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country would be sensibly diminished. Down the mountain sides rills of water are perpetually gushing, and the traveller can take no step where his ear is not saluted with the murmur of a falling stream.
A few miles' travel now lead you to the boundary between Massachusetts and New York; and just within the limits of the latter state stands New Lebanon, celebrated for its spring, and its community of Shakers. The hills which enclose the valley of New Lebanon slope very gracefully in all directions, and the beauty of the spot has made this watering-place one of great resort, although the water of the spring has no remarkable medicinal properties. A more singular and interesting object is the Shaker village, which exhibits the perfection of neatness and thrift. It occupies a little lap of land above the bottom of the valley; nothing can surpass the rich cultivation of the fields, the commodiousness of the buildings, and the spectacle of industry, skill, and prosperity, which the abode of this strange community of beings offers to the view: the public buildings are in a style worthy of a great city. One cannot help wishing to see their industry, neatness, honesty, and peaceful habits imitated by all mankind; though should all mankind become Shakers, it would be extending these good qualities at a little too much cost in the end.
From this point to Albany the road offers little that is remarkable. The land slopes gradually to the Hudson, which here sweeps its broad and rapid current between lofty banks covered with wood. Albany rises fairly to the sight on the western shore, its thick cluster of buildings crowned by a white marble edifice with a gilt dome. The interior of the city presents striking contrasts of architecture; the fresh-looking and tasteful structures of the present day stand by the side of the odd old piles of the ancient Dutch burghers. Rail-roads and locomotives now whisk you off to Schenectady, across the great canal to Ballston and Saratoga, gay watering places, amidst a wilderness of pine woods. The fences round about here are made of the stumps of enormous trees, and the first sight of one of them would startle a war-horse; nothing ever looked so fantastically and horribly scraggy. Stopping at an inn by the way-side, I witnessed a strange trial of prowess which, I trow, must have been learnt from the Indians. Two country fellows sat puffing tobacco-smoke in each other's face, to see which would hold out longest:
• Puff in thy teeth, most recreant coward base!' From hence to Lake George, the road lies through the woods over a hard country, with a log cabin and a corn field here and there. At Glen's Falls, a bridge crosses the Hudson at the spot where the river falls in a fine cataract over a precipice of blue limestone. Below the falls are several narrow caverns in the rock, which have figured in some legend or fiction. I found a party of ladies exploring them at the hazard of their necks. They pronounced them to be most charmingly romantic, dark, and dismal.
Approaching the lake, the road traverses a defile between long ranges of mountains which, further north, skirt the shores of the lake its whole extent. In the early wars with the French, this was a most important military pass, being the main entrance from Canada. Two strong fortresses were built at the south end of the lake, to defend this Thermopylæ, and their ruins, now overgrown with trees, are still discernible. At this point, the traveller emerges from the woods, and catches the first glimpse of Lake George. The little village of Caldwell is seen on the slope of the western bank, which rises gracefully from the water to a lofty height: the opposite shore presents a steep and shaggy pile of forest. Casting a view beyond, the eye passes along the beautiful expanse of water between, and rests upon the blue mountain tops, which close the long vista in the distance. The rays of the setting sun threw a mellow upon these heights, which it is rare to remark in the mountain scenery of this country. Embarking the next morning in the little steam-boat which plies upon the lake, I contemplated the remarkable beauty of its banks, the transparency of its waters, and the charmingly picturesque groups of islands which diversify its surface. During its whole length, which is thirty-four miles, it presents a perpetually varying succession of the most romantic views : in all this extent there is not a spot in the landscape that is unsightly; no bare strand, naked bank, plashy margin, or monotonous flat ; no speck to mar the loveliness of the scene, but every feature of beauty so combined, contrasted, and diversified as to present to the eye an untiring diorama. On both sides, the mountains, clothed with wood, rise abruptly from the water; the lake now narrowing, now widening, now sweeping round a bold headland, surprises you every moment with some striking change. The forests have not the dark green hue which I had remarked on the mountains of Massachusetts; they are more rocky and less thickly wooded : this gives them at a distance a mellower tint, and where the lake opens a long vista, they vary in the distance through innumerable shades of green, blue, and purple, into the thin misty hue of furthest vision. Here and there a house stands perched on the mountain side or at the water's edge; but generally the scene is one of perfect wildness. The islands are innumerable; they are of all sizes, and not one but seems made on purpose to add a new beauty to the scene. They are covered with trees; and you may often see a rock rising out of the water apparently not a foot square, with a tall tree growing on it. Some of them are low and flat, looking like clumps of trees growing in the water. A group of islands in one place has the exact resemblance of a fleet of ships under sail. In short, every mountain, island, cape, and bay of this beautiful lake forms a perfect picture. Now and then a bald eagle might be seen circling slowly and majestically over our heads, and presently dashing with a sudden stoop into the water, then sailing off to the mountain top with a fish in his talons.
The outlet of this lake falls over a number of cataracts ere it reaches Lake Champlain. Passing down this stream I came to the famous old fortress of Ticonderoga, in former times the Gibraltar of America ; but now a heap of ruins, overgrown with thistles. The situation is commanding, and affords a fine prospect over the southern part of Lake Champlain; but a steep mountain overlooks the fortress, so near at hand as to prove
it not impregnable. Burgoyne, in the invasion of 1777, found means to drag cannon to its summit, an enterprise which till then had been deemed impossible. Ticonderoga fell, and has never since been of any military importance: the sheep now browse among the crumbling walls, and hear no sound save the echo of their own bleating : the steam-boat dashes through the waters at their base without arousing the thunders of the mighty fortress. America has its ruins; but while they exhibit only the arts of peace triumphant over war, they may be contemplated without any saddening emotions.
The voyage down Lake Champlain exhibits many fine views. This lake has not the clear waters nor the romantic shores of Lake George, yet it admits of wider prospects both of water and land. On both sides high mountains appear at a distance from the shores, and the banks are adorned with villages. The clayey soil of the shores produces a white and turbid water in the southern part of the lake, but on proceeding north it becomes clear. The chain of mountains on both shores continued in sight as we sailed down the lake, and the sun set behind the western ridge, covering them with a dim, misty, blue mantle, that contrasted finely with the fresh green of the shores. The shades of night came over us while we were still at sea; but after a few hours' sail, the appearance of a light-house ahead announced our approach to the harbour of Burlington. This town stands on a high bank on the eastern shore of the lake, and commands a grand view of its waters and the western shore, with the losty mountains beyond.
Journeying easterly from this place, the country is found to be wilder than ihe western part of Massachusetts, but the farms are under good cultivation. The Green Mountains enchant the eye with their variegation of surface, and the bright freshness of their verdure. A narrow pass, called the Gulf, offers a striking scene : here the mountain is cloven down to the base, almost perpendicularly, for about three miles on either hand. These immense walls of rock are everywhere overgrown with trees, and the traveller, as he passes through, is struck with astonishment to behold enormous oaks, some hundred feet over his head, growing out of the perpendicular sides of these rocky barriers, which appear like immense sheets of foliage stretched out on both sides. The narrowness of this passage is such, that in many places the road is overhung by the rocky wall: the sun shines into it only for a short space during the day, and in the heat of a summer noon the air of the Gulf is chilling.
A handful of houses in the midst of these mountains bears the name of Montpelier, and the title of the capital Vermont. It is as unpretending a metropolis as is perhaps anywhere to be found; but the Vermonters are distinguished for their republican simplicity : the governor of the state does not think it scorn to drive his own team; indeed, the salary of this magistrate is not such as to encourage any unnecessary splendour, and the office has frequently gone a begging. Political ambition is not likely to disturb the happy repose of these honest mountaineers. Nor is their golden mean' of property less secure.
Here are no rich men, as the Englishman would count riches; no enormous heaps of wealth, like overgrown sponges, sucking up every stream of affluence within their reach, and making dryness and dearth around them. No sudden fortunes offer a temptation to cupidity and wild adventure, or disgust patient industry with its slow and sure career to competence. Riches and poverty are alike unknown, and unknown too is the corruption of morals commonly following in their train. Here is no hopeless want or sudden misfortune to engender the circumstance, that unspiritual god and miscreator,' that helps along a vicious tendency; and where there is least temptation to crime, there will be fewest criminals.
I love wild scenery; 'tis a delight to contemplate nature out of prison, for earth's aspect may exhibit too much of man, and European scenery bears, to my eyes, a great deal of this character. The dark forests have been thinned, the mountain sides laid bare, the plains rent by the plough, covered with habitations, or scored with walls and hedges; cast your eyes where you will, every spot is full of art. But in America the primeval features of the country still predominate, and art only appears as an occasional embellishment or contrast to set off in a stronger light the wildness of nature. Oh, there is sweetness in the mountain air!' but he who uttered this exclamation would have felt its truth tenfold had he ever snuffed the mountain air of the new world, where the piles of native forest and the untouched soil breathe forth a fragrance upon the gale that the Alps and Apennines know nothing of. The remembrance that occasions one of the chief longings of the American while absent in Europe, is that of the fresh odour of his native woods. The scent of an orange grove does not awaken so delicious sensation as when some sylvan dell sends forth from its dense foliage of pine or oak
a faint breathing of those wild sweets that load the gales of his native mountains.
New England abounds in beautiful scenery; the lakes, the rivers, the forests, the villages, the towns, and the cities, all these offer delightful pictures; yet, except in the wildest landscapes, there is a deficiency of certain features which are necessary to constitute a picturesque view : castles and towers are wanting; here are no tottering walls, broken arches, ruinated mansions, or lowly cottages to group and contrast in picturesque assemblage; the works of man, and man himself, lack that picturesqueness of appearance which characterises the scenery of the old world. Compare a country scene in Italy with one in New England: the dwelling of the Italian peasant is, perhaps, a picture in itself; small, yet a most fantastic bit of architecture, stone, wood, and thatch in picturesque combination; the remains of a temple or an amphitheatre ornament this rude structure; a ruined wall props one end; a straggling pathway, overgrown with weeds, leads by the door; a ragged-looking donkey is browsing in one corner, and a more ragged peasant is idly enjoying the sunshine in another; half-naked children with dirty faces, and a beggar with his tatters and tragical visage, occupy the foreground, while the ruined arches of a bridge choke a sluggish stream in the distance; all look very negligent and picturesque. On the other hand, contemplate a New England farm : the house is a spacious wooden edifice, neat and comfortable ; the walls and fences are in good repair; the barn is snug and tidy, the cattle are smooth and sleek, the garden exhibits straight lines and regular divisions ; the roads are broad and even. Instead of beggars and idlers, you see a neatly dressed rustic driving his waggon to market; a smart-looking boy with his satchel trudging off to school; or a female with a leghorn hat and silk parasol—nothing looks so comfortable, thriving, and unpicturesque.
Of such a nature, indeed, is the general contrast which strikes the observation of the American when across the ocean, and it is a contrast ever present to his mind. On the European shores, in spite of the wealth and luxury heaped up in every spot, and the thousand artificial means of promoting human happiness and the improvement of mankind, he is struck at each step with the marks of the sluggishness and decrepitude of decaying institutions; everything speaks to him of an old world; and his contemplations turn by contrast to his own land, where society has begun a new career, and all things exhibit the blooming freshness and vigour of young life.