網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

we could see, of one house and two barns. It was no more than six o'clock when we reached Littleton; so, when we had chosen our rooms, out of a number equally tempting from their cleanliness and air of comfort, we walked out to see what the place looked like. Our attention was caught by the endeavours of a woman to milk a restless cow, and we inadvertently stood still to see how she would manage. When she at last succeeded in making the animal stand, she offered us milk. We never refused kindness which might lead to acquaintanceship; so we accepted her offer, and followed her guidance into her house, to obtain a basin to drink out of. It was a good interior. Two pretty girls, nicely dressed, sat, during the dusk, by a blazing fire. Their talkative father was delighted to get hold of some new listeners. He sat down upon the side of the bed, as if in preparation for a long chat, and entered at large into the history of his affairs. He told us how he went down to Boston to take service, and got money enough to settle himself independently in this place ; and how much better he liked having a house of his own than working for any amount of money in a less independent way. He told us how Littleton flourishes by the lumber-trade, wood being cut from the hills around, and sent floating down the stream for five miles, till it reaches the Connecticut, with whose current it proceeds to Hartford. Twenty years ago there was one store and a tavern in the place; now it is a widespreading village on the side of a large hill, which is stripped of its forest. The woods on the other bank of the river are yet untouched. Scarcely a field is to be seen under tillage, and the axe seems almost the only tool in use.

We were admirably cared for at Gibb's house at Littleton, and we enjoyed our comforts exceedingly. It appeared that good manners are much regarded in the house, some of the family being as anxious to teach them to strangers as to practice them themselves. In the morning, one of my American friends and I, being disposed to take our breakfast at convenient leisure, sat down to table when all was ready, our companions (who could make more haste) not having appeared. A young lady stood at the sidetable to administer the steaming coffee and tea. After waiting some time my companion modestly observed,

" I should like a cup of coffee, if you please.”

There was no appearance of the observation having taken effect, so my friend spoke again :

“Will you be so good as to give me a cup of coffee ?"

No answer. After a third appeal, the young lady burst out with,

“ Never saw such manners! To sit down to table before the other folks come !"

I hope she was pacified by seeing that our friends, when they at length appeared, did not resent our not having waited for them.

We set out early in an open wagon for a day's excursion to Franconia Defile, a gorge in the mountains which is too frequently neglected by travellers who pass through this region. Before we reached Franconia some part of our vehicle gave way. While it was in the hands of the blacksmith we visited the large ironworks at Franconia, and sat in a boat on the sweet Ammonoosuc, watching the waters as they fell over the dam by the ironworks. When we set off again our umbrellas were forgotten; and as we entered upon the mountain region, the misty, variegated peaks told that storm was coming. The mountain sides were more precipitous than any we had seen, and Mount Lafayette towered darkly above us to the right of our winding road. We passed some beautiful tarns, fringed with trees, and brimming up so close to the foot of the precipices as to leave scarcely a footpath on their margin. A pelting rain came on, which made us glad to reach the solitary dwelling of the pass, called the Lafayette Hotel. This house had been growing in the woods thirteen weeks before, and yet we were far from being among its first guests. The host, two boys, and a nice-looking, obliging girl, wearing a string of gold beads, did their best to make us comfortable. They kindled a blazing wood fire, and the girl then prepared a dinner of hot bread and butter, broiled ham, custards, and good tea. When the shower ceased we went out and made our. selves acquainted with the principal features of the pass, sketching, reciting, and watching how the mists drove up and around the tremendous peaks, smoked out of the fissures, and wreathed about the woods on the ledges. The scene could not have been more remarkable, and scarcely more beautiful in the brightest sunshine. It was not various ; its unity was its charm. It consisted of a narrow rocky road, winding between mountains which almost over

[ocr errors]

hung the path, except at intervals, where there were recesses filled with woods.

After dinner our host brought in the album of the house, for even this new house had already its album. When we had given an account of ourselves, we set out, in defiance of the clouds, for the Whirlpool, four miles at least farther on. On the way we passed a beautiful lake, overhung by ash, beech, birch, and pine, with towering heights behind. Hereabout the rain came on heavily, and continued for three hours. The Whirlpool is the grand object of this pass, and it is a place in which to spend many a long summer's day. A full mountain stream, issuing from the lake we had left behind, and brawling all along our road, here gushes through a crevice into a wide basin, singularly overhung by a projecting rock, rounded and smoothed as if by art. Here the eddying water, green as the Niagara floods, carries leaves and iwigs round and round, in perpetual swift motion, a portion of the waters brimming over the lower edge of the great basin at each revolution, and the pool being replenished from above. I found a shelter under a ledge of rocks, and here I could have stood for hours, listening to the splash and hiss, and watching the busy whirl. The weather, however, grew worse every moment; the driver could not keep the seats of the wagon dry any longer; and after finding, to our surprise, that we had stayed half an hour by the pool,

we jumped into our vehicle and returned without delay. There were no more wandering gleams among the mountains ; but, just as we descended to the plain, we saw the watery sun for a moment, and were cheered by a bright amber streak of sky above the western summits. By the time we recovered our umbrellas there was no farther need of them.

It soon became totally dark ; and, if there had been any choice, the driver would have been as glad as ourselves to have stopped. But we were wet, and there were no habitations along the road; so we amused ourselves with watching one or two fireflies, the last of the season, and the driver left the horses to find their own way, as he was unable to see a yard in any direction. At last the lights of Littleton appeared, the horses put new spirit into their work, and we arrived at Gibb's door before eight o'clock. The ladies of the house were kind in their assistance to get us dried and warmed, and to provide us with tea.

Our course was subsequently to Montpelier (Vermont),

and along the White River till we joined the Connecticut, along whose banks we travelled to Brattleborough, Deerfield, and Northampton. The scenery of New Hampshire and Vermont is that to which the attention of travellers will hereafter be directed, perhaps more emphatically than to the renowned beauties of Virginia. I certainly think the Franconia Defile the noblest mountain-pass I saw in the United States.

CHANNING.

“And, let me tell you, good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue."— Izaak Walton.

a

THERE is no task more difficult than that of speaking of one's intimate friends in print. It is well that the necessity occurs but seldom, for it is a task which it is nearly impossible to do well. Some persons think it as dangerous as it is difficult; but I do not feel this. If a friendship be not founded on a mutual knowledge so extensive as to leave nothing to be learned by each of the opinions of the other regarding their relation; and if, moreover, either party, knowing what it is to speak to the public-the act of all acts most like answering at the bar of eternal judgment-can yet be injuriously moved by so much of the character and cir. cumstances being made known as the public has an interest in, such a friendship is not worthy of the name ; and if it can be thus broken up, it had better be so. In the case of a true friendship there is no such danger; for it is based upon something very different from mutual ignorance, and depends upon something much more stable than the ignorance of the world concerning the parties.

Dr. Channing is, of all the public characters of the United States, the one in whom the English feel the most interest. After much consideration, I have decided that to omit, because the discussion is difficult to myself, the subject most interesting to my readers, and one on which they have, from Dr. Channing's position, a right to information, would be wrong. Accounts have already been given of him; one, at least, to his disadvantage. There is no sufficient reason why a more friendly one should be withheld, while the account is strictly limited to those circumstances and appearances which might meet the observation of a stranger or a common acquaintance. All revelations made to me through the hospitalities of his family or by virtue of friendship will be, of course, carefully suppressed.

Dr. Channing spends seven or eight months of the year in Rhode Island, at Oakland, six miles from Newport. There I first saw him, being invited by him and Mrs. Channing to spend a week with them. This was in September, 1835. I afterward stayed a longer time with them in Boston.

The last ten miles of the journey to Dr. Channing's house from Boston is very pretty in fine weather. The road passes through a watery region, where the whims of sunshine and cloud are as various and as palpable as at sea. The road passes over a long bridge to the island, and affords fine glimpses of small islands in the spreading river, and of the distant main with its breakers. The stage set me down at the garden-gare at Oakland, whither my host came out to receive me. I knew it could be no other than Dr. Channing, but his appearance surprised me.

He looked younger and pleasanter than I had expected. The common engraving of him is undeniably very like, but it does not altogether do him justice. A bust of him was modelled by Persico the next winter, which is an admirable likeness; favourable, but not flattering. Dr. Channing is short, and very slightly made. His countenance varies more than its first aspect would lead the stranger to suppose it could. mirth it is perfectly changed, and very remarkable. The lower part of other faces is the most expressive of mirih ; not so with Dr. Channing's, whose muscles keep very composed, while his laughter pours out at his eyes. I have seen him laugh till it seemed doubtful where the matter would end, and I could not but wish that the expression of face could be dashed into the canvass at the moment. His voice is, however, the great charm. I do not mean in the pulpit : of what it is there I am not qualified to speak, for I could not hear a tone of his preaching ; but in conversation his voice becomes delightful after one is familiarized with it. At first his tones partake of the unfortunate dryness of his manner ; but, by use, they grow, or seem to grow, more and more genial, till, at lasi, the ear waits and watches for them.

In

« 上一頁繼續 »