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Title: Forest, Rock, and Stream

Date of first publication: 1886

Author: N.P. (Nathaniel Parker) Willis 1806-1867

Date first posted: Jan. 29, 2015

Date last updated: Jan. 29, 2015

Faded Page eBook #20150153

This ebook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, Cindy Beyer & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

Sing-Sing Prison and Tappan Zee.

Forest, Rock, and Stream



















Copyright, 1885,

By Estes and Lauriat.























A WEDGE-SHAPED promontory, or bluff, pushes forward to the river at this spot; and on its summit, which widens into a noble plain, stands the city of Hudson.

It is supposed that the “Halve-Mane,” the vessel in which the great discoverer made his first passage up the Hudson, reached no farther than two leagues above the city which bears his name, and that the remainder of the exploring voyage was made in the shallop. His reception here was in the highest degree hospitable. “He went on shore in one of their canoes, with an old Indian, who was the chief of forty men and seventeen women: these he saw in a house made of the bark of trees, exceedingly smooth and well-finished within and without. He found a great quantity of Indian corn and beans, enough of which were drying near the house to have loaded three ships, besides what was growing in the fields. On coming to the house two mats were spread to sit on, eatables were brought in, in red bowls well made, and two men were sent off with bows and arrows, who soon returned with two pigeons. They also killed a fat dog, and skinned it with shells. They expected their visitors would remain during the night, but the latter determined to return on board. The natives were exceedingly kind and good-tempered; for when they discovered Hudson’s determination to proceed on board, they, imagining it proceeded from fear of their bows and arrows, broke them to pieces and threw them into the fire.”

On his return down the river, Hudson stopped again for four days opposite the site of the future city. The historical collections give a very particular account of every day’s movements in this interesting voyage. “On the report of those whom he had sent to explore the river,” says the historian, “Hudson found that it would be useless to proceed with his ship any farther, or to delay his return. He had passed several days in a profitable traffic and a friendly intercourse with the natives, among whom were probably those from each side of the river,—the Mahicanni, as well as the Mohawks. At noon of the 23d of September, he therefore went down six miles to a shoal; having but little wind, the tide laid his ship on the bar until the flood came, when she crossed it, and was anchored for the night.

“The next day, after proceeding seven or eight leagues, she grounded on a bank of ooze in the middle of the river, where she was detained till the ensuing morning, when the flood, at ten o’clock, enabled Hudson to anchor her in deep water. Thus the ship once more was interrupted in her passage opposite the spot where a city now commemorates the name of Hudson.

“Here he remained, by reason of adverse winds, four days. On the day of his arrival ‘they went on land and gathered good store of chestnuts,’ but whether on the east or west side of the river is not mentioned. But the day following they went on land ‘to walk on the west side of the river, and found good ground for corn and other garden herbs, with good store of goodly oaks and walnut-trees, and chestnut-trees, yew-trees, and trees of sweet wood in great abundance, and great store of slate for houses and other good stones.’ Nothing is said of any inhabitants while they were thus visiting the site, which is now that of the village of Athens, opposite Hudson. But next morning (26th), after the carpenter, mate, and four of the company had gone on shore to cut wood, while the vessel lay at anchor, two canoes came up the river from the place where they first found ‘loving people’ (Catskill landing); and in one of them was the old chief whom Hudson had caused to be made intoxicated at Albany. He had followed our strange visitors thirty miles, to the base of the Catskill Mountains, with the double view of again testifying to Hudson the sincerity of his friendship, and of gratifying the love of the marvellous, by relating his own adventures to the mountaineers, and drawing them from their retreat to witness the floating phenomenon. The old chief now introduced with him ‘an old man, who brought more stropes of beads and gave them to our master, and showed him all the country thereabout, as though it were at his command!’ They tarried, greatly pleased with the unaccountable curiosities they discovered on board. Hudson ‘made the two old men dine with him, and the old man’s wife; for they brought two old women and two young maidens of the age of sixteen or seventeen years with them, who behaved themselves very modestly.’

“After dinner, and upon exchange of presents, the guests retired, inviting Hudson by signs to come down to them; for the ship was within two leagues of the place where they dwelt.”

The concluding circumstances of this interesting return down the Hudson, will accompany another view in the series.



  And, lo! the Catskills print the distant sky,

  And o’er their airy tops the faint clouds driven,

  So softly blending that the cheated eye

  Forgets or which is earth or which is heaven.

  Sometimes, like thunder-clouds, they shade the even,

  Till, as you nearer draw, each wooded height

  Puts off the azure hues by distance given,

  And slowly break upon the enamored sight

Ravine, crag, field, and wood, in colors true and bright.

  Mount to the cloud-kissed summit! Far below

  Spreads the vast champaign like a shoreless sea.

  Mark yonder narrow streamlet feebly flow,

  Like idle brook that creeps ingloriously!

  Can that the lovely, lordly Hudson be,

  Stealing by town and mountain? Who beholds

  At break of day this scene, when silently

  Its map of field, wood, hamlet, is unrolled,

While in the east the sun uprears his locks of gold,—

  Till earth receive him, never can forget.

  Even when returned amid the city’s roar,

  The fairy vision haunts his memory yet,

  As in the sailor’s fancy shines the shore.

  Imagination cons the moment o’er,

  When first-discovered, awe-struck and amazed,

  Scarce loftier Jove—whom men and Gods adore—

  On the extended earth beneath him gazed,

Temple, and tower, and town, by human insect raised.

  Blow, scented gale, the snowy canvas swell;

  And flow, thou silver, eddying current, on!

  Grieve we to bid each lovely point farewell,

  That ere its graces half are seen, is gone.

  By woody bluff we steal, by leaning lawn,

  By palace, village, cot,—a sweet surprise

  At every turn the vision breaks upon;

  Till to our wondering and uplifted eyes

The Highland rocks and hills in solemn grandeur rise.

 .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .


Theodore S. Fay.


ALMOST any land looks beautiful after a long voyage; and it would not be surprising if the Narrows, oftenest seen and described by those who have just come off the passage of the Atlantic, should have this reputation. It does not require an eye long deprived of verdure, however, to relish the bold shores, the bright green banks, the clustering woods, and tasteful villas which make up the charms of this lovely strait.

Busier waters than the Narrows could scarcely be found; and it is difficult to imagine, amid so much bustle and civilization, the scene that presented itself to Hendrick Hudson, when the little “Halve-Mane” stole in on her voyage of discovery two hundred years ago. Hoofden, or the Highlands, as he then named the hills in this neighborhood, “were covered with grass and wild-flowers, and the air was filled with fragrance.” Groups of friendly natives, clothed in elk-skins, stood on the beach, singing and offering him welcome; and anchoring his little bark, he explored with his boats the channel and inlets, and penetrated to the mouth of the river which was destined to bear his name. It appears, however, that the Indians on the Long Island side were less friendly; and in one of the excursions into the Bay of Manhattan his boat was attacked by a party of twenty-nine savages of a ferocious tribe, and an English sailor, named Colman, was killed by an arrow-shot in the shoulder. Other unfriendly demonstrations from the same tribe induced Hudson to leave his anchorage at Sandy Hook, and he drew in to the Bay of New York, which he found most safe and commodious, and where he still continued his intercourse with the Indians of Staten Island, receiving them on board his vessel, dressing them, to their extravagant delight, in red coats, and purchasing from them fish and fruits in abundance.

At this day there stands a villa on every picturesque point; a thriving town lies on the left shore; hospitals and private sanitary establishments extend their white edifices in the neighborhood of the quarantine-ground; and between the little fleets of merchantmen, lying with the yellow flag at their peak, fly rapidly and skilfully a constant succession of steamboats, gaily painted and beautifully modelled, bearing on their airy decks the population of one of the first cities of the world. Yet of Manhattan Island, on which New York is built, Hudson writes, only two hundred years ago, that “it was wild and rough; a thick forest covered the parts where anything would grow; its beach was broken and sandy, and full of inlets; its interior presented hills of stony and sandy alluvion, masses of rock, ponds, swamps, and marshes.”

The gay description which an American would probably give of the Narrows,—the first spot of his native land seen after a tedious voyage,—would probably be in strong contrast with the impression it produces on the emigrant, who sees in it only the scene of his first difficult step in a land of exile. I remember noting this contrast with some emotion, on board the packet-ship in which I was not long ago a passenger from England. Among the crowd of emigrants in the steerage was the family of a respectable and well-educated man, who had failed as a merchant in some small town in England, and was coming, with the wreck of his fortune, to try the backwoods of America. He had a wife and eight or ten very fine children, the eldest of whom, a delicate and pretty girl of eighteen, had contributed to sustain the family under their misfortunes at home by keeping a village school. The confinement had been too much for her, and she was struck with consumption,—a disease which is peculiarly fatal in America. Soon after leaving the British Channel, the physician on board reported her to the captain as exceedingly ill, and suffering painfully from the close air of the steerage; and by the general consent of the cabin passengers a bed was made up for her in the deck-house, where she received the kindest attention from the ladies on board; and with her gentle manners and grateful expressions of pleasure soon made an interest in all hearts. As we made the land, the air became very close and hot; and our patient, perhaps from sympathy with the general excitement about her, grew feverish and worse, hourly. Her father and a younger sister sat by her, holding her hands and fanning her; and when we entered the Narrows with a fair wind, and every one on board, forgetting her in their admiration of the lovely scene, mounted to the upper deck, she was raised to the window, and stood with the bright red spot deepening on her cheek, watching the fresh green land without the slightest expression of pleasure. We dropped anchor, the boats were lowered, and as the steerage passengers were submitted to a quarantine, we attempted to take leave of her before going on shore. A fit of the most passionate tears, the paroxysms of which seemed almost to suffocate her, prevented her replying to us; and we left that poor girl surrounded by her weeping family, trying in vain to comfort her. Hers were feelings, probably, which are often associated with a remembrance of the Narrows.



One night mid swarthy forms I lay,

Along a wild southeastern bay,

Within a cabin rude and rough,

Formed out of drift-wood, wrecker’s stuff,

And firelight throwing rosy flame

From up-heaped masses of the same,—

Waiting the turning of the tide

To launch the surf-boats scattered wide,

And try the fisher’s hardy toil

For bass, and other finny spoil.

One gray old man, of whom I heard

No more than this descriptive word,

“Old Kennedy,”—he rattled on,

Of men and things long past and gone,

And seemed without one careful thought,—

Till spark to tinder some one brought

By hinting that he launched no more,

Of late, his surf-boat from the shore,

However wind and storm were rife

And stranded vessels perilled life.

“No! by the God who made this tongue!”

And up in angry force he sprung,—

“No!—never, while my head is warm,

However wild beat sea and storm,

Launch I a boat, one life to save,

If half creation finds a grave!”

A fearful oath!—I thought; and so

Thought others, for a murmur low

Ran round the circle, till at length

The wondering feeling gathered strength,

And some, who had not known him long,

Declared them words of cruel wrong,

And swore to keep no friendly troth

With one who framed so hard an oath.

“You will not, mates?” the old man said,

His words so earnest, dense, and dread

That something down my back ran cold

As at the ghostly tales of old.

“You will not? Listen, then, a word!

And if, when you have fairly heard,

You say a thoughtless oath I swore,

I never fish beside you more!

“You know me, mates,—at least the most,—

From Barnegat, on Jersey coast.

’Tis time you listened something more,

That drove me to another shore.

“Twelve years ago, at noon of life,

I had a fond and faithful wife;

Two children,—boy and girl; a patch;

A drift-wood cabin roofed with thatch;

And thought myself the happiest man

The coast had known since time began.

“One night a large ship drove ashore

Not half a mile beyond my door.

I saw the white surf breaking far;

I saw her beating on the bar;

I knew she could not live one hour

By wood and iron’s strongest power.

“I was alone, except my boy,—

Sixteen,—my wife’s best hope and joy;

And who can doubt, that is not mad,

He was the proudest pride I had!

I let him take the vacant oar;

I took him with me from the shore;

I let him try help save a life:

I drowned him,—and it killed my wife!

“Somebody stole a cask or bale,

At least so ran the pleasant tale.

And while my boy was lying dead,

My wife’s last breath as yet unfled,

The city papers reeked with chat

Of ‘pirate bands on Barnegat.’

My name was branded as a thief,

When I was almost mad with grief;

And what d’ye think they made me feel,

When the last falsehood ground its heel,—

‘I had rowed out, that night, to steal!’

“No! if I ever row again

To save the lives of perilled men,

Body and soul at once go down,

And Heaven forget me as I drown!”


Henry Morford.


OF the river scenery of America, the Hudson at West Point is doubtless the boldest and most beautiful. This powerful river writhes through the Highlands in abrupt curves, reminding one, when the tide runs strongly down, of Laocoön in the enlacing folds of the serpent. The different spurs of mountain ranges which meet here, abut upon the river in bold precipices from five to fifteen hundred feet from the water’s edge; the foliage hangs to them, from base to summit, with the tenacity and bright verdure of moss; and the stream below, deprived of the slant lights which brighten its depths elsewhere, flows on with a sombre and dark-green shadow on its bosom, as if frowning at the narrow gorge into which its broad-breasted waters are driven.

Back from the bluff of West Point extends a natural platform of near half a mile square, high, level, and beautifully amphitheatred with wood and rock. This is the site of the Military Academy, and a splendid natural parade. When the tents of the summer camp are shining on the field; the flag, with its blood-bright stripes, waving against the foliage of the hills; the trumpet echoing from bluff to bluff, and the compact battalion cutting its trim line across the green-sward,—there are few more fairy spots in this working-day world.

On the extreme edge of the summit, overlooking the river, stands a marble shaft, pointing like a bright finger to glory,—the tomb of the soldier and patriot Kosciusko. The military colleges and other buildings skirt the parade on the side of the mountain; and forward, toward the river, on the western edge, stands a spacious hotel, from the verandahs of which the traveller gets a view through the Highlands that he remembers till he dies. Right up before him, with the smooth curve of an eagle’s ascent, rises the “old cro’ nest” of the culprit Fay,—a bright green mountain, that thrusts its topmost pine into the sky; the Donderbarrak, or (if it is not sacrilege to translate so fine a name for a mountain), the Thunder-chamber, heaves its round shoulder beyond; back from the opposite shore, as if it recoiled from these, leans the bold cliff of Breknock; and then looking out, as if from a cavern, into the sun-light, the eye drops beyond upon a sheet of wide-spreading water, with an emerald island on its bosom; the white buildings of Newburg creeping back to the plains beyond, and in the far, far distance the wavy and blue line of the Catskills, as if it were the dim-seen edge of an outer horizon.

The passage through the Highlands at West Point still bears the old name of Wey-gat, or Wind-gate; and one of the prettiest moving dioramas conceivable is the working through the gorge of the myriad sailing-craft of the river. The sloops which ply upon the Hudson, by the way, are remarkable for their picturesque beauty, and for the enormous quantity of sail they carry on in all weathers; and nothing is more beautiful than the little fleets of from six to a dozen, all tacking or scudding together, like so many white sea-birds on the wing. Up they come, with a dashing breeze, under Anthony’s Nose and the Sugar-Loaf, and giving the rocky toe of West Point a wide berth, all down helm, and round into the bay; when—just as the peak of Crow Nest slides its shadow over the main-sail—slap comes the wind aback, and the whole fleet is in a flutter. The channel is narrow and serpentine, the wind baffling, and small room to beat; but the little craft are worked merrily and well; and dodging about, as if to escape some invisible imp in the air, they gain point after point, till at last they get the Donderbarrak behind them, and fall once more into the regular current of the wind.



Wild umbrage far around me clings

  To breezy knoll and hushed ravine,

And o’er each rocky headland flings

  Its mantle of refreshing green.

The echoes that so boldly rung

  When cannon flashed from steep to steep,

And Freedom’s airy challenge flung,

  In each romantic valley sleep.

His counsels here our chieftain breathed,

  Here roved his mild, undaunted eye,

When yon lone fort, with thickets wreathed,

  Held captive Britain’s gallant spy.

Fit home to rear a nation’s youth

  By self-control to nerve the will,

Through knowledge gain expansive truth,

  And with high aims life’s circle fill.

How grateful is the sudden change

  From arid pavements to the grass,

From narrow streets that thousands range,

  To meadows where June’s zephyrs pass!

Beneath the cliffs the river steals

  In darksome eddies to the shore,

But midway every sail reveals,

  Reflected on its crystal floor.

In tranquil mood the cattle walk

  Along the verdant marge to feed,

While poised upon the mullein stalk

  The chirping redbird picks the seed.

Low murmurs in the foliage bred,

  The clear horizon’s azure line,

Fresh turf elastic to the tread,

  And leafy canopies are thine.

White fleecy clouds move slowly by,

  How cool their shadows fall to day!

A moment on the hills they lie,

  And then like spirits glide away.

Amid the herbage, yesternight,

  His web the cunning spider threw,

And now, as sparkling diamonds bright,

  It glistens with the pendent dew.

Gay butterflies dart on and sink

  O’er the sweet blossoms of the pea,

And from the clover’s globe of pink

  Contented hums the downy bee.

In all this varied beauty glows

  Deep meaning for the thoughtful heart,

As it were fain to teach repose,

  And lofty confidence impart.

How vivid to my fancy now,

  Uprise the forms that life redeem!

The ardent eye, the open brow,

  And tender smile beside me seem.

For Nature’s presence gathers back

  The deeds that grace, the loves that cheer,

And as her holy steps we track,

  Hope’s rainbow breaks through sorrow’s tear.


Henry Theodore Tuckerman.


CATSKILL is more known as the landing-place for travellers bound to the mountains above, than for any remarkable events in its own history, or any singular beauties in itself. It is a thrifty town, in which the most prosperous vocations are those of inn-keeper and stage-proprietor; and during the summer months these two crafts at Catskill entertain and transport to the hotel on the mountain half the population of the United States,—more or less. The crowded steamers stop at the landing on their way up and down; and a busier scene than is presented on the wharf daily could not easily be found.

I have often thought, in passing, of the contrast between these numerous advents and the landing of Hendrick Hudson on this very spot, in his voyage of discovery up the river. He found here, he says, “a very loving people and a very old man,” by whom he and his crew were very kindly entertained. From the first step of a white man’s foot on the soil to the crowded rush of passengers from a steam-boat; from a savage wilderness to the height of civilization and science,—it is but a little more than two hundred years of rapid history. Compare the old Indian canoe in which Hudson went from his vessel to the land, with a steamer carrying on its deck near a thousand souls; compare the untutored population which then swarmed upon the shore, with the cultivated and refined crowds who come and go in thousands on the same spot,—and the contrast is as astonishing as the extinction of the aboriginal race is melancholy.

It is surprising how few details connected with the races that inhabited the older settlements of our country are reached even by the researches of Historical Societies. The materials for the future poets and historians of America are in this department singularly meagre, though it might almost be supposed that the very tracks of the retreating tribes might at this early day be still visible on the soil. Wherever any particulars of the intercourse between the first settlers and the Indians are preserved, they are highly curious, and often very diverting. In a book on the settlements of this country, written by Captain Nathaniel Uring, who visited it in 1709, there is an interesting story connected with the history of one of the forts, built, by permission of the Indians, to secure the settlers against sudden incursion.

“It happened one day,” says the Captain, relating the story as it was told to him by the Governor, “as the carpenter was cutting down a large timber-tree for the use of the fort, that great numbers of Indians stood round it, gazing, and admiring the wonderful dexterity of the carpenter, and greatly surprised at the manner of cutting it,—having, before the arrival of the Europeans, never seen an axe, or any such like tools. The carpenter, perceiving the tree ready to fall, gave notice to the Indians by language or signs to keep out of its reach when it fell; but either for want of understanding the carpenter, or by carelessness of the Indians, a branch of the tree in its fall struck one of them, and killed him; upon which they raised a great cry. The carpenter, seeing them much out of humor at the accident, made his escape into the fort; and soon after, the Indians gathered together in great numbers about it and demanded justice of the Europeans for the death of their brother, and desired to have the man who was the occasion of his being killed, that they might execute him, and revenge their brother’s death. The Governor endeavored to excuse the carpenter, by representing to them that he was not to blame; and told them that if their brother had observed the notice given him by the carpenter, he had not been hurt. But that answer would not satisfy the Indians; they increased their numbers about the fort, and nothing less than the execution of the carpenter would content them.

“The Europeans endeavored to spin out the time by treaty, and thought to appease them by presents, hoping those, and time together, might make them easy; but finding that would not do, and not being able longer to defend themselves against such numbers as besieged them, they consulted how to give the Indians satisfaction.

“The carpenter being a useful man, they considered that they could not spare him without the greatest inconvenience; but seeing there was an absolute necessity of doing something, they found out an expedient, which was this: There was in the fort an old weaver, who had been bed-rid a long time; they concluded to hang up the weaver, and make the Indians believe it was the carpenter.

“Having come to this resolution, the Governor let the Indians know that since nothing else would satisfy them, though their demand was unjust, yet to show them how ready they were to live in amity and friendship with them, in the morning they should see the carpenter hanging upon a certain tree in their view.

“In the night they carried the poor old weaver and hanged him in the room of the carpenter, which gave full satisfaction to the Indians; and they were again good friends.”



How reel the wildered senses at the sight!

How vast the boundless vision breaks in view!

Nor thought, nor word, can well depict the scene;

The din of toil comes faintly swelling up

From green fields far below; and all around

The forest sea sends up its ceaseless roar,

Like to the ocean’s everlasting chime.

Mountains on mountains in the distance rise

Like clouds along the far horizon’s verge,

Their misty summits mingling with the sky,

Till earth and heaven seem blended into one.

So far removed from toil and bustling care,

So far from earth, if heaven no nearer be,

And gazing, as a spirit, from mid-air

Upon the strife and tumult of the world,

Let me forget the cares I leave behind,

And with an humble spirit bow before

The Maker of these everlasting hills.


Bayard Taylor.



Wrecks of clouds of a sombre gray,

  Like the ribbed remains of a mastodon,

Were piled in masses along the west,

  And a streak of red stretched over the sun.

I stood on the deck of the ferry-boat,

  As the summer evening deepened to night,

Where the tides of the river ran darkling past

  Through lengthening pillars of crinkled light.

The wind blew over the land and the waves

  With its salt sea breath and a spicy balm,

And it seemed to cool my throbbing brain

  And lend my spirit its gusty calm.

The forest of masts, the dark-hulled ships,

  The twinkling lights, and the sea of men,—

I read the riddle of each and all,

  And I knew their inner meaning then.

For while the beautiful moon arose,

  And drifted the boat in her yellow beams,

My soul went down the river of thought,

  That flows in the mystic land of dreams!


Richard Henry Stoddard.


(Opposite West Point.)

THIS is a secluded and delicious bit of Nature, hidden amid rocks and woods, on the shore of the Hudson, but possessing a refinement and an elegance in its wildness which would almost give one the idea that it was an object of beauty in some royal park. One of the most secret streams that feed this finest of our rivers finds its way down through a winding and almost trackless channel; and after fretting over rocks, and loitering in dark and limpid pools for several miles, it suddenly bursts out over a precipice of fifty feet, and fills with its clear waters the sheltered basin seen in the drawing. Immense trees overhang it on every side, and follow the stream still on in its course; and in the depth of summer the foaming current scarcely catches a ray of the sun from its source to its outlet. The floor of the basin below the Fall is pebbly, the water is clear and cool, the spot secluded, and in all respects Nature has formed it for a bath. A fair and famous lady, residing a summer or two since at West Point, was its first known Musidora; and the limpid and bright basin is already called after her name.

A large party visiting at a hospitable house where the artist and his travelling companion were entertained during the heat of the last summer, proposed to accompany him on his visit to the Indian Fall. Excursions on the banks of the Hudson are usually made in boats; but it was necessary to see some points of view from the hills between, and we walked out to the stables to see what could be done for vehicles and cattle. A farm wagon, with its tail up in the air, built after an old Dutch fashion which still prevails in New York,—a sort of loosely jointed, long, lumbering vehicle, which was meant to go over any rock smaller than a beer-barrel without upsetting,—was the only “consarn,” as the “help” called it, which would hold the party. With straw in the bottom, and straps put across from peg to peg, it would carry eleven, and the driver.

Horses were the next consideration; and here we were rather staggered. A vicious old mare, that kept a wheelwright and a surgeon in constant employ, and a powerful young colt half broken, were the only steeds in stable. However either might be made to go alone, they had never been tried together; and the double-wagon harness was the worse for service. The “help” suggested very sensibly that the load would be too heavy to run away with; and that if the mare kicked, or the colt bolted, or in short if anything happened except backing over a precipice, we had only to sit still and let them do their “darndest.”

We cobbled the harness in its weak spots, shook down the straw for the ladies, nailed up the tail-board, which had lost its rods, got the cattle in, and brought up quietly to the door. The ladies and the champagne were put in, and the colt was led off by the bit, shaking his head and catching up his hind leg; while the demure old mare drew off tamely and steadily, “never wicked,” as the ploughman said, “till you got her dander up with a tough hill.” The driver had a chain with a list bottom, and having had some practice in Charing Cross and Fleet Street fingered his reins and flourished his maple whip through the village, evidently not thinking himself or his driving de la petite bière.

The road, which followed the ridges of the superb hills skirting the river opposite West Point, was in some places scarce fit even for a bridlepath; and at every few paces came a rock, which we believed passable when we had surged over it,—not before. The two ill-matched animals drew to a wonder; and the ladies and the champagne had escaped all damage, till, as the enemy of mankind would have it, our ambitious whip saw stretching out before him a fair quarter of a mile of more even road. A slight touch of the whip sent off the colt in a jump, carrying away the off trace with the first spring; the old mare struck into a gallop, and with the broken trace striking against the colt’s heels, and the whippletree parallel with the pole, away they went as nearly in a tandem as the remaining part of the harness would allow. The tail-board soon flew off, and let out two unsuspecting gentlemen, who had placed their backs and their reliance upon it; and the screams of the ladies added what was wanting to raise the “dander” of the old mare to its most unpleasant climax. The straps gave way, the ladies rolled together in the straw, the driver tossed about on his list-bottomed chain, the champagne corks flew,—and presently, as if we were driven by a battering-ram against a wall, we brought up with a tremendous crash, and stood still. We had come to a sharp turn in the road; and the horses, unable to turn, had leaped a low stone wall, and breaking clear of everything left us on one side, while they thrashed the ripe wheat with the whippletrees on the other.

The ladies were undamaged, fortunately; and, with one champagne bottle saved from the wreck, we completed the excursion to the Fall on foot, and were too happy to return by water.



On this sweet Sabbath morning, let us wander

  From the loud music and the gay parade,

Where sleeps the graveyard in its silence yonder,

  Deep in the mountain shade.

There, side by side, the dark green cedars cluster

  Like sentries watching by that camp of Death;

There, like an army’s tents, with snow-white lustre

  The gravestones gleam beneath.

But, as we go, no posted guard or picket

  Stays our approach across the level grass,

Nor hostile challenge at the simple wicket

  Through which our footsteps pass.

Sweet spot, by Nature’s primal consecration

  Sacred to peace and thought and calm repose,

Well in thy breast that elder generation

  Their place of burial chose.

And well, to-day, whene’er the sad procession

  Moves o’er the plain, with slow and measured tread,

Within thy silent and secure possession

  The living leave the dead.

Few are the graves, for here no populous city

  Feeds with its myriad lives the hungry Fates,

While hourly funerals, led by grief or pity,

  Crowd through the open gates.

Here Death is rarer, yet full many a token

  Tells of his presence, on these grassy slopes,—

The slab, the stone, the shaft, half reared and broken,

  Symbol of shattered hopes.

Here sleep brave men, who in the deadly quarrel

  Fought for their country, and their life-blood poured,

Above whose dust she carves the deathless laurel

  Wreathing the victor’s sword.

And here the young cadet, in manly beauty

  Borne from the tents which skirt those rocky banks,

Called from life’s daily drill and perilous duty

  To these unbroken ranks.

Here too the aged man, the wife, the maiden,

  Together hushed, as on His faithful breast

Who cried, “Come hither, all ye heavy-laden

  And I will give you rest!”

And little gravestones through the grass are gleaming,

  Sown like the lilies over forms as fair,

Of whom to-day what broken hearts are dreaming

  Through Sabbath song and prayer!

Peace to the sleepers! may the bud and blossom,

  Spring’s early bloom and Summer’s sweet increase,

Fail not, while Nature on her tender bosom

  Folds them and whispers, Peace!

And here at last who could not rest contented?

  Beneath,—the river, with its tranquil flood;

Around,—the breezes of the morning, scented

  With odors from the wood;

Above,—the eternal hills, their shadows blending

  With morn and noon and twilight's deepening pall;

And overhead,—the infinite heavens, attending

  Until the end of all!


William Allen Butler.


THIS mountain, “known to fame,” serves as a landmark to the industrious craft plying upon the Hudson, and thus fulfils a more useful destiny than is commonly awarded to spots bright in story. It stands amid a host of interesting localities marked by the events of the Revolution, and has witnessed, with less damage than other noses, many a conflict by land and water.

On the opposite side of the river from the base of the mountain lie the two forts—Montgomery and Clinton—taken by the British in October, 1777. The commander-in-chief at New York was prompted to this expedition by two objects,—to destroy a quantity of military stores which the Americans had collected in this neighborhood, and to make a diversion in favor of General Burgoyne. For these purposes Sir Henry Clinton embarked between three and four thousand troops at New York, and sailed with them up the Hudson. On the 5th of October they landed at Verplank’s Point, a few miles below the entrance to the Highlands. The next morning, a part of the force landed on Stony Point, which projects into the river on the western side, just below the mountains; hence they marched to the rear of the fortresses.

General Putnam commanded at that time in this quarter. He had one thousand continental troops, a part of which only were effective, and a small body of militia. He believed the principal design of the enemy to be the destruction of the stores; and when he was informed of their main purpose, it was too late for him to resist with success. He supposed that they were aiming at Fort Independence, and directed his attention to its defence: the heavy firing on the other side of the river gave him the first decisive information of their real intentions. George Clinton, at that time governor of the State, placed himself at this post on the first notice that he received of the enemy’s advancing. Having made the best disposition for the defence of the forts, he dispatched an express to General Putnam to acquaint him with his situation; but when it reached Putnam’s headquarters, that officer and General Parsons were reconnoitring the position of the enemy on the east side of the river.

Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, in the mean time, proceeded with nine hundred men by a circuitous march to the rear of Fort Montgomery; while Sir Henry Clinton, with Generals Vaughan and Tryon, moved onwards towards Fort Clinton. Both fortresses were attacked at once, between four and five in the afternoon: they were defended with great resolution. This will be readily admitted, when it is remembered that the whole garrison consisted of but six hundred men. The conflict was carried on till dark, when the British had obtained absolute possession, and such of the Americans as were not killed or wounded had made their escape. The loss of the two garrisons amounted to about two hundred and fifty. Among the killed on the enemy’s side was Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell.

It has been thought that an addition of five or six hundred men to these garrisons would have saved the works; the correctness of this opinion may be doubted. Fifteen hundred soldiers would have been barely sufficient completely to man Fort Montgomery alone. The works themselves were imperfect, and the ground was probably chosen rather for the defence of the river than because it was itself defensible.

Governor Clinton and his brother, General James Clinton, escaped after the enemy had possession of the forts,—the former by crossing the river; the latter had been wounded in the thigh by a bayonet.

On the 8th, the English forces proceeded to the eastern side, where they found Fort Independence evacuated. A party then burned the continental village as it was called,—a temporary settlement raised up by the war for the accommodation of the army. Here had been gathered a considerable number of those artisans whose labors are particularly necessary for military purposes, and a considerable quantity of military stores. They then removed a chain which was stretched across the river at Fort Montgomery, and advancing up the river removed another, which was extended from Fort Constitution to the opposite shore at West Point. General Vaughan then advanced still farther up the Hudson, and on the 13th reached the town of Kingston, which he burned. On the 17th took place the surrender of Burgoyne, and General Vaughan returned down the Hudson with his fleet to New York.

Count Grabouski, a Polish nobleman, was killed in the assault on Fort Clinton, while acting as an aid-de-camp to the British commander. He was buried on the spot, but his grave is now undiscoverable.



When cradled on thy placid breast

  In hushed content I loved to muse,

Too full the heart, too sweet the rest,

  For thought and speech to interfuse.

But now, when thou art shrined afar,

  Like Nature’s chosen urn of peace,

Remembrance, like the evening star,

  Begins a vigil ne’er to cease.

Each mossy rock, each fairy isle,

  Inlets with thickets overhung,

The cloud’s rose-tint or fleecy pile,

  And Echo’s wildly frolic tongue;

The light and shade that o’er thee play

  The ripple of thy moonlit wave,

The long, calm, dreamy summer day,

  The very stones thy waters lave;

The converse frank, the harmless jest,

  The reverie without a sigh,

The hammock’s undulating rest,

  With fair companions seated by

Yet linger, as if near thee still

  I heard upon the fitful breeze

The locust and the whippoorwill,

  Or rustle of the swaying trees.

Hills rise in graceful curves around,

  Here dark with tangled forest shade,

There yellow with the harvest-ground,

  Or emerald with the open glade;

Primeval chestnuts line the strand,

  And hemlocks every mountain side,

While, by each passing zephyr fanned,

  Azalea flowers kiss the tide.

We nestle in the gliding barge,

  And turn from yon unclouded sky

To watch, along the bosky marge,

  Its image in thy waters nigh;

Or, gently darting to and fro,

  The insects on their face explore,

With speckled minnows poised below,

  And tortoise on the pebbly floor;

Or turn the prow to some lone bay,

  Where thick the floating leaves are spread,—

How bright and queen-like the array

  Of lilies in their crystal bed!


Henry Theodore Tuckerman.


THE scenery in this neighborhood is exceedingly beautiful. The junction of the Mohawk and Hudson, the Falls of the Cohoes, the gay and elegant town of Troy, Albany in the distance, and a foreground of the finest mixture of the elements of landscape, compose a gratification to the eye equalled by few other spots in this country. “Think,” says one of our noblest and best writers, speaking of a similar scene,—“think of the country for which the Indians fought! Who can blame them? As the river chieftains, the lords of the waterfalls and the mountains, ranged this lovely valley, can it be wondered at that they beheld with bitterness the forest disappearing beneath the settler’s axe, the fishing-place disturbed by his saw-mills? Can we not fancy the feelings with which some strong-minded savage, who should have ascended the summit of the mountain in company with a friendly settler, contemplating the progress already made by the white man, and marking the gigantic strides with which he was advancing into the wilderness, should fold his arms and say: ‘White man, there is eternal war between me and thee! I quit not the land of my fathers but with my life! In those woods where I bent my youthful bow, I will still hunt the deer; over yonder waters I will still glide unrestrained in my bark canoe; by those dashing waterfalls I will still lay up my winter’s food; on these fertile meadows I will still plant my corn. Stranger, the land is mine! I understand not these paper rights; I gave not my consent when, as thou sayest, those broad regions were purchased for a few baubles of my fathers. They could sell what was theirs; they could sell no more. How could my father sell that which the Great Spirit sent me into the world to live upon? They knew not what they did. The stranger came, a timid suppliant, few and feeble, and asked to lie down on the red man’s bear-skin, and warm himself at the red man’s fire, and have a little piece of land to raise corn for his women and children; and now he is become strong and mighty and bold, and spreads out his parchment over the whole, and says, It is mine! Stranger, there is not room for us both. The Great Spirit has not made us to live together. There is poison in the white man’s cup; the white man’s dog barks at the red man’s heels. If I should leave the land of my fathers, whither shall I fly? Shall I go to the south, and dwell among the groves of the Pequots? Shall I wander to the west?—the fierce Mohawk, the man-eater, is my foe. Shall I fly to the east?—the great water is before me. No, stranger, here have I lived, and here will I die; and if here thou abidest, there is eternal war between me and thee! Thou hast taught me thy arts of destruction,—for that alone I thank thee. And now take heed to thy steps; the red man is thy foe. When thou goest forth by day, my bullet shall whistle by thee; when thou liest down at night, my knife is at thy throat. The noonday sun shall not discover thy enemy, and the darkness of midnight shall not protect thy rest. Thou shalt plant in terror, and I will reap in blood; thou shalt sow the earth with corn, and I will strew it with ashes; thou shalt go forth with the sickle, and I will follow after with the scalping-knife; thou shalt build, and I will burn, till the white man or the Indian shall cease from the land. Go thy way for this time in safety; but remember, stranger, there is eternal war between thee and me!’”

As the same writer afterward observes, however, the Pilgrim Fathers “purchased the land of those who claimed it, and paid for it,—often, more than once. They purchased it for a consideration trifling to the European, but valuable to the Indian. There is no overreaching in giving but little for that which in the hands of the original proprietors is worth nothing.”



Struggling along the mountain path,

    We hear amid the gloom,

Like a roused giant’s voice of wrath,

    A deep-toned, sullen boom:

Emerging on the platform high,

Burst sudden to the startled eye

Rocks, woods, and waters, wild and rude,—

A scene of savage solitude.

Swift as an arrow from the bow,

    Headlong the torrent leaps,

Then tumbling round, in dazzling snow

    And dizzy whirls it sweeps;

Then, shooting through the narrow aisle

Of this sublime cathedral pile,

Amid its vastness, dark and grim,

It peals its everlasting hymn.

Pyramid on pyramid of rock

    Tower upward wild and riven,

As piled by Titan hands to mock

    The distant smiling heaven.

And where its blue streak is displayed,

Branches their emerald network braid

So high, the eagle in his flight

Seems but a dot upon the sight.

Here columned hemlocks point in air

    Their cone-like fringes green;

Their trunks hang knotted, black, and bare,

    Like spectres o’er the scene;

Here, lofty crag and deep abyss,

And awe-inspiring precipice;

There, grottos bright in wave-worn gloss,

And carpeted with velvet moss.

No wandering ray e’er kissed with light

    This rock-walled sable pool,

Spangled with foam-gems thick and white,

    And slumbering deep and cool;

But where yon cataract roars down,

Set by the sun, a rainbow crown

Is dancing o’er the dashing strife,—

Hope glittering o’er the storm of life.

Beyond, the smooth and mirrored sheet

    So gently steals along,

The very ripples, murmuring sweet,

    Scarce drown the wild bee’s song;

The violet from the grassy side

Dips its blue chalice in the tide;

And, gliding o’er the leafy brink,

The deer unfrightened stoops to drink.

Myriads of man’s time-measured race

    Have vanished from the earth,

Nor left a memory of their trace,

    Since first this scene had birth;

These waters, thundering now along,

Joined in Creation’s matin-song;

And only by their dial-trees

Have known the lapse of centuries!


Alfred Billings Street.


THIS view out from the gorge of the Highlands presents a foreground of cliff and shadow, with their reflections almost folded across in the bosom of the river, and a middle ground of the village of Newburg and the gently-undulating country in the rear. The blue and far-off line of the Catskills shuts in the horizon.

There is some very romantic scenery hidden among the undulations just mentioned, embracing several small rivers, and also a romantic stream called Murderer’s Creek,—a tributary of the Hudson. Mr. Paulding, in his “New Mirror for Travellers,” gives the following interesting legend in explanation of the name:—

“Little more than a century ago, the beautiful region watered by this stream was possessed by a small tribe of Indians, which has long since become extinct, or been incorporated with some other savage nation of the West. Three or four hundred yards from where the stream discharges itself into the Hudson, a white family of the name of Stacey had established itself in a log-house by tacit permission of the tribe, to whom Stacey had made himself useful by his skill in a variety of little arts highly estimated by the savages. In particular, a friendship existed between him and an old Indian called Naoman, who often came to his house and partook of his hospitality. The Indians never forgive injuries or forget benefits. The family consisted of Stacey, his wife, and two children,—a boy and girl; the former five, the latter three years old.”

The legend goes on to say that Naoman, in grateful friendship, gave the wife of Stacey a secret warning that a massacre of the whites was resolved on, exacting from her a solemn pledge of secrecy, and advising instant escape across the river.

“The daily visits of old Naoman and his more than ordinary gravity had excited suspicion in some of the tribe, who had accordingly paid particular attention to the movements of Stacey. One of the young Indians, who had kept on the watch, seeing the whole family about to take their boat, ran to the little Indian village, about a mile off, and gave the alarm. Five Indians collected, ran down to the river side where their canoes were moored, jumped in and paddled after Stacey, who by this time had got some distance out into the stream. They gained on him so fast that twice he dropped his paddle and took up his gun. But his wife prevented his shooting, by telling him that if he fired, and they were afterwards overtaken, they would meet no mercy from the Indians. He accordingly refrained, and plied his paddle till the sweat rolled in big drops down his forehead. All would not do; they were overtaken within a hundred yards of the shore, and carried back with shouts of yelling triumph.

“When they got ashore, the Indians set fire to Stacey’s house, and dragged himself, his wife, and children to their village. Here the principal old men, and Naoman among the rest, assembled to deliberate on the affair. The chief among them stated that some one of the tribe had undoubtedly been guilty of treason in apprising Stacey the white man of the designs of the tribe, whereby he took the alarm and had well nigh escaped. He proposed to examine the prisoners as to who gave the information. The old men assented to this, and Naoman among the rest. Stacey was first interrogated by one of the old men who spoke English, and interpreted to the others. Stacey refused to betray his informant. His wife was then questioned, while at the same moment two Indians stood threatening the two children with tomahawks in case she did not confess. She attempted to evade the truth, by declaring she had a dream the night before which had alarmed her, and that she had persuaded her husband to fly. ‘The Great Spirit never deigns to talk in dreams to a white face,’ said the old Indian. ‘Woman! thou hast two tongues and two faces: speak the truth, or thy children shall surely die.’ The little boy and girl were then brought close to her, and the two savages stood over them, ready to execute their bloody orders.

‘Wilt thou name,’ said the old Indian, ‘the red man who betrayed his tribe? I will ask thee three times.’ The mother answered not. ‘Wilt thou name the traitor? This is the second time.’ The poor mother looked at her husband, and then at her children, and stole a glance at Naoman, who sat smoking his pipe with invincible gravity. She wrung her hands and wept, but remained silent. ‘Wilt thou name the traitor? ’Tis the third and last time.’ The agony of the mother waxed more bitter; again she sought the eye of Naoman, but it was cold and motionless. A pause of a moment awaited her reply, and the next moment the tomahawks were raised over the heads of the children, who besought their mother not to let them be murdered.

“‘Stop!’ cried Naoman. All eyes were turned upon him. ‘Stop!’ repeated he in a tone of authority. ‘White woman, thou hast kept thy word with me to the last moment. I am the traitor. I have eaten of the salt, warmed myself at the fire, shared the kindness of these Christian white people; and it was I that told them of their danger. I am a withered, leafless, branchless trunk; cut me down if you will. I am ready.’ A yell of indignation sounded on all sides. Naoman descended from the little bank where he sat, shrouded his face with his mantle of skins, and submitted to his fate. He fell dead at the feet of the white woman by a blow of the tomahawk.”



’Twas a vision of childhood that came with its dawn,

Ere the curtain that covered life’s day-star was drawn;

The nurse told the tale when the shadows grew long,

And the mother’s soft lullaby breathed it in song.

“There flows a fair stream by the hills of the West,”—

She sang to her boy as he lay on her breast,—

“Along its smooth margin thy fathers have played,

Beside its deep waters their ashes are laid.”

I wandered afar from the land of my birth,

I saw the old rivers, renowned upon earth,

But fancy still painted that wide-flowing stream

With the many-hued pencil of infancy’s dream.

I saw the green banks of the castle-crowned Rhine,

Where the grapes drink the moonlight and change it to wine;

I stood by the Avon, whose waves as they glide

Still whisper his glory who sleeps at their side.

But my heart would still yearn for the sound of the waves

That sing as they flow by my forefathers’ graves;

If manhood yet honors my cheek with a tear,

I care not who sees it,—no blush for it here!

Farewell to the deep-bosomed stream of the West!

I fling this loose blossom to float on its breast;

Nor let the dear love of its children grow cold,

Till the channel is dry where its waters have rolled!


Oliver Wendell Holmes.


FROM this admirably chosen spot, the Bay of New York appears with every accessory of beauty. The city itself comes into the left of the picture to an advantage seen from no other point of view. The flocks of river-craft scud past in all directions; men-of-war, merchantmen, steamers, and ferry-boats fill up the moving elements of the panorama; and far away beyond stretches the broad harbor, with its glassy or disturbed waters, in all the varieties of ever-changing sea-view. It was on this side that Hudson, who had felt the hostility of the Manhattan Indians, found a friendlier tribe, and made his first amicable visit on shore. The Indian tradition springing from that visit, and describing the first intoxication they had ever experienced, is extremely amusing.[1]

“A long time ago, before men with a white skin had ever been seen, some Indians, fishing at a place where the sea widens, espied something at a distance moving upon the water. They hurried ashore, collected their neighbors, who together returned and viewed intensely this astonishing phenomenon. What it could be, baffled all conjecture. Some supposed it to be a large fish or animal; others that it was a very big house floating on the sea. Perceiving it moving towards land, the spectators concluded that it would be proper to send runners in different directions to carry the news to their scattered chiefs, that they might send off for the immediate attendance of their warriors. These arriving in numbers to behold the sight, and perceiving that it was actually moving towards them (that is, coming into the river or bay), they conjectured that it must be a remarkably large house, in which the Manitto (or Great Spirit) was coming to visit them. They were much afraid, and yet under no apprehension that the Great Spirit would injure them. They worshipped him. The chiefs now assembled at York Island, and consulted in what manner they should receive their Manitto. Meat was prepared for a sacrifice; the women were directed to prepare the best of victuals; idols or images were examined and put in order; a grand dance they thought would be pleasing, and, in addition to the sacrifice, might appease him, if angry. The conjurers were also set to work to determine what this phenomenon portended, and what the result would be. To these, men, women, and children looked up for advice and protection. Utterly at a loss what to do, and distracted alternately by hope and fear, in this confusion a grand dance commenced. Meantime fresh runners arrived, declaring it to be a great house of various colors, and full of living creatures. It now appeared certain that it was their Manitto, probably bringing some new kind of game. Others arriving, declared it positively to be full of people of different color and dress from theirs, and that one in particular appeared altogether red. This then must be the Manitto. They were lost in admiration; could not imagine what the vessel was, whence it came, or what all this portended. They are now hailed from the vessel in a language they cannot understand; they answer by a shout or yell in their way. The house (or large canoe, as some render it) stops. A smaller canoe comes on shore, with the red man in it; some stay by his canoe to guard it. The chiefs and wise men form a circle, into which the red man and two attendants enter. He salutes them with friendly countenance, and they return the salute after their manner. They are amazed at the color and dress of the strangers, particularly with him who glittering in red wore something (perhaps lace or buttons) they could not comprehend. He must be the great Manitto, they thought; but why should he have a white skin? A large elegant hockhack (gourd; that is, bottle, decanter, etc.) is brought by one of the supposed Manitto’s servants, from which a substance is poured into a small cup or glass and handed to the Manitto. He drinks, has the glass refilled, and handed to the chief near him; he takes it, smells it, and passes it to the next, who does the same. The glass in this manner is passed round the circle, and is about to be returned to the red-clothed man when one of them, a great warrior, harangues them on the impropriety of returning the cup unemptied. It was handed to them, he said, by the Manitto, to drink out of as he had. To follow his example would please him; to reject it might provoke his wrath; and if no one else would, he would drink it himself, let what would follow,—for it was better for one even to die than a whole nation to be destroyed. He then took the glass, smelled at it, again addressed them, bidding adieu, and drank the contents. All eyes were now fixed on the first Indian in New York who had tasted the poison which has since affected so signal a revolution in the condition of the native Americans. He soon began to stagger; the women cried, supposing him in fits; he rolled on the ground; they bemoan his fate; they thought him dying. He fell asleep; they at first thought he had expired, but soon perceived he still breathed. He awoke, jumped up, and declared he never felt more happy. He asked for more; and the whole assembly, imitating him, became intoxicated.”

In descending the river, after he had penetrated to Albany, Hudson ran his little craft ashore at Weehawken; but the ground was a soft ooze, and she was got off without damage, and proceeded to sea.



’Tis the middle watch of a summer’s night,—

The earth is dark, but the heavens are bright;

Nought is seen in the vault on high

But the moon and the stars and the cloudless sky,

And the flood which rolls its milky hue,—

A river of light on the welkin blue.

The moon looks down on old Cronest,

She mellows the shades on his shaggy breast

And seems his huge gray form to throw

In a silver cone on the wave below;

His sides are broken by spots of shade,

By the walnut bough and the cedar made,

And through their clustering branches dark

Glimmers and dies the firefly’s spark,—

Like starry twinkles that momently break

Through the rifts of the gathering tempest rack.

The stars are on the moving stream,

  And fling, as its ripples gently flow,

A burnished length of wavy beam

  In an eel-like, spiral line below.

The winds are whist, and the owl is still,

  The bat in the shelvy rock is hid;

And nought is heard on the lonely hill

But the cricket’s chirp and the answer shrill

  Of the gauze-winged katy-did,

And the plaint of the wailing whip-poor-will

  Who moans unseen, and ceaseless sings

Ever a note of wail and woe,

  Till morning spreads her rosy wings,

And earth and sky in her glances glow.


Joseph Rodman Drake.

It is disputed whether this scene of intoxication took place on the present site of New York, on the Jersey side, or at Albany.


Coldspring, Putnam Cy. N.Y.

THE Hudson bends out from Crow-Nest into a small bay; and in the lap of the crescent thus formed lies snug and sheltered the town of Cold Spring.

It is a pity, picturesquely speaking, that the boatmen on the river are not Catholics; it would be so pretty to see them shorten sail off Our Lady of Cold Spring, and uncover for an Ave-Maria. This little chapel, so exquisitely situated on the bluff overlooking the river, reminds me of a hermit’s oratory and cross which is perched similarly in the shelter of a cliff on the desolate coast of Sparta. I was on board a frigate, gliding slowly up the Ægean, and clinging to the shore for a land-wind, when I descried the white cross at a distance of about half a mile, strongly relieved against the dark rock in its rear. As we approached, the small crypt and altar became visible; and at the moment the ship passed, a tall monk, with a snow-white beard, stepped forth like an apparition upon the cliffs, and spread out his arms to bless us. In the midst of the intense solitude of the Ægean, with not a human dwelling to be seen on the whole coast from Morea to Napoli, the effect of this silent benediction was almost supernatural. He remained for five minutes in this attitude, his long cowl motionless in the still air, and his head slowly turning to the ship as she drew fast round the little promontory on her course. I would suggest to Our Lady of Cold Spring, that a niche under the portico of her pretty chapel, with a cross to be seen from the river by day and a lamp by night, would make at least a catholic impression on the passer-by, though we are not all children of St. Peter.

Half way between the mountain and Our Lady’s shrine stands, on a superb natural platform, the romantic estate of Undercliff. Just above it rises the abrupt and heavily-wooded mountain, from which it derives its name; a thick grove hides it from the village at its foot, and from the portico of the mansion extend views in three directions unparalleled for varied and surprising beauty. A road running between high-water mark and the park gate skirts the river in eccentric windings for five or six miles; the brows of the hills descending to the Hudson in the west and north are nobly wooded and threaded with circuitous paths; and all around lies the most romantic scenery of the most romantic river in the world.

The only fault of the views from West Point is that West Point itself is lost as a feature in the landscape. The traveller feels the same drawback which troubled the waiting-maid when taken to drive by the footman in her mistress’s chariot,—“How I wish I could stand by the road-side and see myself go by!” From Undercliff, which is directly opposite, and about at the same elevation, the superb terrace of the Military School is seen to the greatest advantage. The white barracks of Camptown, the long range of edifices which skirt the esplanade, the ruins of old Fort Putnam half way up the mountain, and the waving line of wood and valley extending to the estate of “Stoney Lonesome” form a noble feature in the view from Undercliff.

I had forgotten that Cold Spring “plucks a glory on its head” from being honored with the frequent visits of Washington Irving, Halleck, and other lesser stars in the literary firmament. Now that these first lights above the horizon have set (Hesperus-like, first and brightest!), there lingers about the town many a tale of the days when Geoffrey Crayon talked in his gentle way with the ferryman who brought him to Cold Spring; or the now plethoric post-master, who in his character of librarian to the village enjoyed the friendship of Irving and Halleck, and received from their own hands the “author’s copies,” since curiously preserved in the execrable print and binding then prevalent in America. Perhaps even old Lipsey the ferryman, and his rival Andrews, will come in for their slice of immortality, little as they dream now, pulling close in for the counter-current under Our Lady’s skirts, of working at that slow oar for posthumous reputation.



So bright the day, so clear the sky,

  So grand the scene before me,

My meaner life my soul puts by,

  And a better mood comes o’er me.

From under trees whose rustling leaves

  Wear all their autumn glory,

I watch the brown fields far below,

  And the headlands, gray and hoary.

I see the beetling Palisades,

  Whose wrinkled brows forever,

In calms and storms, in lights and shades,

  Keep watch along the river.

Such watch, of old, the Magi kept

  Along the sad Euphrates,—

Our eyeless ones have never slept,

  And this their solemn fate is:

God built these hills in barrier long,

  And then He opened through them

These gates of granite, barred so strong

  He only might undo them;

Through them He lets the Hudson flow

  For slowly counted ages,

The while the nations fade and grow

  Around the granite ledges.

He bids these warders watch and wait,

  Their vigil ne’er forsaking,

Forever standing by the gate,

  Not moving and not speaking.

So, all earth’s day, till night shall fall,

  When God shall send His orders,

And summon at one trumpet-call

  The grim and patient warders.

The guards shall bow, the gates shall close

  Upon the obedient river,

And then no more the Hudson flows

  Forever and forever.


William Osborn Stoddard.





Before my bark the waves have curled

As it bore me thrice around the world;

And for forty years have met my eyes

The beauties born under wide-spread skies.

But though far and long may be my track,

It is never too far for looking back;

And I see them,—see them over the sea,

As I saw them when youth still dwelt with me,—

      The brown-eyed girls of Jersey!

They are Quakers, half,—half maids of Spain;

Half Yankees, with fiery Southern brain;

They are English, French,—they are Irish elves;

They are better than all, in being themselves!

They are coaxing things,—then wild and coy;

They are full of tears,—full of mirth and joy.

They madden the brain like rich old wine:

And no wonder at all if they’ve maddened mine,

      Those brown-eyed girls of Jersey!

Some day, when distant enough my track,

To the Land of the Free I shall wander back;

And if not too gray, both heart and hair,

To win the regard of a thing so fair,

I shall try the power of the blarney-stone

In making some darling girl my own:

Some darling girl, that still may be

Keeping all her beauty and grace for me,—

      Some brown-eyed girl of Jersey!


Henry Morford.


LIKE most of the landings on the Hudson, Peekskill is a sort of outstretched hand from the interior of the country. It is about eighty miles from New York, and the produce from the country behind is here handed over to the trading sloops, who return into the waiting palm the equivalent in goods from the city. A sort of town naturally springs up at such a spot, and as a river-side is a great provocative of idleness, all the Dolph Heyligers of the country about seem to be collected at the landing.

The neighborhood of this spot is interesting from its association with the history of the Revolution. The headquarters of General Washington were just below, at Verplank’s Point; and the town of Peekskill, half a mile back from the river, was the depot of military stores, which were burned by General Howe in 1777.

“On my return southward in 1782,” says the translator of Chastellux, who has not given his name, “I spent a day or two at the American camp at Verplank’s Point, where I had the honor of dining with General Washington. I had suffered severely from an ague, which I could not get quit of, though I had taken the exercise of a hard-trotting horse, and got thus far to the north in the month of October. The General observing it, told me he was sure I had not met with a good glass of wine for some time,—an article then very rare,—but that my disorder must be frightened away. He made me drink three or four of his silver camp-cups of excellent Madeira at noon, and recommended to me to take a generous glass of claret after dinner,—a prescription by no means repugnant to my feelings, and which I most religiously followed. I mounted my horse the next morning, and continued my journey to Massachusetts, without ever experiencing the slightest return of my disorder.

“The American camp here presented the most beautiful and picturesque appearance. It extended along the plain, on the neck of land formed by the winding of the Hudson, and had a view of this river to the south. Behind it, the lofty mountains, covered with wood, formed the most sublime background that painting could express. In the front of the tents was a regular continued portico, formed by the boughs of the trees in full verdure, decorated with much taste and fancy. Opposite the camp, and on distinct eminences, stood the tents of some of the general officers, over which towered predominant that of Washington. I had seen all the camps in England, from many of which drawings and engravings have been taken; but this was truly a subject worthy the pencil of the first artist. The French camp, during their stay in Baltimore, was decorated in the same manner. At the camp at Verplank’s Point we distinctly heard the morning and evening gun of the British at Knightsbridge.”

The curiosity seizes with avidity upon any accidental information which fills up the bare outline of history. The personal history of Washington more particularly, wherever it has been traced by those who were in contact with him, is full of interest. Some of the sketches given by the Marquis of Chastellux, who passed this point of the Hudson on his way to Washington’s headquarters below, are very graphic.

“The weather being fair on the 26th,” he says, “I got on horseback, after breakfasting with the General. He was so attentive as to give me the horse I rode on the day of my arrival. I found him as good as he is handsome; but, above all, perfectly well broke and well trained, having a good mouth, easy in hand, and stopping short in a gallop without bearing the bit. I mention these minute particulars because it is the General himself who breaks all his own horses. He is an excellent and bold horseman, leaping the highest fences, and going extremely quick without standing upon his stirrups, bearing on the bridle, or letting his horse run wild,—circumstances which our young men look upon as so essential a part of English horsemanship, that they would rather break a leg or an arm than renounce them.”

After passing some days at headquarters, this young nobleman thus admirably sums up his observations on Washington:—

“The strongest characteristic of this great man is the perfect union which reigns between his physical and moral qualities. Brave without temerity, laborious without ambition, generous without prodigality, noble without pride, virtuous without severity,—he seems always to have confined himself within those limits beyond which the virtues, by clothing themselves in more lively but more changeable colors, may be mistaken for faults. It will be said of him hereafter, that at the end of a long civil war he had nothing with which he could reproach himself. His stature is noble and lofty; he is well made and exactly proportioned; his physiognomy mild and agreeable, but such as to render it impossible to speak particularly of any of his features,—so that on quitting him, you have only the recollection of a fine face. He has neither a grave nor a familiar air; his brow is sometimes marked with thought, but never with inquietude; in inspiring respect he inspires confidence, and his smile is always the smile of benevolence.”



Cool shades and dews are round my way,

And silence of the early day;

’Mid the dark rocks that watch his bed

Glitters the mighty Hudson spread,

Unrippled, save by drops that fall

From shrubs that fringe his mountain wall;

And o’er the clear still water swells

The music of the Sabbath bells.

All, save this little nook of land,

Circled with trees, on which I stand:

All, save that line of hills which lie

Suspended in the mimic sky,—

Seems a blue void, above, below,

Through which the white clouds come and go;

And from the green world’s farthest steep

I gaze into the airy deep.

Loveliest of lovely things are they,

On earth, that soonest pass away.

The rose that lives its little hour

Is prized beyond the sculptured flower;

Even love, long tried and cherished long,

Becomes more tender and more strong,

At thought of that insatiate grave

From which its yearnings cannot save.

River! in this still hour thou hast

Too much of heaven on earth to last;

Nor long may thy still waters lie

An image of the glorious sky.

Thy fate and mine are not repose;

And ere another evening close,

Thou to thy tides shalt turn again,

And I to seek the crowd of men.


William Cullen Bryant.


NEWBURG stands upon a pretty acclivity, rising with a sharp ascent from the west bank of the Hudson; and in point of trade and consequence, it is one of the first towns on the river. In point of scenery Newburg is as felicitously placed, perhaps, as any other spot in the world, having in its immediate neighborhood every element of natural loveliness,—and just below, the sublime and promising Pass of the Highlands. From the summit of the acclivity, the view over Matteawan and Fishkill is full of beauty,—the deep flow of the Hudson lying between, and the pretty villages just named sparkling with their white buildings and cheerful steeples beyond.

Newburg has a considerable trade with the back country, and steamboats are running constantly between its pier and New York. If there were wanting an index of the wondrous advance of enterprise and invention in our country, we need not seek further than this simple fact,—a small intermediate town, on one river, supporting such an amount of expensive navigation. About seventy years ago Fulton made his first experiment in steam on the Hudson, amid the unbelief and derision of the whole country. Let any one stand for one hour on the pier at Newburg, and see those superb and swift palaces of motion shoot past, one after the other, like gay and chasing meteors, and then read poor Fulton’s account of his first experiment,—and never again throw discouragement on the kindling fire of genius.

“When I was building my first steam-boat,” said he to Judge Story, “the project was viewed by the public at New York either with indifference or contempt, as a visionary scheme. My friends, indeed, were civil, but they were shy. They listened with patience to my explanations, but with a settled cast of incredulity on their countenances. I felt the full force of the lamentation of the poet,—

“‘Truths would you teach, to save a sinking land?—

All shun, none aid you, and few understand.’

“As I had occasion to pass daily to and from the building-yard while my boat was in progress, I have often loitered, unknown, near the idle groups of strangers gathering in little circles, and heard various inquiries as to the object of this new vehicle. The language was uniformly that of scorn, sneer, or ridicule. The loud laugh rose at my expense, the dry jest, the wise calculation of losses and expenditure, the dull but endless repetition of ‘the Fulton folly.’ Never did a single encouraging remark, a bright hope, or a warm wish, cross my path.

“At length the day arrived when the experiment was to be made. To me it was a most trying and interesting occasion. I wanted many friends to go on board to witness the first successful trip. Many of them did me the favor to attend, as a matter of personal respect; but it was manifest they did it with reluctance, fearing to be partners of my mortification and not of my triumph. I was well aware that in my case there were many reasons to doubt of my own success. The machinery was new and ill-made, and many parts of it were constructed by mechanics unacquainted with such work; and unexpected difficulties might reasonably be presumed to present themselves from other causes. The moment arrived in which the word was to be given for the vessel to move. My friends were in groups on the deck. There was anxiety mixed with fear among them; they were silent, sad, and weary; I read in their looks nothing but disaster, and almost repented of my efforts. The signal was given, and the boat moved on a short distance, and then stopped and became immovable. To the silence of the preceding moment now succeeded murmurs of discontent and agitation, and whispers and shrugs. I could hear distinctly repeated, ‘I told you so! It is a foolish scheme; I wish we were well out of it.’ I elevated myself on a platform, and stated that I knew not what was the matter; but if they would be quiet, and indulge me for half an hour, I would either go on or abandon the voyage. I went below, and discovered that a slight maladjustment was the cause. It was obviated. The boat went on. We left New York; we passed through the Highlands; we reached Albany! Yet even then imagination superseded the force of fact. It was doubted if it could be done again, or if it could be made, in any case, of any great value!

What an affecting picture of the struggles of a great mind, and what a vivid lesson of encouragement to genius, is contained in this simple narrative!



Our western land can boast no lovelier spot.

The hills which in their ancient grandeur stand

Piled to the frowning clouds, the bulwarks seem

Of this wild scene, resolved that none but Heaven

Shall look upon its beauty. Round their breast

A curtained fringe depends of golden mist,

Touched by the slanting sunbeams; while below

The silent river, with majestic sweep,

Pursues his shadowed way,—his glassy face

Unbroken, save when stoops the lone wild swan

To float in pride, or dip his ruffled wing.

Talk ye of solitude? It is not here.

Nor silence. Low, deep murmurs are abroad.

Those towering hills hold converse with the sky

That smiles upon their summits; and the wind

Which stirs their wooded sides whispers of life,

And bears the burden sweet from leaf to leaf,

Bidding the stately forest-boughs look bright,

And nod to greet his coming! And the brook,

That with its silvery gleam comes leaping down

From the hillside, has too a tale to tell;

The wild bird’s music mingles with its chime,

And gay young flowers that blossom in its path

Send forth their perfume as an added gift.

The river utters, too, a solemn voice,

And tells of deeds long past, in ages gone,

When not a sound was heard along his shores,

Save the wild tread of savage feet, or shriek

Of some expiring captive, and no bark

E’er cleft his gloomy waters. Now, his waves

Are vocal often with the hunter’s song;

Now visit, in their glad and onward course,

The abodes of happy men,—gardens and fields,

And cultured plains,—still bearing, as they pass,

Fertility renewed and fresh delights.

 .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .


Elizabeth F. Ellett.



These lovely shores! how lone and still!

  A hundred years ago

The unbroken forest stood above,

  The waters dashed below,—

The waters of a lonely sea

  Where never sail was furled,

Embosomed in a wilderness,

  Which was itself a world.

A hundred years! go back, and, lo!

  Where, closing in the view,

Juts out the shore, with rapid oar

  Darts round a frail canoe:

’Tis a white voyager, and see,

  His prow is westward set

O’er the calm wave! Hail to thy bold,

  World-seeking bark, Marquette!

The lonely bird, that picks his food

  Where rise the waves and sink,

At their strange coming, with shrill scream,

  Starts from the sandy brink;

The fishhawk, hanging in mid sky,

  Floats o’er on level wing,

And the savage from his covert looks,

  With arrow on the string.

A hundred years are past and gone,

  And all the rocky coast

Is turreted with shining towns,—

  An empire’s noble boast;

And the old wilderness is changed

  To cultured vale and hill;

And the circuit of its mountains

  An empire’s numbers fill!


Ephraim Peabody.


AT this elevation you may wear woollen, and sleep under blankets in midsummer; and that is a pleasant temperature where much hard work is to be done in the way of pleasure-hunting. No place is so agreeable as Catskill after one has been parboiled in the city. New York is at the other end of that long thread of a river, running away south from the base of the mountain; and you may change your climate in so brief a transit, that the most enslaved broker in Wall Street may have half his home on Catskill. The cool woods, the small silver lakes, the falls, the mountain-tops, are all delicious haunts for the idler-away of the hot months; and to the credit of our taste, it may be said they are fully improved. Catskill is a “resort.”

From Catskill the busy and all-glorious Hudson is seen winding half its silver length,—towns, villas, and white spires sparkling on the shores, and snowy sails and gaily-painted steamers specking its bosom. It is a constant diorama of the most lively beauty; and the traveller as he looks down upon it sighs to make it a home. Yet a smaller and less-frequented stream would best fulfil desires born of a sigh. There is either no seclusion on the Hudson, or there is so much that the conveniences of life are difficult to obtain. Where the steamers come to shore,—twenty a day, with each from one to seven hundred passengers,—it is certainly far from secluded enough; yet away from the landing-places servants find your house too lonely, and your table, without unreasonable expense and trouble, is precarious and poor. These mean and menus plaisirs reach, after all, the very citadel of philosophy. Who can live without a cook or a chamber-maid, and dine seven days in the week on veal, consoling himself with the beauties of a river-side?

On the smaller rivers these evils are somewhat ameliorated; for in the rural and uncorrupt villages of the interior you may find servants born on the spot, and content to live in the neighborhood. The market is better, too, and the society less exposed to the evils that result from too easy an access to the metropolis. No place can be rural, in all the virtues of the phrase, where a steamer will take the villager to the city between noon and night, and bring him back between midnight and morning. There is a suburban look and character about all the villages on the Hudson which seem out of place among such scenery. They are suburbs; in fact, steam has destroyed the distance between them and the city.



’Midst greens and shades the Catterskill leaps

  From cliffs where the wood-flower clings;

All summer he moistens his verdant steeps

  With the sweet light spray of the mountain springs;

And he shakes the woods on the mountain side,

When they drip with the rains of autumn-tide.

But when in the forest bare and old

  The blast of December calls,

He builds, in the starlight clear and cold,

  A palace of ice where his torrent falls,

With turret and arch and fretwork fair,

And pillars blue as the summer air.

For whom are those glorious chambers wrought,

  In the cold and cloudless night?

Is there neither spirit nor motion of thought

  In forms so lovely and hues so bright?

Hear what the gray-haired woodmen tell

Of this wild stream, and its rocky dell:

’Twas hither a youth of dreamy mood,

  A hundred winters ago,

Had wandered over the mighty wood

  When the panther’s track was fresh on the snow;

And keen were the winds that came to stir

The long dark boughs of the hemlock-fir.

Too gentle of mien he seemed, and fair,

  For a child of those rugged steeps;

His home lay low in the valley, where

  The kingly Hudson rolls to the deeps;

But he wore the hunter’s frock that day,

And a slender gun on his shoulder lay.

And here he paused, and against the trunk

  Of a tall gray linden leant,

When the broad clear orb of the sun had sunk

  From his path in the frosty firmament,

And over the round dark edge of the hill

A cold green light was quivering still.

And the crescent moon, high over the green,

  From a sky of crimson shone

On that icy palace, whose towers were seen

  To sparkle as if with stars of their own;

While the water fell, with a hollow sound,

’Twixt the glistening pillars ranged around.

Is that a being of life, that moves

  Where the crystal battlements rise?

A maiden, watching the moon she loves,

  At the twilight hour, with pensive eyes?

Was that a garment which seemed to gleam

Betwixt his eye and the falling stream?

’Tis only the torrent tumbling o’er,

  In the midst of those glassy walls,

Gushing and plunging and beating the floor

  Of the rocky basin in which it falls:

’Tis only the torrent—but why that start?

Why gazes the youth with a throbbing heart?

He thinks no more of his home afar,

  Where his sire and sister wait:

He heeds no longer how star after star

  Looks forth on the night, as the hour grows late.

He heeds not the snow-wreaths lifted and cast

From a thousand boughs by the rising blast.

His thoughts are alone of those who dwell

  In the halls of frost and snow,

Who pass where the crystal domes upswell

  From the alabaster floors below,

Where the frost-trees shoot with leaf and spray,

And frost-gems scatter a silvery day.

“And, oh, that those glorious haunts were mine!”

  He speaks, and throughout the glen

Thin shadows swim in the faint moonshine,

  And take a ghastly likeness of men,

As if the slain by the wintry storms

Came forth to the air in their earthly forms.

There pass the chasers of seal and whale

  With their weapons quaint and grim,

And bands of warriors in glittering mail,

  And herdsmen and hunters huge of limb:

There are naked arms, with bow and spear,

And furry gauntlets the carbine rear.

There are mothers—and, oh, how sadly their eyes

  On their children’s white brows rest!

There are youthful lovers: the maiden lies

  In a seeming sleep on the chosen breast;

There are fair wan women with moon-struck air,

The snow-stars flecking their long loose hair.

They eye him not as they pass along,

  But his hair stands up with dread,

When he feels that he moves with that phantom throng,

  Till those icy turrets are over his head;

And the torrent’s roar, as they enter, seems

Like a drowsy murmur heard in dreams.

The glittering threshold is scarcely passed,

  When there gathers and wraps him round

A thick white twilight, sullen and vast,

  In which there is neither form nor sound;

The phantoms, the glory, vanish all,

With the dying voice of the waterfall.

Slow passes the darkness of that trance,—

  And the youth now faintly sees

Huge shadows and gushes of light that dance

  On a rugged ceiling of unhewn trees,

And walls where the skins of beasts are hung,

And rifles glitter on antlers strung.

On a couch of shaggy skins he lies;

  As he strives to raise his head,

Hard-featured woodmen, with kindly eyes

  Come round him and smooth his furry bed,

And bid him rest, for the evening star

Is scarcely set, and the day is far.

They had found at eve the dreaming one

  By the base of that icy steep,

When over his stiffening limbs begun

  The deadly slumber of frost to creep;

And they cherished the pale and breathless form,

Till the stagnant blood ran free and warm.


William Cullen Bryant.


SING-SING is famous for its marble, of which there is an extensive quarry near by; for its State-prison, of which the discipline is of the most salutary character; and for its academy, which has a high reputation. It may be said, altogether, to do the State some service.

The county of West Chester, of which this is the principal town on the Hudson, has been made the scene of perhaps the best historical novel of our country, and more than any other part of the United States suffered from the evils of war during the Revolution. The character and depredations of the “cow-boys” and “skinners,” whose fields of action were on the skirts of this neutral ground, are familiar to all who have read “the Essay” of Mr. Cooper. A distinguished clergyman gives the following very graphic picture of West Chester County in Revolutionary days:—

“In the autumn of 1777 I resided for some time in this county. The lines of the British were then in the neighborhood of Kingsbridge, and those of the Americans at Byram River. The unhappy inhabitants were therefore exposed to the depredations of both. Often they were actually plundered, and always were liable to this calamity. They feared everybody whom they saw, and loved nobody. It was a curious fact to a philosopher, and a melancholy one, to hear their conversation. To every question they gave such an answer as would please the inquirer; or if they despaired of pleasing, such a one as would not provoke him. Fear was apparently the only passion by which they were animated. The power of volition seemed to have deserted them. They were not civil, but obsequious; not obliging, but subservient. They yielded with a kind of apathy, and very quietly, what you asked, and what they supposed it impossible for them to retain. If you treated them kindly they received it coldly; not as a kindness, but as a compensation for injuries done them by others. When you spoke to them, they answered you without either good or ill nature, and without any appearance of reluctance or hesitation; but they subjoined neither questions nor remarks of their own,—proving to your full conviction that they felt no interest either in the conversation or yourself. Both their countenances and their motions had lost every trace of animation and of feeling. Their features were smoothed, not into serenity, but apathy; and instead of being settled in the attitude of quiet thinking, strongly indicated that all thought beyond what was merely instinctive had fled their minds forever.

“Their houses, meantime, were in a great measure scenes of desolation. Their furniture was extensively plundered or broken to pieces. The walls, floors, and windows were injured both by violence and decay, and were not repaired because they had not the means to repair them, and because they were exposed to the repetition of the same injuries. Their cattle were gone; their enclosures were burned where they were capable of becoming fuel, and in many cases thrown down where they were not. Their fields were covered with a rank growth of weeds and wild grass.

“Amid all this appearance of desolation, nothing struck my eye more forcibly than the sight of the high road. Where I had heretofore seen a continual succession of horses and carriages, life and bustle lending a sprightliness to all the environing objects, not a single solitary traveller was seen, from week to week or from month to month. The world was motionless and silent, except when one of these unhappy people ventured upon a rare and lonely excursion to the house of a neighbor no less unhappy, or a scouting party, traversing the country in quest of enemies, alarmed the inhabitants with expectations of new injuries and sufferings. The very tracks of the carriages were grown over and obliterated; and where they were discernible resembled the faint impressions of chariot wheels, said to be left on the pavements of Herculaneum. The grass was of full height for the scythe, and strongly realized to my own mind, for the first time, the proper import of that picturesque declaration in the Song of Deborah: ‘In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through by-paths. The inhabitants of the villages ceased: they ceased in Israel.’”

West Chester is a rough county in natural surface; but since the days when the above description was true, its vicinity to New York, and the ready market for produce have changed its character to a thriving agricultural district. It is better watered with springs, brooks, and mill-streams, than many other parts of New York, and among other advantages enjoys along the Hudson a succession of brilliant and noble scenery.



Beneath these gold and azure skies

  The river winds through leafy glades,

Save where, like battlements, arise

  The gray and tufted Palisades.

The fervor of this sultry time

  Is tempered by the humid earth,

And zephyrs, born of summer’s prime,

  Give a delicious coolness birth.

They freshen this sequestered nook

  With constant greetings bland and free,

The pages of the open book

  All flutter with their wayward glee.

As quicker swell their breathings soft,

  Cloud-shadows skim along the field;

And yonder dangling woodbines oft

  Their crimson bugles gently yield.

The tulip-tree majestic stirs

  Far down the water’s marge beside,

And now awake the nearer firs,

  And toss their ample branches wide.

How blithely trails the pendent vine!

  The grain-slope lies in green repose;

Through the dark foliage of the pine

  And lofty elms the sunshine glows.

Like sentinels in firm array

  The trees-of-life their shafts uprear;

Red cones upon the sumach play,

  And ancient locusts whisper near.

From wave and meadow, cliff and sky,

  Let thy stray vision homeward fall;

Behold the mist-bloom floating nigh,

  And hollyhock white-edged and tall;

Its gaudy leaves, though fanned apart,

  Round thick and mealy stamens spring,

And nestled to its crimson heart

  The sated bees enamored cling.

Mark the broad terrace flecked with light

  That peeps through trellises of rose,

And quivers with a vague delight

  As each pale shadow comes and goes.

The near, low gurgle of the brook,

  The wren’s glad chirp, the scented hay,

And e’en the watch-dog’s peaceful look

  Our vain disquietudes allay.

 .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .


Henry Theodore Tuckerman.


THIS fort—which commands the military position of West Point, and which was considered so important during the Revolutionary war—is now in ruins, but is visited by all travellers in this region for the superb view which it affords of the sublime pass of the Highlands. This was the great key which Arnold’s treachery intended to give into the hands of the English; and associated with the memory of the unfortunate André, and with other painful events of the conspiracy, it possesses an interest which is wanting to other objects of the same description in our country.

Washington’s visit of inspection to Fort Putnam and the other redoubts on this side the river was made only two or three hours before his discovery of the treason of Arnold, at that moment, as he supposed, in command at West Point. The commander-in-chief was expected to arrive the evening before; and had he done so, Arnold would probably never have escaped. Having accidentally met the French minister, M. de Lucerne, at Fishkill, however (eight miles above), he was induced to pass the night there for the purpose of some conference, and set off early in the morning on horseback, sending on a messenger to Mrs. Arnold that himself and suite would be with her to breakfast. Arriving opposite West Point, near a small redoubt called Fort Constitution, Washington turned his horse from the road. Lafayette, who was then in his suite, called out, “General, you are going in the wrong direction; you know Mrs. Arnold is waiting breakfast for us.” “Ah,” answered Washington, “I know you young men are all in love with Mrs. Arnold, and wish to get where she is as soon as possible. Go and take your breakfast with her, and tell her not to wait for me; I must ride down and examine the redoubts on this side the river.” Two of the aides rode on, found breakfast waiting, and sat down at once with General Arnold and his family. While they were at table a messenger came in with a letter for Arnold, which announced the capture of André, and the failure and betrayal, of course, of the whole conspiracy. Showing little or no emotion, though his life hung upon a thread, he merely said to one of his aides that his presence was required at West Point; and leaving word for General Washington that he was called over the river, but would return immediately, he ordered a horse and sent for Mrs. Arnold to her chamber. He then informed her abruptly that they must part, possibly forever, and that his life depended on his reaching the enemy’s lines without delay. Struck with horror at this intelligence, she swooned and fell senseless. In that state he left her, hurried downstairs, mounted a horse belonging to one of his aides that stood saddled at the door, and rode with all speed to the bank of the river. A boat with six men was in waiting; and pretending that he was going with a flag of truce, he pulled down the stream, and arrived safe on board the “Vulture” sloop of war, lying some miles below.

Meantime Washington, having finished his inspection of the redoubt, arrived at Arnold’s house, received his message, and concluded to cross immediately and meet Arnold at West Point. As the whole party were seated in the barge moving smoothly over the water, with the majestic scenery of the Highlands about them, Washington said, “Well, gentlemen, I am glad, on the whole, that General Arnold has gone before us, for we shall now have a salute; and the roaring of the cannon will have a fine effect among these mountains.” The boat drew near to the beach, but no cannon were heard, and there was no appearance of preparation to receive them. “What!” said Washington, “do they not intend to salute us?” At this moment an officer was seen making his way down the hill to meet them, who seemed confused at their arrival, and apologized for not being prepared to receive such distinguished visitors. “How is this, sir,” said Washington, “is not General Arnold here?” “No, sir,” replied the officer, “he has not been here these two days; nor have I heard from him within that time.” “This is extraordinary,” said Washington; “we were told that he had crossed the river, and that we should find him here. However, our visit must not be in vain. Since we have come, we must look round a little, and see in what state things are with you.” He then ascended the hill, examined Fort Putnam and the other fortifications, and returned to Arnold’s house, where the fact of the treason was at once revealed. This had occupied two or three hours, however, and Arnold was beyond pursuit. Washington retained his usual calmness, though Arnold was one of his favorite officers, and had been placed at West Point by his own personal influence with Congress. He called Lafayette and Knox, showed them the proofs, and only said to the former, “Whom can we trust now?”



  Thou com’st in beauty on my gaze at last,

  “On Susquehanna’s side, fair Wyoming!”

  Image of many a dream in hours long past,

  When life was in its bud and blossoming,

  And waters, gushing from the fountain spring

  Of pure enthusiast thought, dimmed my young eyes,

  As by the poet borne on unseen wing,

  I breathed in fancy ‘neath thy cloudless skies

The summer’s air, and heard her echoed harmonies.

  I then but dreamed: thou art before me now

  In life, a vision of the brain no more.

  I’ve stood upon the wooded mountain’s brow

  That beetles high thy lovely valley o’er;

  And now, where winds thy river’s greenest shore,

  Within a bower of sycamores am laid;

  And winds as soft and sweet as ever bore

  The fragrance of wild-flowers through sun and shade

Are singing in the trees, whose low boughs press my head.

  Nature hath made thee lovelier than the power

  Even of Campbell’s pen hath pictured: he

  Had woven, had he gazed one sunny hour

  Upon thy smiling vale, its scenery

  With more of truth, and made each rock and tree

  Known like old friends, and greeted from afar:

  And there are tales of sad reality

  In the dark legends of thy border war,

With woes of deeper tint than his own Gertrude’s are.

  But where are they, the beings of the mind,

  The bard’s creations, moulded not of clay,

  Hearts to strange bliss and suffering assigned,—

  Young Gertrude, Albert, Waldegrave,—where are they?

  We need not ask. The people of to-day

  Appear good, honest, quiet men enough,

  And hospitable too,—for ready pay;

  With manners like their roads, a little rough,

And hands whose grasp is warm and welcoming, though tough.


 .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

  There is a woman, widowed, gray, and old,

  Who tells you where the foot of Battle stepped

  Upon their day of massacre. She told

  Its tale, and pointed to the spot, and wept,

  Whereon her father and five brothers slept

  Shroudless, the bright-dreamed slumbers of the brave,

  When all the land a funeral mourning kept.

  And there wild laurels, planted on the grave

By Nature’s hand, in air their pale red blossoms wave.

  And on the margin of yon orchard hill

  Are marks where time-worn battlements have been,

  And in the tall grass traces linger still

  Of “arrowy frieze and wedged ravelin.”

  Five hundred of her brave that valley green

  Trod on the morn in soldier-spirit gay;

  But twenty lived to tell the noonday scene,—

  And where are now the twenty? Passed away.

Has Death no triumph-hours, save on the battle-day?


Fitz-Greene Halleck.


IT is true of the Hudson, as of all other rivers, that to be seen to advantage it should form the middle, not the foreground, of the picture. Those who go to Albany by steam have something the same idea of the scenery of West Point that an inside passenger may have of the effect of a stage-coach at top-speed. It is astonishing how much foreground goes for in landscape; and there are few passes of scenery where it is more naturally beautiful than those of the Hudson. In the accompanying drawing, the picturesque neighborhood of Undercliff, the seat of General Morris, lies between the river and the artist, and directly opposite stands the peak of Crow Nest, mentioned in the description of West Point.

Crow Nest is one of the most beautiful mountains of America for shape, verdure, and position; and when the water is unruffled, and the moon sits on his summit, he looks like a monarch crowned with a single pearl. This is the scene of the first piece-work of fancy which has come from the practical brain of America,—the poem of “The Culprit Fay.” The opening is so descriptive of the spot that it is quite in place here; and to those who have not seen the poem (as most European readers have not) it will convey an idea of a production which, in my opinion, treads close on the heels of the “Midsummer Night’s Dream:”—

’Tis the middle watch of a summer’s night,—

The earth is dark, but the heavens are bright;

Nought is seen in the vault on high

But the moon and the stars and the cloudless sky,

And the flood which rolls its milky hue,—

A river of light on the welkin blue.

The moon looks down on old Crow Nest,

She mellows the shades on his shaggy breast,

And seems his huge gray form to throw

In a silver cone on the wave below;

His sides are broken by spots of shade

By the walnut boughs and the cedar made,

And through their clustering branches dark

Glimmers and dies the firefly’s spark,—

Like starry twinkles that momently break

Through the rifts of the gathering tempest rack.

The stars are on the moving stream,

And fling, as its ripples gently flow,

A burnish’d length of wavy beam

In an eel-like, spiral line below.

The winds are whist, and the owl is still,

The bat in the shelvy rock is hid;

And nought is heard on the lonely hill

But the cricket’s chirp and the answer shrill

Of the gauze-winged katy-did,

And the plaints of the mourning whip-poor-will,

Who mourns unseen, and ceaseless sings

Ever a note of wail and wo,

Till morning spreads her rosy wings,

And earth and sky in her glances glow.

’Tis the hour of fairy ban and spell:

The wood-tick has kept the minutes well;

He has counted them all with click and stroke

Deep in the heart of the mountain-oak;

And he has awakened the sentry-elve

Who sleeps with him in the haunted tree,

To bid him ring the hour of twelve,

And call the fays to their revelry.


 .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

They come from beds of lichen green,

They creep from the mullen’s velvet screen;

Some on the backs of beetles fly

From the silver tops of moon-touch’d trees,

Where they swing in their cob-web hammocks high,

And rock’d about in the evening breeze;

Some from the hum-bird’s downy nest,—

They had driven him out by elfin power,

And pillow’d on plumes of his rainbow breast

Had slumber’d there till the charmed hour;

Some had lain in a scarp of the rock,

With glittering rising-stars inlaid,

And some had open’d the four-o’clock,

And stolen within its purple shade.

And now they throng the moonlight glade,

Above—below—on every side,

Their little minion forms arrayed

In the tricksy pomp of fairy pride.

The general assembly of the fairies is at last complete, and they proceed to the trial of the culprit fay, who has extinguished his elfin lamp and paralyzed his wings by a love for a mortal maid. He is condemned to penances, which are most exquisitely described, and constitute the greater part of the poem; and he finally expiates his sins, and is forgiven. There is a fineness of description, and a knowledge of the peculiarities of American nature, in birds, fishes, flowers, and the phenomena of this particular region, which constitute this little poem a book of valuable information as well as an exquisite work of fancy.

Just under Crow Nest, buried in the heavy leaves of a ravine, springs a waterfall like a naiad from the depths of the forest, and plunges down into the river. The rambles in and about its neighborhood are cool and retired; and it is a favorite place for lovers from New York, who run up in the steamer in three hours, and find the honeymoon goes swimmingly off there,—the excellent hotel within half a mile supplying the real, without which the ideal is found to be very trumpery. The marble tomb of a cadet, who was killed by the bursting of a gun, forms a picturesque object, and gives a story to the spot.



In the midst of the mountains all bosky and wooded,

  Its bosom thick-gemmed with the loveliest isles,

Its borders with vistas of Paradise studded,—

  Looking up to the heaven sweet Horicon smiles.

Thick set are its haunts with old legend and story,

  That, woven by genius, still cluster and blend;

But its beauty will cling, like a halo of glory,

  When legend and record with ages shall end.


 .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

Far down in the waters the pebbles are gleaming,—

  Far down in the clear waves that nothing can hide;

So, beauty of youth, comes the name you are dreaming,—

  Too pure for concealment, too gentle for pride;

So smiles on your faces the sunshine of heaven,—

  The blessing distilled in the gardens of air,—

A smile of contentment from Paradise given

  That woman and lake have been fashioned so fair.

Pure Horicon! glassing the brows of the mountains,

  As handmaid might bend to a conqueror’s will,

Although nurtured and swelled by the commonest fountains

  Yet pure and transparent and beautiful still!

No wonder the men of the cross and the missal

  Once named it “The Lake of the Sacrament” pure,

Or that far leagues away, from some holiest vessel,

  Its drops on the forehead could comfort and cure.

On the fair silver lake drives the Indian no longer,

  With the sweep of his paddle, the birchen canoe;

And the fortresses fall that made weakness the stronger,

  And saved the white maid when the war-whistle blew.

But ’tis well that the old and the savage are fated,

  And that danger rolls back from the Edens of earth;

Our boats glide as well with all loveliness freighted,

  And the war-whoop we lose in the sallies of mirth.

Pure Horicon! lake of the cloud and the shadow!

  Soft shimmer your moonlight and dimple your rain!

And the hearts far away—if by seaside or meadow—

  Still think of your blue with a lingering pain!

Among the far islands that glitter in heaven,—

  On the dim, undiscovered, and beautiful shore,—

Some glimpse of a lovelier sea may be given

  To the eyes of the perfect,—but never before!


Henry Morford.

(From Below.)


FROM the precipice whence our first view of this Fall is taken, the descent is steep and slippery to the very brink of the torrent, which it is necessary to cross on the wild blocks that lie scattered in its rocky bed. From thence, literally buried in forest foliage, the tourist will enjoy a very different, but perhaps more striking and picturesque, view than the other. The stream, at a vast height above him, is seen leaping from ledge to ledge,—sometimes lost, sometimes sparkling in sunshine, till it courses impetuously beneath the rock on which he is seated, and is lost in the deep unbroken obscurity of the forest. The rocky ledges above, worn by time, have the appearance of deep caverns, and beautifully relieve the fall of the light and silvery stream. In the winter, the vast icicles which are suspended from the ledges of rock, and shine like pillars against the deep obscurity of the caverns behind, afford a most romantic spectacle, one which has afforded a subject to Bryant for one of the most imaginative of his poems.



Her side is in the water,

  Her keel is in the sand,

And her bowsprit rest on the low gray rock

  That bounds the sea and land.

Her deck is without a mast,

  And sand and shells are there,

And the teeth of decay are gnawing her planks

  In the sun and the sultry air.

No more on the river’s bosom,

  When sky and wave are calm,

And the clouds are in summer quietness,

  And the cool night-breath is balm,

Will she glide in the swan-like stillness

  Of the moon in the blue above,—

A messenger from other lands,

  A beacon to hope and love.

No more in the midnight tempest

  Will she mock the mounting sea,

Strong in her oaken timbers,

  And her white sail’s bravery.

She hath borne, in days departed,

  Warm hearts upon her deck;

Those hearts, like her, are mouldering now,

  The victims and the wreck

Of time, whose touch erases

  Each vestige of all we love;

The wanderers, home returning,

  Who gazed that deck above,

And they who stood to welcome

  Their loved ones on that shore,

Are gone,—and the place that knew them

  Shall know them nevermore.


 .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .


Fitz-Greene Halleck.



Rivers that roll most musical in song

  Are often lovely to the mind alone;

The wanderer muses, as he moves along

  Their barren banks, on glories not their own.

When, to give substance to his boyish dreams,

  He leaves his own, far countries to survey,

Oft must he think, in greeting foreign streams,

  “Their names alone are beautiful, not they.”

If chance he mark the dwindled Arno pour

  A tide more meagre than his native Charles;

Or views the Rhone when summer’s heat is o’er,

  Subdued and stagnant in the fen of Arles;

Or when he sees the slimy Tiber fling

  His sullen tribute at the feet of Rome,—

Oft to his thought must partial memory bring

  More noble waves, without renown, at home.

Now let him climb the Catskill, to behold

  The lordly Hudson, marching to the main,

And say what bard, in any land of old,

  Had such a river to inspire his strain!

Along the Rhine gray battlements and towers

  Declare what robbers once the realm possessed;

But here Heaven’s handiwork surpasseth ours,

  And man has hardly more than built his nest.

No storied castle overawes these heights,

  Nor antique arches check the current’s play,

Nor mouldering architrave the mind invites

  To dream of deities long passed away.

No Gothic buttress, or decaying shaft

  Of marble, yellowed by a thousand years,

Lifts a great land-mark to the little craft,—

  A summer cloud! that comes and disappears.

But cliffs, unaltered from their primal form

  Since the subsiding of the deluge, rise

And hold their savins to the upper storm,

  While far below the skiff securely plies.

Farms, rich not more in meadows than in men

  Of Saxon mould, and strong for every toil,

Spread o’er the plain or scatter through the glen

  Bœotian plenty on a Spartan soil.

Then, where the reign of cultivation ends,

  Again the charming wilderness begins;

From steep to steep one solemn wood extends,

  Till some new hamlet’s rise the boscage thins.

And these deep groves forever have remained

  Touched by no axe, by no proud owner nursed;

As now they stand they stood when Pharaoh reigned,

  Lineal descendants of creation’s first.


 .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

No tales we know are chronicled of thee

  In ancient scrolls; no deeds of doubtful claim

Have hung a history on every tree,

  And given each rock its fable and a fame.

But neither here hath any conqueror trod,

  Nor grim invaders from barbarian climes;

No horrors feigned of giant or of god

  Pollute thy stillness with recorded crimes.

Here never yet have happy fields laid waste,

  The ravished harvest and the blasted fruit,

The cottage ruined and the shrine defaced,

  Tracked the foul passage of the feudal brute.

“Yet, O Antiquity!” the stranger sighs,

  “Scenes wanting thee soon pall upon the view;

The soul’s indifference dulls the sated eyes,

  Where all is fair indeed,—but all is new.”

False thought! Is age to crumbling walls confined?

  To Grecian fragments and Egyptian bones?

Hath Time no monuments to raise the mind,

  More than old fortresses and sculptured stones?

Call not this new which is the only land

  That wears unchanged the same primeval face

Which, when just dawning from its Maker’s hand,

  Gladdened the first great grandsire of our race.

Nor did Euphrates with an earlier birth

  Glide past green Eden towards the unknown south,

Than Hudson broke upon the infant earth,

  And kissed the ocean with his nameless mouth.

Twin-born with Jordan, Ganges, and the Nile!

  Thebes and the pyramids to thee are young!

Oh, had thy waters burst from Britain’s isle,

  Till now perchance they had not flowed unsung.


Thomas William Parsons.


(The seat of the late General Morris.)

THE pen of the poet and the pencil of the artist have so frequently united to record the grandeur and sublimity of the Hudson, and with such graphic fidelity, that little of interest remains unsaid or unsketched. But when every point of its bold and beautiful scenery might be made the subject of a picture, and every incident of its past history the theme of a poem, it requires no great research to discover new and prominent objects of attraction. Perhaps there is no portion of this beautiful river which partakes more of the picturesque, or combines more of the wild and wonderful, than the vicinity of the present view; and when time shall touch the history of the present with the wand of tradition, and past events shall live in the memory of the future as legends, romance will never revel in a more bewitching region. Fiction shall then fling its imaginative veil over the things we have seen, covering but not concealing them, and in the plentitude of poetic genius people the drama of futurity with a thousand exquisite creations, clothed in the venerated garb of antiquity.

Undercliff, the mansion of the late General George P. Morris, which forms the principal object in the engraving, is situated upon an elevated plateau, rising from the eastern shore of the river; and the selection of such a commanding and beautiful position at once decides the taste of its intellectual proprietor. In the rear of the villa, cultivation has placed her fruit and forest trees with a profuse hand, and fertilized the fields with a variety of vegetable products. The extent of the grounds is abruptly terminated by the base of a rocky mountain, that rises nearly perpendicular to its summit, and affords in winter a secure shelter from the bleak blasts of the north. In front, a circle of greensward is refreshed by a fountain in the centre, gushing from a Grecian vase, and encircled by ornamental shrubbery; from thence a gravelled walk winds down a gentle declivity to a second plateau, and again descends to the entrance of the carriage road, which leads upwards along the left slope of the hill through a noble forest, the growth of many years, until suddenly emerging from its sombre shades, the visitor beholds the mansion before him in the bright blaze of day. A few openings in the wood afford an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the water, sparkling with reflected light; and the immediate transition from shadow to sunshine is peculiarly pleasing.

Although the sunny prospects from the villa—of the giant mountains in their eternal verdure, the noble stream when frequent gusts ruffle its surface into a thousand waves, the cluster of white cottages collected into the distant village—are glorious, it is only by the lovely light of the moon, when Nature is in repose, that their magic influence is fully felt. We were fortunate in having an opportunity to contemplate the scene at such an hour. The moon had risen from a mass of clouds which formed a line across the sky so level that fancy saw her ascending from the dark sea, and her silvery light lay softened on the landscape; silence was over all, save where the dipping of a distant oar was echoed from the deep shadows of the rocks. Sometimes the white sail of a sloop would steal into sight from the deep gloom, like some shrouded spirit gliding from the confines of a giant’s cavern, recalling the expressive lines by Moore:—

“The stream is like a silvery lake,

  And o’er its face each vessel glides

Gently, as if it feared to wake

  The slumber of the silent tides.”

General Morris published some time ago a volume of lyrical effusions, called “The Deserted Bride, and other Poems.” Many of them have been written among the fairy beauties of Undercliff, and under the inspiration of that true poetic feeling which such enchanting scenes are so likely to elicit. Where so many gems of genius enrich a work, it becomes difficult to decide upon that most worthy of selection. It is not our province or intention to review the volume, but we cannot resist the inclination to make an extract, because it seems so beautiful an accessory to the subject, and must create an added interest in the engraving. Where scenes are so replete with the poetry of Nature, they are best illustrated by the poetry of numbers; but we were particularly delighted with the following lines, addressed to his young daughter. The natural simplicity of the subject is well expressed by the purity of its poetic images, and breathes the refinement of paternal affection.



Where Hudson’s wave, o’er silvery sands,

  Winds through the hills afar,

Old Cro’nest like a monarch stands,

  Crowned with a single star:

And there, amid the billowy swells

  Of rock-ribbed, cloud-capt earth,

My fair and gentle Ida dwells,

  A nymph of mountain birth.

The snow-curl that the cliff receives,

  The diamonds of the showers,

Spring’s tender blossoms, buds and leaves,

  The sisterhood of flowers,—

Morn’s early beam, eve’s balmy breeze,

  Her purity define;

But Ida’s dearer far than these

  To this fond breast of mine.

My heart is on the hills. The shades

  Of night are on my brow;

Ye pleasant haunts and silent glades,

  My soul is with you now!

I bless the star-crowned islands where

  My Ida’s footsteps roam,—

Oh for a falcon’s wing to bear

  Me onward to my home!



The twilight on Ausable

  By rock and river fell;

With tints of rose-veined marble

  It glimmered through the dell.

Shadows on tree and river

  In stately grandeur hung;

There Nature sings forever

  What poets have not sung.

The dark rocks, proudly lifted,

  Uprear their rugged form

Like giants,—nobly gifted

  To breast the torrent’s storm.

Dim mystery forever

  Here chants a song sublime,

While onward rolls the river

  Unchangeable as time.

From soul to soul is spoken

  What lips cannot impart;

And the silence is but broken

  By the throbbing of the heart.

The evening sky in glory

  Lights the massy, rifted wall,

And with many a wondrous story

  Fancy paints the waterfall,

Of the savage freely roving

  In a scene as wild as he;

Of the Indian maiden loving

  With a spirit full of glee.


 .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

Yet though Indian maid and lover

  Have forever passed away,

We may dream their visions over,

  And may love as well as they!

On the borders of the river

  We may whisper ere we part

Songs whose music clings forever

  Round the memories of the heart.

We may catch an inspiration

  From dark river, rock, and fall,

And a higher adoration

  For the Spirit over all!


Oliver Wendell Withington.


THE great proportion of evergreen trees, shrubs, and creepers in the American mountains makes the winter scenery less dreary than might at first be imagined; but even the nakedness of the deciduous trees is not long observable. The first snow clothes them in a dress so feathery and graceful that, like a change in the costume of beauty, it seems lovelier than the one put off; and the constant renewal of its freshness and delicacy goes on with a variety and novelty which is scarce dreamed of by those who see snow only in cities, or in countries where it is rare.

The roads in so mountainous a region as the Catterskills are in winter not only difficult, but dangerous. The following extracts from an account of a sleigh-ride in a more level part of the country will serve to give an idea of it:—

“As we got farther on, the new snow became deeper. The occasional farm-houses were almost wholly buried, the black chimney alone appearing above the ridgy drifts; while the tops of the doors and windows lay below the level of the trodden road, from which a descending passage was cut to the threshold, like the entrance to a cave in the earth. The fences were quite invisible. The fruit-trees looked diminished to shrubberies of snow-flowers, their trunks buried under the visible surface, and their branches loaded with the still falling flakes, till they bent beneath the burden. Nothing was abroad, for nothing could stir out of the road without danger of being lost; and we dreaded to meet even a single sleigh, lest in turning out the horses should ‘slump’ beyond their depth in the untrodden drifts. The poor animals began to labor severely, and sank at every step over their knees in the clogging and wool-like substance; and the long and cumbrous sleigh rose and fell in the deep pits like a boat in a heavy sea. It seemed impossible to get on. Twice we brought up with a terrible plunge, and stood suddenly still; for the runners had struck in too deep for the strength of the horses, and with the snow-shovels, which formed a part of the furniture of the vehicle, we dug them from their concrete beds. Our progress at last was reduced to scarce a mile in the hour, and we began to have apprehensions that our team would give out between the post-houses. Fortunately it was still warm, for the numbness of cold would have paralyzed our already flagging exertions.

“We had reached the summit of a long hill with the greatest difficulty. The poor beasts stood panting and reeking with sweat; the runners of the sleigh were clogged with hard cakes of snow, and the air was close and dispiriting. We came to a stand-still, with the vehicle lying over almost on its side; and I stepped out to speak to the driver and look forward. It was a discouraging prospect; a long deep valley lay before us, closed at the distance of a couple of miles by another steep hill, through a cleft in the top of which lay our way: we could not even distinguish the line of the road between. Our disheartened animals stood at this moment buried to their breasts; and to get forward, without rearing at every step, seemed impossible. The driver sat on his box, looking uneasily down into the valley. It was one undulating ocean of snow,—not a sign of a human habitation to be seen, and even the trees indistinguishable from the general mass by their whitened and overladen branches. The storm had ceased, but the usual sharp cold that succeeds a warm fall of snow had not yet lightened the clamminess of the new-fallen flakes, and they clung around the foot like clay, rendering every step a toil.

“We heaved out of the pit into which the sleigh had settled, and for the first mile it was down hill, and we got on with comparative ease. The sky was by this time almost bare, a dark slaty mass of clouds alone settling on the horizon in the quarter of the wind; while the sun, as powerless as moonlight, poured with dazzling splendor on the snow, and the gusts came keen and bitter across the sparkling waste, rimming the nostrils as if with bands of steel, and penetrating to the innermost nerve with their pungent iciness. No protection seemed of any avail. The whole surface of the body ached as if it were laid against a slab of ice. The throat closed instinctively, and contracted its unpleasant respiration. The body and limbs drew irresistibly together to economize, like a hedge-hog, the exposed surface. The hands and feet felt transmuted to lead; and across the forehead, below the pressure of the cap, there was a binding and oppressive ache, as if a bar of frosty iron had been let into the skull. The mind, meantime, seemed freezing up,—unwillingness to stir, and inability to think of anything but the cold, becoming every instant more decided.

“From the bend of the valley our difficulties became more serious. The drifts often lay across the road like a wall, some feet above the heads of the horses; and we had dug through one or two, and had been once upset, and often near it, before we came to the steepest part of the ascent. The horses had by this time begun to feel the excitement of the rum given them by the driver at the last halt, and bounded on through the snow with continuous leaps, jerking the sleigh after them with a violence that threatened momently to break the traces. The steam from their bodies froze instantly, and covered them with a coat like hoar-frost; and spite of their heat, and the unnatural and violent exertions they were making, it was evident by the pricking of their ears and the sudden crouch of the body when a stronger blast swept over, that the cold struck through even their hot and intoxicated blood.

“We toiled up, leap after leap; and it seemed miraculous to me that the now infuriated animals did not burst a blood-vessel or crack a sinew with every one of those terrible springs. The sleigh plunged on after them, stopping dead and short at every other moment, and reeling over the heavy drifts like a boat in a surging sea. A finer crystallization had meanwhile taken place upon the surface of the moist snow; and the powdered particles flew almost insensibly on the blasts of wind, filling the eyes and hair, and cutting the skin with a sensation like the touch of needle-points. The driver and his maddened but almost exhausted team were blinded by the glittering and whirling eddies; the cold grew intenser every moment, the forward motion gradually less and less; and when, with the very last effort apparently, we reached a spot on the summit of the hill which from its exposed situation had been kept bare by the wind, the patient and persevering whip brought his horses to a stand, and despaired, for the first time, of his prospects of getting on.”

The description, which is too long to extract entire, details still severer difficulties; after which the writer and driver mounted the leaders, and finally arrived, nearly dead with cold, at the tavern. Such cold as is described here, however, is what is called “an old-fashioned spell,” and occurs now but seldom.



Is this a painting? Are those pictured clouds

Which on the sky so movelessly repose?

Has some rare artist fashioned forth the shrouds

Of yonder vessel? Are these imaged shows

Of outline, figure, form, or is there life—

Life with a thousand pulses—in the scene

We gaze upon? Those towering banks between,

E’er tossed these billows in tumultuous strife?

Billows! there’s not a wave! the waters spread

One broad, unbroken mirror; all around

Is hushed to silence,—silence so profound

That a bird’s carol, or an arrow sped

Into the distance, would, like larum bell,

Jar the deep stillness and dissolve the spell.


Park Benjamin.

University Press: John Wilson & Son, Cambridge.


Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in punctuation have been maintained.

Cover created for this ebook. Some illustrations moved to facilitate page layout.


[The end of Forest, Rock, and Stream by N.P. (Nathaniel Parker) Willis]