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ruary 18, 1764, and signed by several | ber, in his “ Historical Collections of Conprominent individuals of the place : necticut," says of it: “ There are at the
"On the evening of the seventh instant, Feb present (July 1, 1836) about twenty dwelluary, 1764, there was a violent storm of hailing-houses and three mercantile stores." and rain ; the next morning after, was observed The view, at this time published, of Bira large breach in a hill on the west side of the mingham in the same work, presents a old river, (this was a little north of Birmingham, perhaps eighty to one hundred rods,) sup- great contrast with the Birmingham of posed to be occasioned by some subterraneous 1857, which appears at the commencewind or fire; the breach is about twenty feet ment of this article. The water which supdeep, though much caved in; in length one plies the mills at this place is taken from hundred and thirteen feet; about sixty rods of land was covered with the gravel and sand the Naugatuck River, and is brought in a cast out of the cavity ; trees, of about a foot in canal the distance of one and a half miles. diameter, were carried one hundred and sev The sketch which I present of the enty-three feet distant; some small stones, public square, Birmingham, exhibits the about the bigness of walnuts, were carried with such velocity, that they stuck fast in a green
west and a part of the north side of this tree that stood near the cavity; a large dry
inclosure. The church which appears log, better than two feet in diameter, was car upon the right is the Methodist. This ried up so far in the air, that, by the force of
church was organized in 1793 by Rer. the fall, one end of it stuck so fast in the
Jesse Lee. It was originally located near ground, that it kept the other end up. The narrowest part of the breach is about thirty the Derby Landing. The Congregational feet at the surface of the ground, and the bot- church, which appears upon the left of the tom of the breach is crooking, winding much engraving, was organized in 1846. The like the streaks of lightning.”
edifice occupying the center of the cut is The village of Birmingham is of de- the high school. cidedly recent creation for a Connecticut St. James's Church (Episcopal) is sittown, and was commenced in 1834. Bar- uated upon the east side of the public
This church was organized pre* A light was seen on the spot in the evening before vious to 1700, and is one of the oldest the explosion. It was accompanied by a loud report. Episcopal organizations in the country. lyzed by Doctor Munson, of New Haven, and found to present edifice is the fourth constructcontain arsenic and sulphur.- Webster on Pestilence, ed by this society, and was built in 1841. VOL i, p. 262.
THE OLD MAN'S HOME.
strong contrast to the lines which must
have been indented upon it by care and T WAS walking out on the evening of suffering, no less than the lapse of years. I the 18th of April, 1843, when my at- I cannot recall the words of the chance tention was arrested by a sigh from some observation which I addressed to him : one near me. I turned round, and saw a but it related to the lateness and inclemvenerable old man seated upon a fragmentency of the season, and I was at once of rock by the road-side. His hair was struck by the singularity of his reply. white as silver ; his face deeply furrowed, “ Yes, yes," he said musingly, " the winand yet pervaded by a general expression ter has indeed been very long and dreary ; of childish simplicity, which formed a | and yet it has been gladdened, from time
to time, by a few glimpses of the coming | indeed, traveled a long and solitary jourspring.”
ney; and at times I am weary, very weary; I now observed him more closely. There but my reşting-place now must be near at was a strangeness in his dress which first hand." excited my suspicion, and I fancied that I “And whither, then," I asked, “ are could detect a restlessness in his light you going ?” blue eye which spoke of a mind that had “Home, sir, home," he replied ; and gone astray. " Old man,” I said, “ you while his voice lost its sadness, his face seem tired; have you come from far ?" seemed to brighten, and his eve grow
“Ah, woe is me," he replied, in the steady at the thought ; “I hope and believe same melancholy tone as before ; “I have, I that I am going home."
I now imagined that I had judged him “ And have all your children left you ?" hastily, and that the answers which I had I asked. ascribed to a wandering intellect proceed · All, all,” he replied. “My wife took ed in truth from depth of religious feeling. | them with her when she went away. She In order to ascertain this, I asked : “ Have stayed with me, sir, but seven years, and you been long a traveler ?"
left me on the very day on which she “ Four score and thirteen years,” he came. It seems strange now that I could replied; and observing my look of as have lived with them day after day withsumed wonder, he repeated a second time, out a thought that they were so near their more slowly and sadly than before, “ Four journey's end, while I should travel onscore and thirteen years."
ward so many winters alone. It is now “ The home,” I said, “must be very sixty years since they all went home, and far off that requires so long a journey.” have been waiting for me there. But, sir,
“ Nay, nay, kind sir, do not speak thus,” | I often think that the time, which has he answered : “our home is never far off; seemed so long and dreary to me, has and I might, perhaps, have arrived at it passed away like a few short hours to years and years ago. But often during them." the early spring I stopped to gather the At this moment, the sun, which had flowers that grew beneath my feet; and been obscured by a passing cloud, suddenly once I laid me down and fell asleep upon shone forth, and its rays were reflected by the way. And so more than four score a path of gold in the silent waters. The and thirteen years have been wanted to old man pointed to it with a quiet smile : bring me to the home which many reach the change was in such harmony with his in a few days. Alas! all whom I love own thoughts, that I do not wonder at the most dearly have long since passed me on metaphor it suggested to him. “There,” the road, and I am now left to finish my said he," is the blessing of the mourner! journey alone.”
See! how it shines down from the heaven During this reply, I had become alto- above, and gilds with its radiance the gether ashamed of my former suspicion, dreary sea of life.” and I now looked into the old man's face " True," I replied ; " and the sea of life with a feeling of reverence and love. The would be no longer dreary, if it were not features were unchanged ; but instead of for the passing clouds which at times keep the childish expression which I had before back from it the light of heaven.” His imobserved, I believed them to be brightened mediate answer to this observation proved with the heavenliness of the second child- the image, which he had employed, to be hood, while the restlessness of the light one long familiar to his own mind. “ There blue eye only spoke to me of an imagina- are, indeed, clouds,” he said, “ but they tion which loved to wander amid the are never in heaven ; they hover very treasures of the unseen world. I pur near the earth; and it is only because our posely, however, continued the conversa- sight is so dim and indistinct that they tion under the same metaphor as before. seem to be in the sky." “ You have not, then," I said, “ been al A silence of some minutes followed this ways a solitary traveler ?"
remark. I was, in truth, anxious that the “Ah, no,” he replied : " for a few years old man should pursue the metaphor fura dear wife was walking step by step at ther. But the gleam of light passed away my side ; and there were little children, as the sun sunk behind the western hills. too, who were just beginning to follow us. His feelings appeared to undergo a corAnd I was so happy then, that I some- responding change, and he exclaimed, times forgot we were but travelers, and hastily, “ The day is fast drawing to a fancied that I had found a home. But close ; and the night must be near at hand; my wife, sir, never forgot it. She would I must hasten onward on my journey. again and again remind me that we must Come, kind sir, and I will show you where so live together in this life, that in the my friends are waiting for me." world to come we might have life ever I was wondering whether he now spoke lasting. They are words that I scarcely metaphorically or not, when my thoughts regarded at the time, but I love to repeat were suddenly turned into a new channel, them now. They speak to me of meeting and my former painful suspicions returned. her again at the end of our journey.” As the old man leaned upon his staff, his
wrists became exposed to view, and I saw ing objects of sight and sense, he never that they were marked with deep blue failed to recognize the images of spiritual lines, which could only have been caused things. by the galling of a chain in former years. We walked on together for a few min
The poor wanderer observed the look I utes without speaking ; but the silence gave them. A sudden flush of shame over was suddenly broken by the creaking of a spread his countenance, and he hurriedly cart-wheel, which grated harshly on my drew down his garment to conceal them. ear; and almost before I could look round, It was, however, but a momentary impulse; I heard a voice of rude triumph behind he again exposed them to my view, and me, crying out: “There he is! there he himself gazed sadly upon them as he said : is! there goes the old boy! Stop him! “Why should I try to hide them, when stop him, sir! he is mad." they are left there to remind me constantly I have no heart to describe the scene of my true condition ? For in times past that followed : the poor wanderer shuffled I have borne the pressure of more wearing forward, with a nervous, hurried step; but bonds than those ; and though I have been in a few seconds the cart was at his side ; released from them, no one can tell how the driver immediately jumped out, and dark and deep is the stain that they have seizing him by the collar, with many a left upon my soul.”
rude word and coarse jest, tried to force Again I was in doubt whether to inter- him to enter it. For a moment, surprise pret his words literally or not; but my and indignation deprived me of speech, for belief now was, that the old man almost I had begun to regard the old man with unconsciously used the language of alle- such a feeling of reverent love, that it algory. Long habit had so taught him to most seemed to me like a profanation of blend together the seen and the unseen holy ground. When, however, he turned world, that he could not separate them. his eyes toward me, with an imploring Life was to him a mirror, and in the pass- I look, 1 recovered myself sufficiently to de
mand by what authority he dared thus treatment of the old man, and insisted on molest an inoffensive traveler on his jour- his returning to the cart, and desisting ney. In my inmost heart I dreaded from all further interference. My hopes the answer I should probably receive ; were greatly raised by this, and I flattered neither was my foreboding wrong; the myself I should now have little difficulty man laughed rudely as he replied : “He in obtaining for the poor wanderer the inhas been mad, quite nad, for more than dulgence which he sought. But I soon fifty years; he escaped this morning from found my mistake, and, under the irritated the asylum, and one of the keepers has feelings of the moment, almost preferred been with me all day long scouring the the rude conduct of the first comer to the country in search of him."
quiet determination with which his comIt was in vain that I sought a pretext panion listened to my request. for disbelieving the truth of the story. I He merely smiled at the account I gave could not help feeling that it did but con- of my own interview with the old man; firm a suspicion which, in spite of myself, and when I suggested that it contained no had kept crossing my own mind : for the evidence of insanity, shook his head and bright coloring which was shed by faith replied: “You do not know poor Robin. on the thoughts and words of the old man | His notions about home are the peculiar was not alone a sufficient evidence that feature of his madness; but you are not they were under the guidance of reason, the first person that has been deceived by Yet, of one thing, at least, I felt sure, that, them." whatever were the state of his intellect, He spoke in a low tone, as though he it could be no imaginary cause that now so was anxious not to be overheard. But strongly moved him. My heart bled for the precaution seemed unnecessary; for, him as I listened to the pathetic earnest- though the old man had mechanically reness with which he implored the protection tained his grasp on my garments, he was that I was unable to afford. He even for- now looking eagerly toward the village. got to use the language of metaphor in the church, and I could see, from the exagony of his grief. “ Indeed, indeed, pression of his countenance, that his sir," he said, “ they call me mad, but do thoughts had passed away from the scene not believe them, for I am not mad now. around him. There, there,” he added, pointing toward When I found my arguments of no avail, the church, “my wife and children are I changed my ground, and besought as a waiting for me. It was on this very day favor that he would make the trial of that they went away, and we have now letting the old man proceed to the end been parted sixty years. I have traveled of his journey, and trust to his promise to very far to join them once again before I return quietly from thence. Sir," he die. O, have pity upon me! I only ask replied, in a louder voice, " I should have for one little half hour, that I may go in no more hesitation in trusting the word of peace to the end of my journey."
poor Robin than your own.
He nevei Large drops of moisture trembled on deceived me; and, under ordinary cirhis forehead as he uttered these words ; cumstances, I would at once grant his his whole face became convulsed with request ; but the hour is late, and, as it is, emotion, and he clung with such intensity the night will close in upon us before we to my garment, that his rude assailant can get back. The responsibility will tried in vain to unloose his grasp. The rest upon me, if mischief should arise from man himself was evidently frightened by any additional delay. I am sure Robin the agitation which his own violence had himself would not desire it.” As he said caused, and appeared doubtful how to pro- this, he turned toward the old man ; but ceed, when the scene was fortunately in his countenance was unchanged, his eye terrupted by the arrival of his companion. still fixed upon the church, and he either
He was the keeper who had been sent had not heard the words at all, or they from the asylum. His look and manner had failed to convey any distinct imafforded a striking contrast to those of the pression to his mind. first comer, who proved to be merely the After a pause, I again renewed my enowner of the vehicle, which had been hired treaties, urging that it would at least be a for the occasion. Immediately on his ar better plan than having recourse to viorival, he reprimanded him for his rude | lence, which must eventually produce a