hanging on, as they
were, to the keel of the boat, (which, having no ballast, could not
sink,) their situation was extremely dangerous, as there was not a
vessel within two miles. The poor men beckoned to us to help them; but
as our boat was gone, we could not do so, which of course we much
regretted. For one long, long hour did they thus hang, “midway betwixt
life and death,” exposed to the danger of being washed away by the
remorseless surge, or swallowed up, as we were afterwards told, by a
couple of sharks, which were kept away only by the hand of Providence.
This incident tended to cool our ardor for fishing, and as we were
satisfied with that day’s luck, we put up our gear, during which time
the boat arrived, and we embarked for the Hill. We made one short turn,
however, towards the boat which had picked up the fishermen, as we were
anxious to tell them why we did not come to their relief. We then tacked
about, and the last words we heard from our companions were: “Thank
you—thank you—God bless you all,” and until we had passed a league
beyond Fisher’s Island, our little vessel “carried a most beautiful bone
between her teeth.”

At sunset we moored our little boat on the eastern shore of Paucatuck
Bay. On ascending to the Watch Hill hotel, we found it to be a large,
well-furnished house, and our host to be a fat and jolly Falstaff-ish
sort of man, just suited to his station. At seven o’clock we sat down to
a first-rate blackfish supper, then smoked a cigar, and while my
companions resorted to the ten-pin alley, I buttoned up my pea-jacket,
and sallied forth on an “exploring expedition.” As I stood on the
highest point of the peninsula, facing the south, I found that the
lighthouse stood directly before me, on the extreme point, that a smooth
beach faded away on either side, the left hand one being washed by the
Atlantic, and that on the right by the waters of Fisher Island Bay, and
that the dreary hills in my rear were dotted by an occasional dwelling.
The breeze had died away, and the bright, full moon was in the cloudless
sky. Many sails were in the offing, passing by and being passed by the
Providence and Stonington steamboats bound to New York. The scenery
around me, and the loveliness of the sky, with its galaxy of stars,
caused me to forget myself, and I wandered far away upon the
shore—alone, in the awful presence of the great Atlantic Ocean. No
sounds fell upon my ear, save the muffled roar of the ground swell, and
the faint whispers of the tiny waves as they melted upon the sand. I
traced my name, and beside it that of another, a being beauteous, for
whose cabinet of curiosities I gathered many a round, smooth pebble, and
many a delicate sea-shell. I wandered on, now gazing with wonder and
admiration into the cerulean vault of Heaven, or into the still deeper
blue of the mighty sea; and now singing with a loud voice one of the
sacred songs of the sweet singer of Israel. Now, a thousand images of
surpassing loveliness darted across my vision, as I thought of God—of
an eternal life in heaven—and of love, divine and human; and then there
came a weight upon my spirit, as I remembered the powers of darkness,
the destiny of the condemned, and the miseries engendered by our evil
passions. One moment I deemed myself immortal, released forever from the
contaminating influence of sin, and then I thought of the valley of
death, and trembled. In that communion with the mysteries of the
universe, strongly blended as they were, I felt that I could wander on
without fatigue, until the whole earth should be trodden by my pilgrim
feet. But the chilly air and the fading night warned me to retrace my
steps, and in an hour I had reached my home.

When the sun rose from his ocean-bed on the following morning,
surrounded by a magnificent array of clouds, I was up, and busily
engaged preparing for a day’s fishing,—first, and before breakfast, for
bluefish, then for blackfish, and lastly for bass. While my companions
were asleep, I went out with an old fisherman, and by breakfast time had
captured thirty bluefish, weighing about two pounds a piece. The manner
of catching these is to tow for them with a long line, the bait being a
piece of ivory attached to a strong hook. They are a very active and
powerful fish, and when hooked, make a great fuss, skipping and leaping
out of the water.

At nine o’clock our party were at anchor on a reef about one mile off,
and for the space of about two hours we hauled in the blackfish as fast
as possible, many of them weighing eight to ten pounds apiece. For them,
you must have a small straight hook, and for bait, lobsters or crabs. A
broiled blackfish, when rightly cooked, is considered one of the best of
salt-water delicacies.

But the rarest of all fishing is that of catching bass, and a first-rate
specimen I was permitted to enjoy. About eleven o’clock, I jumped into
the surf-boat of an old fisherman, requesting him to pull for the best
bass ground with which he was acquainted. In the mean time my friends
had obtained a large boat, and were going to follow us. The spot having
been reached, we let our boat float, wherever the tide and wind impelled
it, and began to throw over our lines, using for bait the skin of an eel
six inches long. Those in the neighboring boat had fine luck, as they
thought, having caught some dozen five-pounders, and they seemed to be
perfectly transported because nearly an hour had passed and I had caught
nothing. In their glee they raised a tremendous shout, but before it had
fairly died away, my line was suddenly straightened, and I knew that I
had a prize. Now it cut the water like a streak of lightning, although
there were two hundred feet out, and as the fish returned I still kept
it taut; and after playing with him for about forty minutes, I succeeded
in drowning him, then hauled up gradually, and with my boat hook landed
him in the boat safe and sound. The length of that striped bass was four
feet two inches, and his weight, before cleaned, fifty-eight pounds. You
can easily imagine the chop-fallen appearance of my brother fishermen,
when they found out that “the race is not always to the swift, nor the
battle to the strong.” At three o’clock in the afternoon, a piece of
that fish tended to gratify the appetite which had been excited by his
capture.

Satisfied with our piscatorial sports, we concluded to spend the rest of
the day quietly gathering shells upon the beach; but causes of
excitement were still around us. No sooner had we reached the water’s
edge, than we discovered a group of hardy men standing on a little
knoll, in earnest conversation, while some of them were pointing towards
the sea. “To the boat! to the boat!” suddenly shouted their leader, when
they all descended with the speed of Swiss mountaineers, and on reaching
a boat which had been made ready, they pushed her into the surf, and
three of them jumped in, and thus commenced the interesting scene of
hauling the seine. There was something new and romantic to us in the
thought, that the keen and intelligent eye of man could even penetrate
into the deep, so far as to designate the course of travel of the tribes
of the sea. And when the seine was drawn, it was a glorious and
thrilling sight to see those fishermen tugging at the lines, or leap
into the surf, which sometimes completely covered them, to secure the
tens of thousands of fish which they had caught. There were a grace and
beauty about the whole scene, which made me long for the genius of a
Mount or Edmonds.

A little before sunset, I was again strolling along the shore, when the
following incident occurred. You will please return with me to the spot.
Yonder, on that fisherman’s stake, a little sparrow has just alighted,
facing the main. It has been lured away from the green bowers of home by
the music of the sea, and is now gazing, perhaps with feelings kindred
to my own, upon this most magnificent structure of the Almighty hand.
See! it spreads its wing, and is now darting towards the water—fearless
and free. Ah! it has gone too near! for the spray moistens its plumes!
There—there it goes, frightened back to its native woodland. That
little bird, so far as its power and importance are concerned, seems to
me a fit emblem of the mind of man, and this great ocean an appropriate
symbol of the mind of God.

The achievements of the human mind “have their passing paragraphs of
praise, and are forgotten.” Man may point to the Pyramids of Egypt,
which are the admiration of the world, and exclaim, “Behold the symbol
of my power and importance!” But most impotent is the boast. Those
mighty mysteries stand in the solitude of the desert, and the glory of
their destiny is fulfilled in casting a temporary shadow over the tent
of the wandering Arab.

The achievements of the Almighty mind are beyond the comprehension of
man, and lasting as his own eternity. The spacious firmament, with its
suns, and moons, and stars; our globe, with its oceans, and mountains,
and rivers; the regularly revolving seasons; and the still, small voice
continually ascending from universal nature, all proclaim the power and
goodness of their great original. And everything which God has created,
from the nameless insect to the world of waters, which is the highway of
nations, was created for good, was created to accomplish some omnipotent
end. As this ocean is measureless and fathomless, so is it an emblem,
beautiful but faint, of that wonderful Being, whose throne is above the
milky-way, and who is himself from everlasting to everlasting. But see,
there is a heavy cloud rising in the west, the breeze is freshening,
flocks of wild ducks are flying inland, and the upper air is ringing
with the shrill whistle of the bold and wild sea-gull, whose home is the
boundless sea; therefore, as my dear friend Noble has somewhere written,
“the shortest homeward track’s the best.”

Still in the present tense would I continue. The witching hour of
midnight has again returned. A cold rain-storm has just passed over, the
moon is again the mistress of a cloudless sky, but the wind is still
raging in all its fury.

                 “I view the ships that come and go,
                   Looking so like to living things.
                 O! ’tis a proud and gallant show
                   Of bright and broad-spread wings,
         Making it light around them, as they keep
         Their course right onward through the unsounded deep.”
                                                        _Dana._

God be with them and their brave and gallant crews. But, again:

         “Where the far-off sand-bars lift
           Their backs in long and narrow line,
         The breakers shout, and leap, and shift,
           And send the sparkling brine
         Into the air; then rush to mimic strife;
         Glad creatures of the sea, and full of life!”—_Ibid._

But I must stop quoting poetry, for as “a thing of beauty is a joy
forever,” I should be forever writing about the sea. Heavens! what a
terrible song is the ocean singing, with his long white hair streaming
in the wind! The waving, splashing, wailing, dashing, howling, rushing,
and moaning of the waves is a glorious lullaby, and a fit prelude to a
dream of the sea.

At an early hour on the following day, we embarked for home, but a sorry
time did we have of it, for the winds were very lazy. We were ten hours
going the distance of twenty-two miles. It was now sunset, and we were
becalmed off Gale’s Ferry. Ashore we went, resolved to await the coming
of the Sag Harbor steamboat, which usually arrived about nine o’clock,
and by which we were, finally, taken in tow. Snugly seated in our boat,
and going at the rate of eighteen miles, we were congratulating
ourselves upon an early arrival home, and had already begun to divide
our fish. But, alas, at this moment the painter broke; the steamer,
unconscious of our fate, still sped onward, while we sheered off towards
the shore, _almost disgusted_ with human life in general—for our boat
was large, and we had but one oar. But what matter? We were a jolly set,
and the way we gave three cheers, as a prelude to the song of “Begone
Dull Care,” must have been startling to the thousand sleeping echoes of
hill, forest, river and glen.

Having crept along at snails’ pace about one mile, we concluded to land,
and, if possible, obtain a place to sleep, and something to eat; for not
having had a regular dinner, and not a mouthful of supper, we were half
starved. With clubs in our hands, to keep off hobgoblins and bull-dogs,
we wended our way towards a neighboring farm-house, where we knocked for
admittance. Pretty soon, a great gawky-looking head stuck itself out of
an upper window, to which we made known our heartfelt desires,
receiving, in return, the following answer:—“My wife is sick—hain’t
got any bread—you can go in the barn to sleep if you want to;” and we
turned reluctantly away, troubled with a feeling very nearly allied to
anger. “Come, let’s go off in this direction,” exclaimed one of the
party, “and I’ll introduce you to my old friend, Captain Somebody;”—and
away we posted, two by two, across a new-mown field. Presently, our two
leaders were awe-stricken by the sudden appearance of something white,
which seemed to be rising out of the earth, beside a cluster of bushes,
and the way they wheeled about, and ran for the river, (accompanied by
their fellows, whose fright was merely sympathetic,) was “a caution” to
all unbelievers in ghosts and other midnight spectres.

At last we halted to gain a little breath; an explanation was made; and
our captain forthwith resolved to _investigate_ the matter. He now took
the lead, and on coming to the mysterious spot, discovered _an old blind
white horse_, who had been awakened by a noise, and, following the
instinct of his nature, had risen from his lair, to be better prepared
for danger. I doubt whether the echoes are yet silent, which were caused
by the loud and long peals of laughter which resounded to the sky. Being
in a strange land, without chart or compass, we could not find the
mortal dwelling-place of Captain Somebody, and so we changed our course
of travel.

We stopped at another house, farther on, but to save our lives we could
not obtain an interview, although we entered the hen-coop, and set the
hens and roosters a cackling and crowing—the pig-pen, and set the hogs
a squealing—while a large dog and two puppies did their best to
increase and prolong the mighty chorus. If our farmer friend did not
deem himself transported to Bedlam, about that time, we imagine that
nothing on earth would have the power to give him such a dream. Our
ill-luck made us almost desperate, and so we returned to the boat,
resolved to row the whole distance home, could we but find an extra oar.

It was now eleven o’clock, and the only things that seemed to smile upon
us were the ten thousand stars, studding the clear, blue firmament.
Anon, a twinkling light beamed upon our vision; and, as we approached,
we found it to proceed from a little hut on an island, where the Thames
lamplighter and his boy were accustomed to pass the night, after their
work was done. Having again concluded to land, we received a hearty
welcome, as the host proved to be an old acquaintance of our captain and
mate. “Have you anything to eat?” was almost the first question of every
tongue. “No, nothing but this barrel of crackers, and some cheese,”
exclaimed the man of light. “And we,” shouted one of our crew, “have
plenty of fish,—can’t we have a chowder?” “Ay, ay; a chowder, a chowder
it shall be!” were the words which rang aloud to the very heavens. A
wherry was dispatched to the main-land, to the well-known habitation of
the old fisherman, for the necessary iron pot and bowls, and for the
potatoes and onions, which were dug for the occasion; also for the pork,
the pepper, and salt; all which, added to our biscuit and blackfish,
nicely cleaned and prepared, constituted a chowder of the very first
water. There was one addition to our company, in the person of the old
fisherman; and our appearance, as we were seated in a circle on the
floor, each with a bowl of thick hot soup in his hands, constituted a
picture rich and rare. After we were done, it was acknowledged by all,
that a better meal had never been enjoyed by mortal man. In about thirty
minutes from this time, the odd one of the company bade us “good night,”
and the midnight brotherhood resigned themselves to sleep. The last
sounds I heard, before closing my eyes, were caused by the regular
opposition steamboats from New York, as they shot ahead almost as “swift
as an arrow from a shivering bow.”

The first faint streak of daylight found us on board our boat, homeward
bound, wafted on by a pleasant southerly breeze. At the usual hour, we
were all seated at our respective breakfast tables, relating our
adventures of the excursion just ended.



                             CHAPTER XXVI.


    A week in a fishing smack—Fishermen—A beautiful morning at
    sea—A day at Nantucket—Wreck of a ship—Night on the
    Sound—Safe arrival.

                                             _Norwich, Conn., August._

On a pleasant Monday morning I started from Norwich, bound to New
London, and from thence to any other portion of the world where I might
have some sport in the way of salt water fishing. In less than an hour
after landing from the steamboat, I had boarded the handsome smack
Orleans, Captain Keeney, and by dint of much persuasion, secured a berth
on board to accompany him on a fishing voyage. In addition to my
previous preparation, I had only to purchase a Guernsey shirt and
tarpaulin; and by the time I was regularly equipped, the sails were
hoisted, and we were on our course for Nantucket. An intimate
acquaintance was soon formed between myself and crew, which consisted of
the master, two sailors, and the cook. The whole time that I spent in
their company was six days, as I reached home on the following Saturday
evening. The incidents that I met with were somewhat new, as a matter of
course, and I employed a few moments of every evening, during my
absence, in briefly recording the events of the past day; and that
medley I now put together as a literary chowder.

_Monday Evening._ My observations to-day have been limited to our little
vessel, in consequence of a dense fog, which drenched us to the skin,
and seems likely to continue us in this state of preservation. I have
obtained some information, however, concerning the character of an
interesting class of men, which may be new to you. Smack-fishermen are a
brave, hardy, honest, and simple-hearted race, and, as my captain tells
me, spend nine-tenths of their time “rocked in the cradle of the deep.”
Their vessels, or smacks, are generally of about forty tons burden; the
number of those which supply New York and Boston with fish is said to be
near a thousand, and they are all at home anywhere on the coast between
the Kennebeck and the Delaware. Of the perils which these fishermen
endure, and the privations they suffer, how little is known or thought
by the great world at large! Yet I believe there is as much genuine
happiness in their lives, as in those of any other class. Their fathers
were fishermen before them, and as they themselves have mostly been born
within hearing of the surf, they look upon the unsounded deep as their
fitting home, their only home, and would not part with it for a palace
or a crown. Four is the usual number of a smack’s crew, and the master
is invariably called a skipper. Most of them are worthy husbands and
fathers, whose families are snugly harbored in some convenient seaport,
with enough and to spare of the good things of life. They are a jovial
set of men, hailing each other upon the ocean as friends, and meeting
upon land as brothers. Each skipper thinks his craft the handsomest and
swiftest that floats, and very exciting are the races they sometimes
run. Their affection for their own vessel is like that of the Arab for
his steed, and like the Arab, too, they have been known even to weep
over the grave of their darling and their pride.

The kinds of fish which they mostly bring to market are shad, salmon,
lobsters, mackerel, cod, bluefish, haddock, blackfish, paugies, bass,
and halibut. The first three are generally purchased of local fishermen,
but all the rest are caught by themselves. The haunts of the blackfish
are rocky reefs, those of the bass and bluefish in the vicinity of sandy
shoals or tide rips, and those of the remainder in about fifteen fathoms
water. These are the varieties they capture by way of business, but when
in a frolicsome mood, they frequently attack a sword-fish, a shark, or
black whale; soul-thrilling, indeed, and laughable withal, are the yarns
they spin concerning these exploits.

As to their mode of living, while at sea, it is just what it should be,
and what they would have it, although it would be “positively shocking”
to a Bond Street gentleman of leisure. But they always possess a good
appetite, which is what money cannot purchase, and without which the
greatest delicacy in the world would be insipid or loathsome. Fish,
sea-biscuit, corn-beef and pork, potatoes, onions, and pancakes,
constitute their provisions, and what besides these would a reasonable
man desire? It is with a mixture of some of these, that a _chowder_ is
concocted, and where can anything more delicious be found, even at the
tables of the Astor and American? And with these ingredients, moreover,
they manage very well to keep body and soul together, unless a storm on
a rock-bound coast happens to make a sudden separation.

I have just been on deck, and must say that I resume my pen with a
heavier heart. The fog has not dispersed in the least, a regular gale of
wind is blowing from the north, and the waves, seemingly in a revengeful
mood, are tossing our bark about, as if the skipper, like the Ancient
Mariner, had shot another albatros. But like a fearless man, as he is,
he stands at the helm, watching the sails with a steady eye, and the men
with their storm-jackets on are standing by, muttering something about
the coming darkness, and a reef somewhere on our lee. Never before have
I so distinctly understood the force of the Psalmist’s simile, when he
compares a wave to a drunken man reeling to and fro. Both have it in
their power to cause a mighty mischief, and both become exhausted and
perish,—one upon a sandy beach, and the other, sweeping over the
peninsula of time, finds a grave on the shore of oblivion. Heavens! how
the wind whistles, and the waters roar! Ay, but a still small voice
salutes my ear, and I lay me down to sleep, with a prayer upon my lips,
and a feeling of security at my heart, as I place implicit confidence in
Him who holdeth the ocean in the hollow of his hand.

_Tuesday Evening._ I was awakened out of a deep sleep this morning by
the following salutation from the skipper, as he patted me on the
shoulder. “It’s a beautiful morning, and you ought to be up;—the fog is
gone, and the wind is down; won’t you come up and take the helm awhile,
so that the boys and I may obtain a little sleep before reaching the
fishing-ground, which will be about ten o’clock?” I was delighted to
accept the invitation, and in a very short time the sailors were asleep,
and I in my new station, proud as a king, and happy as a sinless boy.
And O that I could describe the scene that fascinated my eyes as I lay
there upon the deck, with one hand resting on the rudder, and my other
hand grasping a Claude glass! I felt as I once felt before, when
standing on the famous precipice of Niagara, that then, more than ever,
I desired God to be my friend. I also felt, that, if the world did not
demand the feeble services of my life, I should wish to remain upon the
ocean forever, provided I could have “one fair being for my minister.”
More earnestly than ever did I long for a complete mastery of the
pictorial art. The fact of being out sight of land, where the blue
element announced that the ocean was soundless, filled my soul with that
“lone, lost feeling,” which is supposed to be the eagle’s, when
journeying to the zenith of the sky. The sun had just risen above the
waves, and the whole eastern portion of the heavens was flooded with the
most exquisite coloring I ever beheld,—from the deepest crimson to the
faintest and most delicate purple, from the darkest yellow to an almost
invisible green; and all blended, too, in myriad forms of marvellous
loveliness. A reflection of this scene was also visible in the remaining
quarters of the horizon. Around me the illimitable deep, whose bosom is
studded with many a gallant and glittering ship,

                         ——that have the plain
                     Of ocean for their own domain.

The waves are lulling themselves to rest, and a balmy breeze is
wandering by, as if seeking its old grandfather, who kicked up the grand
rumpus last night; whereby I learn, that the offspring of a “rough and
stormy sire,” are sometimes very beautiful and affectionate to the
children of men. But look! even the dwellers in the sea and of the sea
are participating in the hilarity of this bright summer morning! Here, a
school of herring are skipping along like a frolicsome party of
vagabonds as they are,—and yonder a shark has leaped out of the water,
to display the symmetry of his form and the largeness of his jaw, and
looking as if he thought, “that land-lubber would make me a first rate
breakfast;” there, a lot of porpoises are playing “leap-frog,” or some
other _outlandish_ game; and, a little beyond them, a gentleman
sword-fish is swaggering along to parts unknown, to fight a duel in cold
blood with some equally cold-blooded native of the Atlantic; and now, a
flock of gulls are cleaving their course to the south, to the floating
body perhaps of a drowned mariner, which their sagacity has discovered a
league or two away:—and now, again, I notice a flock of petrels,
hastening onward to where the winds blow and the waves are white. Such
are the pictures I beheld in my brief period of command. It may have
been but fancy, but I thought my little vessel was trying to eclipse her
former beauty and her former speed. One thing I know, that she “walked
the water like a thing of life.” I fancied, too, that I was the
identical last man whom Campbell saw in his vision, and that I was then
bound to the haven of eternal rest. But my shipmates returning from the
land of Nod, and a certain clamor within my own body having caught my
ear, I became convinced that to break my fast would make me happier than
anything else just at that time, and I was soon as contented as an
alderman at five P. M. About two hours after this, we reached our
fishing-place, which was twenty miles east of Nantucket. We then lowered
the jib and topsail, and having luffed and fastened the mainsheet, so
that the smack could easily float, we hauled out our lines and commenced
fishing, baiting our hooks with clams, of which we had some ten bushels
on board. Cod fishing (for we were on a codding cruize) is rather dull
sport; it is, in fact, what I would call hard labor. In six hours we had
caught all the skipper wanted, or that the well would hold, so we made
sail again, bound to New York; and at supper-time the deck of our smack
was as clean and dry as if it had never been pressed save by the feet of
ladies. At sunset, however, a fierce southerly wind sprang up, so that
we were compelled to make a harbor; and just as I am closing this
record, we are anchoring off Nantucket, with a score of storm-beaten
whalers on our starboard bow.

_Wednesday Evening._ The weather to-day has been quite threatening, and
the skipper thought it best to remain at our moorings; but with me the
day has not been devoid of interest; for, in my sailor garb, I have been
strolling about the town, studying the great and solemn drama of life,
while playfully acting a subordinate part myself. This morning, as it
happened, I went into the public graveyard, and spent an hour conning
over the rude inscriptions to the memory of the departed. In that city
of the dead I saw a number of the living walking to and fro, but there
was one who attracted my particular attention. He was a sailor, and was
seated upon an unmarked mound, with his feet resting upon a smaller one
beside it, his head reclined upon one hand, while the other was
occasionally passed across his face, as if wiping away a tear. I hailed
him with a few kind questions, and my answer was the following brief
tale:—

“Yes, sir, four years ago I shipped aboard that whaler, yonder, leaving
behind me, in a sweet little cottage of my own, a mother, a wife, and an
only boy. They were all in the enjoyment of good health, and happy; and,
when we were under sail, and I saw from the mast-head how kindly they
waved their handkerchiefs beside my door, I, too, was happy, even in my
hour of grief. Since that time I have circumnavigated the globe, and
every rare curiosity I could obtain, was intended for my darling ones at
home. Last Saturday our ship returned, when I landed, flew to my
dwelling, and found it locked. The flagging in my yard attracted my
notice, and I thought it strange that the rank grass had been suffered
to grow over it so thickly. The old minister passed by my gate, and
running to him with extended hand, I inquired for my family. ‘Oh, Mr.
B.,’ said he, ‘you must bless the Lord;—he gave them to you, and he
hath taken them away.’ And as the thought stole into my brain, my
suffering, sir, was intense, and I longed to die. And there they are, my
wife and darling child, and, a step or two beyond, my dear old mother.
Peace to their memories!”

Such is the simple story I heard in the Nantucket graveyard, and I have
pondered much upon the world of woe which must have been hidden in the
breast of that old mariner.

After dinner to-day, I strolled into the company of some fishermen who
were going after bass and bluefish, and in a short time I had captured,
with my own hands, two big bass and some dozen bluefish—which I packed
in ice as a present to some New York friends.

At my present time of writing, which is near ten o’clock at night, we
are weighing anchor, and the skipper tells me we shall be in New York by
to-morrow’s sunset. An hour before coming on board this evening, I
lounged into a sailor boarding-house, and mingled as freely with a
company of whalemen there, as if I had ever been a _bonâ fide_ member of
the craft. I heard a great deal that interested me, and was sorry that I
could not remain longer. There were some in that company lately arrived
from every portion of the world, and yet they were engaged in the same
business, and had journeyed on the same mighty highway of nations. One
was descanting upon the coral islands of the torrid zone; another upon
the ice-mountains of the Arctic Sea; a third was describing the coast of
California; and another the waters that lave the eastern shore of Asia.
The more I listened to these men, the more did the immensity of ocean
expand before my mind, and in the same proportion was I led to wonder at
the wisdom of the Almighty.

I have just been on deck, and find that we are on the way to our desired
haven, wafted by a steady and pleasant breeze. Our course is between
Martha’s Vineyard and Rhode Island, which is a route studded with
islands and seaports, that now appear in the cool starlight like the
pictures of a dream.

_Thursday Evening._ Instead of coming through the Sound last night, we
headed our vessel outside of Long Island, and after a delightful sail,
have realized our skipper’s promise, for we are now floating beside the
market in New York. The reason assigned for taking the outside course
was, that the fish would keep better, on account of the greater coldness
of the water. Nothing of peculiar interest has happened to us to-day,
except the meeting with a wreck off Sandy Hook. It was the hull of a
large ship, whose name we could not discern. It had a very old
appearance, and from the moss and sea-weed that covered it, we supposed
it must have been afloat for many months, the plaything of the waves.
“Man marks the earth with ruin,” but who is it that scatters such
splendid ruins upon the ocean? And a thousand remorseless surges echo
back the answer: “To us belong the glory of those deeds.” If that wreck
had language, what a strange, eventful history would it reveal! Its
themes would be,—home and all its treasures lost; the sea, and all its
dangers; the soul, and all its agonies; the heart, and all its
sufferings. But when we multiply all this as fast as time is multiplying
it, we cannot but realize the idea, that human life is but a
probationary state, and that sorrow and sighing are our earthly
inheritance.

_Friday Evening._ After portioning out my fish this morning, and sending
them to my friends, I put on my usual dress, and having obtained a six
hours’ furlough, set off towards Broadway, where, between the reading
rooms and the studios of a few artists, I managed to spend my time quite
pleasantly. At noon, we embarked for home, and had a delightful time,
passing through the East River, and that pleasing panorama from the city
to the Sound never appeared more beautiful.

It is now quite late, and I have been on deck all the evening alone. In
a thoughtful mood I fixed my eyes upon the stars, and my spirits were
saddened by the continual murmur of the sea. Of what avail, thought I,
is all this excitement? Why was I created, and what, O what is my
destiny? Is it to sail for a few brief years longer upon the ocean of
life, and, when the death-tempest overtakes me, to pass away unloved and
unremembered by a single human heart? If not an honored name, can I not
leave behind me an humble memory that will be cherished by a few, a very
few, to whom I have laid bare my innermost soul, when I was younger than
I am now and a hundred-fold more happy? What! O night! what is my
destiny?

_Saturday Evening._ We anchored off New London to-day, in time for me to
take the evening steamer for Norwich. When I parted with my “shipmates,”
I shook each one affectionately by the hand, and thought that I might
travel many years without finding a brotherhood of nobler men. I reached
home as the eight o’clock bells were ringing, and was reminded that
another week of precious time was forever gone. That it must be
remembered as an unprofitable one, I cannot believe, for I feel that my
soul has been enlarged and my heart humbled, by listening to the
teachings of the mighty deep.

                                THE END.



                           TRANSCRIBER NOTES

Missing quotes and printer errors have been corrected including: a
missing paragraph break; missing periods; and commas for periods.

Inconsistencies in the use of hyphenated words have been maintained
including: waterfall, water-fall, water-falls, and waterfalls; torch
light, torch-light, and torchlight; and, apiece and a-piece.

Author spellings of words such as "Shakspeare" are maintained.

[The end of _A Tour to the River Saguenay, in Lower Canada_, by Charles
Lanman.]





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