網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

sparser and shorter generation of trees, that we found relaxation in our labors. At length we rose above the tangled wood, and emerged upon a hillock', covered with trees, indeed, perfectly formed', but only a few inches in height', and every instant decreasing in length', so that in a few moments we found ourselves literally walking upon the top of a miniature forest. So rapidly were we now rising above vegetation', that even this dwarfish presentation of it was soon left behind“, and nothing but the mountain cranberry offered itself', as the last substance which nature could support in these lofty regions of the air. The scene was not a little striking as we issued upon this cleared point of the mountain land', from the scattered woods below. The delicious cool atmosphere was just blushing into morning', and a few clouds swept over us', just catching the hues of day', as they drove their dim trains over the distant peaks', and gradually dissolved in the upper sky. A right reverend looking owl sat in the most saturnine guise possible upon a little evergreen as we came up', and after gazing at us for a noment with admirable stolidity', threw out its broad gray wings', and went flapping heavily down the hill side into the voods below! We took this for a good emen.

There was something classic in the intimation'; and we urged forward with all the new vigor that may be supposed from this decided conviction that Minerva was on our side. While we were yet canvassing where he would appear', over the ridge that shot away into the heavens above us', the sun came up in all his splendor beside a peak now bathed in one flood of golden light.

* Mount Washington was now first discovered heaving up into the blué, above the dark belt of clouds that gathered about his base. We had risen into a region of grandeur'; and this view of the monarch mountain on the east, with that of the highlands and peaks below us', over which we had toiled', and which now reposed in their silence, and darkness', and vastness', like some great Black Sea suddenly stayed as its waves were at the highest', together formed a panorama that is beyond description', and whose general effect is beyond belief. Upon one of these elevations, that presented this noble picture, and upon which the sun poured his morning luster', we sat down to an ethereal breakfast. Hardly had we dipped into our viands before our sunshine was succeeded in an instant', by a mist, thick as night, and driving about us with all the drenching rapidity of a northeast storm'. This', to a party in their dresses', and most unquestionable perspiration”, was a matter of doubtful utility. There was but one way to meet the evil'; that was, to fly from

19

*

*

it. We were therefore soon clear of our anchoragé, and leaping from rock to rock into a valley where we hoped to find ourselves less exposed. A few steps disclosed to us the mystery of this sudden envelopment. We had breakfasted in a cloud '. At this moment it was sweeping off into the air below us', and in course of a minute the very spot we had occupied in a fog so thick we could hardly discern each other through its veil', was again in clear sunlight, and the volumed vapor was wrapping other summits that lay in its watery path.

The time consumed in this last stagé, [namely, to the summit of Mount Washington',] was not long', and ere high noon' we had reached the summit. We that write this same are decidedly of opinion'—we always maintained it, and mean to hold to it', because we believe it'—that we were the first of the band'--not even excepting our long-legged pioneer of Hart's location'—the very first that reached the top of the granite peak'. This was something': It argued good muscle. We have proved the probability of that sincè, fully'

, by the degrees we have taken in gymnastics. However, there we werè, and in a reasonably short time the party was full', and a chorus every way commensurate, was at once despatched into the clear blue sky. And we well shouted. There was never braver scene to shout over. We were above the world', emphatically'; and softened as every feature of it was', as it reposed, outstretched' below us', we could not but conclude that after all the scandal which has been heaped upon it, it was quite a decent world, in the upshot', and a thing easy enough to rise superior tó, if a man will only come to the trial. To be sure', it seemed to be rather a foolish affair to fîght about', taken as a whôlè; but when you came to think of quarreling for acres and feet', it made you laugh incontinently, at the very idea. As for man, he seemed so much the merest circumstance of creation'—so perfectly unnoticeable among the mightier works of his Maker', that his struggle to become a president or a postmaster', looked really melancholy to us. Alas'! the magnificence of ambition!

Of course, the drill and mallet were not long idle. The natural longing after immortality” led each one to do his best towards impressing his name upon granite with lines as deep“, if not as delicaté, as those of a master of the chisel'; and for our selves we can only say that we drove away so manfully', that we have strong faith in the lasting of our letters, though not so decided a one in their beauty. At length this praiseworthy duty was effected'; a perfect mystery from beginning to end to the mind of our slab-sided guidé, who saw no more glory attached to this particular elevation than what fairly belonged

to vulgar" heights and distances;" his white oak nature being as unetherealized in this connection', as was that of the tailor', who found nothing more immediately striking in the torrent of Niagara than the capital chance it offered to “sponge a coat!”

Many a rock on this apex is covered with this hasty sculpture. Sometimes the eye will fall on a lady's namè, for true it is that now and then her heroic spirit has led woman to scale this "

heaven-kissing hill',” though at the time we trod its summit', it was a point quite unattainable by the sex. At present we believe it is a common object with the venturesome sisterhood"; and if the gentle creatures are only willing to incur the sad risk of an enlarged anclé, we see nothing to hinder their capping this climax as easily as they do all others. How much more glory in this than forever to “chronicle small beer.” Let her wrestle her way up to Mount Washington', and after that’, dedicate herself to a pair of small spectacles', and woman is made a classic for all the future purposes of the world. We cannot leave this subject of chiseling out immortality upon the mountain granite of Washington', withoul relating a circumstance at which we were somewhat inclined to be merry. We refer to an expressive Latin inscription', done on copper, and nailed to the rock upon the summit. It was signed, (per auctoritatem, *) by some three or four literary and learned gentlemen from the metropolis of Massachusetts', or thereabouts', wonderfully pregnant with the story of their toil', but every letter of it engraved, unquestionably, some weeks beforé, calmly and coolly in Boston. This is what we call perspiration in perspective; or to speak elegantly, sweating in futuro.t

But the prospect"! the prospect'! from this mountain tower. Towards the west it was boundless. It seemed as if the eye glanced over land and lakes, till vision was lost in the horizon of the northern sea. On the east, the whole region reposed beneath a veil of white vapor, so still and outstretched', that it resembled a vast ocean', above which storm and wind had sunk to their everlasting rest. Far away, one or two solitary, peaks lifted themselves from the silent mist', as towering islands from the calm deep; and off towards the south, the black swells of the mountainous country lapped one upon the other, like the deep when its huge waves are heaved up and forward at night. Above us', the air was of singular transparency', and the blue sky seemed so near that we felt as though we were bathing our brows in its clearness.

* By authority.

+ Sweating before the time comes.

LESSON L XIX.

A SCENE FROM THE GIPSY, OR, WHOSE SON AM I.

A room in a respectable country inn. Enter CAPTAIN ETHERIDGE and CAPTAIN MERTOUN, ushered in

by the Landlord. Land. Will you be pleased to take any thing, gentlemen'? Capt. Eth. I can answer for myself ---nothing!

Capt. Mer. I agree, and disagree, with you; that is, I coincide with you in'-nothing!

Capt. Eth. Then I trust, Mr. Harness', that you will coincide with us in expediting the greasing of that radical wheel as soon as possible, and let us know where the horses are put to.

Land. Most certainly, captain Etheridge; I will superintend it myself'. [Exit Landlord.]

Capt. Eth. An old butler of my father's', who set up many years ago, with a few hundred pounds', and the Etheridge Arms' as a sign'. He has done well.

Capt. Mer. That is to say', the Etheridge Arms have pur him on his legs”, and drawing corks for your father has enabled him to draw beer for himself and his customers. Of course he married the lady's maid'.

Capt. Eth. Nò, he did more wisely'; he married the cook'.

Capt. Mer. With a good fat portion of kitchen stuff, and a life interest of culinary knowledge. I have no doubt but that he had a farther benefit from your liberal father and mother.

Capt. Eth. By-the-by, I have spoken to you of my father repeatedly', Edward'; but you have not yet heard any remarks relative to my mother'.

Capt. Mer. I take it for granted', from your report of your father', and my knowledge (bowing] of the offspring', that she must be equally amiable.

Capt. Eth. Had she been só, I should not have been silento; but as I have no secrets from you, I must say', she is not—the very paragon' of affection.

Capt. Mer. I am sorry for it.

Capt. Elh. My father, disgusted with the matrimonial traps that were set for the post-captain', and baronet of ten thousand a year, resolved', as he imagined', wisely', to marry a woman in inferior life ; who, having no pretensions of her own', would be humble and domestic. He chose one of his tenant's daughters', who was demure to an excess. The soft paw of a cat

conceals her talons. My mother turned out the very antipodes of his expectations.

Capt. Mer. Hum!

Capt. Eth. Without any advantages, excepting her alliance with my father, and a tolerable share of rural beauty, she is as proud as if descended from the house of Hapsburg-insults her equals', tramples on her inferiors', and'—what is worse than all'— treats my

father
very

ill. Capt. Mer. Treats him' ill’! What'! hè that was such a martinet', such a disciplinarian on board'! She does not beât him'?

Capt. Eth. No, not exactly; but so completely has she gained the upper hand', that the admiral is as subdued as a dancing bear', obeying her orders with a growl', but still obeying them. At her command he goads himself into a passion with whomsoever she may point out as the object of his violence.

Capt. Mer. How completely she must have mastered him! How can he submit to iť?

Capt. Eth. Habit, my dear Mertoun', reconciles us to such ; and hé, at whose frown hundreds of gallant fellows trembled', is now afraid to meet the eye of a woman'.

To avoid anger with hēr', he affects anger with every one else. This I mention to you, that you may guide your conduct towards her. Aware of your partiality to my sister', it may be as well

Capt. Mer. To hold the candle to the devil', you mean. Your pardon, Etheridgé, for the grossness of the proverb.

Capt. Eth. No apology', my dear fellow'. Hold the candle when you will“, it will not burn before a saint', and that's the truth. Follow my advice, and I will insure you success.

I only wish that my amatory concerns had so promising an appearance.

Capt. Mer. Why, I never knew that you were stricken.*

Capt. Eth. The fact is, that I am not satisfied with myself; and when I am away from my Circé, I strive all I can to drive her from my memory. By change of scene, absence and occupation', I contrive to forget her indifferent well. Add to all this', I have not committed myself by word or deed. I have now been three

years
in this

way; but the moment I find myself within two miles of my fair oné, as the towers of my house rise upon my sight', so rises the passion in my bosom'; and what I supposed I had reasoned away to a mere dwarfish inclination, becomes at once a mighty sentiment.

Capt. Mer. That looks very like attachment. Three years,

* Stricken is now obsolete ; struck should be used.

« 上一頁繼續 »