Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

influence, these settlements are yet far from even approaching the intellectual and religious character of their American brethren. Many of them, after having lost the means of religious knowledge which the preaching in their own language afforded to them, are now without any instruction, since they are unable to understand English preaching. The darkness which is thus gathering round them is now denser than it ever was before, and there is but little reason to believe that the hour before the break of day has arrived.

In the course of a few days, I had become so well acquainted with my kind hosts, that when the time had arrived at which I intended to meet the steamboat, our parting terminated in a little scene, in which the younger members of the family played a very active part. During the whole period that I had made Saugerties the centre of my little excursions, the beautiful and lively children of my host had always greeted my return with the loudest manifestations of joy, and vied with each other in proving that though absent, I had not been forgotten. They having now been told that I was not going to return very soon, one of the little girls, with rosy cheeks and fair curls, which in part concealed her sad blue eyes, laid hold on my hand as if she could not suffer me to go, and told me in pretty good German, that she would “always think of me, and if I would call again very soon, I should

find her grown up, and ready to accompany me on my walks."

There is something in the inexperienced eye with which the child looks upon the dimensions of space or the changes of time, which is exceedingly touching. If they see an equestrian leaping with great skill over two horses, they will tell you

with great naivete, that they might leap over six if they chose; and if you admire the quickness with which the billows of the river are carried along, they boast of being able to arrive in less time at the ocean than the swiftest river. Without experience, unconscious of the evil which it may have to meet on its path through life, and without a memory for the good which falls to its share, the child often plucks the wished-for flower to pieces, when a new joy is thrown in its way. It is, however, this absorbing enjoyment of the present, which makes a child's countenance, when brightening at the coming of the stranger, in many cases, the best thermometer of the degree of attachment by which he is united to its parents; and often when, by conventional rules and worldly cares, their eyes have been dimmed and their sympathies made dull, the unsophisticated child recognizes and gladly meets the approach of a kindred heart, a childlike spirit.

THE ENVIRONS OF THE MOHAWK.

Es trägt Verstand und rechter Sinn
Mit wenig Kunst sich selber vor,
Und wenns euch Ernst ist was zu sagen,
Ist's nöthig Worten nachzujagen?

-GOETHE's Faust.

Believe

me,

I speak as my understanding instructs me, and as mine honesty puts it to utterance.-SHAKSPEARE.

The attention with which we ought to receive the first views of the traveller, depends as much on the preparatory knowledge and experience in life with which he sets out on his journey, as on the opportunities for observation which he may enjoy in the country which he visits; but even he who, with a mind that is fully matured and developed, has availed himself conscientiously of all the means of information in regard to this country which a European has at his command, will often hesitate to communicate his first impressions to the world, since he cannot but observe that almost every day presents new aspects and important modifications of opinions and views which he thought established. If it should be out of the power of an intelligent and cultivated American to keep pace with the rapid changes which succeed each other in the different and far distant parts of the United States, if you should see him filled with astonishment, when, for

instance, a place like Buffalo, which twelve years ago was an insignificant and almost demolished village, endows in a few days a literary institution, in the most bountiful manner, how much more then ought a foreigner to hesitate in forming and expressing general views concerning the state of this country, after having resided in it for a few months.

I had approached the thickly settled and wellcultivated environs of the Mohawk by the way of Albany and Schenectady. But rarely do you meet there with some ancient meeting-house and its mouldering steeple, the Dutch inscription of which reminds you of the time when the first settlers of this valley met there on friendly terms with the sons of the wilderness; nay, all the recollections of the past seem to vanish from your mind, when you see the canal crowded with passenger-boats and packets, the public road along the banks of the Mohawk covered with conveyances of every description, the constructing of a railroad rapidly advancing, and every kind of industry and agricultural labor progressing with gigantic strides. Little were the expectations realized-in which I had almost unconsciously indulged—of finding on this part of the Mohawk a great degree of tranquillity, peace and retirement.

There are many who, like the emperor Hadrian, are fond of reading an interesting book while they listen at the same time to a conversation of their

friends, enjoy the beauties of nature, see almost everything that is going on in their presence, and, in short, “have their eyes always open.” They may without fear trust their persons to a canalboat, since they will there have an opportunity of satisfying all their wishes. But there are others who see in a beautiful prospect more than a mere combination of field, forest and river; and their minds often seem to be so exclusively occupied with what they see and feel that they are lost to everything else. The involuntary state of abstraction and perfect unconsciousness to the outer world, in which they are thus placed, defies all exertions by which you may endeavor to rouse them. In this respect they are like those others—though perhaps their number is but small-who, when they have met with a good book, enter so fully into the spirit of the author, that they might be said rather to reproduce than to read the work. May they never enter a canal boat, since as often as they are on deck they will be in imminent danger of coming in contact with one of the numberless bridges, beneath which they cannot pass without making a profound courtesy or a formal prostration. But even those who belong to the first class, and foreigners particularly, who enjoy the happy gift of using at least two of their senses at the same time, as it were, will often be in imminent danger of losing their lives. I have been told-and there is much reason

« AnteriorContinuar »