Childe Roeliff's Pilgrimage:
A Travelling Legend
by James Kirke Paulding
Childe Roeliff was a citizen,
Thorough ye citie knowne,
Who, from hys wealthe and dignitie,
Had ryghte conceited growne.
Roeliff Orendorf,—or, as he was commonly called, Childe Roeliff,
on account of a certain conceited simplicity which caused him to be
happily insensible to the sly ridicule called forth by his little
purse-proud pomposities,—was a worthy man, and useful citizen of the
queen of cities—I need not mention the name,—who having got rich by
a blunder, had ever after a sovereign and hearty contempt for wisdom.
He never could see the use of turning his head inside out, as he was
pleased to call it, in thinking of this, that, and the other thing; and
truly he was right, for if he had turned it inside out, he would,
peradventure, have found nothing there to repay him for the trouble.
But, for all this, he was a very decentish sort of a man, as times go;
for he subscribed liberally to all public-spirited undertakings that
promised to bring him in a good profit; attended upon all public
meetings whose proceedings were to be published in the newspapers, with
the names of the chairman, secretary, and committee; and gave away his
money with tolerable liberality where he was sure of its being
recorded. In short, he was wont to say, that he did not mind spending a
dollar any more than other people, only the loss of the interest was
what he grudged a little.
The Childe's father was an honest tinman, in times which try men's
pedigrees,—that is to say, some forty years ago; and Roeliff being
brought up to the same trade—we beg pardon, profession,—became, as
it were, so enamoured of noise, that he never could endure the silence
of the country; was especially melancholy of a summer evening, when all
the carts had gone home; and often used to say that Sunday would be
intolerable were it not for the ringing of the bells. Yet, for all his
attachment to noise, he never made much in the world himself, and what
little he did make was in his sleep, he having a most sonorous and
musical proboscis. It was thought to be owing to this impatience of
repose, or rather silence, that he caused his daughter, at the expense
of a great deal of money, to be taught the piano, by a first rate
pianist, whose lessons were so eminently successful, that Roeliff was
wont to affirm her playing always put him in mind of the tinman's shop.
His early life, until the age of nearly forty, was spent in plodding
and projecting schemes for growing rich, but without success. Having,
however, contrived to amass a few thousands, in the good old way of
saving a part of his earnings, he was inspired to purchase six acres of
land in the outskirts of the city, in doing which he made a most
fortunate blunder—he bought in the wrong place, as everybody assured
him. In process of years, however, it turned out to have been the right
one, for the city took it into its head to grow lustily in that
quarter. Streets were laid out lengthwise and crosswise through it; one
of which was called after his name. The speculators turned their
interests that way, and Roeliff came out of his blunder with a great
plum in his pocket; nay, some said with a plum in each pocket.
"Where is the use," said he to his friends, "of taking such pains to do
right, when I have grown rich by what everybody said was wrong?" His
friends echoed the sentiment; for what man of two plums was ever
contradicted, except by his wife? So Roeliff ever afterward took his
own way, without paying the least regard to the opinions of wise
people: and if, as we have often read in a book, the proof of the
pudding is in the eating, he was right, for I have heard a man of great
experience hint, that one-half the mistakes we make in this world come
of taking the advice of other people. "Every man," he would say, "is,
after all, the best judga of his own business. And if he at any time
asks the opinion of others, it should only be that he may gather more
reasons for following his own."
The period in which a man grows rich in his own estimation, is the
crisis of his fate; and indeed the rule will apply equally to nations.
Every day we see people who don't know what to do with themselves
because they have grown rich: and is not this unlucky country of ours
on the eve of a mighty struggle, merely because she is just getting out
of debt; and, forgetful of the old proverbs, about reckoning your
chickens before they are hatched, and hallooing before you are out of
the wood, is in a convulsion of doubt and uncertainty as to what she
will do with her money afterward. So it happened with friend Roeliff.
He was more puzzled a hundred times to know how to spend, than he
was in making his fortune; and had it not been for his great resourse
of standing under the window of a neighbouring tinman's shop, enjoying
the merry "clink of hammers closing rivets up," he would have been
devoured by the blue devils, which everybody knows are almost as bad as
printers' devils. At first he was smitten with an ambition to become
literary; accordingly, he purchased all the modern romances: fitted up
a library in an elegant style, and one morning determined to set to
work improving his mind. About an hour after he was found fast asleep,
the book lying at his feet, and his head resting on the table before
him. It was with considerable trouble that Mrs. Orendorf at last shook
his eyes open; but such was the stultification of ideas produced by
this first effort of study, that Roeliff often declared he did not
rightly come to himself until he had spent half an hour under the
tinman's shop window. This disgusted him with learning, and he turned
his attention to the fine arts; bought pictures, busts, casts, and got
nearly smothered to death in submitting to Browere's process for
obtaining a fac-simile of one of the ugliest faces in the city. He rode
this hobby some time with considerable complacency; and covered his
library walls with pictures christened after the names of all the most
celebrated masters of the three great schools. One day a foreign
connoisseur came to see his collection; and on going away, made Roeliff
the happiest of men, by assuring him he had not the least doubt his
pictures were genuine, since they had all the faults of all the great
masters in the highest perfection. "It is of no consequence," thought
Roeliff, "how bad they are, provided they are only originals."
But to a man without taste the cultivation of the fine arts soon
loses its relish. Affectation is but short-lived in its enjoyments, and
the gratification of one vanity creates only a vacuum for the cravings
of another. Roeliff was again becalmed for want of some excitement, and
the tinman, unfortunately, removed to a distant part of the city,
leaving, as it were, a dreadful noiseless solitude behind him. At this
critical period, his favourite nephew, an eminent supercargo, who had
made the tour of Europe, returned like most of the touring young
gentlemen, who go abroad to acquire taste and whiskers, with a
devouring passion for music. He had heard Paganini, and that was enough
to put any man in his senses out of them, in the quavering of a
demi-semi-quaver. Under the tuition of the regenerated man, Roeliff
soon became music-mad. He subscribed to musical soirées; to musical
importations from Italy; to private musical parties, held in a public
room, in the presence of several hundred strangers; and enjoyed the
treat with such a zest, that it is affirmed he was actually more than
once roused from a profound sleep, by the crashes at the end of some of
the grand overtures. "Bless me! how exquisite! it puts me in mind of
the tinman's shop," would he exclaim, yawning at the same time like the
mouth of the great Kentucky cavern.
One summer came—the trying season for people of fashion and
sensibility, and the favourite one of Roeliff, who could then sit at
the open windows, and enjoy the excitement of noise, dust, and
confusion, to the utmost degree possible, in the paradise of Broadway,
just as our southern visiters do. But it is time to say something of
Mrs. Orendorf, who had a great deal to say for herself, when occasion
called for the exercise of her eloquence. About this time she made the
discovery, that though she had spent every summer of her life in the
city, for more than forty years, without falling a victim to the heat
and the bad air, it was quite impossible to do so any longer. In short,
the mania of travelling had seized her violently, and honest Roeliff
was at length wrought upon to compromise matters with her. Mrs. Roeliff
hinted strongly at a trip to Paris, but it would not do. In the first
place, he considered his wife a beauty, as she really had been twenty
years before; and felt some apprehensions she might be run away with by
a French marquis. In the second place, he could not bear the idea of
parting for so long a time from the music and dust of Broadway; and in
the third place, he had some rational doubts whether he should cut any
considerable figure in the saloons of Paris. Mrs. Orendorf, however,
insisted on going abroad somewhere, and the worthy gentleman proposed
Canada. The lady, on being assured that Canada was actually a foreign
country, assented to the arrangement; and it was determined that they
should stop a few days at the Springs, on their way to foreign parts.
Accordingly, Mrs. Orendorf, and her only daughter, Minerva, went forth
into the milliners' shops to array themselves gorgeously for the
approaching campaign. It was settled that the travelled supercargo, for
whom Roeliff entertained an astonishing respect, and in whose favour he
had conceived a plan which will be developed in good time, should go
with him, as Minerva's beau. Young Dibdill, so he was called, abhorred
such notorious things as a family party; and was at first inclined, as
he declared, to "cut the whole concern;" but as Minerva was a very
pretty girl, and an heiress besides, he at length made up his mind to
be bored to death, and accorded his consent, with the air of a person
conferring a great favour.
That our travelled readers may not turn up their noses at Mr. Julius
Dibdill for such a barbarous dereliction of the dignity of his caste,
we will describe our heroine, before we proceed with our legend. She
had a beautiful little face, rather pale, and reflecting—a beautiful
little figure, round, and finely formed—a beautiful little foot and
hand—and the most beautiful little pocket ever worn by woman. It held
two plums,—for be it known that Roeliff Orendorf had but this only
child, and she was heiress to all he had in the world. She was,
moreover, accomplished, for she danced, sung, dressed, and walked
according to the best models; and what is greatly to her credit, though
rich, handsome, and admired, she was not more than half-spoiled. It is
not to be denied that she was a little sophisticated, a little
affected, and a little too fond of the looking-glass and the milliners'
shops; but there was at bottom a foundation of good sense, good
feeling, and pure sensibility, which, it was obvious to an attentive
observer, would, under happy auspices, in good time, redeem her from
all these little foibles.
Minerva, though scarcely eighteen, had many admirers, and might have
had many more, had it not been for her unfortunate name, which put the
young gentlemen in mind of the goddess of wisdom; and kept some of them
at an awful distance. Among these admirers were two who claimed and
received particular preference in different ways—her cousin Julius
she despised more than any other, and Reuben Rossmore she cherished
above all the rest in her heart. Yet, strange to tell, she preferred a
walk in Broadway at noon with Julius, before one with Reuben; and a
walk with Reuben on the Battery of a moonlight evening, to one with her
cousin Julius. Would you know the reason of this odd inconsistency?
Julius was one of the best dressed and most fashionable young men in
the city. He smuggled all his clothes from London and Paris by means of
a friend in one of the packets. Whereas Reuben was generally about
twelve hours behind the march of improvement in his dress, and wanted
that indispensable requisite of a modern Adonis, a muzzle à la Bison
. So far as nature's workmanship went, Reuben was Apollo to a satyr,
when compared with Julius; but the tailor cast his thimble, his shears,
and his goose into the scale, and restored the balance in favour of the
latter. Not one of the charming divinities who emulate the waddle of a
duck in their walk, and the celebrated Venus de Monomotapa in
their figures, but envied Minerva, when escorted by Julius; yet not a
single one of them all would have cared, had she walked from Dan to
Beersheba, and back again, with Reuben Rossmore. Such is the influence
of the example of others on the heart of a young girl, that our heroine
sometimes would turn a corner when she saw Reuben coming, while she
always met Julius with smiling welcome, or at least something that
answered the purpose just as well. To sum up all in one word, Julius
was most welcome in public, Reuben in private.
"She is ashamed of me," said Reuben to himself, when he sometimes
thought she wished to avoid him in Broadway; and he would refrain from
visiting her for several days. But when at length he overcame his
feelings, and went to see her, the manner of her reception in the quiet
parlour of the worthy Roeliff banished these throes of pride, and he
forgot his suspicions in the joy of a smiling unaffected welcome.
It was on the 29th of June, 1828, that the party, consisting of
Roeliff, his lady, daughter, and nephew, two servants, six trunks, and
eight bandboxes, embarked in the steamboat for Albany. Minerva
recommended the safety-barge, on account of the total absence of all
danger, and the quiet which reigns in these delightful conveyances. But
Roeliff hated quiet, and loved his money, and, on Mrs. Orendorf
observing the fare was much higher than in the other boats, like honest
"Childe Roeliff kissed his loving wife, O'erjoy'd was he to find,
That though on pleasure she was bent, She had a frugal mind."
So they embarked on board one of the fast boats, and away they went
up the river as swift as the wind. It ought to have been stated before,
but it is not too late to do it now, that young Rossmore had more than
once hinted his desire to accompany them; yet though somewhat of a
favourite with the whole party, except Julius, who disliked him from an
instinctive perception of his superiority, somehow or another it so
happened that no one thought of giving him an invitation. He however
accompanied them to the boat; and Minerva, at parting, could not help
saying, as she gave him a hand as soft and white as the fleecy snow
before it becomes contaminated by touching the dirty earth, accompanied
by a smile like that of Aurora, when, in the charming month of June,
she leads the rosy hours over the high eastern hills, diffusing light,
and warmth, and gladness over the face of nature,—
"I hope we shall meet you in the course of our journey."
The last bell rung—the cry of "Ashore! ashore!" was heard fore and
aft the vessel, which lay champing the bit, as it were, like an
impatient race-horse; and heaving back and forth in a sort of
convulsive effort to be free. Reuben jumped on the wharf—the word was
given, the fasts let go, and as if by magic she glided off, first
slowly, then swifter and swifter, until the wharves, the streets, the
whole city seemed scampering behind and gradually disappearing like the
shadows of a misty morning. For some reason or other, Minerva turned
her head towards the receding city, and to the last saw Reuben standing
at the end of the wharf, watching the progress of the enchanted barke
that bore her away.
This was the first time our heroine had set forth to see the world,
and of consequence, her imagination had never been blighted by the
disappointment of those glowing anticipations with which the fancy of
untried and inexperienced youth gilds the yet unexplored terra
incognita. Her head was full of unknown beauties that were to spring up
under her feet and greet her at every step; and of strange and novel
scenes and adventures, of which as yet she could form no definite
conception. The novelty of the steamboat, the swiftness of its motion,
and the quick succession of beautiful scenery on either shore of the
river, for awhile delighted her beyond expression; but she was
mortified to find by degrees, that the monotony of motion, the heat of
the weather, increased by the effusion of so much scalding steam and
greasy vapour from the machinery, gradually produced an irksome and
impatient feeling, a peevish wish to arrive at Albany. The confined air
of the cabin, the crowd, the clattering of plates, knives, forks; the
impatient bawlings of "waiter! boy!" from hungry passengers, all
combined, took away her appetite, and gave her a headache, so that by
the time they arrived at the hotel in Albany, she was glad to retire to
her chamber, and seek that balmy rest she had hitherto enjoyed at her
quiet home. But in this she was sorely disappointed. The hurly-burly of
the house, which lasted till long after midnight—and the arrival and
departure of stages just about the dawn of day; together with that odd
feeling which is experienced by persons who go from home for the first
time, of occupying a strange bed, banished sleep from her pillow, and
she arose languid and unrefreshed. And thus ended the first lesson.
Childe Roeliff would gladly have sojourned a day or two in Albany.
It was the city of his ancestors, one of whom had emigrated to
New-York, in high dudgeon at beholding the progress of that pestilent
practice of building houses with the broadside in front, instead of the
gable-end, as had been the custom from time immemorial. He was moreover
smitten with admiration of the noise and hurly-burly of the hotel,
which reminded him of his old favourite place of resort, the tinman's
shop. But Mrs. Orendorf was impatient to reach the Springs, and
Minerva, besides some little stimulus of the same kind, longed to get
clear of the racket which surrounded her. As to friend Julius, he had
explored the larder of the hotel, and carried his researches into the
kitchen; there was nothing but commonplace materials in the one, and no
French cook in the other. He was therefore ready to turn his back upon
Albany at a moment's warning. Accordingly they departed immediately
after dinner, and proceeded on their way to Saratoga. The bill made
Roeliff look rather blue, but he was too much of a man of spirit to
demur, though there was a certain bottle of chateaux margaux,
which squire Julius had called for, the price of which was above
The ostensible object of our travellers was to explore and admire
the beauties of the country; but somehow or other they travelled so
fast all day, and were so tired when night came, that they scarcely saw
any thing except from the carriage, on their way to the Springs, which
they reached rather late in the evening. A great piece of good fortune
befell them on their arrival. A large party had left Congress Hall in
the afternoon, and they were consequently enabled to obtain excellent
rooms at that grand resort of beauty and fashion. That very evening
they had a ball, and Minerva was dragged to it by her mother, though
she would not have been able to keep herself awake, had it not been for
her astonishment at seeing some of the elderly married ladies dance the
waltz and gallopade. Julius was in his element, and created a
sensation, by the exuberance of his small-talk and whiskers. Indeed, he
was so much admired that Minerva was almost inclined to doubt her
understanding, as well as her experience, both which had long since
pronounced him a heartless, headless coxcomb. Two fashionable married
ladies at once took him under their patronage, and Childe Roeliff was
sometimes so much annoyed at his neglect of his daughter, that he said
to himself, in the bitterness of his heart, "I wonder what business
married women have with young beaux? In my time it was considered very
improper." Poor man, he forgot that he was but lately initiated into
high life, and that the march of intellect had been like that of a
comet since his time, as he called it.
Minerva was at first astonished, then amused, and then delighted
with the noisy, easy system of flirtation at that time in vogue at
Congress Hall. In the course of a few days,—such is the influence of
example on the mind of a young inexperienced female,—she lost all
that feeling of delicate shyness, which is so apt to embarrass a timid,
high-souled, intellectual girl, in her first outset in life; she could
run across a room, bounce into a chair, talk loud and long, and quiz
people nobody knew, just as well, and with as little of that exploded
vulgarism called, if I recollect aright, blushing, as either Mrs.
Asheputtle or Mrs. Dowdykin, both of whom had made the "grand tower,
" as their husbands took care to inform everybody; and had learned the
true Parisian pronunciation, from a French fille-de-chambre of the
first pretensions. These two lady patronesses of Congress Hall took our
heroine under their special protection, and Mrs. Orendorf affirmed she
could see a great improvement in her every day. "I declare," said she
to Roeliff, "I do think Minerva could talk to six gentlemen all at
once, and even dance the gallopade with a man she never saw before,
without being in the least frightened."—"So much the worse," said the
Childe. "In my time a young woman could not say boo to a goose in a
strange company, without your hearing her heart beat all the
while."—"So much the worse," said Mrs. Roeliff, "what is a woman good
for if she can't talk, I wonder."—"I don't know," said the Childe,
"except it be to make puddings and mend stockings."—"I wish to heaven
you'd mend your manners," cried Mrs. Roeliff; and thus the conference
ended, as it generally does in these cases, with a mutual conviction in
the mind of each that the other was a most unreasonable person.
Nothing, in fact, reconciled Roeliff to the Springs, except the
inspiring racket of the drawing-room of Congress Hall, which he
declared put him always in mind of the tinman's shop. The following
letters were written by Minerva and her cousin Julius, about a week
after their arrival at Saratoga Springs.
To Miss Juliana Grantland, New-York.
"My dear Juliana:—
"I am quite delighted with this place, now that I have got over that
bad habit of blushing and trembling, which Mrs. Asheputtle assures me
is highly indecent and unbecoming. She says it is a sign of a bad
conscience and wicked thoughts, when the blood rushes into the face. I
wish you knew Mrs. Asheputtle. She has been all over Europe, and seen
several kings of the old dynasties, who, she says, were much more
difficult to come at than the new ones, who are so much afraid of the
canaille, that they are civil to everybody. Only think, how vulgar.
Mrs. Asheputtle says, that she knew several men with titles; and that
she is sure, if she had not been unfortunately married before, she
might have been the wife of the Marquis of Tëte dc Veau. The
marquis was terribly disappointed when he found she had a husband
already; but they made amends by forming a Platonic attachment, which
means— I don't know really what it means—for Mrs. Asheputtle, it
seemed to me, could not tell herself. All I know is, that it must be a
delightful thing, and I long to try it, when I am married—for Mrs.
Asheputtle says it won't do for a single lady. What can it be, I wonder?
"You can't think how delightful it is here. The company is so
fashionable. I had almost said genteel. But fashion and gentility are
quite opposite things, as I have learned since I came. At least,
fashion is very opposite to what my ideas of genteel used to be at
home. There it was thought genteel, among the humdrum people that
visited at our house, to speak in a gentle subdued tone of voice; to
move, if one moved at all, without hurry or noise; to refrain from
talking with one's mouth full of sweetmeats; to give the floor to
others after dancing a cotillon; not to interrupt any one in speaking;
and above all not to talk all together, and as loud as possible. But
here, my dear Juliana, every thing is different. Everybody talks at
once, and as loud as they can, which is very natural and proper, you
know, or how could they make themselves heard? Nothing is more common
than to see them run from one end of the long-room to the other, and
flounce into a chair, as in the game of puss in a corner. And it does
seem to me that when the young ladies get a place in a cotillon, or
waltz, for cotillons are vulgar, they don't know when to sit down. I
must tell you an odd thing that made me laugh the other night. Julius
was dancing the waltz with Mrs. Asheputtle, and their faces somehow
came so close together that his whiskers tickled her nose, and set her
sneezing, so that she was obliged to sit down. We are so musical here,
you can't think; and have private concerts, where the young ladies sing
before two or three hundred people. I was foolish enough to be
persuaded one night to sing, or rather attempt to sing, `Thou art gone
awa frae me, Mary,' but my heart beat so I could not raise a note, and
I was obliged to leave the piano, mortified almost to death, to think I
had exposed myself before so many people. Mrs. Asheputtle lectured me
finely, declaring she was ashamed to see a young lady, who had been
under her tuition more than a week, blushing and panting like a
miserable innocent. My mother too was very angry, and scolded me for my
want of breeding. But I was a little comforted by overhearing a
gentleman, who is looked up to by everybody here, on account of his
sense and learning, say to another, `It is quite a treat now-a-days to
see any thing like feminine timidity. The ladies of the present day
have the nerves of the Nemean lion, and are afraid of nothing but
spiders. For my part, I had rather have seen that pretty little girl
shrink from this public exhibition, than hear Pasta sing her best.
However, if I know the lady who has taken her under her tuition, it
will not be long before she is able to sing at a theatre, or in a
"When I could muster courage to look up, and round about me, who
should I see but Reuben Rossmore, standing close at my side, any eying
me with such a look of affectionate kindness, that I could have fairly
cried, if I had not been ashamed. He spoke to me in a voice, too, that
went to my heart, and I should have been happy again, if I had not seen
Mrs. Asheputtle looking at Reuben, and giggling. `Lord, my dear,'
whispered she, coming up close to my ear, `Lord, who is that you shook
hands with just now. I never saw such a barbarian, to come here with
such a coat as that; why, I believe it was made before the flood. I'll
tell you what, my dear, if you don't cut that coat, which was certainly
cut by Noah's tailor, I shall cut you, and so will all your fashionable
acquaintance.' I could not stand this, so I turned away from Reuben,
and pretended not to notice he was near me, or to hear what he said. In
a little while he left me, and I saw him no more that evening. I felt
my heart sink at his leaving me, though it was my own fault; and was
standing by myself, thinking whether he would come again, when I was
addressed by the gentleman who made the speech about my singing, or
rather my not singing. He beguiled me into a conversation, such as I
have not heard since I came; and that so charmingly, that in a little
while I forgot my mortified feelings, and chatted away with him, with
as little effort or timidity as if I had been talking to my father. He
spoke of the beauties of a ride he had taken to Lake George, a day or
two before, by the way of Jesup's Landing; and described it in such
unaffected, yet rich language, that I was drawn completely out of the
scene before me, into rural shades, among rugged rocks, and murmuring
waters, and roaring cascades. He seemed pleased with my replies, or
rather, I believe, with the deep attention I paid him; and when called
away by my mother, I heard him say to his friend,—
" `A charming little girl: it is a great pity she has fallen into
such bad company.'
" `Bad company!' replied the other, `is it not highly fashionable?'
" `Doubtless, but not the less dangerous to a young and
inexperienced girl on that account. People who aspire to lead the ton
are not always the best bred; and the union of fashion and vulgarity
is not uncommon. A hoydenish familiarity is often mistaken for graceful
ease; loud talking and boisterous laughter for wit and vivacity; a
total disregard to the feelings of supposed inferiors for a lofty sense
of superiority; affectation for grace, and swaggering impudence for the
"I have since had several conversations with Mr. Seabright—that is
his name,—who sometimes puts me out of conceit with Mrs. Asheputtle
and her set. He seems to single me out; and though the other young
ladies affect to laugh at my conquest of the old bachelor, I can see
very well they all consider his notice an honour. Mr. Seabright and
Reuben have formed an acquaintance, and take long rides and walks
" `That is a young man of merit as well as talents, Miss Orendorf,'
said he, this morning, `very different from the common run.'
"I believe I blushed—I am sure I felt my heart beat at this praise
of Reuben. I wish to heaven he would change his tailor.
"My father begins to get tired of this place; and as for myself,
notwithstanding the excitement of talking, flirting, waltzing,
gallopading, and dressing, I sometimes catch myself getting tired too,
and last night yawned in the face of Mrs. Asheputtle as she was
describing a Platonic walk by moonlight on the Lake of Geneva with the
Marquis of Tête de Veau. I fancy she is rather cool since. Since
talking with Mr. Seabright I feel my taste for rural seenes reviving,
and have persuaded my father to go to Lake George to-morrow, by the way
of Jesup's Landing. Mamma seems rather inclined to stay a few days
longer, though I don't know why, for Mrs. Asheputtle laughs at her
before my face; and I blush to tell you that I have almost lost the
spirit to resent it. Nay, I will confess to you, Juliana, that I have
more than once caught myself being ashamed of my kind good parents,
because they are ignorant of certain factitious nothings, as Mr.
Seabright calls them, which are supposed to constitute good breeding.
My cousin Julius don't seem much pleased with the idea of leaving Mrs.
Asheputtle, with whom he has formed a Platonic attachment; for you must
know, though fashionable women can have but one husband at a time, they
may have as many Platonics as they please. However, he is to accompany
us, and seems to think we ought to be grateful for the sacrifice. For
my part, I had just as soon he would stay where he is; for though I
like to be gallanted by him in public, between ourselves, Juliana, he
is the most stupid man in private you ever knew. Adieu, I will write
"Yours, ever, "Minerva Orendorf.
"P.S.—I am so pleased! You must know there has been a little
coolness between Reuben and me— about—about his coat, I believe.
But it so happened, that my father was in such a good humour at the
prospect of getting away from this place at last, that in the fulness
of his heart he has invited Reuben to be of the party to Lake George.
Reuben pretended to make some excuses, but I could see his eyes sparkle
brighter than ever, and he soon got over his scruples. If I don't fit
him for this I'm no woman."
The same post carried the following letter from Mr. Julius Dibdill
to his friend Count Rumpel Stiltskin, a distinguished foreigner, and
"My dear Count,
"One of the great disadvantages of foreign travel is, that it unfits
one for the enjoyment of any thing in one's own country, particularly
when that country is so every way inferior to the old world. It is
truly a great misfortune for a man to have too much taste and
refinement. I feel this truth every day of my life; and could almost
find in my heart to regret the acquirement of habits and
accomplishments that almost disqualify me for a citizen of this vulgar
republic, which, I am sorry to perceive, seems in a fair way of
debauching the whole world with her pernicious example of liberty and
equality. If it were not for Delmonico and Palmo, the musical soirees,
and a few other matters, I should be the most miserable man in the
world. Would you believe it, my dear count, there is not a silver fork
to be seen in all the hotels between New-York and Saratoga? And yet the
people pretend to be civilized!
"I will acquaint you with my reasons for submitting to the martyrdom
of beauing my cousin to this place. My uncle, whose wealth, and nothing
else, redeems him from utter and irretrievable condemnation in my eyes,
has hinted to me, that if I can make myself agreeable to the goddess
Minerva, he will come down handsomely on the happy day, and leave us
all he has in his will. I thought I might possibly make my courtship
endurable by mixing it up with a little filtration with the dames at
the Springs. By-the-way, count, almost the only improvement I have
observed in this country since I first left it, is in the well-bred
married ladies, who begin to relish the European fashion of encouraging
young gentlemen in a little harmless filtration wonderfully. It is one
of the highest proofs of the progress of refinement among these
barbarians, that can be conceived.
"Travelling in the steamboat is detestable. The same vile system of
equality which pervades all this horrible country, where no respect is
paid to the aristocracy, reigns in all its glory in these abominable
inventions of republican genius. At breakfast I sat next a fellow who
actually put his knife in his mouth with a bushel of potatoes on it;
loaded his plate with contributions from all parts of the table at
once; bawled out `boy!' to the waiters five hundred times, with his
mouth full of the produce of the four quarters of the globe; and
concluded his trencher feats by upsetting a cup of moderate hot coffee
right into my lap. The gormandizing cyclop made me an apology, it is
true; but I make a point now of understanding nothing but French and
Italian, and looked at the monster with an air of perfect ignorance of
what he was pleased to say. `He is a foreigner, I believe,' said the
cyclop to his friend. And I forgave him the coffee, on the score of a
mistake so highly complimentary.
"At Albany, where we spent a night, it is sufficient to say that
they affected great state at the hotel; with what success you may
conjecture, when I tell you there was neither French cookery nor silver
forks. Mine honoured uncle and predestined father-in-law was hugely
delighted, however, with his entertainment; and he and the jolly
landlord cracked jokes in a style of the most abominable republican
equality; or rather, I should say, the landlord joked, and my uncle
laughed, having never attempted a joke, I believe, since the old
"I find this place more tolerable, notwithstanding the absence of
the summum bonum—an accomplished travelled cook. They are
musical here; the amateurs officiate and keep time, like the two
buckets of a well,— one up, the other down. But this is neither here
nor there—it is fashionable abroad—and whatever is fashionable is
worthy the attention of fashionable people. My intended was one night
persuaded, or rather commanded, by her mother, to attempt a horrible
ballad; and, awful to relate, such was her vulgar timidity that she
faltered, panted, and was obliged to give it up at the conclusion of
the first verse. What under heaven shall I do with such a woman? I
shall positively take her abroad and shut her up in a nunnery.
"We have also the waltz, the gallopade, and the exquisite
mazourka—each more delightful than the other. Nothing in the world is
better calculated to dissipate that vulgar awkwardness which is so apt
to subsist among strange men and women, accidentally thrown together,
than these highly sociable dances, which break down all ceremony and
introduce the greatest strangers, as it were, into each other's arms.
The first night of my arrival I singled out the most dashing of the
married ladies, a Mrs. Asheputtle, who has travelled: we danced the
gallopade, and were as intimate as if we had been hatched in the same
dovecot. She is a charming, spirited being, who has travelled to the
greatest advantage; is perfectly aware of the innocence of flirtation;
admires young fellows of spirit; and has a sovereign contempt for her
husband. What excellent materials for a Platonic arrangement are here
met together in one person. I foresee we shall be the best friends in
the world; or rather, we are already so much so that some of the vulgar
begin to look significantly and whisper knowingly on the matter. This
is delightful, and gives such a zest to flirtation you know. For my
part, I would not care for Venus herself, except we could conjure up a
little wonder among these republicans.
"Mine uncle, the execrable Roeliff Orendorf, has just announced his
determination to leave this to-morrow for Lake George, where the ladies
are to banquet on the picturesque, and the said Roeliff on black bass.
But I—I who have seen the Lago Maggiore, and the Isola Bella—I who
have sailed in a gondola on a Venetian canal—I who have eaten of
maccaroni and Vermicelli soup, concocted by an Italian artist in the
very air of Italy—and I who have luxuriated at the Café Hardy on
turbot à la crème et au gratin—I to be bamboozled into admiration
or ecstasy by Lake George and its black bass!—forbid it, Hamel
Frères; forbid it, immortal Corcellet; and forbid it, heaven! But the
fiat is gone forth, and we depart to-morrow by a new route, which has
been recommended by one Seabright, a quiz, who pretends to taste and
all that, though, so far as I can learn, he has never been outside
Sandy Hook in his life. He has talked a great deal to the goddess
Minerva, and, I dare say, persuaded her she came full formed from the
brain of Jove; for though she treats me with attention in public, I
must confess to thee, count, that in private it is exactly otherwise. I
sometimes suspect a horrid monster by the name of Reuben Rossmore, who
has made his appearance here, and was a beau of hers in New-York. Could
I conceive the possibility of a woman who has been accustomed to the
cut of my coat for months past, enduring the abstract idea of a man
wearing a garment like that of Master Reuben, I should be inclined to a
little jealousy. But the thing is impossible. Why, count, the coat was,
beyond all doubt, contrived at least six months ago, and must have been
perpetrated by the tailor of King Stephen, whose inexpressibles, you
may chance to recollect—for you sometimes pretend to read Shakspeare
to please John Bull—coset xactly half a crown. I am therefore
compelled to believe that she entertains this monstrous oddity for the
truly feminine purpose of spurring me on through the medium of a little
jealousy to a premature disclosure of my intentions, and a direct
offer of my hand. Jealous!—I, that—but the thing is too ridiculous.
"However this may be, I intend to propose shortly, for I can't keep
up the farce of courtship and attention much longer. When I am married,
you know, it will be in the highest degree vulgar to be civil to her. I
shall be a free man then, and hey for Mrs. Asheputtle and the
gallopade. I do therefore purpose to take the first opportunity in the
course of this diabolical tour, when the moon shines, the stars
twinkle, the zephyr whispers, and the very leaves breathe soft
aspirations of love, to declare myself to the goddess Minerva, who, if
she refuses me, must be more or less than woman. Then shall we be
married—then shall I be free— then will that detestable and vulgar
old man, mine uncle Roeliff, come down with the shiners—then shall
we, or rather I, Julius Dibdill, cut a sublime caper— then will the
wicked old man and woman, yclept my father and mother-in-law, go the
way of all flesh—and then shall I be worth two plums at least.
Glorious anticipation! and certain as glorious.
"Thine assuredly and ever, "Julius Dibdill.
"P.S.—I have just learned that the man in the antediluvian coat is
invited to join our party. So much the better; I shall have somebody to
take the goddess Minerva off my hands and study the picturesque with
her. But the divine Asheputtle is abroad—she looks up at my
window—she smiles—she beckons! Away goes my pen, and I bequeath
mine inkstand to the d—l: videlicet, the printer's devil."
The morning shone bright, and "all nature smiled in dewy tears," as
the great bard Whipsyllabub saith, when our party set forth on their
way to Lake George. Following the advice of Seabright, who intimated a
possibility of his joining them at the lake, they chose a route not
generally followed, and not laid down in any of the books. It led them
through a fine fruitful and picturesque country, the inspiration of
which affected the party in various ways. Minerva and Reuben pointed
out with sympathetic delight the little clear rivulets that meandered
throught the meadows, crossing the road back and forth in their devious
windings—the rich fields of golden grain in which the happy
husbandman was now reaping the harvest of his autumn and spring
labours; and the distant waving mountains that marked the vicinity of
the beautiful Hudson—beautiful in all its course, from its departure
from the little parent lake to its entrance into the boundless ocean.
Julius took no note of the country, except that when occasionally
called upon to admire, he would lug in a comparison with some scenery
on the Rhine, the Lake of Geneva, or the like, intimating something
like pity of those unlucky wights who never had an opportunity of
seeing them, and who could admire the homely charms of an American
landscape. Mrs. Orendorf did nothing but talk about what a charming
place they had just left, and what a charming woman was Mrs.
Asheputtle; and Childe Roeliff, having made two or three desperate
efforts to resist the inroads of the enemy, and keep his eyes open,
fell fast asleep. Happy is he who can thus at will shut out the world,
evade the tediousness of time, and, as it were, annihilate that awful
vacuum which intervenes between the great epochs of the day—to wit,
breakfast, dinner, and supper.
About midday they came in sight of Jesup's Landing, as it is called,
a little village close to the banks of the Hudson, which here presents
a scene of exquisite beauty. The river is scarcely half a quarter of a
mile wide, and seems to sleep between its banks, one of which rises
into irregular hills, bounded in the distance by lofty mountains, the
other is a velvet carpet, just spread above the surface of the stream,
and running back to the foot of a range of round full-bosomed hills,
that are succeeded by a range of rugged cliffs. Several little streams
abounding in trout, and as clear as crystal, meander through these
meadows, fringed with alders and shrubs of various kinds, wild flowers,
and vines; and here and there a copse of lofty trees. The little
village consisted of a few comfortable houses, scattered along the
right bank of the river, and extending perhaps a quarter of a mile. At
sight of this charming scene Reuben and Minerva exchanged looks of
mutual pleasure, indicating that sympathy of taste and feeling which
forms one of those imperceptible ties which finally bind two hearts
together, and constitute the basis of the purest species of youthful
love. There was nobody present to call in question the orthodoxy of
Reuben's coat; no coterie of fashion to make Minerva ashamed of so
unfashionable a beau, and she resigned herself gently into that respect
and admiration which his goodness of heart, his natural talents, and
extensive acquirements merited, and which nothing but the fear of being
laughed at could repress in her bosom.
It was decided that they should take dinner at a neat comfortable
inn, the names of whose owners we would certainly immortalize in this
our story, did we chance to recollect them. But as there is but one
public house in the village, the traveller, who we hope may be tempted
to visit this scene, when peradventure he shall peruse the adventures
of the good Childe Roeliff, cannot well mistake the house. While dinner
was preparing Minerva proposed a walk, for the purpose of viewing a
fall distant about half a mile, which Mr. Seabright had excited her
curiosity to see. The old folks were too tired; and Julius had seen the
cascade of Lauterbrunn, and a dozen besides, in foreign parts, so there
was no use in his going to visit one that by no possibility could be
supposed equal to these. Minerva and Reuben therefore set out together,
after being enjoined by the old gentleman not to keep them waiting
dinner. Julius, in the mean time, meditated a scrutiny into the
kitchen, to see into the flesh-pots of Egypt.
After proceeding over a high ridge which hid the river from their
view, the road suddenly turned to the left down a steep hill, and they
beheld the river raging in violent whirlpools, covered with foam, and
darting through its narrow channel with noisy vehemence. A few houses,
and a sawmill lay far beneath them, scattered among rocks and little
gardens, where the sunflower paid its homage to the god of its
idolatry, and the cabbage grew in luxuriant and chubby rotundity.
Descending the hill, they hegan to notice the white spray rising above
the tops of the pine-trees which crowned the perpendicular cliff on the
opposite side of the river, and gradually the roar of the torrent
strengthened into sublimity. At length they turned the corner of the
mill, and beheld one of the finest scenes to be found in a state
abounding in the beautiful and sublime of nature.
Minerva had taken the arm of the young man in descending the hill,
and she continued to lean on it, with a more perceptible pressure, as
they stood, in the silence of strong emotion, gazing at the scene
before them. Perhaps we should have said Minerva stood gazing at the
scene—for it is due to the strict accuracy we mean to preserve
throughout our progress, to state that Reuben, after glancing at the
fall, happened to cast his eye upon the damsel leaning on his arm, and
pressing unconsciously against him in thrilling admiration, mixed with
apprehension of the tremendous uproar of the waters, which shook the
earth at their feet. He there beheld a countenance so beautiful, yet so
apparently unconscious of beauty, so lighted up with feeling,
intelligence, and delight, that for some moments he forgot the charms
of inanimate nature in the contemplation of a rarer masterpiece. As he
stood thus gazing in her face, their eyes happened to meet, and the
rose was never in the dewy spring morning decked with such a tint as
spread, like the Aurora Borealis, over the mild heaven of her
countenance. We will not affirm that Reuben blushed too, for that might
bring him into disgrace with some of our fashionable readers. But we
can affirm that his pulse beat in such a style that if the doctor had
been called in, he would certainly have pronounced him in a high fever.
Recovering herself in a few moments, Minerva said, with the prettiest
affectation of petulance imaginable,—
"Pray, young gentleman, did you come here to see the fall or not?"
"I did," said Reuben, somewhat surprised.
"Then I wish you would take the trouble to look at it a little. I
never before suspected you of being insensible to the beauties of
He took out his pencil—it was a self-sharpening one,—and wrote a
few verses which he presented her. They turned upon the superiority of
the charms of woman, embellished with gentleness, beauty, intellect,
tenderness, sympathy, and, above all, an immortal soul, over all other
triumphs of creative power. We would insert them here, but Minerva
always declared she threw the manuscript into the torrent.
"What nonsense!" exclaimed she, after reading it; and there is every
reason to believe she was affronted at being thus put in comparison
with a waterfall. But, somehow or other, she still held his arm while
they staid at the foot of the torrent, and until they reached the inn.
Nay, she held it while they mounted the steps, and after they entered
the dining-room, when Mrs. Orendorf observed, rather significantly,
"Minerva, can't you stand alone?"
Minerva started, let go the arm, and ran up-stairs; for what
purpose is a mystery to this day: perhaps it was because she wanted to
convince the old lady she could stand alone. Master Julius listened to
the account of their excursion with astonishing apathy; but was
actually inspired to rub his hands in ecstasy, by the sight of a fine
dish of trout, which, for the time being, banished the recollection of
turbot à la crème et au gratin.
Nothing on earth can exceed the beauty of the scenery from Jesup's
Landing to Hadley's Falls, of a fine summer afternoon; and the party,
at least two of them, enjoyed it with all the zest of youthful feeling
awakened into admiration of every thing delightful, by the new-born
excitement of that universal passion which in its first dawnings
communicates a charm to every thing we hear, every thing we see, every
thing we enjoy. The youthful lover, ere his hopes are poisoned by
jealousy and doubt, feels a glow about his heart, an elasticity of
spirit, a capacity for enjoyment he never knew before. Solitude
acquires a new charm, for his fancy has now an object of perpetual
contemplation, which is everywhere its associate, and with which his
spirit holds converse absent as well as present. He imagines every
thing grateful and endearing to his heart; creates a thousand occasions
of innocent gratification; conjures up smiles, blushes, and glances
more eloquent than words; the present is happiness, the future
enchanting; and this fretful world the garden of Eden, inhabited by one
more blooming, beautiful, and pure than the mother of mankind at the
first moment of her creation, ere the serpent whispered his first
temptations, and the first transgression stained the virgin earth.
Such, or something like these, were the feelings of Minerva and Reuben,
as they stole a few minutes to ramble along the river to the mouth of a
little stream that joined it out of the meadows about a quarter of a
mile from the inn.
"Nothing is wanting to the beauty of this fairy scene," said the
"Yes," replied Minerva, "you have named the very thing wanting. It
is indeed a fairy scene, and could we only imagine it the occasional
haunt of these charming little folks, it would derive additional
interest and beauty from the association. I have been told that few, if
any, of the rivers of the ancient world are to be compared with this;
but they are ennobled by their nymphs, their river gods, and their
connexion with poetry, romance, and religion, while our pure and
beautiful streams have nothing but reality to recommend them. I
sometimes wish I could believe in the fairies."
"And so do I," answered Reuben. "I confess I often look back with
regret upon that happy period, before fancy became the slave of reason;
when the youthful imagination was filled with the unseen glories of
enchanted palaces; with spirits, fairies, and genii, guarding virtue,
punishing vice; alluring us to the practice of all the moral duties by
the most splendid rewards, and deterring us from the commission of
crimes by the most awakening punishments. I sympathize with the French
poet, when he complains that, `The fays and all are gone, Reason,
reason reigns alone; Every grace and charm is fled, All by dulness
banished. Thus we ponder slow and sad, After truth the world is mad;
Ah! believe me, error too Hath its charms nor small nor few.' "
The carriage now overtook them, and they proceeded on their journey
sitting side by side, now bowling along the level banks of the river,
crowned with trees, whose velvet foliage was reflected in the still,
pure water, with an inimitable softness and beauty; and now slowly
ascending the round green hills, which every moment opened to their
view new and distant landscapes—hills rising above hills, and ending
at last in blue mountains seeming to mingle with the skies. Little was
said by either, except in that language which all understand,— as an
unknown poet says,— The Indian maid at home Who makes the crystal
lake her looking-glass, As well as she that moves in courtly balls, And
sees in full-length mirrors scores of angels. They followed the
direction of each other's eyes in search of nature's masterpieces, or
looked into them and beheld them reflected as in the gliding river.
Master Julius Dibdill, having had the misfortune to be a great
traveller, saw nothing in the scenery to merit his attention; but he
saw something in these glances which he did not at all like. They spoke
a language which he comprehended perfectly, and he began to ponder
within himself that it was high time to come to an explanation; for,
incredible as it might seem, the antediluvian coat seemed in a fair way
to eclipse the whiskers, at least in these romantic solitudes.
"But I will wait till we arrive at Lake George, where I shall find
an assemblage of fashionable people, and resume my empire," thought he.
In the mean time he bestirred himself to make the agreeable; talked
about the musical soirées, the fashions, the great people, the cookery,
"and all that sort of thing." But these topics, it would seem, have no
enchantment out of the sphere of the drawing-room and fancy ball.
Within the magic circle of nature, among meadows, and streams, and
rocks, and mountains, and in the deep solitudes of the touching
melancholy woods, they hold no sway. The heart responds not to them,
and even echo disdains to reply from her sequestered hiding-place.
Minerva heard what he said, but she looked at the distant cascade of
Hadley, where the Hudson and the dark rolling Sacondaga come forth from
their empire in the woods, unite their waters, and quarrel away with
angry vehemence, until, becoming as it were reconciled to their
enforced marriage, they jog on quietly together like Darby and Joan,
till they mingle at last with that emblem of eternity, the vast,
unfathomable, endless ocean, which swallows up the waters of the
universe at one mighty gulp.
Crossing the river at Hadley, by a bridge hanging in the air
directly over the falls, the scene changed by degrees into a vast
mountainous forest of gloomy pines, destitute of cultivation, except
that here and there, at long intervals, the hand of man was indicated
by a little clear field, along some devious winding brook, groping its
way through the little valleys, and turning a sawmill, sore enemy to
the gigantic pines, and destructive to the primeval forests that have
braved the elements for ages past. The road was rough and rocky, and
the people they passed were few and far between; wild in their looks,
and wild in their attire. Still there was a romantic feeling of novelty
connected with the scene; it was a perfect contrast to that they had
just quitted; and there was a solemn and desolate wildness about it,
which partook of sublimity. Minerva and Reuben enjoyed it, for they
were studying the early and enchanting rudiments of a first love
together,— the good lady-mother complained sorely of the bruises she
sustained,—Childe Roeliff grumbled, and bitterly reviled the road
because it would not let him sleep,— while the accomplished Dibdill
whiled away the tedious hours, by every moment asking the driver how
far it was to Lake George, and expressing his impatience to get there.
The night set in ere they had cleared this wild district, and grew
exceedingly dark in consequence of the approach of a storm. The
lightning and thunder became frequent and appalling, while the
intervals were enveloped in tenfold darkness. The progress of the
carriage became necessarily so slow that the excellent Roeliff was at
length enabled to accommodate himself with a nap, from which not even
the thunder could rouse him. The horses, as is common on such
occasions, became dogged and obstinate, and at length came to a dead
stand. In the mean time the distant roaring of the woods announced that
the tempest was let loose, and approaching on the wings of the
The situation of the party became extremely unpleasant, and Minerva
unconsciously pressed against Reuben, as if for protection. The
expostulations of the driver with his team at length roused Childe
Roeliff from his sleep, who, on being made to comprehend the situation
of affairs, forthwith began to scold the unfortunate women, on whom he
laid all the blame. In the first place, it was his wife who urged him
on to travelling in foreign parts; and in the second, his daughter, who
proposed this route through the wilderness, or desert of Moravia, as he
termed it. What a capital thing it is to have some one to lay the blame
upon in times of tribulation! To be able to say to another, "It is all
your fault," is better in the eyes of some people than all the
consolations of philosophy.
The darkness, as we observed before, was intense in these gloomy
woods, and it became impossible to distinguish objects through the
void, except during the flashes of lightning. In this dilemma, they sat
consulting what was to be done, without coming to a determination,
occasionally appealing to the driver; who at length threw them into
despair by acknowledging that he feared he had deviated from the right
road in the darkness of the night.
"Is there a house near?" asked Reuben.
"If we are on the right track, there must be one somewhere
hereabouts, sir," replied the driver. "But the people who live in it
are not of the best character, they say."
A flash of lightning, that seemed to set the heavens and the earth
in a blaze, and quivered among the lofty trees, followed by a fearful
crash of thunder, interrupted this dialogue. As the explosion rolled
away, grumbling at a distance, the silence was interrupted by two or
three voices, exclaiming, close to the horses' heads,—
"Hollo! hollo! hollo! who are you?"
The ladies shrieked—Childe Roeliff was struck dumb, and Julius
began to think about bandits and brigands. Poor Minerva, frightened out
of all recollection of the dignity of the sex, actually seized Reuben's
hand, and held it fast, as if she feared he was going to run away.
"Hollo! hollo!—I say, who are you?" repeated the same rough voices.
"Travellers benighted in the woods," replied Reuben.
"Where do you come from?"
"Where are you going?"
"To Lake George."
"You'll not get there to-night I reckon."
"Why, how far is it?"
"Five miles, through the worst road in all York state."
"Is there any house near?"
"I suspect I live just nigh hand yonder. You have just passed
it.—We heard something queer like, and came out just to see what it
"Can you accommodate us for the night?"
"Can't I?—do you think I live in a hollow tree?"
"How far is it to your house?"
"Not a hundred yards yonder. There, you may see it now."
And by the flashes of lightning, they distinguished the house at a
"O don't let us go with these men!" whispered Minerva to Reuben.
"I dare say they are as rude and as wild as bears," mumbled Mrs.
"No doubt they are squatters." quoth the Childe.
"I can swear to them," said Julius, in an undertone of great
apprehension. "They talk and look just like banditti—and this is a
most capital place for murder. I wish I had brought my hair-triggers."
"Banditti!" screamed the old lady.
"Don't be alarmed," said Reuben. "There is no danger of banditti in
a happy and well-governed country."
"Why, hollo! I say, mister—are you going to light or not? We can't
stand all night here. I felt a drop of rain on my nose just now, and
hear the storm coming like fury down yonder. You are welcome to go or
stay, only make up your minds at once, or I'm off like a shot."
"We had better go with them," said Reuben. "If they had any mischief
in their heads, they could do it here better than anywhere else."
All finally assented to this proposition, warned by the increasing
whispers of the woods and the pattering of the rain that no time was to
The horses, who seemed conscious they had been driven past a place
of shelter, willingly suffered the nightwalkers to take them by the
reins and turn them round, and in less than a minute they drew up
before a house, at the door of which stood a woman with a light.
"Quick! quick! jump like lamplighters," exclaimed the master of the
house; "or in less than no time you'll be as wet as drowned rats."
The increasing rain and uproar warned them to follow this advice,
and the whole party, trunks, bandboxes, and all, were in a trice
received into the solitary mansion, which, to their dismay and
mortification, they found already occupied by a party of the most
questionable figures they had ever seen. It consisted of five or six of
what, in the common phrase of Brother Jonathan, are called
"hard-looking characters," seated on benches made of slabs, and
tippling whiskey in a pretty considerable fine style. They looked a
little queer at our travellers as they entered, but offered no rudeness
of speech or manner; and one of them, a native of the most gallant of
all countries, offered Minerva his seat on the slab with great
courtesy, considering he was dressed in a red flannel shirt, and had
forgotten his shoes somewhere or other.
The house in which accident had thus cast our travellers was
entirely new, or rather, we may affirm it was not above half-finished.
Of the vast superfluity of windows, only two were furnished with glass,
and the rest boarded up to keep out the weather. Half the room they
occupied was plastered, the other half lathed only, and every thing, in
fact, squared with the distinguishing characteristic of honest Brother
Jonathan, who of all people in the world excels in building big houses,
which he never finishes. The furniture was exceedingly "sparse," as the
western members of Congress say of the population of the new states:
there was a bed in one corner, in which lay ever so many little
white-headed rogues, who ever and anon popped up their polls to take a
sly look at the strangers. It was sufficiently clean, and the vanity of
woman peeped forth even in these wild regions, in the form of a coarse
cotton fringe, which hung like a fishing net from the ends of the
pillow-cases. There were only two chairs visible, the seats composed of
pieces of pine boards. Still nothing was slovenly, and every thing
about the place indicated, not the incurable poverty of an old country,
which neither toil nor industry can remedy, but that temporary absence
of conveniences, which opportunity had not yet permitted them to supply.
But to the ladies, and to Childe Roeliff, who for some years past
had been accustomed to the luxuries of a splendid establishment, all
this appeared the very quintessence of poverty and misery combined.
They looked round them with dismay, and to their view all seemed to
indicate that species of want and wretchedness which impels mankind to
the violation of social duties, and the perpetration of the deepest
crimes. They trembled for their lives, especially when they saw
suspended above the mantelpiece, and standing up in the corners, at
least half a dozen guns. Squire Julius, whose head was full of
banditti, observed these mortal weapons as well as the ladies, and gave
himself up for lost that night.
"This comes of family parties, and rides in search of the
picturesque. I shall never dance the gallopade again with the divine
Asheputtle, that's certain," thought he, as he glanced his eye upon the
harsh features, athletic forms, and above all, infamous costume, of the
Mine host was indeed of a face and figure most alarming to behold.
He was fast approaching to the gigantic in height, and bony in the
extreme—in short, he seemed all bone and sinew. His features were
awfully strong; and of his nose it might be predicated, that it was no
wonder the first drop of rain which came from the heavens that night
fell upon that extensive promontory, for the chances were in its favour
a hundred to one. He was, however, not uncourteous in his way; but to
the eyes of the refined portion of society, rusticity always conveys an
idea of rudeness and barbarity. It was plain that he was the master of
the house, for the tone of his voice indicated as much. Mine hostess
was rather a little woman—not deformed or ugly, but quite the
contrary. She might have been handsome, had it not been for a garment
of green baize, which threw friend Julius into a perspiration of horror.
Our travellers had scarcely entered the house when the storm
commenced its career, and such a storm as carries with it all the
sublime of nature. The wind howled, the thunder crashed, and the trees
groaned, while the rain beat a tattoo upon the roof and sides of the
building, as if it was determined to pepper some of those within.
"I've seen many a storm in ould Ireland," exclaimed one of the
worshipful members, in a strong Irish accent; "but never any tunder
"Pooh!" replied a figure that seemed to have been made out of a
shingle; "how should you when everybody knows neither the sky nor the
earth is half as big in Ireland as in this country."
"Well, suppose and it isn't; what den?—is it any reason why the
tunder and lightning wouldn't be as big? answer me dat, you Dutch
"Why, I should guess so, arguing from analogy—"
"Ann what?—devil burn me if I know such a woman— and I don't
care what she argufies."
"I say," continued the other with great gravity, "that, arguing from
analogy, it is quite impossible, as I should partly guess, that the
thunder should be as loud in such a small splice of a country, as it is
in these United States of Amerrykey. You see now, Mister
McKillicuddy—that's a queer name of yours—I wonder your daddy
wasn't ashamed to give you such a shorter of a cognomen."
"Do you compare me to a cog-wheel, you shingle faced monkey?"
interrupted Mister McKillicuddy, who, like all his company, was a
dealer in sawing boards in this region, where vast quantities are made
and sent to New-York by way of the Hudson.
"I compare you?—I'll see you pickled first," said Jonathan; "I was
only saying you had a tarnal droll name—I wouldn't have such a name
for all the bogs of Ireland."
"Bogs!—you tief—none of your coming over me with bogs;—I've
seen a bog in Ireland bigger than the whole State of New-York—yes,
and if you come to dat, bigger dan your whole Untied States as you call
"Whew—w—w!" whistled Jonathan; "what a miserable country that
Ireland of yours must be: I don't wonder the snakes and toads have all
left it, of their own accord, long ago."
"Of their own accord!—no such ting I tell you.—St. Patrick driv
'em all out by preaching to the rascals."
"Whew!—why I spose maybe you calculate on that as a mighty slick
piece of horsemanship. But for all that, he can't hold a candle to our
Deacon Mabee. Let the deacon alone for driving a wedge— why, the
other night, at a four-days meetin, I wish I may be shot if he didn't
drive every cretur out of the schoolhouse exceptin old Granny
Whimblebit, who is as deaf as an adder. St. Patrick can't hold a candle
to Deacon Mabee, I'm considerably inclined to think."
"May be or may be not, Mister Longreach; nobody shall say any ting,
or tink any ting, or dream any ting to the undervallying Saint Patrick."
"Ever in Bosting? I'm from Bosting or thereabouts, I guess, don't
you?" replied Mr. Longreach.
"Bosting!—none of your coming over me with your Bosting—Dublin
for ever for me, honey!"
"Dubling—I've heard say by one of the slickest fellers within a
hundred miles of Bosting—that the city of Dubling was so leetle you
might kiver it all over with the peeling of a potato."
"By the holy poker, but I'd like to come over that slick
feller.—The peel of a peraty!—By St. Patrick's blue eyes!"
"Was his eyes blue?" asked Mr. Longreach, with great apparent
earnestness. "I always heard your Irish people were great dealers in
black eyes, maybe."
"Yes, by the hokey, and I'll give you a short specimen off-hand if
you go to make fun upon me, Mister Longreach."
"I make fun of you!—I'd see your neck stretched first."
"You wouldn't now, would you," cried Mr. McKillicuddy, rising in
great wrath, and making immediate demonstrations of hostility. But the
rest of the company, who understood the dry humour of Jonathan, and
were enjoying the colloquy, interfered, and insisted they should drink
friends, assuring Mr. McKillicuddy no harm was meant. Peace was
accordingly restored, and a short silence ensued. This, however, was
soon interrupted by the vespers of Childe Roeliff, who, being tired
with his ride and of waiting for supper, had fallen asleep in one of
the two chairs we have commemorated.
"Hush," cried McKillicuddy; "we will disturb the ould New-Yorker
there. And, now I think of it, 'tis time to be going home to the ould
woman. The storm is over in one-half the time it would have been in
swate Ireland, for all dat tundering Yankee says."
Accordingly, seeing that the moon was peeping forth from her
recesses in the clouds, they made their homely compliments to the
strangers, and quietly sought their burrows among the rocks and hills.
Julius, who watched them narrowly, overheard, with the quick ear of
apprehension, one of them say to the landlord, in an under-tone, "What
time shall we be here?" "About an hour before day," replied he.
During the preceding dialogue, the mistress of the mansion had been
preparing supper for the travellers, and Minerva and Reuben had
listened with amusing interest to this homely display of national
character. But Squire Dibdill could not divest himself of the
impression that these ill-dressed people were first-rate banditti, and
that they only retired to throw the party off their guard, and induce
them to spend the night in this dangerous abode. After supper, which
was of the most plentiful kind—for however our people may lodge, they
all feed well—he hinted pretty strongly about going on to the lake
that night. But it was now ten o'clock, the clouds had again obscured
the moon, and the driver, who heard the proposal from his corner,
declared that neither he nor his horses were in a humour to undertake
such a road at such an hour, in such a night as this. The road, always
bad, must be now almost impassable, with the torrent of rain which had
just fallen; and he could not answer to his master or the party for
running the risk of a midnight journey. Julius gave up the point
unwillingly, and it was settled to remain where they were till morning.
No small difficulty occurred in arranging accommodations, as mine
host was not accustomed to entertain strangers of distinction, or
indeed any strangers at all. Seldom did a traveller pass that way, and
still more rarely did they tarry there for the night. We profess not to
know what became of the rest of the party; but it hath come to our
knowledge that Master Julius slept, or was supposed to sleep, in a
little excrescence of a building that projected from the rear of the
house, usually occupied by the owner of the mansion himself, who
resigned it on this occasion to his guest. About eleven the party
retired to rest, and soon a deathlike silence reigned everywhere,
interrupted only at intervals by the whooping of the owl or the barking
of the dogs about the house, occasionally disturbed by those
"varmints" which still infest the more obscure recesses of our
mountains. All save Julius were soon fast asleep, or,—to speak more
in accordance with the "big" style of describing small things
now-a-days,— soon all were locked in the arms of Morpheus; and it
hath been asserted on good authority, that the last thoughts of Reuben
and the pretty little Minerva were of each other.
Julius examined his sleeping-room with great attention, but saw
nothing to excite his suspicions save a few spots on the floor, which
looked very much like recent stains of blood. He went to bed; but he
was nervous, and could not sleep for thinking of banditti. He lay
listening for hours after all was quiet as the grave around him, and
the dread silence increased his apprehensions, insomuch that he wished
he had permitted Reuben to sleep in the room with him, notwithstanding
the horror with which travelled gentlemen, and more especially English
travellers, look upon such a republican enormity. The state of his mind
aggravated every little sound that met his ear; the stir of a mouse
made his heart beat double; the hooting of the solitary owl sounded
like a prophetic foreboding of danger; and the barking of the dogs
announced to his exaggerated apprehensions, the approach of the robbers.
After a long probation of tantalizing fears, he at length worried
himself into a sleep, from which he was roused by a cautious and
ominous tap at his window, which had no shutter, and was but a few feet
from the ground. All was dark within and without, and there reigned all
around that deathlike stillness which may be called the empire of fear,
since to the excited fancy it is far more appalling than the uproar and
confusion of the elements. After an interval of a moment, during which
he lay without drawing his breath, some one said, in an under-tone,
"We shall disturb the ladies."
"That's true, I guess, but then how shall we get at him?"
"By de hokey, he sleeps as dough he knowed it was his last."
Julius recognised the voices of Longreach and McKillicuddy, and his
apprehensions now ripened into certainty. His forehead became cold with
the dews of fear, and every feeling, every function of life resolved
itself into one horrible apprehension as he heard them cautiously
trying first at the door, then at the window, and uttering low curses
of disappointment at finding them fastened.
"By J—s, we shall be too late, for I see de day coming over de top
of de mountain yonder."
"Well, them, I'll be darn'd if I don't go without him."
"By de holy poker, but I won't; he shall go wid us, dead or alive.
So here goes."
Mr. McKillicuddy hereupon essayed himself more vigorously to open
the door, and the apprehensions of Julius being now wrought up to the
highest pitch, he roared out,—
"Murder! murder!" as loud as he could bawl.
"Och, murder!" shouted McKillicuddy in astonishment and dismay, as
he heard the voice of the stranger.
Julius continued to vociferate the awful cry until he roused Reuben
and mine host, and waked the ladies, who began to echo him with all the
might of female lungs. Dressing themselves with great expedition, our
hero and the landlord proceeded to the place where Julius was so sorely
beset by the banditti, and beheld by the slight tint of the gray
morning, the figures of McKillicuddy and his companion standing under
the window. Mine host hailed them, and was answered by a well-known
"A pretty kettle of fish you have made of it."
"Yes, I guess if he'd studied nine years and a half for a blunder,
he wouldn't have made a better. Darnation, why did you direct us to the
"By jingo," replied the landlord, "that's true, I forgot, or rather
I didn't know, the strange gentleman was to sleep in my room."
All this while the valiant Dibdill was vociferating "Murder,
murder!" in his best style, and Reuben, perceiving there was no danger
of such a catastrophe at present, managed, by the assistance of the
landlord, to force the door. Their attempts redoubled the horrors of
poor Julius, who for some time withstood all the assurances of Reuben
that there was not the least danger of being murdered this time. He
stood in a perfect abstraction of horror, with but one single
impression on his memory, and that was of banditti; repeating, as it
were unconsciously, the awful cry of murder, murder! as fast as his
tongue could utter it, until it gradually died away in a whisper.
Having tried what shaking, and pushing, and arguments would do, in
vain, the landlord at length brought him to his recollections by
dashing a basin of water in his face. For a minute or two he stood
congealed and astounded, then rubbing his eyes, and looking round with
a most ludicrous stare, exclaimed,
"Bless my soul, what is the matter?"
"By de soul of ould Ireland," cried McKillicuddy, bursting into a
roar of laughter, "by de soul of ould Ireland, I believe de squire took
us for robbers."
The whole scene changed at once, and shouts of laughter echoed in
these solitudes which had just been alarmed with the cry of murder.
Reuben could not forbear joining in the chorus, as he looked at Julius,
who stood in his nightcap and oriental gown, shaking with the cold
ablution he had received, aided by the remains of his fears, and
exhibiting a ludicrous combination of shame and apprehension.
The mystery was soon unravelled. Master McKillicuddy had, a week or
two before, got, as it were, into a row on occasion of some
anniversary,—we believe it was that of the famous battle of the
Boyne—with some of his dear countrymen, and a lawsuit, which was to
be tried that day, was the natural consequence. The landlord and Mr.
Jonathan Longreach were his principal witnesses, and the place of
holding court being somewhat distant, it had been arranged to set out
before daylight, and that the other two were to awaken mine host on
The story came to the ears of Minerva, by some means or other. We
will not affirm that Reuben did not tell her, for it was very natural
she should ask the reason of the great noise that had frigtened her,
and it would have been impolite for him to keep it to himself. All
mankind, and most especially all womankind, love courage. It is in
itself so noble a quality,—and then it is so indispensable to the
protection of the weaker sex, that we do not wonder they admire a
soldier, because his profession indispensably leads him at some time or
other into dangers, which he could not encounter without disgrace, if
he lacked courage. The conduct of Julius on this awful night most
sensibly diminished the influence of his coat, his whiskers, and
travelled accomplishments, over Minerva. Her imagination gradually got
the better of her senses, and instead of the perfect dandy arrayed from
top to toe in the very quintessence of fashionable adornment,—with
chains, and ribands, and diamonds bright, charming all eyes, and taking
captive every ear; he ever after appeared to her, yelad in satin cap,
and oriental nightgown, crying "Murder! murder!" while the water
trickled down his cheeks like floods of tears. Still, however, he
continued to be the admiration of Mrs. Orendorf, who had the authority
of Mrs. Asheputtle that he was perfect, and as for Childe Roeliff, the
marriage of his daughter and nephew was the favourite project of his
declining years; and who ever knew an elderly gentleman abandon such a
thing on the score of want of merit, want of affection, incompatibility
of temper, or prior attachment? Had Roeliff done this, he would have
been the most remarkable old man ever recorded in tradition, history,
or romance; and if in the course of this his Progress, he should chance
to present such an extraordinary example, we shall do all in our power
to transmit his fame to future ages.
Nothing ruins a man in this age of improvement so effectually as
being ashamed of himself or his conduct. So long as he puts a good
brazen face on the matter, let it be what it will, he gets along
tolerably well; but it is all over with him if he gives the slightest
reason for believing that he is himself conscious of having committed a
wrong or ridiculous action. Julius was a man of the world, and had
crossed Mount St. Gothard; of course he was aware of these truths, and
appeared in due time full dressed for travel, with an air so
unconscious, a self-possession so perfect, that one might have believed
the whole of the night's adventure nothing but a dream.
"You were disturbed I hear, last night?" said Minerva, with as
mischievous a look and smile as ever decked the lip and eye of an angel.
"Y-e-e-s," replied Julius, adjusting his stock, and twisting his
whiskers—"Y-e-s—I believe I got the nightmare—eating that
confounded supper. I dreamed I was in Italy and about being murdered by
robbers. In fact, 'pon my honour, I was in a complete trance, and
nothing but a basin of cold water brought me to myself."
Minerva was ready to die at this ingenious turn; and not a day
passed after this that she did not annoy his vanity by some sly
allusion to the nightmare. Being roused so early, they determined to
proceed to Lake George to breakfast, where they arrived, and found
lodgings at the pretty village of Caldwell, so called after the founder
and proprietor, now gone down to his grave, but still living in the
recollection of hundreds, yea, thousands, who have shared his liberal
hospitality and banqueted on his sparkling wit, his rich humour, and
his generous wines.
Everybody worth writing for has seen this pleasant village and
delightful lake, and therefore we shall not describe it here. Else
would we envelop it in the impenetrable fog of some "powerful writing,"
and give such a picture of its pure waters, enchanting scenery, and
fairy isles, as might, peradventure, confound the reader, and cause him
to mistake perplexity and confusion for lofty sublimity. A party was
arranged the next morning for a voyage to the Diamond Isle; and Julius
determined in his own mind to lure the fair goddess Minerva into some
romantic recess, and there devote to her his coat, his accomplishments,
and his whiskers. They embarked in a gondola, one of the most leaky and
unmanageable inconveniences ever seen, and rowed by two of the laziest
rogues that ever swung upon a gate, or sunned themselves on a
It had rained in the night, and the freshness of the morn was
delightful to the soul, as all nature was beautiful to the eye. There
may be other lakes equally lovely in every thing but the transparency
of its water. You look down into the air, and see the fish sporting
about the bottom of the pure element. Julius had prepared himself for
conquest—he was armed at all points, from head to toe—from his
whiskers to his pumps and spatterdashes. As he contemplated, first
himself, and next the rustic Reuben—he whispered, or rather he was
whispered in the ear by a certain well-dressed dandy, "It is all over
with him, poor fellow—this day I shall do his business to a dead
The gondola, as we said before, was rowed by two of the very
laziest fellows that every plied oars. They were perfect lazaroni, and
the vessel was almost half filled with water ere they reached the
enchanted shores of Diamond Island. While the rest of the party were
stumbling over the ground, broken up in search of the crystals with
which it abounds, and whence it derives its name, Julius—having, by a
masterly manoeuvre, fastened good Mrs. Orendorf to the arm of Reuben,
and led the Childe into a jeopardy, where he broke his shin, and
becoming disgusted with every species of locomotion, sat himself down
quietly to wait the motions of the party—drew Minerva, by degrees,
along the shore until they reached the opposite extremity to that where
they landed. Whether she, with the true instinct of the sex,
anticipated that "the hour and the man was come," and wilfully afforded
this opportunity for the purpose of putting an end for ever to his
expectations; or whether beguiled into forgetfulness by the beauties of
the scene, we cannot say; but Minerva accompanied him without
hesitation, and thus afforded a favourable opportunity to speak his
mind. He did speak his mind, but he might just as well have held his
tongue. We grieve to defraud our fair readers of a love scene in such a
romantic spot; but time presses, and we have yet a long space to travel
over before Childe Roeliff finishes his progress. Suffice it to say,
Julius was rejected irrevocably, in spite of his coat, his whiskers,
and his spatterdashes; and thus Minerva established her title to be
either more or less than woman. They rejoined the party, and Reuben,
who studied their countenances with the jealous scrutiny of a lover,
detected in that of Julius deep mortification, under the disguise of
careless levity; in that of the young lady a red tint, indicating
something like the remains of angry emotion.
On their return from the island, Julius took the earliest
opportunity of announcing to Childe Roeliff his intention to depart for
the Springs that very day.
"What!" exclaimed the astonished old gentleman— "leave us in the
middle of our journey! why, what will Minerva say to it, hey?"
She has no right to say any thing; she has this day given me a
walking ticket," answered Julius, forcing himself into an explanation
so mortifying to his vanity.
"A walking ticket! and what the d—I is that?"
"She has rejected me."
"Irrevocably, split me!"
"Pooh! Julius, don't be in such a hurry; try again: she'll be in a
different humour to-morrow, or next day; now don't go—don't;" and the
Childe was quite overcome.
"I must go, sir; it would be too excruciating to my feelings to
remain any longer."
"But what did the girl say?"
"She said she could never love me, sir."
"Pshaw! that's all in my eye, Julius—never is a long day. Her
mother, I remember, told me just the same thing, until I made my great
speculation, when she all at once found out it was a mistake."
"But it is not likely I shall ever make a great speculation, uncle.
Besides, I suspect, from appearances, that she begins to be fond of
Reuben Rossmore. It is quite impossible that I should ever bring myself
to enter the lists with him;" and Julius drew himself up with great
dignity, at the same time scanning himself in the glass.
"Fond of Reuben Rossmore! what makes you think so, eh?"
"I'm not certain, uncle, but I believe some such absurd preference
induced her to reject me."
"If I was certain of that, I'd leave all my estate to you, Julius,
and cut her off with a shilling." And he swore a great oath, that if
Minerva married against his wishes, she was no daughter of his from
"Hum!" thought Julius; "that would be the very thing itself. The
money without the girl—delightful! I must change my tack, and
persuade her to marry this rustic Corydon instead of myself. I will
gain his confidence, and forward their wishes in all possible ways. If
I can only bring about a runaway match—hum"— and he mused on this
scheme, until it almost amounted to a presentiment.
"Now don't go, Julius—do stay with us till we get back to
New-York. I want you to take care of Minerva, and keep her out of the
hands of Reuben, whom I like very much, except in the character of
son-in-law. Now do stay and take care of her, till I get rid of Reuben.
I wonder what possessed me to invite him to join our party?"
"By no means, uncle; don't let them suspect that you know or believe
any thing of this matter. If you send him away, you must give a reason
for so doing, and without doubt they will ascribe your suspicions to
malice on my part at having been rejected. No, no, sir, let him remain
where he is; and in the mean time, at your request, I will renew my
addresses, or rather try what silent attentions can do towards
conciliating Minerva's favour. If I should fail, I can, at all events,
be on the watch, and interfere in various ways to thwart the views of
this ungrateful and interested young man."
Childe Roeliff accorded his consent to the plan, at the same time
informing Julius that he should take the first opportunity of apprizing
Minerva of his unalterable intentions towards him, and of his
determination to punish her if she dared to oppose them, by adopting
his nephew, and making him his heir. Julius thought he knew enough of
the pompous, self-willed Childe to be certain that he would fulfil his
threats to the letter; and departed from his presence with the design
of immediately commencing operations.
The next morning, before daylight, they embarked in a steamboat for
the foot of the lake, on their way to foreign parts. There was a large
party of fashionables on board, and Julius was in his element again.
The Childe, who hated being disturbed so early in the morning most
mortally, retired into the cabin to take a nap; and Mrs. Orendorf was
delighted with meeting some of her Saratoga acquaintance. Julius taking
advantage of the absence of his uncle, devoted himself to entertain
them; and Minerva and Reuben were for a while left to the undisturbed
society of each other. Fortunately, the boat did not go above five or
six miles an hour, and thus they had an opportunity of almost studying
the beautiful scenery of the lake, which, narrowing at the lower end,
bears on its pure bosom a hundred little verdant isles. Some with a
single tree, others tufted with blossomed shrubbery, and all, as it
were, imitating the motion of the vessel, and dancing like corks on the
surface of the waters. It was a rare and beautiful scene, such as
seldom presents itself to travellers in any region of the peopled
earth, and such as always awakens in hearts disposed to love, thoughts,
feelings, and associations which cannot fail to attract and bind them
to each other in the ties of mutual sympathy and admiration. Much was
not said by either, except in that language which sparkles in the lucid
eye, glows in the gradually warming cheek, and lurks in the meaning
"How slow the boat goes!" exclaimed a fashionable lover of the
picturesque, associated with the party before mentioned. "I'm tired to
death. I wish we were at Ticonderoga." And the sentiment was echoed by
the rest of the picturesque hunters, who all declared they never were
so tired in their lives, and that they wished to heaven they were at
Ticonderoga. How often people mistake being tired of themselves for
being tired of every thing else?
Minerva and Reuben exchanged a look, which said, as plain as day,
that they did not wish themselves at Ticonderoga, and were not
above half tired to death.
In good time they were landed at the foot of the lake, which they
quitted to enter a stage coach waiting to carry them across to Lake
Champlain, a distance of five or six miles. The ride was interesting to
Reuben especially, whose grandfather had fought and fallen in the
bloody wars that raged at intervals for a century or more between the
French and English during their struggles for the possession of North
America. Lake Champlain and Lake George furnished the only practicable
route by which armies, and the necessary supplies of armament and
provisions could be transported by the rival candidates for the empire
of half a world, and the famous pass of Ticonderoga was the theatre of
a series of battles which have made it both traditionally and
The fashionable party of picturesque hunters, in their haste to get
on they did not know themselves whither, passed Ticonderoga at full
trot, although they had been in such a hurry to get there; crossed the
lake to the little village of that name, in Vermont, and remained at
the tavern, wishing and wishing the steamboat Franklin would come
along, and lengthening every passing hour by fidgetty impatience. By
the persuasion of Minerva, the Childe Roeliff was wrought upon
reluctantly to visit the ruins of the famous old fortress of
Just at the point of junction, where the outlet of Lake George
enters Lake Champlain, a high, rocky, round promontory projects boldly
into the latter, covered with the walls of massive stone barracks, the
remains of which are still standing; cut and indented by deep ditches,
breasted with walls, and cased on the outer sides towards the south
and east with a facing of rocks, from which you look down with dizzy
head upon the waters of the sister lakes. Across the outlet of Lake
George is Mount Independence towering to a great height; to the east
and south-east, Lake Champlain appears entering the mountains on the
other side by a narrow strait; while to the north it gradually expands
itself from a river to a lake, until it makes a sudden turn at Crown
Point, and disappears. The whole promontory is one vast fortress, and
even the bosom of the earth appears to have been consecrated to the
purposes of defence,—for ever and anon our travellers were startled
at coming upon an opening, the deep, dark recesses of which they could
There are few more grand and interesting scenes in the wide regions
of the western world than old Ticonderoga. Ennobled by nature, it
receives new claims and a new interest from history and tradition; it
is connected with the early events of the brief but glorious career of
this new country; and independently of all other claims, it presents in
its extensive, massy, picturesque ruins a scene not to be paralleled in
a region where every thing is new, and in whose wide circumference
scarce a ruined building or desolate village is to be found.
In pursuance of his deep-laid plan, Julius attached himself to Mrs.
Orendorf, to whom he was so particularly attentive in the ramble, that
Childe Roeliff was not a little astonished.
"What the devil can that fellow see in the old lady to admire, I
wonder?" quoth he. "Hum, I suppose these are what the blockhead calls
his silent attentions to my daughter, and be hanged to him."
While engaged in these cogitations he neglected to look which way he
was going, and tumbled incontinently to the bottom of an old
half-filled ditch, where he lay in a featherbed of Canada thistles.
Fortunately he was extracted with no injury except a little scratching;
but the accident occasioned such a decided disgust towards Ticonderoga
and its antiquities, that he peremptorily commanded a retreat to the
carriage, which, by a somewhat circuitous route, conveyed them to the
shores of Lake Champlain. Here they found a ferryboat of the genuine
primitive construction, being a scow with a great clumsy sail, steered
with a mighty oar by a gentleman of colour, and rowed, in default of
wind, by two other gentlemen of similar complexion. By the aid of all
these advantages they managed to cross the lake, which is here,
perhaps, a mile wide, in about the time it takes one of our steam
ferry-boats to cross the bay from New-York to the quarantine. Blessings
on the man that first invented steamboats, for the time he has saved to
people who don't know what to do with it is incalculable! On arriving
at the hotel in the little village of Ticonderoga, they found the
fashionable, picturesque-hunting party whiling away the tedious hours
until the Franklin should come from Whitehall, with that delightful
recreation yclept sleep, the inventor of which deserves an equal
blessing with him of the steamboat.
The Franklin at length made her appearance; all the fashionable
picturesque party waked up as by magic, and hastened on board, in as
great a hurry as if she had been Noah's ark and the deluge approaching.
About two o'clock they became exceedingly impatient for dinner. After
dinner they retired to their berths— waked up, and became exceedingly
impatient for tea. After tea they began to be tired to death of the
steamboat, the lake, and of every thing, and longed with exceeding
impatience to get to St. John's. Enjoying nothing of the present, they
seemed always to depend on something in perspective; and their whole
lives appeared to be spent in wishing they were somewhere else. The day
was of a charming temperature; the sweet south wind gently curled the
surface of the lake, which gradually expanded to a noble breadth, and
all nature invited them to share in her banquet. But they turned from
it with indifference, and were continually yawning and complaining of
being "tired to death."
The other party, whose progress is more peculiarly the subject of
our tale, were somewhat differently constituted and differently
employed. The sage Roeliff was telling a worthy alderman with whom he
had entered into a confabulation, the history of his speculation, and
how he made his fortune by a blunder. The worthy alderman had got rich
simply by the growth of the city of New-York, which had by degrees
overspread his potato patch, and turned the potatoes into dollars.
Neither of them could in conscience ascribe their success in life to
any merits of their own, and they agreed perfectly well in their
estimate of the worthlessness of calculation, and forethought, and
sagacity, "and such kind of nonsense," as the Childe was pleased to
say. Roeliff declared it was the most pleasant day he had spent since
he left home. That excellent woman Mrs. Orendorf, with her now
inseparable attendant Julius Dibdill, was enjoying upon sufferance the
society of the picturesque hunters, and echoing their complaints of
being tired to death; while Minerva and Reuben, sitting apart on an
elevated seat, which commanded a view of the lake and both its shores,
were enjoying with the keen relish of taste and simplicity the noble
scene before them.
They were delighted as well as astonished at the magnificent
features of this fine lake, and exchanged many a glance that spoke
their feelings. The tourists and compilers of Travellers' Guides, had
not prepared them on this occasion for disappointment; and they enjoyed
the scenery a thousand times more, for not having been cheated by
exaggerated anticipations. They expected nothing after Lake George,
which had been hitherto the exclusive theme of admiration with poets
and descriptive writers of all classes; but they found here something
far more extensive and magnificent. As they approached the beautiful
town of Burlington, the lake gradually expanded, and its shores became
more strikingly beautiful. On either side lay a tract of cultivated
country diversified with hill and dale, and gradually rising and rising
until it mingled with the lofty Alleghanies on the west, and the still
more lofty mountains of Vermont on the east, some of them so distant
they looked almost like visions of mountains, the creation of the
imagination. Everywhere visible, they range along, following the course
of the lake, now approaching nearer, and anon receding to a great
distance, and presenting in the evening of the day, on one side, the
last splendours of the setting sun, on the other the soft gentle tints
of the summer twilight gradually fading away into the deep hues of
If an author, like unto an actor, might peradventure be tolerated in
making his bow before his readers, and blundering out a speech which no
one hears or comprehends, we might here bear witness that nowhere in
all our sojournings among the matchless beauties of this our favoured
country have we beheld a scene more splendidly magnificent, more
touching to the heart and the imagination, than the bay of Burlington
presents, just as the summer sun sheds his last lustres on its spacious
bosom, and retires from his throne of many-coloured clouds, glowing in
the ever-changing radiance of his departing beams, behind the distant
Alleghanies. The charming town of Burlington, basking on the hillside
towards the west; the rich farms which environ it; the noble expanse of
waters studded with pine-crowned isles, and stretching in one direction
to the beautiful village and county of Essex, in the other towards
Plattsburg; the vast range of mountains rising tier over tier, and
presenting every varied tint of distance,—all form a combination,
which to hearts that throb at the touch of nature is, beyond
expression, touching and sublime.
The temple of Jehovah is his glorious works. The soul imbued with
the pure spirit of piety, unadulterated and unobscured by the
subtilties of ingenious refinement or fanatical inspiration, sees,
feels, and comprehends in the woods, the waters, the mountains, and the
skies, the hand of a Being as far above it in intelligence as in power,
and is struck with an impression of awful humility. In the words of a
nameless and obscure bard, it
Hears the still voice of Him in the mild breeze, The murmuring
brook, the silent, solemn night, The merry morning, and the glorious
noon. Sees him in darkness when no eye can see; In the green foliage of
the fruitful earth; The mirror of the waters, in the clouds Of the high
heavens, and in the speechless stars, That sparkle of his glory.
It was just at the witching hour of sunset, in a calm luxurious
evening, such as the most orthodox writers of fiction describe with
enthusiasm, when they are about making their hero or heroine do
something naughty, that the noble steamboat Franklin (of which and her
excellent commander we beg to make most honourable mention) entered the
bay of which we have just given a sketch, and stopped a few minutes at
the wharf to land her passengers at Burlington. The fashionable party
of picturesque-hunters still continued almost tired to death, and
longed more than ever to get to St. John's. But I need not say that the
souls of Minerva and Reuben were wide awake to the scene before them.
Abstracted from the hurry and bustle of the moment, they turned their
eyes towards the glowing west, and their spirits communed together in
the luxury of silence. They followed each other's looks, from the
floating isles that lay like halcyons on the bosom of the lake, to the
shores beyond, softened by distance into the most beautiful purple
tints, and thence their eyes rested together on the vast sea of hills
rising above hills beyond. One feeling animated them, and though not a
word was said, the electricity of looks communicated that feeling to
the hearts of both.
That evening a melancholy partaking of sweet and bitter
anticipations stole over the two young people. Hitherto they had been
satisfied to be together, and partake in the enjoyments of each other.
But the progress of true love ends but at one single point all over the
universe. From being satisfied with the present, we begin to explore
the future, and the delight of associating with one being alone carries
us at length to the desire and necessity of possessing that being for
ever. To this point were the hearts of Minerva and Reuben at length
brought by the sweet communions we have described. A mutual
consciousness of approaching troubles, of certain disappointments in
store for each, came suddenly over them. Minerva suspected the views of
her father in favour of Julius, and long experience had taught her that
when he had once got hold of a notion he stuck to it as a fowl does to
a crumb. Reuben also had his presentiments; he was neither rich nor
fashionable; it was therefore clear to his mind that he was not likely
to be particularly distinguished either by Childe Roeliff or his
aspiring dame, who was in great hopes of catching one of the seignors
of Montreal for her daughter. It was observed by Julius, who kept an
eye upon them, although he never interrupted their intercourse, that,
after tea, Minerva joined the fashionable picturesque-hunting party,
who by this time were tired to death for the hundredth time; and that
Reuben retired from her side, and stood apart leaning over the railing
of a distant part of the vessel. Julius thought this a favourable
opportunity to open his masked battery.
Accordingly, he sauntered towards him, apparently without design,
and entered into conversation on some trifling subject. Reuben never at
any time liked his society, and still less at the present moment, when
he was deep in the perplexities of love. He answered Julius
neglectingly, and in a voice that partook in the depression of his
"You seem out of spirits, Rossmore," at length said Julius, gayly;
"come, tell me what has come over you of late, and especially this
Reuben felt indignant; he had never invited or encouraged any thing
like this familiarity, and replied, with a cool indifference,—
"Nothing in particular; and if there were, I do not wish to trouble
any but my friends with my thoughts or feelings."
"Well, and am I not your friend?"
"Not that I know of."
"You will know it soon. Now listen to me, Rossmore; I see what is
going forward, not being exactly blind, as I believe you think me. I
know what is going forward."
"Know what is going forward, sir! well, and what is going forward?"
answered Reuben, whose heart whispered at once what Julius meant.
"Will you suffer me to speak, and listen coolly to what I am going
"Mr. Dibdill, there are certain subjects on which none but a
confidential friend ought to take the liberty of questioning another.
Allow me to say, that nothing in our intercourse has entitled you to
"Pooh, pshaw now, Rossmore, don't be so stiff and awful. I know what
is going on between my cousin and you, as well as—"
"Stop, Mr. Dibdill," cried Reuben, vehemently, "the subject is one
on which you have no right to speak to me, nor will I permit it,
"Rossmore," said Julius, with a deep and serious air, which riveted
the attention of Reuben, in spite of himself,—"Rossmore, I know your
thoughts at this moment as well as you do yourself. You think me your
rival, of course your enemy—on my soul, I am neither one nor the
"No!" exclaimed the other, turning full upon him.
"No—that I have been, I acknowledge, but it was more to please my
uncle than myself. The fact is, Minerva, though a very good girl, is
not to my taste." And he said this with a mighty supercilious air.
"The d—l she isn't," cried Reuben, in a fury; "and pray, sir, what
have you to say against her? I insist on your admiring her, or, by my
soul, you shall take the consequences."
Julius laughed. "Well, if I must, I must. Then I presume you insist
upon my paying my addresses to Minerva?"
"No-o-o, not exactly that either. But you will oblige me by
condescending to give your reasons for not admiring Miss Orendorf."
"Why, in the first place, she talks English better than French; in
the second place, she likes a ballad better than a bravura; in the
third place, she exhibits a most ludicrous unwillingness to dance the
waltz and the gallopade; in the fourth place, she is no judge of a
coat; in the fifth place, she can't sing before five or six hundred
people without losing her voice; and in the last place, she blushes in
the most unbecoming style. That last objection is decisive. What under
the sun should I do with such a woman?"
Reuben was so pleased with the assurance of his having renounced
Minerva, that he neglected to knock Julius down for this blasphemy. He
"Well, to come to the point at once, you love my cousin Minerva—"
"By what right, sir?—"
"Be quiet, Rossmore, till I have done, and then blow my brains out
if you will. I am your friend, at least in this business. My uncle, I
know, will give me no rest about this ridiculous plan of his for
bringing us together, until Minerva is fairly disposed of; I have,
therefore, an interest in this business of yours, and you may command
all my services."
"What a heartless coxcomb!" thought Reuben, "to be insensible to the
charms of such an angel." However, he forgave him on the score of
having a rival out of the way.
"I cannot but feel obliged to you, whatever may be your motives,"
said he, addressing Julius; "but I see no benefit I can derive from
your services, and therefore beg leave to decline them."
"But let me tell you, Rossmore, you ought to see it. I have
influence with old Roeliff and his wife, the latter especially, which,
if properly exerted, may smooth the way to the gratification of your
wishes, and, say what you will, I mean to do all I can for you. Though
I admire not my cousin, as I said before, because, in the first
"Pray, Mr. Dibdill, to the point. You need not repeat your reasons,"
interrupted Reuben, rather pettishly.
"To the point, then. My uncle is determined to make a match between
his daughter and myself; but that is out of the question, as I said
before; because, in the first place—"
"Pray spare me any more of your reasons."
"Well—it is quite out of the question, because— you must hear
another reason, Rossmore—because Minerva don't like me, and does like
you." Reuben smiled in spite of himself. He thought this last reason
worth all the rest. Julius continued:
"Now, whatever you may think of me, my dear friend—for I mean to
prove I hold you such—I am not the man to marry any woman unless sure
of her affections, however wealthy she may be in possession or
"Nor I," said Reuben; "I despise Miss Orendorf's fortune as much as
I admire her person, and love her good qualities."
"No doubt, no doubt, my dear friend; but, as I said before, I wish
Minerva married, that my uncle may see the impossibility of his wishes
being fulfilled in relation to me. My ridiculous aunt differs in her
views for her daughter with my ridiculous uncle. She has heard of the
seignors and seignories at Montreal, and has good hopes of making her
daughter a baroness some how or other, Heaven knows how—for, as I
said before, there is no chance of my cousin being distinguished in
fashionable society, because, in the first place—"
"D—n it, sir, do stick to the point, can't you? Your reasons can
be of no consequence to me," cried Reuben, chafing.
"Well, well, I will. Now, my plan is this—but are you sure of the
affections of Minerva?"
"I have never said a single word to her on the subject."
"No! not in all the romantic walks and tête-á-têtes you have
"No, on my honour. I felt a presentiment that her parents would
never consent to our union, and therefore scorned to engage her
"O, marry come up!" cried Julius, laughing. "You scorned to engage
her affections, did you? You never spoke a word to her on the subject,
you say? I suppose you never said any thing with your eyes, hey? and
you never received an answer, hey? in a language no man in his senses
can mistake? You have behaved in the most honourable manner, without
doubt, and I can't help admiring your high notions! Pooh! pooh!
Rossmore! you know my cousin likes you; everybody on board this boat
might see it, if they had not something else to attend to, and you know
it too, for all your confounded hypocrisy."
Reuben could not deny this, for the soul of him. The fact is, the
consciousness was too delicious to admit of denial.
"You must be married at Montreal," said Julius, abruptly.
"Her parents will never consent."
"Then you must marry without it."
"Her father will never forgive her."
"Don't believe it. She is his only child; he dotes on her, and in a
little while, finding he could not live without her, he will recall her
home, and dote on her more than ever. I know him from top to toe, and I
know the influence I have over him, which I will exert in your behalf.
I am, besides, pretty certain I can command the services of mine
excellent aunt, if it be only from the pure spirit of opposition."
"I cannot but feel obliged to you; but my course shall be different.
I mean first to procure the consent of Minerva, and then plainly,
directly, and honestly lay my proposal before her father."
Julius was startled at this declaration. It upset all his plans.
Recovering himself in a few moments, he resumed:
"Then take my word, you will never see her after that exhibition of
candour and honesty, as you call it. I know my uncla rather better than
you do, and I know that so long as he can prevent a thing he never
gives up; but the moment it is out of his power, he gradually
relinquishes all his former hostility and reconciles himself at last to
what is inevitable. He hates vexation so much, that he never
voluntarily indulges it long. If you ask his consent he will never give
it—nay, he will bind himself by some foolish oath, that will prevent
his forgiving her after it is done."
"I can't help it; I shall pursue the straight-forward course."
"Fool!—but I beg pardon. You see the anxiety I feel for your
success by its making me ill-mannered. But if you pursue this course, I
pledge myself you will never be the husband of Minerva Orendorf."
"Time and perseverance, or chance and good fortune, may bring it
about at last."
"One word, then," replied Julius, earnestly and precipitately, as he
saw Childe Roeliff approaching. "One word more. Promise me you will not
take any decisive steps until we arrive at Montreal."
"Upon your honour?"
"Upon my honour."
Here the presence of Mr. Orendorf put an end to the conversation,
which had attracted the notice of Minerva, who wondered what they could
have been talking about so warmly and earnestly. Her heart fluttered as
Reuben approached her, but whether with apprehension that the two young
men had quarrelled, or any other more occult feeling, has never come to
By this time the evening had set in, but it was moonlight—the full
of the moon—and such is the bland and balmy and innocent air that
floats upon the bosom of the lake, its purity, dryness, and elasticity,
that there is not the least danger in being exposed to it during the
whole of a clear evening. They entered the Bay of Saranac, scarcely
less distinguished for its beauty, and far more renowned in history,
than that of Burlington. It was here that the gallant McDonough, now,
with his famous contemporaries Decatur and Perry, gone to immortality,
won laurels that will never fade while the grass is green on the bank
that overlooks the bay, or the water runs in the Saranac River. Reuben
and Minerva had both been known, the former intimately, to these
distinguished men, and the scene recalled them to mind as if they had
They remembered the simplicity which marked the characters of the
two young sailors, who were united in glory, and might be said to be
united in death, in the flower of their age.
"What a striking figure was McDonough!" cried Minerva.
"And what a sweet, mild, yet manly expression was in the blue eye of
Perry!" replied Reuben. "Both were of a high class of men, but they
neither of them equalled Decatur. I knew him well, and have studied his
character. He was one of the few—the very, very few great men I ever
met with. There are plenty of great men in this world, my dear
Minerva"—Dear Minerva! thought our heroine—"of a certain kind. Some
are great by virtue of high station, some by high birth, some by
chance, and some by necessity. Nature makes these by dozens; but a
truly great man is a rare production. Such was Decatur: he was not
merely a brave man—I might almost say the bravest of men—but he was
a man of most extraordinary intellect, a statesman as well as a
warrior; one who, like David Porter, could negotiate a treaty as well
as gain a victory; one who could influence the most capacious minds by
his eloquence and reasoning, as easily as he quelled the more weak and
ignorant by his authority and example. His influence over others was
that of strength over weakness, and had he run the career of civil
life, he would have been equally, if not more, distinguished than he
became in that of active warfare. He has been blamed for the manner of
his death; but his inflexible maxim in life was, that the man whom he
considered not sufficiently beneath his notice to escape insult or
injury was fairly entitled to reparation. He did not, as many men do,
put himself on a par with another in bandying abuse and exchanging
mutual imputations, and then take refuge at last in the cowardly
pretext that his adversary was beneath his notice! Peace to his ashes,
and honour to his memory, say I; and may he find many to emulate his
Minerva listened with enthusiasm to this eulogium on one of her
favourite heroes, and watched with delighted interest the glow which
gradually mantled the cheek, the fire that lightened in the eye of the
young man as he dwelt on a theme so animating. A silence of some
minutes followed, which was suddenly interrupted by Minerva—
"Pray, what were you and my cousin talking about so long?"
"It was well that the moon was just then obscured by a cloud, else
Reuben would inevitably have been detected in the absurd act of
blushing up to the eyes, not only by Minerva, but by the fashionable
picturesque-hunting party—but now we think of it, these last were
gone to bed "tired to death."
Minerva, however, perceived a hesitation in his speech and an
embarrassment of manner which excited her apprehensions.
"I entreat you, Reuben, to answer me one question. Have you and my
"No, on my honour."
"You seemed deeply interested in the conversation you had this
"True, it was on a most interesting subject." Minerva looked
curious. "Did it concern only myself, I would tell you what it was
"Whom else did it concern?"
"Then I must know what it was about. I have a right to know,
as a party concerned," cried the young lady, with one of her sweetest
Reuben looked confused and doubtful, and Minerva's curiosity became
very troublesome to her. It was highly indelicate and improper,
certainly; but the fact is, she felt a most unaccountable interest in
the particulars of this conversation. She became a little offended at
his silence, and Reuben remained in a most painful embarrassment.
"Well," said she at length, "if I am not thought worthy of knowing
what you say so nearly concerns myself, I will bid you good-night. It
is time, indeed, for the passengers, I see, have quitted the deck some
time," and she was retiring.
"For Heaven's, dear Mi—for Heaven's sake, Miss Orendorf, don't
"Why should I stay? You won't tell me any thing I wish to know."
"But only stay, and I will tell you."
"What?" replied Minerva archly.
"That I—that you—that your father, I mean—that your cousin
Julius—that is to say—that it would be folly, nay, it would be
dishonourable in me to tell— what I wish to tell"—here poor Reuben,
as they say, got into a snarl, and could not utter another word of
sense or nonsense.
Women, though ever so young and inexperienced, have a mighty quick
instinct in love matters, and Minerva at once began to comprehend the
nature of the subject on which Reuben had just spoken so eloquently and
with such wonderful clearness. She became still more embarrassed than
he, and, hardly knowing what she said, asked, in a trembling voice—
"What can be the matter with you, Reuben?"
"I love you, dearest Minerva!"
"Good-night!" replied Minerva, and disappeared in an instant from
That night Reuben could not sleep, and we don't much wonder at it,
for, sooth to say, what with the hissing, and puffing, and jarring, and
diabolical noises of all kinds, commend us to a fulling-mill, a cotton
manufactory, or even Childe Roeliff's favourite resource, a tinman's
shop, for a sound nap, rather than to a steamboat. And yet we have
often lain awake in all the horrors of sleepless misery, and heard
villains snore as lustily as if they reposed themselves on a bed of
down in the cave of Morpheus. How we did hate the monsters!
But our hero had other matters to keep him awake It would have
puzzled the most perfect adept in the science of woman's heart, to
decide whether Minerva had left him in a good or a bad humour; whether
she resented his abrupt declaration, or ran away to hide her confusion.
No wonder, then, it puzzled honest Reuben Rossmore, who had scarcely
studied the A B C of a woman's mind, much less investigated its hidden
At the dawn of the morning the party awoke and found themselves in a
new world. It seemed that they had been transported during the night,
like some of the heroes of the Arabian tales, from one distant country
to another. The houses, the fields, the cattle, the sheep, the pigs,
dogs, cats, hens and chickens, men, women, and children, all seemed to
belong to a different species. They neither looked, dressed, nor talked
like the people they had left the night before, for the women wore
men's hats, and the men red night-caps, and they all spoke in a tongue
which Squire Julius pronounced to be a most execrable patois. Nothing
was ever equal to the metamorphosis produced by a sail of a few miles,
between two grassy banks almost level with the surface of the lake, and
destitute alike of stream or mountain to mark the division between the
domains of two powerful empires.
"As I live," exclaimed Mrs. Orendorf, as she emerged from the
ladies' cabin, "I believe we have got into a foreign country at last.
If there isn't a woman with a man's hat!"
"Mercy upon us!" ejaculated Childe Roeliff; "if there isn't an oven
on the top of a pig-sty!"
"Good Heavens! what can these people be talking about so fast? Come
here, Minerva, and tell me what they are saying."
"They are discussing the price of a cabbage," said Minerva.
"Well, who'd have thought it? I was afraid they were just going to
fight with each other. I never saw such strange people."
"We are in Canada, madam," observed Reuben, who had ventured to join
them on the invitation of a smile and a blush from Minerva; "we are in
Canada, or rather in the old world, for I have heard it observed by
travellers, that this portion of the province of Canada exhibits an
exact picture of the interior of France, or rather of what France was
nearly three centuries ago, in dress, language, manners, and rural
"Is it possible!" exclaimed Mrs. Orendorf; "then I can't think what
people go to France for. I'm sure I see nothing here worth the trouble
of crossing a lake, much less the sea. Do they wear such caps in
"In some of the old fashioned towns, I am told they do, madam," said
"And such dirty garments and faces? and are they shaped like these
queer people? and have the men such long beards?"
"On week-days, I believe."
"Well," exclaimed Mrs. Orendorf, "if that's the case, I thank my
stars I did not go to France."
"No thanks to you or your stars," quoth Childe Roeliff; "if it
hadn't been for me you'd have gone fast enough."
It is thus that husbands ruin the tempers of their wives, who are
naturally the best creatures in the world, by taking all the merit of
their discretion and good works to themselves. The spirit of
contradiction came over the good lady.
"I deny it," said she sharply; "I gave up the point voluntarily."
"Yes, when you couldn't have your own way."
"Well, then, if you come to that, I wish I had gone."
"That is exactly what I said; you wanted to go then, and so you do
We don't know what the plague came over Childe Roeliff to get into
such a bad humour this morning, except it might be that he was hungry,
than which there is no greater foe to that dulcet composure and sweet
submissive meekness, so becoming in a husband when confabulating, as it
were, with his helpmate. All the Childe got by this effervescence of
ill-humour was a determination on the part of Mrs. Orendorf to have her
own way for the next twelvemonth at least.
By this time the arrangements for landing were completed, and the
passengers, almost as numerous and various as those of Noah's ark,
descended upon terra firma. Among them was observed the fashionable
picturesque-hunting party, who were as usual "tired to death," and who,
after breakfasting at St. John's, were again "tired to death," and
whirled away towards Montreal as fast as horses could carry them.
The road from St. John's to La Prairie, a distance of about eighteen
miles, is over a dead level, which soon becomes tiresome from its
monotony. Yet still to one accustomed only to the scenery, dress,
manners and modes of the United States, it is not devoid of interest.
Many, indeed all their customs, carry us back to old times. Nearly all
the property is held under the seigneurs, by ancient tenures which
restrict the occupants of the land to one single inflexible routine of
cultivation; a circumstance which places a barrier in the way of all
improvements. Most of the farms consist of one field, bordering on the
high road, extending on a dead level back as far as the eye can reach,
and separated from the adjoining ones by a ditch. Half the distance
between St. John's and La Prairie is almost one continued village of
houses, built entirely on the same plan, with here and there a
Gothic-fronted church, whose steeple, covered with tin, shines
gorgeously at a distance in the sun. Women are seen at work in the
fields almost as commonly as men, dressed in straw hats, and scarcely
to be distinguished from them. The sickle is still the only implement
in cutting down the harvest; no cattle graze in the fields, except in
large droves on the commons; and the houses are either of mud or wood,
small in size, with a single door right in the centre. Plain and
contracted as they are, they still exhibit dis tinctive marks of that
national characteristic of French-men, in all situations and countries.
There is always some little attempt at ornament,—such as the shingles
of the roof being scalloped at the edges, along the eaves, or at the
pinnacle of the roof; and poor, miserably poor must be that habitation
which does not present some little indication of a superfluity of
labour and expense. The little gardens, though often overrun with that
atrocious and diabolical production of nature in her extremest spleen,
called the Canada thistle, abound in flowers, and look gay in the midst
of neglect and desolation; and of a Sunday evening it is surprising to
see the metamorphosis which takes place among the inhabitants. Neither
rags, nor dirt, nor long beards, nor old straw hats are visible. The
young girls are tight, and neat, and gay; and you see them gathering in
groups at some appropriate house, in the little villages, to spend the
evening in their favourite amusement of dancing. The Longobards, or
long beards,— the same, we presume, mentioned by Tacitus,—appear in
chins as smooth as the new-mown meadow; and here and there a red sash
figures among them, the relic and memento of a former age. A few years
ago this was the universal dress of the men; but the Yankees have come
among them, and, sad to relate, our party saw but two red sashes in all
their sojournings in Canada. One of these they met on the road to La
Prairie, on horseback, and saluted. The ancient remnant of French
chivalrous courtesy, stopped his horse, which he was obliged to do to
pull off his cap, and bowed profoundly, about the time the party had
reached a distance of half a mile. The other was telling his beads with
great devotion in the magnificent cathedral of Montreal. Had we time
and space we would dwell at more length on these matters, for we
confess we delight in old times, old customs, and old oddities of all
kinds, not so much because they are better than new ones, but because
there is something about them which, like old wine, smacks tastefully
on the palate, and produces an agreeable excitement. But we must hasten
on our Progress, lest peradventure the committee appointed by that
munificent patron and goodly pattern of literature, Mr. Francis
Herbert, to pass judgment on our respective contributions, should fall
asleep over our story, which, to say truth, lacketh much of that
delectable mystification and bloodshed which rendereth romances so
piquant and acceptable to the gentle reader, who, judging from
appearances, sitteth down to peruse them, animated by the same vehement
feeling of curiosity which impelleth so many of the tender sex to run
after an execution. Suffice it then to say, that Childe Roeliff and his
party reached the ancient village of La Prairie, which belongs to the
old world and not to the new, after a ride of three or four hours over
one of the worst roads in the universe; a circumstance somewhat
remarkable, seeing that there was neither hill or stone in all the long
way. Some interloping "Varmounters" talked of a railroad here;
but the old Frenchmen threw up their caps, and cried "Diable!"
From La Prairie our travellers were delighted with the noble view
which presented itself. The St. Lawrence makes a bend, and expands into
a lake-like sheet of water of the most magnificent dimensions, and
greatest purity. Above, it is all quiet and repose; below, it tapers
off in a series of rapids approaching to sublimity. Beyond these lies
Montreal, basking at the foot of the mountain which gives its name to
the city and island, and stretching along the side of the abruptly
rising shores of the river. It exhibited a most imposing appearance,
with its tin steeples towering into the air, and glittering in the
noonday beam of a glorious summer day. In addition to the steeples,
nearly all the houses and public edifices are covered with tin, which,
such is the dryness of the atmosphere, never rusts; and certainly, in a
clear day, and across the noble St. Lawrence, the appearance of
Montreal is that of one of the creations of the Arabian Nights. Of all
places in the world to look down upon from the sky, this ancient city
is the finest. Childe Roeliff was not the least delighted of the party,
for he thought to himself, "There is no danger but there are plenty of
tinmen's shops, to prevent one from being onnewed by silence,
and I shall enjoy myself wonderfully." One of the finest steam
ferry-boats in the world carried them like thought through the roaring
rapids, and between the jutting rocks; and it seemed scarcely a moment
from their embarking at La Prairie to their landing at Montreal,—the
city of tin roofs, iron window-shutters, and stone walls. Minerva
actually saw a great stone wall on the very pinnacle of a roof; such is
their inveterate propensity to heaping up masses of granite and
On landing at the end of a long wooden bridge jutting out into the
river,—for there are few or no wharves here,— they were struck with
a most enormous din of voices, a vociferous confusion of individual
tongues, that made Childe Roeliff think the whole universe was about
falling together by the ears. Such an effusion of bad French never
before was heard in any other spot of this new world, as we verily
believe. All the draymen, with their long-queued drays, seemed to have
approximated to this chosen spot, to meet the steamboat, this being the
trip in which she generally brought the travellers from the "States,"
as they are called at Montreal, I presume on the score of some
lingering doubt whether they are really "united" or not. The
consequence of collecting together in a small space was, that these
long-tailed inconveniences got entangled with each other in a perfect
Gordian knot. But though the vehicles were tied, the tongues of the
drivers were not. We have heard "pretty considerable" of scolding and
vociferation; but, by the account received from Reuben Rossmore, it was
the trickling of a rill to the roaring of a cataract, the chirping of a
flock of snow-birds to the sonorous gabble of a rencounter of two
flocks of turkeys. We are credibly informed, on the same authority,
that the gesticulation was equal to the vociferation, and altogether it
seemed that every moment would produce a battle royal. By degrees,
however, the longtailed vehicles got disentangled, the little Canadians
gradually cooled down, and, in one minute after the vociferation
subsided, were as merry and good-humoured as crickets in a warm
winter's hearth. Our travellers put up at the British American Hotel,
on the score of patriotism,—the sign of this establishment being so
happily disposed, by accident probably, towards the river, that in
approaching from La Prairie you see only the words "American Hotel."
Here Julius and Mrs. Orendorf were delighted to meet again the
fashionable picturesque-hunting party, who declared they had been tired
to death riding across the Prairie, tired to death of waiting a full
hour for the ferry-boat at La Prairie, tired to death of the
ferry-boat, and lastly, that they were now tired to death of Montreal,
and were going that very afternoon to embark in the steamboat for
Quebec. Childe Roeliff, who sometimes accidentally blundered out a
spice of common sense, observed, after listening to all this,—
"I wonder, if you are so tired of every thing, you don't go home and
"Quel bête!" whispered Mrs. Dowdykin, the head matron of the
picturesque party, to Count Capo d'Oca, her Platonic.
The soft, gentle, quiet kindness of Minerva towards Reuben since the
declaration which caused such a precipitate flight on the part of that
young lady, had assured him that the offence was not unpardonable; and,
though nothing more had been said on the subject, there existed a
perfect understanding of the sentiments of each other. Julius, who
watched them closely, though he appeared to take little interest in
their movements, and seldom intruded upon their tête-à-têtes,
determined to let the affair float along on the current of events for
the present, foreseeing that it would ere long come to a crisis either
one way or other. In the mean time the party visited the parade ground,
where they were astonished at the triumph of discipline in converting
men into machines; the vast and magnificent cathedral, the most
majestic erection of the kind in all North America, and the nunneries,
where Minerva, who had pictured nuns as the most ethereal and spiritual
of all flesh, was astonished to find them, in the language of Childe
Roeliff, "as fat as butter."
It was in one of these excursions that the Childe was struck all at
once with a conviction that Julius paid no more attention to his
daughter than if they had been married ten years. It occurred to him
that he left Minerva entirely to the care of Reuben, affected to lag
behind in the most negligent manner, and whistle Lillebullero, or some
other tune, in a sort of under-tone, as if to indicate his utter
indifference to what was going forward. He forthwith determined to
speak to the young man on the subject the first opportunity, which
luckily occurred that very afternoon. Minerva and Reuben had strolled
out on the bank of the river; Mrs. Orendorf was napping; and Julius was
left alone with Childe Roeliff to finish a bottle of hock and discuss
fruit and nuts at leisure. Roeliff had lighted his segar and taken a
whiff or two, when the spirit moved him, and, gathering himself
together, he spoke as follows:
"Nephew, somehow or other—I may be mistaken— but it seems to me
you have given up all thoughts of Minerva. I don't see any of those
silent attentions you talked about, or any attentions at all. You
leave her entirely to Reuben, so far as I can see."
"But, my dear uncle, you don't see every thing; there are times and
seasons, when nobody sees or hears us, when I flatter myself I am
making slow and sure progress in her heart."
"Slow enough, I believe; but whether sure or not is more than I will
say. On the contrary, it appears to me that she likes Reuben much
better than you."
"My dear sir, don't you know that this is one of the best reasons in
the world for believing she likes me the best?"
"Not I,—I don't know any such thing; and I'll tell you what,
Julius, I mean to leave this place—though I confess I am delighted
with the perpetual ringing of the bells—to-morrow morning, after
having signified to master Reuben Rossmore that his room is better than
"By no means, sir; this will derange my whole system, and lose me
the young lady to a certainty. Only wait a little longer, sir."
"Shilly shally, tilly vally.—I'll tell you what, Julius, I can see
as far into a millstone as you, I suspect, and I tell you that Reuben
is gaining more in one day than you do in ten."
"But, my dear uncle,—"
"Tut, tut! I tell you to-morrow morning we dissolve partnership with
master Reuben, as sure as to-morrow comes. You need not say any
more—I am determined not to listen to another word on the subject."
And so it seemed, for in half a minute Childe Roeliff, who had a great
alacrity in falling asleep extempore, was seen leaning back in his
chair, with his nose elevated at an angle of forty-five degrees, and
the stump of a segar in his mouth, as fast as a church.
Julius was taken somewhat unaware by this sudden determination of
Childe Roeliff; his plans were not quite matured, and he was obliged
to vary them a little to suit the present crisis. That evening he
invited Reuben into the sitting parlour occupied by the party, but now
dark and deserted, the ladies having retired to their chamber to rest
after the fatigues of a sultry day spent in rambling about the city.
Here he communicated to him the determination of Roeliff to dismiss him
on the morrow, and urged him, by every motive he could conceive, to
arrange a clandestine match with Minerva immediately.
"What!" cried Reuben, "before I have done the old gentleman the
honour of first asking his consent?"
"I tell you, Rossmore, it is useless for you to ask it. You have
heard of his determination in my favour, and a more obstinate old fool
does not live than mine honoured uncle. You will be insulted by his
rough vulgarity, and driven from the sight of Minerva, who, I can see,
will break her heart to lose you."
"I am resolved to try, at any rate. You may say what you will of Mr.
Orendorf, but to me he appears a person of a good heart, excellent
principles, and correct understanding of what is right and proper. He
has treated me kindly; at his fireside I have been always received with
unaffected welcome, and he has displayed on all occasions a generous
confidence. I am determined to try the appeal."
"And if it fails, then I presume your ticklish conscience will not
stand in the way of an elopement. The old blockhead will forgive you in
a month afterward."
"I will never give him an opportunity. I love Miss Orendorf with an
affection as warm, sincere, and lasting as ever impelled a hero of
romance to betray the happiness of his mistress by making her an exile
from the home and the hearts of her parents. But I will never ask
her—and if I did, I am sure she would spurn me—I will never, by a
look or a hint, a word or an action, tempt her to forget her duty and
the re gard which every virtuous female owes to her own honour. If I
cannot gain her by honourable, open means, I will bear her loss like a
Julius burst into a long, loud laugh.
"One need not go to church to hear a sermon, I find," at length he
said, wiping his eyes. "Then I presume you have no objection to my
prosecuting my views upon the young lady?"
This was rather a sore question, but Reuben rallied himself to meet
"It is the will of her parent, and I have no right to oppose him any
more than you have."
"Her parent!—you don't—you can't look upon him in any other
light than as the wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus, or the bear that
nurtured his great prototype Orson. Pooh, pooh! Rossmore, I beseech
thee once again to get over this unmanly squeamishness. If you cheat
this old dotard out of his daughter, it is no more than he has done to
every man, woman, or child with whom he ever had any dealings."
"You lie like a rascal!" exclaimed an appalling voice from a distant
and dark corner of the room, and presently the veritable Childe Roeliff
advanced upon the astonished young men. Julius was stricken dumb with
guilt, and Reuben with astonishment. The Childe had quietly ensconced
himself in a corner to take his evening nap, and was awakened by the
earnest voices of the young men, early in the discussion. The interest
of the subject caused him, we presume, to forget he was enacting the
questionable part of a listener.
"So, sir!" cried the Wrathful Childe Roeliffe; "so master Julius
Dibdill, I am an obstinate old blockhead it seems; a rough ignorant
bear, a she-wolf that suckles young men—a man that deserves to be
cheated out of his only daughter, because he has cheated every man,
woman, and child he ever had any dealings with. Do I quote you right,
"I—I—I believe, sir, I might have said some such thing in jest,
"In jest was it, sir? Now hear what I have got to say to you in
earnest. You are an ungrateful hypocrite;—you have abused my
confidence, and returned my kindness with insult and falsehood. I say
falsehood, sir, for, however ignorant and vulgar I may be, I never
wronged man, woman, or child, nor dog, nor cat, nor any of God's
creatures wilfully or wantonly. Thou art a base slanderer, if thou
sayest that. I would— that is to say, I might have forgiven
the only son of my only sister, now gone to her place of rest, had he
but said I was vulgar and ignorant. It may be I am so, sir, for I never
had an opportunity in early youth of gaining that knowledge of the
world and of books which others had; but a villain or a rogue I am
not—I never have been—and with God's help I never will be. Quit my
sight, liar and hypocrite, and never come into it again."
Julius had nothing to say—he was dumbfounded. He saw that all was
over, and that nothing was left him but a creditable retreat. So he
mustered all the ready cash of brass he had about him, and walked out
of the room whistling "Di tanti palpiti."
Childe Roeliff now turned to Reuben. The deuse appeared to be in the
old son of a tinman, who all at once seemed transmuted to sterling
gold; anger had made him eloquejt. He turned to Reuben—
"As for you, young man—"
"Ah! now comes my turn!" thought Reuben.
"As for you, sir, I heard what you said, too; and— and"—here the
old man's eyes almost overflowed,— "and you may be assured that I
will not lose the good opinion you have of me if I can help it. You
said, when I am sure you could not have the least expectation I should
ever know it, that I appeared to you a man of a good heart, excellent
principles, and a correct understanding of what was right and proper.
You also said—and every word went to my heart, seeing I was about to
treat you otherwise to-morrow—you said I had treated you kindly,
welcomed you at my fireside, and bestowed my confidence on you. I
remember all this, and I will never forget it while I live. You said,
too, you would not abuse that confidence, but appeal to me, and abide
by the result. Now hear me—or rather hear this young woman;"—for
just at this moment the light step of Minerva was heard, and her dim
shadow seen entering the door;—"hear what she has to say, and take
this with you, that whatever she says, I will sanction, as sure as my
name is Roeliff Orendorf;" saying which, he marched out of the room
before Reuben could reply.
What passed between Minerva and Reuben we cannot disclose; we were
not near enough to overhear what they said, and it was too dark to see
what they did; but the waiting-maid, who happened to approach the room
in which they were, privately declared she distinguished something that
sounded for all the world like a kiss, and the next morning not the
bright sun himself arose more bright and glorious than did the fair
goddess Minerva. Youth revelled in her limbs, hope sparkled in her rosy
cheek and speaking eye; the past was forgotten, the present Elysium,
the future heaven. So beautiful did she look that morning, that the
waiter who brought in breakfast forgot the tea-tray, and letting it
fall plump on the floor, stood stock still with eyes and mouth wide
open, just as if he had seen a ghost.
Julius was no longer visible. He had hastened down to the wharf,
after the oration of Childe Roeliff, where he found the steamboat just
departing for Quebec, and joined the party of Mrs. Dowdykin, the Count
Capo d'Oca, and the picturesque hunters, who were "tired to death," as
Of the condescending assent of Mrs. Orendorf to the marriage of
Minerva and Reuben, to which she was partly induced by a secret belief
that Childe Roeliff was in his heart opposed to the match; partly by
having learned that all the seignors of Montreal were either married,
or forbidden to marry, or dead; and partly by the solemn promise of
Reuben Rossmore to employ in future a more fashionable tailor;—how
she, all her life, talked of her travels into foreign parts—how the
young couple married, and did, in good time, become, as it were, the
parents of a goodly race;—and concerning the final catastrophe of the
Platonics of Mrs. Asheputtle and Julius, behold! will they not,
peradventure, be found in the second part of Childe Roeliff's
Pilgrimage, provided that erudite and liberal patron and pattern of
literature, Mr. Francis Herbert, shall think proper to propound another
prize to be contested and tilted for, with gray-goose lance in rest, by
all comers of honourable descent and degree?