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Gala-Days by Gail Hamilton

Part 3 out of 6

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and encouragement to put on her garland and singing robes, and
pour forth a strain which the world would not have willingly
let die, and which I would have transferred to these pages. But
that word was not spoken. Scorn and sarcasm usurped the throne
of gentle cherishing, and the golden moment passed away
forever. It is as well. Perhaps it is better; for on second
thought, I recollect that the absurd prejudice I have mentioned
has extended itself to the editor of this Magazine,[*] who
jerks me down with a pitiless pull whenever I would soar into
the empyrean,--ruling out with a rod of iron every shred of
poetry from my pages, till I am reduced to the necessity of
smuggling it in by writing it in the same form as the rest
when, as he tells poetry only by the capitals and
exclamation-points, he thinks it is prose, and lets it go.

[* The Atlantic Monthly]

Here, if I may be allowed, I should like to make a digression.
In an early stage of my journeying, I spoke of the pleasure I
had taken in reading "The Betrothal" and "The Espousals." I
cannot suppose that it is of any consequence to the world
whether I think well or ill of a poem, but the only way in
which the world will ever come out right is by everyone's
putting himself right; and I don't wish even my influence to
seem to be thrown in favor of so objectionable a book as
"Faithful Forever," a continuation of the former poems by the
same author. Coventry Patmore's books generally are made up
of poetry and prattle, but the poetry makes you forgive the
prattle. The tender, strong, wholesome truths they contain
steady the frail bark through dangerous waters; but "Faithful
Forever" is wrong, false, and pernicious, root and branch, and
a thorough misnomer besides. Frederic loves Honoria, who loves
and marries Arthur, leaving Frederic out in the cold; whereupon
Frederic turns round and marries Jane, knowing all the while
that he does not love her and does love Honoria. What kind of
a Faithful Forever is this? A man cannot love two women
simultaneously, whatever he may do consecutively. If he ceases
to love the first, he is surely not faithful forever. If he
does not cease to love her, he is false forever to the second,--
and worse than false. Marrying from pique or indifference or
disappointment is one of the greatest crimes that can be committed,
as well as one of the greatest blunders that can he made. The man
who can do such a thing is a liar and a perjurer. I can understand
that people should give up the people they love, but there is no
possible shadow of excuse for their taking people whom they don't
love. It is no matter how inferior Jane may be to Frederic. A woman
can feel a good many things that she cannot analyze or understand,
and there never yet was a woman so stupid that she did not know
whether or not her husband loved her, and was not either stricken
or savage to find that he did not. No woman ever was born with a
heart so small that anything less than the whole of her husband's
heart could fill it.

Moreover, apart from unhappy consequences, there is a right and
a wrong about it. How dare a man stand up solemnly before God
and his fellows with a lie in his right hand? and if he does
do it, how dare a poet or a novelist step up and glorify him
in it? The man who commits a crime does not do so much
mischief as the man who turns the criminal into a hero.
Frederic Graham did a weak, wicked, mean, and cowardly deed,
not being in his general nature weak, wicked, mean, or cowardly,
and was allowed to blunder on to a tolerable sort of something
like happiness in the end. No one has a right to complain, for
all of us get a great deal more and better than we deserve. We
have no right to complain of Providence, but we have a right to
complain of the poet who comes up and says not a word in
reprobation of the meanness and cowardice, not a word of the
cruelty inflicted upon Jane, nor the wrong done to his own soul;
but veils the wickedness, excites our sympathy and pity, and in
fact makes Frederic out to be a sort of sublime and suffering
martyr. He was no martyr at all. Nobody is a martyr, if he
cannot help himself. If Frederic had the least spirit of
martyrdom, he would have breasted his sorrow manfully and alone.
Instead of which, he shuffled himself and his misery upon poor
simple Jane, getting all the solace he could from her, and
leading her a wretched, almost hopeless life for years. This is
what we are to admire! This is the knight without reproach!
This is to be Faithful Forever! I suppose Coventry Patmore
thinks Frederic is to be commended because he did not break into
Honoria's house and run away with her. That is the only thing
he could have done worse than he did do, and that I have no doubt
he would have done if he could. I have no faith in the honor or
the virtue of men or women who will marry where they do not love.
I think it is just as sinful--and a thousand times as vile--to
marry unlovingly, as to love unlawfully.[*]

[*] Some one just here suggests that it was Jane who was
faithful forever, not Frederic. That indeed makes the title
appropriate, but does not relieve the atrocity of the plot.

There is this about mountains,--you cannot get away from them.
Low country may be beautiful, yet you may be preoccupied and
pass through it or by it without consciousness; but the
mountains rise, and there is no escape. Representatives of an
unseen force, voices from an infinite past, benefactors of the
valleys, themselves unblest, almoners of a charity which leaves
them in the heights indeed, but the heights of eternal desolation,
raised above all sympathies, all tenderness, shining but repellent,
grand and cold, mighty and motionless,--we stand before them
hushed. They fix us with their immutability. They shroud us with
their Egyptian gloom. They sadden. They awe. They overpower.
Yet far off how different is the impression! Bright and beautiful,
evanescent yet unchanging, lovely as a spirit with their clear,
soft outlines and misty resplendence! Exquisitely says Winthrop:
"There is nothing so refined as the outline of a distant mountain;
even a rose-leaf is stiff-edged and harsh in comparison. Nothing
else has that definite indefiniteness, that melting permanence,
that evanescing changelessness. [I did not know that I was
using his terms.] Clouds in vain strive to imitate it; they
are made of slighter stuff; they can be blunt or ragged, but
they cannot have that solid positiveness. Even in its cloudy,
distant fairness, there is a concise, emphatic reality
altogether uncloudlike."

Seeing them from afar, lovely rather than terrible, we feel
that though between the mountain and its valley, with much
friendly service and continual intercourse, there can be no
real communion, still the mountain is not utterly lonely, but
has yonder in the east its solace, and in the north a
companion, and over toward the west its coterie. Solitary but
to the lowly-living, in its own sphere there is immortal
companionship, and this vast hall of the heavens, and many a
draught of nectar borne by young Ganymede.

The Alpine House seems to be the natural caravansary for Grand
Trunk travellers, being accessible from the station without the
intervention of so much as an omnibus, and being also within
easy reach of many objects of interest. Here, therefore, we
lay over awhile to strike out across the mountains and into the
valleys, and to gather health and serenity for the weeks that
were to come, with their urgent claims for all of both that
could be commanded.

Eastern Massachusetts is a very pretty place to live in, and
the mutual admiration society is universally agreed by its
members to be the very best society on this continent.
Nevertheless, by too long and close adherence to that quarter
of the globe, one comes to forget how the world was made, and,
in fact, that it ever was made. We silently take it for
granted. It was always there. Smooth, smiling plains, gentle
hills, verdurous slopes, blue, calm streams, and softly wooded
banks,--a courteous, well-bred earth it is, and we forget that
it has not been so from the beginning. But here among the
mountains, Genesis finds exegesis. We stand amid the primeval
convulsions of matter,--the first fierce throes of life. Marks
of the struggle still linger; nay, the struggle itself is not
soothed quite away. No more unexceptionable surfaces, but
yawns and fissures, chasms and precipices, deep gashes in the
hills, hills bursting up from the plains, rocks torn from their
granite beds and tossed hither and thither in some grand storm
of Titan wrath, rivers with no equal majesty, but narrow, deep,
elfish, rising and falling in wild caprice, playing mad pranks
with their uncertain shores, treacherous, reckless, obstreperous.
Here we see the changes actually going on. The earth is still
a-making. More than one river, scorning its channel, has, within
the memory of man, hewn out for itself another, and taken
undisputed, if not undisturbed possession. The Peabody River,
which rolls modestly enough now, seeming, indeed, a mere thread
of brook dancing through a rocky bed by far too large for it, will
by and by, when the rains come, rise and roar and rush with such
impetuosity that these great water-worn stones, now bleaching
quietly in the sun, shall be wrenched up from their resting-places,
and whirled down the river with such fury and uproar that the
noise of their crashing and rolling shall break in upon your dreams
at night. Wild River, a little farther down, you may ford almost
dry-shod, and in four hours it shall reach such heights and
depths as might upbear our mightiest man-of-war. Many and many
a gully, half choked with stones and briers, lurks under the
base of an overtopping hill, and shows where a forgotten Undine
lived and loved. The hills still bear the scars of their wounds.
No soft-springing greenness veils the tortuous processes.
Uncompromising and terrible, the marks of their awful rending,
the agony of their fiery birth, shall remain. Time, the destroyer
of man's works, is the perfecter of God's. These ravages are not
Time's; they are the doings of an early force, beneficent, but
dreadful. It is Time's to soothe and adorn.

We connect the idea of fixity with the mountains, but they seem
to me to be continually pirouetting with each other,--exchanging
or entirely losing their identity. You are in the Alpine Valley.
Around you stand Mount Hayes, so named in honor of a worthy
housekeeper; the Imp, sobriquet of a winsome and roguish little
girl, who once made the house gay; the Pilot range,--because they
pilot the Androscoggin down to the sea, says one to whom I never
appeal in vain for facts or reasons; Mount Madison, lifting his
shining head beyond an opening niched for him in the woods of a
high hill-top by Mr. Hamilton Willis of Boston, whom let all men
thank. I thanked him in my heart every morning, noon, and night,
looking up from my seat at table to that distant peak, where
otherwise I should have seen only a monotonous forest line. Over
against the sunset is Mount Moriah, and Carter, and Surprise.
You know them well. You can call them all by name. But you have
no sooner turned a corner than--where are they? Gone,--all changed.
Every line is altered, every contour new. Spurs have become knobs.
Peaks are ridges; summits, terraces. Madison probably has
disappeared, and some Adams or Jefferson rises before you in
unabashed grandeur. Carter and the Imp have hopped around to
another point of the compass. All the lesser landmarks, as the
old song says,

"First upon the heel-tap, then upon the toe,
Wheel about, and turn about, and do just so."

Your topography is entirely dislocated. You must begin your
acquaintance anew. Fresh lines and curves, new forms and faces
and chameleon tints, thrust you off from the secrets of the
Storm-Kings. While you fancy yourself to be battering down the
citadel, you are but knocking feebly at the out-works. You
have caught a single phase, and their name is legion. Infinite
as light, infinite as form, infinite as motion, so infinite are
the mountains. Purple and intense against the glowing sunset
sky, the Pilot range curves its strong outlines, or shimmers
steely-blue in the noonday haze. Day unto day uttereth speech,
and night unto night showeth knowledge of their ever-vanishing
and ever-returning splendors. New every morning, fresh every
evening, we fancy each pageant fairer and finer than the last.
Every summer hour, a messenger from heaven, is charged with the
waiting landscape, and drapes it with its own garment of woven
light, celestial broidery. Sunshine crowns the crests, and
stamps their kinship to the skies. Shadows nestle in the
dells, flit over the ridges, hide under the overhanging cliffs,
to be chased out in gleeful frolic by the slant sunbeams of the
mellow afternoon. Clouds and vapors and unseen hands of heaven
flood the hills with beauty. They have drunk in the warmth and
life of the sun, they quiver beneath his burning glance, they
lie steeped in color, gorgeous, tremulous, passionate, rosy red
dropping away into pale gold, emeralds dim and sullen where
they ripple down towards the darkness, dusky browns and broad
reaches of blue-black massiveness, till the silent starlight
wraps the scene with blessing, and the earth sitteth still and
at rest.

On such an evening, never to be forgotten, we stood alone with
the night. Day had gone softly, evening came slowly. There
was no speech nor language, only hope and passion and purpose
died gently out. Individualities were not, and we stood at one
with the universe, hand in hand with the immortals, silent,
listening. It was as if the heavens should give up their
secret, and smite us with the music of the spheres. Suddenly,
unheralded, up over the summit of Mount Moriah came the full
moan, a silver disc, a lucent, steady orb, globular and grand,
filling the valleys with light, touching all things into a
hushed and darkling splendor. To us, standing alone, far from
sight of human face or sound of human voice, it seemed the
censer of God, swung out to receive the incense of the world.

Multifold mists join hands with the light to play fantastic
tricks upon these mighty monarchs. The closing day is tender,
bringing sacrifice and oblation; but the day of flitting clouds
and frequent showers riots in changing joys. Every subordinate
eminence that has arrogated to itself the sublimity of the
distant mountain, against whose rocky sides it lay lost, is
unmasked by the vapors that gather behind it and reveal its
low-lying outlines. Every little dimple of the hills has its
chalice of mountain wine. The mist stretches above the ridge,
a long, low, level causeway, solid as the mountains themselves,
which buttress its farther side, a via triumpha, meet highway
for the returning chariot of an emperor. It rears itself from
the valleys, a dragon rampant and with horrid jaws. It flings
itself with smothering caresses about the burly mountains, and
stifles them in its close embrace. It trails along the hills,
floating in filmy, parting gauze, scattering little flecks of
pearl, fringing itself over the hollows, and hustling against
a rocky breastwork that bars its onward going. It wreathes
upward, curling around the peaks and veiling summits, whose
slopes shine white in the unclouded sun. It shuts down gray,
dense, sombre, with moody monotone. It opens roguishly one
little loop-hole, through which--cloud above, cloud below,
cloud on this side and on that--you see a sweet, violet-hued
mountain-dome, lying against a background of brilliant blue
sky,--just for one heart-beat, and it closes again, gray,
sheeted, monotonous.

Leaving the valley, and driving along the Jefferson road, you
have the mountains under an entirely new aspect. Before, they
stood, as it were, endwise. Now you have them at broadside.
Mile after mile you pass under their solid ramparts, but far
enough to receive the idea of their height and breadth, their
vast material greatness,--far enough to let the broad green
levels of the intervale slide between, with here and there a
graceful elm, towering and protective, and here and there a
brown farm-house. But man's works show puny and mean beside
nature, which seems spontaneous as a thought. Man's work is
a toil; nature's is a relief. Man labors to attain abundance;
nature, to throw off superabundance. The mountain-sides
bristle with forests; man drags himself from his valley, and
slowly and painfully levels an inch or two for his use; just
a little way here and there a green field has crept up into the
forest. The mountain-chin has one or two shaven spots; but for
the greater part his beard is still unshorn. All along he
sends down his boon to men. Everywhere you hear the scurrying
feet of little brooks, tumbling pell-mell down the rocks in
their frantic haste to reach a goal;--often a pleasant
cottage-door, to lighten the burden and cool the brow of toil;
often to pour through a hollow log by the wayside,--a
never-failing beneficence and joy to the wearied, trusty
horses. From the piazza of the Waumbeck House--a quiet,
pleasant, home-like little hotel in Jefferson, and the only
one, so far as I know, that has had the grace to take to itself
one of the old Indian names in which the region abounds,
Waumbeck, Waumbeck-Methna, Mountains of Snowy-Foreheads--a very
panorama of magnificence unfolds itself. The whole horizon is
rimmed with mountain-ranges. The White Mountain chain stands
out bold and firm, sending greeting to his peers afar.
Franconia answers clear and bright from the south-west; and
from beyond the Connecticut the Green hills make response.
Loth to leave, we turn away from these grand out-lying bulwarks
to front on our return bulwarks as grand and massive, behind
whose impregnable walls we seem shut in from the world forever.

A little lyric in the epos may be found in a side-journey to
Bethel,--a village which no one ever heard of, at least I never
did, till now; but when we did hear, we heard so much and so
well that we at once started on a tour of exploration, and
found--as Halicarnassus quotes the Queen of Sheba--there was
more of it than we expected. The ride down in the train, if
you are willing and able to stand on the rear platform of the
rear car, is of surpassing beauty. The mountains seem to rise
and approach in dumb, reluctant farewell. The river bends and
insinuates, spreading out to you all its islands of delight.
Molten in its depths, golden in its shallows, it meanders
through its meadows, a joy forever. Bethel sits on its banks,
loveliest of rural villages, and gently unfolds its beauties
to your longing eyes. The Bethel House,--a large old-fashioned
country-house, with one of those broad, social second-story
piazzas, and a well bubbling up in the middle of the
dining-room--think of that, Master Brooke!--a hotel whose
landlord welcomes you with lemonade and roses (perhaps he
wouldn't YOU!),--a hotel terrible to evil-doers, but a praise
to them that do well, inasmuch as it is conducted on the
millennial principle of quietly frightening away disagreeable
people with high rates, and fascinating amiable people with
reasonable ones, so that, of course, you have the wheat without
the chaff,--a hotel where people go to rest and enjoy, and wear
morning-dresses all day, and are fine only when they choose--
indeed, you can do that anywhere, if you only think so. The
idea that you must lug all your best clothes through the
wilderness is absurd. A good travelling-dress, admissible of
bisection, a muslin spencer for warm evenings, and a velvet
bodice when you design to be gorgeous, will take you through
with all the honors of war. Besides, there are always sure to
be plenty of people in every drawing-room who will be
sumptuously attired, and you can feast your eyes luxuriously
on them, and gratefully feel that the work is so well done as
to need no co-operation of yours, and that you can be
comfortable with an easy conscience. Where was I? O, on the
top, of Paradise Hill, I believe, surveying Paradise, a little
indistinct and quavering in the sheen of a summer noon, but
clear enough to reveal its Pison, its Gilton, its Hiddekel, and
Euphrates, compassing the whole land of Havilah; or perhaps I
was on Sparrowhawk, beholding Paradise from another point,
dotted with homes and church-spires, rich and fertile, fair
still, with compassing river and tranquil lake; or, more
probable than either, I was driving along the highland that
skirts the golden meadows through which the river purls, ruddy
in the setting sun, and rejoicing in the beauty amid which he
lives and moves and has his being. Lovely Bethel, fairest
ornament of the sturdy mountain-land, tender and smiling as if
no storm had ever swept, no sin ever marred,--in Arcadia that
no one would ever leave but for the magic of the drive back to
Gorham through piny woods, under frowning mountains, circled
with all the glories of sky and river,--a drive so enticing,
that, when you reach Gorham, straight back again you will go
to Bethel, and so forever oscillate, unless some stronger
magnet interpose.

A rainy day among the mountains is generally considered rather
dismal, but I find that I like it. Apart from the fact that
you wish, or ought to wish, to see Nature in all her aspects,
it is a very beneficent arrangement of Providence, that, when
eyes and brain and heart are weary with looking and receiving,
an impenetrable barrier is noiselessly let down, and you are
forced to rest. Besides, there are many things which it is not
absolutely essential to see, but which, nevertheless, are very
interesting in the sight. You would not think of turning away
from a mountain or a waterfall to visit them, but when you are
forcibly shut out from both, you condescend to homelier sights.
For instance, I wonder how many frequenters of the Alpine house
ever saw or know that there is a dairy in its Plutonian regions.
A rainy day discovered it to us, and, with many an injunction
touching possible dust, we were bidden into those mysterious
precincts. A carpet, laid loose over the steps, forestalled
every atom of defilement, and, descending cautiously and
fearfully through portals and outer courts, we trod presently
the adytum. It was a dark, cool, silent place. The floors were
white, spotless, and actually fragrant with cleanliness. The
sides of the room were lined with shelves, the shelves begemmed
with bright pans, and the bright pans filled with milk,--I don't
know how many pans there were, but I should think about a
million,--and there was a mound of pails piled up to be washed,
and cosy little colonies of butter, pleasant to eyes, nose, and
mouth, and a curious machine to work butter over, consisting of
something like a table in the shape of the letter V, the flat
part a trough, with a wooden handle to push back and forth, and
the buttermilk running out at the apex of the V. If the principle
on which it is constructed is a secret, I don't believe I have
divulged it; but I do not aim to let you know precisely what it
is, only that there is such a thing. I hope now that every one
will not flock down cellar the moment he alights from the Gorham
train. I should be very sorry to divert the stream of travel
into Mr. Hitchcock's dairy, for I am sure any great influx of
visitors would sorely disconcert the good genius who presides
there, and would be an ill requital for her kindness to us; but
it was so novel and pleasant a sight that I am sure she will
pardon me for speaking of it just this once.

Another mild entertainment during an intermittent rain is a run
of about a mile up to the "hennery," which buds and blossoms
with the dearest little ducks of ducks, broad-billed, downy,
toddling, tumbling in and out of a trough of water, and getting
continually lost on the bluff outside; little chickens and
turkeys, and great turkeys, not pleasant to the eye, but good
for food, and turkey-gobblers, stiffest-mannered of all the
feathered creation; and geese, sailing in the creek majestic,
or waddling on the grass dumpy; and two or three wild geese,
tolled down from the sky, and clipped away from it forever;
and guinea-hens, speckled and spheral; and, most magnificent
of all, a pea cock, who stands in a corner and unfolds the
magnificence of his tail. Watching his movements, I could not
but reflect upon the superior advantages which a peacock has
over a woman. The gorgeousness of his apparel is such that
even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed in the like; yet
so admirable is the contrivance for its management that no
suspicion of mud or moisture stains its brilliancy. A woman
must have recourse to clumsy contrivances of india-rubber and
gutta-percha if her silken skirts shall not trail ignobly in
the dust. The peacock at will rears his train in a graceful
curve, and defies defilement.

Besides abundance of food and parade-ground, these happy fowls
have a very agreeable prospect. Their abrupt knoll commands
a respectable section of the Androscoggin Valley,--rich
meadow-lands, the humanities of church-spire and cottage, the
low green sweep of the intervale through which the river croons
its quiet way under shadows of rock and tree, answering softly
to the hum of bee and song of bird,--answering just as softly
to the snort and shriek of its hot-breathed rival, the
railroad. Doubtless the railroad, swift, energetic, prompt,
gives itself many an air over the slow-going, calm-souled
water-way, but let Monsieur Chemin de Fer look to his laurels,--
a thing of yesterday and tomorrow,--a thing of iron and oil
and accidents. I, the River, descend from the everlasting
mountains. I was born of the perpetual hills. I fear no more
the heat o' the sun, nor the furious winter's rages; no
obstacle daunts me. Time cannot terrify. My power shall never
faint, my foundations never shrink, my fountains never fail.

"Men may come, and men may go,
But I go on forever."

And the railroad, pertinacious, intrusive, aggressive, is,
after all, the dependent follower, the abject copyist of the
river. Toss and scorn as it may, the river is its leader and
engineer. Fortunes and ages almost would have been necessary
to tunnel those mountains, if indeed tunnelling had been
possible, but the river winds at its own sweet will. Without
sound of hammer or axe, by force of its own heaven-born
instincts, it has levelled its lovely way unerring, and
wherever it goes, thither goes the railroad, to its own
infinite gain. Railroads are not generally considered
picturesque, but from the standpoint of that hennery, and
from several other standpoints, I had no fault to find. Unable
to go straight on, as the manner of railroads is, it bends to
all the wayward little fancies of the river, piercing the wild
wood, curling around the base of the granite hills, now let
loose a space to shoot across the glade, joyful of the
permission to indulge its railroad instinct of straightness;
and, amid so much irregularity and headlong wilfulness, a
straight line is really refreshing. Up the sides of its
embankment wild vines have twisted and climbed, and
wild-flowers have budded into bloom.

Berlin Falls is hardly a wet-day resource, but the day on which
we saw it changed its mind after we left the hotel, and from
clouds and promise of sunshine turned into clouds and certainty
of rain. For all that, the drive along the river, within sound
of its roaring and gurgling and rippling and laughing overflow
of joy, with occasional glimpses of it through the trees, with
gray cloud-curtains constantly dropping, then suddenly lifting,
and gray sheets of rain fringing down before us, and the
thirsty, parched leaves, intoxicated with their much mead of
the mountains, slapping us saucily on the check, or in mad
revel flinging into our faces their goblets of honey-dew,--ah!
it was a carnival of tricksy delight, making the blood glow
like wine. The falls, which chanced to be indeed no falls, but
shower-swollen into rapids, are one of the most wonderful
presentations of Nature's masonry that I have ever seen. It
is not the water, but the rock, that amazes. The whole
Androscoggin River gathers up its strength and plunges through
a gorge,--a gateway in the solid rock is regular, as upright,
as if man had brought in the whole force of his geometry and
gunpowder to the admeasurement and excavation,--plunges,
conscious of imprisonment and the insult to its slighted
majesty,--plunges with fierce protest and frenzy of rage,
breaks against a grim, unyielding rock to dash itself into a
thousand whirling waves; then rushes on to be again imprisoned
between the pillars of another gorge, only less regular, not
less inexorable, than the first; then, leaping and surging, it
beats against its banks, and is hurled wrathfully back in jets
of spray and wreaths of foam; or, soothed into gentler mood by
the soft touch of mosses on the brown old rocks, it leaps
lightly up their dripping sides, and trickles back from the
green, wet, overhanging spray, and so, all passion sobbed away,
it babbles down to its bed of Lincoln green, where Robin Hood
and Maid Marian wait under the oaken boughs.

In the leaden, heavy air the scene was sombre,--tragic. In
sunshine and shadows it must have other moods, perhaps a
different character; I did not see the sunshine play upon it.

But the day of days you shall give to the mountain. The
mountain, Washington, king of all this Atlantic coast,--at
least till but just now, when some designing Warwick comes
forward to press the claims of an ignoble Carolinian upstart,
with, of course, a due and formidable array of feet and
figures: but if they have such a mountain, where, I should
like to know, has he been all these years? A mountain is not
a thing that you can put away in your pocket, or hide under
the eaves till an accident reveals its whereabouts. Verily
our misguided brethren have much to do to make out a case; and,
in the firm belief that I am climbing up the highest point of
land this side the Rocky Mountains, I begin my journey.

Time was when the ascent of Mount Washington could be justly
considered a difficult and dangerous feat; but the Spirit of
the Age who has many worse things than this to answer for, has
struck in and felled and graded and curbed, till now one can
ascend the mountain as safely as he goes to market. I consider
this road one of the greatest triumphs of that heavily
responsible spirit. Loquacious lovers of the "romantic" lament
the absence of danger and its excitements, and the road does
indeed lie open to that objection. He who in these latter days
would earn a reputation for enterprise--and I fancy the love
of adventure to be far less common than the love of being
thought adventurous--must have recourse to some such forlorn
hope as going up the mountain on the ice in midwinter, or
coasting down on a hand-sled. But I have no inclination in
that direction. I am willing to encounter risks, if there is
no other way of attaining objects. But risks in and of
themselves are a nuisance. If there is no more excellent way,
of course you must clamber along steep, rugged stairways of
bridle-paths, where a single misstep will send you plunging
upon a cruel and bloody death; but so far as choice goes, one
would much more wisely ride over a civilized road, where he can
have his whole mind for the mountain, and not be continually
hampered with fears and watchfulness for his own personal
safety. It is a great mistake to suppose that discomfort is
necessarily heroism. Besides, to have opened a carriage-way
up the mountain is to have brought the mountain with all its
possessions down to the cradle of the young and the crutch of
the old,--almost to the couch of the invalid. I saw recorded
against one name in the books of the Tip-top House the
significant item, "aged eight months." Probably the youngster
was not directly much benefited by his excursion, but you are
to remember that perhaps his mother could not have come without
him, and therein lay the benefit. The day before our ascent,
a lady over seventy years old ascended without extreme fatigue
or any injury. Several days after, a lady with apparently but
a few weeks of earth before her, made the ascent to satisfy
the longings of her heart, and gaze upon the expanses of this,
before the radiance of another world should burst upon her
view. If people insist upon encountering danger, they can find
a swift river and ford it, or pile up a heap of stones and
climb them, or volunteer to serve their country in the army:
meanwhile, let us rejoice that thousands who have been shut
away from the feast may now sit down to the table of the Lord.

This road, we were told, was begun about eight years ago, but
by disastrous circumstances its completion was delayed until
within a year or two. Looking at the country through which it
lies, the only wonder is that it ever reached completion. As
it is, I believe its proprietors do not consider it quite
finished, and are continually working upon its improvement.
Good or bad, it seems to me to be much the best road anywhere
in the region. The pitches and holes that would fain make
coaching on the common roads so precarious are entirely left
out here. The ascent is continuous. Not a step but leads
upward. The rise was directed never to exceed one foot in six,
and it does not; the average is one foot in eight. Of course,
to accomplish this there must be a great deal of winding and
turning. In one place you can look down upon what seem to he
three roads running nearly parallel along a ridge, but what is
really the one road twisting to its ascent. Some idea of the
skill and science required to engineer it may be gathered by
looking into the tangled wilderness and rocky roughness that
lie still each side the way. Through such a gnarled, knotted,
interlaced jungle of big trees and little trees, and all manner
of tangled twining undergrowths, lining the sides of
precipices, or hanging with bare roots over them, concealing
dangers till the shuddering soul almost plunges into them, the
road-men carefully and painfully sought and fought their way.
Up on rocky heights it was comparatively easy, for, as one very
expressively phrased it, every stone which they pried up left
a hole and made a hole. The stone wrenched from above rolled
below, and go lowered the height and raised the depth, and
constantly tended to levelness. Besides, there were no huge
tree-trunks to be extracted from the unwilling jaws of the
mountain by forest-dentists, with much sweat and toil and pain
of dentist if not of jaws. Since, also, the rise of one foot
in six was considered as great as was compatible with the
well-being and well-doing of horses, whenever the way came upon
a knob or a breastwork that refused to be brought down within
the orthodox dimensions, it must turn. If the knob would not
yield, the way must, and, in consequence, its lengthened
bitterness is long drawn out. A line that continually doubles
on itself is naturally longer than one which goes straight to
the mark. Mount Washington is little more than a mile high;
the road that creeps up its surly sides is eight miles long.
Frost and freshet are constant foes; the one heaves and cracks,
and the other tears down through the cracks to undermine and
destroy. Twenty-seven new culverts, we were told, had been
made, within the space of a mile and a half, since last year;
and these culverts are no child's play, but durable works,--
aqueducts lined with stone and bridged with plank, large
enough for a man to pass through with a wheelbarrow, and laid
diagonally across the road, so that the torrents pouring down
the gutter shall not have to turn a right angle, which they
would gladly evade doing, but a very obtuse one, which they
cannot in conscience refuse; and, as the road all the way is
built a little higher on the precipice side than on the
mountain side, the water naturally runs into the gutter on
that side, and so is easily beguiled into leaving the road,
which it would delight to destroy, and, roaring through the
culvert, tumbles unwarily down the precipice before it knows
what it is about.

I have heard it said, that the man who originated this road has
since become insane. More likely he was insane at the time.
Surely, no man in his senses would ever have projected a scheme
so wild and chimerical, so evidently impossible of fulfilment.
Projected it was, however, not only in fancy, but in fact, to
our great content; and so, tamely but comfortably, an untiring
cavalcade, we leave the peaceful glen set at the mountain's
base, and wind through the lovely, lively woods, tremulous with
sunshine and shadows, musical with the manifold songs of its
pregnant solitudes, out from the woods, up from the woods, into
the wild, cold, shrieking winds among the blenched rocks and
the pale ghosts of dead forests stiff and stark, up and up
among the caverns, and the gorges, and the dreadful chasms,
piny ravines black and bottomless, steeps bare and rocky
leading down to awful depths; on and on, fighting with maddened
winds and the startled, wrathful wraiths, onward and upward
till we stand on the bleak and shivering, the stony and
soulless summit.

Desolation of desolations! Desolation of desolations! How
terrible is this place! The shining mountain that flashed back
to the sun his radiance is become a bald and frowning desert
that appalls us with its barrenness. The sweet and sylvan
approach gave no sign of such a goal, but the war between life
and death was even then begun. The slant sunlight glinted
through the jungle and bathed us with its glory of
golden-green. The shining boles of the silvery gray birch
shot up straight, and the white birch unrolled its patches of
dead pallor in the sombre, untrodden depths. The spruces
quivered like pure jellies tipped with light, sunshine prisoned
in every green crystal. Myrtle-vines ran along the ground, the
bunch-berry hung out its white banner, and you scarcely saw the
trees that lay faint and fallen in the arms of their mates.
The damp, soft earth nourished its numerous brood, Terrae omni
parentis alumnos, its own thirsty soul continually refreshed
from springs whose sparkle we could not see, though the gurgle
and ripple of their march sung out from so many hiding-places
that we seemed to be

"Seated in hearing of a hundred streams."

Whole settlements of the slender, stately brakes filled the
openings, and the mountain-ash drooped in graceful curves over
our heads, but gradually the fine tall trees dwindled into
dwarfs, chilled to the heart by the silent, pitiless cold.
Others battled bravely with the bowling winds, which have
stripped them bare on one side, while they seem to toss out
their arms wildly on the other, imploring protection and aid
from the valley-dwellers below. Up and up, and you come
suddenly upon the "Silver Forest," a grove of dead white trees,
naked of leaf and fruit and bud, bare of color, dry of sap and
juice and life, retaining only their form,--cold set outline
of their hale and hearty vigor; a skeleton plantation,
bleaching in the frosty sun, yet mindful of its past existence,
sturdy, and defiant of the woodman's axe; a frostwork mimicry
of nature, a phantom forest. On and on, turning to overlook
the path you have trodden, at every retrospect the struggle
between life and death becomes more and more palpable. The
Destroyer has hurled his winds, his frosts, his fires; and gray
wastes, broken wastes, black wastes, attest with what signal
power. But life follows closely, planting his seeds in the
very footprints of death. Where blankness and bleakness seem
to reign, a tiny life springs in mosses, rich with promise of
better things. Long forked tongues of green are lapping up the
dreary wastes, and will presently overpower them with its vivid
tints. Even amid the blanched petrifaction of the Silver Grove
fresh growths are creeping, and the day is not far distant that
shall see those pale statues overtopped, submerged, lost in an
emerald sea. Even among the rocks, the strife rages. Some
mysterious principle inheres in the insensate rock, whose loss
makes this crumbling, discolored, inert debris. Up you go, up
and up, and life dies out. Chaos and ruin reign supreme.
Headlong steeps yawn beside your path, losing their depths in
darkness. Great fragments of rock cover all the ground, lie
heaped, pile upon pile, jagged, gray, tilted into a thousand
sharp angles, refusing a foothold, or offering it treacherously.
Wild work has been here; and these gigantic wrecks bear silent
witness of the uproar. It seems but a pause, not a peace.
Agiocochook, Great Mountain of Spirits, rendezvous of departed
souls, clothed with the strength and fired with the passions of
the gods,--in what caverns under the cliffs do the wearied
Titans rest? From what dungeons of gloom emerging shall they
renew their elemental strife? What shall be the sign of their
awaking to darken the earth with their missiles and deafen the
skies with their thunder? And what daring of man is this to
scorn his smiling valleys and adventure up into these realms of
storm? No Titan he, yet the truest Titan of all, for he wrestled
and overcame. No giant he, yet grander than the giants, since
without Pelion or Ossa he has scaled heaven. Through uncounted
aeons the mountain has been gathering its forces. Frost and snow
and ice and the willing winds have been its sworn retainers.
Cold and famine and death it flaunted in the face of the besieger.
Man is of a day, and the elements are but slippery allies. A
spade and a compass are his meagre weapons; yet man has conquered.
The struggle was long, with many a reconnaissance and partial
triumph, but at length the victory is complete. Man has placed
his hand on the monarch's mane. He has pierced leviathan with
a hook. The secrets of the mountain are uncovered. His
fastnesses conceal no treasures that shall not be spread out
to the day. His bolts and bars of ice can no longer press back
the foot of the invader. Yon gray and slender ribbon, that
floats down his defiles, disappearing now over his ledges to
reappear on some lower range, and he lightly across the
plateau,--that is his bridle of submission, his badge of
servitude. Obedient to that, he yields up his hoarded wealth
and pays tribute, a vassal to his lord. Men and women and
little children climb up his rugged sides, and the crown upon
his beetling brows is set in the circle of humanity.

In the first depression of abandonment one loses heart, and
sees only the abomination of desolation; but gradually the soul
lifts itself from the barren earth, and floats out upon the
ocean, in which one stands islanded on a gray rock, fixed in
seas of sunshine.

Whether you shall have a fair day or a foul is as may be. At
the mountain's base they discreetly promise you nothing. It
may be sunny and sultry down there, while storms and floods
have at it on the peak. But mine was a day of days,--clear,
alternating with cloudy. When you had looked long enough to
dazzle and weary your eyes, a cloud would come and fold you
about with opaqueness, and while you waited in the cloud, lo
here! lo there! it flashed apart and shimmered yonder a blue
sky, a brilliant landscape, and the distant level of the sea;
or slowly its whiteness cleaved and rolled away, revealing a
glorified mountain, a lake lying in the shadows, or the simple
glen far down from which we came. It was constant change and
ever-new delight.

But this going up mountains is a bad thing for the clouds. All
their fleecy softness, all their pink and purple and pearly
beauty, all the mystery of their unattainableness, is weighed
in the balance and found to be fog, and by no means
unapproachable. They will never impose upon us again. Never
more will they ride through the serene blue, white-stoled
cherubs of the sky. Henceforth there is very little sky about
them. Sail away, little cloud, little swell, little humbug.
Make believe you are away up in the curves of the sky. Not one
person in fifty will climb a mountain and find you out. But
I have been there, and you are nothing but fog, of the earth,
earthy. And when I sat in the cleft of a rock on the side of
Mount Washington, every fibre dulled through with your icy
moisture, I could with a good will have sent a sheriff to
arrest you for obtaining love under false pretences. O you
innocent, child-like cloud heaving with warmth and passion as
we saw, but a gray little imp, cold at the heart, and
malignant, and malignant, as we felt.

Felt it only when we did feel it, after all; for no sooner did
it roll slowly away, and, ceasing to be a discomfort, turn into
scenery, than all its olden witchery came back. I have had no
more than a glimpse of the world from a mountain. The evening
and the morning were the first day; and, till time shall be no
more, the evening and the morning will be all that there is of
the day, aesthetically considered. Yet at noon,--the most
unfascinating hour,--and in the early afternoon, though you
must needs fail of the twilight and its forerunners, there is
an intensity of brilliance and an immensity of breadth, that,
it seems to me, must be greater than if the view were broken
up by light and shade. You are blinded with a flood of
radiance, disturbed, or rather increased, by the flitting
cloud-shadows. The mountains deepen in the distance, burning
red in the glare of the sun, bristling with pines, mottled with
the various tints of oak and maple relieving the soberer
evergreens purpling on the slopes through a spiritual hazy
glow, delicatest lavender, and pearl, where they lie scarcely
pencilling distant horizon. The clouds come sailing over,
flinging their shadows to the plains,--shadows wavering down
the mountain-sides with an indescribable sweet tremulousness,
scudding over the lower summits, pursued by some frolicsome
gale which we do not see, or resting softly in the dells, whose
throbbing soothes itself to stillness in the grateful shade.
And still, midway between heaven and earth, snatched up from
the turmoil of the one into the unspeakable calm of the other,
a great peace and rest sink into our souls. All around lies
the earth, shining and silent as the sky, rippling in little
swells of light, breaking into luminous points, rising into
shapely shafts, spreading in limpid, molten silver, and all
bathed, transmuted, glorified, with ineffable light, and
sacred with eternal silence.

A bubble of home-life adheres to this stern peak. Determination
and perseverance have built two stone cottages, rough and squat,
where you may, if you have no mercy, eat a fine dinner that has
been wearily dragged over eight miles of hillocky, rutty roads,
and up eight miles of mountain; and drink without any compunction
clear, cold water that the clouds have distilled without any
trouble, and the rocks have bottled up in excellent refrigerators
and furnish at the shortest notice and on the most reasonable
terms, except in very dry weather. Or if a drought drinks up the
supply in the natural wells, there is the Lake of the Clouds,
humid and dark below, where you may see--I do not know--the angels
ascending and descending. The angels of the summit are generally
armed with a huge hoop, which supports their brace of buckets as
they step cautiously over the cragged rock fragments. If you are
ambitious to scale the very highest height, you can easily mount
the roof of the most frivolously named Tip-top House, and change
your horizon a fraction. If you are gregarious and crave society,
you can generally find it in multifarious developments. Hither
come artists with sketch-books and greedy eyes. Hither come
photographers with instruments, and photograph us all, men,
mountains, and rocks. Young ladies come, and find, after all
their trouble, that "there is nothing but scenery," and sit and
read novels. Haud ignota loquor. Young men come, alight from
their carriages, enter the house, balance themselves on two legs
of their chairs, smoke a cigar, eat a dinner, and record against
their names, "Mount Washington is a humbug,"--which is quite
conclusive as concerning the man, if not concerning the mountain.
There is one man in whose fate I feel a lively curiosity. As we
were completing our descent, twisted, frowzy, blown to shreds,
burnt faces, parched lips, and stringy hair, a solitary horseman
might have been seen just commencing his ascent,--the nicest
young man that ever was,--daintily gloved, patently booted, oily
curled, snowily wristbanded, with a lovely cambric (prima facie)
handkerchief bound about his hyacinthine locks and polished hat.
What I wish to know is, how did he get along? How did his
toilette stand the ascent? Did he, a second Ulysses, tie up all
opposing winds in that cambric pocket-handkerchief? or did
Auster and Eurus and Notus and Africus vex his fastidious soul?

They say--I do not know who, but somebody--that Mount
Washington in past ages towered hundreds of feet above its
present summit. Constant wear and tear of frost and heat have
brought it down, and its crumbling rock testifies to the still
progress of decay. The mountain will therefore one day flat
out, and if we live long enough, Halicarnassus remarks, we may
yet see the Tip-top and Summit Houses slowly let down and
standing on a rolling prairie. Those, therefore, who prefer
mountain to meadow should take warning and make their
pilgrimage betimes.

It is likely that you will be the least in the world tired and
a good deal sunburnt when you reach the Glen House; and, in
defiance of all the physiologies, you will eat a hearty supper
and go right to bed, and it won't hurt you in the least.
Nothing ever does among the mountains. The first you will
know, you open your eyes and it is morning, and there is Mount
Washington coming right in at your window, bearing down upon
you with his seamed and shadowy massiveness, and you will
forget bow rough and rocky he was yesterday, and will pay
homage once more to his dignity of imperial purple and his
solemn royalty.

The moment you are well awake, you find you are twice as good
as new, and after breakfast, if you are sagacious, no one
belonging to you will have any peace until you are striking out
into the woods again,--the green, murmurous woods, tenanted by
innumerable hosts of butterflies in their sunny outskirts,
light-winged Psyches hovering in the warm, rich air, stained
and spotted and splashed with every bright hue of yellow and
scarlet and russet, set off against brilliant blacks and
whites; dark, cool woods carpeted with mosses thick, soft,
voluptuous with the silent tribute of ages, and in their
luxurious depths your willing feet are cushioned,--more blessed
than feet of Persian princess crushing her woven lilies and
roses; the tender, sweet-scented woods lighted with bright
wood-sorrel, and fragrant with dews and damps;--to the Garnet
pool, perhaps, first, where the water has rounded out a basin
in the rock, and with incessant whirls and eddies has hollowed
numerous little sockets, smooth and regular, till you could
fancy yourself looking upon the remains of a petrified,
sprawling, and half-submerged monster. Where the water is
still, it is beautifully colored and shadowed with the
surrounding verdancy and flickering light and motion. If you
have courage and a firm foothold, if you will not slip on wet
rock, and do not mind you hands and knees in climbing up a dry
one, if you can coil yourself around a tree that juts out over
a path you wish to follow, you can reach points where the
action of the water, violent and riotous, can be seen in all
its reckless force. But, "Don't hold on by the trees," says
Halicarnassus; "you will get your gloves pitchy." This to me,
when I was in imminent danger of pitching myself incontinently
over the rocks, and down into the whirlpools!

Glen Ellis Falls we found in a random saunter,--a wild, white
water-leap, lithe, intent, determined, rousing you far off by
the incessant roar of its battle-flood, only to burst upon you
as aggressive, as unexpected and momentary, as if no bugle-peal
had heralded its onset. Leaning against a tree that juts out
over the precipice, clinging by its roots to the earth behind,
and affording you only a problematical support, you look down
upon a green, translucent pool, lying below rocks thickset with
hardy shrubs and trees, up to the narrow fall that hurls itself
down the cleft which it has grooved, concentrated and alert at
first, then wavering out with little tremors into the scant
sunshine, and meeting the waters beneath to rebound with many
a spring of surge and spray. A strange freak of the
water-nymphs it is that has fashioned this wild gulf and gorge,
softened it with the waving of verdure, and inspirited it with
the energy of eager waters.

Unsated we turn in again, thridding the resinous woods to track
the shy Naiads hiding in their coverts. Over the brown spines
of the pines, soft and perfumed, we loiter, following leisurely
the faint warble of waters, till we come to the boiling rapids,
where the stream comes hurrying down, and with sudden pique
flies apart, on one side going to form the Ellis, on the other
the Peabody River, and where in five minutes a stalwart arm
could drain the one and double the other. Indeed, the
existence of these two rivers seems to be a question of balance
and coincidence and hairbreadth escapes. Our driver pointed
out to us a tree whose root divides their currents. We pause
but a moment on the crazy little bridge, and then climb along
to the foot of the "Silver Cascade," farther and higher still,
till we call see the little brook murmuring on its mountain way
in the cliff above, and look over against it, and down upon it,
as it streams through the rock, leaps adown the height,
widening and thinning, spreading out over the face of the
declivity, transmuting it into crystal, and veiling it with
foam, leaping over in a hundred little arcs, lightly bounding
to its basin below, then sweeping finely around the base of the
projecting rock, and going on its way singing song of triumph
and content. A gentle and beautiful Undine, the worshipping
boughs bend to receive its benediction. Venturesome mosses
make perpetual little incursions into its lapping tide, and
divert numberless little streams to trickle around their
darkness, and leap up again in silver jets, clapping their
hands for joy.

"Now thanks to Heaven that of its grace
Hath led me to this lonely place;
Joy have I had, and going hence
I bear away my recompense."

All good and holy thoughts come to these solitudes. Here
selfishness dies away, and purity and magnanimity expand, the
essence and germ of life. Sitting here in these cool recesses,
screened from the sun, moist and musical with the waters,
crusts of worldliness and vanity cleave off from the soul.
The din dies away, and, with ears attuned to the harmonies of
nature, we are soothed to summer quiet. The passion and truth
of life flame up into serene but steadfast glow. Every
attainment becomes possible. Inflated ambitions shrivel, and
we reach after the Infinite. Weak desire is welded into noble
purpose. Patience teaches her perfect work, and vindicates her
divinity. The unchangeable rocks that face the unstable waters
typify to us our struggle and our victory. Day by day the
conflict goes on. Day by day the fixed battlements recede and
decay before their volatile opponent. Imperceptibly weakness
becomes strength, and persistence channels its way. God's work
is accomplished slowly, but it is accomplished. Time is not
to Him who commands eternity; and man, earth-born, earth-bound,
is bosomed in eternity.

One and another has a preference, choosing rather this than
that, and claiming the palm for a third; but with you there is
no comparison. Each is perfect in his kind. Each bodies his
own character and breathes his own expression.

O to be here through long, long summer days, drenched with
coolness and shadow and solitude, cool, cool, cool to the
innermost drop of my hot heart's-blood!


Why do I linger among the mountains? You have seen them all.
Nay, verily, I could believe that eyes had never looked upon
them before. They were new created for me this summer-day.
I plucked the flower of their promise. I touched the vigor of
their immortal youth.

But mountains must be read in the original, not in translation.
Only their own rugged language, speaking directly to eye and
heart, can fully interpret their meaning. What have adjectives,
in their wildest outburst, to do with rocks upheaved, furrows
ploughed, features chiselled, thousands and thousands of years
back in the conjectured past? What is a pen-scratch to a ravine?

For speed and ease cars are, of course, unsurpassed; but for
romance, observation, interest, there is nothing like the old-
fashioned coach. Cars are city; coaches are country. Cars are
the luxurious life of well-born and long-purses people; coaches
are the stirring, eventful career of people who have their own
way to make in the world. Cars shoot on independent, thrusting
off your sympathy with a snort; coaches admit you to all the
little humanities, every jolt harmonizes and adjusts you, till
you become a locomotive world, tunefully rolling on in your
orbit, independent of the larger world beneath. This is
coaching in general. Coaching among the White Mountains is a
career by itself,--I mean, of course, if you take it on the
outside. How life may look from the inside I am unable to say,
having steadfastly avoided that stand-point. When we set out
it rained, and I had a battle to fight. First, it was
attempted to bestow me inside, to which, if I had been a bale
of goods, susceptible of injury by water, I might have
assented. But for a living person, with an internal furnace
well fed with fuel, in constant operation, to pack himself in
a box on account of a shower, is absurd. What if it did rain?
I desired to see how things looked in the rain. Besides, it
was not incessant; there were continual liftings of cloud and
vapor, glimpses of clear sky, and a constant changing of tints,
from flashing, dewy splendor, through the softness of shining
mists, to the glooms of gray clouds, and the blinding,
uncompromising rain,--so that I would have ridden in a cistern
rather than have failed to see it. Well, when the outside was
seen to be a fixed fact, then I must sit in the middle of the
coachman's seat. Why? That by boot, umbrellas, and a man on
each side, I might be protected in flank, and rear, and van.
I said audibly, that I would rather be set quick i' the earth,
and bowled to death with turnips. If my object had been
protection, I should have gone inside. This was worse than
inside, for it was inside contracted. If I looked in front,
there was an umbrella with rare glimpses of a steaming horse
on each side, the exhilarating view of a great coat behind, a
pair of boots. I might as well have been buried alive. No,
the upper seat was the only one for a civilized and enlightened
being to occupy. There you could be free and look about, and
not be crowded; and I am happy to be able to say, that I am not
so unused to water as to be afraid of a little more or less of
it. So I ceased to argue, planted myself on the upper seat,
grasped tho railing, and smiled on the angry remonstrants
below,--smiled, but STUCK! "Let her go," said the driver in
a savage, whispered growl,--not to me, but a little bird told
me,--"let her go. Can't never do nothin' with women. They
never know what's good for 'em. When she's well wet, then
she'll want to be dried." True, O driver! and thrice that
morning you stopped to change horses, and thrice with knightly
grace you helped me down from the coach-top, gentle-handed and
smooth of brow and tongue, as if no storm had ever lowered on
that brow or muttered on that tongue, and thrice I went into
the village inns and brooded over the hospitable stoves, and
dried my dripping garments; and when once your voice rang
through the hostelrie, while yet I was enveloped in clouds of
steam, did not the good young woman seize her sizzling flat-iron
from the stove, and iron me out on her big table, so that I went
not only dry and comfortable, but smooth, uncreased, and
respectable, forth into the outer world again?


Thus I rode, amphibious and happy, on the top of the coach,
with only one person sharing the seat with me, and he
fortunately a stranger, and therefore sweet tempered, and a
very agreeable and intelligent man, talking sensibly when he
talked at all, and talking at all only now and then. Very
agreeable and polite; but presently he asked me in courteous
phrase if he might smoke, and of course I said yes, and the
fragrant white smoke-wreaths mingled with the valley vapors,
and as I sat narcotized and rapt, looking, looking, looking
into the lovely landscape, and looking it into me, twisting
the jagged finger-ends of my gloves around the protruding
ends of my fingers,--dreadfully jagged and forlorn the poor
gloves looked with their long travel. I don't know how it is,
but in all the novels that I ever read, the heroines always
have delicate, spotless, exquisite gloves, which are continually
lying about in the garden-paths, and which their lovers are
constantly picking up and pressing to their hearts and lips,
and treasuring in little golden boxes or something, and saying
how like the soft glove, pure and sweet, is to the beloved
owner; and it is all very pretty, but I cannot think how they
manage it. I am sure I should be very sorry to have my lovers
go about picking up my gloves. I don't have them a week before
they change color; the thumb gapes at its base, the little
finger rips away from the next one, and they all burst out at
the ends; a stitch drops in the back and slides down to the
wrist before you know it has started. You can mend, to be
sure, but for every darn yawn twenty holes. I admire a dainty
glove as much any one. I look with enthusiasm not unmingled
with despair at these gloves of romance; but such things do not
depend entirely upon taste, as male writers seem to think. A
pair of gloves cost a dollar and a half, and when you have
them, your lovers do not find them in the summer-house. Why
not? Because they are lying snugly wrapped in oiled-silk in
the upper bureau-drawer, only to be taken out on great occasions.
You would as soon think of wearing Victoria's crown for a
head-dress, as those gloves on a picnic. So it happens that
the gloves your lovers find will be sure to be Lisle-thread,
and dingy and battered at that; for how can you pluck flowers
and pull vines and tear away mosses without getting them dingy
and battered?--and the most fastidious lover in the world cannot
expect you to buy a new pair every time. For me, I keep my
gloves as long as the backs hold together, and go around for
forty-five weeks of the fifty-two with my hands clenched into
fists to cover omissions.

Let us not, however, dismiss the subject with this apologetic
notice, for there is another side. There is a basis of attack,
as well as defence. I not only apologize, but stand up for
this much-abused article. Though worn gloves are indeed less
beautiful than fresh ones, they have more character. Take one
just from the shop, how lank and wan it is,--a perfect monotony
of insipidity; but in a day or two it plumps out, it curls
over, it wabs up, it wrinkles and bulges and stands alone. All
the joints and hollows and curves and motions of your hands
speak through its outlines. Twists and rips and scratches and
stains bear silent witness of your agitation, your activity,
your merry-making. Here breaks through the irrepressible
energy of your nature. Let harmless negatives rejoice in their
stupid integrity. Genius is expansive and iconoclastic.
Enterprise cannot be confined by kid or thread or silk. The
life that is in you must have full swing, even if snap go the
buttons and gray go the gloves. Truly, if historians had but
eyes to see, the record of one's experience might be written
out from the bureau-drawer. Happy a thousand times that
historians have not eyes to see.

As to mending gloves, after the first attack it is time lost.
Let one or two pairs, kept for show and state, be irreproachable;
but the rest are for service, and everybody knows that little
serving can be done with bandaged hands. You must take hold of
things without gloves, or, which amounts to the same thing, with
gloves that let your fingers through, or you cannot reasonably
expect to take hold of things with any degree of efficiency.

So, as I was saying, I sat on the coach-top twisting my gloves,
and I wished in my heart that men would not do such things as
that very agreeable gentleman was doing. I do not design to
enter on a crusade against tobacco. It is a mooted point in
minor morals, in which every one must judge for himself; but
I do wish men would not smoke so much. In fact, I should be
pleased if they did not smoke at all. I do not believe there
is any necessity for it. I believe it is a mere habit of
self-indulgence. Women connive at it, because--well, because,
in a way, they must. Men are childish, and, as I have said
before, animal. I don't think they have nearly the
self-restraint, self-denial, high dignity and purity and
conscience that women have,--take them in the mass. They give
over to habits and pleasures like great boys. People talk
about the extravagance of women. But men are equally so, only
their extravagance takes a different turn. A woman's is
aesthetic; a man's is gross. She buys fine clothes and
furniture. He panders to his bodily appetites. Which is
worse? Women love men, and wish to be loved by them, and are
miserable if they are not. So the wife lets her husband do
twenty things which he ought not to do, which it is rude and
selfish and wicked for him to do, rather than run the risk of
loosening the cords which bind him to her. One can see every
day how women manage,--the very word tells the whole story,--
MANAGE men, by cunning strategy, cajolery, and all manner of
indirections, just as if they were elephants. But if men were
what they ought to be, there would be no such humiliating
necessity. They ought to be so upright, so candid, so just,
that it is only necessary to show this is right, this is
reasonable, this is wrong, for them to do it, or to refrain
from the doing. As it is, men smoke by the hour together, and
their wives are thankful it is nothing worse. They would not
dare to make a serious attempt to annihilate the pipe. They
feel that they hold their own by a tenure so uncertain, that
they are forced to ignore minor transgressions for the sake of
retaining their throne. I do not say that women are entirely
just and upright, but I do think that the womanly nature is
GOOD-er than the manly nature; I think a very large proportion
of female faults are the result of the indirect, but effective
wrong training they receive from men; and I think, thirdly,
that, take women just as they are, wrong training and all,
there is not one in ten thousand million who, if she had a
faithful and loving husband, would not be a faithful and loving
wife. Men know this, and act upon it. They know that they can
commit minor immoralities, and major ones too, and be forgiven.
They know it is not necessary for them to keep themselves pure
in body and soul lest they alienate their wives. So they yield
to their fleshly lusts. What an ado would be made if a woman
should form the habit of smoking, or any habit whose deleterious
effects extend through her husband's or her father's rooms,
cling to his wardrobe, books, and all his especial belongings!
Suppose she should even demand an innocent ice-cream as
frequently as her husband demands a cigar,--suppose she should
spend as much time and money on candy as he spends on tobacco,--
would she not be considered an extravagant, selfish, and somewhat
vulgar woman? But is it really any worse? Is it less extravagant
for a man to tickle his nose, than for a woman to tickle her
palate? If a cigar would enfoul the purity of a woman, does it
not of a man? Why is it more noble for a man to be the slave of
an appetite or a habit, than for a woman? Why is it less impure
for a man to saturate his hair, his breath and clothing, with vile,
stale odors, than for a woman? What right have men to suppose that
they can perfume themselves with stenches,--for whatever may be the
fragrance of a burning cigar, the after smell is a stench,--and be
any less offensive to a cleanly woman than a woman similarly
perfumed is to them? I have never heard that the female sense of
smell is less acute than the male. How dare men so presume on
womanly sufferance? They dare, because they know they are safe.
I can think of a dozen of my own friends who will read this and
bring out a fresh box of cigars, and smoke them under my very own
face and eyes, and know all the time that I shall keep liking them;
and the worst of it is, I know I shall, too. All the same, I do
not thoroughly respect a man who has a habit of smoking.

But if men will smoke, as they certainly will, because they are
animal and stubborn and self-indulgent and self-willed, let
them at least confine their fireworks to their own apartments.
If a wife would rather admit her fuliginous husband to her
sitting-room than forego his society altogether,--as
undoubtedly most women would, for you see it is not a question
between a smoky husband and a clear husband, but between a
smoky one and none at all, because between his wife and his
cigar the man will almost invariably choose the cigar,--I have
nothing to say. But don't let a man go into other people's
houses and smoke, or, above all things, walk smoking by the
side of women. No matter if she does give you permission when
you ask it. You should not have asked it. We don't wish you
to do it, you may be sure. It is a disrespectful thing. It
partakes of the nature of an insult. No matter how grand or
learned or distinguished you may be, don't do it. I saw once
one of our Cabinet Ministers walking, with his cigar in his
mouth, by the side of the wife of the British Minister, and it
lowered them both in my opinion, though I don't suppose either
of them would take it much to heart if they knew it. If you
are walking in the woods or fields, it may be pardonable; but
in the public streets no private compact can be of any avail.
It is a public mark of disrespect. If you don't regard us
enough to throw away or keep away your cigar when you join us,
just don't join us. Keep your own side of the street. Nobody
wants you; at least I don't. Walk alone if you like, or with
whomsoever you can, but if you walk with me, you shall "behave

But how frightfully hungry these long coach stages make one!
especially among the mountains. famine lurks in that wild air,
and is ever springing upon the unwary traveller. The fact was,
however, that I had the most dreadful appetite all the way
through. "Really," Halicarnassus would say, "it is quite
charming to see you in such fine health," being at the same
time reduced to a state of extreme disgust at my rapacity. He
made an estimate, one day, that I had eaten since we started
thirty-one and a half chickens, and I have no doubt I had; for
chickens were my piece de resistance as well as entrees; and
then they WERE chickens, not old hens,--little specks of darlings,
just giving one hop from the egg-shell to the gridiron, and each
time the waiter only brought you one bisegment of the speck, all
of whose edible possibilities could easily be salted down in a
thimble. I don't say this by way of complaint. A thimbleful of
delicacy is better than a "mountain of mummy"; and here let me
put in a word in favor of that much-abused institution, hotels.
I cannot see why people should go about complaining of them as
they do, both in literature and in life. My experience has been
almost always favorable. In New York, in Saratoga, in Canada,
all through the mountain district, we found ample and adequate
entertainment for man and beast. Trollope brings his sledge-
hammer down unequivocally. Of course there will be certain
viands not cooked precisely according to one's favorite method,
and at these prolonged dining-tables you miss the home-feeling
of quiet and seclusion; but I should like to know if one does
not travel on purpose to miss the home-feeling? If that is
what he seeks, it would be so easy to stay at home. One loses
half the pleasure and profit of travelling if he must box
himself up with his own party. It is a good thing to triturate
against other people occasionally. For eating, there are, to
be sure, the little oval dishes that have so aroused Trollopian
and other ire; and your mutton, it is true, is brought to you
slice-wise, on your plate, instead of the whole sheep set
bodily on the table,--the sole presentation appreciated by your
true Briton, who, with the traditions of his island home still
clinging to him, conceives himself able, I suppose, in no other
way to make sure that his meat and maccaroni are not the
remnants of somebody else's feast. But let Britannia's son not
flatter himself that so he shall escape contamination. His
precautions are entirely fruitless. Suppose he does see the
whole beast before him, and the very bean-vines, proof positive
of first-fruits; cannot the economical landlord gather up
heave-shoulder and wave-breast and serve them out to him in
next day's mince-pie? Matter revolves, but is never annihilated.
Ultimate and penultimate meals mingle in the colors of shot-silk.
Where there is a will, there is a way. If the cook is of a frugal
mind, and wills you to eat driblets, driblets you shall eat,
under one shape or another. The only way to preserve your peace,
is to be content with appearances. Take what is set before you,
asking no questions for conscience' sake. If it looks nice,
that is enough. Eat and be thankful.

Trollope says he never made a single comfortable meal at an
American hotel. The meat was swimming in grease, and the
female servants uncivil, impudent, dirty, slow, and provoking.
Occasionally they are a little slow, it must be confessed; but
I never met with one, male or female, who was uncivil,
impudent, or provoking. If I supposed it possible that my
voice should ever reach our late critic, whose good sense and
good spirit Americans appreciate, and whose name they would be
glad to honor if everything English had not become suspicious
to us, the possible synonyme of Pharisaism or stupidity, I
should recommend to him Lord Chesterfield's assertion, that a
man's own good breeding is the best security against other
people's bad manners. For the greasy meats, let him forego
meats altogether and take chickens, and he will not find grease
enough to soil his best coat, if he should carry the chick away
in his pocket. We always found a sufficient variety to enable
us to choose a wholesome and a toothsome dinner, with many
tempting dainties, and scores of dishes that I never heard of
before, and ordered dubiously by way of experiment, and tasted
timorously in pursuit of knowledge. As for the corn-cake of
the White Hills, if I live a thousand years, I never expect
anything in the line of biscuit, loaf, or cakes more utterly
satisfactory. It is the very ultimate crystallization of
cereals, the poetry and rhythm of bread, brown and golden to
the eye, like the lush loveliness of October, crumbling to the
touch, un-utterable to the taste. It has all the ethereal,
evanishing fascination of a spirit. Eve might have set it
before Raphael. You scarcely dare touch it lest it disappear
and leave you disappointed and desolate. It is melting,
insinuating,--a halo, hovering on the border-land of dream and
reality, beautiful but uncertain vision, a dissolving view.
I said something of the sort to Halicarnassus one morning, and
he said, Yes, it was--on my plate. And yet I have never had
as much as I wanted of it,--never. The others were perpetually
finishing their breakfast and compelling me, by a kind of moral
violence, to finish mine. I made an attempt one morning, the
last of my sojourn among the Delectable Mountains, when the
opposing elements had left the table prematurely to make
arrangements for departure, and startled the waiter by ordering
an unlimited supply of corn-cake. Like a thunder-bolt fell on
my ear the terrible answer: "There isn't any this morning.
It is brown bread." Me miserable!

As we went to dinner, in a large dining-room, upon our arrival
at the Glen House, it seemed to me that the guests were the
most refined and elegant in their general appearance of any
company I had seen since my departure, and I had a pleasant
New-English feeling of self-gratulation. But we were drawn up
into line directly opposite a row of young girls, who really
made me very uncomfortable. They were at an advanced stage of
their dinner when we entered, and they devoted themselves to
making observations. It was not curiosity, or admiration, or
astonishment, or horror. It was simply fixedness. They
displayed no emotion whatever, but every time your glance
reached within forty-five degrees of them, there they were
"staring right on with calm, eternal eyes," and kept at it till
the servants created a diversion with the dessert. Now, if
there is any thing that annoys and disconcerts me, it is to be
looked at. Some women would have put them down, but I never
can put anybody down. It is as much as I can do to hold my
own,--and more, unless I am with well-bred people who always
keep their equilibriums. One of these girls was the companion
of a venerable and courtly gentleman; and the thought arose,
how is it possible for this girl to have possibly that man's
blood in her veins, certainly the aroma of his life floating
around her, and the faultless model of his demeanor before her,
and not be the mirror of every grace? Of how little avail is
birth or breeding, if the instinct of politeness be not in the
heart. That last remark, however, must "right about face" in
order to be just. If the instincts be true, birth and breeding
are comparatively of no account, for the heart will dictate to
the quick eye and hand and voice the proper course; but where
the instincts are wanting, breeding is indispensable to supply
the deficiency. What one cannot do by nature he must do by
drill. Sometimes it seems to me that young girlhood is
intolerable. There is much delightful writing about it,--
rose-buds and peach-blossoms and timid fawns; but the timid
fawns are scarce in streets and hotels and schools,--or perhaps
it is that the fawns who are not timid draw all eyes upon
themselves, and make an impression entirely disproportionate
to their numbers. I am thinking now, I regret to say, of New
England young girls. Where they are charming, they are
irresistible; they need yield to nobody in the known world.
But I do think that an uninteresting Yankee girl is the most
uninteresting of all created objects. Southern girls have
almost always tender voices and soft manners. Arrant nonsense
comes from their lips with such sweet syllabic flow, such
little ripples of pronunciation and musical interludes, that
you are attracted and held without the smallest regard to what
they are saying. I could sit for hours and hear two of them
chattering over a checker-board for the pleasure of the
silvery, tinkling music of their voices. But woe is me for
the voices, male and female, that you so often hear in New
England,--the harsh, strident voices, the monotonous, cranky,
yanky, filing, rasping voices, without modulation, all rise
and no fall, a monotonous discord, no soul, no feeling, and no
counterfeit of it, loud, positive, angular, and awful. Indeed,
I do not see how we New-Englanders are ever to rid ourselves
of the reproach of our voices. The number of people who speak
well is not large enough materially to influence the rest.
Teachers do not teach speaking in school,--they certainly did
not in my day, and I have no reason to suppose from results
that they do now,--and parents do not teach it at home, for the
simple reason, I suppose, that they do not know it themselves.
We can all perceive the discord; but how to produce concord,
that is the question. This one thing, however, is practicable
if sweetness cannot be increased, volume can be diminished.
If you cannot make the right kind of noise, you can at least
make as little as possible of the wrong kind. Often the
discord extends to manners. Public conveyances and public
places produce so many girls who are not gentle, retiring,
shady, attractive. They are flingy and sharp and saucy,
without being piquant. They take on airs without having the
beauty or the brilliancy which alone makes airs delightful.
They agonize to make an impression, and they make it, but not
always in the line of their intent. Setting out to be
picturesque, they become uncouth. They are ridiculous when
they mean to be interesting, and silly when they try to be
playful. If they would only leave off attitudinizing, one
would he appeased. It may not be possible to acquire agreeable
manners, any more than a pleasant voice; but it is possible to
be quiet. But no suspicion of defect seems ever to have
penetrated the bosoms of such girls. They act as if they
thought attention was admiration. Levity they mistake for
vivacity. Peevishness is elegance. Boldness is dignity.
Rudeness is savoir faire Boisterousness is their vulgate for
youthful high spirits.

And what, let me ask just here, is the meaning of the small
waists that girls are cramming their lives into? I thought
tight-lacing was an effete superstition clean gone forever.
But again and again, last summer, I saw this wretched disease,
this cacoethes pectus vinciendi, breaking out with renewed and
increasing virulence; and I heard women--yes, grown-up women,
old women--talking about the "Grecian bend," and the tapering
line of the slender, willowy waist. Now, girls, when you have
laced yourselves into a wand, do not be so infatuated as to
suppose that any sensible man looks at you and thinks of
willows. Not in the least. Probably he is wondering how you
manage to breathe. As for the Grecian bend, you have been told
over and over again that no Grecian woman, whether in the flesh
or in the stone, ever bent such a figure,--spoiled if it was
originally good, made worse if it was originally bad. You wish
to be beautiful, and it is a laudable wish; but nothing is
beautiful which is not loyal, truthful, natural. You need not
take my simple word for it; I do not believe a doctor can
anywhere be found who will say that compression is healthful,
or a sculptor who will say that it is beautiful. Which now is
the higher art, the sculptor's or the mantua-maker's? Which
is most likely to be right, the man (or the woman) who devotes
his life to the study of beauty and strength, both in essence
and expression, or the woman who is concerned only with
clipping and trimming? Which do you think takes the more
correct view, he who looks upon the human body as God's
handiwork, a thing to be reverenced, to be studied, to be
obeyed, or one who admires it according as it varies more or
less from the standard of a fashion-plate, who considers it as
entirely subordinate to the prevailing mode, and who hesitates
at no devices to bring it down to the desired and utterly
arbitrary dimensions? This is what you do; you give yourselves
up into the hands, or you yield submissively to the opinions,
of people who make no account whatever of the form or the
functions of nature; who have never made their profession a
liberal one; who never seem to suspect that God had anything
to do with the human frame; who, whatever station in life they
occupy, have not possessed themselves of the first principles
of beauty and grace, while you ignore the opinions, and lay
yourself open to the contempt, of those whose natural
endowments and whose large and varied culture give them the
strongest claim upon your deference. The woman who binds the
human frame into such shapes as haunted the hotels last summer,
whether she be a dressmaker or a Queen of Fashion, is a woman
ignorant alike of the laws of health and beauty; and every
woman who submits to such distortion is either ignorant or
weak. The body is fearfully and wonderfully and beautifully
made, a glorious possession, a fair and noble edifice, the
Temple of the Holy Ghost, beautiful its symmetry, for its
adaptations, for its uses; and they who deform and degrade it
by a fashion founded in ignorance, fostered by folly, and
fruitful of woe, are working a work which can be forgiven them
only when they know not what they do.

If this is not true, then I know not what truth is. If it is
not a perfectly plain and patent truth, on the very face of it,
then I am utterly incapable of distinguishing between truth
and falsehood. Yet, if it is true, how account for the
tight-lacing among women who are in a position to be just as
intelligent as the doctor and the sculptor are?

Girls, I find a great deal of fault with you, do I not? But
I cannot help it. You have been so written and talked and sung
and flattered into absurdity and falsehood, that there is
nothing left but to stab you with short, sharp words. If I
chide you without cause, if I censure that which is censurable,
if I attribute to a class that which belongs only to
individuals, if I intimate that ungentle voices, uncultivated
language, and unpleasing manners are common when they are
really uncommon, if I assume to demand more than every person
who loves his country and believes his countrywomen has a right
to demand, on me be all the blame. But for ten persons who
give you flattery and sneers, you will not find one who will
tell you wholesome truths. I will tell you what seems to me
true and wholesome. Poetasters and cheap sentimentalists will
berhyme and beguile you: I cannot help it; but I will at least
attempt to administer the corrective of what should be common
sense. The Magister was forced to let Von Falterle have a hand
in Albano's education, but he "swore to weed as much out of him
every day as that other fellow raked in. Dilettanteism
prattles pleasant things to you: I want you to BE everything
that is pleasant. Where a fulsome if not a false adulation
praises your slender grace, I shall not hesitate to tell you
that I see neither slenderness nor grace, but ribs crushed in,
a diaphragm flattened down, liver and stomach and spleen and
pancreas jammed out of place, out of shape, out of use; and
that, if you were born so, humanity would dictate that you
should pad liberally, to save beholders from suffering; but of
malice aforethought so to contract yourselves is barbarism in
the first degree. And all the while I am saying these homely
things, I shall have ten thousand times more real regard and
veneration for you than your venders of dainty compliments.
Regard? Jenny, Lilly, Carry, Hetty, Fanny, and the rest of
you, dearly beloved and longed for,--Mary, my queen my
singing-bird, a royal captive, but she shall come to her crown
one day,--my two Ellens, graceful and brilliant, and you, my
sweet-mouthed, soft-eyed islander, with your life deep and
boundless like the sea that lulled you to baby-slumbers,--
knowing you, shall I talk of regard? Knowing you, and from
you, all, do I not know what girls can be? Sometimes it seems
as if no one knows girls EXCEPT me. If the world did but
know you, if it knew what deeps are in you, what strength and
salvation for the race lie dormant in your dormant powers,
surely it would throw off the deference that masks contempt and
give you the right hand of royal fellowship.

And if, in the world just as it is, girls did but know
themselves! If they did but know how delightful, how noble
and ennobling, how gracious and consoling and helpful, they
might be, how wearied eyes might love to rest upon them, how
sore hearts might be healed, and weak hearts strengthened, by
the fragrance of their unfolding youth! There is not one girl
in a thousand, North or South, who might not be lovely and
beloved. I do not reckon on a difference of race in North and
South, as the manner of some is. The great mass of girls whom
one meets in schools and public places are the ones who in the
South would be the listless, ragged daughters of poverty. The
great mass of Southern girls that we see are the cherished and
cultivated upper classes, and answer only to our very best.
Like should always be compared with like. And I am not afraid
to compare our best, high-born or lowly, with the best of any
class or country. They have, besides all that is beautiful,
a substantial substratum of sound sense, high principle,
practical benevolence, and hidden resources. To behold them,
they sparkle like diamonds. To know them, they are beneficent
as iron. Let all the others emulate these. Let none be
content with being intelligent. Let them determine also to
be full of grace.

Among the girls that I saw on my journey who did not please
me, there were several who did,--several of whom occasional
glimpses promised pleasant things, if only there were
opportunity to grasp them,--and two in particular who have
left an abiding picture in my gallery. Let me from pure
delight linger over the portraiture.

Two sisters taken a-pleasuring by their father,--the younger
anywhere from fourteen to eighteen years old, the elder
anywhere from sixteen to twenty;--this tall and slender, with
a modest, sensitive, quiet, womanly dignity; that animated,
unconscious, and entirely girlish;--the one with voice low and
soft, the other low and clear. The father was an educated and
accomplished Christian gentleman. The relations between the
two were most interesting. His demeanor towards them was a
charming combination of love and courtesy. Theirs to him was
at once confiding and polite. The best rooms, the best seats,
the best positions, were not assumed by them or yielded to them
with the rude tyranny on one side and mean servility on the
other which one too often sees, but pressed upon them with true
knightly chivalry, and received, not carelessly as due and
usual, but with affectionate deprecation and reluctance. Yet
there was not the slightest affectation of affection, than
which no affectation is more nauseous. True affection,
undoubtedly, does often exist where its expression is
caricatured, but the caricature is not less despicable. The
pride of the father in his daughters was charming,--it was so
natural, so fatherly, so frank, so irresistible, and never
offensively exhibited. There was not a taint of show or
selfishness in their mutual regard. They had eyes and ears
and ready hands for everybody.

And they were admirable travellers. They never had any
discomforts. They never found the food bad, or the beds
hard, or the servants stupid. They never were tired when
anything was to be done, or cross when it had been done, or
under any circumstances peevish, or pouty or "offish." They
were ready for everything and content with anything. It was
a pleasure to give them a pleasure, because their pleasure
was so manifest. They looked eagerly at everything and into
everything. The younger one, indeed, was so interested, that
she often forgot her feet in her bright, observant eyes, which
would lead her right on and on, regardless of the course of
others, till she was discovered to be missing, a search
instituted, and the wanderer returned smiling, but not
disconcerted. They were never restless, uneasy, discontented,
wanting to go somewhere else, or stay longer when every one was
ready to go, or annoying their friends by rushing into needless
danger. They never brought their personal tastes into conflict
with the general convenience. They were thoroughly free from
affectation. They never seemed to say or do anything with a
view to the impression it would make, or even to suspect that
they should make an impression. They were just fond enough of
dress to array themselves with neatness, freshness, a pretty
little touch of youthful ornament, and a very nice sense of
fitness. But they were never occupied with their dress, and
they had only as much as was necessary,--though that may have
been a mother's care,--and what of them was not the result of
wise parental care? They did not talk about GENTLEMEN. They
had evidently been brought up in familiar contact with the
thing, so that no glamour hung about the word. They talked of
places, people, books, flowers, all simple things, in a simple
way. They were interested in music, in pictures, in what they
saw and what they did. They sang and played with fresh,
natural grace, to the delight and applause of all, and stopped
soon enough to make us wish for more, but not soon enough to
seem capricious or disobliging or pert.

But my pen fails to picture them to you as I saw them,--the one
with her grave, sweet, artless dignity, a perfect Honoria,
crowned with the soft glory of a dawning womanhood; but the
other docile and sprightly, careless, but not thoughtless. The
beauty of their characters lay in the perfect balance. Their
qualities were set off against each other, and symmetry was the
result. They combined opposites into a fascinating harmony.
They had all the ease and unconcern of refined association,
without the smallest admixture of forwardness. They were
neither bold nor bashful. They neither pampered nor neglected
themselves,--neither fawned upon nor insulted others. They
were everything that they ought to be, and nothing that they
ought not to be, and I wished I could put them in a cage, and
carry them through the country, and say: "Look, girls, this
is what I mean. This is what I wish you to be."

We wound around the mountains, and wandered back and forth
through the defiles like the Israelites in the wilderness,
seeing everything that was to be seen, and a good deal more.
We alighted incessantly, and struck into little wood-paths
after cascades and falls, and got them to, sometimes. Of
course we penetrated into the dripping Flume, and paddled on
the Pool, or the Basin,--I have forgotten which they call it,--
for a pool is but a big basin, and a basin a small pool. Of
course we sailed and shouted on Echo Lake, and did obeisance
to the Old Man of the Mountains and his numerous and
nondescript progeny; for he has played pranks up there, and
infected the whole surrounding country with a furor of
personality. The Old Man himself I acknowledged. That great
stone face is clearly and calmly profiled against the sky.
His knee, too, is susceptible of proof, for I climbed it.
A white horse in the vicinity of Conway is visible to the
imaginative eye, and, by a little forcing of vision and
conscience, one can make out a turtle, all but the head and legs.
But there is a limit to all things, and when Halicarnassus held
up both hands in astonishment and admiration, and declared that
he saw a kangaroo, and then, in short and rapid succession, a
rhinoceros, an armadillo, and a crocodile, I felt, in the words
of General Banks, "We have now reached that limit," and shut
down the gates upon credulity.

At a little village among the mountains we met our friends,
and stopped a week or two, loath to leave the charmed spot.
"Where?" Never mind. A place where the sun shines, and
lavender-hued clouds whirl in craggy, defiant, thunderous
masses around imperturbable mountain-tops; and vapors, pearly
and amber-tinted, have not forgotten to float softly among the
valleys; and evening skies fling out their pink and purple
banner; and stars throb, and glow, and flash, with a radiant
life that is not of the earth;--where great rivers have not yet
put on the majesty of manhood, but trill over pebbles, curl
around rocks, ripple against banks, waltz little eddies, spread
dainty pools for gay little trout, dash up saucy spray into the
eyes of bending ferns, mock the frantic struggles of lost
flowers and twigs, tantalizing them with hope of a rest that
never comes, leap headlong, swirling and singing with a
thousand silver tongues, down cranny and ravine in all the
wild winsomeness of unchecked youth;--a land flowing with
maple-molasses and sugar, and cider applesauce, and cheese new
and old, and baked beans, and three sermons on Sundays, besides
Sabbath school at noon, and no time to go home; and wagons with
three seats, [Mem. Always choose the back seat, if you wish
to secure a reputation for amiability,] three on a seat, two
and a colt trotting gravely beside his mother; roads all sand
in the hollows and all ruts on the hills, blocked up by snow
in the winter, and washed away by thunder-showers in the
summer;--a land where carpets are disdained, latches are of
wood, thieves unknown, wainscots and wells au naturel, women
are as busy as bees all day and knit in the chinks, men are
invisible till evening, girls braid hats and have beaux, and
everybody goes to bed and to sleep at nine o'clock, and gets
up nobody knows when, and cooks, eats, and "clears away"
breakfast before other people have fairly rubbed their eyes
open; where all the town are neighbors for ten miles round, and
know your outgoings and incomings without impertinence, gossip
without a sting, are intelligent without pretension, sturdy
without rudeness, honest without effort, and cherish an
orthodoxy true as steel, straight as a pine, unimpeachable in
quality, and unlimited in quantity. God bless them! Late may
they return to heaven, and never want a man to stand before the
Lord forever!

Some people have conscientious scruples about fishing. I
respect them. I had them once myself. Wantonly to destroy,
for mere sport, the innocent life, in lake and river, seemed
to me a cruelty and a shame. But people must fish. Now, then,
how shall your theory and practice be harmonized? Practice
can't yield. Plainly, theory must. A year ago, I went out on
a rock in the Atlantic Ocean, held a line--just to see how it
seemed,--and caught eight fishes; and every time a fish came
up, a scruple went down. They weren't very large,--the fishes,
I mean, not the scruples, though the same adjective might,
perhaps, not unjustly be applied to both,--and I don't know
that the enormity of the sin depends at all upon the size of
the fish; but if it did, so entirely had my success convinced
me of man's lawful dominion over the fish of the sea, that I
verily believe, if a whale had hooked himself on the end of my
line, I should have hauled him up without a pang.

I do not insist that you shall accept my system of ethics.
Deplorable results might follow its practical application in
every imaginable case. I simply state facts, leaving the
"thoughtful reader" to generalize from them whatever code he

Which facts will partially account for the eagerness with which
I, one morning, seconded a proposal to go a-fishing in a river
about fourteen miles away. One wanted the scenery, another the
drive, a third a chowder, and so on; but I--I may as well
confess--wanted the excitement, the fishes, the opportunity of
displaying my piscatory prowess. I enjoyed in anticipation the
masculine admiration and feminine chagrin that would accompany
the beautiful, fat, shining, speckled, prismatic trout into my
basket, while other rods waited in vain for a "nibble." I
resolved to be magnanimous. Modesty should lend to genius a
heightened charm. I would win hearts by my humility, as well
as laurels by my dexterity. I would disclaim superior skill,
attribute success to fortune, and offer to distribute my spoil
among the discomfited. Glory, not pelf, was my object. You
imagine my disgust on finding, at the end of our journey, that
there was only one rod for the party. Plenty of lines, but no
rods. What was to be done? It was proposed to improvise rods
from the trees. "No," said the female element. "We don't
care. We shouldn't catch any fish. We'd just as soon stroll
about." I bubbled up, if I didn't boil over. "WE shouldn't,
should WE? Pray, speak for yourselves! Didn't I catch eight
cod-fishes in the Atlantic Ocean, last summer? Answer me
that!" I was indignant that they should so easily be turned
away, by the trivial circumstance of there being no rods, from
the noble art of fishing. My spirits rose to the height of the
emergency. The story of my exploits makes an impression.
There is a marked respect in the tone of their reply. "Let
there be no division among us. Go you to the stream, O Nimrod
of the waters, since you alone have the prestige of success.
We will wander quietly in the woods, build a fire, fry the
potatoes, and await your return with the fish." They go to the
woods. I hang my prospective trout on my retrospective cod,
and march river-ward. Halicarnassus, according to the old saw,
"leaves this world, and climbs a tree," and, with jackknife,
cord, and perseverance, manufactures a fishing-rod, which he
courteously offers to me, which I succinctly decline, informing
him in no ambiguous phrase that I consider nothing beneath the
best as good enough for me. Halicarnassus is convinced by my
logic, overpowered by my rhetoric, and meekly yields up the
best rod, though the natural man rebels. The bank of the river
is rocky, steep, shrubby, and difficult of ascent or descent.
Halicarnassus bids me tarry on the bridge, while he descends
to reconnoitre. I am acquiescent, and lean over the railing
awaiting the result of investigation. Halicarnassus picks his
way over the rocks, sidewise and zigzaggy along the bank, and
down the river, in search of fish. I grow tired of playing
Casabianca, and steal behind the bridge, and pick my way over
the rocks, sidewise and zigzaggy along the bank, and up the
river, in search of "fun"; practise irregular and indescribable
gymnastics with variable success for half an hour or so. Shout
from the bridge. I look up. Too far off to hear the words,
but see Halicarnassus gesticulating furiously, and evidently
laboring under great excitement. Retrograde as rapidly as
circumstances will permit. Halicarnassus makes a speaking-
trumpet of his hands, and roars, "I've FOUND--a FISH! LEFT--
him for--YOU--to CATCH! Come QUICK!"--and, plunging headlong
down the bank, disappears. I am touched to the heart by this
sublime instance of self-denial and devotion, and scramble up
to the bridge, and plunge down after him. Heel of boot gets
entangled in dress every third step,--fishing-line in tree-top
every second; progress consequently not so rapid as could be
desired. Reach the water at last. Step cautiously from rock
to rock to the middle of the stream,--balance on a pebble just
large enough to plant both feet on, and just firm enough to
make it worth while to run the risk,--drop my line into the
spot designated,--a quiet, black little pool in the rushing
river,--see no fish, but have faith in Halicarnassus.

"Bite?" asks Halicarnassus, eagerly.

"Not yet," I answer, sweetly. Breathless expectation. Lips
compressed. Eyes fixed. Five minutes gone.

"Bite?" calls Halicarnassus, from down the river.

"Not yet," hopefully.

"Lower your line a little. I'll come in a minute." Line is
lowered. Arms begin to ache. Rod suddenly bobs down. Snatch
it up. Only an old stick. Splash it off contemptuously.

"Bite?" calls Halicarnassus from afar.

"No," faintly responds Marius, amid the ruins of Carthage.

"Perhaps he will by and by," suggests Halicarnassus,
encouragingly. Five minutes more. Arms breaking. Knees
trembling. Pebble shaky. Brain dizzy. Everything seems to
be sailing down the stream. Tempted to give up, but look at
the empty basket, think of the expectant party and the eight
cod-fish, and possess my soul in patience.

"Bite?" comes the distant voice of Halicarnassus, disappearing
by a bend in the river.

"No!" I moan, trying to stand on one foot to rest the other,
and ending by standing on neither for the pebble quivers,
convulses, and finally rolls over and expires; and only a
vigorous leap and a sudden conversion of the fishing-rod into
a balancing-pole save me from an ignominious bath. Weary of
the world, and lost to shame, I gather all my remaining
strength, wind the line about the rod, poise it on high, hurl
it out into the deepest and most unobstructed part of the
stream, climb up pugnis et calcibus on the back of an old
boulder; coax, threaten, cajole, and intimidate my wet boots
to come off; dip my handkerchief in the water, and fold it on
my head, to keep from being sunstruck; lie down on the rock,
pull my hat over my face, and dream, to the purling of the
river, the singing of the birds, and the music of the wind in
the trees, (whether in the body I cannot tell, or whether out
of the body I cannot tell,) of another river, far, far away,--
broad, and deep, and seaward rushing,--now in shadow, now in
shine,--now lashed by storm, now calm as a baby's sleep,--
bearing on its vast bosom a million crafts, whereof I see only
one,--a little pinnace, frail yet buoyant,--tossed hither and
thither, yet always keeping her prow to the waves,--washed,
but not whelmed. So small and slight a thing, will she not
be borne down by the merchant-ships, the ocean steamers, the
men-of-war, that ride the waves, reckless in their pride of
power? How will she escape the sunken rocks, the treacherous
quicksands, the ravening whirlpools, the black and dark night?
Lo! yonder, right across her bows, comes one of the Sea-Kings,
freighted with death for the frail little bark! Woe! woe! for
the lithe little bark! Nay, not death, but life. The Sea-King
marks the path of the pinnace. Not death, but life. Signals
flash back and forth. She discerns the voice of the Master.
He, too, is steering seaward,--not more bravely, not more
truly, but a directer course. He will pilot her past the
breakers and the quicksands. He will bring her to the haven
where she would be. O brave little bark! Is it Love that
watches at the masthead? Is it Wisdom that stands at the
helm? Is it Strength that curves the swift keel?--

"Hello! how many?"

I start up wildly, and knock my hat off into the water. Jump
after it, at the imminent risk of going in myself, catch it
by one of the strings, and stare at Halicarnassus.

"Asleep, I fancy?" says Halicarnassus, interrogatively.

"Fancy," I echo, dreamily.

"How many fishes? " persists Halicarnassus.

"Fishes?" says the echo.

"Yes, fishes," repeats Halicarnassus, in a louder tone.

"Yes, it must have been the fishes," murmurs the echo.

"Goodness gracious me!" ejaculates Halicarnassus, with the
voice of a giant; "how many fishes have you caught?"

"Oh! yes," waking up and hastening to appease his wrath;
"eight,--chiefly cod."

Indignation chokes his speech. Meanwhile I wake up still
further, and, instead of standing before him like a culprit,
beard him like an avenging Fury, and upbraid him with his
deception and desertion. He attempts to defend himself, but
is overpowered. Conscious guilt dyes his face, and remorse
gnaws at the roots of his tongue.

"Sinful heart makes feeble hand."

We walk silently towards the woods. We meet a small boy with
a tin pail and thirty-six fishes in it. We accost him.

"Are these fishes for sale?" asks Halicarnassus.

"Bet they be!" says small boy, with energy.

Halicarnassus looks meaningly at me. I look meaningly at
Halicarnassus, and both look meaningly at our empty basket.

"Won't you tell?" says Halicarnassus.

"No; won't you?" Halicarnassus whistles, the fishes are
transferred from pan to basket, and we walk away as "chirp as
a cricket," reach the sylvan party, and are speedily

"O what beauties! Who caught them? How many are there?"

"Thirty-six," says Halicarnassus, in a lordly, thoroughbred
way. "I caught 'em."

"In a tin pan," I exclaim, disgusted with his conceit, and
determined to "take him down."

A cry of rage from Halicarnassus, a shout of derision from the party.

"And how many did you catch, pray?" demands he.

"Eight,--all cods," I answer, placidly.

Tolerably satisfied with our aquatic experience, we determined
to resume the mountains, but in a milder form; before which,
however, it became necessary to do a little shopping. An
individual--one of the party, whose name I will not divulge,
and whose identity you never can conjecture, so it isn't worth
while to exhaust yourself with guessing--found one day, while
she was in the country, that she had walked a hole through the
bottom of her boots. How she discovered this fact is of no
moment; but, upon investigating the subject, she ascertained
that it could scarcely be said with propriety that there was
a hole in her boots, but, to use a term which savors of the
street, though I employ it literally, there WASN'T ANYTHING
ELSE. Now the fact of itself is not worthy of remark. That
the integrity of a pair of boots should yield to the continued
solicitations of time, toil, bone, and muscle, is too nearly
a matter of everyday occurrence to excite alarm. The
"irrepressible conflict" between leather and land has, so far
as I know, been suspended but once since

"Adam delved and Eve span,"

and that was only an amnesty of forty years while the
Israelites were wandering in the wilderness. But when you
are deep in the heart of the country, scouring woods, climbing
mountains, and fording rivers, having with your usual
improvidence neglected to furnish yourself with stout boots,
then a "horrid chasm," or series of chasms, yawning in the
only pair that are of any use to you, presents a spectacle
which no reflective mind can contemplate without dismay.

It was, in fact, with a good deal of dismay that the individual
in question sat down, one morning, on "Webster's Unabridged,"--
that being the only available seat in an apartment not
over-capacious,--and went into a committee of the whole on the
state of her boots. The prospect was not inviting. Heels
frightfully wrenched and askew, and showing indubitable
symptoms of a precipitate secession; binding frayed, ravelled,
evidently stubborn in resistance, but at length overpowered and
rent into innumerable fissures; buttons dislocated, dragged up
by the roots, yet clinging to a forlorn hope with a courage and
constancy worthy of a better cause; upper-leather (glove-kid),
once black, now "the ashen hue of age," gray, purple, flayed,
scratched, and generally lacerated; soles, ah! the soles!
There the process of disintegration culminated. Curled,
crisped, jagged, gaping, stratified, laminated, torn by
internal convulsions, upheaved by external forces, they might
have belonged to some pre-Adamic era, and certainly presented
a series of dissolving views, deeply interesting, but not, it
must be confessed, highly entertaining.

After arranging these boots in every possible combination,--
side by side, heel to heel, toe to toe,--and finding that the
result of each and every combination was that

"No light, but rather darkness visible,
Served only to discover sights of woe,"

the Individual at length, with a sigh, placed them, keel
upwards, on the floor in front of her, and, resting her head
in her hands, gazed at them with such a fixedness and rigidity
that she might have been taken for an old Ouate, absorbed in
the exercise of his legitimate calling. (The old Druidical
order were divided into three classes, Druids, Bards, and
Ouates. The Druids philosophized and theologized, the Bards
harped and sang, and the Ouates divined and CONTEMPLATED THE
NATURE OF THINGS. I thought I would tell you, as you might not
know. I execrate the self-conceited way some people have of
tossing off their erudite items and allusions in a careless,
familiar style, as if it is such A B C to them that they don't
for a moment think of any one's not understanding it. Worse
still is it to have some jagged brickbat, dug up from a heap
of Patagonian rubbish, flung at you with a "we have all heard
of"; or to be turned off, just as your ears are wide open to
listen to an old pre-Thautic myth, with "the story of ---- is
too familiar to need repetition." You have not the most
distant conception what the story is, yet you don't like to say
so, because it seems to be intimated that every intelligent
person ought to know it; so you hold your peace. My dear,
don't do it. Don't hold your peace. Don't let yourself be put
down in that way. Don't be deceived. Half the time these
people never knew it themselves, I dare say, more than a week
before-hand, and have been puzzling their brains ever since

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