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BOOK I.

HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE.

1. WEST POINT.

[Commercial Advertiser. New-York.j

"There is a cliff, whose high and bending head,
Looks fearfully in the confined deep."

SHAKS. A TOUR from New-York up the Hudson river affords one of the most beautiful excursions, that can be made in any part of our country; but the writing traveller has to encounter the difficulty, if he attempts a sketch, of describing what has so often been described before, that he may almost despair of introducing a novel scene, or a new idea. Hundreds of writers,-not forgetting that almost inimitable painter of animated nature, Irving,-have told of the "verdant pastures and green fields," the towering cliffs and lofty mountains, which alternately attract the admiration, the wonder, and the amazement of the beholder, almost from the confluence of that noble stream with the ocean to its source. "The theme," says a late tourist, "is measureless ; such as Byron, with all his kindred sublimity, would delight to dwell upon, and conjure up a spirit in every breeze of its mountains, or that moved on the face of its waters. Its serpentine windings; its deep recesses; the little cottage under the rocky heights, and isolated, as it were, from the rest of the world; the splendid mansion in the distance, surrounded by dark foliage and

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towering elms, imparting to it an air of romance ; its deep and apparently impenetrable forests, where, to the stranger, the foot of man would seem never to have trod ;-these are things wbich would call forth the finest strains of poetic inspiration, which would induce Byron again to say,

66 Pass not unblest the Genius of the place !
If through the air a zephyr more serene,
Win to the brow, 'tis his; and if ye trace
Along his margin a more eloquent green ;
If on the heart the freshness of the scene
Sprinkle its coolness, and from the dry dust
Of weary life, a moment lave it clean
With Nature's baptism,-'tis to him ye must

Pay orisons for this suspension of disgust.” The most imposing scene presented to the eye of the spectator, before entering the Highlands, and that, which most attracts the admiration of the naturalist, and excites the attention of the geologist, is, the huge buttress of rocks, which, for miles, lift their tall heads from the western edge of the river, resembling what, in fairy land, might well be taken for the proud battlements of a race of giants. These rocks are called the palisadoes. They are basaltic, standing like massive gothic pillars, three or four hundred feet high, upon horizontal strata of sand-stone. This singular and unusual formation is a sore puzzle to the wise heads of geologists and theoretical world-makers, who can account for the position upon no other principle, than that, in some wonderful convulsion of the earth, the pillars have been pressed up through its surface.

At a distance of about forty miles from the city, we enter the Highlands, between Stony Point, on the north, and Verplancks. Point on the south. nificent region of country not only attracts attention from the grandeur and sublimity of the scenery, but from being closely associated with an important portion of our revolutionary history. The Highlands for a long period formed the main link in the chain of communication between the republicans of the east and south ; and it was with a view of cutting off this communication, that Burgoyne attempted to march down from the north,

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while the British assaulted from below. The fort at Stony Point had been taken from General Wayne in 1778, and was retaken by him the same year. At the recapture, an incident occurred, which was very characteristic of that fearless commander, and, as we have never seen it in print, perhaps it may not be amiss to mention it. The anecdote was related to us by one, who was among the foremost in the assault. After having been defeated by the British troops, they had attempted to ridicule the American General, by sneeringly calling him “Granny Wayne." When the fort was recaptured, the expedition from West-Point was conducted witb such profound secrecy, that the British garrison were taken completely by surprise. Wayne was the third man who entered the fort, and, as he rushed impetuously upon the foe, brandishing his sabre, he exclaimed, “ By G-d, sirs, you have Granny Wayne among you again !!

Ten miles above this place, we reach the site of Fort Montgomery, which was taken by the British from Governor George Clinton. Many of the gallant defenders of this post were never heard of after they laid down their arms; and what became of them will probably never be ascertained.

West-Point, however, forms the most conspicuous and important object of attention. What is particularly called “ The Point, is an elevated plain, or table of land, situated at a short turn of the river, and elevated about 176 feet above its surface. It was at the point of this plain, tbat Fort Clinton was constructed by the venerable patriot, whose name it bears, after the loss of Fort Montgomery. Nothing now remains but ruins ; but they are extensive, and well defined, and will probably long endure as one evidence of the labours performed by our ancestors in the purchase of freedom. About half a mile in the rear of this plain, upon a still further elevation of 560 feet, stand the ruins of old Fort Putnam ; the high and massive walls of which still proclaim its former strength. These walls, however, were repaired, and in part rebuilt by President Adams. The area of the fort we should judge to contain near two

acres; and it must have been completely inaccessible to a hostile force, excepting upon one point. On two sides it was protected by a natural wall of forty or fifty feet; and in the middle there is still a never-failing pool of water, excavated in the solid granite. There are yet entire six or seven subterranean rooms (we forget the technical phrase) which may still be considered bomb-proof; and two cells, which we supposed to have been intended for magazines, are yet uninjured. But the place is now marked by silence and decay ; and, as if time lingered in his labors of destruction, many visiters, from mere mischief, or sheer wantonness, lend him a sacrilegious hand, and tumble down masses of rock, which it would require ages to crumble away. There is a height in the rear of this fort, which would have commanded it ; but that, as well as others in the neighbourhood, were strongly fortified. From the site of this fortress, we have a commanding view of the surrounding scenery. Among the cultivated spots on the opposite side of the river, is distinctly seen the house and farm of Colonel Robinson, which was occupied by the treacherous Arnold, while he commanded this important post, and was planning its surrender, and plotting the ruin of his country. While standing upon such a place, the mind is, of course, hurried back, to dwell upon those events which have rendered it so conspicuous in history. But our feelings are those of mingled pleasure and pain. We rejoice that the treason was timely crushed ; but we regret that the foul traitor escaped, to glut his fury and disappointment with the blood of his own countrymen, whom he had so often and gallantly defended. We rejoice at the capture of Andre ; and while we drop a tear of regret, that one so amiable, brave, and accomplished, should thus have fallen ; we are compelled to say it was just. But other thoughts rush upon

the mind. We think of the mighty and splendid display of forty-five years ago, when the din of arms and the clangor of battle echoed through these mountains, and when the banners of freedom proudly floated over these now solitary and decaying battlements. We think of the poble and patriotic race, that moved under

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those banners ; of " the long and dubious conflict ; the splendid hazard, and the final and sweeping overthrow of our foes.

The principal mountains among this formidable range of highlands are, Antony's Nose, 1128 feet high ; the Bare Mountain, 1350 ; the Crow's Nest, 1418 ; Bull Hill, 1495 ; Butter Hill, 1529. The latter is on the east side of the river. The Crow's Nest, the base of which is about two miles from the Point, north, is the highest of this range on the west side of the Hudson, and is the only one that we had time to ascend.

There is a path which winds several miles round among the hills ; now ascending a height; now crossing a glen; by which, we were informed, we could ride to within a mile of the summit; but our party preferred a shorter route, and, after walking two miles over a rough, ragged road," commenced the ascent by climbing from rock to rock, and jumping from crag to crag, through a deep and gloomy ravine, the bed of which was in most places perfectly dry. This is unusual, as a stream of water is generally tumbling down in foaming torrents during the greater part of the year. We accomplished the task in about an hour, often taking a moment to breathe, and, at the same time, to gaze upon the wild and magnificent scenery above, below, and around us. Arrived at the summit of the mountain, we seemed to inhale another atmosphere. The wind, which blew fresh and streng, was apparently as keen and searching, as a January north-wester. The landscape view from this lofty eminence is indescribably grand and beautiful. Completely overtopping the whole district of the highlands, (with the exception of Butter Hill,) the spectator can at one view number the mountain tops, and glance into the deep ravines and darksome glens beneath. Here and there is a cultivated spot of ground, near which is usually seen a volume of smoke curling gently up the sides of the hills from the cottages of the hardy mountaineers ; but in general this whole region is a wild and gloomy forest, now speckled over with yellow leaves of autumn, but seldom relieving the eye with any of the milder features in which rugged nature is there display

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