Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

of duties through which existence can only be sustained. But his surprise would be increased in contemplating another and higher class ; such as possessing the requisite leisure and means to interrogate and report on the manifold objects of interest that are so profusely scattered over the Empire State, but with no will to do it. Such as these may be justly termed infidels to all beauty, culprits at the bar of Nature, and exposed to the severest sentence of her court : indifferent and apathetic; criminally at fault; exhibiting few aspirations beyond the confines of their own domicils, and fearful that the functions of life would stop if they could not hear the rattle of an omnibus, or the news-boy cry *Herald, Tribune and Mirror;' singing hosannahs to sixpences, while the sweet minstrelsy of Nature appeals to them all in vain. Tell us, ye exclusives of city and suburb ! if it is not an unfortunate state of mind that finds more pleasure and repose in silver dinner-sets, splendid mirrors, Sevres porcelain and Turkey carpets, than it does in the heavens and the earth ? Not that there is folly in manifesting an attachment to such adornings, but the folly there is in being mastered by them. Devotion to the true interests of humanity may be preserved without idolatry; neither is the race of life expected to be run on a mile-course and repeat. We would not be understood as undervaluing the necessity and efficacy of employment, which is the Magna Charta of our well-being, but we do maintain that the conflicting cares of life, its wear and tear, would be better met and borne, and probably diminished, if a more equitable division was established between work and play. An indiscriminate attachment to what is usually termed the requisition of duty' has contracted more souls than it ever enlarged; and, what perhaps is worse, it is apt to foster an uncharitable spirit, which pours out its bitterness without stint on many a devoted head; now frowning on any thing implying a genial impulse of the heart, and now rebuking any inspiration that the imagination may evoke in the presence of inanimate objects; in short, it is humanity half lighted up, and worshipping one idea. One of the shrewdest observers, and the most successful author of our age, has remarked: 'I have never remarked any one, be he soldier, divine, or lawyer, that was exclusively attached to the narrow habits of his own profession, but what such person became a great twaddler in good society. Who does not know, or has not felt, the cold withering denunciations of your exclusively worldly man, when he assumes the censor's cap, endeavoring to suppress all local affection for the sake of gain; denying as delusive whatever cannot be crammed into one's pocket or put into a bank; dwelling with emphasis and severity on whatever allures from traffic; and prophesying defeat and disaster to him whose soul rejects being melted in his crucible and discounted ! Such a man, rather than bind himself to Nature's chariot-wheels,' would go to the stake if he was sure the fuel were bank-notes; his conscience owning no fellowship but with ‘tare and tret.' This is no fiction; a day's reality transcends a century of fiction. The lives of some people are passed in the contemplation of prospective benefits, keeping them idle on one spot, and subjecting themselves to a jail-like penance. They have an uncle or an aunt or grandfather on whom this day's sun may set for the last time, and believing that their moneyed salvation depends in being in at the death, if they do not die by overwatching, they at best only survive, throwing nothing but their shadow on Time, and Time in his turn consigning them to a well-earned oblivion.

Who has not witnessed or heard of family commotions heaving with oceanic fury, and which the smoothing oil of time is often insufficient to allay, and to whom the harmonizing idea of distinct like the billows, but one like the sea,' was as much regarded as a rope of sand, in connection with the welfare of the paternal ark? There are few more potent allies in training the affections, disciplining the temper, and promoting tranquillity, than a familiarity with the sublimer scenes of Nature, and the habit at stated intervals of communing with what the ALMIGHTY Father has reared in his magnificent solitudes as fitting shrines for the worship and solace of his creature, man.

Sir Walter Scott says somewhere in his Journal: "I was commanded to Windsor. Not long since a similar court-like message came to us from a noble friend, not to repair to a palace, but to a spot ever rememberable for its picturesque beauty and its lovely and remarkable combination of land and water. Come,' said he, prepared for shooting, fishing and slaying; but mind you come !! Our accomplished Nimrod knew well enough the distinction between a command and an invitation, and rightly anticipated the effect of its reception. The distance of the proposed place where we were to unjoint our rods, free our reels, throw the fly, wing the fowl and kill the deer, vanished into thin air when on examining our equipment we found it all right, and seemingly anxious for distinction. So here we are, careering through the Mohawk Valley, teeming with all the beauty and luxuriance of vegetable life, which belong to the first days of Autumn; now passing with a provoking speed some graceful bend of the river ; now stretching our neck after a too-fleeting landscape; and now listening to the rapturous exclamation of a young tourist: 'I could travel for sixteen years if it was all like this !

New measures of delight spring up as we advance, never wearying with the yet unwrinkled face of Nature, and the soul that beats in unison with our own. We pass Rome, but see no capitol; Canastota, but no Indian chief; Syracuse, but no Dromios; but at the latter place we did see the very beau-ideal of a host, in the person of one Rust, who is worthy of a more shining name. We hope that the saline properties for which this region is so celebrated may exert on him a conservative, life-lengthening influence.

We must pass rapidly by Salina, Liverpool and Geddesburgh, if we would escape evaporation, for their people are exceedingly well ininstructed and exercised in that process. As we approach one of our inland seas, of one hundred and eighty miles in length, and bid goodby to that thriving, mill-speeding town, Oswego, with its button-wood tree, thirty-five and a half feet in circumference; the · Worden' Garden, with its fine fruit; its ill-kept hotels and dilapidated forts, our fancy becomes quickened and excited by both the present and the remote; for we are now pressing the soft carpets in the saloon of the Steamer .Cataract,' and passing and repassing joyful faces and mirthful hearts. Forty miles are accomplished, and Hounslow Bay, with Sackett's Harbor for its diadem, is revealed to the eye, as well as sundry stone barracks, and a • first rate man of war,' who has kept his hat on for more than twenty years! Striking across now in the lake and now among islands, the Martello towers of Kingston engage attention; and now the city, with its forsaken government palace, its church-spires, its superb stone market house and adjacent forts, present a picture of no inconsiderable beauty. At the wharf we remark the red coat, but unaccompanied with the bristling implements of defence; no gilded barges or bannered ships. On shore no martial air salutes the ear, or military review dazzles the eye, but every where a sad serenity prevailed, significant of the overshadowing effect of an unpopular government. Subsequently we visited it, wearing a more agreeable aspect; emblems of the thrice renowned victories of peace then met us at every turn. Within a ten-acre enclosure, of octagon form, tastefully embellished with balsams, were collected the most curious machines, agricultural implements of all kinds, and flowers of all hues; and while HER MAJESTY's band was playing some appropriate air, we made our exit, not forgetting that the .annual fair' was now'a matter of history' to us, as well as to the multitude who were hurrying on foot and in vehicle to the seven steamboats, whose bells were ringing the final home-march.

We are again on board the Cataract, heading for · French Creek,' our impatience increasing as the distance diminishes. Our impatience was soon relieved, when turning to the west, we saw the heralding of a brilliant sunset, one of those occasions when nature takes a coloring fit and does something extraordinary; things which can only be conceived, while they are visible. We watched and watched, and wondered at the intensity and variety of hues presented as the great luminary was about to sink, and were never more forcibly impressed with the fact, that Nature can master Art, and hold her at defiance whenever she chooses ; whatever the North American Review may say to the contrary notwithstanding.

Our sensations of promised enjoyment are now rapidly multiplying, as island after island is passed, and the Mecca of our hope is only screened from view by some forest sentinels which seem to bow their high heads in welcome, as we move on to our inheritance.

We are there. The hanging shore proclaims it; the liberty-pole attests it; and if required, the commodore' and the ' 'squire' will swear to it.

The Commodore bears himself like one of your large land owners, with water privileges to match ; his deer range over a hundred islands, and his vision, when put to it, can nearly embrace the whole. He is greatly annoyed at times by the pilferings of the wild fowl among his * wild rice' plantations, and he has frequently been known to make his bed in their immediate vicinity, (and his board too,) with the 'Squire as co-watcher, determined to maintain and protect his rights, even at the mouth of his two-barrelled gun.

A sort of gentle disagreement sometimes occurs between these denizens, touching their individual experiences and prowess, and then it is that the argumentative adroitness of the 'Squire is seen to advantage. He is first rate authority on any contested point connected with Goose

Bay,'. Eel Bay,' or that once bloody stream •Crooked Creek,' where the Yankees once hemmed in an enemy, even unto death, by felling trees; he is positive of one thing, and will affirm it to his last day, 'that Daniel Lambert's over-coat was never large enough to make a jacket for the Commodore.

Many a jest encases a truth, and the 'Squire is known to be as just as he ingenious. When he brings all his skill and perseverance into action in angling, he rather excites the envy of his generally victorious associate, for then his supremacy stands confessed; for instance, one hundred and fifty-three pounds against one hundred and six in one day's trailing! Our intimacy with these brave-hearted men was such that we did not permit ourselves to travel either land or water without them!

Rarely did we pass an island without having our memory charged with some real or legendary fact; some sanguinary panther conflict, voluntarily engaged in without fire-arms, by a person who now bears the scars received in the encounter, and thrillingly relates the incidents of his victory; of some steamer that struck upon a ledge at tea-time, and overset no cups or saucers, and sundry other more amusing and more impossible things.

Long life to these keen-eyed, broad-chested, big-hearted denizens, and may they always keep their boats in good order, and provide them with better seats, especially for the convenience and comfort of their twelve day visitors, whose one thousand three hundred and forty-three pounds of fish so favorably affected the salt market at the Bay!

Now we are among a rare family of islands, the least of them possessing some distinct character of form or beauty, and some few capable of supporting some forty or fifty families. We have frequently visited a dairy there which turns out two tons of good cheeses every year. The great majority of them are neither cultivated nor inhabited. .

Our skiff is constantly threading its way among these land aquatic, affording the most agreeable employment for the hands, engagement for the mind, and variety for the eye. Now we are stemming the rapid current of some narrow 'gut' with a black bass on every fly, and now quietly gliding back into a deep and tranquil basin to relieve our rod of the life that bends it almost to breaking; now we push into a wider expanse of water, where the tempting .shoals' successively appear swarming with myriads of the finny tribe, and inviting employment for all our equipment and skill, fortunate if both fail not in reciprocating as they ought the multiplying and affectionate attentions of this gamesome fish. (This is more especially the case during the summer months, as the bass generally quit the shoals by September for deeper water and other feed.)

Now we relinquish for a time this sparkling, exciting sport, and seek the borders of the main channel, or push into some capacious bay where the quick-eyed, darting pickerel is wooed from his grassy bed, by our brilliant spinning bait, and where the bump of Hope attains its maximum in calculating the chances of securing a 'Muscalonge.'

Now our gallantry is most agreeably exercised as we approach the * Three Sisters,' who are here anchored for a long life, and each possessed of a distinct separate estate ; their domiciles are models admirably

adapted to withstand the fury of the elements and requiring no repairs from mortal man; fortunate, as Forsyth might have said, both in their society and solitude. At their side, ever ready to avenge a look that threatens insult is the trusty 'grenadier' whose majestic and imposing aspect is only equalled by his endurance and constancy.

Many are the salutations they receive from the passing traveller, and many a maiden of the continent has probably envied, and would be glad to inherit their perennial loveliness, even at the expense of single blessedness!

That most agreeable dilemma, “Where shall we dine ? now presses us like a friend. Whether, where VICTORIA holds rule; on the line, where • Bill Johnson' ceases from torment, or on some of. UNCLE SAM's'isolated possessions. Our feelings being somewhat royal, incline us toward the Queen. We soon reach the main shore, and under some thicklyleaved oak or maple, the stone table is spread, and near by the flame ascends with a truly sacrificial pomp; the senses are summoned to their work, and their engagedness continues, until that dietetic monitor, the palate, announces the hunger-appeasing jubilee terminated.

To be able to interpret nature, where there is every thing to elevate, and none to molest or make afraid,' is surely an enviable privilege, especially when we can successfully practise our deceptions on the finny tribe, now offering an artificial bug, now a gray fly, and now one so gay and gaudy that we almost envy the victim that takes it. Now that the repast is over, we push forth again; and as we turn a point, the practised eye of the oarsman discovers, noiselessly engaged in plucking its food, that provokingly shy bird, the black duck,' and the instant whizzing that salutes the ear too certainly proclaims his escape; the beautiful wood-duck is quite at home here, but they are quite apt to be out, to mere callers! Enough of both, however, may be secured in September to satisfy the occasional sportsman or the palate of the epicure. The gray duck, shell drake and teal, also inhabit these waters, and are obliged to tolerate in their society that almost unconscious, stupid, tough, shotresisting thing, which is called “nigger duck.'

The broad winged blue heron' is an unmistakeable object, whether standing or flying, and his commanding stature and solemn bearing would recommend him as an overseer of the entire feathered family of this region.

As an agreeable contrast to this commerce with the birds, the field of action may be transferred to where the porcupine, the gray and black squirrel, and an occasional mink, abound; not to mention the muskrat, whose houses loom up at intervals like very little log-cabins! We will not dwell on the doe, which met the usual fate of almost all deer that take to the water when pursued: no incident is so instantly inspiriting to an oarsman as a discovery of this nature; he turns his boat round with an inconceivable quickness, and disregarding rods, lines and flies, makes for the spot in hot haste and engages in the capture. If the word enthusiasm required a more active and positive definition, the lexicog. rapher might find one connected with such an event.

Having threaded our way among this marvellous congregation of

« AnteriorContinuar »