« PreviousContinue »
What a positive horror every one has of growing old! The bald head is no longer honorable, and the gray head has no respect for itself. The man, arrived at the time of life once considered venerable, covers his bare crown with a wig, à l'Adonis, and in a coat of the most fashionable cut, as he surveys his person in the glass, imagines himself quite as youthful in exterior, as any of those forward juveniles, who, under his eye, have so impertinently shot up to man's estate.
I met,' said an elderly acquaintance, who fancies that his dancing days' are not yet of the days gone by, 'I met your cousin Frank, the other day; how that boy has
grown!' Astonishingly!' I replied ; so rapidly, that his hair has become quite gray under the operation !'
Yet, Age is a true aristocrat; ever counting the quarterings upon his shield, and looking askance on all who number less than himself.
Next to being called an old, I have the greatest aversion to being called "a sensible woman.' What's in a name ? Martyrdom, in this! A ‘sensible' woman, one so esteemed, is at the mercy of the whole community :
all her faults observed,
Set in a note-book, conned, and learned by rote.' Oh, none but she who is banned with the name, knoweth the misery of its endurance !
A sensible woman for with the mass, to be sensible, implies to be learned, as well as endued with superior powers of perception - is supposed to be conversant with every science and accomplishment under the sun; from the admeasurement of a paralellogram, to the adjustment of a piece of patch-work; to have read all books, novels excepted, from the Bible downward. She is supposed to possess
neither the foibles nor the sensibilities of her sex, and is required to enact Sphynx on all matters, foreign and domestic. And wo to her who is weighed and found wanting in any thing that appertains to the character wherewith her friends have invested her!
To'a sensible woman,' the gratification of that omnipotent wish of the female heart, the desire to be loved, is seldom accorded; for man, disliking in woman the approach to any thing masculine, as an overstepping of the bounds of modesty; associating the idea of a masculine, with a strong mind; fearful of encroachment on his own sovereigu prerogative, power; and unmindful of the early teachings which should direct the understandings of future statesmen and heroes; chooses out from among the daughters of the land a wife, whose thoughts extend not beyond the present fashion of a garment; while with her own sex, the 'sensible woman,' one whose talents and example all should admire and emulate, is rather feared than loved. Affix to me, therefore, any other appellation, call me old, even, rather than burthen me with that which I have neither the nerve nor the will to bear; the name of a sensible woman !' Assez !
• Be sure to wear the green spectacles, Marie, and the green shade, and fold your veil closely over your face, and keep your eyes shut when the sun shives; for you know the doctor opposes your determination to set forth; and foretells blindness, as the reward of your pertinacity; so, take care of your beaux yeux !' was the final injunc
: tion of sister Die, as we bade adieu, for the twentieth time. And pray,' she added, “ pray do not forget your note-book !'
Notes of travel! As well might I have looked to bind the Pleiades,' as to stay my wingéd thoughts with a lead-pencil! The verdant vales and hills of Connecticut, the
green plains of Massachusetts, had gladdened our eyes; mine own 'Athens' had received us; steam and storm had conveyed us to Portland; the Beautiful, reposing like a sea-nymph, within the circling arm of Ocean; our onward route had been through a part of Maine Maine, the woody, and crowned with abundance; known to few beyond her confines, save as a field for speculation; but who, in her short seasons of seed-time and harvest, bringeth forth plenteously, and enricheth the husbandman with her increase; and for the first time, we had beheld the magnificence of sunset, and the glories of morning among the New Hampshire bills.
Spectacles, shade, veil, bonnet -- all had been thrown aside, and the ominous shake of the Doctor's head quite forgotten, when, on a beautiful morning in July, the stage-coach, containing our merry party, entered the Notch of the White Mountains.
The fate of the unfortunate Willey family has attached a melancholy interest to this romantic mountain pass. Sterile and grand, on either side arose the hills. We were before the open portal of the house, from which, fourteen years ago, in the deep midnight, the terrified inmates rushed forth, to escape, as they hoped, the coming avalanche, but alas ! to meet the destruction they sought to avoid. Beyond, overgrown with grass and dwarf pines, lay the mountainslide, which had overwhelmed them. We entered the lone house ; it
seemed like treading the floor, and breathing the atmosphere, of a sepulchre.
Names innumerable of visitors are recorded upon the walls, and upon the mouldering plaster of the narrow vestibule. Some sympathising hand has scrawled, · Desolate is the dwelling of Morna!'
We had clambered to the top of the coach, to obtain an unobstructed view of the Hills, which, as we wound slowly through the valley, seemed to environ us. Never was mortality more thoroughly impressed with a sense of its own nothingness ! On the right, our narrow pathway was bounded and overhung by gigantic rocks; and on the left, itself bounded by the hills beyond, far down in its dark and narrow bed, on to the ocean, rushed the river which we were tracking to its source; while beyond, far up the gorge, the WaterFall, a silver thread, flowed down the bold and barren steep, like the one pure vein of affection, humanizing a stern and rugged nature.
Dwellers within the walls, the narrow, and confined streets, of a populous city; new to the scene which had opened to us; rapturous were our exclamations of delight. "What think you of the Notch ?' asked one of the driver, desirous to comprehend with what manner of impression a child of the hills looked upon this sublime creation. Well,' he replied, 'I'm used to this; but I s'pose if I should go down to 'York, I should gawk round too!'
“So custom,' thought I, .renders one indifferent, even to a scene like this! I was reminded by the man's reply, of a matter-of-fact sort of old body, once employed to show myself and others to the Falls of the Cattskill. Impatient of the slow movement necessary to our conveyance up the mountain, we had left the coach, and continued our ascent on foot. Enthusiasm bore us bravely on, and we had far outstripped our guide ; for whose coming we at length found it expedient to pause. Well,' said he, as he toiled slowly up the path, well, you 're almost at the eënd of your job.'
• Brace yourself up, Sir,' said the driver, to a mustachoed monDieu'-ing individual, seated beside him on the box, an uncomfortable sharer in our elevated position. • Brace ?' mon Dieu!' he replied;
I am deceive, Sare, ver' moch! What for I come here, eh ? Un malade, Sare! — von invalide! My good friends say, 'Monsieur, you
to de Hills; the air shall considerable brace you up.' I say, 'ver well; I shall go!' Vell, I go; I come here. I am shake almos' to pieces; and now, mon Dieu! I am told for brace myself up!'
“There's the 'pure democracy' for you!' said a fellow traveller, to a man standing in the door-way of a post-office; at the same time tossing him a newspaper; "there's the pure democracy for you! Take it, and study it through, line by line.
• That democracy,”' retorted the other, as he lifted it from the ground, where it had fallen, 'that democracy,' I have all by heart !!
We had driven through the Franconia Notch; hallooed to the ‘Old Man of the Mountain ;' and at the ‘Pool' drank in its waters farewell and remembrance, with some pleasant friends, about to leave us, whose society had added a charm to a week of travel and mountain sojourn. Far behind lay the green hills of Vermont, their beauteous valley, and its winding river. Standing upon the ruins of the old
fort at Ticonderoga, I drew forth my note-book to deposite therein, as a memento of that storied ground, an herb that I had just gathered. Alas! for sister Die! The leaf of a tall birch, which, uptwisted by a sudden whirlwind, and thrown directly across our path, on our return drive from the Franconia Notch, had well nigh served to furnish forth our newspaper-catastrophe. A sprig of pine, brought from the highest point of vegetation at Mount Washington, and this one memorandum, Mount Deception, July: The durability of kid slippers not to be relied on, in a mountain scramble,' were its only contents ! My notes' were all of 'exclamation,' upon peak, and crag, and waterfall, and river:
'Valley, and cataract, and lake,
And Alp on Alp sublimely swelling;
A rampart for a Godhead's dwelling.' Their grandeur is recorded in my soul, and over all is traced the name of THE ETERNAL.
M. E. H.
DE E R-SHOOTING.