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The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving

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prepared by Nelson Nieves

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.

by Washington Irving

The Author's Account of Himself
The Voyage
The Wife
Rip Van Winkle
English Writers on America
Rural Life in England
The Broken Heart
The Art of Book-making
A Royal Poet
The Country Church
The Widow and her Son
A Sunday in London
The Boar's Head Tavern
The Mutability of Literature
Rural Funerals
The Inn Kitchen
The Spectre Bridegroom
Westminster Abbey
The Stage-Coach
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day
The Christmas Dinner
London Antiques
Little Britain
Traits of Indian Character
Philip of Pokanoket
John Bull
The Pride of the Village
The Angler
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow



"I have no wife nor children, good or bad, to provide for. A mere
spectator of other men's fortunes and adventures, and how they
play their parts; which, methinks, are diversely presented unto
me, as from a common theatre or scene."--BURTON.


THE following papers, with two exceptions, were written in
England, and formed but part of an intended series for which I
had made notes and memorandums. Before I could mature a plan,
however, circumstances compelled me to send them piecemeal to the
United States, where they were published from time to time in
portions or numbers. It was not my intention to publish them in
England, being conscious that much of their contents could be
interesting only to American readers, and, in truth, being
deterred by the severity with which American productions had been
treated by the British press.

By the time the contents of the first volume had appeared in this
occasional manner, they began to find their way across the
Atlantic, and to be inserted, with many kind encomiums, in the
London Literary Gazette. It was said, also, that a London
bookseller intended to publish them in a collective form. I
determined, therefore, to bring them forward myself, that they
might at least have the benefit of my superintendence and
revision. I accordingly took the printed numbers which I had
received from the United States, to Mr. John Murray, the eminent
publisher, from whom I had already received friendly attentions,
and left them with him for examination, informing him that should
he be inclined to bring them before the public, I had materials
enough on hand for a second volume. Several days having elapsed
without any communication from Mr. Murray, I addressed a note to
him, in which I construed his silence into a tacit rejection of
my work, and begged that the numbers I had left with him might be
returned to me. The following was his reply:

MY DEAR SIR: I entreat you to believe that I feel truly obliged
by your kind intentions towards me, and that I entertain the most
unfeigned respect for your most tasteful talents. My house is
completely filled with workpeople at this time, and I have only
an office to transact business in; and yesterday I was wholly
occupied, or I should have done myself the pleasure of seeing

If it would not suit me to engage in the publication of your
present work, it is only because I do not see that scope in the
nature of it which would enable me to make those satisfactory
accounts between us, without which I really feel no satisfaction
in engaging--but I will do all I can to promote their
circulation, and shall be most ready to attend to any future plan
of yours.

With much regard, I remain, dear sir,
Your faithful servant,

This was disheartening, and might have deterred me from any
further prosecution of the matter, had the question of
republication in Great Britain rested entirely with me; but I
apprehended the appearance of a spurious edition. I now thought
of Mr. Archibald Constable as publisher, having been treated by
him with much hospitality during a visit to Edinburgh; but first
I determined to submit my work to Sir-Walter (then Mr.) Scott,
being encouraged to do so by the cordial reception I had
experienced from him at Abbotsford a few years previously, and by
the favorable opinion he had expressed to others of my earlier
writings. I accordingly sent him the printed numbers of the
Sketch-Book in a parcel by coach, and at the same time wrote to
him, hinting that since I had had the pleasure of partaking of
his hospitality, a reverse had taken place in my affairs which
made the successful exercise of my pen all-important to me; I
begged him, therefore, to look over the literary articles I had
forwarded to him, and, if he thought they would bear European
republication, to ascertain whether Mr. Constable would be
inclined to be the publisher.

The parcel containing my work went by coach to Scott's address in
Edinburgh; the letter went by mail to his residence in the
country. By the very first post I received a reply, before he had
seen my work.

"I was down at Kelso," said he, "when your letter reached
Abbotsford. I am now on my way to town, and will converse with
Constable, and do all in my power to forward your views--I assure
you nothing will give me more pleasure."

The hint, however, about a reverse of fortune had struck the
quick apprehension of Scott, and, with that practical and
efficient good-will which belonged to his nature, he had already
devised a way of aiding me. A weekly periodical, he went on to
inform me, was about to be set up in Edinburgh, supported by the
most respectable talents, and amply furnished with all the
necessary information. The appointment of the editor, for which
ample funds were provided, would be five hundred pounds sterling
a year, with the reasonable prospect of further advantages. This
situation, being apparently at his disposal, he frankly offered
to me. The work, however, he intimated, was to have somewhat of a
political bearing, and he expressed an apprehension that the tone
it was desired to adopt might not suit me. "Yet I risk the
question," added he, "because I know no man so well qualified for
this important task, and perhaps because it will necessarily
bring you to Edinburgh. If my proposal does not suit, you need
only keep the matter secret and there is no harm done. `And for
my love I pray you wrong me not.' If on the contrary you think it
could be made to suit you, let me know as soon as possible,
addressing Castle Street, Edinburgh."

In a postscript, written from Edinburgh, he adds, "I am just come
here, and have glanced over the Sketch-Book. It is positively
beautiful, and increases my desire to crimp you, if it be
possible. Some difficulties there always are in managing such a
matter, especially at the outset; but we will obviate them as
much as we possibly can."

The following is from an imperfect draught of my reply, which
underwent some modifications in the copy sent:

"I cannot express how much I am gratified by your letter. I had
begun to feel as if I had taken an unwarrantable liberty; but,
somehow or other, there is a genial sunshine about you that warms
every creeping thing into heart and confidence. Your literary
proposal both surprises and flatters me, as it evinces a much
higher opinion of my talents than I have myself."

I then went on to explain that I found myself peculiarly unfitted
for the situation offered to me, not merely by my political
opinions, but by the very constitution and habits of my mind. "My
whole course of life," I observed, "has been desultory, and I am
unfitted for any periodically recurring task, or any stipulated
labor of body or mind. I have no command of my talents, such as
they are, and have to watch the varyings of my mind as I would
those of a weathercock. Practice and training may bring me more
into rule; but at present I am as useless for regular service as
one of my own country Indians or a Don Cossack.

"I must, therefore, keep on pretty much as I have begun; writing
when I can, not when I would. I shall occasionally shift my
residence and write whatever is suggested by objects before me,
or whatever rises in my imagination; and hope to write better and
more copiously by and by.

I am playing the egotist, but I know no better way of answering
your proposal than by showing what a very good-for-nothing kind
of being I am. Should Mr. Constable feel inclined to make a
bargain for the wares I have on hand, he will encourage me to
further enterprise; and it will be something like trading with a
gypsy for the fruits of his prowlings, who may at one time have
nothing but a wooden bowl to offer, and at another time a silver

In reply, Scott expressed regret, but not surprise, at my
declining what might have proved a troublesome duty. He then
recurred to the original subject of our correspondence; entered
into a detail of the various terms upon which arrangements were
made between authors and booksellers, that I might take my
choice; expressing the most encouraging confidence of the success
of my work, and of previous works which I had produced in
America. "I did no more," added he, "than open the trenches with
Constable; but I am sure if you will take the trouble to write to
him, you will find him disposed to treat your overtures with
every degree of attention. Or, if you think it of consequence in
the first place to see me, I shall be in London in the course of
a month, and whatever my experience can command is most heartily
at your command. But I can add little to what I have said above,
except my earnest recommendation to Constable to enter into the

* I cannot avoid subjoining in a note a succeeding paragraph of
Scott's letter, which, though it does not relate to the main
subject of our correspondence, was too characteristic to be
emitted. Some time previously I had sent Miss Sophia Scott small
duodecimo American editions of her father's poems published in
Edinburgh in quarto volumes; showing the "nigromancy" of the
American press, by which a quart of wine is conjured into a pint
bottle. Scott observes: "In my hurry, I have not thanked you in
Sophia's name for the kind attention which furnished her with the
American volumes. I am not quite sure I can add my own, since you
have made her acquainted with much more of papa's folly than she
would ever otherwise have learned; for I had taken special care
they should never see any of those things during their earlier
years. I think I have told you that Walter is sweeping the
firmament with a feather like a maypole and indenting the
pavement with a sword like a scythe--in other words, he has
become a whiskered hussar in the 18th Dragoons."

Before the receipt of this most obliging letter, however, I had
determined to look to no leading bookseller for a launch, but to
throw my work before the public at my own risk, and let it sink
or swim according to its merits. I wrote to that effect to Scott,
and soon received a reply:

"I observe with pleasure that you are going to come forth in
Britain. It is certainly not the very best way to publish on
one's own accompt; for the booksellers set their face against the
circulation of such works as do not pay an amazing toll to
themselves. But they have lost the art of altogether damming up
the road in such cases between the author and the public, which
they were once able to do as effectually as Diabolus in John
Bunyan's Holy War closed up the windows of my Lord
Understanding's mansion. I am sure of one thing, that you have
only to be known to the British public to be admired by them, and
I would not say so unless I really was of that opinion.

"If you ever see a witty but rather local publication called
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, you will find some notice of your
works in the last number: the author is a friend of mine, to whom
I have introduced you in your literary capacity. His name is
Lockhart, a young man of very considerable talent, and who will
soon be intimately connected with my family. My faithful friend
Knickerbocker is to be next examined and illustrated. Constable
was extremely willing to enter into consideration of a treaty for
your works, but I foresee will be still more so when

Your name is up, and may go
From Toledo to Madrid.

------And that will soon be the case. I trust to be in London
about the middle of the month, and promise myself great pleasure
in once again shaking you by the hand."

The first volume of the Sketch-Book was put to press in London,
as I had resolved, at my own risk, by a bookseller unknown to
fame, and without any of the usual arts by which a work is
trumpeted into notice. Still some attention had been called to it
by the extracts which had previously appeared in the Literary
Gazette, and by the kind word spoken by the editor of that
periodical, and it was getting into fair circulation, when my
worthy bookseller failed before the first month was over, and the
sale was interrupted.

At this juncture Scott arrived in London. I called to him for
help, as I was sticking in the mire, and, more propitious than
Hercules, he put his own shoulder to the wheel. Through his
favorable representations, Murray was quickly induced to
undertake the future publication of the work which he had
previously declined. A further edition of the first volume was
struck off and the second volume was put to press, and from that
time Murray became my publisher, conducting himself in all his
dealings with that fair, open, and liberal spirit which had
obtained for him the well-merited appellation of the Prince of

Thus, under the kind and cordial auspices of Sir Walter Scott, I
began my literary career in Europe; and I feel that I am but
discharging, in a trifling degree, my debt of gratitude to the
memory of that golden-hearted man in acknowledging my obligations
to him. But who of his literary contemporaries ever applied to
him for aid or counsel that did not experience the most prompt,
generous, and effectual assistance?

W. I.


The Author's Account of Himself
The Voyage
The Wife
Rip Van Winkle
English Writers on America
Rural Life in England
The Broken Heart
The Art of Book-making
A Royal Poet
The Country Church
The Widow and her Son
A Sunday in London
The Boar's Head Tavern
The Mutability of Literature
Rural Funerals
The Inn Kitchen
The Spectre Bridegroom
Westminster Abbey
The Stage-Coach
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day
The Christmas Dinner
London Antiques
Little Britain
Traits of Indian Character
Philip of Pokanoket
John Bull
The Pride of the Village
The Angler
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


I am of this mind with Homer, that as the snaile that crept out
of her shel was turned eftsoones into a toad I and thereby was
forced to make a stoole to sit on; so the traveller that
stragleth from his owne country is in a short time transformed
into so monstrous a shape, that he is faine to alter his mansion
with his manners, and to live where he can, not where he

I was always fond of visiting new scenes, and observing strange
characters and manners. Even when a mere child I began my
travels, and made many tours of discovery into foreign parts and
unknown regions of my native city, to the frequent alarm of my
parents, and the emolument of the town crier. As I grew into
boyhood, I extended the range of my observations. My holiday
afternoons were spent in rambles about the surrounding country. I
made myself familiar with all its places famous in history or
fable. I knew every spot where a murder or robbery had been
committed, or a ghost seen. I visited the neighboring villages,
and added greatly to my stock of knowledge, by noting their
habits and customs, and conversing with their sages and great
men. I even journeyed one long summer's day to the summit of the
most distant hill, whence I stretched my eye over many a mile of
terra incognita, and was astonished to find how vast a globe I

This rambling propensity strengthened with my years. Books of
voyages and travels became my passion, and in devouring their
contents, I neglected the regular exercises of the school. How
wistfully would I wander about the pier-heads in fine weather,
and watch the parting ships, bound to distant climes; with what
longing eyes would I gaze after their lessening sails, and waft
myself in imagination to the ends of the earth!

Further reading and thinking, though they brought this vague
inclination into more reasonable bounds, only served to make it
more decided. I visited various parts of my own country; and had
I been merely a lover of fine scenery, I should have felt little
desire to seek elsewhere its gratification, for on no country had
the charms of nature been more prodigally lavished. Her mighty
lakes, her oceans of liquid silver; her mountains, with their
bright aerial tints; her valleys, teeming with wild fertility;
her tremendous cataracts, thundering in their solitudes; her
boundless plains, waving with spontaneous verdure; her broad,
deep rivers, rolling in solemn silence to the ocean; her
trackless forests, where vegetation puts forth all its
magnificence; her skies, kindling with the magic of summer clouds
and glorious sunshine;--no, never need an American ok beyond his
own country for the sublime and beautiful of natural scenery.

But Europe held forth all the charms of storied and poetical
association. There were to be seen the masterpieces of art, the
refinements of highly cultivated society, the quaint
peculiarities of ancient and local custom. My native country was
full of youthful promise; Europe was rich in the accumulated
treasures of age. Her very ruins told the history of the times
gone by, and every mouldering stone was a chronicle. I longed to
wander over the scenes of renowned achievement--to tread, as it
were, in the footsteps of antiquity--to loiter about the ruined
castle--to meditate on the falling tower--to escape, in short,
from the commonplace realities of the present, and lose myself
among the shadowy grandeurs of the past.

I had, besides all this, an earnest desire to see the great men
of the earth. We have, it is true, our great men in America: not
a city but has an ample share of them. I have mingled among them
in my time, and been almost withered by the shade into which they
cast me; for there is nothing so baleful to a small man as the
shade of a great one, particularly the great man of a city. But I
was anxious to see the great men of Europe; for I had read in the
works of various philosophers, that all animals degenerated in
America, and man among the number. A great man of Europe, thought
I, must therefore be as superior to a great man of America, as a
peak of the Alps to a highland of the Hudson; and in this idea I
was confirmed by observing the comparative importance and
swelling magnitude of many English travellers among us, who, I
was assured, were very little people in their own country. I will
visit this land of wonders, thought I, and see the gigantic race
from which I am degenerated.

It has been either my good or evil lot to have my roving passion
gratified. I have wandered through different countries and
witnessed many of the shifting scenes of life. I cannot say that
I have studied them with the eye of a philosopher, but rather
with the sauntering gaze with which humble lovers of the
picturesque stroll from the window of one print-shop to another;
caught sometimes by the delineations of beauty, sometimes by the
distortions of caricature, and sometimes by the loveliness of
landscape. As it is the fashion for modern tourists to travel
pencil in hand, and bring home their portfolios filled with
sketches, I am disposed to get up a few for the entertainment of
my friends. When, however, I look over the hints and memorandums
I have taken down for the purpose, my heart almost fails me, at
finding how my idle humor has led me astray from the great object
studied by every regular traveller who would make a book. I fear
I shall give equal disappointment with an unlucky
landscape-painter, who had travelled on the Continent, but
following the bent of his vagrant inclination, had sketched in
nooks, and corners, and by-places. His sketch-book was
accordingly crowded with cottages, and landscapes, and obscure
ruins; but he had neglected to paint St. Peter's, or the
Coliseum, the cascade of Terni, or the bay of Naples, and had not
a single glacier or volcano in his whole collection.


Ships, ships, I will descrie you
Amidst the main,
I will come and try you,
What you are protecting,
And projecting,
What's your end and aim.
One goes abroad for merchandise and trading,
Another stays to keep his country from invading,
A third is coming home with rich and wealthy lading.
Hallo! my fancie, whither wilt thou go?

To an American visiting Europe, the long voyage he has to make is
an excellent preparative. The temporary absence of worldly scenes
and employments produces a state of mind peculiarly fitted to
receive new and vivid impressions. The vast space of waters that
separate the hemispheres is like a blank page in existence. There
is no gradual transition by which, as in Europe, the features and
population of one country blend almost imperceptibly with those
of another. From the moment you lose sight of the land you have
left, all is vacancy, until you step on the opposite shore, and
are launched at once into the bustle and novelties of another

In travelling by land there is a continuity of scene, and a
connected succession of persons and incidents, that carry on the
story of life, and lessen the effect of absence and separation.
We drag, it is true, "a lengthening chain" at each remove of our
pilgrimage; but the chain is unbroken; we can trace it back link
by link; and we feel that the last still grapples us to home. But
a wide sea voyage severs us at once. It makes us conscious of
being cast loose from the secure anchorage of settled life, and
sent adrift upon a doubtful world. It interposes a gulf, not
merely imaginary, but real, between us and our homes--a gulf,
subject to tempest, and fear, and uncertainty, rendering distance
palpable, and return precarious.

Such, at least, was the case with myself. As I saw the last blue
lines of my native land fade away like a cloud in the horizon, it
seemed as if I had closed one volume of the world and its
concerns, and had time for meditation, before I opened another.
That land, too, now vanishing from my view, which contained all
most dear to me in life; what vicissitudes might occur in
it--what changes might take place in me, before I should visit it
again! Who can tell, when he sets forth to wander, whither he may
be driven by the uncertain currents of existence; or when he may
return; or whether it may be ever his lot to revisit the scenes
of his childhood?

I said, that at sea all is vacancy; I should correct the
impression. To one given to day-dreaming, and fond of losing
himself in reveries, a sea voyage is full of subjects for
meditation; but then they are the wonders of the deep and of the
air, and rather tend to abstract the mind from worldly themes. I
delighted to loll over the quarter-railing or climb to the
main-top, of a calm day, and muse for hours together on the
tranquil bosom of a summer's sea; to gaze upon the piles of
golden clouds just peering above the horizon, fancy them some
fairy realms, and people them with a creation of my own; --to
watch the gently undulating billows rolling their silver volumes,
as if to die away on those happy shores.

There was a delicious sensation of mingled security and awe with
which I looked down, from my giddy height, on the monsters of the
deep at their uncouth gambols: shoals of porpoises tumbling about
the bow of the ship; the grampus, slowly heaving his huge form
above the surface; or the ravenous shark, darting, like a
spectre, through the blue waters. My imagination would conjure up
all that I had heard or read of the watery world beneath me; of
the finny herds that roam its fathomless valleys; of the
shapeless monsters that lurk among the very foundations of the
earth; and of those wild phantasms that swell the tales of
fishermen and sailors.

Sometimes a distant sail, gliding along the edge of the ocean,
would be another theme of idle speculation. How interesting this
fragment of a world, hastening to rejoin the great mass of
existence! What a glorious monument of human invention; which has
in a manner triumphed over wind and wave; has brought the ends of
the world into communion; has established an interchange of
blessings, pouring into the sterile regions of the north all the
luxuries of the south; has diffused the light of knowledge, and
the charities of cultivated life; and has thus bound together
those scattered portions of the human race, between which nature
seemed to have thrown an insurmountable barrier.

We one day descried some shapeless object drifting at a distance.
At sea, every thing that breaks the monotony of the surrounding
expanse attracts attention. It proved to be the mast of a ship
that must have been completely wrecked; for there were the
remains of handkerchiefs, by which some of the crew had fastened
themselves to this spar, to prevent their being washed off by the
waves. There was no trace by which the name of the ship could be
ascertained. The wreck had evidently drifted about for many
months; clusters of shell-fish had fastened about it, and long
sea-weeds flaunted at its sides. But where, thought I, is the
crew? Their struggle has long been over--they have gone down
amidst the roar of the tempest--their bones lie whitening among
the caverns of the deep. Silence, oblivion, like the waves, have
closed over them, and no one can tell the story of their end.
What sighs have been wafted after that ship! what prayers offered
up at the deserted fireside of home! How often has the mistress,
the wife, the mother, pored over the daily news, to catch some
casual intelligence of this rover of the deep! How has
expectation darkened into anxiety--anxiety into dread--and dread
into despair! Alas! not one memento may ever return for love to
cherish. All that may ever be known, is that she sailed from her
port, "and was never heard of more!"

The sight of this wreck, as usual, gave rise to many dismal
anecdotes. This was particularly the case in the evening, when
the weather, which had hitherto been fair, began to look wild and
threatening, and gave indications of one of those sudden storms
that will sometimes break in upon the serenity of a summer
voyage. As we sat round the dull light of a lamp, in the cabin,
that made the gloom more ghastly, everyone had his tale of
shipwreck and disaster. I was particularly struck with a short
one related by the captain:

"As I was once sailing," said he, "in a fine, stout ship, across
the banks of Newfoundland, one of those heavy fogs that prevail
in those parts rendered it impossible for us to see far ahead,
even in the daytime; but at night the weather was so thick that
we could not distinguish any object at twice the length of the
ship. I kept lights at the mast-head, and a constant watch
forward to look out for fishing smacks, which are accustomed to
anchor oo the banks. The wind was blowing a smacking breeze, and
we were going at a great rate through the water. Suddenly the
watch gave the alarm of `a sail ahead!'--it was scarcely uttered
before we were upon her. She was a small schooner, at anchor,
with her broadside toward us. The crew were all asleep, and had
neglected to hoist a light. We struck her just amidships. The
force, the size, and weight of our vessel, bore her down below
the waves; we passed over her and were hurried on our course. As
the crashing wreck was sinking beneath us, I had a glimpse of two
or three half-naked wretches, rushing from her cabin; they just
started from their beds to be swallowed shrieking by the waves. I
heard their drowning cry mingling with the wind. The blast that
bore it to our ears, swept us out of all further hearing. I shall
never forget that cry! It was some time before we could put the
ship about, she was under such headway. We returned, as nearly as
we could guess, to the place where the smack had anchored. We
cruised about for several hours in the dense fog. We fired
signal-guns, and listened if we might hear the halloo of any
survivors: but all was silent--we never saw or heard any thing of
them more."

I confess these stories, for a time, put an end to all my fine
fancies. The storm increased with the night. The sea was lashed
into tremendous confusion. There was a fearful, sullen sound of
rushing waves and broken surges. Deep called unto deep. At times
the black volume of clouds overhead seemed rent asunder by
flashes of lightning which quivered along the foaming billows,
and made the succeeding darkness doubly terrible. The thunders
bellowed over the wild waste of waters, and were echoed and
prolonged by the mountain waves. As I saw the ship staggering and
plunging among these roaring caverns, it seemed miraculous that
she regained her balance, or preserved her buoyancy. Her yards
would dip into the water; her bow was almost buried beneath the
waves. Sometimes an impending surge appeared ready to overwhelm
her, and nothing but a dexterous movement of the helm preserved
her from the shock.

When I retired to my cabin, the awful scene still followed me.
The whistling of the wind through the rigging sounded like
funereal wailings. The creaking of the masts; the straining and
groaning of bulkheads, as the ship labored in the weltering sea,
were frightful. As I heard the waves rushing along the side of
the ship, and roaring in my very ear, it seemed as if Death were
raging around this floating prison, seeking for his prey: the
mere starting of a nail, the yawning of a seam, might give him

A fine day, however, with a tranquil sea and favoring breeze,
soon put all these dismal reflections to flight. It is impossible
to resist the gladdening influence of fine weather and fair wind
at sea. When the ship is decked out in all her canvas, every sail
swelled, and careering gayly over the curling waves, how lofty,
how gallant, she appears--how she seems to lord it over the deep!

I might fill a volume with the reveries of a sea voyage; for with
me it is almost a continual reverie--but it is time to get to

It was a fine sunny morning when the thrilling cry of "land!" was
given from the mast-head. None but those who have experienced it
can form an idea of the delicious throng of sensations which rush
into an American's bosom, when he first comes in sight of Europe.
There is a volume of associations with the very name. It is the
land of promise, teeming with everything of which his childhood
has heard, or on which his studious years have pondered.

From that time, until the moment of arrival, it was all feverish
excitement. The ships of war, that prowled like guardian giants
along the coast; the headlands of Ireland, stretching out into
the channel; the Welsh mountains towering into the clouds;--all
were objects of intense interest. As we sailed up the Mersey, I
reconnoitred the shores with a telescope. My eye dwelt with
delight on neat cottages, with their trim shrubberies and green
grass-plots. I saw the mouldering ruin of an abbey overrun with
ivy, and the taper spire of a village church rising from the brow
of a neighboring hill;--all were characteristic of England.

The tide and wind were so favorable, that the ship was enabled to
come at once to her pier. It was thronged with people; some idle
lookers-on; others, eager expectants of friends or relations. I
could distinguish the merchant to whom the ship was consigned. I
knew him by his calculating brow and restless air. His hands were
thrust into his pockets; he was whistling thoughtfully, and
walking to and fro, a small space having been accorded him by the
crowd, in deference to his temporary importance. There were
repeated cheerings and salutations interchanged between the shore
and the ship, as friends happened to recognize each other. I
particularly noticed one young woman of humble dress, but
interesting demeanor. She was leaning forward from among the
crowd; her eye hurried over the ship as it neared the shore, to
catch some wished-for countenance. She seemed disappointed and
sad; when I heard a faint voice call her name.--It was from a
poor sailor who had been ill all the voyage, and had excited the
sympathy of every one on board. When the weather was fine, his
messmates had spread a mattress for him on deck in the shade, but
of late his illness had so increased that he had taken to his
hammock, and only breathed a wish that he might see his wife
before he died. He had been helped on deck as we came up the
river, and was now leaning against the shrouds, with a
countenance so wasted, so pale, so ghastly, that it was no wonder
even the eye of affection did not recognize him. But at the sound
of his voice, her eye darted on his features: it read, at once, a
whole volume of sorrow; she clasped her hands, uttered a faint
shriek, and stood wringing them in silent agony.

All now was hurry and bustle. The meetings of acquaintances--the
greetings of friends--the consultations of men of business. I
alone was solitary and idle. I had no friend to meet, no cheering
to receive. I stepped upon the land of my forefathers--but felt
that I was a stranger in the land.


----In the service of mankind to be
A guardian god below; still to employ
The mind's brave ardor in heroic aims,
Such as may raise us o'er the grovelling herd,
And make us shine for ever--that is life.

ONE of the first places to which a stranger is taken in Liverpool
is the Athenaeum. It is established on a liberal and judicious
plan; it contains a good library, and spacious reading-room, and
is the great literary resort of the place. Go there at what hour
you may, you are sure to find it filled with grave-looking
personages, deeply absorbed in the study of newspapers.

As I was once visiting this haunt of the learned, my attention
was attracted to a person just entering the room. He was advanced
in life, tall, and of a form that might once have been
commanding, but it was a little bowed by time--perhaps by care.
He had a noble Roman style of countenance; a a head that would
have pleased a painter; and though some slight furrows on his
brow showed that wasting thought had been busy there, yet his eye
beamed with the fire of a poetic soul. There was something in his
whole appearance that indicated a being of a different order from
the bustling race round him.

I inquired his name, and was informed that it was
ROSCOE. I drew back with an involuntary feeling of veneration.
This, then, was an author of celebrity; this was one of those men
whose voices have gone forth to the ends of the earth; with whose
minds I have communed even in the solitudes of America.
Accustomed, as we are in our country, to know European writers
only by their works, we cannot conceive of them, as of other men,
engrossed by trivial or sordid pursuits, and jostling with the
crowd of common minds in the dusty paths of life. They pass
before our imaginations like superior beings, radiant with the
emanations of their genius, and surrounded by a halo of literary

To find, therefore, the elegant historian of the Medici mingling
among the busy sons of traffic, at first shocked my poetical
ideas; but it is from the very circumstances and situation in
which he has been placed, that Mr. Roscoe derives his highest
claims to admiration. It is interesting to notice how some minds
seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every
disadvantage, and working their solitary but irresistible way
through a thousand obstacles. Nature seems to delight in
disappointing the assiduities of art, with which it would rear
legitimate dulness to maturity; and to glory in the vigor and
luxuriance of her chance productions. She scatters the seeds of
genius to the winds, and though some may perish among the stony
places of the world, and some be choked, by the thorns and
brambles of early adversity, yet others will now and then strike
root even in the clefts of the rock, struggle bravely up into
sunshine, and spread over their sterile birthplace all the
beauties of vegetation.

Such has been the case with Mr. Roscoe. Born in a place
apparently ungenial to the growth of literary talent--in the very
market-place of trade; without fortune, family connections, or
patronage; self-prompted, self-sustained, and almost self-taught,
he has conquered every obstacle, achieved his way to eminence,
and, having become one of the ornaments of the nation, has turned
the whole force of his talents and influence to advance and
embellish his native town.

Indeed, it is this last trait in his character which has given
him the greatest interest in my eyes, and induced me particularly
to point him out to my countrymen. Eminent as are his literary
merits, he is but one among the many distinguished authors of
this intellectual nation. They, however, in general, live but for
their own fame, or their own pleasures. Their private history
presents no lesson to the world, or, perhaps, a humiliating one
of human frailty or inconsistency. At best, they are prone to
steal away from the bustle and commonplace of busy existence; to
indulge in the selfishness of lettered eas; and to revel in
scenes of mental, but exclusive enjoyment.

Mr. Roscoe, on the contrary, has claimed none of the accorded
privileges of talent. He has shut himself up in no garden of
thought, nor elysium of fancy; but has gone forth into the
highways and thoroughfares of life, he has planted bowers by the
wayside, for the refreshment of the pilgrim and the sojourner,
and has opened pure fountains, where the laboring man may turn
aside from the dust and heat of the day, and drink of the living
streams of knowledge. There is a "daily beauty in his life," on
which mankind may meditate, and grow better. It exhibits no lofty
and almost useless, because inimitable, example of excellence;
but presents a picture of active, yet simple and imitable
virtues, which are within every man's reach, but which,
unfortunately, are not exercised by many, or this world would be
a paradise.

But his private life is peculiarly worthy the attention of the
citizens of our young and busy country, where literature and the
elegant arts must grow up side by side with the coarser plants of
daily necessity; and must depend for their culture, not on the
exclusive devotion of time and wealth; nor the quickening rays of
titled patronage; but on hours and seasons snatched from the
purest of worldly interests, by intelligent and public-spirited

He has shown how much may be done for a place in hours of leisure
by one master-spirit, and how completely it can give its own
impress to surrounding objects. Like his own Lorenzo de' Medici,
on whom he seems to have fixed his eye, as on a pure model of
antiquity, he has interwoven the history of his life with the
history of his native town, and has made the foundations of his
fame the monuments of his virtues. Wherever you go, in Liverpool,
you perceive traces of his footsteps in all that is elegant and
liberal. He found the tide of wealth flowing merely in the
channels of traffic; he has diverted from it invigorating rills
to refresh the garden of literature. By his own example and
constant exertions, he has effected that union of commerce and
the intellectual pursuits, so eloquently recommended in one of
his latest writings;* and has practically proved how beautifully
they may be brought to harmonize, and to benefit each other. The
noble institutions for literary and scientific purposes, which
reflect such credit on Liverpool, and are giving such an impulse
to the public mind, have mostly been originated, and have all
been effectively promoted, by Mr. Roscoe; and when we consider
the rapidly increasing opulence and magnitude of that town, which
promises to vie in commercial importance with the metropolis, it
will be perceived that in awakening an ambition of mental
improvement among its inhabitants, he has effected a great
benefit to the cause of British literature.

* Address on the opening of the Liverpool Institution.

In America, we know Mr. Roscoe only as the author; in Liverpool
he is spoken of as the banker; and I was told of his having been
unfortunate in business. I could not pity him, as I heard some
rich men do. I considered him far above the reach of pity. Those
who live only for the world, and in the world, may be cast down
by the frowns of adversity; but a man like Roscoe is not to be
overcome by the reverses of fortune. They do but drive him in
upon the resources of his own mind, to the superior society of
his own thoughts; which the best of men are apt sometimes to
neglect, and to roam abroad in search of less worthy associates.
He is independent of the world around him. He lives with
antiquity, and with posterity: with antiquity, in the sweet
communion of studious retirement; and with posterity, in the
generous aspirings after future renown. The solitude of such a
mind is its state of highest enjoyment. It is then visited by
those elevated meditations which are the proper aliment of noble
souls, and are, like manna, sent from heaven, in the wilderness
of this world.

While my feelings were yet alive on the subject, it was my
fortune to light on further traces of Mr. Roscoe. I was riding
out with a gentleman, to view the environs of Liverpool, when he
turned off, through a gate, into some ornamented grounds. After
riding a short distance, we came to a spacious mansion of
freestone, built in the Grecian style. It was not in the purest
style, yet it had an air of elegance, and the situation was
delightful. A fine lawn sloped away from it, studded with clumps
of trees, so disposed as to break a soft fertile country into a
variety of landscapes. The Mersey was seen winding a broad quiet
sheet of water through an expanse of green meadow land, while the
Welsh mountains, blended with clouds, and melting into distance,
bordered the horizon.

This was Roscoe's favorite residence during the days of his
prosperity. It had been the seat of elegant hospitality and
literary retirement. The house was now silent and deserted. I saw
the windows of the study, which looked out upon the soft scenery
I have mentioned. The windows were closed--the library was gone.
Two or three ill-favored beings were loitering about the place,
whom my fancy pictured into retainers of the law. It was like
visiting some classic fountain, that had once welled its pure
waters in a sacred shade, but finding it dry and dusty, with the
lizard and the toad brooding over the shattered marbles.

I inquired after the fate of Mr. Roscoe's library, which had
consisted of scarce and foreign books, from many of which he had
drawn the materials for his Italian histories. It had passed
under the hammer of the auctioneer, and was dispersed about the
country. The good people of the vicinity thronged liked wreckers
to get some part of the noble vessel that had been driven on
shore. Did such a scene admit of ludicrous associations, we might
imagine something whimsical in this strange irruption in the
regions of learning. Pigmies rummaging the armory of a giant, and
contending for the possession of weapons which they could not
wield. We might picture to ourselves some knot of speculators,
debating with calculating brow over the quaint binding and
illuminated margin of an obsolete author; of the air of intense,
but baffled sagacity, with which some successful purchaser
attempted to dive into the black-letter bargain he had secured.

It is a beautiful incident in the story of Mr. Roscoe's
misfortunes, and one which cannot fail to interest the studious
mind, that the parting with his books seems to have touched upon
his tenderest feelings, and to have been the only circumstance
that could provoke the notice of his muse. The scholar only knows
how dear these silent, yet eloquent, companions of pure thoughts
and innocent hours become in the season of adversity. When all
that is worldly turns to dross around us, these only retain their
steady value. When friends grow cold, and the converse of
intimates languishes into vapid civility and commonplace, these
only continue the unaltered countenance of happier days, and
cheer us with that true friendship which never deceived hope, nor
deserted sorrow.

I do not wish to censure; but, surely, if the people of Liverpool
had been properly sensible of what was due to Mr. Roscoe and
themselves, his library would never have been sold. Good worldly
reasons may, doubtless, be given for the circumstance, which it
would be difficult to combat with others that might seem merely
fanciful; but it certainly appears to me such an opportunity as
seldom occurs, of cheering a noble mind struggling under
misfortunes by one of the most delicate, but most expressive
tokens of public sympathy. It is difficult, however, to estimate
a man of genius properly who is daily before our eyes. He becomes
mingled and confounded with other men. His great qualities lose
their novelty; we become too familiar with the common materials
which form the basis even of the loftiest character. Some of Mr.
Roscoe's townsmen may regard him merely as a man of business;
others, as a politician; all find him engaged like themselves in
ordinary occupations, and surpassed, perhaps, by themselves on
some points of worldly wisdom. Even that amiable and
unostentatious simplicity of character, which gives the nameless
grace to real excellence, may cause him to be undervalued by some
coarse minds, who do not know that true worth is always void of
glare and pretension. But the man of letters, who speaks of
Liverpool, speaks of it as the residence of Roscoe.--The
intelligent traveller who visits it inquires where Roscoe is to
be seen. He is the literary landmark of the place, indicating its
existence to the distant scholar.--He is like Pompey's column at
Alexandria, towering alone in classic dignity.

The following sonnet, addressed by Mr. Roscoe to his books, on
parting with them, has already been alluded to. If anything can
add effect to the pure feeling and elevated thought here
displayed, it is the conviction, that the who leis no effusion of
fancy, but a faithful transcript from the writer's heart.


As one who, destined from his friends to part,
Regrets his loss, but hopes again erewhile
To share their converse and enjoy their smile,
And tempers as he may affliction's dart;

Thus, loved associates, chiefs of elder art,
Teachers of wisdom, who could once beguile
My tedious hours, and lighten every toil,
I now resign you; nor with fainting heart;

For pass a few short years, or days, or hours,
And happier seasons may their dawn unfold,
And all your sacred fellowship restore:
When, freed from earth, unlimited its powers.
Mind shall with mind direct communion hold,
And kindred spirits meet to part no more.


The treasures of the deep are not so precious
As are the concealed comforts of a man
Lock'd up in woman's love. I scent the air
Of blessings, when I came but near the house,
What a delicious breath marriage sends forth--
The violet bed's no sweeter!

I HAVE often had occasion to remark the fortitude with which
women sustain the most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those
disasters which break down the spirit of a man, and prostrate him
in the dust, seem to call forth all the energies of the softer
sex, and give such intrepidity and elevation to their character,
that at times it approaches to sublimity. Nothing can be more
touching, than to behold a soft and tender female, who had been
all weakness and dependence, and alive to every trivial
roughness, while threading the prosperous paths of life, suddenly
rising in mental force to be the comforter and support of her
husband under misfortune, and abiding with unshrinking firmness
the bitterest blasts of adversity.

As the vine, which has long twined its graceful foliage about the
oak, and been and been lifted by it into sunshine, will, when the
hardy plant is rifted by the thunderbolt, cling round it with its
caressing tendrils, and bind up its shattered boughs, so is it
beautifully ordered by Providence, that woman, who is the mere
dependent and ornament of man in his happier hours, should be his
stay and solace when smitten with sudden calamity; winding
herself into the rugged recesses of his nature, tenderly
supporting the drooping head, and binding up the broken heart.

I was once congratulating a friend, who had around him a blooming
family, knit together in the strongest affection. "I can wish you
no better lot," said he, with enthusiasm, "than to have a wife
and children. If you are prosperous, there they are to share your
prosperity; if otherwise, there they are to comfort you." And,
indeed, I have observed that a married man falling into
misfortune, is more apt to retrieve his situation in the world
than a single one; partly, because he is more stimulated to
exertion by the necessities of the helpless and beloved beings
who depend upon him for subsistence, but chiefly because his
spirits are soothed and relieved by domestic endearments, and his
self-respect kept alive by finding, that, though all abroad is
darkness and humiliation, yet there is still a little world of
love at home, of which he is the monarch. Whereas, a single man
is apt to run to waste and self-neglect; to fancy himself lonely
and abandoned, and his heart to fall to ruin, like some deserted
mansion, for want of an inhabitant.

These observations call to mind a little domestic story, of which
I was once a witness. My intimate friend, Leslie, had married a
beautiful and accomplished girl, who had been brought up in the
midst of fashionable life. She had, it is true, no fortune, but
that of my friend was ample; and he delighted in the anticipation
of indulging her in every elegant pursuit, and administering to
those delicate tastes and fancies that spread a kind of witchery
about the sex.--"Her life," said he, "shall be like a fairy

The very difference in their characters produced a harmonious
combination; he was of a romantic, and somewhat serious cast; she
was all life and gladness. I have often noticed the mute rapture
with which he would gaze upon her in company, of which her
sprightly powers made her the delight: and how, in the midst of
applause, her eye would still turn to him, as if there alone she
sought favor and acceptance. When leaning on his arm, her slender
form contrasted finely with his tall, manly person. The fond,
confiding air with which she looked up to him seemed to call
forth a flush of triumphant pride and cherishing tenderness, as
if he doated on his lovely burden from its very helplessness.
Never did a couple set forward on the flowery path of early and
well-suited marriage with a fairer prospect of felicity.

It was the misfortune of my friend, however, to have embarked his
property in large speculations; and he had not been married many
months, when, by a succession of sudden disasters, it was swept
from him, and he found himself reduced to almost penury. For a
time he kept his situation to himself, and went about with a
haggard countenance, and a breaking heart. His life was but a
protracted agony; and what rendered it more insupportable was the
necessity of keeping up a smile in the presence of his wife; for
he could not bring himself to overwhelm her with the news. She
saw, however, with the quick eyes of affection, that all was not
well with him. She marked his altered looks and stifled sighs,
and was not to be deceived by his sickly and vapid attempts at
cheerfulness. She tasked all her sprightly powers and tender
blandishments to win him back to happiness; but she only drove
the arrow deeper into his soul. The more he saw cause to love
her, the more torturing was the thought that he was soon to make
her wretched. A little while, thought he, and the smile will
vanish from that cheek--the song will die away from those
lips--the lustre of those eyes will be quenched with sorrow and
the happy heart which now beats lightly in that bosom, will be
weighed down, like mine, by the cares and miseries of the world.

At length he came to me one day, and related his whole situation
in a tone of the deepest despair. When I had heard him through, I
inquired: "Does your wife know all this?"--At the question he
burst into an agony of tears. "For God's sake!" cried he, "if you
have any pity on me don't mention my wife; it is the thought of
her that drives me almost to madness!"

"And why not?" said I. "She must know it sooner or later: you
cannot keep it long from her, and the intelligence may break upon
her in a more startling manner than if imparted by yourself; for
the accents of those we love soften the harshest tidings.
Besides, you are depriving yourself of the comforts of her
sympathy; and not merely that, but also endangering the only bond
that can keep hearts together--an unreserved community of thought
and feeling. She will soon perceive that something is secretly
preying upon your mind; and true love will not brook reserve; it
feels undervalued and outraged, when even the sorrows of those it
loves are concealed from it."

"Oh, but my friend! to think what a blow I am to give to all her
future prospects,--how I am to strike her very soul to the earth,
by telling her that her husband is a beggar! that she is to
forego all the elegancies of life--all the pleasures of
society--to shrink with me into indigence and obscurity! To tell
her that I have dragged her down from the sphere in which she
might have continued to move in constant brightness--the light of
every eye--the admiration of every heart!--How can she bear
poverty? She has been brought up in all the refinements of
opulence. How can she bear neglect? She has been the idol of
society. Oh, it will break her heart--it will break her heart!"

I saw his grief was eloquent, and I let it have its flow; for
sorrow relieves itself by words. When his paroxysm had subsided,
and he had relapsed into moody silence, I resumed the subject
gently, and urged him to break his situation at once to his wife.
He shook his head mournfully, but positively.

"But how are you to keep it from her? It is necessary she should
know it, that you may take the steps proper to the alteration of
your circumstances. You must change your style of living--nay,"
observing a pang to pass across his countenance, "don't let that
afflict you. I am sure you have never placed your happiness in
outward show--you have yet friends, warm friends, who will not
think the worse of you for being less splendidly lodged: and
surely it does not require a palace to be happy with Mary--"

"I could be happy with her," cried he, convulsively, "in a
hovel!--I could go down with her into poverty and the dust!--I
could--I could--God bless her!--God bless her!" cried he,
bursting into a transport of grief and tenderness.

"And believe me, my friend," said I, stepping up, and grasping
him warmly by the hand, "believe me, she can be the same with
you. Ay, more; it will be a source of pride and triumph to
her--it will call forth all the latent energies and fervent
sympathies of her nature; for she will rejoice to prove that she
loves you for yourself. There is in every true woman's heart a
spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight
of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams, and blazes in the
dark hour of adversity. No man knows what the wife of his bosom
is--no man knows what a ministering angel she is--until he has
gone with her through the fiery trials of this world."

There was something in the earnestness of my manner, and the
figurative style of my language, that caught the excited
imagination of Leslie. I knew the auditor I had to deal with; and
following up the impression I had made, I finished by persuading
him to go home and unburden his sad heart to his wife.

I must confess, notwithstanding all I had said, I felt some
little solicitude for the result. Who can calculate on the
fortitude of one whose life has been a round of pleasures? Her
gay spirits might revolt at the dark, downward path of low
humility suddenly pointed out before her, and might cling to the
sunny regions in which they had hitherto revelled. Besides, ruin
in fashionable life is accompanied by so many galling
mortifications, to which, in other ranks, it is a stranger. In
short, I could not meet Leslie, the next morning, without
trepidation. He had made the disclosure.

"And how did she bear it?"

"Like an angel! It seemed rather to be a relief to her mind, for
she threw her arms around my neck, and asked if this was all that
had lately made me unhappy.--But, poor girl," added he, "she
cannot realize the change we must undergo. She has no idea of
poverty but in the abstract; she has only read of it in poetry,
where it is allied to love. She feels as yet no privation; she
suffers no loss of accustomed conveniences nor elegancies. When
we come practically to experience its sordid cares, its paltry
wants, its petty humiliations--then will be the real trial."

"But," said I, "now that you have got over the severest task,
that of breaking it to her, the sooner you let the world into the
secret the better. The disclosure may be mortifying; but then it
is a single misery, and soon over: whereas you otherwise suffer
it, in anticipation, every hour in the day. It is not poverty, so
much as pretence, that harasses a ruined man--the struggle
between a proud mind and an empty purse-the keeping up a hollow
show that must soon come to an end. Have the courage to appear
poor, and you disarm poverty of its sharpest sting." On this
point I found Leslie perfectly prepared. He had no false pride
himself, and as to his wife, she was only anxious to conform to
their altered fortunes.

Some days afterwards, he called upon me in the evening. He had
disposed of his dwelling-house, and taken a small cottage in the
country, a few miles from town. He had been busied all day in
sending out furniture. The new establishment required few
articles, and those of the simplest kind. All the splendid
furniture of his late residence had been sold, excepting his
wife's harp. That, he said, was too closely associated with the
idea of herself it belonged to the little story of their loves;
for some of the sweetest moments of their courtship were those
when he had leaned over that instrument, and listened to the
melting tones of her voice.--I could not but smile at this
instance of romantic gallantry in a doating husband.

He was now going out to the cottage, where his wife had been all
day superintending its arrangement. My feelings had become
strongly interested in the progress of his family story, and, as
it was a fine evening, I offered to accompany him.

He was wearied with the fatigues of the day, and, as we walked
out, fell into a fit of gloomy musing.

"Poor Mary!" at length broke, with a heavy sigh, from his lips.

"And what of her," asked I, "has anything happened to her?"

"What," said he, darting an impatient glance, is it nothing to be
reduced to this paltry situation--to be caged in a miserable
cottage--to be obliged to toil almost in the menial concerns of
her wretched habitation?"

Has she then repined at the change?

"Repined! she has been nothing but sweetness and good-humor.
Indeed, she seems in better spirits than I have ever known her;
she has been to me all love, and tenderness, and comfort!"

"Admirable girl!" exclaimed I. "You call yourself poor, my
friend; you never were so rich,--you never knew the boundless
treasures of excellence you possessed in that woman."

"Oh! but, my friend, if this first meeting at the cottage were
over, I think I could then be comfortable. But this is her first
day of real experience; she has been introduced into a humble
dwelling,--she has been employed all day in arranging its
miserable equipments,--she has, for the first time, known the
fatigues of domestic employment,--she has, for the first time,
looked around her on a home destitute of every thing
elegant--almost of every thing convenient; and may now be sitting
down, exhausted and spiritless, brooding over a prospect of
future poverty."

There was a degree of probability in this picture that I could
not gainsay, so we walked on in silence.

After turning from the main road up a narrow lane, so thickly
shaded with forest-trees as to give it a complete air of
seclusion, we came in sight of the cottage. It was humble enough
in its appearance for the most pastoral poet; and yet it had a
pleasing rural look. A wild vine had overrun one end with a
profusion of foliage; a few trees threw their branches gracefully
over it; and I observed several pots of flowers tastefully
disposed about the door, and on the grass-plot in front. A small
wicket-gate opened upon a footpath that wound through some
shrubbery to the door. Just as we approached, we heard the sound
of music--Leslie grasped my arm; we paused and listened. It was
Mary's voice singing, in a style of the most touching simplicity,
a little air of which her husband was peculiarly fond.

I felt Leslie's hand tremble on my arm. He stepped forward, to
hear more distinctly. His step made a noise on the gravel-walk. A
bright beautiful face glanced out at the window, and vanished--a
light footstep-was heard--and Mary came tripping forth to meet
us. She was in a pretty rural dress of white; a few wild flowers
were twisted in her fine hair; a fresh bloom was on her cheek;
her whole countenance beamed with smiles--I had never seen her
look so lovely.

"My dear George," cried she, "I am so glad you are come; I have
been watching and watching for you; and running down the lane,
and looking out for you. I've set out a table under a beautiful
tree behind the cottage; and I've been gathering some of the most
delicious strawberries, for I know you are fond of them--and we
have such excellent cream--and everything is so sweet and still
here-Oh!"--said she, putting her arm within his, and looking up
brightly in his face, "Oh, we shall be so happy!"

Poor Leslie was overcome.--He caught her to his bosom--he folded
his arms round her--he kissed her again and again--he could not
speak, but the tears gushed into his eyes; and he has often
assured me, that though the world has since gone prosperously
with him, and his life has, indeed, been a happy one, yet never
has he experienced a moment of more exquisite felicity.



By Woden, God of Saxons,
From whence comes Wensday, that is Wodensday,
Truth is a thing that ever I will keep
Unto thylke day in which I creep into
My sepulchre--

[The following Tale was found among the papers of the late
Diedrich Knickerbocker, an old gentleman of New York, who was
very curious in the Dutch History of the province and the manners
of the descendants from its primitive settlers. His historical
researches, however, did not lie so much among books as among
men; for the former are lamentably scanty on his favorite topics;
whereas he found the old burghers, and still more, their wives,
rich in that legendary lore, so invaluable to true history.
Whenever, therefore, he happened upon a genuine Dutch family,
snugly shut up in its low-roofed farm-house, under a spreading
sycamore, he looked upon it as a little clasped volume of
black-letter, and studied it with the zeal of a bookworm.

The result of all these researches was a history of the province,
during the reign of the Dutch governors, which he published some
years since. There have been various opinions as to the literary
character of his work, and, to tell the truth, it is not a whit
better than it should be. Its chief merit is its scrupulous
accuracy, which indeed was a little questioned on its first
appearance, but has since been completely established; and it is
now admitted into all historical collections, as a book of
unquestionable authority.

The old gentleman died shortly after the publication of his work;
and now that he is dead and gone, it cannot do much harm to his
memory to say that his time might have been much better employed
in weightier labors. He, however, was apt to ride his hobby his
own way; and though it did now and then kick up the dust a little
in the eyes of his neighbors, and grieve the spirit of some
friends, for whom he felt the truest deference and affection, yet
his errors and follies are remembered "more in sorrow than in
anger," and it begins to be suspected, that he never intended to
injure or offend. But however his memory may be appreciated by
critics, it is still held dear among many folks, whose good
opinion is well worth having; particularly by certain
biscuit-bakers, who have gone so far as to imprint his likeness
on their new-year cakes, and have thus given him a chance for
immortality, almost equal to the being stamped on a Waterloo
medal, or a Queen Anne's farthing.]

WHOEVER has made a voyage up the Hudson must remember the
Kaatskill mountains. They are a dismembered branch of the great
Appalachian family, and are seen away to the west of the river,
swelling up to a noble height, and lording it over the
surrounding country. Every change of season, every change of
weather, indeed, every hour of the day produces some change in
the magical hues and shapes of these mountains; and they are
regarded by all the good wives, far and near, as perfect
barometers. When the weather is fair and settled, they are
clothed in blue and purple, and print their bold outlines on the
clear evening sky; but sometimes, when the rest of the landscape
is cloudless, they will gather a hood of gray vapors about their
summits, which, in the last rays of the setting sun, will glow
and light up like a crown of glory.

At the foot of these fairy mountains, the voyager may have
descried the light smoke curling up from a Village, whose shingle
roofs gleam among the trees, just where the blue tints of the
upland melt away into the fresh green of the nearer landscape. It
is a little village of great antiquity, having been founded by
some of the Dutch colonists, in the early times of the province,
just about the beginning of the government of the good Peter
Stuyvesant (may he rest in peace!), and there were some of the
houses of the original settlers standing within a few years,
built of small yellow bricks, brought from Holland, having
latticed windows and gable fronts, surmounted with weathercocks.

In that same village, and in one of these very houses (which, to
tell the precise truth, was sadly time-worn and weather-beaten),
there lived, many years since, while the country was yet a
province of Great Britain, a simple, good-natured fellow, of the
name of Rip Van Winkle. He was a descendant of the Van Winkles
who figured so gallantly in the chivalrous days of Peter
Stuyvesant, and accompanied him to the siege of Fort Christina.
He inherited, however, but little of the martial character of his
ancestors. I have observed that he was a simple, good-natured
man; he was, moreover, a kind neighbor, and an obedient henpecked
husband. Indeed, to the latter circumstance might be owing that
meekness of spirit which gained him such universal popularity;
for those men are apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad,
who are under the discipline of shrews at home. Their tempers,
doubtless, are rendered pliant and malleable in the fiery furnace
of domestic tribulation, and a curtain-lecture is worth all the
sermons in the world for teaching the virtues of patience and
long-suffering. A termagant wife may, therefore, in some
respects, be considered a tolerable blessing, and if so, Rip Van
Winkle was thrice blessed.

Certain it is, that he was a great favorite among all the good
wives of the village, who, as usual with the amiable sex, took
his part in all family squabbles, and never failed, whenever they
talked those matters over in their evening gossipings, to lay all
the blame on Dame Van Winkle. The children of the village, too,
would shout with joy whenever he approached. He assisted at their
sports, made their playthings, taught them to fly kites and shoot
marbles, and told them long stories of ghosts, witches, and
Indians. Whenever he went dodging about the village, he was
surrounded by a troop of them hanging on his skirts, clambering
on his back, and playing a thousand tricks on him with impunity;
and not a dog would bark at him throughout the neighborhood.

The great error in Rip's composition was an insuperable aversion
to all kinds of profitable labor. It could not be for want of
assiduity or perseverance; for he would sit on a wet rock, with a
rod as long and heavy as a Tartar's lance, and fish all day
without a murmur, even though he should not be encouraged by a
single nibble. He would carry a fowling-piece on his shoulder,
for hours together, trudging through woods and swamps, and up
hill and down dale, to shoot a few squirrels or wild pigeons. He
would never refuse to assist a neighbor even in the roughest
toil, and was a foremost man in all country frolics for husking
Indian corn, or building stone fences; the women of the village,
too, used to employ him to run their errands, and to do such
little odd jobs as their less obliging husbands would not do for
them. In a word, Rip was ready to attend to anybody's business
but his own; but as to doing family duty, and keeping his
farm in order, he found it impossible.

In fact, he declared it was of no use to work on his farm; it was
the most pestilent little piece of ground in the whole country;
everything about it went wrong, in spite of him. His fences were
continually falling to pieces; his cow would either go astray, or
get among the cabbages; weeds were sure to grow quicker in his
fields than anywhere else; the rain always made a point of
setting in just as he had some out-door work to do; so that
though his patrimonial estate had dwindled away under his
management, acre by acre, until there was little more left than a
mere patch of Indian corn and potatoes, yet it was the
worst-conditioned farm in the neighborhood.

His children, too, were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to
nobody. His son Rip, an urchin begotten in his own likeness,
promised to inherit the habits, with the old clothes, of his
father. He was generally seen trooping like a colt at his
mother's heels, equipped in a pair of his father's cast-off
galligaskins, which he had much ado to hold up with one hand, as
a fine lady does her train in bad weather.

Rip Van Winkle, however, was one of those happy mortals, of
foolish, well-oiled dispositions, who take the world easy, eat
white bread or brown, whichever can be got with least thought or
trouble, and would rather starve on a penny than work for a
pound. If left to himself, he would have whistled life away, in
perfect contentment; but his wife kept continually dinning in his
ears about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was
bringing on his family. Morning, noon, and night, her tongue was
incessantly going, and every thing he said or did was sure to
produce a torrent of household eloquence. Rip had but one way of
replying to all lectures of the kind, and that, by frequent use,
had grown into a habit. He shrugged his shoulders, shook his
head, cast up his eyes, but said nothing. This, however, always
provoked a fresh volley from his wife, so that he was fain to
draw off his forces, and take to the outside of the house--the
only side which, in truth, belongs to a henpecked husband.

Rip's sole domestic adherent was his dog Wolf, who was as much
henpecked as his master; for Dame Van Winkle regarded them as
companions in idleness, and even looked upon Wolf with an evil
eye, as the cause of his master's going so often astray. True it
is, in all points of spirit befitting in honorable dog, he was as
courageous an animal as ever scoured the woods--but what courage
can withstand the evil-doing and all-besetting terrors of a
woman's tongue? The moment Wolf entered the house, his crest
fell, his tail drooped to the ground, or curled between his legs,
he sneaked about with a gallows air, casting many a sidelong
glance at Dame Van Winkle, and at the least flourish of a
broomstick or ladle, he would fly to the door with yelping

Times grew worse and worse with Rip Van Winkle as years of
matrimony rolled on; a tart temper never mellows with age, and a
sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with
constant use. For a long while he used to console himself, when
driven from home, by frequenting a kind of perpetual club of the
sages, philosophers, and other idle personages of the village,
which held its sessions on a bench before a small inn, designated
by a rubicund portrait of his Majesty George the Third. Here they
used to sit in the shade through a long, lazy summer's day,
talking listlessly over village gossip, or telling endless,
sleepy stories about nothing. But it would have been worth any
statesman's money to have heard the profound discussions which
sometimes took place, when by chance an old newspaper fell into
their hands from some passing traveller. How solemnly they would
listen to the contents, as drawled out by Derrick Van Bummel, the
school-master, a dapper learned little man, who was not to be
daunted by the most gigantic word in the dictionary; and how
sagely they would deliberate upon public events some months after
they had taken place.

The opinions of this junto were completely controlled by Nicholas
Vedder, a patriarch of the village, and landlord of the inn, at
the door of which he took his seat from morning till night, just
moving sufficiently to avoid the sun, and keep in the shade of a
large tree; so that the neighbors could tell the hour by his
movements as accurately as by a sun-dial. It is true, he was
rarely heard to speak, but smoked his pipe incessantly. His
adherents, however (for every great man has his adherents),
perfectly understood him, and knew how to gather his opinions.
When any thing that was read or related displeased him, he was
observed to smoke his pipe vehemently, and to send forth,
frequent, and angry puffs; but when pleased, he would inhale the
smoke slowly and tranquilly, and emit it in light and placid
clouds, and sometimes, taking the pipe from his mouth, and
letting the fragrant vapor curl about his nose, would gravely nod
his head in token of perfect approbation.

From even this stronghold the unlucky Rip was at length routed by
his termagant wife, who would suddenly break in upon the
tranquillity of the assemblage, and call the members all to
nought; nor was that august personage, Nicholas Vedder himself,
sacred from the daring tongue of this terrible virago, who
charged him outright with encouraging her husband in habits of

Poor Rip was at last reduced almost to despair; and his only
alternative, to escape from the labor of the farm and the clamor
of his wife, was to take gun in hand, and stroll away into the
woods. Here he would sometimes seat himself at the foot of a
tree, and share the contents of his wallet with Wolf, with whom
he sympathized as a fellow-sufferer in persecution. "Poor Wolf,"
he would say, "thy mistress leads thee a dog's life of it; but
never mind, my lad, whilst I live thou shalt never want a friend
to stand by thee!" Wolf would wag his tail, look wistfully in his
master's face, and if dogs can feel pity, I verily believe he
reciprocated the sentiment with all his heart.

In a long ramble of the kind, on a fine autumnal day, Rip had
unconsciously scrambled to one of the highest parts of the
Kaatskill mountains. He was after his favorite sport of
squirrel-shooting, and the still solitudes had echoed and
re-echoed with the reports of his gun. Panting and fatigued, he
threw himself, late in the afternoon, on a green knoll, covered
with mountain herbage, that crowned the brow of a precipice. From
an opening between the trees, he could overlook all the lower
country for many a mile of rich woodland. He saw at a distance
the lordly Hudson, far, far below him, moving on its silent but
majestic course, with the reflection of a purple cloud, or the
sail of a lagging bark, here and there sleeping on its glassy
bosom and at last losing itself in the blue highlands.

On the other side he looked down into a deep mountain glen, wild,
lonely, and shagged, the bottom filled with fragments from the
impending cliffs, and scarcely lighted by the reflected rays of
the setting sun. For some time Rip lay musing on this scene;
evening was gradually advancing; the mountains began to throw
their long blue shadows over the valleys; he saw that it would be
dark long before he could reach the village; and he heaved a
heavy sigh when he thought of encountering the terrors of Dame
Van Winkle.

As he was about to descend, he heard a voice from a distance
hallooing: "Rip Van Winkle! Rip Van Winkle!" He looked around,
but could see nothing but a crow winging its solitary flight
across the mountain. He thought his fancy must have deceived him,
and turned again to descend, when he heard the same cry ring
through the still evening air, "Rip Van Winkle! Rip Van
Winkle!"--at the same time Wolf bristled up his back, and giving
a low growl, skulked to his master's side, looking fearfully down
into the glen. Rip now felt a vague apprehension stealing over
him; he looked anxiously in the same direction, and perceived a
strange figure slowly toiling up the rocks, and bending under the
weight of something he carried on his back. He was surprised to
see any human being in this lonely and unfrequented place, but
supposing it to be some one of the neighborhood in need of his
assistance, he hastened down to yield it.

On nearer approach, he was still more surprised at the
singularity of the stranger's appearance. He was a short,
square-built old fellow, with thick bushy hair, and a grizzled
beard. His dress was of the antique Dutch fashion--a cloth jerkin
strapped round the waist--several pairs of breeches, the outer
one of ample volume, decorated with rows of buttons down the
sides, and bunches at the knees. He bore on his shoulders a stout
keg, that seemed full of liquor, and made signs for Rip to
approach and assist him with the load. Though rather shy and
distrustful of this new acquaintance, Rip complied with his usual
alacrity; and mutually relieving each other, they clambered up a
narrow gully, apparently the dry bed of a mountain torrent. As
they ascended, Rip every now and then heard long rolling peals,
like distant thunder, that seemed to issue out of a deep ravine,
or rather cleft between lofty rocks, toward which their rugged
path conducted. He paused for an instant, but supposing it to be
the muttering of one of those transient thunder-showers which
often take place in the mountain heights, he proceeded. Passing
through the ravine, they came to a hollow, like a small
amphitheatre, surrounded by perpendicular precipices, over the
brinks of which impending trees shot their branches, so that you
only caught glimpses of the azure sky, and the bright evening
cloud. During the whole time Rip and his companion had labored on
in silence; for though the former marvelled greatly what could be
the object of carrying a keg of liquor up this wild mountain, yet
there was something strange and incomprehensible about the
unknown, that inspired awe, and checked familiarity.

On entering the amphitheatre, new objects of wonder presented
themselves. On a level spot in the centre was a company of
odd-looking personages playing at ninepins. They were dressed in
quaint outlandish fashion; some wore short doublets, others
jerkins, with long knives in their belts, and most of them had
enormous breeches, of similar style with that of the guide's.
Their visages, too, were peculiar; one had a large head, broad
face, and small piggish eyes; the face of another seemed to
consist entirely of nose, and was surmounted by a white
sugar-loaf hat, set off with a little red cock's tail. They all
had beards, of various shapes and colors. There was one who
seemed to be the commander. He was a stout old gentleman, with a
weather-beaten countenance; he wore a laced doublet, broad belt
and hanger, high-crowned hat and feather, red stockings, and
high-heeled shoes, with roses in them. The whole group reminded
Rip of the figures in an old Flemish painting, in the parlor of
Dominie Van Schaick, the village parson, and which had been
brought over from Holland at the time of the settlement.

What seemed particularly odd to Rip was, that though these folks
were evidently amusing themselves, yet they maintained the
gravest faces, the most mysterious silence, and were, withal, the
most melancholy party of pleasure he had ever witnessed. Nothing
interrupted the stillness of the scene but the noise of the
balls, which, whenever they were rolled, echoed along the
mountains like rumbling peals of thunder.

As Rip and his companion approached them, they suddenly desisted
from their play, and stared at him with such a fixed statue-like
gaze, and such strange uncouth, lack-lustre countenances, that
his heart turned within him, and his knees smote together. His
companion now emptied the contents of the keg into large flagons,
and made signs to him to wait upon the company. He obeyed with
fear and trembling; they quaffed the liquor in profound silence,
and then returned to their game.

By degrees, Rip's awe and apprehension subsided. He even
ventured, when no eye was fixed upon him, to taste the beverage
which he found had much of the flavor of excellent Hollands. He
was naturally a thirsty soul, and was soon tempted to repeat the
draught. One taste provoked another; and he reiterated his visits
to the flagon so often, that at length his senses were
overpowered, his eyes swam in his head, his head gradually
declined, and he fell into a deep sleep.

On waking, he found himself on the green knoll whence he had
first seen the old man of the glen. He rubbed his eyes--it was a
bright sunny morning. The birds were hopping and twittering among
the bushes, and the eagle was wheeling aloft, and breasting the
pure mountain breeze. "Surely," thought Rip, "I have not slept
here all night." He recalled the occurrences before he fell
asleep. The strange man with the keg of liquor--the mountain
ravine--the wild retreat among the rocks--the woe-begone party at
ninepins--the flagon--"Oh! that flagon! that wicked flagon!"
thought Rip--"what excuse shall I make to Dame Van Winkle?"

He looked round for his gun, but in place of the clean well-oiled
fowling-piece, he found an old firelock lying by him, the barrel
encrusted with rust, the lock falling off, and the stock
worm-eaten. He now suspected that the grave roysterers of the
mountains had put a trick upon him, and, having dosed him with
liquor, had robbed him of his gun. Wolf, too, had disappeared,
but he might have strayed away after a squirrel or partridge. He
whistled after him and shouted his name, but all in vain; the
echoes repeated his whistle and shout, but no dog was to be seen.

He determined to revisit the scene of the last evening's gambol,
and if he met with any of the party, to demand his dog and gun.
As he rose to walk, he found himself stiff in the joints, and
wanting in his usual activity. "These mountain beds do not agree
with me," thought Rip, "and if this frolic, should lay me up with
a fit of the rheumatism, I shall have a blessed time with Dame
Van Winkle." With some difficulty he got down into the glen: he
found the gully up which he and his companion had ascended the
preceding evening; but to his astonishment a mountain stream was
now foaming down it, leaping from rock to rock, and filling the
glen with babbling murmurs. He, however, made shift to scramble
up its sides, working his toilsome way through thickets of birch,
sassafras, and witch-hazel; and sometimes tripped up or entangled
by the wild grape vines that twisted their coils and tendrils
from tree to tree, and spread a kind of network in his path.

At length he reached to where the ravine had opened through the
cliffs to the amphitheatre; but no traces of such opening
remained. The rocks presented a high impenetrable wall, over
which the torrent came tumbling in a sheet of feathery foam, and
fell into a broad deep basin, black from the shadows of the
surrounding forest. Here, then, poor Rip was brought to a stand.
He again called and whistled after his dog; he was only answered
by the cawing of a flock of idle crows, sporting high in the air
about a dry tree that overhung a sunny precipice; and who, secure
in their elevation, seemed to look down and scoff at the poor
man's perplexities. What was to be done? The morning was passing
away, and Rip felt famished for want of his breakfast. He grieved
to give up his dog and gun; he dreaded to meet his wife; but it
would not do to starve among the mountains. He shook his head,
shouldered the rusty firelock, and, with a heart full of trouble
and anxiety, turned his steps homeward.

As he approached the village, he met a number of people, but none
whom he new, which somewhat surprised him, for he had thought
himself acquainted with every one in the country round. Their
dress, too, was of a different fashion from that to which he was
accustomed. They all stared at him with equal marks of surprise,
and whenever they cast eyes upon him, invariably stroked their
chins. The constant recurrence of this gesture, induced Rip,
involuntarily, to do, the same, when, to his astonishment, he
found his beard had grown a foot long!

He had now entered the skirts of the village. A troop of strange
children ran at his heels, hooting after him, and pointing at his
gray beard. The dogs, too, not one of which he recognized for an
old acquaintance, barked at him as he passed. The very village
was altered: it was larger and more populous. There were rows of
houses which he had never seen before, and those which had been
his familiar haunts had disappeared. Strange names were over the
doors--strange faces at the windows--everything was strange. His
mind now misgave him; he began to doubt whether both he and the
world around him were not bewitched. Surely this was his native
village, which he had left but a day before. There stood the
Kaatskill mountains--there ran the silver Hudson at a
distance--there was every hill and dale precisely as it had
always been--Rip was sorely perplexed--"That flagon last night,"
thought he, "has addled my poor head sadly!"

It was with some difficulty that he found the way to his own
house, which he approached with silent awe, expecting every
moment to hear the shrill voice of Dame Van Winkle. He found the
house gone to decay--the roof had fallen in, the windows
shattered, and the doors off the hinges. A half-starved dog, that
looked like Wolf, was skulking about it. Rip called him by name,
but the cur snarled, showed his teeth, and passed on. This was an
unkind cut indeed.--"My very dog," sighed poor Rip," has
forgotten me!"

He entered the house, which, to tell the truth, Dame Van Winkle
had always kept in neat order. It was empty, forlorn, and
apparently abandoned. This desolateness overcame all his
connubial fears--he called loudly for his wife and children--the
lonely chambers rang for a moment with his voice, and then all
again was silence.

He now hurried forth, and hastened to his old resort, the village
inn--but it too was gone. A large rickety wooden building stood
in its place, with great gaping windows, some of them broken, and
mended with old hats and petticoats, and over the door was
painted, "The Union Hotel, by Jonathan Doolittle." Instead of the
great tree that used to shelter the quiet little Dutch inn of
yore, there now was reared a tall naked pole, with something on
the top that looked like a red nightcap, and from it was
fluttering a flag, on which was a singular assemblage of stars
and stripes--all this was strange and incomprehensible. He
recognized on the sign, however, the ruby face of King George,
under which he had smoked so many a peaceful pipe, but even this
was singularly metamorphosed. The red coat was changed for one of
blue and buff, a sword was held in the hand instead of a sceptre,
the head was decorated with a cocked hat, and underneath was
painted in large characters, "GENERAL WASHINGTON."

There was, as usual, a crowd of folk about the door, but none
that Rip recollected. The very character of the people seemed
changed. There was a busy, bustling, disputatious tone about it,
instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquillity. He
looked in vain for the sage Nicholas Vedder, with his broad face,
double chin, and fair long pipe, uttering clouds of
tobacco-smoke, instead of idle speeches; or Van Bummel, the
schoolmaster, doling forth the contents of an ancient newspaper.
In place of these, a lean, bilious-looking fellow, with his
pockets full of handbills, was haranguing, vehemently about
rights of citizens-elections--members of
Congress--liberty--Bunker's hill--heroes of seventy-six-and other
words, which were a perfect Babylonish jargon to the bewildered
Van Winkle.

The appearance of Rip, with his long, grizzled beard, his rusty
fowling-piece, his uncouth dress, and the army of women and
children at his heels, soon attracted the attention of the tavern
politicians. They crowded round him, eying him from head to foot,
with great curiosity. The orator bustled up to him, and, drawing
him partly aside, inquired, "on which side he voted?" Rip stared
in vacant stupidity. Another short but busy little fellow pulled
him by the arm, and rising on tiptoe, inquired in his ear,
"whether he was Federal or Democrat." Rip was equally at a loss
to comprehend the question; when a knowing, self-important old
gentleman, in a sharp cocked hat, made his way through the crowd,
putting them to the right and left with his elbows as he passed,
and planting himself before Van Winkle, with one arm akimbo, the
other resting on his cane, his keen eyes and sharp hat
penetrating, as it were, into his very soul, demanded in an
austere tone, "What brought him to the election with a gun on his
shoulder, and a mob at his heels; and whether he meant to breed a
riot in the village?"

"Alas! gentlemen," cried Rip, somewhat dismayed, "I am a poor,
quiet man, a native of the place, and a loyal subject of the
King, God bless him!

Here a general shout burst from the bystanders-"a tory! a tory! a
spy! a refugee! hustle him! away with him!" It was with great
difficulty that the self-important man in the cocked hat restored
order; and having assumed a tenfold austerity of brow, demanded
again of the unknown culprit, what he came there for, and whom he
was seeking. The poor man humbly assured him that he meant no
harm, but merely came there in search of some of his neighbors,
who used to keep about the tavern.

"Well--who are they?--name them."

Rip bethought himself a moment, and inquired, Where's Nicholas

There was a silence for a little while, when an old man replied,
in a thin, piping voice, "Nicholas Vedder? why, be is dead and
gone these eighteen years! There was a wooden tombstone in the
churchyard that used to tell all about him, but that's rotten and
gone too."

"Where's Brom Dutcher?"

"Oh, he went off to the army in the beginning of the war; some
say he was killed at the storming of Stony-Point--others say he
was drowned in a squall at the foot of Antony's Nose. I don't
know --he never came back again."

"Where's Van Bummel, the schoolmaster?"

"He went off to the wars, too; was a great militia general, and
is now in Congress."

Rip's heart died away, at hearing of these sad changes in his
home and friends, and finding himself thus alone in the world.
Every answer puzzled him too, by treating of such enormous lapses
of time, and of matters which he could not understand:
war--Congress-Stony-Point;--he had no courage to ask after any
more friends, but cried out in despair, "Does nobody here know
Rip Van Winkle?"

"Oh, Rip Van Winkle!" exclaimed two or three. "Oh, to be sure!
that's Rip Van Winkle yonder, leaning against the tree."

Rip looked, and beheld a precise counterpart of himself as he
went up the mountain; apparently as lazy, and certainly as
ragged. The poor fellow was now completely confounded. He doubted
his own identity, and whether he was himself or another man. In
the midst of his bewilderment, the man in the cocked hat demanded
who he was, and what was his name?

"God knows!" exclaimed he at his wit's end; "I'm not myself--I'm
somebody else--that's me yonder-no--that's somebody else, got
into my shoes--I was myself last night, but I fell asleep on the
mountain, and they've changed my gun, and everything's changed,
and I'm changed, and I can't tell what's my name, or who I am!"

The by-standers began now to look at each other, nod, wink
significantly, and tap their fingers against their foreheads.
There was a whisper, also, about securing the gun, and keeping
the old fellow from doing mischief; at the very suggestion of
which, the self-important man with the cocked hat retired with
some precipitation. At this critical moment a fresh, comely woman
pressed through the throng to get a peep at the gray-bearded man.
She had a chubby child in her arms, which, frightened at his
looks, began to cry. "Hush, Rip," cried she, "hush, you little
fool; the old man won't hurt you." The name of the child, the air
of the mother, the tone of her voice, all awakened a train of
recollections in his mind.

"What is your name, my good woman?" asked he.

"Judith Cardenier."

"And your father's name?"

"Ah, poor man, Rip Van Winkle was his name, but it's twenty years
since he went away from home with his gun, and never has been
heard of since,--his dog came home without him; but whether he
shot himself, or was carried away by the Indians, nobody can
tell. I was then but a little girl."

Rip had but one more question to ask; but he put it with a
faltering voice:

"Where's your mother?"

Oh, she too had died but a short time since; she broke a
blood-vessel in a fit of passion at a New-England pedler.

There was a drop of comfort, at least, in this intelligence. The
honest man could contain himself no longer. He caught his
daughter and her child in his arms. "I am your father!" cried
he-"Young Rip Van Winkle once-old Rip Van Winkle now--Does nobody
know poor Rip Van Winkle!"

All stood amazed, until an old woman, tottering out from among
the crowd, put her hand to her brow, and peering under it in his
face for a moment exclaimed, "sure enough! it is Rip Van
Winkle--it is himself. Welcome home again, old neighbor. Why,
where have you been these twenty long years?"

Rip's story was soon told, for the whole twenty years had been to
him but as one night. The neighbors stared when they heard it;
some were seen to wink at each other, and put their tongues in
their cheeks; and the self-important man in the cocked hat, who,
when the alarm was over, had returned to the field, screwed down
the corners of his mouth, and shook his head--upon which there
was a general shaking of the head throughout the assemblage.

It was determined, however, to take the opinion of old Peter
Vanderdonk, who was seen slowly advancing up the road. He was a
descendant of the historian of that name, who wrote one of the
earliest accounts of the province. Peter was the most ancient
inhabitant of the village, and well versed in all the wonderful
events and traditions of the neighborhood. He recollected Rip at
once, and corroborated his story in the most satisfactory manner.
He assured the company that it was a fact, handed down from his
ancestor, the historian, that the Kaatskill mountains had always
been haunted by strange beings. That it was affirmed that the
great Hendrick Hudson, the first discoverer of the river and
country, kept a kind of vigil there every twenty years, with his
crew of the Half-moon; being permitted in this way to revisit the
scenes of his enterprise, and keep a guardian eye upon the river
and the great city called by his name. That his father had once
seen them in their old Dutch dresses playing at ninepins in the
hollow of the mountain; and that he himself had heard, one summer
afternoon, the sound of their balls, like distant peals of

To make a long story short, the company broke up, and returned to
the more important concerns of the election. Rip's daughter took
him home to live with her; she had a snug, well-furnished house,
and a stout cheery farmer for a husband, whom Rip recollected for
one of the urchins that used to climb upon his back. As to Rip's
son and heir, who was the ditto of himself, seen leaning against
the tree, he was employed to work on the farm; but evinced an
hereditary disposition to attend to any thing else but his

Rip now resumed his old walks and habits; he soon found many of
his former cronies, though all rather the worse for the wear and
tear of time; and preferred making friends among the rising
generation, with whom be soon grew into great favor.

Having nothing to do at home, and being arrived at that happy age
when a man can be idle with impunity, he took his place once more
on the bench, at the inn door, and was reverenced as one of the
patriarchs of the village, and a chronicle of the old times
"before the war." It was some time before he could get into the
regular track of gossip, or could be made to comprehend the
strange events that had taken place during his torpor. How that
there had been a revolutionary war--that the country had thrown
off the yoke of old England--and that, instead of being a subject
to his Majesty George the Third, he was now a free citizen of the
United States. Rip, in fact, was no politician; the changes of
states and empires made but little impression on him; but there
was one species of despotism under which he had long groaned, and
that was--petticoat government. Happily, that was at an end; he
had got his neck out of the yoke of matrimony, and could go in
and out whenever he pleased, without dreading the tyranny of Dame
Van Winkle. Whenever her name was mentioned, however, he shook
his head, shrugged his shoulders, and cast up his eyes; which
might pass either for an expression of resignation to his fate,
or joy at his deliverance.

He used to tell his story to every stranger that arrived at Mr.
Doolittle's hotel. He was observed, at first, to vary on some
points every time he told it, which was, doubtless, owing to his
having so recently awaked. It at last settled down precisely to
the tale I have related, and not a man, woman, or child in the
neighborhood, but knew it by heart. Some always pretended to
doubt the reality of it, and insisted that Rip had been out of
his head, and that this was one point on which he always remained
flighty. The old Dutch inhabitants, however, almost universally
gave it full credit. Even to this day, they never hear a
thunder-storm of a summer afternoon about the Kaatskill, but they
say Hendrick Hudson and his crew are at their game of ninepins;
and it is a common wish of all henpecked husbands in the
neighborhood, when life hangs heavy on their hands, that they
might have a quieting draught out of Rip Van Winkle's flagon.


The foregoing tale, one would suspect, had been suggested to Mr.
Knickerbocker by a little German superstition about the Emperor
Frederick der Rothbart and the Kypphauser mountain; the subjoined
note, however, which had appended to the tale, shows that it is
an absolute fact, narrated with his usual fidelity.

"The story of Rip Van Winkle may seem incredible to many, but
nevertheless I give it my full belief, for I know the vicinity of
our old Dutch settlements to have been very subject to marvellous
events and appearances. Indeed, I have heard many stranger
stories than this, in the villages along the Hudson; all of which
were too well authenticated to admit of a doubt. I have even
talked with Rip Van Winkle myself, who, when last I saw him, was
a very venerable old man, and so perfectly rational and
consistent on every other point, that I think no conscientious
person could refuse to take this into the bargain; nay, I have
seen a certificate on the subject taken before a country justice,
and signed with cross, in the justice's own handwriting. The
story, therefore, is beyond the possibility of doubt.
"D. K."


The following are travelling notes from a memorandum-book of Mr.

The Kaatsberg or Catskill mountains have always been a region
full of fable. The Indians considered them the abode of spirits,
who influenced the weather, spreading sunshine or clouds over the
landscape, and sending good or bad hunting seasons. They were
ruled by an old squaw spirit, said to be their mother. She dwelt
on the highest peak of the Catskills, and had charge of the doors
of day and night to open and shut them at the proper hour. She
hung up the new moons in the skies, and cut up the old ones into
stars. In times of drought, if properly propitiated, she would
spin light summer clouds out of cobwebs and morning dew, and send
them off from the crest of the mountain, flake after flake, like
flakes of carded cotton, to float in the air; until, dissolved by
the heat of the sun, they would fall in gentle showers, causing
the grass to spring, the fruits to ripen, and the corn to grow an
inch an hour. If displeased, however, she would brew up clouds
black as ink, sitting in the midst of them like a bottle-bellied
spider in the midst of its web; and when these clouds broke, woe
betide the valleys!

In old times, say the Indian traditions, there was a kind of
Manitou or Spirit, who kept about the wildest recesses of the

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