Infomotions, Inc.Winter Sunshine / Burroughs, John, 1837-1921



Author: Burroughs, John, 1837-1921
Title: Winter Sunshine
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): fox; apple
Contributor(s): Moyle, J. B. [Translator]
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Identifier: etext4279
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Title: Winter Sunshine

Author: John Burroughs

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THE WRITINGS OF JOHN BURROUGHS
WITH PORTRAITS AND MANY ILLUSTRATIONS


VOLUME II

WINTER SUNSHINE




PREFATORY

The only part of my book I wish to preface is the last part,--the
foreign sketches,--and it is not much matter about these, since if they
do not contain their own proof, I shall not attempt to supply it here.

I have been told that De Lolme, who wrote a notable book on the English
Constitution, said that after he had been in England a few weeks, he
fully made up his mind to write a book on that country; after he had
lived there a year, he still thought of writing a book, but was not so
certain about it, but that after a residence of ten years he abandoned
his first design altogether. Instead of furnishing an argument against
writing out one's first impressions of a country, I think the
experience of the Frenchman shows the importance of doing it at once.
The sensations of the first day are what we want,--the first flush of
the traveler's thought and feeling, before his perception and
sensibilities become cloyed or blunted, or before he in any way becomes
a part of that which he would observe and describe. Then the American
in England is just enough at home to enable him to discriminate subtle
shades and differences at first sight which might escape a traveler of
another and antagonistic race. He has brought with him, but little
modified or impaired, his whole inheritance of English ideas and
predilections, and much of what he sees affects him like a memory. It
is his own past, his ante-natal life, and his long-buried ancestors
look through his eyes and perceive with his sense.

I have attempted only the surface, and to express my own first day's
uncloyed and unalloyed satisfaction. Of course, I have put these things
through my own processes and given them my own coloring, (as who would
not), and if other travelers do not find what I did, it is no fault of
mine; or if the "Britishers" do not deserve all the pleasant things I
say of them, why then so much the worse for them.

In fact, if it shall appear that I have treated this part in the same
spirit that I have the themes in the other chapters, reporting only
such things as impressed me and stuck to me and tasted good, I shall be
satisfied.

   ESOPUS-ON-HUDSON, November, 1875.



CONTENTS
    I. WINTER SUNSHINE
   II. THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD
  III. THE SNOW-WALKERS
   IV. THE FOX
    V. A MARCH CHRONICLE
   VI. AUTUMN TIDES
  VII. THE APPLE
 VIII. AN OCTOBER ABROAD:
             I. MELLOW ENGLAND
            II. ENGLISH CHARACTERISTICS
           III. A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE
            IV. FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK
        INDEX



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
 AN ENGLISH LANE
     From a photograph by Walmsley Brothers
 DRIFTS ABOUT A STONE WALL
     From a photograph by Herbert W.  Gleason
 DOWNY WOODPECKER
     From drawing by L.  A.  Fuertes
 COWS IN AN ENGLISH LANDSCAPE
     From a photograph by Walmsley Brothers
 St. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL
     From a photograph by Clifton Johnson
 IRISH COTTAGES
     From a photograph by Clifton Johnson




WINTER SUNSHINE

I. WINTER SUNSHINE

An American resident in England is reported as saying that the English
have an atmosphere but no climate. The reverse of this remark would
apply pretty accurately to our own case. We certainly have a climate, a
two-edged one that cuts both ways, threatening us with sun-stroke on
the one hand and with frost-stroke on the other; but we have no
atmosphere to speak of in New York and New England, except now and then
during the dog-days, or the fitful and uncertain Indian Summer. An
atmosphere, the quality of tone and mellowness in the near distance, is
the product of a more humid climate. Hence, as we go south from New
York,the atmospheric effects become more rich and varied, until on
reaching the Potomac you find an atmosphere as well as a climate. The
latter is still on the vehement American scale, full of sharp and
violent changes and contrasts, baking and blistering in summer, and
nipping and blighting in winter, but the spaces are not so purged and
bare; the horizon wall does not so often have the appearance of having
just been washed and scrubbed down. There is more depth and visibility
to the open air, a stronger infusion of the Indian Summer element
throughout the year, than is found farther north. The days are softer
and more brooding, and the nights more enchanting. It is here that Walt
Whitman saw the full moon

       "Pour down Night's nimbus floods,"

as any one may see her, during the full, from October to May.  There is
more haze and vapor in the atmosphere during that period, and every
pariticle seems to collect and hold the pure radiance until the world
swims with the lunar outpouring. Is not the full moon always on the
side of fair weather? I think it is Sir William Herschel who says her
influence tends to dispel the clouds. Certain it is her beauty is
seldom lost or even veiled in this southern or semi-southern clime.

       "Floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous,
       Indolent sinking sun, burning, expanding the air,"

a description that would not apply with the same force farther north,
where the air seems thinner and less capable of absorbing and holding
the sunlight. Indeed, the opulence and splendor of our climate, at
least the climate of the Atlantic seaboard, cannot be fully appreciated
by the dweller north of the thirty-ninth parallel. It seemed as if I
had never seen but a second-rate article of sunlight or moonlight until
I had taken up my abode in the National Capital. It may be, perhaps,
because we have such splendid specimens of both at the period of the
year when one values such things highest, namely, in the fall and
winter and early spring. Sunlight is good any time, but a bright,
evenly tempered day is certainly more engrossing to the attention in
winter than in summer, and such days seem the rule, and not the
exception, in the Washington winter. The deep snows keep to the north,
the heavy rains to the south, leaving a blue space central over the
border States. And there is not one of the winter months but wears this
blue zone as a girdle.

I am not thinking especially of the Indian summer, that charming but
uncertain second youth of the New England year, but of regularly
recurring lucid intervals in the weather system of Virginia fall and
winter, when the best our climate is capable of stand
revealed,--southern days with northern blood in their veins,
exhilarating, elastic, full of action, the hyperborean oxygen of the
North tempered by the dazzling sun of the South, a little bitter in
winter to all travelers but the pedestrian,--to him sweet and
warming,--but in autumn a vintage that intoxicates all lovers of the
open air.

It is impossible not to dilate and expand under such skies.  One
breathes deeply and steps proudly, and if he have any of the eagle
nature in him, it comes to the surface then. There is a sense of
altitude about these dazzling November and December days, of
mountain-tops and pure ether. The earth in passing through the fire of
summer seems to have lost all its dross, and life all its impediments.

But what does not the dweller in the National Capital endure in
reaching these days! Think of the agonies of the heated term, the
ragings of the dog-star, the purgatory of heat and dust, of baking,
blistering pavements, of cracked and powdered fields, of dead, stifling
night air, from which every tonic and antiseptic quality seems
eliminated, leaving a residuum of sultry malaria and all-diffusing
privy and sewer gases, that lasts from the first of July to near the
middle of September! But when October is reached, the memory of these
things is afar off, and the glory of the days is a perpetual surprise.

I sally out in the morning with the ostensible purpose of gathering
chestnuts, or autumn leaves, or persimmons, or exploring some run or
branch. It is, say, the last of October or the first of November. The
air is not balmy, but tart and pungent, like the flavor of the
red-cheeked apples by the roadside. In the sky not a cloud, not a
speck; a vast dome of blue ether lightly suspended above the world. The
woods are heaped with color like a painter's palette,--great splashes
of red and orange and gold. The ponds and streams bear upon their
bosoms leaves of all tints, from the deep maroon of the oak to the pale
yellow of the chestnut. In the glens and nooks it is so still that the
chirp of a solitary cricket is noticeable. The red berries of the
dogwood and spice-bush and other shrubs shine in the sun like rubies
and coral. The crows fly high above the earth, as they do only on such
days, forms of ebony floating across the azure, and the buzzards look
like kingly birds, sailing round and round.

Or it may be later in the season, well into December.  The days are
equally bright, but a little more rugged. The mornings are ushered in
by an immense spectrum thrown upon the eastern sky. A broad bar of red
and orange lies along the low horizon, surmounted by an expanse of
color in which green struggles with yellow and blue with green half the
way to the zenith. By and by the red and orange spread upward and grow
dim, the spectrum fades, and the sky becomes suffused with yellow white
light, and in a moment the fiery scintillations of the sun begin to
break across the Maryland hills. Then before long the mists and vapors
uprise like the breath of a giant army, and for an hour or two, one is
reminded of a November morning in England. But by mid-forenoon the only
trace of the obscurity that remains is a slight haze, and the day is
indeed a summons and a challenge to come forth. If the October days
were a cordial like the sub-acids of a fruit, these are a tonic like
the wine of iron. Drink deep, or be careful how you taste this December
vintage. The first sip may chill, but a full draught warms and
invigorates. No loitering by the brooks or in the woods now, but
spirited, rugged walking along the public highway. The sunbeams are
welcome now. They seem like pure electricity,--like a friendly and
recuperating lightning. Are we led to think electricity abounds only in
the summer when we see storm-clouds, as it were, the veins and ore-beds
of it? I imagine it is equally abundant in winter, and more equable and
better tempered. Who ever breasted a snowstorm without being excited
and exhilarated, as if this meteor had come charged with latent aurorae
of the North, as doubtless it has? It is like being pelted with sparks
from a battery. Behold the frost-work on the pane,--the wild, fantastic
limnings and etchings! can there be any doubt but this subtle agent has
been here? Where is it not? It is the life of the crystal, the
architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam.
This crisp winter air is full of it. When I come in at night after an
all-day tramp I am charged like a Leyden jar; my hair crackles and
snaps beneath the comb like a cat's back, and a strange, new glow
diffuses itself through my system.

It is a spur that one feels at this season more than at any other.  How
nimbly you step forth! The woods roar, the waters shine, and the hills
look invitingly near. You do not miss the flowers and the songsters, or
wish the trees or the fields any different, or the heavens any nearer.
Every object pleases. A rail fence, running athwart the hills, now in
sunshine and now in shadow,--how the eye lingers upon it! Or the
strait, light-gray trunks of the trees, where the woods have recently
been laid open by a road or clearing,--how curious they look, and as if
surprised in undress! Next year they will begin to shoot out branches
and make themselves a screen. Or the farm scenes,--the winter barnyards
littered with husks and straw, the rough-coated horses, the cattle
sunning themselves or walking down to the spring to drink, the domestic
fowls moving about,--there is a touch of sweet, homely life in these
things that the winter sun enhances and brings out. Every sign of life
is welcome at this season. I love to hear dogs bark, hens cackle, and
boys shout; one has no privacy with nature now, and does not wish to
seek her in nooks and hidden ways. She is not at home if he goes there;
her house is shut up and her hearth cold; only the sun and sky, and
perchance the waters, wear the old look, and to-day we will make love
to them, and they shall abundantly return it.

Even the crows and the buzzards draw the eye fondly.  The National
Capital is a great place for buzzards, and I make the remark in no
double or allegorical sense either, for the buzzards I mean are black
and harmless as doves, though perhaps hardly dovelike in their tastes.
My vulture is also a bird of leisure, and sails through the ether on
long flexible pinions, as if that was the one delight of his life. Some
birds have wings, others have "pinions." The buzzard enjoys this latter
distinctions. There is something in the sound of the word that suggests
that easy, dignified, undulatory movement. He does not propel himself
along by sheer force of muscle, after the plebeian fashion of the crow,
for instance, but progresses by a kind of royal indirection that
puzzles the eye. Even on a windy winter day he rides the vast aerial
billows as placidly as ever, rising and falling as he comes up toward
you, carving his way through the resisting currents by a slight
oscillation to the right and left, but never once beating the air
openly.

This superabundance of wing power is very unequally distributed among
the feathered races, the hawks and vultures having by far the greater
share of it. They cannot command the most speed, but their apparatus
seems the most delicate and consummate. Apparently a fine play of
muscle, a subtle shifting of the power along the outstretched wings, a
perpetual loss and a perpetual recovery of the equipoise, sustains them
and bears them along. With them flying is a luxury, a fine art; not
merely a quicker and safer means of transit from one point to another,
but a gift so free and spontaneous that work becomes leisure and
movement rest. They are not so much going somewhere, from this perch to
that, as they are abandoning themselves to the mere pleasure of riding
upon the air.

And it is beneath such grace and high-bred leisure that Nature hides in
her creatures the occupation of scavenger and carrion-eater!

But the worst thing about the buzzard is his silence.  The crow caws,
the hawk screams, the eagle barks, but the buzzard says not a word. So
far as I have observed, he has no vocal powers whatever. Nature dare
not trust him to speak. In his case she preserves discreet silence.

The crow may not have the sweet voice which the fox in his flattery
attributed to him, but he has a good, strong, native speech,
nevertheless. How much character there is in it! How much thrift and
independence! Of course his plumage is firm, his color decided, his wit
quick. He understands you at once and tells you so; so does the hawk by
his scornful, defiant whir-r-r-r-r. Hardy, happy outlaws, the crows,
how I love them! Alert, social, republican, always able to look out for
himself, not afraid of the cold and the snow, fishing when flesh is
scarce, and stealing when other resources fail, the crow is a character
I would not willingly miss from the landscape. I love to see his track
in the snow or the mud, and his graceful pedestrianism about the brown
fields.

He is no interloper, but has the air and manner of being thoroughly at
home, and in rightful possession of the land. He is no sentimentalist
like some of the plaining, disconsolate song-birds, but apparently is
always in good health and good spirits. No matter who is sick, or
dejected, or unsatisfied, or what the weather is, or what the price of
corn, the crow is well and finds life sweet. He is the dusky embodiment
of worldly wisdom and prudence. Then he is one of Nature's
self-appointed constables and greatly magnifies his office. He would
fain arrest every hawk or owl or grimalkin that ventures abroad. I have
known a posse of them to beset the fox and cry "Thief!" till Reynard
hid himself for shame. Do I say the fox flattered the crow when he told
him he had a sweet voice? Yet one of the most musical sounds in nature
proceeds from the crow. All the crow tribe, from the blue jay up, are
capable of certain low ventriloquial notes that have peculiar cadence
and charm. I often hear the crow indulging in his in winter, and am
reminded of the sound of the dulcimer. The bird stretches up and exerts
himself like a cock in the act of crowing, and gives forth a peculiarly
clear, vitreous sound that is sure to arrest and reward your attention.
This is no doubt the song the fox begged to be favored with, as in
delivering it the crow must inevitably let drop the piece of meat.

The crow in his purity, I believe, is seen and heard only in the North.
Before you reach the Potomac there is an infusion of a weaker element,
the fish crow, whose helpless feminine call contrasts strongly with the
hearty masculine caw of the original Simon.

In passing from crows to colored men, I hope I am not guilty of any
disrespect toward the latter. In my walks about Washington, both winter
and summer, colored men are about the only pedestrians I meet; and I
meet them everywhere, in the fields and in the woods and in the public
road, swinging along with that peculiar, rambling, elastic gait, taking
advantage of the short cuts and threading the country with paths and
byways. I doubt if the colored man can compete with his white brother
as a walker; his foot is too flat and the calves of his legs too small,
but he is certainly the most picturesque traveler to be seen on the
road. He bends his knees more than the white man, and oscillates more
to and fro, or from side to side. The imaginary line which his head
describes is full of deep and long undulations. Even the boys and young
men sway as if bearing a burden.

Along the fences and by the woods I come upon their snares, dead-falls,
and rud box-traps. The freedman is a successful trapper and hunter, and
has by nature an insight into these things. I frequently see him in
market or on his way thither with a tame 'possum clinging timidly to
his shoulders, or a young coon or fox led by a chain. Indeed, the
colored man behaves precisely like the rude unsophisticated peasant
that he is, and there is fully as much virtue in him, using the word in
its true sense, as in the white peasant; indeed, much more than in the
poor whites who grew up by his side; while there is often a benignity
and a depth of human experience and sympathy about some of these dark
faces that comes home to one like the best one sees in art or reads in
books.

One touch of nature makes all the world akin, and there is certainly a
touch of nature about the colored man; indeed, I had almost said, of
Anglo-Saxon nature. They have the quaintness and homeliness of the
simple English stock. I seem to see my grandfather and grandmother in
the ways and doings of these old "uncles" and "aunties;" indeed, the
lesson comes nearer home than even that, for I seem to see myself in
them, and, what is more, I see that they see themselves in me, and that
neither party has much to boast of.

The negro is a plastic human creature, and is thoroughly domesticated
and thoroughly anglicized. The same cannot be said of the Indian, for
instance, between whom and us there can never exist any fellowship, any
community of feeling or interest; or is there any doubt but the
Chinaman will always remain to us the same impenetrable mystery he has
been from the first?

But there is no mystery about the negro, and he touches the Anglo-Saxon
at more points than the latter is always willing to own, taking as
kindly and naturally to all his customs and usages, yea, to all his
prejudices and superstitions, as if to the manner born. The colored
population in very many respects occupies the same position as that
occupied by our rural populations a generation or two ago, seeing signs
and wonders, haunted by the fear of ghosts and hobgoblins, believing in
witchcraft, charms, the evil eye, etc. In religious matters, also, they
are on the same level, and about the only genuine shouting Methodists
that remain are to be found in the colored churches. Indeed, I fear the
negro tries to ignore or forget himself as far as possible, and that he
would deem it felicity enough to play second fiddle to the white man
all his days. He liked his master, but he likes the Yankee better, not
because he regards him as his deliverer, but mainly because the
two-handed thrift of the Northerner, his varied and wonderful ability,
completely captivates the imagination of the black man, just learning
to shift for himself.

How far he has caught or is capable of being imbued with the Yankee
spirit of enterprise and industry, remains to be seen. In some things
he has already shown himself an apt scholar. I notice, for instance,
that he is about as industrious an office-seeker as the most patriotic
among us, and that he learns with amazing ease and rapidity all the
arts and wiles of the politicians. He is versed in parades, mass
meetings, caucuses, and will soon shine on the stump. I observe, also,
that he is not far behind us in the observance of the fashions, and
that he is as good a church-goer, theatre-goer, and pleasure-seeker
generally, as his means will allow.

As a bootblack or newsboy, he is an adept in all the tricks of the
trade; and as a fast young man about town among his kind, he is worthy
his white prototype: the swagger, the impertinent look, the coarse
remark, the loud laugh, are all in the best style. As a lounger and
starer also, on the street corners of a Sunday afternoon, he has taken
his degree.

On the other hand, I know cases among our colored brethren, plenty of
them, of conscientious and well-directed effort and industry in the
worthiest fields, in agriculture, in trade, in the mechanic arts, that
show the colored man has in him all the best rudiments of a citizen of
the States.

Lest my winter sunshine appear to have too many dark rays in
it,--buzzards, crows, and colored men,--I hasten to add the brown and
neutral tints; and maybe a red ray can be extracted from some of these
hard, smooth, sharp-gritted roads that radiate from the National
Capital. Leading out of Washington there are several good roads that
invite the pedestrian. There is the road that leads west or northwest
from Georgetown, the Tenallytown road, the very sight of which, on a
sharp, lustrous winter Sunday, makes the feet tingle. Where it cuts
through a hill or high knoll, it is so red it fairly glows in the
sunlight. I'll warrant you will kindle, and your own color will mount,
if you resign yourself to it. It will conduct you to the wild and rocky
scenery of the upper Potomac, to Great Falls, and on to Harper's Ferry,
if your courage holds out. Then there is the road that leads north over
Meridian Hill, across Piny Branch, and on through the wood of Crystal
Springs to Fort Stevens, and so into Maryland. This is the proper route
for an excursion in the spring to gather wild flowers, or in the fall
for a nutting expedition, as it lays open some noble woods and a great
variety of charming scenery; or for a musing moonlight saunter, say in
December, when the Enchantress has folded and folded the world in her
web, it is by all means the course to take. Your staff rings on the
hard ground; the road, a misty white belt, gleams and vanishes before
you; the woods are cavernous and still; the fields lie in a lunar
trance, and you will yourself return fairly mesmerized by the beauty of
the scene.

Or you can bend your steps eastward over the Eastern Branch, up Good
Hope Hill, and on till you strike the Marlborough pike, as a trio of us
did that cold February Sunday we walked from Washington to Pumpkintown
and back.

A short sketch of this pilgrimage is a fair sample of these winter
walks.

The delight I experienced in making this new acquisition to my
geography was of itself sufficient to atone for any aches or weariness
I may have felt. The mere fact that one may walk from Washington to
Pumpkintown was a discovery I had been all these years in making. I had
walked to Sligo, and to the Northwest Branch, and had made the Falls of
the Potomac in a circuitous route of ten miles, coming suddenly upon
the river in one of its wildest passes; but I little dreamed all the
while that there, in a wrinkle (or shall I say furrow?) of the Maryland
hills, almost visible from the outlook of the bronze squaw on the dome
of the Capitol, and just around the head of Oxen Run, lay Pumpkintown.

The day was cold but the sun was bright, and the foot took hold of
those hard, dry, gritty Maryland roads with the keenest relish. How the
leaves of the laurel glistened! The distant oak woods suggested
gray-blue smoke, while the recesses of the pines looked like the lair
of Night. Beyond the District limits we struck the Marlborough pike,
which, round and hard and white, held squarely to the east and was
visible a mile ahead. Its friction brought up the temperature amazingly
and spurred the pedestrians into their best time. As I trudged along,
Thoreau's lines came naturally to mind:--

       "When the spring stirs my blood
         With the instinct of travel,

       I can get enough gravel
         On the old Marlborough road."

Cold as the day was (many degrees below freezing), I heard and saw
bluebirds, and as we passed along, every sheltered tangle and overgrown
field or lane swarmed with snowbirds and sparrows,--the latter mainly
Canada or tree sparrows, with a sprinkling of the song, and, maybe, one
or two other varieties. The birds are all social and gregarious in
winter, and seem drawn together by common instinct. Where you find one,
you will not only find others of the same kind, but also several
different kinds. The regular winter residents go in little bands, like
a well-organized pioneer corps,--the jays and woodpeckers in advance,
doing the heavier work; the nuthatches next, more lightly armed; and
the creepers and kinglets, with their slender beaks and microscopic
eyes, last of all. [Footnote: It seems to me this is a borrowed
observation, but I do not know to whom to credit it.]

Now and then, among the gray and brown tints, there was a dash of
scarlet,--the cardinal grosbeak, whose presence was sufficient to
enliven any scene. In the leafless trees, as a ray of sunshine fell
upon him, he was visible a long way off, glowing like a crimson
spar,--the only bit of color in the whole landscape.

Maryland is here rather a level, unpicturesque country,--the gaze of
the traveler bounded, at no great distance, by oak woods, with here and
there a dark line of pine. We saw few travelers, passed a ragged squad
or two of colored boys and girls, and met some colored women on their
way to or from church, perhaps. Never ask a colored person--at least
the crude, rustic specimens--any question that involves a memory of
names, or any arbitrary signs; you will rarely get a satisfactory
answer. If you could speak to them in their own dialect, or touch the
right spring in their minds, you would, no doubt, get the desired
information. They are as local in their notions and habits as the
animals, and go on much the same principles, as no doubt we all do,
more or less. I saw a colored boy come into a public office one day,
and ask to see a man with red hair; the name was utterly gone from him.
The man had red whiskers, which was as near as he had come to the mark.
Ask your washerwoman what street she lives on, or where such a one has
moved to, and the chances are that she cannot tell you, except that it
is a "right smart distance" this way or that, or near Mr. So-and-so, or
by such and such a place, describing some local feature. I love to
amuse myself, when walking through the market, by asking the old
aunties, and the young aunties, too, the names of their various
"yarbs." It seems as if they must trip on the simplest names. Bloodroot
they generally call "grubroot;" trailing arbutus goes by the names of
"troling" arbutus, "training arbuty-flower," and ground "ivory;" in
Virginia they call woodchucks "moonacks."

On entering Pumpkintown--a cluster of five or six small, whitewashed
blockhouses, toeing squarely on the highway--the only inhabitant we saw
was a small boy, who was as frank and simple as if he had lived on
pumpkins and marrow squashes all his days.

Half a mile farther on, we turned to the right into a characteristic
Southern road,--a way entirely unkempt, and wandering free as the wind;
now fading out into a broad field; now contracting into a narrow track
between hedges; anon roaming with delightful abandon through swamps and
woods, asking no leave and keeping no bounds. About two o'clock we
stopped in an opening in a pine wood and ate our lunch. We had the good
fortune to hit upon a charming place. A wood-chopper had been there,
and let in the sunlight full and strong; and the white chips, the
newly-piled wood, and the mounds of green boughs, were welcome
features, and helped also to keep off the wind that would creep through
under the pines. The ground was soft and dry, with a carpet an inch
thick of pine-needles; and with a fire, less for warmth than to make
the picture complete, we ate our bread and beans with the keenest
satisfaction, and with a relish that only the open air can give.

A fire, of course,--an encampment in the woods at this season without a
fire would be like leaving Hamlet out of the play. A smoke is your
standard, your flag; it defines and locates your camp at once; you are
an interloper until you have made a fire; then you take possession;
then the trees and rocks seem to look upon you more kindly, and you
look more kindly upon them. As one opens his budget, so he opens his
heart by a fire. Already something has gone out from you, and comes
back as a faint reminiscence and home feeling in the air and place. One
looks out upon the crow or the buzzard that sails by as from his own
fireside. It is not I that am a wanderer and a stranger now; it is the
crow and the buzzard. The chickadees were silent at first, but now they
approach by little journeys, as if to make our acquaintance. The
nuthatches, also, cry "Yank! yank!" in no inhospitable tones; and those
purple finches there in the cedars,--are they not stealing our
berries?

How one lingers about a fire under such circumstances, loath to leave
it, poking up the sticks, throwing in the burnt ends, adding another
branch and yet another, and looking back as he turns to go to catch one
more glimpse of the smoke going up through the trees! I reckon it is
some remnant of the primitive man, which we all carry about with us. He
has not yet forgotten his wild, free life, his arboreal habitations,
and the sweet-bitter times he had in those long-gone ages. With me, he
wakes up directly at the smell of smoke, of burning branches in the
open air; and all his old love of fire and his dependence upon it, in
the camp or the cave, come freshly to mind.

On resuming our march, we filed off along a charming wood-path,--a
regular little tunnel through the dense pines, carpeted with silence,
and allowing us to look nearly the whole length of it through its soft
green twilight out into the open sunshine of the fields beyond. A pine
wood in Maryland or in Virginia is quite a different thing from a pine
wood in Maine or Minnesota,--the difference, in fact, between yellow
pine and white. The former, as it grows hereabout, is short and
scrubby, with branches nearly to the ground, and looks like the
dwindling remnant of a greater race.

Beyond the woods, the path led us by a colored man's habitation,--a
little, low frame house, on a knoll, surrounded by the quaint devices
and rude makeshifts of these quaint and rude people. A few poles stuck
in the ground, clapboarded with cedar-boughs and cornstalks, and
supporting a roof of the same, gave shelter to a rickety one-horse
wagon and some farm implements. Near this there was a large, compact
tent, made entirely of cornstalks, with, for door, a bundle of the
same, in the dry, warm, nest-like interior of which the husking of the
corn crop seemed to have taken place. A few rods farther on, we passed
through another humble dooryard, musical with dogs and dusky with
children. We crossed here the outlying fields of a large, thrifty,
well-kept-looking farm with a showy, highly ornamental frame house in
the centre. There was even a park with deer, and among the gayly
painted outbuildings I noticed a fancy dovecote, with an immense flock
of doves circling aboxe it; some whiskey-dealer from the city, we were
told, trying to take the poison out of his money by agriculture.

We next passed through some woods, when we emerged into a broad,
sunlit, fertile-looking valley, called Oxen Run. We stooped down and
drank of its clear white-pebbled stream, in the veritable spot, I
suspect, where the oxen do. There were clouds of birds here on the warm
slopes, with the usual sprinkling along the bushy margin of the stream
of scarlet grosbeaks. The valley of Oxen Run has many good-looking
farms, with old picturesque houses, and loose rambling barns, such as
artists love to put into pictures.

But it is a little awkward to go east.  It always seems left-handed.  I
think this is the feeling of all walkers, and that Thoreau's experience
in this respect was not singular. The great magnet is the sun, and we
follow him. I notice that people lost in the woods work to the
westward. When one comes out of his house and asks himself, "Which way
shall I walk?" and looks up and down and around for a sign or a token,
does he not nine times out of ten turn to the west? He inclines this
way as surely as the willow wand bends toward the water. There is
something more genial and friendly in this direction.

Occasionally in winter I experience a southern inclination, and cross
Long Bridge and rendezvous for the day in some old earthwork on the
Virginia hills. The roads are not so inviting in this direction, but
the line of old forts with rabbits burrowing in the bomb-proofs, and a
magazine, or officers' quarters turned into a cow stable by colored
squatters, form an interesting feature. But, whichever way I go, I am
glad I came. All roads lead up to the Jerusalem the walker seeks. There
is everywhere the vigorous and masculine winter air, and the impalpable
sustenance the mind draws from all natural forms.



II. THE EXHILARATIONS OF THE ROAD

       Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road.
                                               WALT WHITMAN.

Ocasionally on the sidewalk, amid the dapper, swiftly moving,
high-heeled boots and gaiters, I catch a glimpse of the naked human
foot. Nimbly it scuffs along, the toes spread, the sides flatten, the
heel protrudes; it grasps the curbing, or bends to the form of the
uneven surfaces,--a thing sensuous and alive, that seems to take
cognizance of whatever it touches or passes. How primitive and uncivil
it looks in such company,--a real barbarian in the parlor! We are so
unused to the human anatomy, to simple, unadorned nature, that it looks
a little repulsive; but it is beautiful for all that. Though it be a
black foot and an unwashed foot, it shall be exalted. It is a thing of
life amid leather, a free spirit amid cramped, a wild bird amid caged,
an athlete amid consumptives. It is the symbol of my order, the Order
of Walkers. That unhampered, vitally playing piece of anatomy is the
type of the pedestrian, man returned to first principles, in direct
contact and intercourse with the earth and the elements, his faculties
unsheathed, his mind plastic, his body toughened, his heart light, his
soul dilated; while those cramped and distorted members in the calf and
kid are the unfortunate wretches doomed to carriages and cushions.

I am not going to advocate the disuse of boots and shoes, or the
abandoning of the improved modes of travel; but I am going to brag as
lustily as I can on behalf of the pedestrian, and show how all the
shining angels second and accompany the man who goes afoot, while all
the dark spirits are ever looking out for a chance to ride.

When I see the discomforts that able-bodied American men will put up
with rather than go a mile or half a mile on foot, the abuses they will
tolerate and encourage, crowding the street car on a little fall in the
temperature or the appearance of an inch or two of snow, packing up to
overflowing, dangling to the straps, treading on each other's toes,
breathing each other's breaths, crushing the women and children,
hanging by tooth and nail to a square inch of the platform, imperiling
their limbs and killing the horses,--I think the commonest tramp in the
street has good reason to felicitate himself on his rare privilege of
going afoot. Indeed, a race that neglects or despises this primitive
gift, that fears the touch of the soil, that has no footpaths, no
community of ownership in the land which they imply, that warns off the
walker as a trespasser, that knows no way but the highway, the
carriage-way, that forgets the stile, the foot-bridge, that even
ignores the rights of the pedestrian in the public road, providing no
escape for him but in the ditch or up the bank, is in a fair way to far
more serious degeneracy.

Shakespeare makes the chief qualification of the walker a merry
heart:--

       "Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
          And merrily hent the stile-a;

       A merry heart goes all the day,
          Your sad tires in a mile-a."

The human body is a steed that goes freest and longest under a light
rider, and the lightest of all riders is a cheerful heart. Your sad, or
morose, or embittered, or preoccupied heart settles heavily into the
saddle, and the poor beast, the body, breaks down the first mile.
Indeed, the heaviest thing in the world is a heavy heart. Next to that,
the most burdensome to the walker is a heart not in perfect sympathy
and accord with the body,--a reluctant or unwilling heart. The horse
and rider must not only both be willing to go the same way, but the
rider must lead the way and infuse his own lightness and eagerness into
the steed. Herein is no doubt our trouble, and one reason of the decay
of the noble art in this country. We are unwilling walkers. We are not
innocent and simple-hearted enough to enjoy a walk. We have fallen from
that state of grace which capacity to enjoy a walk implies. It cannot
be said that as a people we are so positively sad, or morose, or
melancholic as that we are vacant of that sportiveness and surplusage
of animal spirits that characterized our ancestors, and that springs
from full and harmonious life,--a sound heart in accord with a sound
body. A man must invest himself near at hand and in common things, and
be content with a steady and moderate return, if he would know the
blessedness of a cheerful heart and the sweetness of a walk over the
round earth. This is a lesson the American has yet to
learn,--capability of amusement on a low key. He expects rapid and
extraordinary returns. He would make the very elemental laws pay usury.
He has nothing to invest in a walk; it is too slow, too cheap. We crave
the astonishing, the exciting, the far away, and do not know the
highways of the gods when we see them,--always a sign of the decay of
the faith and simplicity of man.

If I say to my neighbor, "Come with me, I have great wonders to show
you," he pricks up his ears and comes forthwith; but when I take him on
the hills under the full blaze of the sun, or along the country road,
our footsteps lighted by the moon and stars, and say to him, "Behold,
these are the wonders, these are the circuits of the gods, this we now
tread is a morning star," he feels defrauded, and as if I had played
him a trick. And yet nothing less than dilatation and enthusiasm like
this is the badge of the master walker.

If we are not sad, we are careworn, hurried, discontented, mortgaging
the present for the promise of the future. If we take a walk, it is as
we take a prescription, with about the same relish and with about the
same purpose; and the more the fatigue, the greater our faith in the
virtue of the medicine.

Of those gleesome saunters over the hills in spring, or those sallies
of the body in winter, those excursions into space when the foot
strikes fire at every step, when the air tastes like a new and finer
mixture, when we accumulate force and gladness as we go along, when the
sight of objects by the roadside and of the fields and woods pleases
more than pictures or than all the art in the world,--those ten or
twelve mile dashes that are but the wit and effluence of the corporeal
powers,--of such diversion and open road entertainment, I say, most of
us know very little.

I notice with astonishment that at our fashionable watering-places
nobody walks; that, of all those vast crowds of health-seekers and
lovers of country air, you can never catch one in the fields or woods,
or guilty of trudging along the country road with dust on his shoes and
sun-tan on his hands and face. The sole amusement seems to be to eat
and dress and sit about the hotels and glare at each other. The men
look bored, the women look tired, and all seem to sigh, "O Lord! what
shall we do to be happy and not be vulgar?" Quite different from our
British cousins across the water, who have plenty of amusement and
hilarity, spending most of the time at their watering-places in the
open air, strolling, picnicking, boating, climbing, briskly walking,
apparently with little fear of sun-tan or of compromising their
"gentility."

It is indeed astonishing with what ease and hilarity the English walk.
To an American it seems a kind of infatuation. When Dickens was in this
country, I imagine the aspirants to the honor of a walk with him were
not numerous. In a pedestrian tour of England by an American, I read
that, "after breakfast with the Independent minister, he walked with us
for six miles out of town upon our road. Three little boys and girls,
the youngest six years old, also accompanied us. They were romping and
rambling about all the while, and their morning walk must have been as
much as fifteen miles; but they thought nothing of it, and when we
parted were apparently as fresh as when they started, and very loath to
return."

I fear, also, the American is becoming disqualified for the manly art
of walking by a falling off in the size of his foot. He cherishes and
cultivates this part of his anatomy, and apparently thinks his taste
and good breeding are to be inferred from its diminutive size. A small,
trim foot, well booted or gaitered, is the national vanity. How we
stare at the big feet of foreigners, and wonder what may be the price
of leather in those countries, and where all the aristocratic blood is,
that these plebeian extremities so predominate! If we were admitted to
the confidences of the shoemaker to Her Majesty or to His Royal
Highness, no doubt we should modify our views upon this latter point,
for a truly large and royal nature is never stunted in the extremities;
a little foot never yet supported a great character.

It is said that Englishmen, when they first come to this country, are
for some time under the impression that American women all have
deformed feet, they are so coy of them and so studiously careful to
keep them hid. That there is an astonishing difference between the
women of the two countries in this respect, every traveler can testify;
and that there is a difference equally astonishing between the
pedestrian habits and capabilities of the rival sisters, is also
certain.

The English pedestrian, no doubt, has the advantage of us in the matter
of climate; for, notwithstanding the traditional gloom and moroseness
of English skies, they have in that country none of those relaxing,
sinking, enervating days, of which we have so many here, and which seem
especially trying to the female constitution,--days which withdraw all
support from the back and loins, and render walking of all things
burdensome. Theirs is a climate of which it has been said that "it
invites men abroad more days in the year and more hours in the day than
that of any other country."

Then their land is threaded with paths which invite the walker, and
which are scarcely less important than the highways. I heard of a surly
nobleman near London who took it into his head to close a footpath that
passed through his estate near his house, and open another a little
farther off. The pedestrians objected; the matter got into the courts,
and after protracted litigation the aristocrat was beaten. The path
could not be closed or moved. The memory of man ran not to the time
when there was not a footpath there, and every pedestrian should have
the right of way there still.

I remember the pleasure I had in the path that connects
Stratford-on-Avon with Shottery, Shakespeare's path when he went
courting Anne Hathaway. By the king's highway the distance is some
farther, so there is a well-worn path along the hedgerows and through
the meadows and turnip patches. The traveler in it has the privilege of
crossing the railroad track, an unusual privilege in England, and one
denied to the lord in his carriage, who must either go over or under
it. (It is a privilege, is it not, to be allowed the forbidden, even if
it be the privilege of being run over by the engine?) In strolling over
the South Downs, too, I was delighted to find that where the hill was
steepest some benefactor of the order of walkers had made notches in
the sward, so that the foot could bite the better and firmer; the path
became a kind of stairway, which I have no doubt the plowman respected.

When you see an English country church withdrawn, secluded, out of the
reach of wheels, standing amid grassy graves and surrounded by noble
trees, approached by paths and shaded lanes, you appreciate more than
ever this beautiful habit of the people. Only a race that knows how to
use its feet, and holds footpaths sacred, could put such a charm of
privacy and humility into such a structure. I think I should be tempted
to go to church myself if I saw all my neighbors starting off across
the fields or along paths that led to such charmed spots, and were sure
I should not be jostled or run over by the rival chariots of the
worshipers at the temple doors. I think that is what ails our religion;
humility and devoutness of heart leave one when he lays by his walking
shoes and walking clothes, and sets out for church drawn by something.

Indeed, I think it would be tantamount to an astonishing revival of
religion if the people would all walk to church on Sunday and walk home
again. Think how the stones would preach to them by the wayside; how
their benumbed minds would warm up beneath the friction of the gravel;
how their vain and foolish thoughts, their desponding thoughts, their
besetting demons of one kind and another, would drop behind them,
unable to keep up or to endure the fresh air! They would walk away from
their ennui, their worldly cares, their uncharitableness, their pride
of dress; for these devils always want to ride, while the simple
virtues are never so happy as when on foot. Let us walk by all means;
but if we will ride, get an ass.

Then the English claim that they are a more hearty and robust people
than we are. It is certain they are a plainer people, have plainer
tastes, dress plainer, build plainer, speak plainer, keep closer to
facts, wear broader shoes and coarser clothes, and place a lower
estimate on themselves,--all of which traits favor pedestrian habits.
The English grandee is not confined to his carriage; but if the
American aristocrat leaves his, he is ruined. Oh the weariness, the
emptiness, the plotting, the seeking rest and finding none, that go by
in the carriages! while your pedestrian is always cheerful, alert,
refreshed, with his heart in his hand and his hand free to all. He
looks down upon nobody; he is on the common level. His pores are all
open, his circulation is active, his digestion good. His heart is not
cold, nor are his faculties asleep. He is the only real traveler; he
alone tastes the "gay, fresh sentiment of the road." He is not
isolated, but is at one with things, with the farms and the industries
on either hand. The vital, universal currents play through him. He
knows the ground is alive; he feels the pulses of the wind, and reads
the mute language of things. His sympathies are all aroused; his senses
are continually reporting messages to his mind. Wind, frost, rain,
heat, cold, are something to him. He is not merely a spectator of the
panorama of nature, but a participator in it. He experiences the
country he passes through,--tastes it, feels it, absorbs it; the
traveler in his fine carriage sees it merely. This gives the fresh
charm to that class of books that may be called "Views Afoot," and to
the narratives of hunters, naturalists, exploring parties, etc. The
walker does not need a large territory. When you get into a railway car
you want a continent, the man in his carriage requires a township; but
a walker like Thoreau finds as much and more along the shores of Walden
Pond. The former, as it were, has merely time to glance at the headings
of the chapters, while the latter need not miss a line, and Thoreau
reads between the lines. Then the walker has the privilege of the
fields, the woods, the hills, the byways. The apples by the roadside
are for him, and the berries, and the spring of water, and the friendly
shelter; and if the weather is cold, he eats the frost grapes and the
persimmons, or even the white-meated turnip, snatched from the field he
passed through, with incredible relish.

Afoot and in the open road, one has a fair start in life at last.
There is no hindrance now. Let him put his best foot forward. He is on
the broadest human plane. This is on the level of all the great laws
and heroic deeds. From this platform he is eligible to any good
fortune. He was sighing for the golden age; let him walk to it. Every
step brings him nearer. The youth of the world is but a few days'
journey distant. Indeed, I know persons who think they have walked back
to that fresh aforetime of a single bright Sunday in autumn or early
spring. Before noon they felt its airs upon their cheeks, and by
nightfall, on the banks of some quiet stream, or along some path in the
wood, or on some hilltop, aver they have heard the voices and felt the
wonder and the mystery that so enchanted the early races of men.

I think if I could walk through a country, I should not only see many
things and have adventures that I should otherwise miss, but that I
should come into relations with that country at first hand, and with
the men and women in it, in a way that would afford the deepest
satisfaction. Hence I envy the good fortune of all walkers, and feel
like joining myself to every tramp that comes along. I am jealous of
the clergyman I read about the other day, who footed it from Edinburgh
to London, as poor Effie Deans did, carrying her shoes in her hand most
of the way, and over the ground that rugged Ben Jonson strode, larking
it to Scotland, so long ago. I read with longing of the pedestrian
feats of college youths, so gay and light-hearted, with their coarse
shoes on their feet and their knapsacks on their backs. It would have
been a good draught of the rugged cup to have walked with Wilson the
ornithologist, deserted by his companions, from Niagara to Philadelphia
through the snows of winter. I almost wish that I had been born to the
career of a German mechanic, that I might have had that delicious
adventurous year of wandering over my country before I settled down to
work. I think how much richer and firmer-grained life would be to me if
I could journey afoot through Florida and Texas, or follow the windings
of the Platte or the Yellowstone, or stroll through Oregon, or browse
for a season about Canada. In the bright, inspiring days of autumn I
only want the time and the companion to walk back to the natal spot,
the family nest, across two States and into the mountains of a third.
What adventures we would have by the way, what hard pulls, what
prospects from hills, what spectacles we would behold of night and day,
what passages with dogs, what glances, what peeps into windows, what
characters we should fall in with, and how seasoned and hardy we should
arrive at our destination!

For companion I should want a veteran of the war!  Those marches put
something into him I like. Even at this distance his mettle is but
little softened. As soon as he gets warmed up, it all comes back to
him. He catches your step and away you go, a gay, adventurous,
half-predatory couple. How quickly he falls into the old ways of jest
and anecdote and song! You may have known him for years without having
heard him hum an air, or more than casually revert to the subject of
his experience during the war. You have even questioned and
cross-questioned him without firing the train you wished. But get him
out on a vacation tramp, and you can walk it all out of him. By the
camp-fire at night, or swinging along the streams by day, song,
anecdote, adventure, come to the surface, and you wonder how your
companion has kept silent so long.

It is another proof of how walking brings out the true character of a
man. The devil never yet asked his victims to take a walk with him. You
will not be long in finding your companion out. All disguises will fall
away from him. As his pores open his character is laid bare. His
deepest and most private self will come to the top. It matters little
with whom you ride, so he be not a pickpocket; for both of you will,
very likely, settle down closer and firmer in your reserve, shaken down
like a measure of corn by the jolting as the journey proceeds. But
walking is a more vital copartnership; the relation is a closer and
more sympathetic one, and you do not feel like walking ten paces with a
stranger without speaking to him.

Hence the fastidiousness of the professional walker in choosing or
admitting a companion, and hence the truth of a remark of Emerson, that
you will generally fare better to take your dog than to invite your
neighbor. Your cur-dog is a true pedestrian, and your neighbor is very
likely a small politician. The dog enters thoroughly into the spirit of
the enterprise; he is not indifferent or preoccupied; he is constantly
sniffing adventure, laps at every spring, looks upon every field and
wood as a new world to be explored, is ever on some fresh trail, knows
something important will happen a little farther on, gazes with the
true wonder-seeing eyes, whatever the spot or whatever the road finds
it good to be there,--in short, is just that happy, delicious,
excursive vagabond that touches one at so many points, and whose human
prototype in a companion robs miles and leagues of half their power to
fatigue.

Persons who find themselves spent in a short walk to the market or the
post-office, or to do a little shopping, wonder how it is that their
pedestrian friends can compass so many weary miles and not fall down
from sheer exhaustion; ignorant of the fact that the walker is a kind
of projectile that drops far or near according to the expansive force
of the motive that set it in motion, and that it is easy enough to
regulate the charge according to the distance to be traversed. If I am
loaded to carry only one mile and am compelled to walk three, I
generally feel more fatigue than if I had walked six under the proper
impetus of preadjusted resolution. In other words, the will or
corporeal mainspring, whatever it be, is capable of being wound up to
different degrees of tension, so that one may walk all day nearly as
easy as half that time, if he is prepared beforehand. He knows his
task, and he measures and distributes his powers accordingly. It is for
this reason that an unknown road is always a long road. We cannot cast
the mental eye along it and see the end from the beginning. We are
fighting in the dark, and cannot take the measure of our foe. Every
step must be preordained and provided for in the mind. Hence also the
fact that to vanquish one mile in the woods seems equal to compassing
three in the open country. The furlongs are ambushed, and we magnify
them.

Then, again, how annoying to be told it is only five miles to the next
place when it is really eight or ten! We fall short nearly half the
distance, and are compelled to urge and roll the spent ball the rest of
the way. In such a case walking degenerates from a fine art to a
mechanic art; we walk merely; to get over the ground becomes the one
serious and engrossing thought; whereas success in walking is not to
let your right foot know what your left foot doeth. Your heart must
furnish such music that in keeping time to it your feet will carry you
around the globe without knowing it. The walker I would describe takes
no note of distance; his walk is a sally, a bonmot, an unspoken jeu
d'esprit; the ground is his butt, his provocation; it furnishes him the
resistance his body craves; he rebounds upon it, he glances off and
returns again, and uses it gayly as his tool.

I do not think I exaggerate the importance or the charms of
pedestrianism, or our need as a people to cultivate the art. I think it
would tend to soften the national manners, to teach us the meaning of
leisure, to acquaint us with the charms of the open air, to strengthen
and foster the tie between the race and the land. No one else looks out
upon the world so kindly and charitably as the pedestrian; no one else
gives and takes so much from the country he passes through. Next to the
laborer in the fields, the walker holds the closest relation to the
soil; and he holds a closer and more vital relation to nature because
he is freer and his mind more at leisure.

Man takes root at his feet, and at best he is no more than a potted
plant in his house or carriage till he has established communication
with the soil by the loving and magnetic touch of his soles to it. Then
the tie of association is born; then spring those invisible fibres and
rootlets through which character comes to smack of the soil, and which
make a man kindred to the spot of earth he inhabits.

The roads and paths you have walked along in summer and winter weather,
the fields and hills which you have looked upon in lightness and
gladness of heart, where fresh thoughts have come into your mind, or
some noble prospect has opened before you, and especially the quiet
ways where you have walked in sweet converse with your friend, pausing
under the trees, drinking at the spring,--henceforth they are not the
same; a new charm is added; those thoughts spring there perennial, your
friend walks there forever.

We have produced some good walkers and saunderers, and some noted
climbers; but as a staple recreation, as a daily practice, the mass of
the people dislike and despise walking. Thoreau said he was a good
horse, but a poor roadster. I chant the virtues of the roadster as
well. I sing of the sweetness of gravel, good sharp quartz-grit. It is
the proper condiment for the sterner seasons, and many a human gizzard
would be cured of half its ills by a suitable daily allowance of it. I
think Thoreau himself would have profited immensely by it. His diet was
too exclusively vegetable. A man cannot live on grass alone. If one has
been a lotus-eater all summer, he must turn gravel-eater in the fall
and winter. Those who have tried it know that gravel possesses an equal
though an opposite charm.

It spurs to action.  The foot tastes it and henceforth rests not.  The
joy of moving and surmounting, of attrition and progression, the thirst
for space, for miles and leagues of distance, for sights and prospects,
to cross mountains and thread rivers, and defy frost, heat, snow,
danger, difficulties, seizes it; and from that day forth its possessor
is enrolled in the noble army of walkers.



III. THE SNOW-WALKERS

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal
cause for wonder and admiration in winter. It is true the pomp and the
pageantry are swept away, but the essential elements remain,--the day
and the night, the mountain and the valley, the elemental play and
succession and the perpetual presence of the infinite sky. In winter
the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a
fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted
simplicity. Summer is more wooing and seductive, more versatile and
human, appeals to the affections and the sentiments, and fosters
inquiry and the art impulse. Winter is of a more heroic cast, and
addresses the intellect. The severe studies and disciplines come easier
in winter. One imposes larger tasks upon himself, and is less tolerant
of his own weaknesses.

The tendinous part of the mind, so to speak, is more developed in
winter; the fleshy, in summer. I should say winter had given the bone
and sinew to Literature, summer the tissues and blood.

The simplicity of winter has a deep moral.  The return of nature, after
such a career of splendor and prodigality, to habits so simple and
austere, is not lost upon either the head or the heart. It is the
philosopher coming back from the banquet and the wine to a cup of water
and a crust of bread.

And then this beautiful masquerade of the elements,--the novel
disguises our nearest friends put on! Here is another rain and another
dew, water that will not flow, nor spill, nor receive the taint of an
unclean vessel. And if we see truly, the same old beneficence and
willingness to serve lurk beneath all.

Look up at the miracle of the falling snow,--the air a dizzy maze of
whirling, eddying flakes, noiselessly transforming the world, the
exquisite crystals dropping in ditch and gutter, and disguising in the
same suit of spotless livery all objects upon which they fall. How
novel and fine the first drifts! The old, dilapidated fence is suddenly
set off with the most fantastic ruffles, scalloped and fluted after an
unheard-of fashion! Looking down a long line of decrepit stone wall, in
the trimming of which the wind had fairly run riot, I saw, as for the
first time, what a severe yet master artist old Winter is. Ah, a severe
artist! How stern the woods look, dark and cold and as rigid against
the horizon as iron!

All life and action upon the snow have an added emphasis and
significance. Every expression is underscored. Summer has few finer
pictures than this winter one of the farmer foddering his cattle from a
stack upon the clean snow,--the movement, the sharply defined figures,
the great green flakes of hay, the long file of patient cows, the
advance just arriving and pressing eagerly for the choicest
morsels,--and the bounty and providence it suggests. Or the chopper in
the woods,--the prostrate tree, the white new chips scattered about,
his easy triumph over the cold, his coat hanging to a limb, and the
clear, sharp ring of his axe. The woods are rigid and tense, keyed up
by the frost, and resound like a stringed instrument. Or the
road-breakers, sallying forth with oxen and sleds in the still, white
world, the day after the storm, to restore the lost track and demolish
the beleaguering drifts.

All sounds are sharper in winter; the air transmits better.  At night I
hear more distinctly the steady roar of the North Mountain. In summer
it is a sort of complacent purr, as the breezes stroke down its sides;
but in winter always the same low, sullen growl.

A severe artist!  No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble
and the chisel. When the nights are calm and the moon full, I go out to
gaze upon the wonderful purity of the moonlight and the snow. The air
is full of latent fire, and the cold warms me--after a different
fashion from that of the kitchen stove. The world lies about me in a
"trance of snow." The clouds are pearly and iridescent, and seem the
farthest possible remove from the condition of a storm,--the ghosts of
clouds, the indwelling beauty freed from all dross. I see the hills,
bulging with great drifts, lift themselves up cold and white against
the sky, the black lines of fences here and there obliterated by the
depth of the snow. Presently a fox barks away up next the mountain, and
I imagine I can almost see him sitting there, in his furs, upon the
illuminated surface, and looking down in my direction. As I listen, one
answers him from behind the woods in the valley. What a wild winter
sound, wild and weird, up among the ghostly hills! Since the wolf has
ceased to howl upon these mountains, and the panther to scream, there
is nothing to be compared with it. So wild! I get up in the middle of
the night to hear it. It is refreshing to the ear, and one delights to
know that such wild creatures are among us. At this season Nature makes
the most of every throb of life that can withstand her severity. How
heartily she indorses this fox! In what bold relief stand out the lives
of all walkers of the snow! The snow is a great tell-tale, and blabs as
effectually as it obliterates. I go into the woods, and know all that
has happened. I cross the fields, and if only a mouse has visited his
neighbor, the fact is chronicled.

The red fox is the only species that abounds in my locality; the little
gray fox seems to prefer a more rocky and precipitous country, and a
less rigorous climate; the cross fox is occasionally seen, and there
are traditions of the silver gray among the oldest hunters. But the red
fox is the sportsman's prize, and the only fur-bearer worthy of note in
these mountains.
[Footnote: A spur of the catskills.]

I go out in the morning, after a fresh fall of snow, and see at all
points where he has crossed the road. Here he has leisurely passed
within rifle-range of the house, evidently reconnoitring the premises
with an eye to the hen-roost. That clear, sharp track,--there is no
mistaking it for the clumsy footprint of a little dog. All his wildness
and agility are photographed in it. Here he has taken fright, or
suddenly recollected an engagement, and in long, graceful leaps, barely
touching the fence, has gone careering up the hill as fleet as the
wind.

The wild, buoyant creature, how beautiful he is!  I had often seen his
dead carcass, and at a distance had witnessed the hounds drive him
across the upper fields; but the thrill and excitement of meeting him
in his wild freedom in the woods were unknown to me till, one cold
winter day, drawn thither by the baying of a hound, I stood near the
summit of the mountain, waiting a renewal of the sound, that I might
determine the course of the dog and choose my position,--stimulated by
the ambition of all young Nimrods to bag some notable game. Long I
waited, and patiently, till, chilled and benumbed, I was about to turn
back, when, hearing a slight noise, I looked up and beheld a most
superb fox, loping along with inimitable grace and ease, evidently
disturbed, but not pursued by the hound, and so absorbed in his private
meditations that he failed to see me, though I stood transfixed with
amazement and admiration, not ten yards distant. I took his measure at
a glance,--a large male, with dark legs, and massive tail tipped with
white,--a most magnificent creature; but so astonished and fascinated
was I by this sudden appearance and matchless beauty, that not till I
had caught the last glimpse of him, as he disappeared over a knoll, did
I awake to my duty as a sportsman, and realize what an opportunity to
distinguish myself I had unconsciously let slip. I clutched my gun,
half angrily, as if it was to blame, and went home out, of humor with
myself and all fox-kind. But I have since thought better of the
experience, and concluded that I bagged the game after all, the best
part of it, and fleeced Reynard of something more valuable than his
fur, without his knowledge.

This is thoroughly a winter sound,--this voice of the hound upon the
mountain,--and one that is music to many ears. The long trumpet-like
bay, heard for a mile or more,--now faintly back in the deep recesses
of the mountain,--now distinct, but still faint, as the hound comes
over some prominent point and the wind favors,--anon entirely lost in
the gully,--then breaking out again much nearer, and growing more and
more pronounced as the dog approaches, till, when he comes around the
brow of the mountain, directly above you, the barking is loud and
sharp. On he goes along the northern spur, his voice rising and sinking
as the wind and the lay of the ground modify it, till lost to hearing.

The fox usually keeps half a mile ahead, regulating his speed by that
of the hound, occasionally pausing a moment to divert himself with a
mouse, or to contemplate the landscape, or to listen for his pursuer.
If the hound press him too closely, he leads off from mountain to
mountain, and so generally escapes the hunter; but if the pursuit be
slow, he plays about some ridge or peak, and falls a prey, though not
an easy one, to the experienced sportsman.

A most spirited and exciting chase occurs when the farm-dog gets close
upon one in the open field, as sometimes happens in the early morning.
The fox relies so confidently upon his superior speed, that I imagine
he half tempts the dog to the race. But if the dog be a smart one, and
their course lie downhill, over smooth ground, Reynard must put his
best foot forward, and then sometimes suffer the ignominy of being run
over by his pursuer, who, however, is quite unable to pick him up,
owing to the speed. But when they mount the hill, or enter the woods,
the superior nimbleness and agility of the fox tell at once, and he
easily leaves the dog far in his rear. For a cur less than his own size
he manifests little fear, especially if the two meet alone, remote from
the house. In such cases, I have seen first one turn tail, then the
other.

A novel spectacle often occurs in summer, when the female has young.
You are rambling on the mountain, accompanied by your dog, when you are
startled by that wild, half-threatening squall, and in a moment
perceive your dog, with inverted tail, and shame and confusion in his
looks, sneaking toward you, the old fox but a few rods in his rear. You
speak to him sharply, when he bristles up, turns about, and, barking,
starts off vigorously, as if to wipe out the dishonor; but in a moment
comes sneaking back more abashed than ever, and owns himself unworthy
to be called a dog. The fox fairly shames him out of the woods. The
secret of the matter is her sex, though her conduct, for the honor of
the fox be it said, seems to be prompted only by solicitude for the
safety of her young.

One of the most notable features of the fox is his large and massive
tail. Seen running on the snow at a distance, his tail is quite as
conspicuous as his body; and, so far from appearing a burden, seems to
contribute to his lightness and buoyancy. It softens the outline of his
movements, and repeats or continues to the eye the ease and poise of
his carriage. But, pursued by the hound on a wet, thawy day, it often
becomes so heavy and bedraggled as to prove a serious inconvenience,
and compels him to take refuge in his den. He is very loath to do this;
both his pride and the traditions of his race stimulate him to run it
out, and win by fair superiority of wind and speed; and only a wound or
a heavy and moppish tail will drive him to avoid the issue in this
manner.

To learn his surpassing shrewdness and cunning, attempt to take him
with a trap. Rogue that he is, he always suspects some trick, and one
must be more of a fox than he is himself to overreach him. At first
sight it would appear easy enough. With apparent indifference he
crosses your path, or walks in your footsteps in the field, or travels
along the beaten highway, or lingers in the vicinity of stacks and
remote barns. Carry the carcass of a pig, or a fowl, or a dog, to a
distant field in midwinter, and in a few nights his tracks cover the
snow about it.

The inexperienced country youth, misled by this seeming carelessness of
Reynard, suddenly conceives a project to enrich himself with fur, and
wonders that the idea has not occurred to him before, and to others. I
knew a youthful yeoman of this kind, who imagined he had found a mine
of wealth on discovering on a remote side-hill, between two woods, a
dead porker, upon which it appeared all the foxes of the neighborhood
had nightly banqueted. The clouds were burdened with snow; and as the
first flakes commenced to eddy down, he set out, trap and broom in
hand, already counting over in imagination the silver quarters he would
receive for his first fox-skin. With the utmost care, and with a
palpitating heart, he removed enough of the trodden snow to allow the
trap to sink below the surface. Then, carefully sifting the light
element over it and sweeping his tracks full, he quickly withdrew,
laughing exultingly over the little surprise he had prepared for the
cunning rogue. The elements conspired to aid him, and the falling snow
rapidly obliterated all vestiges of his work. The next morning at dawn
he was on his way to bring in his fur. The snow had done its work
effectually, and, he believed, had kept his secret well. Arrived in
sight of the locality, he strained his vision to make out his prize
lodged against the fence at the foot of the hill. Approaching nearer,
the surface was unbroken, and doubt usurped the place of certainty in
his mind. A slight mound marked the site of the porker, but there was
no footprint near it. Looking up the hill, he saw where Reynard had
walked leisurely down toward his wonted bacon till within a few yards
of it, when he had wheeled, and with prodigious strides disappeared in
the woods. The young trapper saw at a glance what a comment this was
upon his skill in the art, and, indignantly exhuming the iron, he
walked home with it, the stream of silver quarters suddenly setting in
another direction.

The successful trapper commences in the fall, or before the first deep
snow. In a field not too remote, with an old axe he cuts a small place,
say ten inches by fourteen, in the frozen ground, and removes the earth
to the depth of three or four inches, then fills the cavity with dry
ashes, in which are placed bits of roasted cheese. Reynard is very
suspicious at first, and gives the place a wide berth. It looks like
design, and he will see how the thing behaves before he approaches too
near. But the cheese is savory and the cold severe. He ventures a
little closer every night, until he can reach and pick a piece from the
surface. Emboldened by success, like other mortals, he presently digs
freely among the ashes, and, finding a fresh supply of the delectable
morsels every night, is soon thrown off his guard and his suspicions
quite lulled. After a week of baiting in this manner, and on the eve of
a light fall of snow, the trapper carefully conceals his trap in the
bed, first smoking it thoroughly with hemlock boughs to kill or
neutralize the smell of the iron. If the weather favors and the proper
precautions have been taken, he may succeed, though the chances are
still greatly against him.

Reynard is usually caught very lightly, seldom more than the ends of
his toes being between the jaws. He sometimes works so cautiously as to
spring the trap without injury even to his toes, or may remove the
cheese night after night without even springing it. I knew an old
trapper who, on finding himself outwitted in this manner, tied a bit of
cheese to the pan, and next morning had poor Reynard by the jaw. The
trap is not fastened, but only encumbered with a clog, and is all the
more sure in its hold by yielding to every effort of the animal to
extricate himself.

When Reynard sees his captor approaching, he would fain drop into a
mouse-hole to render himself invisible. He crouches to the ground and
remains perfectly motionless until he perceives himself discovered,
when he makes one desperate and final effort to escape, but ceases all
struggling as you come up, and behaves in a manner that stamps him a
very timid warrior,--cowering to the earth with a mingled look of
shame, guilt, and abject fear. A young farmer told me of tracing one
with his trap to the border of a wood, where he discovered the cunning
rogue trying to hide by embracing a small tree. Most animals, when
taken in a trap, show fight; but Reynard has more faith in the
nimbleness of his feet than in the terror of his teeth.

Entering the woods, the number and variety of the tracks contrast
strongly with the rigid, frozen aspect of things. Warm jets of life
still shoot and I play amid this snowy desolation. Fox-tracks are far
less numerous than in the fields; but those of hares, skunks,
partridges, squirrels, and mice abound. The mice tracks are very
pretty, and look like a sort of fantastic stitching on the coverlid of
the snow. One is curious to know what brings these tiny creatures from
their retreats; they do not seem to be in quest of food, but rather to
be traveling about for pleasure or sociability, though always going
post-haste, and linking stump with stump and tree with tree by fine,
hurried strides. That is when they travel openly; but they have hidden
passages and winding galleries under the snow, which undoubtedly are
their main avenues of communication. Here and there these passages rise
so near the surface as to be covered by only a frail arch of snow, and
a slight ridge betrays their course to the eye. I know him well. He is
known to the farmer as the "deer mouse," to the naturalist as the
white-footed mouse,--a very beautiful creature, nocturnal in his
habits, with large ears, and large, fine eyes full of a wild, harmless
look. He is daintily marked, with white feet and a white belly. When
disturbed by day he is very easily captured, having none of the cunning
or viciousness of the common Old World mouse.

It is he who, high in the hollow trunk of some tree, lays by a store of
beechnuts for winter use. Every nut is carefully shelled, and the
cavity that serves as storehouse lined with grass and leaves. The
wood-chopper frequently squanders this precious store. I have seen half
a peck taken from one tree, as clean and white as if put up by the most
delicate hands,--as they were. How long it must have taken the little
creature to collect this quantity, to hull them one by one, and convey
them up to his fifth-story chamber! He is not confined to the woods,
but is quite as common in the fields, particularly in the fall, amid
the corn and potatoes. When routed by the plow, I have seen the old one
take flight with half a dozen young hanging to her teats, and with such
reckless speed that some of the young would lose their hold and fly off
amid the weeds. Taking refuge in a stump with the rest of her family,
the anxious mother would presently come back and hunt up the missing
ones.

The snow-walkers are mostly night-walkers also, and the record they
leave upon the snow is the main clew one has to their life and doings.
The hare is nocturnal in its habits, and though a very lively creature
at night, with regular courses and run-ways through the wood, is
entirely quiet by day. Timid as he is, he makes little effort to
conceal himself, usually squatting beside a log, stump, or tree, and
seeming to avoid rocks and ledges, where he might be partially housed
from the cold and the snow, but where also--and this consideration
undoubtedly determines his choice--he would be more apt fall a prey to
his enemies. In this, as well as in many other respects, he differs
from the rabbit proper: he never burrows in the ground, or takes refuge
in a den or hole, when pursued. If caught in the open fields, he is
much confused and easily overtaken by the dog; but in the woods, he
leaves him at a bound. In summer, when first disturbed, he beats the
ground violently with his feet, by which means he would express to you
his surprise or displeasure; it is a dumb way he has of scolding. After
leaping a few yards, he pauses an instant, as if to determine the
degree of danger, and then hurries away with a much lighter tread.

His feet are like great pads, and his track has little of the sharp,
articulated expression of Reynard's, or of animals that climb or dig.
Yet it is very pretty like all the rest, and tells its own tale. There
is nothing bold or vicious or vulpine in it, and his timid, harmless
character is published at every leap. He abounds in dense woods,
preferring localities filled with a small undergrowth of beech and
birch, upon the bark of which he feeds. Nature is rather partial to
him, and matches his extreme local habits and character with a suit
that corresponds with his surroundings,--reddish gray in summer and
white in winter.

The sharp-rayed track of the partridge adds another figure to this
fantastic embroidery upon the winter snow. Her course is a clear,
strong line, sometimes quite wayward, but generally very direct,
steering for the densest, most impenetrable places,--leading you over
logs and through brush, alert and expectant, till, suddenly, she bursts
up a few yards from you, and goes humming through the trees,--the
complete triumph of endurance and vigor. Hardy native bird, may your
tracks never be fewer, or your visits to the birch-tree less frequent!

The squirrel tracks--sharp, nervous, and wiry--have their histories
also. But how rarely we see squirrels in winter! The naturalists say
they are mostly torpid; yet evidently that little pocket-faced
depredator, the chipmunk, was not carrying buckwheat for so many days
to his hole for nothing: was he anticipating a state of torpidity, or
providing against the demands of a very active appetite? Red and gray
squirrels are more or less active all winter, though very shy, and, I
am inclined to think, partially nocturnal in their habits. Here a gray
one has just passed,--came down that tree and went up this; there he
dug for a beechnut, and left the burr on the snow. How did he know
where to dig? During an unusually severe winter I have known him to
make long journeys to a barn, in a remote field, where wheat was
stored. How did he know there was wheat there? In attempting to return,
the adventurous creature was frequently run down and caught in the deep
snow.

His home is in the trunk of some old birch or maple, with an entrance
far up amid the branches. In the spring he builds himself a
summer-house of small leafy twigs in the top of a neighboring beech,
where the young are reared and much of the time is passed. But the
safer retreat in the maple is not abandoned, and both old and young
resort thither in the fall, or when danger threatens. Whether this
temporary residence amid the branches is for elegance or pleasure, or
for sanitary reasons or domestic convenience, the naturalist has
forgotten to mention.

The elegant creature, so cleanly in its habits, so graceful in its
carriage, so nimble and daring in its movements, excites feelings of
admiration akin to those awakened by the birds and the fairer forms of
nature. His passage through the trees is almost a flight. Indeed, the
flying squirrel has little or no advantage over him, and in speed and
nimbleness cannot compare with him at all. If he miss his footing and
fall, he is sure to catch on the next branch; if the connection be
broken, he leaps recklessly for the nearest spray or limb, and secures
his hold, even if it be by the aid of his teeth.

His career of frolic and festivity begins in the fall, after the birds
have left us and the holiday spirit of nature has commenced to subside.
How absorbing the pastime of the sportsman who goes to the woods in the
still October morning in quest of him! You step lightly across the
threshold of the forest, and sit down upon the first log or rock to
await the signals. It is so still that the ear suddenly seems to have
acquired new powers, and there is no movement to confuse the eye.
Presently you hear the rustling of a branch, and see it sway or spring
as the squirrel leaps from or to it; or else you hear a disturbance in
the dry leaves, and mark one running upon the ground. He has probably
seen the intruder, and, not liking his stealthy movements, desires to
avoid a nearer acquaintance. Now he mounts a stump to see if the way is
clear, then pauses a moment at the foot of a tree to take his bearings,
his tail, as he skims along, undulating behind him, and adding to the
easy grace and dignity of his movements. Or else you are first advised
of his proximity by the dropping of a false nut, or the fragments of
the shucks rattling upon the leaves. Or, again, after contemplating you
awhile unobserved, and making up his mind that you are not dangerous,
he strikes an attitude on a branch, and commences to quack and bark,
with an accompanying movement of his tail. Late in the afternoon, when
the same stillness reigns, the same scenes are repeated. There is a
black variety, quite rare, but mating freely with the gray, from which
he seems to be distinguished only in color.

The track of the red squirrel may be known by its smaller size.  He is
more common and less dignified than the gray, and oftener guilty of
petty larceny about the barns and grain-fields. He is most abundant in
old barkpeelings, and low, dilapidated hemlocks, from which he makes
excursions to the fields and orchards, spinning along the tops of the
fences, which afford not only convenient lines of communication, but a
safe retreat if danger threatens. He loves to linger about the orchard;
and, sitting upright on the topmost stone in the wall, or on the
tallest stake in the fence, chipping up an apple for the seeds, his
tail conforming to the curve of his back, his paws shifting and turning
the apple, he is a pretty sight, and his bright, pert appearance atones
for all the mischief he does. At home, in the woods, he is the most
frolicsome and loquacious. The appearance of anything unusual, if,
after contemplating it a moment, he concludes it not dangerous, excites
his unbounded mirth and ridicule, and he snickers and chatters, hardly
able to contain himself; now darting up the trunk of a tree and
squealing in derision, then hopping into position on a limb and dancing
to the music of his own cackle, and all for your special benefit.

There is something very human in this apparent mirth and mockery of the
squirrels. It seems to be a sort of ironical laughter, and implies
self-conscious pride and exultation in the laugher. "What a ridiculous
thing you are, to be sure!" he seems to say; "how clumsy and awkward,
and what a poor show for a tail! Look at me, look at me!"--and he
capers about in his best style. Again, he would seem to tease you and
provoke your attention; then suddenly assumes a tone of good-natured,
childlike defiance and derision. That pretty little imp, the chipmunk,
will sit on the stone above his den and defy you, as plainly as if he
said so, to catch him before he can get into his hole if you can. You
hurl a stone at him, and "No you didn't!" comes up from the depth of
his retreat.

In February another track appears upon the snow, slender and delicate,
about a third larger than that of the gray squirrel, indicating no
haste or speed, but, on the contrary, denoting the most imperturbable
ease and leisure, the footprints so close together that the trail
appears like a chain of curiously carved links. Sir Mephitis mephitica,
or, in plain English, the skunk, has awakened from his six weeks' nap,
and come out into society again. He is a nocturnal traveler, very bold
and impudent, coming quite up to the barn and outbuildings, and
sometimes taking up his quarters for the season under the haymow. There
is no such word as hurry in his dictionary, as you may see by his path
upon the snow. He has a very sneaking, insinuating way, and goes
creeping about the fields and woods, never once in a perceptible degree
altering his gait, and, if a fence crosses his course, steers for a
break or opening to avoid climbing. He is too indolent even to dig his
own hole, but appropriates that of a woodchuck, or hunts out a crevice
in the rocks, from which he extends his rambling in all directions,
preferring damp, thawy weather. He has very little discretion or
cunning, and holds a trap in utter contempt, stepping into it as soon
as beside it, relying implicitly for defense against all forms of
danger upon the unsavory punishment he is capable of inflicting. He is
quite indifferent to both man and beast, and will not hurry himself to
get out of the way of either. Walking through the summer fields at
twilight, I have come near stepping upon him, and was much the more
disturbed of the two. When attacked in the open field he confounds the
plans of his enemies by the unheard-of tactics of exposing his rear
rather than his front. "Come if you dare," he says, and his attitude
makes even the farm-dog pause. After a few encounters of this kind, and
if you entertain the usual hostility towards him, your mode of attack
will speedily resolve itself into moving about him in a circle, the
radius of which will be the exact distance at which you can hurl a
stone with accuracy and effect.

He has a secret to keep and knows it, and is careful not to betray
himself until he can do so with the most telling effect. I have known
him to preserve his serenity even when caught in a steel trap, and look
the very picture of injured innocence, manoeuvring carefully and
deliberately to extricate his foot from the grasp of the naughty jaws.
Do not by any means take pity on him, and lend a helping hand!

How pretty his face and head!  How fine and delicate his teeth, like a
weasel's or a cat's! When about a third grown, he looks so well that
one covets him for a pet. He is quite precocious, however, and capable,
even at this tender age, of making a very strong appeal to your sense
of smell.

No animal is more cleanly in his habits than he.  He is not an awkward
boy who cuts his own face with his whip; and neither his flesh nor his
fur hints the weapon with which he is armed. The most silent creature
known to me, he makes no sound, so far as I have observed, save a
diffuse, impatient noise, like that produced by beating your hand with
a whisk-broom, when the farm-dog has discovered his retreat in the
stone fence. He renders himself obnoxious to the farmer by his
partiality for hens' eggs and young poultry. He is a confirmed epicure,
and at plundering hen-roosts an expert. Not the full-grown fowls are
his victims, but the youngest and most tender. At night Mother Hen
receives under her maternal wings a dozen newly hatched chickens, and
with much pride and satisfaction feels them all safely tucked away in
her feathers. In the morning she is walking about disconsolately,
attended by only two or three of all that pretty brood. What has
happened?  Where are they gone?  That pickpocket, Sir Mephitis, could
solve the mystery. Quietly has he approached, under cover of darkness,
and one by one relieved her of her precious charge. Look closely and
you will see their little yellow legs and beaks, or part of a mangled
form, lying about on the ground. Or, before the hen has hatched, he may
find her out, and, by the same sleight of hand, remove every egg,
leaving only the empty blood-stained shells to witness against him. The
birds, especially the ground-builders, suffer in like manner from his
plundering propensities.

The secretion upon which he relies for defense, and which is the chief
source of his unpopularity, while it affords good reasons against
cultivating him as a pet, and mars his attractiveness as game, is by no
means the greatest indignity that can be offered to a nose. It is a
rank, living smell, and has none of the sickening qualities of disease
or putrefaction. Indeed, I think a good smeller will enjoy its most
refined intensity. It approaches the sublime, and makes the nose
tingle. It is tonic and bracing, and, I can readily believe, has rare
medicinal qualities. I do not recommend its use as eyewater, though an
old farmer assures me it has undoubted virtues when thus applied.
Hearing, one night, a disturbance among his hens, he rushed suddenly
out to catch the thief, when Sir Mephitis, taken by surprise, and no
doubt much annoyed at being interrupted, discharged the vials of his
wrath full in the farmers face, and with such admirable effect that,
for a few minutes, he was completely blinded, and powerless to revenge
himself upon the rogue, who embraced the opportunity to make good his
escape; but he declared that afterwards his eyes felt as if purged by
fire, and his sight was much clearer.

In March that brief summary of a bear, the raccoon, comes out of his
den in the ledges, and leaves his sharp digitigrade track upon the
snow,--traveling not unfrequently in pairs,--a lean, hungry couple,
bent on pillage and plunder. They have an unenviable time of
it,--feasting in the summer and fall, hibernating in winter, and
starving in spring. In April I have found the young of the previous
year creeping around the fields, so reduced by starvation as to be
quite helpless, and offering no resistance to my taking them up by the
tail and carrying them home.

The old ones also become very much emaciated, and come boldly up to the
barn or other outbuildings in quest of food. I remember, one morning in
early spring, of hearing old Cuff, the farm-dog, barking vociferously
before it was yet light. When we got up we discovered him, at the foot
of an ash-tree standing about thirty rods from the house, looking up at
some gray objects in the leafless branches, and by his manners and his
voice evincing great impatience that we were so tardy in coming to his
assistance. Arrived on the spot, we saw in the tree a coon of unusual
size. One bold climber proposed to go up and shake him down. This was
what old Cuff wanted, and he fairly bounded with delight as he saw his
young master shinning up the tree. Approaching within eight or ten feet
of the coon, he seized the branch to which it clung and shook long and
fiercely. But the coon was in no danger of losing its hold, and, when
the climber paused to renew his hold, it turned toward him with a
growl, and showed very clearly a purpose to advance to the attack. This
caused his pursuer to descend to the ground with all speed. When the
coon was finally brought down with a gun, he fought the dog, which was
a large, powerful animal, with great fury, returning bite for bite for
some moments; and after a quarter of an hour had elapsed and his
unequal antagonist had shaken him as a terrier does a rat, making his
teeth meet through the small of his back, the coon still showed fight.

They are very tenacious of life, and like the badger will always whip a
dog of their own size and weight. A woodchuck can bite severely, having
teeth that cut like chisels, but a coon has agility and power of limb
as well.

They are considered game only in the fall, or towards the close of
summer, when they become fat. and their flesh sweet. At this time,
cooning in the remote interior is a famous pastime. As this animal is
entirely nocturnal in its habits, it is hunted only at night. A piece
of corn on some remote side-hill near the mountain, or between two
pieces of woods, is most apt to be frequented by them. While the corn
is yet green they pull the ears down like hogs, and, tearing open the
sheathing of husks, eat the tender, succulent kernels, bruising and
destroying much more than they devour. Sometimes their ravages are a
matter of serious concern to the farmer. But every such neighborhood
has its coon-dog, and the boys and young men dearly love the sport. The
party sets out about eight or nine o'clock of a dark, moonless night,
and stealthily approaches the cornfield. The dog knows his business,
and when he is put into a patch of corn and told to "hunt them up" he
makes a thorough search, and will not be misled by any other scent. You
hear him rattling through the corn, hither and yon, with great speed.
The coons prick up their ears, and leave on the opposite side of the
field. In the stillness you may sometimes hear a single stone rattle on
the wall as they hurry toward the woods. If the dog finds nothing, he
comes back to his master in a short time, and says in his dumb way, "No
coon there." But if he strikes a trail, you presently hear a louder
rattling on the stone wall, and then a hurried bark as he enters the
woods, followed in a few minutes by loud and repeated barking as he
reaches the foot of the tree in which the coon has taken refuge. Then
follows a pellmell rush of the cooning party up the hill, into the
woods, through the brush and the darkness, falling over prostrate
trees, pitching into gullies and hollows, losing hats and tearing
clothes, till finally, guided by the baying of the faithful dog, the
tree is reached. The first thing now in order is to kindle a fire, and,
if its light reveals the coon, to shoot him; if not, to fell the tree
with an axe. If this happens to be too great a sacrifice of timber and
of strength, to sit down at the foot of the tree till morning.

But with March our interest in these phases of animal life, which
winter has so emphasized and brought out, begins to decline. Vague
rumors are afloat in the air of a great and coming change. We are eager
for Winter to be gone, since he, too, is fugitive and cannot keep his
place. Invisible hands deface his icy statuary; his chisel has lost its
cunning. The drifts, so pure and exquisite, are now earth-stained and
weather-worn,--the flutes and scallops, and fine, firm lines, all gone;
and what was a grace and an ornament to the hills is now a
disfiguration. Like worn and unwashed linen appear the remains of that
spotless robe with which he clothed the world as his bride.

But he will not abdicate without a struggle.  Day after day he rallies
his scattered forces, and night after night pitches his white tents on
the hills, and would fain regain his lost ground; but the young prince
in every encounter prevails. Slowly and reluctantly the gray old hero
retreats up the mountain, till finally the south rain comes in earnest,
and in a night he is dead.



IV. THE FOX

I have already spoken of the fox at some length, but it will take a
chapter by itself to do half justice to his portrait.

He furnishes, perhaps, the only instance that can be cited of a
fur-bearing animal that not only holds its own, but that actually
increases in the face of the means that are used for its extermination.
The beaver, for instance, was gone before the earliest settlers could
get a sight of him; and even the mink and marten are now only rarely
seen, or not seen at all, in places where they were once abundant.

But the fox has survived civilization, and in some localities is no
doubt more abundant now than in the time of the Revolution. For half a
century at least he has been almost the only prize, in the way of fur,
that was to be found on our mountains, and he has been hunted and
trapped and waylaid, sought for as game and pursued in enmity, taken by
fair means and by foul, and yet there seems not the slightest danger of
the species becoming extinct.

One would think that a single hound in a neighborhood, filling the
mountains with his bayings, and leaving no nook or byway of them
unexplored, was enough to drive and scare every fox from the country.
But not so. Indeed, I am almost tempted to say, the more hounds, the
more foxes.

I recently spent a summer month in a mountainous district in the State
of New York, where, from its earliest settlement, the red fox has been
the standing prize for skill in the use of the trap and gun. At the
house where I was staying were two foxhounds, and a neighbor half a
mile distant had a third. There were many others in the township, and
in season they were well employed, too; but the three spoken of,
attended by their owners, held high carnival on the mountains in the
immediate vicinity. And many were the foxes that, winter after winter,
fell before them, twenty-five having been shot, the season before my
visit, on one small range alone. And yet the foxes were apparently
never more abundant than they were that summer, and never bolder,
coming at night within a few rods of the house, and of the unchained
alert hounds, and making havoc among the poultry.

One morning a large, fat goose was found minus her head and otherwise
mangled. Both hounds had disappeared, and, as they did not come back
till near night, it was inferred that they had cut short Reynard's
repast, and given him a good chase into the bargain. But next night he
was back again, and this time got safely off with the goose. A couple
of nights after he must have come with recruits, for next morning three
large goslings were reported missing. The silly geese now got it
through their noddles that there was danger about, and every night
thereafter came close up to the house to roost.

A brood of turkeys, the old one tied to a tree a few rods to the rear
of the house, were the next objects of attack. The predaceous rascal
came, as usual, in the latter half of the night. I happened to be
awake, and heard the helpless turkey cry "quit," "quit," with great
emphasis. Another sleeper, on the floor above me, who, it seems, had
been sleeping with one ear awake for several nights in apprehension for
the safety of his turkeys, heard the sound also, and instantly divined
its cause. I heard the window open and a voice summon the dogs. A loud
bellow was the response, which caused Reynard to take himself off in a
hurry. A moment more, and the mother turkey would have shared the fate
of the geese. There she lay at the end of her tether, with extended
wings, bitten and rumpled. The young ones, roosting in a row on the
fence near by, had taken flight on the first alarm.

Turkeys, retaining many of their wild instincts, are less easily
captured by the fox than any other of our domestic fowls. On the
slightest show of danger they take to wing, and it is not unusual, in
the locality of which I speak, to find them in the morning perched in
the most unwonted places, as on the peak of the barn or hay-shed, or on
the tops of the apple-trees, their tails spread and their manners
showing much excitement. Perchance one turkey is minus her tail, the
fox having succeeded in getting only a mouthful of quills.

As the brood grows and their wings develop, they wander far from the
house in quest of grasshoppers. At such times they are all watchfulness
and suspicion. Crossing the fields one day, attended by a dog that much
resembled a fox, I came suddenly upon a brood about one third grown,
which were feeding in a pasture just beyond a wood. It so happened that
they caught sight of the dog without seeing me, when instantly, with
the celerity of wild game, they launched into the air, and, while the
old one perched upon a treetop, as if to keep an eye on the supposed
enemy, the young went sailing over the trees toward home.

The two hounds above referred to, accompanied by a cur-dog, whose
business it was to mind the farm, but who took as much delight in
running away from prosy duty as if he had been a schoolboy, would
frequently steal off and have a good hunt all by themselves, just for
the fun of the thing, I suppose. I more than half suspect that it was
as a kind of taunt or retaliation, that Reynard came and took the geese
from under their very noses. One morning they went off and stayed till
the afternoon of the next day; they ran the fox all day and all night,
the hounds baying at every jump, the cur-dog silent and tenacious. When
the trio returned, they came dragging themselves along, stiff,
footsore, gaunt, and hungry. For a day or two afterward they lay about
the kennels, seeming to dread nothing so much as the having to move.
The stolen hunt was their "spree," their "bender," and of course they
must take time to get over it.

Some old hunters think the fox enjoys the chase as much as the hound,
especially when the latter runs slow, as the best hounds do. The fox
will wait for the hound, will sit down and listen, or play about,
crossing and recrossing and doubling upon his track, as if enjoying a
mischievous consciousness of the perplexity he would presently cause
his pursuer. It is evident, however, that the fox does not always have
his share of the fun: before a swift dog, or in a deep snow, or on a
wet day, when his tail gets heavy, he must put his best foot forward.
As a last resort he "holes up." Sometimes he resorts to numerous
devices to mislead and escape the dog altogether. He will walk in the
bed of a small creek, or on a rail-fence. I heard of an instance of a
fox, hard and long pressed, that took to a rail-fence, and, after
walking some distance, made a leap to one side to a hollow stump, in
the cavity of which he snugly stowed himself. The ruse succeeded, and
the dogs lost the trail; but the hunter, coming up, passed by chance
near the stump, when out bounded the fox, his cunning availing him less
than he deserved. On another occasion the fox took to the public road,
and stepped with great care and precision into a sleigh-track. The
hard, polished snow took no imprint of the light foot, and the scent
was no doubt less than it would have been on a rougher surface. Maybe,
also, the rogue had considered the chances of another sleigh coming
along, before the hound, and obliterating the trail entirely.

Audubon tells us of a certain fox, which, when started by the hounds,
always managed to elude them at a certain point. Finally the hunter
concealed himself in the locality, to discover, if possible, the trick.
Presently along came the fox, and, making a leap to one side, ran up
the trunk of a fallen tree which had lodged some feet from the ground,
and concealed himself in the top. In a few minutes the hounds came up,
and in their eagerness passed some distance beyond the point, and then
went still farther, looking for the lost trail. Then the fox hastened
down, and, taking his back-track, fooled the dogs completely.

I was told of a silver-gray fox in northern New York, which, when
pursued by the hounds, would run till it had hunted up another fox, or
the fresh trail of one, when it would so manoeuvre that the hound would
invariably be switched off on the second track.

In cold, dry weather the fox will sometimes elude the hound, at least
delay him much, by taking to a bare, plowed field. The hard dry earth
seems not to retain a particle of the scent, and the hound gives a
loud, long, peculiar bark, to signify he has trouble. It is now his
turn to show his wit, which he often does by passing completely around
the field, and resuming the trail again where it crosses the fence or a
strip of snow.

The fact that any dry, hard surface is unfavorable to the hound
suggests, in a measure, the explanation of the wonderful faculty that
all dogs in a degree possess to track an animal by the scent of the
foot alone. Did you ever think why a dog's nose is always wet? Examine
the nose of a foxhound, for instance; how very moist and sensitive!
Cause this moisture to dry up, and the dog would be as powerless to
track an animal as you are! The nose of the cat, you may observe, is
but a little moist, and, as you know, her sense of smell is far
inferior to that of the dog. Moisten your own nostrils and lips, and
this sense is plainly sharpened. The sweat of a dog's nose, therefore,
is no doubt a vital element in its power, and, without taking a very
long logical stride, we may infer how much a damp, rough surface aids
him in tracking game.

A fox hunt in this country is, of course, quite a different thing from
what it is in England, where all the squires and noblemen of a borough,
superbly mounted, go riding over the country, guided by the yelling
hounds, till the fox is literally run down and murdered. Here the
hunter prefers a rough, mountainous country, and, as probably most
persons know, takes advantage of the disposition of the fox, when
pursued by the hound, to play or circle around a ridge or bold point,
and, taking his stand near the run-way, shoots him down.

I recently had the pleasure of a turn with some experienced hunters.
As we ascended the ridge toward the mountain, keeping in our ears the
uncertain baying of the hounds as they slowly unraveled an old trail,
my companions pointed out to me the different run-ways,--a gap in the
fence here, a rock just below the brow of the hill there, that tree
yonder near the corner of the woods, or the end of that stone wall
looking down the side-hill, or commanding a cow-path, or the outlet of
a wood-road. A half-wild apple orchard near a cross-road was pointed
out as an invariable run-way, where the fox turned toward the mountain
again, after having been driven down the ridge. There appeared to be no
reason why the foxes should habitually pass any particular point, yet
the hunters told me that year after year they took about the same
turns, each generation of foxes running through the upper corner of
that field, or crossing the valley near yonder stone wall, when pursued
by the dog. It seems the fox when he finds himself followed is
perpetually tempted to turn in his course, to deflect from a right
line, as a person would undoubtedly be under similar circumstances. If
he is on this side of the ridge, when he hears the dog break around on
his trail he speedily crosses to the other side; if he is in the
fields, he takes again to the woods; if in the valley, he hastens to
the high land, and evidently enjoys running along the ridge and
listening to the dogs, slowly tracing out his course in the fields
below. At such times he appears to have but one sense, hearing, and
that seems to be reverted toward his pursuers. He is constantly
pausing, looking back and listening, and will almost run over the
hunter if he stands still, even though not at all concealed.

Animals of this class depend far less upon their sight than upon their
hearing and sense of smell. Neither the fox nor the dog is capable of
much discrimination with the eye; they seem to see things only in the
mass; but with the nose they can analyze and define, and get at the
most subtle shades of difference. The fox will not read a man from a
stump or a rock, unless he gets his scent, and the dog does not know
his master in a crowd until he has smelled him.

On the occasion to which I refer, it was not many minutes after the
dogs entered the woods on the side of the mountain before they gave out
sharp and eager, and we knew at once that the fox was started. We were
then near a point that had been designated as a sure run-way, and
hastened to get into position with all speed. For my part I was so
taken with the music of the hounds, as it swelled up over the ridge,
that I quite forgot the game. I saw one of my companions leveling his
gun, and, looking a few rods to the right, saw the fox coming right on
to us. I had barely time to note the silly and abashed expression that
came over him as he saw us in his path, when he was cut down as by a
flash of lightning. The rogue did not appear frightened, but ashamed
and out of countenance, as one does when some trick has been played
upon him, or when detected in some mischief.

Late in the afternoon, as we were passing through a piece of woods in
the valley below, another fox, the third that day, broke from his cover
in an old treetop, under our very noses, and drew the fire of three of
our party, myself among the number, but, thanks to the interposing
trees and limbs, escaped unhurt. Then the dogs took up the trail and
there was lively music again. The fox steered through the fields direct
for the ridge where we had passed up in the morning. We knew he would
take a turn here and then point for the mountain, and two of us, with
the hope of cutting him off by the old orchard, through which we were
again assured he would surely pass, made a precipitous rush for that
point. It was nearly half a mile distant, most of the way up a steep
side-hill, and if the fox took the circuit indicated he would probably
be there in twelve or fifteen minutes. Running up an angle of 45
degrees seems quite easy work for a four-footed beast like a dog or a
fox, but for a two-legged animal like a man it is very heavy and
awkward. Before I got halfway up there seemed to be a vacuum all about
me, so labored was my breathing, and when I reached the summit my head
swam and my knees were about giving out; but pressing on, I had barely
time to reach a point in the road abreast of the orchard, when I heard
the hounds, and, looking under the trees, saw the fox, leaping high
above the weeds and grass, coming straight toward me. He evidently had
not got over the first scare, which our haphazard fusillade had given
him, and was making unusually quick time. I was armed with a rifle, and
said to myself that now was the time to win the laurels I had coveted.
For half a day previous I had been practicing on a pumpkin which a
patient youth had rolled down a hill for me, and had improved my shot
considerably. Now a yellow pumpkin was coming which was not a pumpkin,
and for the first time during the day opportunity favored me. I
expected the fox to cross the road a few yards below me, but just then
I heard him whisk through the grass, and he bounded upon the fence a
few yards above. He seemed to cringe as he saw his old enemy, and to
depress his fur to half his former dimensions. Three bounds and he had
cleared the road, when my bullet tore up the sod beside him, but to
this hour I do not know whether I looked at the fox without seeing my
gun, or whether I did sight him across its barrel. I only know that I
did not distinguish myself in the use of the rifle on that occasion,
and went home to wreak my revenge upon another pumpkin; but without
much improvement of my skill, for, a few days after, another fox ran
under my very nose with perfect impunity. There is something so
fascinating in the sudden appearance of the fox that the eye is quite
mastered, and, unless the instinct of the sportsman is very strong and
quick, the prey will slip through his grasp.

A still hunt rarely brings you in sight of a fox, as his ears are much
sharper than yours, and his tread much lighter. But if the fox is
mousing in the fields, and you discover him before he does you, you
may, the wind favoring, call him within a few paces of you. Secrete
yourself behind the fence, or some other object, and squeak as nearly
like a mouse as possible. Reynard will hear the sound at an incredible
distance. Pricking up his ears, he gets the direction, and comes
trotting along as unsuspiciously as can be. I have never had an
opportunity to try the experiment, but I know perfectly reliable
persons who have. One man, in the pasture getting his cows, called a
fox which was too busy mousing to get the first sight, till it jumped
upon the wall just over where he sat secreted. Giving a loud whoop and
jumping up at the same time, the fox came as near being frightened out
of his skin as I suspect a fox ever was.

In trapping for a fox, you get perhaps about as much "fun" and as
little fur as in any trapping amusement you can engage in. The one
feeling that ever seems present to the mind of Reynard is suspicion. He
does not need experience to teach him, but seems to know from the jump
that there is such a thing as a trap, and that a trap has a way of
grasping a fox's paw that is more frank than friendly. Cornered in a
hole or a den, a trap can be set so that the poor creature has the
desperate alternative of being caught or starving. He is generally
caught, though not till he has braved hunger for a good many days.

But to know all his cunning and shrewdness, bait him in the field, or
set your trap by some carcass where he is wont to come. In some cases
he will uncover the trap, and leave the marks of his contempt for it in
a way you cannot mistake, or else he will not approach within a rod of
it. Occasionally, however, he finds in a trapper more than his match,
and is fairly caught. When this happens, the trap, which must be of the
finest make, is never touched with the bare hand, but, after being
thoroughly smoked and greased, is set in a bed of dry ashes or chaff in
a remote field, where the fox has been emboldened to dig for several
successive nights for morsels of toasted cheese.

A light fall of snow aids the trapper's art and conspires to Reynard's
ruin. But how lightly he is caught, when caught at all! barely the end
of his toes, or at most a spike through the middle of his foot. I once
saw a large painting of a fox struggling with a trap which held him by
the hind leg, above the gambrel-joint! A painting alongside of it
represented a peasant driving an ox-team from the offside! A fox would
be as likely to be caught above the gambrel-joint as a farmer would to
drive his team from the off-side. I knew one that was caught by the tip
of the lower jaw. He came nightly, and took the morsel of cheese from
the pan of the trap without springing it. A piece was then secured to
the pan by a thread, with the result as above stated.

I have never been able to see clearly why the mother fox generally
selects a burrow or hole in the open field in which to have her young,
except it be, as some hunters maintain, for better security. The young
foxes are wont to come out on a warm day, and play like puppies in
front of the den. The view being unobstructed on all sides by trees or
bushes, in the cover of which danger might approach, they are less
liable to surprise and capture. On the slightest sound they disappear
in the hole. Those who have watched the gambols of young foxes speak of
them as very amusing, even more arch and playful than those of kittens,
while a spirit profoundly wise and cunning seems to look out of their
young eyes. The parent fox can never be caught in the den with them,
but is hovering near the woods, which are always at hand, and by her
warning cry or bark tells them when to be on their guard. She usually
has at least three, dens, at no great distance apart, and moves
stealthily in the night with her charge from one to the other, so as to
mislead her enemies. Many a party of boys, and of men, too, discovering
the whereabouts of a litter, have gone with shovels and picks, and,
after digging away vigorously for several hours, have found only an
empty hole for their pains. The old fox, finding her secret had been
found out, had waited for darkness, in the cover of which to transfer
her household to new quarters; or else some old fox-hunter, jealous of
the preservation of his game, and getting word of the intended
destruction of the litter, had gone at dusk the night before, and made
some disturbance about the den, perhaps flashed some powder in its
mouth,--a hint which the shrewd animal knew how to interpret.

The more scientific aspects of the question may not be without interest
to some of my readers. The fox belongs to the great order of
flesh-eating animals called Carnivora, and of the family called
Canidae, or dogs. The wolf is a kind of wild dog, and the fox is a kind
of wolf. Foxes, unlike wolves, however, never go in packs or companies,
but hunt singly. The fox has a kind of bark which suggests the dog, as
have all the members of this family. The kinship is further shown by
the fact that during certain periods, for the most part in the summer,
the dog cannot be made to attack or even to pursue the female fox, but
will run from her in the most shamefaced manner, which he will not do
in the case of any other animal except a wolf. Many of the ways and
manners of the fox, when tamed, are also like the dog's. I once saw a
young red fox exposed for sale in the market in Washington. A colored
man had him, and said he had caught him out in Virginia. He led him by
a small chain, as he would a puppy, and the innocent young rascal would
lie on his side and bask and sleep in the sunshine, amid all the noise
and chaffering around him, precisely like a dog. He was about the size
of a full-grown cat, and there was a bewitching beauty about him that I
could hardly resist. On another occasion, I saw a gray fox, about two
thirds grown, playing with a dog of about the same size, and by nothing
in the manners of either could you tell which was the dog and which the
fox.

Some naturalists think there are but two permanent species of the fox
in the United States, namely, the gray fox and the red fox, though
there are five or six varieties. The gray fox, which is much smaller
and less valuable than the red, is the Southern species, and is said to
be rarely found north of Maryland, though in certain rocky localities
along the Hudson it is common.

In the Southern States this fox is often hunted in the English fashion,
namely, on horseback, the riders tearing through the country in pursuit
till the animal is run down and caught. This is the only fox that will
tree. When too closely pressed, instead of taking to a den or a hole,
it climbs beyond the reach of the dogs in some small tree.

The red fox is the Northern species, and is rarely found farther south
than the mountainous districts of Virginia. In the Arctic regions it
gives place to the Arctic fox, which most of the season is white.

The prairie fox, the cross fox, and the black or silver-gray fox seem
only varieties of the red fox, as the black squirrel breeds from the
gray, and the black woodchuck is found with the brown. There is little
to distinguish them from the red, except the color, though the prairie
fox is said to be the larger of the two.

The cross fox is dark brown on its muzzle and extremities, with a cross
of red and black on its shoulders and breast, which peculiarity of
coloring, and not any trait in its character, gives it its name. It is
very rare, and few hunters have ever seen one. The American Fur Company
used to obtain annually from fifty to one hundred skins. The skins
formerly sold for twenty-five dollars, though I believe they now bring
only about five dollars.

The black or silver-gray fox is the rarest of all, and its skin the
most valuable. The Indians used to estimate it equal to forty beaver
skins. The great fur companies seldom collect in a single season more
than four or five skins at any one post. Most of those of the American
Fur Company come from the head-waters of the Mississippi. One of the
younger Audubons shot one in northern New York. The fox had been seen
and fired at many times by the hunters of the neighborhood, and had
come to have the reputation of leading a charmed life, and of being
invulnerable to anything but a silver bullet. But Audubon brought her
down (for it was a female) on the second trial. She had a litter of
young in the vicinity, which he also dug out, and found the nest to
hold three black and four red ones, which fact settled the question
with him that black and red often have the same parentage, and are in
truth the same species.

The color of this fox, in a point-blank view, is black, but viewed at
an angle it is a dark silvergray, whence has arisen the notion that the
black and the silver-gray are distinct varieties. The tip of the tail
is always white.

In almost every neighborhood there are traditions of this fox, and it
is the dream of young sportsmen; but I have yet to meet the person who
has seen one. I should go well to the north, into the British
Possessions, if I were bent on obtaining a specimen.

One more item from the books.  From the fact that in the bone caves in
this country skulls of the gray fox are found, but none of the red, it
is inferred by some naturalists that the red fox is a descendant from
the European species, which it resembles in form but surpasses in
beauty, and its appearance on this continent is of comparatively recent
date.



V. A MARCH CHRONICLE

ON THE POTOMAC

March 1.--The first day of spring and the first spring day!  I felt the
change the moment I put my head out of doors in the morning. A fitful,
gusty south wind was blowing, though the sky was clear. But the
sunlight was not the same. There was an interfusion of a new element.
Not ten days before there had been a day just as bright,--even brighter
and warmer,--a clear, crystalline day of February, with nothing vernal
in it; but this day was opaline; there was a film, a sentiment in it, a
nearer approach to life. Then there was that fresh, indescribable odor,
a breath from the Gulf, or from Florida and the Carolinas,--a subtle,
persuasive influence that thrilled the sense. Every root and rootlet
under ground must have felt it; the buds of the soft maple and silver
poplar felt it, and swelled perceptibly during the day. The robins knew
it, and were here that morning; so were the crow blackbirds. The shad
must have known it, down deep in their marine retreats, and leaped and
sported about the mouths of the rivers, ready to dart up them if the
genial influence continued. The bees in the hive also, or in the old
tree in the woods, no doubt awoke to new life; and the hibernating
animals, the bears and woodchucks, rolled up in their subterranean
dens,--I imagine the warmth reached even them, and quickened their
sluggish circulation.

Then in the afternoon there was the smell of smoke,--the first spring
fires in the open air. The Virginia farmer is raking together the
rubbish in his garden, or in the field he is preparing for the plow,
and burning it up. In imagination I am there to help him. I see the
children playing about, delighted with the sport and the resumption of
work; the smoke goes up through the shining haze; the farmhouse door
stands open, and lets in the afternoon sun; the cow lows for her calf,
or hides it in the woods; and in the morning the geese, sporting in the
spring-sun, answer the call of the wild flock steering northward above
them.

As I stroll through the market I see the signs here.  That old colored
woman has brought spring in her basket in those great green flakes of
moss, with arbutus showing the pink; and her old man is just in good
time with his fruit trees and gooseberry bushes. Various bulbs and
roots are also being brought out and offered, and the onions are
sprouting on the stands. I see bunches of robins and cedar-birds
also,--so much melody and beauty cut off from the supply going north.
The fish-market is beginning to be bright with perch and bass, and with
shad from the Southern rivers, and wild ducks are taking the place of
prairie hens and quails.

In the Carolinas, no doubt, the fruit trees are in bloom, and the rice
land is being prepared for the seed. In the mountains of Virginia and
in Ohio they are making maple sugar; in Kentucky and Tennessee they are
sowing oats; in Illinois they are, perchance, husking the corn which
has remained on the stalk in the field all winter. Wild geese and ducks
are streaming across the sky from the lower Mississippi toward the
great lakes, pausing awhile on the prairies, or alighting in the great
cornfields, making the air resound with the noise of their wings upon
the stalks and dry shucks as they resume their journey. About this
time, or a little later, in the still spring morning, the prairie hens
or prairie cocks set up that low, musical cooing or crowing that defies
the ear to trace or locate. The air is filled with that soft,
mysterious undertone; and, save that a bird is seen here and there
flitting low over the ground, the sportsman walks for hours without
coming any nearer the source of the elusivc sound.

All over a certain belt of the country the rivers and streams are
roily, and chafe their banks. There is a movement of the soils. The
capacity of the water to take up and hold in solution the salt and
earths seemed never so great before. The frost has relinquished its
hold, and turned everything over to the water. Mud is the mother now;
and out of it creep the frogs, the turtles, the crawfish.

In the North how goes the season?  The winter is perchance just
breaking up. The old frost king is just striking, or preparing to
strike, his tents. The ice is going out of the rivers, and the first
steamboat on the Hudson is picking its way through the blue lanes and
channels. The white gulls are making excursions up from the bay, to see
what the prospects are. In the lumber countries, along the upper
Kennebec and Penobscot, and along the northern Hudson, starters are at
work with their pikes and hooks starting out the pine logs on the first
spring freshet. All winter, through the deep snows, they have been
hauling them to the bank of the stream, or placing them where the tide
would reach them. Now, in countless, numbers, beaten and bruised, the
trunks of the noble trees come, borne by the angry flood. The snow that
furnishes the smooth bed over which they were drawn, now melted,
furnishes the power that carries them down to the mills. On the
Delaware the raftsmen are at work running out their rafts. Floating
islands of logs and lumber go down the swollen stream, bending over the
dams, shooting through the rapids, and bringing up at last in
Philadelphia or beyond.

In the inland farming districts what are the signs?  Few and faint, but
very suggestive. The sun has power to melt the snow; and in the meadows
all the knolls are bare, and the sheep are gnawing them industriously.
The drifts on the side-hills also begin to have a worn and dirty look,
and, where they cross the highway, to become soft, letting the teams in
up to their bellies. The oxen labor and grunt, or patiently wait for
the shovel to release them; but the spirited horse leaps and flounders,
and is determined not to give up. In the woods the snow is melted
around the trees, and the burrs and pieces of bark have absorbed the
heat till they have sunk halfway through to the ground. The snow is
melting on the under side; the frost is going out of the ground: now
comes the trial of your foundations.

About the farm buildings there awakens the old familiar chorus, the
bleating of calves and lambs, and the answering bass of their
distressed mothers; while the hens are cackling in the hay-loft, and
the geese are noisy in the spring run. But the most delightful of all
farm work, or of all rural occupations, is at hand, namely,
sugar-making. In New York and northern New England the beginning of
this season varies from the first to the middle of March, sometimes
even holding off till April. The moment the contest between the sun and
frost fairly begins, sugar weather begins; and the more even the
contest, the more the sweet. I do not know what the philosophy of it
is, but it seems a kind of see-saw, as if the sun drew the sap up and
the frost drew it down; and an excess of either stops the flow. Before
the sun has got power to unlock the frost, there is no sap; and after
the frost has lost its power to lock up again the work of the sun,
there is no sap. But when it freezes soundly at night, with a bright,
warm sun next day, wind in the west, and no signs of a storm, the veins
of the maples fairly thrill. Pierce the bark anywhere, and out gushes
the clear, sweet liquid. But let the wind change to the south and blow
moist and warm, destroying that crispness of the air, and the flow
slackens at once, unless there be a deep snow in the woods to
counteract or neutralize the warmth, in which case the run may continue
till the rain sets in. The rough-coated old trees,--one would not think
they could scent a change so quickly through that wrapper of dead, dry
bark an inch or more thick. I have to wait till I put my head out of
doors, and feel the air on my bare cheek, and sniff it with my nose;
but their nerves of taste and smell are no doubt under ground, imbedded
in the moisture, and if there is anything that responds quickly to
atmospheric changes, it is water. Do not the fish, think you, down deep
in the streams, feel every wind that blows, whether it be hot or cold?
Do not the frogs and newts and turtles under the mud feel the warmth,
though the water still seems like ice? As the springs begin to rise in
advance of the rain, so the intelligence of every change seems to
travel ahead under ground and forewarn things.

A "sap-run" seldom lasts more than two or three days.  By that time
there is a change in the weather, perhaps a rainstorm, which takes the
frost nearly all out of the ground. Then, before there can be another
run, the trees must be wound up again, the storm must have a white
tail, and "come off" cold. Presently the sun rises clear again, and
cuts the snow or softens the hard-frozen ground with his beams, and the
trees take a fresh start. The boys go through the wood, emptying out
the buckets or the pans, and reclaiming those that have blown away, and
the delightful work is resumed. But the first run, like first love, is
always the best, always the fullest, always the sweetest; while there
is a purity and delicacy of flavor about the sugar that far surpasses
any subsequent yield.

Trees differ much in the quantity as well as in the quality of sap
produced in a given season. Indeed, in a bush or orchard of fifty or
one hundred trees, as wide a difference may be observed in this respect
as among that number of cows in regard to the milk they yield. I have
in my mind now a "sugar-bush" nestled in the lap of a spur of the
Catskills, every tree of which is known to me, and assumes a distinct
individuality in my thought. I know the look and quality of the whole
two hundred; and when on my annual visit to the old homestead I find
one has perished, or fallen before the axe, I feel a personal loss.
They are all veterans, and have yielded up their life's blood for the
profit of two or three generations. They stand in little groups for
couples. One stands at the head of a spring-run, and lifts a large dry
branch high above the woods, where hawks and crows love to alight. Half
a dozen are climbing a little hill; while others stand far out in the
field, as if they had come out to get the sun. A file of five or six
worthies sentry the woods on the northwest, and confront a steep
side-hill where sheep and cattle graze. An equal number crowd up to the
line on the east; and their gray, stately trunks are seen across
meadows or fields of grain. Then there is a pair of Siamese twins, with
heavy, bushy tops; while in the forks of a wood-road stand the two
brothers, with their arms around each other's neck, and their bodies in
gentle contact for a distance of thirty feet.

One immense maple, known as the "old-creampan-tree," stands, or did
stand, quite alone among a thick growth of birches and beeches. But it
kept its end up, and did the work of two or three ordinary trees, as
its name denotes. Next to it, the best milcher in the lot was a
shaggy-barked tree in the edge of the field, that must have been badly
crushed or broken when it was little, for it had an ugly crook near the
ground, and seemed to struggle all the way up to get in an upright
attitude, but never quite succeeded; yet it could outrun all its
neighbors nevertheless. The poorest tree in the lot was a shortbodied,
heavy-topped tree that stood in the edge of a spring-run. It seldom
produced half a gallon of sap during the whole season; but this half
gallon was very sweet,--three or four times as sweet as the ordinary
article. In the production of sap, top seems far less important than
body. It is not length of limb that wins in this race, but length of
trunk. A heavy, bushy-topped tree in the open field, for instance, will
not, according to my observation, compare with a tall, long-trunked
tree in the woods, that has but a small top. Young, thrifty,
thin-skinned trees start up with great spirit, indeed, fairly on a run;
but they do not hold out, and their blood is very diluted. Cattle are
very fond of sap; so are sheep, and will drink enough to kill them. The
honey-bees get here their first sweet, and the earliest bug takes up
his permanent abode on the "spile." The squirrels also come timidly
down the trees, and sip the sweet flow; and occasionally an ugly
lizard, just out of its winter quarters and in quest Of novelties,
creeps up into the pan or bucket. Soft maple makes a very fine white
sugar, superior in quality, but far less in quantity.

I think any person who has tried it will agree with me about the charm
of sugar-making, though he have no tooth for the sweet itself. It is
enough that it is the first spring work, and takes one to the woods.
The robins are just arriving, and their merry calls ring through the
glades. The squirrels are now venturing out, and the woodpeckers and
nuthatches run briskly up the trees. The crow begins to caw, with his
accustomed heartiness and assurance; and one sees the white rump and
golden shafts of the high-hole as he flits about the open woods. Next
week, or the week after, it may be time to begin plowing, and other
sober work about the farm; but this week we will picnic among the
maples, and our camp-fire shall be an incense to spring. Ah, I am there
now! I see the woods flooded with sunlight; I smell the dry leaves, and
the mould under them just quickened by the warmth; the long-trunked
maples in their gray, rough liveries stand thickly about; I see the
brimming pans and buckets, always on the sunny side of the trees, and
hear the musical dropping of the sap; the "boiling-place," with its
delightful camp features, is just beyond the first line, with its great
arch looking to the southwest. The sound of its axe rings through the
woods. Its huge kettles or broad pans boil and foam; and I ask no other
delight than to watch and tend them all day, to dip the sap from the
great casks into them, and to replenish the fire with the newly-cut
birch and beech wood. A slight breeze is blowing from the west; I catch
the glint here and there in the afternoon sun of the little rills and
creeks coursing down the sides of the hills; the awakening sounds about
the farm and the woods reach my ear; and every rustle or movement of
the air or on the earth seems like a pulse of returning life in nature.
I sympathize with that verdant Hibernian who liked sugar-making so well
that he thought he should follow it the whole year. I should at least
be tempted to follow the season up the mountains, camping this week on
one terrace, next week on one farther up, keeping just on the hem of
Winter's garment, and just in advance of the swelling buds, until my
smoke went up through the last growth of maple that surrounds the
summit.

Maple sugar is peculiarly an American product, the discovery of it
dating back into the early history of New England. The first settlers
usually caught the sap in rude troughs, and boiled it down in kettles
slung to a pole by a chain, the fire being built around them. The first
step in the way of improvement was to use tin pans instead of troughs,
and a large stone arch in which the kettles or caldrons were set with
the fire beneath them. But of late years, as the question of fuel has
become a more important one, greater improvements have been made. The
arch has given place to an immense stove designed for that special
purpose; and the kettles to broad, shallow, sheet-iron pans, the object
being to economize all the heat, and to obtain the greatest possible
extent of evaporating surface.

March 15.--From the first to the middle of March the season made steady
progress. There were no checks, no drawbacks. Warm, copious rains from
the south and southwest, followed by days of unbroken sunshine. In the
moist places--and what places are not moist at this season?--the sod
buzzed like a hive. The absorption and filtration among the network of
roots was an audible process.

The clod fairly sang.  How the trees responded also!  The silver
poplars were masses of soft gray bloom, and the willows down toward the
river seemed to have slipped off their old bark and on their new in a
single night. The soft maples, too, when massed in the distance, their
tops deeply dyed in a bright maroon color,--how fair they looked!

The 15th of the month was "one of those charmed days when the genius of
God doth flow." The wind died away by mid-forenoon, and the day settled
down so softly and lovingly upon the earth, touching everything,
filling everything. The sky visibly came down. You could see it among
the trees and between the hills. The sun poured himself into the earth
as into a cup, and the atmosphere fairly swam with warmth and light. In
the afternoon I walked out over the country roads north of the city.
Innumerable columns of smoke were going up all around the horizon from
burning brush and weeds, fields being purified by fire. The farmers
were hauling out manure; and I am free to confess, the odor of it, with
its associations of the farm and the stable, of cattle and horses, was
good in my nostrils. In the woods the liverleaf and arbutus had just
opened doubtingly; and in the little pools great masses of frogs'
spawn, with a milky tinge, were deposited. The youth who accompanied me
brought some of it home in his handkerchief, to see it hatch in a
goblet.

The month came in like a lamb, and went out like a lamb, setting at
naught the old adage. The white fleecy clouds lay here and there, as if
at rest, on the blue sky. The fields were a perfect emerald; and the
lawns, with the new gold of the first dandelions sprinkled about, were
lush with grass. In the parks and groves there was a faint mist of
foliage, except among the willows, where there was not only a mist, but
a perfect fountain-fall of green. In the distance the river looked
blue; the spring freshets at last over, the ground settled, the jocund
season steps forth into April with a bright and confident look.


VI. AUTUMN TIDES

The season is always a little behind the sun in our climate, just as
the tide is always a little behind the moon. According to the calendar,
the summer ought to culminate about the 21st of June, but in reality it
is some weeks later; June is a maiden month all through. It is not high
noon in nature till about the first or second week in July. When the
chestnut-tree blooms, the meridian of the year is reached. By the first
of August it is fairly one o'clock. The lustre of the season begins to
dim, the foliage of the trees and woods to tarnish, the plumage of the
birds to fade, and their songs to cease. The hints of approaching fall
are on every hand. How suggestive this thistle-down, for instance,
which, as I sit by the open window, comes in and brushes softly across
my hand! The first snowflake tells of winter not more plainly than this
driving down heralds the approach of fall. Come here, my fairy, and
tell me whence you come and whither you go? What brings you to port
here, you gossamer ship sailing the great sea? How exquisitely frail
and delicate! One of the lightest things in nature; so light that in
the closed room here it will hardly rest in my open palm. A feather is
a clod beside it. Only a spider's web will hold it; coarser objects
have no power over it. Caught in the upper currents of the air and
rising above the clouds, it might sail perpetually. Indeed, one fancies
it might almost traverse the interstellar ether and drive against the
stars. And every thistle-head by the roadside holds hundreds of these
sky rovers,--imprisoned Ariels unable to set themselves free. Their
liberation may be by the shock of the wind, or the rude contact of
cattle, but it is oftener the work of the goldfinch with its
complaining brood. The seed of the thistle is the proper food of this
bird, and in obtaining it myriads of these winged creatures are
scattered to the breeze. Each one is fraught with a seed which it
exists to sow, but its wild careering and soaring does not fairly begin
till its burden is dropped, and its spheral form is complete. The seeds
of many plants and trees are disseminated through the agency of birds;
but the thistle furnishes its own birds,--flocks of them, with wings
more ethereal and tireless than were ever given to mortal creature.
From the pains Nature thus takes to sow the thistle broadcast over the
land, it might be expected to be one of the most troublesome and
abundant of weeds. But such is not the case; the more pernicious and
baffling weeds, like snapdragon or blind nettles, are more local and
restricted in their habits, and unable to fly at all.

In the fall, the battles of the spring are fought over again, beginning
at the other or little end of the series. There is the same advance and
retreat, with many feints and alarms, between the contending forces,
that was witnessed in April and May. The spring comes like a tide
running against a strong wind; it is ever beaten back, but ever gaining
ground, with now and then a mad "push upon the land" as if to overcome
its antagonist at one blow. The cold from the north encroaches upon us
in about the same fashion. In September or early in October it usually
makes a big stride forward and blackens all the more delicate plants,
and hastens the "mortal ripening" of the foliage of the trees, but it
is presently beaten back again, and the genial warmth repossesses the
land. Before long, however, the cold returns to the charge with
augmented forces and gains much ground.

The course of the seasons never does run smooth, owing to the unequal
distribution of land and water, mountain, wood, and plain.

An equilibrium, however, is usually reached in our climate in October,
sometimes the most marked in November, forming the delicious Indian
summer; a truce is declared, and both forces, heat and cold, meet and
mingle in friendly converse on the field. In the earlier season, this
poise of the temperature, this slack-water in nature, comes in May and
June; but the October calm is most marked. Day after day, and sometimes
week after week, you cannot tell which way the current is setting.
Indeed, there is no current, but the season seems to drift a little
this way or a little that, just as the breeze happens to freshen a
little in one quarter or the other. The fall of '74 was the most
remarkable in this respect I remember ever to have seen. The
equilibrium of the season lasted from the middle of October till near
December, with scarcely a break. There were six weeks of Indian summer,
all gold by day, and, when the moon came, all silver by night. The
river was so smooth at times as to be almost invisible, and in its
place was the indefinite continuation of the opposite shore down toward
the nether world. One seemed to be in an enchanted land, and to breathe
all day the atmosphere of fable and romance. Not a smoke, but a kind of
shining nimbus filled all the spaces. The vessels would drift by as if
in mid-air with all their sails set. The gypsy blood in one, as Lowell
calls it, could hardly stay between four walls and see such days go by.
Living in tents, in groves and on the hills, seemed the only natural
life.

Late in December we had glimpses of the same weather,--the earth had
not yet passed all the golden isles. On the 27th of that month, I find
I made this entry in my note-book: "A soft, hazy day, the year asleep
and dreaming of the Indian summer again. Not a breath of air and not a
ripple on the river. The sunshine is hot as it falls across my table."

But what a terrible winter followed! what a savage chief the fair
Indian maiden gave birth to!

This halcyon period of our autumn will always in some way be associated
with the Indian. It is red and yellow and dusky like him. The smoke of
his camp-fire seems again in the air. The memory of him pervades the
woods. His plumes and moccasins and blanket of skins form just the
costume the season demands. It was doubtless his chosen period. The
gods smiled upon him then if ever. The time of the chase, the season of
the buck and the doe, and of the ripening of all forest fruits; the
time when all men are incipient hunters, when the first frosts have
given pungency to the air, when to be abroad on the hills or in the
woods is a delight that both old and young feel,--if the red aborigine
ever had his summer of fullness and contentment, it must have been at
this season, and it fitly bears his name.

In how many respects fall imitates or parodies the spring!  It is
indeed, in some of its features, a sort of second youth of the year.
Things emerge and become conspicuous again. The trees attract all eyes
as in May. The birds come forth from their summer privacy and parody
their spring reunions and rivalries; some of them sing a little after a
silence of months. The robins, bluebirds, meadowlarks, sparrows, crows,
all sport, and call, and behave in a manner suggestive of spring. The
cock grouse drums in the woods as he did in April and May. The pigeons
reappear, and the wild geese and ducks. The witch-hazel blooms. The
trout spawns. The streams are again full. The air is humid, and the
moisture rises in the ground. Nature is breaking camp, as in spring she
was going into camp. The spring yearning and restlessness is
represented in one by the increased desire to travel.

Spring is the inspiration, fall the expiration.  Both seasons have
their equinoxes, both their filmy, hazy air, their ruddy forest tints,
their cold rains, their drenching fogs, their mystic moons; both have
the same solar light and warmth, the same rays of the sun; yet, after
all, how different the feelings which they inspire! One is the morning,
the other the evening; one is youth, the other is age.

The difference is not merely in us; there is a subtle difference in the
air, and in the influences that emanate upon us from the dumb forms of
nature. All the senses report a difference. The sun seems to have
burned out. One recalls the notion of Herodotus that he is grown
feeble, and retreats to the south because he can no longer face the
cold and the storms from the north. There is a growing potency about
his beams in spring, a waning splendor about them in fall. One is the
kindling fire, the other the subsiding flame.

It is rarely that an artist succeeds in painting unmistakably the
difference between sunrise and sunset; and it is equally a trial of his
skill to put upon canvas the difference between early spring and late
fall, say between April and November. It was long ago observed that the
shadows are more opaque in the morning than in the evening; the
struggle between the light and the darkness more marked, the gloom more
solid, the contrasts more sharp. The rays of the morning sun chisel out
and cut down the shadows in a way those of the setting sun do not. Then
the sunlight is whiter and newer in the morning,--not so yellow and
diffused. A difference akin to this is true of the two seasons I am
speaking of. The spring is the morning sunlight, clear and determined;
the autumn, the afternoon rays, pensive, lessening, golden.

Does not the human frame yield to and sympathize with the seasons?  Are
there not more births in the spring and more deaths in the fall? In the
spring one vegetates; his thoughts turn to sap; another kind of
activity seizes him; he makes new wood which does not harden till past
midsummer. For my part, I find all literary work irksome from April to
August; my sympathies run in other channels; the grass grows where
meditation walked. As fall approaches, the currents mount to the head
again. But my thoughts do not ripen well till after there has been a
frost. The burrs will not open much before that. A man's thinking, I
take it, is a kind of combustion, as is the ripening of fruits and
leaves, and he wants plenty of oxygen in the air.

Then the earth seems to have become a positive magnet in the fall; the
forge and anvil of the sun have had their effect. In the spring it is
negative to all intellectual conditions, and drains one of his
lightning.

To-day, October 21, I found the air in the bushy fields and lanes under
the woods loaded with the perfume of the witch-hazel,--a sweetish,
sickening odor. With the blooming of this bush, Nature says,
"Positively the last." It is a kind of birth in death, of spring in
fall, that impresses one as a little uncanny. All trees and shrubs form
their flower-buds in the fall, and keep the secret till spring. How
comes the witch-hazel to be the one exception, and to celebrate its
floral nuptials on the funeral day of its foliage? No doubt it will be
found that the spirit of some lovelorn squaw has passed into this bush,
and that this is why it blooms in the Indian summer rather than in the
white man's spring.

But it makes the floral series of the woods complete.  Between it and
the shad-blow of earliest spring lies the mountain of bloom; the latter
at the base on one side, this at the base on the other, with the
chestnut blossoms at the top in midsummer.

A peculiar feature of our fall may sometimes be seen of a clear
afternoon late in the season. Looking athwart the fields under the
sinking sun, the ground appears covered with a shining veil of
gossamer. A fairy net, invisible at midday and which the position of
the sun now reveals, rests upon the stubble and upon the spears of
grass, covering acres in extent,--the work of innumerable little
spiders. The cattle walk through it, but do not seem to break it.
Perhaps a fly would make his mark upon it. At the same time, stretching
from the tops of the trees, or from the top of a stake in the fence,
and leading off toward the sky, may be seen the cables of the flying
spider,--a fairy bridge from the visible to the invisible. Occasionally
seen against a deep mass of shadow, and perhaps enlarged by clinging
particles of dust, they show quite plainly and sag down like a
stretched rope, or sway and undulate like a hawser in the tide.

They recall a verse of our rugged poet, Walt Whitman:--

         "A noiseless patient spider,
   I mark'd where, in a little promontory, it stood isolated:
   Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
   It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament out of itself;
   Ever unreeling them--ever tireless spreading them.

   "And you, O my soul, where you stand,
   Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
   Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,--
   Seeking the spheres to connect them;
   Till the bridge you will need be formed--till the ductile
         anchor hold;
   Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my
         soul."

To return a little, September may be described as the month of tall
weeds. Where they have been suffered to stand, along fences, by
roadsides, and in forgotten corners,--redroot, pigweed, ragweed,
vervain, goldenrod, burdock, elecampane, thistles, teasels, nettles,
asters, etc.,--how they lift themselves up as if not afraid to be seen
now! They are all outlaws; every man's hand is against them; yet how
surely they hold their own! They love the roadside, because here they
are comparatively safe; and ragged and dusty, like the common tramps
that they are, they form one of the characteristic features of early
fall.

I have often noticed in what haste certain weeds are at times to
produce their seeds. Redroot will grow three or four feet high when it
has the whole season before it; but let it get a late start, let it
come up in August, and it scarcely gets above the ground before it
heads out, and apparently goes to work with all its might and main to
mature its seed. In the growth of most plants or weeds, April and May
represent their root, June and July their stalk, and August and
September their flower and seed. Hence, when the stalk months are
stricken out, as in the present case, there is only time for a shallow
root and a foreshortened head. I think most weeds that get a late start
show this curtailment of stalk, and this solicitude to reproduce
themselves. But I have not observed that any of the cereals are so
worldly wise. They have not had to think and to shift for themselves as
the weeds have. It does indeed look like a kind of forethought in the
redroot. It is killed by the first frost, and hence knows the danger of
delay.

How rich in color, before the big show of the tree foliage has
commenced, our roadsides are in places in early autumn,--rich to the
eye that goes hurriedly by and does not look too closely,--with the
profusion of goldenrod and blue and purple asters dashed in upon here
and there with the crimson leaves of the dwarf sumac; and at intervals,
rising out of the fence corner or crowning a ledge of rocks, the dark
green of the cedar with the still fire of the woodbine at its heart. I
wonder if the waysides of other lands present any analogous spectacles
at this season.

Then, when the maples have burst out into color, showing like great
bonfires along the hills, there is indeed a feast for the eye. A maple
before your windows in October, when the sun shines upon it, will make
up for a good deal of the light it has excluded; it fills the room with
a soft goldenglow.

Thoreau, I believe, was the first to remark upon the individuality of
trees of the same species with respect to their foliage,--some maples
ripening their leaves early and some late, and some being of one tint
and some of another; and, moreover, that each tree held to the same
characteristics, year after year. There is, indeed, as great a variety
among the maples as among the trees of an apple orchard; some are
harvest apples, some are fall apples, and some are winter apples, each
with a tint of its own. Those late ripeners are the winter
varieties,--the Rhode Island greenings or swaars of their kind. The red
maple is the early astrachan. Then come the red-streak, the
yellow-sweet, and others. There are windfalls among them, too, as among
the apples, and one side or hemisphere of the leaf is usually brighter
than the other.

The ash has been less noticed for its autumnal foliage than it
deserves. The richest shades of plum-color to be seen--becoming by and
by, or in certain lights, a deep maroon--are afforded by this tree.
Then at a distance there seems to be a sort of bloom on it, as upon the
grape or plum. Amid a grove of yellow maple, it makes a most pleasing
contrast.

By mid-October, most of the Rip Van Winkles among our brute creatures
have lain down for their winter nap. The toads and turtles have buried
themselves in the earth. The woodchuck is in his hibernaculum, the
skunk in his, the mole in his; and the black bear has his selected, and
will go in when the snow comes. He does not like the looks of his big
tracks in the snow. They publish his goings and comings too plainly.
The coon retires about the same time. The provident wood-mice and the
chipmunk are laying by a winter supply of nuts or grain, the former
usually in decayed trees, the latter in the ground. I have observed
that any unusual disturbance in the woods, near where the chipmunk has
his den, will cause him to shift his quarters. One October, for many
successive days, I saw one carrying into his hole buckwheat which he
had stolen from a near field. The hole was only a few rods from where
we were getting out stone, and as our work progressed, and the racket
and uproar increased, the chipmunk became alarmed. He ceased carrying
in, and after much hesitating and darting about, and some prolonged
absences, he began to carry out; he had determined to move; if the
mountain fell, he, at least, would be away in time. So, by mouthfuls or
cheekfuls, the grain was transferred to a new place. He did not make a
"bee" to get it done, but carried it all himself, occupying several
days, and making a trip about every ten minutes.

The red and gray squirrels do not lay by winter stores; their cheeks
are made without pockets, and whatever they transport is carried in the
teeth. They are more or less active all winter, but October and
November are their festal months. Invade some butternut or hickory-nut
grove on a frosty October morning and hear the red squirrel beat the
"juba" on a horizontal branch. It is a most lively jig, what the boys
call a "regular break-down," interspersed with squeals and snickers and
derisive laughter. The most noticeable peculiarity about the vocal part
of it is the fact that it is a kind of duet. In other words, by some
ventriloquial tricks, he appears to accompany himself, as if his voice
split up, a part forming a low guttural sound, and a part a shrill
nasal sound.

The distant bark of the more wary gray squirrel may be heard about the
same time. There is a teasing and ironical tone in it also, but the
gray squirrel is not the Puck the red is

Insects also go into winter-quarters by or before this time; the
bumble-bee, hornet, and wasp. But here only royalty escapes; the
queen-mother alone foresees the night of winter coming and the morning
of spring beyond. The rest of the tribe try gypsying for a while, but
perish in the first frosts. The present October I surprised the queen
of the yellow-jackets in the woods looking out a suitable retreat. The
royal dame was house-hunting, and, on being disturbed by my inquisitive
poking among the leaves, she got up and flew away with a slow, deep
hum. Her body was unusually distended, whether with fat or eggs I am
unable to say. In September I took down the nest of the black hornet
and found several large queens in it, but the workers had all gone. The
queens were evidently weathering the first frosts and storms here, and
waiting for the Indian summer to go forth and seek a permanent winter
abode. If the covers could be taken off the fields and woods at this
season, how many interesting facts of natural history would be
revealed!--the crickets, ants, bees, reptiles, animals, and, for aught
I know, the spiders and flies asleep or getting ready to sleep in their
winter dormitories; the fires of life banked up, and burning just
enough to keep the spark over till spring.

The fish all run down the stream in the fall except the trout; it runs
up or stays up and spawns in November, the male becoming as brilliantly
tinted as the deepest-dyed maple leaf. I have often wondered why the
trout spawns in the fall, instead of in the spring like other fish. Is
it not because a full supply of clear spring water can be counted on at
that season more than at any other? The brooks are not so liable to be
suddenly muddied by heavy showers, and defiled with the whashings of
the roads and fields, as they are in spring and summer. The artificial
breeder finds that absolute purity of water is necessary to hatch the
spawn; also that shade and a low temperature are indispensable.

Our northern November day itself is like spring water.  It is melted
frost, dissolved snow. There is a chill in it and an exhilaration also.
The forenoon is all morning and the afternoon all evening. The shadows
seem to come forth and to revenge themselves upon the day. The sunlight
is diluted with darkness. The colors fade from the landscape, and only
the sheen of the river lights up the gray and brown distance.



VII. THE APPLE

      Lo! sweetened with the summer light,
      The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow,
      Drops in silent autumn night.
                                    TENNYSON.

Not a little of the sunshine of our northern winters is surely wrapped
up in the apple. How could we winter over without it! How is life
sweetened by its mild acids! A cellar well filled with apples is more
valuable than a chamber filled with flax and wool. So much sound, ruddy
life to draw upon, to strike one's roots down into, as it were.

Especially to those whose soil of life is inclined to be a little
clayey and heavy, is the apple a winter necessity. It is the natural
antidote of most of the ills the flesh is heir to. Full of vegetable
acids and aromatics, qualities which act as refrigerants and
antiseptics, what an enemy it is to jaundice, indigestion, torpidity of
liver, etc.! It is a gentle spur and tonic to the whole biliary system.
Then I have read that it has been found by analysis to contain more
phosphorus than any other vegetable. This makes it the proper food of
the scholar and the sedentary man; it feeds his brain and it stimulates
his liver. Nor is this all. Besides its hygienic properties, the apple
is full of sugar and mucilage, which make it highly nutritious. It is
said "the operators of Cornwall, England, consider ripe apples nearly
as nourishing as bread, and far more so than potatoes. In the year
1801--which was a year of much scarcity--apples, instead of being
converted into cider, were sold to the poor, and the laborers asserted
that they could 'stand their work' on baked apples without meat;
whereas a potato diet required either meat or some other substantial
nutriment. The French and Germans use apples extensively; so do the
inhabitants of all European nations. The laborers depend upon them as
an article of food, and frequently make a dinner of sliced apples and
bread."

Yet the English apple is a tame and insipid affair, compared with the
intense, sun-colored, and sunsteeped fruit our orchards yield. The
English have no sweet apple, I am told, the saccharine element
apparently being less abundant in vegetable nature in that sour and
chilly climate than in our own.

It is well known that the European maple yields no sugar, while both
our birch and hickory have sweet in their veins. Perhaps this fact
accounts for our excessive love of sweets, which may be said to be a
national trait.

The Russian apple has a lovely complexion, smooth and transparent, but
the Cossack is not yet all eliminated from it. The only one I have
seen--the Duchess of Oldenburg--is as beautiful as a Tartar princess,
with a distracting odor, but it is the least bit puckery to the taste.

The best thing I know about Chili is, not its guano beds, but this fact
which I learn from Darwin's "Voyage," namely, that the apple thrives
well there. Darwin saw a town there so completely buried in a wood of
apple-trees, that its streets were merely paths in an orchard. The
tree, indeed, thrives so well, that large branches cut off in the
spring and planted two or three feet deep in the ground send out roots
and develop into fine, fullbearing trees by the third year. The people
know the value of the apple, too. They make cider and wine of it, and
then from the refuse a white and finely flavored spirit; then, by
another process, a sweet treacle is obtained, called honey. The
children and the pigs eat little or no other food. He does not add that
the people are healthy and temperate, but I have no doubt they are. We
knew the apple had many virtues, but these Chilians have really opened
a deep beneath a deep. We had found out the cider and the spirits, but
who guessed the wine and the honey, unless it were the bees? There is a
variety in our orchards called the winesap, a doubly liquid name that
suggests what might be done with this fruit.

The apple is the commonest and yet the most varied and beautiful of
fruits. A dish of them is as becoming to the centre-table in winter as
was the vase of flowers in the summer,--a bouquet of spitzenburgs and
greenings and northern spies. A rose when it blooms, the apple is a
rose when it ripens. It pleases every sense to which it can be
addressed, the touch, the smell, the sight, the taste; and when it
falls, in the still October days, it pleases the ear. It is a call to a
banquet, it is a signal that the feast is ready. The bough would fain
hold it, but it can now assert its independence; it can now live a life
of its own.

Daily the stem relaxes its hold, till finally it lets go completely and
down comes the painted sphere with a mellow thump to the earth, toward
which it has been nodding so long. It bounds away to seek its bed, to
hide under a leaf, or in a tuft of grass. It will now take time to
meditate and ripen! What delicious thoughts it has there nestled with
its fellows under the fence, turning acid into sugar, and sugar into
wine!

How pleasing to the touch!  I love to stroke its polished rondure with
my hand, to carry it in my pocket on my tramp over the winter hills, or
through the early spring woods. You are company, you red-checked spitz,
or you salmon-fleshed greening! I toy with you; press your face to
mine, toss you in the air, roll you on the ground, see you shine out
where you lie amid the moss and dry leaves and sticks. You are so
alive! You glow like a ruddy flower. You look so animated I almost
expect to see you move! I postpone the eating of you, you are so
beautiful! How compact; how exquisitely tinted! Stained by the sun and
varnished against the rains. An independent vegetable existence, alive
and vascular as my own flesh; capable of being wounded, bleeding,
wasting away, or almost of repairing damages!

How it resists the cold! holding out almost as long as the red cheeks
of the boys do. A frost that destroys the potatoes and other roots only
makes the apple more crisp and vigorous; it peeps out from the chance
November snows unscathed. When I see the fruit-vender on the street
corner stamping his feet and beating his hands to keep them warm, and
his naked apples lying exposed to the blasts, I wonder if they do not
ache, too, to clap their hands and enliven their circulation. But they
can stand it nearly as long as the vender can.

Noble common fruit, best friend of man and most loved by him, following
him, like his dog or his cow, wherever he goes! His homestead is not
planted till you are planted, your roots intertwine with his; thriving
best where he thrives best, loving the limestone and the frost, the
plow and the pruning-knife: you are indeed suggestive of hardy,
cheerful industry, and a healthy life in the open air. Temperate,
chaste fruit! you mean neither luxury nor sloth, neither satiety nor
indolence, neither enervating heats nor the frigid zones. Uncloying
fruit,--fruit whose best sauce is the open air, whose finest flavors
only he whose taste is sharpened by brisk work or walking knows; winter
fruit, when the fire of life burns brightest; fruit always a little
hyperborean, leaning toward the cold; bracing, sub-acid, active fruit!
I think you must come from the north, you are so frank and honest, so
sturdy and appetizing. You are stocky and homely like the northern
races. Your quality is Saxon. Surely the fiery and impetuous south is
not akin to you. Not spices or olives, or the sumptuous liquid fruits,
but the grass, the snow, the grains, the coolness, is akin to you. I
think if I could subsist on you, or the like of you, I should never
have an intemperate or ignoble thought, never be feverish or
despondent. So far as I could absorb or transmute your quality, I
should be cheerful, continent, equitable, sweet-blooded, long-lived,
and should shed warmth and contentment around.

Is there any other fruit that has so much facial expression as the
apple? What boy does not more than half believe they can see with that
single eye of theirs? Do they not look and nod to him from the bough?
The swaar has one look, the rambo another, the spy another. The youth
recognizes the seek-no-further, buried beneath a dozen other varieties,
the moment he catches a glance of its eye, or the bonny-cheeked Newtown
pippin, or the gentle but sharp-nosed gillyflower. He goes to the great
bin in the cellar, and sinks his shafts here and there in the garnered
wealth of the orchards, mining for his favorites, sometimes coming
plump upon them, sometimes catching a glimpse of them to the right or
left, or uncovering them as keystones in an arch made up of many
varieties.

In the dark he can usually tell them by the sense of touch.  There is
not only the size and shape, but there is the texture and polish. Some
apples are coarse-grained and some are fine; some are thinskinned and
some are thick. One variety is quick and vigorous beneath the touch,
another gentle and yielding. The pinnock has a thick skin with a spongy
lining; a bruise in it becomes like a piece of cork. The tallow apple
has an unctuous feel, as its name suggests. It sheds water like a duck.
What apple is that with a fat curved stem that blends so prettily with
its own flesh,--the wine apple? Some varieties impress me as
masculine,--weatherstained, freckled, lasting, and rugged; others are
indeed lady apples, fair, delicate, shining, mildflavored,
white-meated, like the egg-drop and the lady-finger. The practiced hand
knows each kind by the touch.

Do you remember the apple hole in the garden or back of the house, Ben
Bolt? In the fall, after the bins in the cellar had been well stocked,
we excavated a circular pit in the warm mellow earth, and, covering the
bottom with clean rye straw, emptied in basketful after basketful of
hardy choice varieties, till there was a tent-shaped mound several feet
high of shining variegated fruit. Then, wrapping it about with a thick
layer of long rye straw, and tucking it up snug and warm, the mound was
covered with a thin coating of earth, a flat stone on the top holding
down the straw. As winter set in, another coating of earth was put upon
it, with perhaps an overcoat of coarse dry stable manure, and the
precious pile was left in silence and darkness till spring. No marmot,
hibernating under ground in his nest of leaves and dry grass, more cozy
and warm. No frost, no wet, but fragrant privacy and quiet. Then how
the earth tempers and flavors the apples! It draws out all the acrid
unripe qualities, and infuses into them a subtle refreshing taste of
the soil. Some varieties perish, but the ranker, hardier kinds, like
the northern spy, the greening, or the black apple, or the russet, or
the pinnock, how they ripen and grow in grace, how the green becomes
gold, and the bitter becomes sweet!

As the supply in the bins and barrels gets low and spring approaches,
the buried treasures in the garden are remembered. With spade and axe
we go out and penetrate through the snow and frozen earth till the
inner dressing of straw is laid bare. It is not quite as clear and
bright as when we placed it there last fall, but the fruit beneath,
which the hand soon exposes, is just as bright and far more luscious.
Then, as day after day you resort to the hole, and, removing the straw
and earth from the opening, thrust your arm into the fragrant pit, you
have a better chance than ever before to become acquainted with your
favorites by the sense of touch. How you feel for them, reaching to the
right and left! Now you have got a Talman sweet; you imagine you can
feel that single meridian line that divides it into two hemispheres.
Now a greening fills your hand; you feel its fine quality beneath its
rough coat. Now you have hooked a swaar, you recognize its full face;
now a Vandevere or a King rolls down from the apex above and you bag it
at once. When you were a schoolboy, you stowed these away in your
pockets, and ate them along the road and at recess, and again at
noontime; and they, in a measure, corrected the effects of the cake and
pie with which your indulgent mother filled your lunchbasket.

The boy is indeed the true apple-eater, and is not to be questioned how
he came by the fruit with which his pockets are filled. It belongs to
him, and he may steal it if it cannot be had in any other way. His own
juicy flesh craves the juicy flesh of the apple. Sap draws sap. His
fruit-eating has little reference to the state of his appetite. Whether
he be full of meat or empty of meat, he wants the apple just the same.
Before meal or after meal it never comes amiss. The farm-boy munches
apples all day long. He has nests of them in the haymow, mellowing, to
which he makes frequent visits. Sometimes old Brindle, having access
through the open door, smells them out and makes short work of them.

In some countries the custom remains of placing a rosy apple in the
hand of the dead, that they may find it when they enter paradise. In
northern mythology the giants eat apples to keep off old age.

The apple is indeed the fruit of youth.  As we grow old we crave apples
less. It is an ominous sign. When you are ashamed to be seen eating
them on the street; when you can carry them in your pocket and your
hand not constantly find its way to them; when your neighbor has aples
and you have none, and you make no nocturnal visits to his orchard;
when you lunch-basket is without them, and you can pass a winter's
night by the fireside with not thought of the fruit at your
elbow,--then be assured you are no longer a boy, either in heart or in
years.

The genuine apple-eater comforts himself with an apple in its season,
as others do with a pipe or a cigar. When he has nothing else to do, or
is bored, he eats an apple. While he is waiting for the train he eats
an apple, sometimes several of them. Whe he takes a walk he arms
himself with apples. His traveling-bag is full of apples. He offers an
apple to his companion, and takes one himself. They are his chief
solace when on the road. He sows their seed all along the route. He
tosses the core from the car winedow and from the top of the
stage-coach. He would, in time, make the land one vast orchard. He
dispenses with a knife. He prefers that his teeth shall have the first
taste. Then he knows that the best flavor is immediately beneath the
skin, and that in a pared apple this is lost. If you will stew the
apple, he says, instead of baking it, by all means leave the skin on.
It improves the color and vastly heightens the flavor of the dish.

The apple is a masculine fruit; hence women are poor apple-eaters.  It
belongs to the open air, and requires an open-air taste and relish.

I instantly sympathized with that clergyman I read of, who on pulling
out his pocket-handkerchief in the midst of his discourse, pulled out
two bouncing apples with it that went rolling across the pulpit floor
and down the pulpit stairs. These apples were, do doubt, to be eaten
after the sermon, on his way home, or to his next appointment. They
would take the taste of it out of his mouth. Then, would a minister be
apt to grow tiresome with tow big apples in his coat-tail pockets?
Would he not naturally hasten along to "lastly" and the big apples? If
they were the dominie apples, and it was April or May, he certainly
would.

How the early settlers prized the apple!  When their trees broke down
or were split asunder by the storms, the neighbors turned out, the
divided tree was put together again and fastened with iron bolts. In
some of the oldest orchards one may still occasionally see a large
dilapidated tree with the rusty iron bolt yet visible. Poor, sour
fruit, too, but sweet in those early pioneer days. My grandfather, who
was one of these heroes of the stump, used every fall to make a journey
of forty miles for a few apples, which he brought home in a bag on
horseback. He frequently started from home by two or three o'clock in
the morning, and at one time both he and his horse were much frightened
by the screaming of panthers in a narrow pass in the mountains through
which the road led.

Emerson, I believe, has spoken of the apple as the social fruit of New
England. Indeed, what a promoter or abettor of social intercourse among
our rural population the apple has been, the company growing more merry
and unrestrained as soon as the basket of apples was passed round! When
the cider followed, the introduction and good understanding were
complete. Then those rural gatherings that enlivened the autumn in the
country, known as "apple-cuts," now, alas! nearly obsolete, where so
many things were cut and dried besides apples! The larger and more
loaded the orchard, the more frequently the invitations went round and
the higher the social and convivial spirit ran. Ours is eminently a
country of the orchard. Horace Greeley said he had seen no land in
which the orchard formed such a prominent feature in the rural and
agricultural districts. Nearly every farmhouse in the Eastern and
Northern States has its setting or its background of apple-trees, which
generally date back to the first settlement of the farm. Indeed, the
orchard, more than almost any other thing, tends to soften and humanize
the country, and to give the place of which it is an adjunct a settled,
domestic look. The apple-tree takes the rawness and wildness off any
scene. On the top of a mountain, or in remote pastures, it sheds the
sentiment of home. It never loses its domestic air, or lapses into a
wild state. And in planting a homestead, or in choosing a building-site
for the new house, what a help it is to have a few old, maternal
apple-trees near by,--regular old grandmothers, who have seen trouble,
who have been sad and glad through so many winters and summers, who
have blossomed till the air about them is sweeter than elsewhere, and
borne fruit till the grass beneath them has become thick and soft from
human contact, and who have nourisbed robins and finches in their
branches till they have a tender, brooding look! The ground, the turf,
the atmosphere of an old orchard, seem several stages nearer to man
than that of the adjoining field, as if the trees had given back to the
soil more than they had taken from it; as if they had tempered the
elements, and attracted all the genial and beneficent influences in the
landscape around.

An apple orchard is sure to bear you several crops beside the apple.
There is the crop of sweet and tender reminiscences, dating from
childhood and spanning the seasons from May to October, and making the
orchard a sort of outlying part of the household. You have played there
as a child, mused there as a youth or lover, strolled there as a
thoughtful, sad-eyed man. Your father, perhaps, planted the trees, or
reared them from the seed, and you yourself have pruned and grafted
them, and worked among them, till every separate tree has a peculiar
history and meaning in your mind. Then there is the never-failing crop
of birds,--robins, goldfinches, kingbirds, cedar-birds, hairbirds,
orioles, starlings,--all nesting and breeding in its branches, and
fitly described by Wilson Flagg as "Birds of the Garden and Orchard."
Whether the pippin and sweet bough bear or not, the "punctual birds"
can always be depended on. Indeed, there are few better places to study
ornithology than in the orchard. Besides its regular occupants, many of
the birds of the deeper forest find occasion to visit it during the
season. The cuckoo comes for the tent-caterpillar, the jay for frozen
apples, the ruffed grouse for buds, the crow foraging for birds' eggs,
the woodpecker and chickadees for their food, and the high-hole for
ants. The redbird comes, too, if only to see what a friendly covert its
branches form; and the wood thrush now and then comes out of the grove
near by, and nests alongside of its cousin, the robin. The smaller
hawks know that this is a most likely spot for their prey, and in
spring the shy northern warblers may be studied as they pause to feed
on the fine insects amid its branches. The mice love to dwell here
also, and hither come from the near woods the squirrel and the rabbit.
The latter will put his head through the boy's slipper-noose any time
for a taste of the sweet apple, and the red squirrel and chipmunk
esteem its seeds a great rarity.

All the domestic animals love the apple, but none so much as the cow.
The taste of it wakes her up as few other things do, and bars and
fences must be well looked after. No need to assort them or to pick out
the ripe ones for her. An apple is an apple, and there is no best about
it. I heard of a quick-witted old cow that learned to shake them down
from the tree. While rubbing herself she had observed that an apple
sometimes fell. This stimulated her to rub a little harder, when more
apples fell. She then took the hint, and rubbed her shoulder with such
vigor that the farmer had to check her and keep an eye on her, to save
his fruit.

But the cow is the friend of the apple.  How many trees she has planted
about the farm, in the edge of the woods, and in remote fields and
pastures! The wild apples, celebrated by Thoreau, are mostly of her
planting. She browses them down, to be sure, but they are hers, and why
should she not?

What an individuality the apple-tree has, each variety being nearly as
marked by its form as by its fruit. What a vigorous grower, for
instance, is the Ribston pippin, an English apple,--wide-branching like
the oak; its large ridgy fruit, in late fall or early winter, is one of
my favorites. Or the thick and more pendent top of the bellflower, with
its equally rich, sprightly, uncloying fruit.

Sweet apples are perhaps the most nutritious, and when baked are a
feast in themselves. With a tree of the Jersey sweet or of the Talman
sweet in bearing, no man's table need be devoid of luxuries and one of
the most wholesome of all desserts. Or the red astrachan, an August
apple,--what a gap may be filled in the culinary department of a
household at this season by a single tree of this fruit! And what a
feast is its shining crimson coat to the eye before its snow-white
flesh has reached the tongue! But the apple of apples for the household
is the spitzenburg. In this casket Pomona has put her highest flavors.
It can stand the ordeal of cooking, and still remain a spitz. I
recently saw a barrel of these apples from the orchard of a
fruit-grower in the northern part of New York, who has devoted especial
attention to this variety. They were perfect gems. Not large,--that had
not been the aim,--but small, fair, uniform, and red to the core. How
intense, how spicy and aromatic!

But all the excellences of the apple are not confined to the cultivated
fruit. Occasionally a seedling springs up about the farm that produces
fruit of rare beauty and worth. In sections peculiarly adapted to the
apple, like a certain belt along the Hudson River, I have noticed that
most of the wild, unbidden trees bear good, edible fruit. In cold and
ungenial districts the seedlings are mostly sour and crabbed, but in
more favorable soils they are oftener mild and sweet. I know wild
apples that ripen in August, and that do not need, if it could be had,
Thoreau's sauce of sharp, November air to be eaten with. At the foot of
a hill near me, and striking its roots deep in the shale, is a giant
specimen of native tree that bears an apple that has about the
clearest, waxiest, most transparent complexion I ever saw. It is of
good size, and the color of a tea rose. Its quality is best appreciated
in the kitchen. I know another seedling of excellent quality, and so
remarkable for its firmness and density that it is known on the farm
where it grows as the "heavy apple."

I have alluded to Thoreau, to whom all lovers of the apple and its tree
are under obligation. His chapter on Wild Apples is a most delicious
piece of writing. It has a "tang and smack" like the fruit it
celebrates, and is dashed and streaked with color in the same manner.
It has the hue and perfume of the crab, and the richness and raciness
of the pippin. But Thoreau loved other apples than the wild sorts, and
was obliged to confess that his favorites could not be eaten indoors.
Late in November he found a blue-pearmain tree growing within the edge
of a swamp, almost as good as wild. "You would not suppose," he says,
"that there was any fruit left there on the first survey, but you must
look according to system. Those which lie exposed are quite brown and
rotten now, or perchance a few still show one blooming cheek here and
there amid the wet leaves. Nevertheless, with experienced eyes I
explore amid the bare alders, and the huckleberry bushes, and the
withered sedge, and in the crevices of the rocks, which are full of
leaves, and pry under the fallen and decaying ferns which, with apple
and alder leaves, thickly strew the ground. For I know that they lie
concealed, fallen into hollows long since, and covered up by the leaves
of the tree itself,--a proper kind of packing. From these
lurkingplaces, anywhere within the circumference of the tree, I draw
forth the fruit all wet and glossy, maybe nibbled by rabbits and
hollowed out by crickets, and perhaps with a leaf or two cemented to it
(as Curzon an old manuscript from a monastery's mouldy cellar), but
still with a rich bloom on it, and at least as ripe and well kept, if
not better than those in barrels, more crisp and lively than they. If
these resources fail to yield anything, I have learned to look between
the bases of the suckers which spring thickly from some horizontal
limb, for now and then one lodges there, or in the very midst of an
alderclump, where they are covered by leaves, safe from cows which may
have smelled them out. If I am sharp-set,--for I do not refuse the
blue-pearmain,--I fill my pockets on each side; and as I retrace my
steps in the frosty eve, being perhaps four or five miles from home, I
eat one first from this side, and then from that, to keep my balance."



VIII. AN OCTOBER ABROAD

       I. MELLOW ENGLAND

I will say at the outset, as I believe some one else has said on a like
occasion, that in this narrative I shall probably describe myself more
than the objects I look upon. The facts and particulars of the case
have already been set down in the guidebooks and in innumerable books
of travel. I shall only attempt to give an account of the pleasure and
satisfaction I had in coming face to face with things in the mother
country, seeing them as I did with kindred and sympathizing eyes.

The ocean was a dread fascination to me,--a world whose dominion I had
never entered; but I proved to be such a wretched sailor that I am
obliged to confess, Hibernian fashion, that the happiest moment I spent
upon the sea was when I set my foot upon the land.

It is a wide and fearful gulf that separates the two worlds.  The
landsman can know little of the wildness, savageness, and mercilessness
of nature till he has been upon the sea. It is as if he had taken a
leap off into the interstellar spaces. In voyaging to Mars or Jupiter,
he might cross such a desert,--might confront such awful purity and
coldness. An astronomic solitariness and remoteness encompass the sea.
The earth and all remembrance of it is blotted out; there is no hint of
it anywhere. This is not water, this cold, blue-black, vitreous liquid.
It suggests, not life, but death. Indeed, the regions of everlasting
ice and snow are not more cold and inhuman than is the sea.

Almost the only thing about my first sea voyage that I remember with
pleasure is the circumstance of the little birds that, during the first
few days out, took refuge on the steamer. The first afternoon, just as
we were losing sight of land, a delicate little wood-bird, the black
and white creeping warbler,--having lost its reckoning in making
perhaps its first southern voyage,--came aboard. It was much fatigued,
and had a disheartened, demoralized look. After an hour or two it
disappeared, having, I fear, a hard pull to reach the land in the face
of the wind that was blowing, if indeed it reached it at all.

The next day, just at night, I observed a small hawk sailing about
conveniently near the vessel, but with a very lofty, independent mien,
as if he had just happened that way on his travels, and was only
lingering to take a good view of us. It was amusing to observe his
coolness and haughty unconcern in that sad plight he was in; by nothing
in his manner betraying that he was several hundred miles at sea, and
did not know how he was going to get back to land. But presently I
noticed he found it not inconsistent with his dignity to alight on the
rigging under friendly cover of the tops'l, where I saw his feathers
rudely ruffled by the wind, till darkness set in. If the sailors did
not disturb him during the night, he certainly needed all his fortitude
in the morning to put a cheerful face on his situation.

The third day, when we were perhaps off Nova Scotia or Newfoundland,
the American pipit or titlark, from the far north, a brown bird about
the size of a sparrow, dropped upon the deck of the ship, so nearly
exhausted that one of the sailors was on the point of covering it with
his hat. It stayed about the vessel nearly all day, flitting from point
to point, or hopping along a few feet in front of the promenaders, and
prying into every crack and crevice for food. Time after time I saw it
start off with a reassuring chirp, as if determined to seek the land;
but before it had got many rods from the ship its heart would seem to
fail it, and, after circling about for a few moments, back it would
come, more discouraged than ever.

These little waifs from the shore!  I gazed upon them with a strange,
sad interest. They were friends in distress; but the sea-birds,
skimming along indifferent to us, or darting in and out among those
watery hills, I seemed to look upon as my natural enemies. They were
the nurslings and favorites of the sea, and I had no sympathy with
them.

No doubt the number of our land-birds that actually perish in the sea
during their autumn migration, being carried far out of their course by
the prevailing westerly winds of this season, is very great.
Occasionally one makes the passage to Great Britain by following the
ships, and finding them at convenient distances along the route; and I
have been told that over fifty different species of our more common
birds, such as robins, starlings, grosbeaks, thrushes, etc., have been
found in Ireland, having, of course, crossed in this way. What numbers
of these little navigators of the air are misled and wrecked, during
those dark and stormy nights, on the lighthouses alone that line the
Atlantic coast! Is it Celia Thaxter who tells of having picked up her
apron full of sparrows, warblers, flycatchers, etc., at the foot of the
lighthouse on the Isles of Shoals, one morning after a storm, the
ground being still strewn with birds of all kinds that had dashed
themselves against the beacon, bewildered and fascinated by its
tremendous light?

If a land-bird perishes at sea, a sea-bird is equally cast away upon
the land; and I have known the sooty tern, with its almost omnipotent
wing, to fall down, utterly famished and exhausted, two hundred miles
from salt water.

But my interest in these things did not last beyond the third day.
About this time we entered what the sailors call the "devil's hole,"
and a very respectably sized hole it is, extending from the banks of
Newfoundland to Ireland, and in all seasons and weathers it seems to be
well stirred up.

Amidst the tossing and rolling, the groaning of penitent travelers, and
the laboring of the vessel as she climbed those dark unstable
mountains, my mind reverted feebly to Huxley's statement, that the
bottom of this sea, for over a thousand miles, presents to the eye of
science a vast chalk plain, over which one might drive as over a floor,
and I tried to solace myself by dwelling upon the spectacle of a
solitary traveler whipping up his steed across it. The imaginary rattle
of his wagon was like the sound of lutes and harps, and I would rather
have clung to his axletree than have been rocked in the best berth in
the ship.


LAND

On the tenth day, about four o'clock in the afternoon, we sighted
Ireland. The ship came up from behind the horizon, where for so many
days she had been buffeting with the winds and the waves, but had never
lost the clew, bearing straight as an arrow for the mark. I think, if
she had been aimed at a fair-sized artillery target, she would have
crossed the ocean and struck the bull's-eye.

In Ireland, instead of an emerald isle rising out of the sea, I beheld
a succession of cold, purplish mountains, stretching along the
northeastern horizon, but I am bound to say that no tints of bloom or
verdure were ever half so welcome to me as were those dark,
heather-clad ranges. It is a feeling which a man can have but once in
his life, when he first sets eyes upon a foreign land; and in my case,
to this feeling was added the delightful thought that the "devil's
hole" would soon be cleared and my long fast over.

Presently, after the darkness had set in, signal rockets were let off
from the stern of the vessel, writing their burning messages upon the
night; and when answering rockets rose slowly up far ahead, I suppose
we all felt that the voyage was essentially done, and no doubt a
message flashed back under the ocean that the Scotia had arrived.

The sight of the land had been such medicine to me that I could now
hold up my head and walk about, and so went down for the first time and
took a look at the engines,--those twin monsters that had not stopped
once, or apparently varied their stroke at all, since leaving Sandy
Hook; I felt like patting their enormous cranks and shafts with my
hand,--then at the coal bunks, vast cavernous recesses in the belly of
the ship, like the chambers of the original mine in the mountains, and
saw the men and firemen at work in a sort of purgatory of heat and
dust. When it is remembered that one of these ocean steamers consumes
about one hundred tons of coal per day, it is easy to imagine what a
burden the coal for a voyage alone must be, and one is not at all
disposed to laugh at Dr. Lardner, who proved so convincingly that no
steamship could ever cross the ocean, because it could not carry coal
enough to enable it to make the passage.

On the morrow, a calm, lustrous day, we steamed at our leisure up the
Channel and across the Irish Sea, the coast of Wales, and her groups of
lofty mountains, in full view nearly all day. The mountains were in
profile like the Catskills viewed from the Hudson below, only it was
evident there were no trees or shrubbery upon them, and their summits,
on this last day of September, were white with snow.


ASHORE

The first day or half day ashore is, of course, the most novel and
exciting; but who, as Mr. Higginson says, can describe his sensations
and emotions this first half day? It is a page of travel that has not
yet been written. Paradoxical as it may seem, one generally comes out
of pickle much fresher than he went in. The sea has given him an
enormous appetite for the land. Every one of his senses is like a
hungry wolf clamorous to be fed. For my part, I had suddenly emerged
from a condition bordering on that of the hibernating animals--a
condition in which I had neither eaten, nor slept, nor thought, nor
moved, when I could help it--into not only a full, but a keen and
joyous, possession of my health and faculties. It was almost a
metamorphosis. I was no longer the clod I had been, but a bird exulting
in the earth and air, and in the liberty of motion. Then to remember it
was a new earth and a new sky that I was beholding,--that it was
England, the old mother at last, no longer a faith or a fable, but an
actual fact there before my eyes and under my feet,--why should I not
exult? Go to! I will be indulged. Those trees, those fields, that bird
darting along the hedge-rows, those men and boys picking blackberries
in October, those English flowers by the roadside (stop the carriage
while I leap out and pluck them), the homely, domestic looks of things,
those houses, those queer vehicles, those thick-coated horses, those
big-footed, coarsely clad, clear-skinned men and women, this massive,
homely, compact architecture,--let me have a good look, for this is my
first hour in England, and I am drunk with the joy of seeing! This
house-fly even, let me inspect it [Footnote: The English house-fly
actually seemed coarser and more hairy than ours.]; and that swallow
skimming along so familiarly,--is he the same I saw trying to cling to
the sails of the vessel the third day out? or is the swallow the
swallow the world over? This grass I certainly have seen before, and
this red and white clover, but this daisy and dandelion are not the
same; and I have come three thousand miles to see the mullein
cultivated in a garden, and christened the velvet plant.

As we sped through the land, the heart of England, toward London, I
thought my eyes would never get their fill of the landscape, and that I
would lose them out of my head by their eagerness to catch every object
as we rushed along! How they reveled, how they followed the birds and
the game, how they glanced ahead on the track--that marvelous
track!--or shot off over the fields and downs, finding their delight in
the streams, the roads, the bridges, the splendid breeds of cattle and
sheep in the fields, the superb husbandry, the rich mellow soil, the
drainage, the hedges,--in the inconspicuousness of any given feature,
and the mellow tone and homely sincerity of all; now dwelling fondly
upon the groups of neatly modeled stacks, then upon the field
occupations, the gathering of turnips and cabbages, or the digging of
potatoes,--how I longed to turn up the historic soil, into which had
passed the sweat and virtue of so many generations, with my own
spade,--then upon the quaint, old, thatched houses, or the cluster of
tiled roofs, then catching at a church spire across a meadow (and it is
all meadow), or at the remains of tower or wall overrun with ivy.

Here, something almost human looks out at you from the landscape;
Nature here has been so long under the dominion of man, has been taken
up and laid down by him so many times, worked over and over with his
hands, fed and fattened by his toil and industry, and, on the whole,
has proved herself so willing and tractable, that she has taken on
something of his image, and seems to radiate his presence. She is
completely domesticated, and no doubt loves the titillation of the
harrow and plow. The fields look half conscious; and if ever the cattle
have "great and tranquil thoughts," as Emerson suggests they do, it
must be when lying upon these lawns and meadows. I noticed that the
trees, the oaks and elms, looked like fruit trees, or as if they had
felt the humanizing influences of so many generations of men, and were
betaking themselves from the woods to the orchard. The game is more
than half tame, and one could easily understand that it had a keeper.

But the look of those fields and parks went straight to my heart.  It
is not merely that they were so smooth and cultivated, but that they
were so benign and maternal, so redolent of cattle and sheep and of
patient, homely farm labor. One gets only here and there a glimpse of
such in this country. I see occasionally about our farms a patch of an
acre or half acre upon which has settled this atmosphere of ripe and
loving husbandry; a choice bit of meadow about the barn or orchard, or
near the house, which has had some special fattening, perhaps been the
site of some former garden, or barn, or homestead, or which has had the
wash of some building, where the feet of children have played for
generations, and the flocks and herds have been fed in winter, and
where they love to lie and ruminate at night,--a piece of sward thick
and smooth, and full of warmth and nutriment, where the grass is
greenest and freshest in spring, and the hay finest and thickest in
summer.

This is the character of the whole of England that I saw.  I had been
told I should see a garden, but I did not know before to what an extent
the earth could become a living repository of the virtues of so many
generations of gardeners. The tendency to run to weeds and wild growths
seems to have been utterly eradicated from the soil; and if anything
were to spring upspontaneously, I think it would be cabbage and
turnips, or grass and grain.

And yet, to American eyes, the country seems quite uninhabited, there
are so few dwellings and so, few people. Such a landscape at home would
be dotted all over with thrifty farmhouses, each with its group of
painted outbuildings, and along every road and highway would be seen
the well-to-do turnouts of the independent freeholders. But in England
the dwellings of the people, the farmers, are so humble and
inconspicuous and are really so far apart, and the halls and the
country-seats of the aristocracy are so hidden in the midst of vast
estates, that the landscape seems almost deserted, and it is not till
you see the towns and great cities that you can understand where so
vast a population keeps itself.

Another thing that would be quite sure to strike my eye on this my
first ride across British soil, and on all subsequent rides, was the
enormous number of birds and fowls of various kinds that swarmed in the
air or covered the ground. It was truly amazing It seemed as if the
feathered life of a whole continent must have been concentrated on this
island. Indeed, I doubt if a sweeping together of all the birds of the
United States into any two of the largest States would people the earth
and air more fully. There appeared to be a plover, a crow, a rook, a
blackbird, and a sparrow to every square yard of ground. They know the
value of birds in Britain,--that they are the friends, not the enemies,
of the farmer. It must be the paradise of crows and rooks. It did me
good to see them so much at home about the fields and even in the
towns. I was glad also to see that the British crow was not a stranger
to me, and that he differed from his brother on the American side of
the Atlantic only in being less alert and cautious, having less use for
these qualities.

Now and then the train would start up some more tempting game.  A brace
or two of partridges or a covey of quails would settle down in the
stubble, or a cock pheasant drop head and tail and slide into the
copse. Rabbits also would scamper back from the borders of the fields
into the thickets or peep slyly out, making my sportsman's fingers
tingle.

I have no doubt I should be a notorious poacher in England.  How could
an American see so much game and not wish to exterminate it entirely as
he does at home? But sporting is an expensive luxury here. In the first
place a man pays a heavy tax on his gun, nearly or quite half its
value; then he has to have a license to hunt, for which he pays
smartly; then permission from the owner of the land upon which he
wishes to hunt; so that the game is hedged about by a triple safeguard.

An American, also, will be at once struck with the look of greater
substantiality and completeness in everything he sees here. No
temporizing, no makeshifts, no evidence of hurry, or failure, or
contract work; no wood and little paint, but plenty of iron and brick
and stone. This people have taken plenty of time, and have built broad
and deep, and placed the cap-stone on. All this I had been told, but it
pleased me so in the seeing that I must tell it again. It is worth a
voyage across the Atlantic to see the bridges alone. I believe I had
seen little other than wooden bridges before, and in England I saw not
one such, but everywhere solid arches of masonry, that were refreshing
and reassuring to behold. Even the lanes and byways about the farm, I
noticed, crossed the little creeks with a span upon which an elephant
would not hesitate to tread, or artillery trains to pass. There is no
form so pleasing to look upon as the arch, or that affords so much food
and suggestion to the mind. It seems to stimulate the volition, the
will-power, and for my part I cannot look upon a noble span without a
feeling of envy, for I know the hearts of heroes are thus keyed and
fortified. The arch is the symbol of strength and activity, and of
rectitude.

In Europe I took a new lease of this feeling, this partiality for the
span, and had daily opportunities to indulge and confirm it. In London
I had immense satisfaction in observing the bridges there, and in
walking over them, firm as the geological strata and as enduring.
London Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars, clearing the river in a
few gigantic leaps, like things of life and motion,--to pass over one
of these bridges, or to sail under it, awakens the emotion of the
sublime. I think the moral value of such a bridge as the Waterloo must
be inestimable. It seems to me the British Empire itself is stronger
for such a bridge, and that all public and private virtues are
stronger. In Paris, too, those superb monuments over the Seine,--I
think they alone ought to inspire the citizens with a love of
permanence, and help hold them to stricter notions of law and
dependence. No doubt kings and tyrants know the value of these things,
and as yet they certainly have the monopoly of them.


LONDON

I am too good a countryman to feel much at home in cities, and usually
value them only as conveniences, but for London I conceived quite an
affection; perhaps because it is so much like a natural formation
itself, and strikes less loudly, or perhaps sharply, upon the senses
than our great cities do. It is a forest of brick and stone of the most
stupendous dimensions, and one traverses it in the same adventurous
kind of way that he does woods and mountains. The maze and tangle of
streets is something fearful, and any generalization of them a step not
to be hastily taken. My experience heretofore had been that cities
generally were fractions that could be greatly reduced, but London I
found I could not simplify, and every morning for weeks, when I came
out of my hotel, it was a question whether my course lay in this, or in
exactly the opposite direction. It has no unit of structure, but is a
vast aggregation of streets and houses, or in fact of towns and cities,
which have to be mastered in detail. I tried the third or fourth day to
get a bird's-eye view from the top of St. Paul's, but saw through the
rifts in the smoke only a waste,--literally a waste of red tiles and
chimney pots. The confusion and desolation were complete.

But I finally mastered the city, in a measure, by the aid of a shilling
map, which I carried with me wherever I went, and upon which, when I
was lost, I would hunt myself up, thus making in the end a very
suggestive and entertaining map. Indeed, every inch of this piece of
colored paper is alive to me. If I did not make the map itself, I at
least verified it, which is nearly as good, and the verification, on
street corner by day and under lamp or by shop window at night, was
often a matter of so much concern that I doubt if the original surveyor
himself put more heart into certain parts of his work than I did in the
proof of them.

London has less metropolitan splendor than New York, and less of the
full-blown pride of the shopman. Its stores are not nearly so big, and
it has no signboards that contain over one thousand feet of lumber;
neither did I see any names painted on the gable ends of the buildings
that the man in the moon could read without his opera-glass. I went out
one day to look up one of the great, publishing houses, and passed it
and repassed it several times trying to find the sign. Finally, having
made sure of the building, I found the name of the firm cut into the
door jamb.

London seems to have been built and peopled by countrymen, who have
preserved all the rural reminiscences possible. All its great streets
or avenues are called roads, as King's Road, City Road, Edgware Road,
Tottenham Court Road, with innumerable lesser roads. Then there are
lanes and walks, and such rural names among the streets as Long Acre,
Snowhill, Poultry, Bush-lane, Hill-road, Houndsditch, and not one grand
street or imperial avenue.

My visit fell at a most favorable juncture as to weather, there being
but few rainy days and but little fog. I had imagined that they had
barely enough fair weather in London, at any season, to keep alive the
tradition of sunshine and of blue sky, but the October days I spent
there were not so very far behind what we have at home at this season.
London often puts on a nightcap of smoke and fog, which it pulls down
over its ears pretty close at times; and the sun has a habit of lying
abed very late in the morning, which all the people imitate; but I
remember some very pleasant weather there, and some bright moonlight
nights.

I saw but one full-blown characteristic London fog.  I was in the
National Gallery one day, trying to make up my mind about Turner, when
this chimney-pot meteor came down. It was like a great yellow dog
taking possession of the world. The light faded from the room, the
pictures ran together in confused masses of shadow on the walls, and in
the street only a dim yellowish twilight prevailed, through which
faintly twinkled the lights in the shop windows. Vehicles came slowly
out of the dirty obscurity on one side and plunged into it on the
other. Waterloo Bridge gave one or two leaps and disappeared, and the
Nelson Column in Trafalgar Square was obliterated for half its length.
Travel was impeded, boats stopped on the river, trains stood still on
the track, and for an hour and a half London lay buried beneath this
sickening eruption. I say eruption, because a London fog is only a
London smoke tempered by a moist atmosphere. It is called "fog" by
courtesy, but lampblack is its chief ingredient. It is not wet like our
fogs, but quite dry, and makes the eyes smart and the nose tingle.
Whenever the sun can be seen through it, his face is red and dirty;
seen through a bona fide fog, his face is clean and white. English
coal--or "coals," as they say here--in burning gives out an enormous
quantity of thick, yellowish smoke, which is at no time absorbed or
dissipated as it would be in our hard, dry atmosphere, and which at
certain times is not absorbed at all, but falls down swollen and
augmented by the prevailing moisture. The atmosphere of the whole
island is more or less impregnated with smoke, even on the fairest
days, and it becomes more and more dense as you approach the great
towns. Yet this compound of smut, fog, and common air is an elixir of
youth; and this is one of the surprises of London, to see amid so much
soot and dinginess such fresh, blooming complexions, and in general
such a fine physical tone and full-bloodedness among the people,--such
as one has come to associate only with the best air and the purest,
wholesomest country influences. What the secret of it may be, I am at a
loss to know, unless it is that the moist atmosphere does not dry up
the blood as our air does, and that the carbon and creosote have some
rare antiseptic and preservative qualities, as doubtless they have,
that are efficacious in the human physiology. It is no doubt true,
also, that the people do not tan in this climate, as in ours, and that
the delicate flesh tints show more on that account.

I speak thus of these things with reference to our standards at home,
because I found that these standards were ever present in my mind, and
that I was unconsciously applying them to whatever I saw and wherever I
went, and often, as I shall have occasion to show, to their discredit.

Climate is a great matter, and no doubt many of the differences between
the English stock at home and its offshoot in our country are traceable
to this source. Our climate is more heady and less stomachic than the
English; sharpens the wit, but dries up the fluids and viscera; favors
an irregular, nervous energy, but exhausts the animal spirits. It is,
perhaps, on this account that I have felt since my return how much
easier it is to be a dyspeptic here than in Great Britain. One's
appetite is keener and more ravenous, and the temptation to bolt one's
food greater. The American is not so hearty an eater as the Englishman,
but the forces of his body are constantly leaving his stomach in the
lurch, and running off into his hands and feet and head. His eyes are
bigger than his belly, but an Englishman's belly is a deal bigger than
his eyes, and the number of plum puddings and the amount of Welsh
rarebit he devours annually would send the best of us to his grave in
half that time. We have not enough constitutional inertia and
stolidity; our climate gives us no rest, but goads us day and night;
and the consequent wear and tear of life is no doubt greater in this
country than in any other on the globe. We are playing the game more
rapidly, and I fear less thoroughly and sincerely, than the mother
country.

The more uniform good health of English women is thought to be a matter
of exercise in the open air, as walking, riding, driving, but the prime
reason is mainly a climatic one, uniform habits of exercise being more
easily kept up in that climate than in this, and being less exhaustive,
one day with another. You can walk there every day in the year without
much discomfort, and the stimulus is about the same. Here it is too hot
in summer and too cold in winter, or else it keys you up too tight one
day and unstrings you the next; all fire and motion in the morning, and
all listlessness and ennui in the afternoon; a spur one hour and a
sedative the next.

A watch will not keep as steady time here as in Britain, and the human
clock-work is more liable to get out of repair for the same reason. Our
women, especially, break down prematurely, and the decay of maternity
in this country is no doubt greater than in any of the oldest civilized
communities. One reason, doubtless, is that our women are the greatest
slaves of fashion in the whole world, and, in following the whims of
that famous courtesan, have the most fickle and destructive climate to
contend with.

English women all have good-sized feet, and Englishmen, too, and wear
large, comfortable shoes. This was a noticeable feature at once:
coarse, loosefitting clothes of both sexes, and large boots and shoes
with low heels. They evidently knew the use of their feet, and had none
of the French, or American, or Chinese fastidiousness about this part
of their anatomy. I notice that, when a family begins to run out, it
turns out its toes, drops off at the heel, shortens its jaw, and dotes
on small feet and hands.

Another promoter of health in England is woolen clothes, which are worn
the year round, the summer driving people into no such extremities as
here. And the good, honest woolen stuffs of one kind and another that
fill the shops attest the need and the taste that prevail. They had a
garment when I was in London called the Ulster overcoat,--a coarse,
shaggy, bungling coat, with a skirt reaching nearly to the feet, very
ugly, tried by the fashion plates, but very comfortable, and quite the
fashion. This very sensible garment has since become well known in
America.

The Americans in London were put out with the tailors, and could rarely
get suited, on account of the loose cutting and the want of "style."
But "style" is the hiatus that threatens to swallow us all one of these
days. About the only monstrosity I saw in the British man's dress was
the stove-pipe hat, which everybody wears. At first I feared it might
be a police regulation, or a requirement of the British Constitution,
for I seemed to be about the only man in the kingdom with a soft hat
on, and I had noticed that before leaving the steamer every man brought
out from its hiding-place one of these polished brain-squeezers. Even
the boys wear them,--youths of nine and ten years with little stovepipe
hats on; and at Eton School I saw black swarms of them: even the boys
in the field were playing football in stove-pipe bats.

What we call beauty in woman is so much a matter of youth and health
that the average of female beauty in London is, I believe, higher than
in this country. English women are comely and good-looking. It is an
extremely fresh and pleasant face that you see everywhere,--softer,
less clearly and sharply cut than the typical female face in this
country,--less spirituelle, less perfect in form, but stronger and
sweeter. There is more blood, and heart, and substance back of it. The
American race of the present generation is doubtless the most shapely,
both in face and figure, that has yet appeared. American children are
far less crude, and lumpy, and awkward-looking than the European
children. One generation in this country suffices vastly to improve the
looks of the offspring of the Irish or German or Norwegian emigrant.
There is surely something in our climate or conditions that speedily
refines and sharpens--and, shall I add, hardens?--the human features.
The face loses something, but it comes into shape; and of such beauty
as is the product of this tendency we can undoubtedly show more,
especially in our women, than the parent stock in Europe; while
American schoolgirls, I believe, have the most bewitching beauty in the
world.

The English plainness of speech is observable even in the signs or
notices along the streets. Instead of "Lodging," "Lodging," as with us,
one sees "Beds," "Beds," which has a very homely sound; and in place of
"gentlemen's" this, that, or the other, about public places, the word
"men's" is used.

I suppose, if it were not for the bond of a written language and
perpetual intercourse, the two nations would not be able to understand
each other in the course of a hundred years, the inflection and
accentuation are so different. I recently heard an English lady say,
referring to the American speech, that she could hardly believe her own
language could be spoken so strangely.


ARCHITECTURE

One sees right away that the English are a home people, a domestic
people; and he does not need to go into their houses or homes to find
this out. It is in the air and in the general aspect of things.
Everywhere you see the virtue and quality that we ascribe to home-made
articles. It seems as if things had been made by hand, and with care
and affection, as they have been. The land of caste and kings, there is
yet less glitter and display than in this country, less publicity, and,
of course, less rivalry and emulation also, for which we pay very
dearly. You have got to where the word homely preserves its true
signification, and is no longer a term of disparagement, but expressive
of a cardinal virtue.

I liked the English habit of naming their houses; it shows the
importance they attach to their homes. All about the suburbs of London
and in the outlying villages I noticed nearly every house and cottage
had some appropriate designation, as Terrace House, Oaktree House, Ivy
Cottage, or some Villa, usually cut into the stone gate-post, and this
name is put on the address of the letters. How much better to be known
by your name than by your number! I believe the same custom prevails in
the country, and is common to the middle classes as well as to the
aristocracy. It is a good feature. A house or a farm with an
appropriate name, which everybody recognizes, must have an added value
and importance.

Modern English houses are less showy than ours, and have more weight
and permanence,--no flat roofs and no painted outside shutters. Indeed,
that pride of American country people, and that abomination in the
landscape, a white house with green blinds, I did not see a specimen of
in England. They do not aim to make their houses conspicuous, but the
contrary. They make a large, yellowish brick that has a pleasing effect
in the wall. Then a very short space of time in that climate suffices
to take off the effect of newness, and give a mellow, sober hue to the
building. Another advantage of the climate is that it permits outside
plastering. Thus almost any stone may be imitated, and the work endure
for ages; while our sudden changes, and extremes of heat and cold, of
dampness and dryness, will cause the best work of this kind to peel off
in a few years.

Then this people have better taste in building than we have, perhaps
because they have the noblest samples and specimens of architecture
constantly before them,--those old feudal castles and royal residences,
for instance. I was astonished to see how homely and good they looked,
how little they challenged admiration, and how much they emulated rocks
and trees. They were surely built in a simpler and more poetic age than
this. It was like meeting some plain, natural nobleman after contact
with one of the bedizened, artificial sort. The Tower of London, for
instance, is as pleasing to the eye, has the same fitness and harmony,
as a hut in the woods; and I should think an artist might have the same
pleasure in copying it into his picture as he would in copying a
pioneer's log cabin. So with Windsor Castle, which has the beauty of a
ledge of rocks, and crowns the hill like a vast natural formation. The
warm, simple interior, too, of these castles and palaces, the honest
oak without paint or varnish, the rich wood carvings, the ripe human
tone and atmosphere,--how it all contrasts, for instance, with the
showy, gilded, cast-iron interior of our commercial or political
palaces, where everything that smacks of life or nature is studiously
excluded under the necessity of making the building fire-proof.

I was not less pleased with the higher ornamental architecture,--the
old churches and cathedrals,--which appealed to me in a way
architecture had never before done. In fact, I found that I had never
seen architecture before,--a building with genius and power in it, and
that one could look at with the eye of the imagination. Not mechanics
merely, but poets, had wrought and planned here, and the granite was
tender with human qualities. The plants and weeds growing in the niches
and hollows of the walls, the rooks and martins and jackdaws inhabiting
the towers and breeding about the eaves, are but types of the feelings
and emotions of the human heart that flit and hover over these old
piles, and find affectionate lodgment in them.

Time, of course, has done a great deal for this old architecture.
Nature has taken it lovingly to herself, has set her seal upon it, and
adopted it into her system. Just the foil which beauty--especially the
crystallic beauty of architecture--needs has been given by this hazy,
mellowing atmosphere. As the grace and suggestiveness of all objects
are enhanced by a fall of snow,--forest, fence, hive, shed, knoll,
rock, tree, all being laid under the same white enchantment,--so time
has wrought in softening and toning down this old religious
architecture, and bringing it into harmony with nature.

Our climate has a much keener edge, both of frost and fire, and touches
nothing so gently or creatively; yet time would, no doubt, do much for
our architecture, if we would give it a chance,--for that apotheosis of
prose, the National Capitol at Washington, upon which, I notice, a
returned traveler bases our claim to be considered "ahead" of the Old
World, even in architecture; but the reigning gods interfere, and each
spring or fall give the building a clean shirt in the shape of a coat
of white paint. In like manner, other public buildings never become
acclimated, but are. annually scoured with soap and sand, the national
passion for the brightness of newness interfering to defeat any benison
which the gods might be disposed to pronounce upon them. Spotlessness,
I know, is not a characteristic of our politics, though it is said that
whitewashing is, which may account for this ceaseless paint-pot
renovation of our public buildings. In a world lit only by the moon,
our Capitol would be a paragon of beauty, and the spring whitewashing
could also be endured; but under our blazing sun and merciless sky it
parches the vision, and makes it turn with a feeling of relief to rocks
and trees, or to some weather-stained, dilapidated shed or hovel.

How winningly and picturesquely in comparison the old architecture of
London addresses itself to the eye,--St. Paul's Cathedral, for
instance, with its vast blotches and stains, as if it had been dipped
in some black Lethe of oblivion, and then left to be restored by the
rains and the elements! This black Lethe is the London smoke and fog,
which has left a dark deposit over all the building, except the upper
and more exposed parts, where the original silvery whiteness of the
stone shows through, the effect of the whole thus being like one of
those graphic Rembrandt photographs or carbons, the prominences in a
strong light, and the rest in deepest shadow. I was never tired of
looking at this noble building, and of going out of my way to walk
around it; but I am at a loss to know whether the pleasure I had in it
arose from my love of nature, or from a susceptibility to art for which
I had never given myself credit. Perhaps from both, for I seemed to
behold Art turning toward and reverently acknowledging Nature,-indeed,
in a manner already become Nature.

I believe the critics of such things find plenty of fault with St.
Paul's; and even I could see that its bigness was a little prosy, that
it suggested the historic rather than the poetic muse; yet, for all
that, I could never look at it without a profound emotion. Viewed
coolly and critically, it might seem like a vast specimen of
Episcopalianism in architecture. Miltonic in its grandeur and
proportions, and Miltonic in its prosiness and mongrel classicism also,
yet its power and effectiveness are unmistakable. The beholder has no
vantage-ground from which to view it, or to take in its total effect,
on account of its being so closely beset by such a mob of shops and
buildings; yet the glimpses he does get here and there through the
opening made by some street, when passing in its vicinity, are very
striking and suggestive; the thin veil of smoke, which is here as
constant and uniform as the atmosphere itself, wrapping it about with
the enchantment of time and distance.

The interior I found even more impressive than the exterior, perhaps
because I was unprepared for it. I had become used to imposing
exteriors at home, and did not reflect that in a structure like this I
should see an interior also, and that here alone the soul of the
building would be fully revealed. It was Miltonic in the best sense; it
was like the mightiest organ music put into form. Such depths, such
solemn vastness, such gulfs and abysses of architectural space, the
rich, mellow light, the haze outside becoming a mysterious, hallowing
presence within, quite mastered me, and I sat down upon a seat, feeling
my first genuine cathedral intoxication. As it was really an
intoxication, a sense of majesty and power quite overwhelming in my
then uncloyed condition, I speak of it the more freely. My companions
rushed about as if each one had had a searchwarrant in his pocket; but
I was content to uncover my head and drop into a seat, and busy my mind
with some simple object near at hand, while the sublimity that soared
about me stole into my soul and possessed it. My sensation was like
that imparted by suddenly reaching a great altitude: there was a sort
of relaxation of the muscles, followed by a sense of physical weakness;
and after half an hour or so I felt compelled to go out into the open
air, and leave till another day the final survey of the building. Next
day I came back, but there can be only one first time, and I could not
again surprise myself with the same feeling of wonder and intoxication.
But St. Paul's will bear many visits. I came again and again, and never
grew tired of it. Crossing its threshold was entering another world,
where the silence and solitude were so profound and overpowering that
the noise of the streets outside, or of the stream of visitors, or of
the workmen engaged on the statuary, made no impression. They were all
belittled, lost, like the humming of flies. Even the afternoon
services, the chanting, and the tremendous organ, were no interruption,
and left me just as much alone as ever. They only served to set off the
silence, to fathom its depth.

The dome of St. Paul's is the original of our dome at Washington; but
externally I think ours is the more graceful, though the effect inside
is tame and flat in comparison. This is owing partly to its lesser size
and height, and partly to our hard, transparent atmosphere, which lends
no charm or illusion, but mainly to the stupid, unimaginative plan of
it. Our dome shuts down like an inverted iron pot; there is no vista,
no outlook, no relation, and hence no proportion. You open a door and
are in a circular pen, and can look in only one direction,--up. If the
iron pot were slashed through here and there, or if it rested on a row
of tall columns or piers, and were shown to be a legitimate part of the
building, it would not appear the exhausted receiver it does now.

The dome of St. Paul's is the culmination of the whole interior of the
building. Rising over the central area, it seems to gather up the power
and majesty of the nave, the aisles, the transepts, the choir, and give
them expression and expansion in its lofty firmament.

Then those colossal piers, forty feet broad some of them, and nearly
one hundred feet high,--they easily eclipsed what I had recently seen
in a mine, and which I at the time imagined shamed all the architecture
of the world,--where the mountain was upheld over a vast space by
massive piers left by the miners, with a ceiling unrolled over your
head, and apparently descending upon you, that looked like a petrified
thunder-cloud.

The view from the upper gallery, or top of the dome, looking down
inside, is most impressive. The public are not admitted to this
gallery, for fear, the keeper told me, it would become the scene of
suicides; people unable to withstand the terrible fascination would
leap into the yawning gulf. But, with the privilege usually accorded to
Americans, I stepped down into the narrow circle, and, leaning over the
balustrade, coolly looked the horrible temptation in the face.

On the whole, St. Paul's is so vast and imposing that one wonders what
occasion or what ceremony can rise to the importance of not being
utterly dwarfed within its walls. The annual gathering of the charity
children, ten or twelve thousand in number, must make a ripple or two
upon its solitude, or an exhibition like the thanksgiving of the Queen,
when sixteen or eighteen thousand persons were assembled beneath its
roof. But one cannot forget that it is, for the most part, a great
toy,--a mammoth shell, whose bigness bears no proportion to the living
(if, indeed, it is living), indwelling necessity. It is a tenement so
large that the tenant looks cold and forlorn, and in danger of being
lost within it.

No such objection can be made to Westminster Abbey, which is a mellow,
picturesque old place, the interior arrangement and architecture of
which affects one like some ancient, dilapidated forest. Even the
sunlight streaming through the dim windows, and falling athwart the
misty air, was like the sunlight of a long-gone age. The very
atmosphere was pensive, and filled the tall spaces like a memory and a
dream. I sat down and listened to the choral service and to the organ,
which blended perfectly with the spirit and sentiment of the place.


ON THE SOUTH DOWNS

One of my best days in England was spent amid the singing of skylarks
on the South Down Hills, near an old town at the mouth of the Little
Ouse, where I paused on my way to France. The prospect of hearing one
or two of the classical birds of the Old World had not been the least
of the attractions of my visit, though I knew the chances were against
me so late in the season, and I have to thank my good genius for
guiding me to the right place at the right time. To get out of London
was delight enough, and then to find myself quite unexpectedly on these
soft rolling hills, of a mild October day, in full sight of the sea,
with the larks pouring out their gladness overhead, was to me good
fortune indeed.

The South Downs form a very remarkable feature of this part of England,
and are totally unlike any other landscape I ever saw. I believe it is
Huxley who applies to them the epithet of muttony, which they certainly
deserve, for they are like the backs of immense sheep, smooth, and
round, and fat,--so smooth, indeed, that the eye can hardly find a
place to take hold of, not a tree, or bush, or fence, or house, or
rock, or stone, or other object, for miles and miles, save here and
there a group of strawcapped stacks, or a flock of sheep crawling
slowly over them, attended by a shepherd and dog, and the only lines
visible those which bound the squares where different crops had been
gathered. The soil was rich and mellow, like a garden,--hills of chalk
with a pellicle of black loam.

These hills stretch a great distance along the coast, and are cut
squarely off by the sea, presenting on this side a chain of white chalk
cliffs suggesting the old Latin name of this land, Albion.

Before I had got fifty yards from the station I began to hear the
larks, and being unprepared for them I was a little puzzled at first,
but was not long discovering what luck I was in. The song disappointed
me at first, being less sweet and melodious than I had expected to
hear; indeed, I thought it a little sharp and harsh,--a little
stubbly,--but in other respects, in strength and gladness and
continuity, it was wonderful. And the more I heard it the better I
liked it, until I would gladly have given any of my songsters at home
for a bird that could shower down such notes, even in autumn. Up, up,
went the bird, describing a large easy spiral till he attained an
altitude of three or four hundred feet, when, spread out against the
sky for a space of ten or fifteen minutes or more, he poured out his
delight, filling all the vault with sound. The song is of the sparrow
kind, and, in its best parts, perpetually suggested the notes of our
vesper sparrow; but the wonder of it is its copiousness and sustained
strength. There is no theme, no beginning, middle, or end, like most of
our best birdsongs, but a perfect swarm of notes pouring out like bees
from a hive, and resembling each other nearly as closely, and only
ceasing as the bird nears the earth again. We have many more melodious
songsters; the bobolink in the meadows for instance, the vesper sparrow
in the pastures, the purple finch in the groves, the winter wren, or
any of the thrushes in the woods, or the wood-wagtail, whose air song
is of a similar character to that of the skylark, and is even more
rapid and ringing, and is delivered in nearly the same manner; but our
birds all stop when the skylark has only just begun. Away he goes on
quivering wing, inflating his throat fuller and fuller, mounting and
mounting, and turning to all points of the compass as if to embrace the
whole landscape in his song, the notes still raining upon you, as
distinct as ever, after you have left him far behind. You feel that you
need be in no hurry to observe the song lest the bird finish; you walk
along, your mind reverts to other things, you examine the grass and
weeds, or search for a curious stone, still there goes the bird; you
sit down and study the landscape, or send your thoughts out toward
France or Spain, or across the sea to your own land, and yet, when you
get them back, there is that song above you, almost as unceasing as the
light of a star. This strain indeed suggests some rare pyrotechnic
display, musical sounds being substituted for the many-colored sparks
and lights. And yet I will add, what perhaps the best readers do not
need to be told, that neither the lark-song, nor any other bird-song in
the open air and under the sky, is as noticeable a feature as my
description of it might imply, or as the poets would have us believe;
and that most persons, not especially interested in birds or their
notes, and intent upon the general beauty of the landscape, would
probably pass it by unremarked.

I suspect that it is a little higher flight than the facts will bear
out when the writers make the birds go out of sight into the sky. I
could easily follow them on this occasion, though, if I took my eye
away for a moment, it was very difficult to get it back again. I had to
search for them as the astronomer searches for a star. It may be that
in the spring, when the atmosphere is less clear and the heart of the
bird full of a more mad and reckless love, that the climax is not
reached until the eye loses sight of the singer.

Several attempts have been made to introduce the lark into this
country, but for some reason or other the experiment has never
succeeded. The birds have been liberated in Virginia and on Long
Island, but do not seem ever to have been heard of afterwards. I see no
reason why they should not thrive anywhere along our Atlantic seaboard,
and I think the question of introducing them worthy of more thorough
and serious attention than has yet been given it, for the lark is
really an institution; and as he sings long after the other birds are
silent,--as if he had perpetual spring in his heart,--he would be a
great acquisition to our fields and meadows. It may be that he cannot
stand the extremes of our climate, though the English sparrow thrives
well enough. The Smithsonian Institution has received specimens of the
skylark from Alaska, where, no doubt, they find a climate more like the
English.

They have another prominent singer in England, namely, the robin,--the
original robin redbreast,--a slight, quick, active bird with an orange
front and an olive back, and a bright, musical warble that I caught by
every garden, lane, and hedge-row. It suggests our bluebird, and has
similar habits and manners, though it is a much better musician.

The European bird that corresponds to our robin is the blackbird, of
which Tennyson sings:--

       "O Blackbird, sing me something well;
       While all the neighbors shoot thee round
       I keep smooth plats of fruitful ground
       Where thou may'st warble, eat, and dwell."

It quite startled me to see such a resemblance,--to see, indeed, a
black robin. In size, form, flight, manners, note, call, there is
hardly an appreciable difference. The bird starts up with the same
flirt of the wings, and calls out in the same jocund, salutatory way,
as he hastens off. The nest, of coarse mortar in the fork of a tree, or
in an outbuilding, or in the side of a wall, is also the same.

The bird I wished most to hear, namely, the nightingale, had already
departed on its southern journey. I saw one in the Zoological Gardens
in London, and took a good look at him. He struck me as bearing a close
resemblance to our hermit thrush, with something in his manners that
suggested the water-thrush also. Carlyle said he first recognized its
song from the description of it in "Wilhelm Meister," and that it was a
"sudden burst," which is like the song of our water-thrush.

I have little doubt our songsters excel in melody, while the European
birds excel in profuseness and volubility. I heard many bright,
animated notes and many harsh ones, but few that were melodious. This
fact did not harmonize with the general drift of the rest of my
observations, for one of the first things that strikes an American in
Europe is the mellowness and rich tone of things. The European is
softer-voiced than the American and milder-mannered, but the bird
voices seem an exception to this rule.


PARKS

While in London I had much pleasure in strolling through the great
parks, Hyde Park, Regent's Park, St. James Park, Victoria Park, and in
making Sunday excursions to Richmond Park, Hampden Court Parks, and the
great parks at Windsor Castle. The magnitude of all these parks was
something I was entirely unprepared for, and their freedom also; one
could roam where he pleased. Not once did I see a signboard, "Keep off
the grass," or go here or go there. There was grass enough, and one
could launch out in every direction without fear of trespassing on
forbidden ground. One gets used, at least I do, to such petty parks at
home, and walks amid them so cautiously and circumspectly, every shrub
and tree and grass plat saying "Hands off," that it is a new sensation
to enter a city pleasure ground like Hyde Park,--a vast natural
landscape, nearly two miles long and a mile wide, with broad, rolling
plains, with herds of sheep grazing, and forests and lakes, and all as
free as the air. He have some quite sizable parks and reservations in
Washington, and the citizen has the right of way over their tortuous
gravel walks, but he puts his foot upon the grass at the risk of being
insolently hailed by the local police. I have even been called to order
for reclining upon a seat under a tree in the Smithsonian grounds. I
must sit upright as in church. But in Hyde Park or Regent's Park I
could not only walk upon the grass, but lie upon it, or roll upon it,
or play "one catch all" with children, boys, dogs, or sheep upon it;
and I took my revenge for once for being so long confined to gravel
walks, and gave the grass an opportunity to grow under my foot whenever
I entered one of these parks.

This free-and-easy rural character of the London parks is quite in
keeping with the tone and atmosphere of the great metropolis itself,
which in so many respects has a country homeliness and sincerity, and
shows the essentially bucolic taste of the people; contrasting in this
respect with the parks and gardens of Paris, which show as unmistakably
the citizen and the taste for art and the beauty of design and
ornamentation. Hyde Park seems to me the perfection of a city pleasure
ground of this kind, because it is so free and so thoroughly a piece of
the country, and so exempt from any petty artistic displays.

In walking over Richmond Park I found I had quite a day's work before
me, as it was like traversing a township; while the great park at
Windsor Castle, being upwards of fifty miles around, might well make
the boldest pedestrian hesitate. My first excursion was to Hampton
Court, an old royal residence, where I spent a delicious October day
wandering through Bushy Park, and looking with covetous, though
admiring eyes upon the vast herds of deer that dotted the plains, or
gave way before me as I entered the woods. There seemed literally to be
many thousands of these beautiful animals in this park, and the loud,
hankering sounds of the bucks, as they pursued or circled around the
does, was a new sound to my ears. The rabbits and pheasants also were
objects of the liveliest interest to me, and I found that after all a
good shot at them with the eye, especially when I could credit myself
with alertness or stealthiness, was satisfaction enough.

I thought it worthy of note that, though these great parks in and about
London were so free, and apparently without any police regulations
whatever, yet I never saw prowling about them any of those vicious,
ruffianly looking characters that generally infest the neighborhood of
our great cities, especially of a Sunday. There were troops of boys,
but they were astonishingly quiet and innoxious, very unlike American
boys, white or black, a band of whom making excursions into the country
are always a band of outlaws. Ruffianism with us is no doubt much more
brazen and pronounced, not merely because the law is lax, but because
such is the genius of the people.


       II. ENGLISH CHARACTERISTICS

England is a mellow country, and the English people are a mellow
people. They have hung on the tree of nations a long time, and will, no
doubt, hang as much longer; for windfalls, I reckon, are not the order
in this island. We are pitched several degrees higher in this country.
By contrast, things here are loud, sharp, and garish. Our geography is
loud; the manners of the people are loud; our climate is loud, very
loud, so dry and sharp, and full of violent changes and contrasts; and
our goings-out and comings-in as a nation are anything but silent. Do
we not occasionally give the door an extra slam just for effect?

In England everything is on a lower key, slower, steadier, gentler.
Life is, no doubt, as full, or fuller, in its material forms and
measures, but less violent and aggressive. The buffers the English have
between their cars to break the shock are typical of much one sees
there.

All sounds are softer in England; the surface of things is less hard.
The eye of day and the face of Nature are less bright. Everything has a
mellow, subdued cast. There is no abruptness in the landscape, no sharp
and violent contrasts, no brilliant and striking tints in the foliage.
A soft, pale yellow is all one sees in the way of tints along the
borders of the autumn woods. English apples (very small and inferior,
by the way) are not so highly colored as ours. The blackberries, just
ripening in October, are less pungent and acid; and the garden
vegetables, such as cabbage, celery, cauliflower, beet, and other root
crops, are less rank and fibrous; and I am very sure that the meats
also are tenderer and sweeter. There can be no doubt about the
superiority of English mutton; and the tender and succulent grass, and
the moist and agreeable climate, must tell upon the beef also.

English coal is all soft coal, and the stone is soft stone.  The
foundations of the hills are chalk instead of granite. The stone with
which most of the old churches and cathedrals are built would not
endure in our climate half a century; but in Britain the tooth of Time
is much blunter, and the hunger of the old man less ravenous, and the
ancient architecture stands half a millennium, or until it is slowly
worn away by the gentle attrition of the wind and rain.

At Chester, the old Roman wall that surrounds the town, built in the
first century and repaired in the ninth, is still standing without a
break or a swerve, though in some places the outer face of the wall is
worn through. The Cathedral, and St. John's Church, in the same town,
present to the beholder outlines as jagged and broken as rocks and
cliffs; and yet it is only chip by chip, or grain by grain, that ruin
approaches. The timber also lasts an incredibly long time. Beneath one
of the arched ways, in the Chester wall above referred to, I saw
timbers that must have been in place five or six hundred years. The
beams in the old houses, also fully exposed to the weather, seem
incapable of decay; those dating from Shakespeare's time being
apparently as firm as ever.

I noticed that the characteristic aspect of the clouds in England was
different from ours,--soft, fleecy, vapory, indistinguishable,--never
the firm, compact, sharply, defined, deeply dyed masses and fragments
so common in our own sky. It rains easily but slowly. The average
rainfall of London is less than that of New York, and yet it doubtless
rains ten days in the former to one in the latter. Storms accompanied
with thunder are rare; while the crashing, wrenching, explosive
thunder-gusts so common with us, deluging the earth and convulsing the
heavens, are seldom known.

In keeping with this elemental control and moderation, I found the
character and manners of the people gentler and sweeter than I had been
led to believe they were. No loudness, brazenness, impertinence; no
oaths, no swaggering, no leering at women, no irreverence, no
flippancy, no bullying, no insolence of porters or clerks or
conductors, no importunity of bootblacks or newsboys, no
omnivorousness, of hackmen,--at least, comparatively none,--all of
which an American is apt to notice, and, I hope, appreciate. In London
the bootblack salutes you with a respectful bow and touches his cap,
and would no more think of pursuing you or answering your refusal than
he would of jumping into the Thames. The same is true of the newsboys.
If they were to scream and bellow in London as they do in New York or
Washington, they would be suppressed by the police, as they ought to
be. The vender of papers stands at the comer of the street, with his
goods in his arms, and a large placard spread out at his feet, giving
in big letters the principal news-headings.

Street-cries of all kinds are less noticeable, less aggressive, than in
this country, and the manners of the shopmen make you feel you are
conferring a benefit instead of receiving one. Even their locomotives
are less noisy than ours, having a shrill, infantile whistle that
contrasts strongly with the loud, demoniac yell that makes a residence
near a railway or a depot, in this country, so unbearable. The trains
themselves move with wonderful smoothness and celerity, making a mere
fraction of the racket made by our flying palaces as they go swaying
and jolting over our hasty, ill-ballasted roads.

It is characteristic of the English prudence and plain dealing, that
they put so little on the cars and so much on the road, while the
reverse process is equally characteristic of American enterprise. Our
railway system no doubt has certain advantages, or rather conveniences,
over the English, but, for my part, I had rather ride smoothly,
swiftly, and safely in a luggage van than be jerked and jolted to
destruction in the velvet and veneering of our palace cars. Upholster
the road first, and let us ride on bare boards until a cushion can be
afforded; not till after the bridges are of granite and iron, and the
rails of steel, do we want this more than aristocratic splendor and
luxury of palace and drawingroom cars. To me there is no more marked
sign of essential vulgarity of the national manners than these princely
cars and beggarly, clap-trap roads. It is like a man wearing a ruffled
and jeweled shirtfront, but too poor to afford a shirt itself.

I have said the English are a sweet and mellow people.  There is,
indeed, a charm about these ancestral races that goes to the heart. And
herein was one of the profoundest surprises of my visit, namely, that,
in coming from the New World to the Old, from a people the most
recently out of the woods of any, to one of the ripest and venerablest
of the European nationalities, I should find a race more simple,
youthful, and less sophisticated than the one I had left behind me. Yet
this was my impression. We have lost immensely in some things, and what
we have gained is not yet so obvious or so definable. We have lost in
reverence, in homeliness, in heart and conscience,--in virtue, using
the word in its proper sense. To some, the difference which I note may
appear a difference in favor of the great cuteness, wideawakeness, and
enterprise of the American, but it is simply a difference expressive of
our greater forwardness. We are a forward people, and the god we
worship is Smartness. In one of the worst tendencies of the age,
namely, an impudent, superficial, journalistic intellectuality and
glibness, America, in her polite and literary circles, no doubt leads
all other nations. English books and newspapers show more homely
veracity, more singleness of purpose, in short more character, than
ours. The great charm of such a man as Darwin, for instance, is his
simple manliness and transparent good faith, and the absence in him of
that finical, self-complacent smartness which is the bane of our
literature.

The poet Clough thought the New England man more simple than the man of
Old England. Hawthorne, on the other hand, seemed reluctant to admit
that the English were a "franker and simpler people, from peer to
peasant," than we are; and that they had not yet wandered so far from
that "healthful and primitive simplicity in which man was created" as
have their descendants in America. My own impression accords with
Hawthorne's. We are a more alert and curious people, but not so
simple,--not so easily angered, nor so easily amused. We have partaken
more largely of the fruit of the forbidden tree. The English have more
of the stay-at-home virtues, which, on the other hand, they no doubt
pay pretty well for by their more insular tendencies.

The youths and maidens seemed more simple, with their softer and less
intellectual faces. When I returned from Paris, the only person in the
second-class compartment of the car with me, for a long distance, was
an English youth eighteen or twenty years old, returning home to London
after an absence of nearly a year, which he had spent as waiter in a
Parisian hotel. He was born in London and had spent nearly his whole
life there, where his mother, a widow, then lived. He talked very
freely with me, and told me his troubles, and plans, and hopes, as if
we had long known each other. What especially struck me in the youth
was a kind of sweetness and innocence--perhaps what some would call
"greenness"--that at home I had associated only with country boys, and
not even with them latterly. The smartness and knowingness and a
certain hardness or keenness of our city youths,--there was no trace of
it at all in this young Cockney. But he liked American travelers better
than those from his own country. They were more friendly and
communicative,--were not so afraid to speak to "a fellow," and at the
hotel were more easily pleased.

The American is certainly not the grumbler the Englishman is; he is
more cosmopolitan and conciliatory. The Englishman will not adapt
himself to his surroundings; he is not the least bit an imitative
animal; he will be nothing but an Englishman, and is out of place--an
anomaly--in any country but his own. To understand him, you must see
him at home in the British island where he grew, where he belongs,
where he has expressed himself and justified himself, and where his
interior, unconscious characteristics are revealed. There he is quite a
different creature from what he is abroad. There he is "sweet," but he
sours the moment he steps off the island. In this country he is too
generally arrogant, fault-finding, and supercilious. The very traits of
loudness, sharpness, and unleavenedness, which I complain of in our
national manners, he very frequently exemplifies in an exaggerated
form.

The Scotch or German element no doubt fuses and mixes with ours much
more readily than the purely British.

The traveler feels the past in England as of course he cannot feel it
here; and, along with impressions of the present, one gets the flavor
and influence of earlier, simpler times, which, no doubt, is a potent
charm, and one source of the "rose-color" which some readers have found
in my sketches, as the absence of it is one cause of the raw, acrid,
unlovely character of much that there is in this country. If the
English are the old wine, we are the new. We are not yet thoroughly
leavened as a people, nor have we more than begun to transmute and
humanize our surroundings; and as the digestive and assimilative powers
of the American are clearly less than those of the Englishman, to say
nothing of our harsher, more violent climate, I have no idea that ours
can ever become the mellow land that Britain is.

As for the charge of brutality that is often brought against the
English, and which is so successfully depicted by Dickens and
Thackeray, there is doubtless good ground for it, though I actually saw
very little of it during five weeks' residence in London, and I poked
about into all the dens and comers I could find, and perambulated the
streets at nearly all hours of the night and day. Yet I am persuaded
there is a kind of brutality among the lower orders in England that
does not exist in the same measure in this country,--an ignorant animal
coarseness, an insensibility, which gives rise to wife-beating and
kindred offenses. But the brutality of ignorance and stolidity is not
the worst form of the evil. It is good material to make something
better of. It is an excess and not a perversion. It is not man fallen,
but man undeveloped. Beware, rather, that refined, subsidized
brutality; that thin, depleted, moral consciousness; or that
contemptuous, cankerous, euphemistic brutality, of which, I believe, we
can show vastly more samples than Great Britain. Indeed, I believe, for
the most part, that the brutality of the English people is only the
excess and plethora of that healthful, muscular robustness and
full-bloodedness for which the nation has always been famous, and which
it should prize beyond almost anything else. But for our brutality, our
recklessness of life and property, the brazen ruffianism in our great
cities, the hellish greed and robbery and plunder in high places, I
should have to look a long time to find so plausible an excuse.

[But I notice with pleasure that English travelers are beginning to
find more to admire than to condemn in this country, and that they
accredit us with some virtues they do not find at home in the same
measure. They are charmed with the independence, the self-respect, the
good-nature, and the obliging dispositions shown by the mass of our
people; while American travelers seem to be more and more ready to
acknowledge the charm and the substantial qualities of the mother
country. It is a good omen. One principal source of the pleasure which
each takes in the other is no doubt to be found in the novelty of the
impressions. It is like a change of cookery. The flavor of the dish is
fresh and uncloying to each. The English probably tire of their own
snobbishness and flunkeyism, and we of our own smartness and puppyism.
After the American has got done bragging about his independence, and
his "free and equal" prerogatives, he begins to see how these things
run into impertinence and forwardness; and the Englishman, in visiting
us, escapes from his social bonds and prejudices, to see for a moment
how absurd they all are.]

A London crowd I thought the most normal and unsophisticated I had ever
seen, with the least admixture of rowdyism and ruffianism. No doubt it
is there, but this scum is not upon the surface, as with us. I went
about very freely in the hundred and one places of amusement where the
average working classes assemble, with their wives and daughters and
sweethearts, and smoke villainous cigars and drink ale and stout. There
was to me something notably fresh and canny about them, as if they had
only yesterday ceased to be shepherds and shepherdesses. They certainly
were less developed in certain directions, or shall I say less
depraved, than similar crowds in our great cities. They are easily
pleased, and laugh at the simple and childlike, but there is little
that hints of an impure taste, or of abnormal appetites. I often smiled
at the tameness and simplicity of the amusements, but my sense of
fitness, or proportion, or decency was never once outraged. They always
stop short of a certain point,--the point where wit degenerates into
mockery, and liberty into license: nature is never put to shame, and
will commonly bear much more. Especially to the American sense did
their humorous and comic strokes, their negro-minstrelsy and attempts
at Yankee comedy, seem in a minor key. There was not enough irreverence
and slang and coarse ribaldry, in the whole evening's entertainment, to
have seasoned one line of some of our most popular comic poetry. But
the music, and the gymnastic, acrobatic, and other feats, were of a
very high order. And I will say here that the characteristic flavor of
the humor and fun-making of the average English people, as it impressed
my sense, is what one gets in Sterne,--very human and stomachic, and
entirely free from the contempt and superciliousness of most current
writers. I did not get one whiff of Dickens anywhere. No doubt it is
there in some form or other, but it is not patent, or even appreciable,
to the sense of such an observer as I am.

I was not less pleased by the simple good-will and bonhomie that
pervaded the crowd. There is in all these gatherings an indiscriminate
mingling of the sexes, a mingling without jar or noise or rudeness of
any kind, and marked by a mutual respect on all sides that is novel and
refreshing. Indeed, so uniform is the courtesy, and so human and
considerate the interest, that I was often at a loss to discriminate
the wife or the sister from the mistress or the acquaintance of the
hour, and had many times to check my American curiosity and cold,
criticising stare. For it was curious to see young men and women from
the lowest social strata meet and mingle in a public hall without
lewdness or badinage, but even with gentleness and consideration. The
truth is, however, that the class of women known as victims of the
social evil do not sink within many degrees as low in Europe as they do
in this country, either in their own opinion or in that of the public;
and there can be but little doubt that gatherings of the kind referred
to, if permitted in our great cities, would be tenfold more scandalous
and disgraceful than they are in London or Paris. There is something so
reckless and desperate in the career of man or woman in this country,
when they begin to go down, that the only feeling they too often excite
is one of loathsomeness and disgust. The lowest depth must be reached,
and it is reached quickly. But in London the same characters seem to
keep a sweet side from corruption to the last, and you will see good
manners everywhere.

We boast of our deference to woman, but if the Old World made her a
tool, we are fast making her a toy; and the latter is the more hopeless
condition. But among the better classes in England I am convinced that
woman is regarded more as a sister and an equal than in this country,
and is less subject to insult, and to leering, brutal comment, there
than here. We are her slave or her tyrant; so seldom her brother and
friend. I thought it a significant fact that I found no place of
amusement set apart for the men; where one sex went the other went;
what was sauce for the gander was sauce for the goose; and the spirit
that prevailed was soft and human accordingly. The hotels had no
"ladies' entrance," but all passed in and out the same door, and met
and mingled commonly in the same room, and the place was as much for
one as for the other. It was no more a masculine monopoly than it was a
feminine. Indeed, in the country towns and villages the character of
the inns is unmistakably given by woman; hence the sweet, domestic
atmosphere that pervades and fills them is balm to the spirit. Even the
larger hotels of Liverpool and London have a private, cozy, home
character that is most delightful. On entering them, instead of finding
yourself in a sort of public thoroughfare or political caucus, amid
crowds of men talking and smoking and spitting, with stalls on either
side where cigars and tobacco and books and papers are sold, you
perceive you are in something like a larger hall of a private house,
with perhaps a parlor and coffee-room on one side, and the office, and
smoking-room, and stairway on the other. You may leave your coat and
hat on the rack in the hall, and stand your umbrella there also, with
full assurance that you will find them there when you want them, if it
be the next morning or the next week. Instead of that petty tyrant the
hotel clerk, a young woman sits in the office with her sewing or other
needlework, and quietly receives you. She gives you your number on a
card, rings for a chambermaid to show you to your room, and directs
your luggage to be sent up; and there is something in the look of
things, and the way they are done, that goes to the right spot at once.

At the hotel in London where I stayed, the daughters of the landlord,
three fresh, comely young women, did the duties of the office; and
their presence, so quiet and domestic, gave the prevailing hue and tone
to the whole house. I wonder how long a young woman could preserve her
self-respect and sensibility in such a position in New York or
Washington?

The English regard us as a wonderfully patient people, and there can be
no doubt that we put up with abuses unknown elsewhere. If we have no
big tyrant, we have ten thousand little ones, who tread upon our toes
at every turn. The tyranny of corporations, and of public servants of
one kind and another, as the ticket-man, the railroad conductor, or
even of the country stage-driver, seem to be features peculiar to
American democracy. In England the traveler is never snubbed, or made
to feel that it is by somebody's sufferance that he is allowed aboard
or to pass on his way.

If you get into an omnibus or a railroad or tramway carriage in London,
you are sure of a seat. Not another person can get aboard after the
seats are all full. Or, if you enter a public hall, you know you will
not be required to stand up unless you pay the standing-up price. There
is everywhere that system, and order, and fair dealing, which all men
love. The science of living has been reduced to a fine point. You pay a
sixpence and get a sixpence worth of whatever you buy. There are all
grades and prices, and the robbery and extortion so current at home
appear to be unknown.

I am not contending for the superiority of everything English, but
would not disguise from myself or my readers the fact of the greater
humanity and consideration that prevail in the mother country. Things
here are yet in the green, but I trust there is no good reason to doubt
that our fruit will mellow and ripen in time like the rest.


       III. A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE

In coming over to France, I noticed that the chalk-hills, which were
stopped so abruptly by the sea on the British side of the Channel,
began again on the French side, only they had lost their smooth,
pastoral character, and were more broken and rocky, and that they
continued all the way to Paris, walling in the Seine, and giving the
prevailing tone and hue to the country,--scrape away the green and
brown epidermis of the hills anywhere, and out shines their white
framework,--and that Paris itself was built of stone evidently quarried
from this formation,--a light, cream-colored stone, so soft that
rifle-bullets bury themselves in it nearly their own depth, thus
pitting some of the more exposed fronts during the recent strife in a
very noticeable manner, and which, in building, is put up in the rough,
all the carving, sculpturing, and finishing being done after the blocks
are in position in the wall.

Disregarding the counsel of friends, I braved the Channel at one of its
wider points, taking the vixen by the waist instead of by the neck, and
found her as placid as a lake, as I did also on my return a week later.

It was a bright October morning as we steamed into the little harbor at
Dieppe, and the first scene that met my eye was, I suppose, a
characteristic one,--four or five old men and women towing a vessel
into a dock. They bent beneath the rope that passed from shoulder to
shoulder, and tugged away doggedly at it, the women apparently more
than able to do their part. There is no equalizer of the sexes like
poverty and misery, and then it very often happens that the gray mare
proves the better horse. Throughout the agricultural regions, as we
passed along, the men apparently all wore petticoats; at least, the
petticoats were the most active and prominent in the field occupations.
Then wearers were digging potatoes, pulling beets, following the harrow
(in one instance a thorn-bush drawn by a cow), and stirring the wet,
new-mown grass. I believe the pantaloons were doing the mowing. But I
looked in vain for any Maud Mullers in the meadows, and have concluded
that these can be found only in New England hay-fields! And herein is
one of the first surprises that await one on visiting the Old World
countries,--the absence of graceful, girlish figures, and bright
girlish faces, among the peasantry or rural population. In France I
certainly expected to see female beauty everywhere, but did not get one
gleam all that sunny day till I got to Paris. Is it a plant that
flourishes only in cities on this side of the Atlantic, or do all the
pretty girls, as soon as they are grown, pack their trunks, and leave
for the gay metropolis?

At Dieppe I first saw the wooden shoe, and heard its dry, senseless
clatter upon the pavement. How suggestive of the cramped and inflexible
conditions with which human nature has borne so long in these lands!

A small paved square near the wharf was the scene of an early market,
and afforded my first glimpse of the neatness and good taste that
characterize nearly everything in France. Twenty or thirty peasant
women, coarse and masculine, but very tidy, with their snow-white caps
and short petticoats, and perhaps half as many men, were chattering and
chaffering over little heaps of fresh country produce. The onions and
potatoes and cauliflowers were prettily arranged on the clean pavement,
or on white linen cloths, and the scene was altogether animated and
agreeable.

La belle France is the woman's country clearly, and it seems a mistake
or an anomaly that woman is not at the top and leading in all
departments, compelling the other sex to play second fiddle, as she so
frequently has done for a brief time in isolated cases in the past; not
that the man is effeminate, but that the woman seems so nearly his
match and equal, and so often proves even his superior. In no other
nation, during times of popular excitement and insurrection or
revolution, do women emerge so conspicuously, often in the front ranks,
the most furious and ungovernable of any. I think even a female
conscription might be advisable in the present condition of France, if
I may judge of her soldiers from the specimens I saw. Small,
spiritless, inferior-looking men, all of them. They were like Number
Three mackerel or the last run of shad, as doubtless they were,--the
last pickings and resiftings of the population.

I don't know how far it may be a national custom, but I observed that
the women of the humbler classes, in meeting or parting with friends at
the stations, saluted each other on both cheeks, never upon the mouth,
as our dear creatures do, and I commended their good taste, though I
certainly approve the American custom, too.

Among the male population I was struck with the frequent recurrence of
the Louis Napoleon type of face. "Has this man," I said, "succeeded in
impressing himself even upon the physiognomy of the people? Has he
taken such a hold of their imaginations that they have grown to look
like him?" The guard that took our train down to Paris might easily
play the double to the ex-emperor; and many times in Paris and among
different classes I saw the same countenance.

Coming from England, the traveling seems very slow in this part of
France, taking eight or nine hours to go from Dieppe to Paris, with an
hour's delay at Rouen. The valley of the Seine, which the road follows
or skirts more than half the way, is very winding, with immense flats
or plains shut in by a wall of steep, uniform hills, and, in the
progress of the journey, is from time to time laid open to the traveler
in a way that is full of novelty and surprise. The day was bright and
lovely, and I found my eyes running riot the same as they had done
during my first ride on British soil. The contrast between the two
countries is quite marked, France in this region being much more broken
and picturesque, with some waste or sterile land,--a thing I did not
see at all in England. Had I awaked from a long sleep just before
reaching Paris, I should have guessed I was riding through Maryland,
and should soon see the dome of the Capitol at Washington rising above
the trees. So much wild and bushy or barren and half-cultivated land,
almost under the walls of the French capital, was a surprise.

Then there are few or none of those immense home-parks which one sees
in England, the land being mostly held by a great number of small
proprietors, and cultivated in strips, or long, narrow parallelograms,
making the landscape look like many-colored patchwork. Everywhere along
the Seine, stretching over the flats, or tilted up against the sides of
the hills, in some places seeming almost to stand on end, were these
acre or half-acre rectangular farms, without any dividing lines or
fences, and of a great variety of shades and colors, according to the
crop and the tillage.

I was glad to see my old friend, the beech-tree, all along the route.
His bole wore the same gray and patched appearance it does at home, and
no doubt Thoreau would have found his instep even fairer; for the beech
on this side of the Atlantic is a more fluent and graceful tree than
the American species, resembling, in its branchings and general form,
our elm, though never developing such an immense green dome as our elm
when standing alone, and I saw no European tree that does. The European
elm is not unlike our beech in form and outline.

Going from London to Paris is, in some respects, like getting out of
the chimney on to the housetop,--the latter city is, by contrast, so
light and airy, and so American in its roominess. I had come to Paris
for my dessert after my feast of London joints, and I suspect I was a
little dainty in that most dainty of cities. In fact, I had become
quite sated with sight-seeing, and the prospect of having to go on and
"do" the rest of Europe after the usual manner of tourists, and as my
companions did, would have been quite appalling. Said companions
steered off like a pack of foxhounds in full blast. The game they were
in quest of led them a wild chase up the Rhine, off through Germany and
Italy, taking a turn back through Switzerland, giving them no rest, and
apparently eluding them at last. I had felt obliged to cut loose from
them at the outset, my capacity to digest kingdoms and empires at short
notice being far below that of the average of my countrymen. My
interest and delight had been too intense at the outset; I had partaken
too heartily of the first courses; and now, where other travelers begin
to warm to the subject, and to have the keenest relish, I began to wish
the whole thing well through with. So that Paris was no paradise to one
American at least. Yet the mere change of air and sky, and the escape
from that sooty, all-pervasive, chimney-flue smell of London, was so
sudden and complete, that the first hour of Paris was like a refreshing
bath, and gave rise to satisfaction in which every pore of the skin
participated. My room at the hotel was a gem of neatness and order, and
the bed a marvel of art, comfort, and ease, three feet deep at least.

Then the uniform imperial grace and eclat of the city was a new
experience. Here was the city of cities, the capital of taste and
fashion, the pride and flower of a great race and a great history, the
city of kings and emperors, and of a people which, after all, loves
kings and emperors, and will not long, I fear, be happy without
them,--a gregarious, urbane people, a people of genius and destiny,
whose God is Art and whose devil is Communism. London has long ago
outgrown itself, has spread, and multiplied, and accumulated, without a
corresponding inward expansion and unification; but in Paris they have
pulled down and built larger, and the spirit of centralization has had
full play. Hence the French capital is superb, but soon grows
monotonous. See one street and boulevard, and you have seen it all. It
has the unity and consecutiveness of a thing deliberately planned and
built to order, from beginning to end. Its stone is all from one
quarry, and its designs are all the work of one architect. London has
infinite variety, and quaintness, and picturesqueness, and is of all
possible shades of dinginess and weather-stains. It shows its age,
shows the work of innumerable generations, and is more an aggregation,
a conglomeration, than is Paris. Paris shows the citizen, and is modern
and democratic in its uniformity. On the whole, I liked London best,
because I am so much of a countryman, I suppose, and affect so little
the metropolitan spirit. In London there are a few grand things to be
seen, and the pulse of the great city itself is like the throb of the
ocean; but in Paris, owing either to my jaded senses or to some other
cause, I saw nothing that was grand, but enough that was beautiful and
pleasing. The more pretentious and elaborate specimens of architecture,
like the Palace of the Tuileries or the Palais Royal, are truly superb,
but they as truly do not touch that deeper chord whose awakening we
call the emotion of the sublime.

But the fitness and good taste everywhere displayed in the French
capital may well offset any considerations of this kind, and cannot
fail to be refreshing to a traveler of any other land,--in the dress
and manners of the people, in the shops and bazaars and show-windows,
in the markets, the equipages, the furniture, the hotels. It is
entirely a new sensation to an American to look into a Parisian
theatre, and see the acting and hear the music. The chances are that,
for the first time, he sees the interior of a theatre that does not
have a hard, businesslike, matter-of-fact air. The auditors look
comfortable and cozy, and quite at home, and do not, shoulder to
shoulder and in solid lines, make a dead set at the play and the music.
The theatre has warm hangings, warm colors, cozy boxes and stalls, and
is in no sense the public, away-from-home place we are so familiar with
in this country. Again, one might know it was Paris by the character of
the prints and pictures in the shop windows; they are so clever as art
that one becomes reprehensibly indifferent to their license. Whatever
sins the French may be guilty of, they never sin against art and good
taste (except when in the frenzy of revolution), and, if Propriety is
sometimes obliged to cry out "For shame!" in the French capital, she
must do so with ill-concealed admiration, like a fond mother chiding
with word and gesture while she approves with tone and look. It is a
foolish charge, often made, that the French make vice attractive: they
make it provocative of laughter; the spark of wit is always evolved,
and what is a better antidote to this kind of poison than mirth?

They carry their wit even into their cuisine.  Every dish set before
you at the table is a picture, and tickles your eye before it does your
palate. When I ordered fried eggs, they were brought on a snow-white
napkin, which was artistically folded upon a piece of ornamented
tissue-paper that covered a china plate; if I asked for cold ham, it
came in flakes, arrayed like great rose-leaves, with a green sprig or
two of parsley dropped upon it, and surrounded by a border of
calfs'-foot jelly, like a setting of crystals. The bread revealed new
qualities in the wheat, it was so sweet and nutty; and the fried
potatoes, with which your beefsteak comes snowed under, are the very
flower of the culinary art, and I believe impossible in any other
country.

Even the ruins are in excellent taste, and are by far the best-behaved
ruins I ever saw for so recent ones. I came near passing some of the
most noted, during my first walk, without observing them. The main
walls were all standing, and the fronts were as imposing as ever. No
litter or rubbish, no charred timbers or blackened walls; only vacant
windows and wrecked interiors, which do not very much mar the general
outside effect.

My first genuine surprise was the morning after my arrival, which,
according to my reckoning, was Sunday; and when I heard the usual
week-day sounds, and, sallying forth, saw the usual weekday occupations
going on,--painters painting, glaziers glazing, masons on their
scaffolds, and heavy drays and market-wagons going through the streets,
and many shops and bazaars open,--I must have presented to a
scrutinizing beholder the air and manner of a man in a dream, so
absorbed was I in running over the events of the week to find where the
mistake had occurred, where I had failed to turn a leaf, or else had
turned over two leaves for one. But each day had a distinct record, and
every count resulted the same. It must be Sunday. Then it all dawned
upon me that this was Paris, and that the Parisians did not have the
reputation of being very strict Sabbatarians.

The French give a touch of art to whatever they do.  Even the drivers
of drays and carts and trucks about the streets are not content with a
plain, matter-of-fact whip, as an English or American laborer would be,
but it must be a finely modeled stalk, with a long, tapering lash
tipped with the best silk snapper. Always the inevitable snapper. I
doubt if there is a whip in Paris without a snapper. Here is where the
fine art, the rhetoric of driving, comes in. This converts a vulgar,
prosy "gad" into a delicate instrument, to be wielded with pride and
skill, and never literally to be applied to the backs of the animals,
but to be launched to right and left into the air with a professional
flourish, and a sharp, ringing report. Crack! crack! crack! all day
long go these ten thousand whips, like the boys' Fourth of July
fusillade. It was invariably the first sound I heard when I opened my
eyes in the morning, and generally the last one at night. Occasionally
some belated drayman would come hurrying along just as I was going to
sleep, or some early bird before I was fully awake in the morning, and
let off in rapid succession, in front of my hotel, a volley from the
tip of his lash that would make the street echo again, and that might
well have been the envy of any ring-master that ever trod the tanbark.
Now and then, during my ramblings, I would suddenly hear some
master-whip, perhaps that of an old omnibus-driver, that would crack
like a rifle, and, as it passed along, all the lesser whips, all the
amateur snappers, would strike up with a jealous and envious emulation,
making every foot-passenger wink, and one (myself) at least almost to
shade his eyes from the imaginary missiles.

I record this fact because it "points a moral and adorns a 'tail.'" The
French always give this extra touch. Everything has its silk snapper.
Are not the literary whips of Paris famous for their rhetorical tips
and the sting there is in them? What French writer ever goaded his
adversary with the belly of his lash, like the Germans and the English,
when he could blister him with its silken end, and the percussion of
wit be heard at every stroke?

In the shops, and windows, and public halls, this passion takes the
form of mirrors,--mirrors, mirrors everywhere, on the walls, in the
panels, in the cases, on the pillars, extending, multiplying, opening
up vistas this way and that, and converting the smallest shop, with a
solitary girl and a solitary customer, into an immense enchanted
bazaar, across whose endless counters customers lean and pretty girls
display goods. The French are always before the looking-glass, even
when they eat and drink. I never went into a restaurant without seeing
four or five facsimiles of myself approaching from as many
different`directions, giving the order to the waiter and sitting down
at the table. Hence I always had plenty of company at dinner, though we
were none of us very social, and I was the only one who entered or
passed out at the door. The show windows are the greatest cheat. What
an expanse, how crowded, and how brilliant! You see, for instance, an
immense array of jewelry, and pause to have a look. You begin at the
end nearest you, and, after gazing a moment, take a step to run your
eye along the dazzling display, when, presto! the trays of watches and
diamonds vanish in a twinkling, and you find yourself looking into the
door, or your delighted eyes suddenly bring up against a brick wall,
disenchanted so quickly that you almost stagger.

I went into a popular music and dancing hall one night, and found
myself in a perfect enchantment of mirrors. Not an inch of wall was
anywhere visible. I was suddenly caught up into the seventh heaven of
looking-glasses, from which I came down with a shock the moment I
emerged into the street again. I observed that this mirror contagion
had broken out in spots in London, and, in the narrow and crowded
condition of the shops there, even this illusory enlargement would be a
relief. It might not improve the air, or add to the available storage
capacity of the establishment, but it would certainly give a wider
range to the eye.

The American no sooner sets foot on the soil of France than he
perceives he has entered a nation of drinkers as he has left a nation
of eaters. Men do not live by bread here, but by wine. Drink, drink,
drink everywhere,--along all the boulevards, and streets, and quays,
and byways; in the restaurants and under awnings, and seated on the
open sidewalk; social and convivial wine-bibbing,--not hastily and in
large quantities, but leisurely and reposingly, and with much
conversation and enjoyment.

Drink, drink, drink, and, with equal frequency and nearly as much
openness, the reverse or diuretic side of the fact. (How our
self-consciousness would writhe! We should all turn to stone!) Indeed,
the ceaseless deglutition of mankind in this part of the world is
equaled only by the answering and enormous activity of the human male
kidneys. This latter was too astonishing and too public a fact to go
unmentioned. At Dieppe, by the reeking tubs standing about, I suspected
some local distemper; but when I got to Paris, and saw how fully and
openly the wants of the male citizen in this respect were recognized by
the sanitary and municipal regulations, and that the urinals were
thicker than the lamp-posts, I concluded it must be a national trait;
and at once abandoned the theory that had begun to take possession of
my mind, namely, that diabetes was no doubt the cause of the decadence
of France. Yet I suspect it is no more a peculiarity of French manners
than of European manners generally, and in its light I relished
immensely the history of a well-known statue which stands in a public
square in one of the German cities. The statue commemorates the
unblushing audacity of a peasant going to market with a goose under
each arm, who ignored even the presence of the king, and it is at
certain times dressed up and made the centre of holiday festivities. It
is a public fountain, and its living streams of water make it one of
the most appropriate and suggestive monuments in Europe. I would only
suggest that they canonize the Little Man, and that the Parisians
recognize a tutelar deity in the goddess Urea, who should have an
appropriate monument somewhere in the Place de la Concorde!

One of the loveliest features of Paris is the Seine.  I was never tired
of walking along its course. Its granite embankments; its numberless
superb bridges, throwing their graceful spans across it; its clear,
limpid water; its paved bed; the women washing; the lively little
boats; and the many noble buildings that look down upon it,--make it
the most charming citizen-river I ever beheld. Rivers generally get
badly soiled when they come to the city, like some other rural
travelers; but the Seine is as pure as a meadow brook wherever I saw
it, though I dare say it does not escape without some contamination. I
believe it receives the sewerage discharges farther down, and is no
doubt turbid and pitchy enough there, like its brother, the Thames,
which comes into London with the sky and the clouds in its bosom, and
leaves it reeking with filth and slime.

After I had tired of the city, I took a day to visit St. Cloud, and
refresh myself by a glimpse of the imperial park there, and a little of
Nature's privacy, if such could be had, which proved to be the case,
for a more agreeable day I have rarely passed. The park, toward which I
at once made my way, is an immense natural forest, sweeping up over
gentle hills from the banks of the Seine, and brought into order and
perspective by a system of carriage-ways and avenues, which radiate
from numerous centres like the boulevards of Paris. At these centres
were fountains and statues, with sunlight falling upon them; and,
looking along the cool, dusky avenues, as they opened, this way and
that, upon these marble tableaux, the effect was very striking, and was
not at all marred to my eye by the neglect into which the place had
evidently fallen. The woods were just mellowing into October; the
large, shining horse-chestnuts dropped at my feet as I walked along;
the jay screamed over the trees; and occasionally a red
squirrel--larger and softer-looking than ours, not so sleek, nor so
noisy and vivacious--skipped among the branches. Soldiers passed, here
and there, to and from some encampment on the farther side of the park;
and, hidden from view somewhere in the forest-glades, a band of buglers
filled the woods with wild musical strains.

English royal parks and pleasure grounds are quite different.  There
the prevailing character is pastoral,--immense stretches of lawn,
dotted with the royal oak, and alive with deer. But the Frenchman loves
forests evidently, and nearly all his pleasure grounds about Paris are
immense woods. The Bois de Boulogne, the forests of Vincennes, of St.
Germain, of Bondy, and I don't know how many others, are near at hand,
and are much prized. What the animus of this love may be is not so
clear. It cannot be a love of solitude, for the French are
characteristically a social and gregarious people. It cannot be the
English poetical or Wordsworthian feeling for Nature, because French
literature does not show this sense or this kind of perception. I am
inclined to think the forest is congenial to their love of form and
their sharp perceptions, but more especially to that kind of fear and
wildness which they at times exhibit; for civilization has not quenched
the primitive ardor and fierceness of the Frenchman yet, and it is to
be hoped it never will. He is still more than half a wild man, and, if
turned loose in the woods, I think would develop, in tooth and nail,
and in all the savage, brute instincts, more rapidly than the men of
any other race, except possibly the Slavic. Have not his descendants in
this country--the Canadian French--turned and lived with the Indians,
and taken to wild, savage customs with more relish and genius than have
any other people? How hairy and vehement and pantomimic he is! How his
eyes glance from under his heavy brows! His type among the animals is
the wolf, and one readily recalls how largely the wolf figures in the
traditions and legends and folklore of Continental Europe, and how
closely his remains are associated with those of man in the bone-caves
of the geologists. He has not stalked through their forests and
fascinated their imaginations so long for nothing. The she-wolf suckled
other founders beside those of Rome. Especially when I read of the
adventures of Russian and Polish exiles in Siberia--men of aristocratic
lineage wandering amid snow and arctic cold, sleeping on rocks or in
hollow trees, and holding their own, empty-handed, against hunger and
frost and their fiercer brute embodiments do I recognize a hardihood
and a ferity whose wet-nurse, ages back, may well have been this gray
slut of the woods.

It is this fierce, untamable core that gives the point and the splendid
audacity to French literature and art,--its vehemence and impatience of
restraint. It is the salt of their speech, the nitre of their wit. When
morbid, it gives that rabid and epileptic tendency which sometimes
shows itself in Victor Hugo. In this great writer, however, it more
frequently takes the form of an aboriginal fierceness and hunger that
glares and bristles, and is insatiable and omnivorous.

And how many times has Paris, that boudoir of beauty and fashion,
proved to be a wolf's lair, swarming with jaws athirst for human
throats!--the lust for blood and the greed for plunder, sleeping,
biding their time, never extinguished.

I do not contemn it.  To the natural historian it is good.  It is a
return to first principles again after so much art, and culture, and
lying, and chauvinisme, and shows these old civilizations in no danger
of, becoming effete yet. It is like the hell of fire beneath our feet,
which the geologists tell us is the life of the globe. Were it not for
it, who would not at times despair of the French character? As long as
this fiery core remains, I shall believe France capable of recovering
from any disaster to her arms. The "mortal ripening" of the nation is
stayed.

The English and Germans, on the other hand, are saved by great breadth
and heartiness, and a constitutional tendency to coarseness of fibre
which art and civilization abate very little. What is to save us in
this country, I wonder, who have not the French regency and fire, nor
the Teutonic heartiness and vis inertiae, and who are already in danger
of refining or attenuating into a high-heeled, shortjawed, genteel
race, with more brains than stomach, and more address than character?


       IV. FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK

I had imagined that the next best thing to seeing England would be to
see Scotland; but, as this latter pleasure was denied me, certainly the
next best thing was seeing Scotland's greatest son. Carlyle has been so
constantly and perhaps justly represented as a stormy and wrathful
person, brewing bitter denunciation for America and Americans, that I
cannot forbear to mention the sweet and genial mood in which we found
him,--a gentle and affectionate grandfather, with his delicious Scotch
brogue and rich, melodious talk, overflowing with reminiscences of his
earlier life, of Scott and Goethe and Edinburgh, and other men and
places he had known. Learning that I was especially interested in
birds, he discoursed of the lark and the nightingale and the mavis,
framing his remarks about them in some episode of his personal
experience, and investing their songs with the double charm of his
description and his adventure.

"It is only geese who get plucked there," said my companion after we
had left,--a man who had known Carlyle intimately for many years;
"silly persons who have no veneration for the great man, and come to
convert him or to change his convictions upon subjects to which he has
devoted a lifetime of profound thought and meditation. With such
persons he has no patience."

Carlyle had just returned from Scotland, where he had spent the summer.
The Scotch hills and mountains, he said, had an ancient, mournful look,
as if the weight of immeasurable time had settled down upon them. Their
look was in Ossian,--his spirit reflected theirs; and as I gazed upon
the venerable man before me, and noted his homely and rugged yet
profound and melancholy expression, I knew that their look was upon him
also, and that a greater than Ossian had been nursed amid those lonely
hills. Few men in literature have felt the burden of the world, the
weight of the inexorable conscience, as has Carlyle, or drawn such
fresh inspiration from that source. However we may differ from him (and
almost in self-defense one must differ from a man of such intense and
overweening personality), it must yet be admitted that he habitually
speaks out of that primitive silence and solitude in which only the
heroic soul dwells. Certainly not in contemporary British literature is
there another writer whose bowstring has such a twang.

I left London in the early part of November, and turned my face
westward, going leisurely through England and Wales, and stringing upon
my thread a few of the famous places, as Oxford, Stratford, Warwick,
Birmingham, Chester, and taking a last look at the benign land. The
weather was fair; I was yoked to no companion, and was apparently the
only tourist on that route. The field occupations drew my eye as usual.
They were very simple, and consisted mainly of the gathering of root
crops. I saw no building of fences, or of houses or barns, and no
draining or improving of any kind worth mentioning, these things having
all been done long ago. Speaking of barns reminds me that I do not
remember to have seen a building of this kind while in England, much
less a group or cluster of them as at home; hay and grain being always
stacked, and the mildness of the climate rendering a protection of this
kind unnecessary for the cattle and sheep. In contrast, America may be
called the country of barns and outbuildings:--

       "Thou lucky Mistress of the tranquil barns,"

as Walt Whitman apostrophizes the Union.

I missed also many familiar features in the autumn fields,--those given
to our landscape by Indian corn, for instance, the tent-like stouts,
the shucks, the rustling blades, the ripe pumpkins strewing the field;
for, notwithstanding England is such a garden, our corn does not
flourish there. I saw no buckwheat either, the red stubble and little
squat figures of the upright sheaves of which are so noticeable in our
farming districts at this season. Neither did I see, any gathering of
apples, or orchards from which to gather them. "As sure as there are
apples in Herefordshire" seems to be a proverb in England; yet it is
very certain that the orchard is not the institution anywhere in
Britain that it is in this country, or so prominent a feature in the
landscape. The native apples are inferior in size and quality, and are
sold by the pound. Pears were more abundant at the fruit stands, and
were of superior excellence and very cheap.

I hope it will not be set down to any egotism of mine, but rather to
the effect upon an ardent pilgrim of the associations of the place and
its renown in literature, that all my experience at Stratford seems
worthy of recording, and to be invested with a sort of poetical
interest,--even the fact that I walked up from the station with a
handsome young countrywoman who had chanced to occupy a seat in the
same compartment of the car with me from Warwick, and who, learning the
nature of my visit, volunteered to show me the Red Horse Inn, as her
course led her that way. We walked mostly in the middle of the street,
with our umbrellas hoisted, for it was raining slightly, while a boy
whom we found lying in wait for such a chance trudged along in advance
of us with my luggage.

At the Red Horse the pilgrim is in no danger of having the charm and
the poetical atmosphere with which he has surrounded himself dispelled,
but rather enhanced and deepened, especially if he has the luck I had,
to find few other guests, and to fall into the hands of one of those
simple, strawberry-like English housemaids, who gives him a cozy, snug
little parlor all to himself, as was the luck of Irving also; who
answers his every summons, and looks into his eyes with the simplicity
and directness of a child; who could step from no page but that of
Scott or the divine William himself; who puts the "coals" on your grate
with her own hands, and, when you ask for a lunch, spreads the cloth on
one end of the table while you sit reading or writing at the other, and
places before you a whole haunch of delicious cold mutton, with bread
and homebrewed ale, and requests you to help yourself; who, when
bedtime arrives, lights you up to a clean, sweet chamber, with a
high-canopied bed hung with snow-white curtains; who calls you in the
morning, and makes ready your breakfast while you sit with your feet on
the fender before the blazing grate; and to whom you pay your reckoning
on leaving, having escaped entirely all the barrenness and publicity of
hotel life, and had all the privacy and quiet of home without any of
its cares or interruptions. And this, let me say here, is the great
charm of the characteristic English inn; it has a domestic, homelike
air. "Taking mine ease at mine inn" has a real significance in England.
You can take your ease and more; you can take real solid comfort. In
the first place, there is no bar-room, and consequently no loafers or
pimps, or fumes of tobacco or whiskey; then there is no landlord or
proprietor or hotel clerk to lord it over you. The host, if there is
such a person, has a way of keeping himself in the background, or
absolutely out of sight, that is entirely admirable. You are monarch of
all you survey. You are not made to feel that it is in some one else's
house you are staying, and that you must court the master for his
favor. It is your house, you are the master, and you have only to enjoy
your own.

In the gray, misty afternoon, I walked out over the Avon, like all
English streams full to its grassy brim, and its current betrayed only
by a floating leaf or feather, and along English fields and roads, and
noted the familiar sights and sounds and smells of autumn. The spire of
the church where Shakespeare lies buried shot up stately and tall from
the banks of the Avon, a little removed from the village; and the
church itself, more like a cathedral in size and beauty, was also
visible above the trees. Thitherward I soon bent my steps, and while I
was lingering among the graves*, reading the names and dates so many
centuries old, and surveying the gray and weather-worn exterior of the
church, the slow tolling of the bell announced a funeral. Upon such a
stage, and amid such surroundings, with all this past for a background,
the shadowy figure of the peerless bard towering over all, the incident
of the moment had a strange interest to me, and I looked about for the
funeral cortege. Presently a group of three or four figures appeared at
the head of the avenue of limes, the foremost of them a woman, bearing
an infant's coffin under her arm, wrapped in a white sheet. The clerk
and sexton, with their robes on, went out to meet them, and conducted
them into the church, where the service proper to such occasions was
read, after which the coffin was taken out as it was brought in, and
lowered into the grave. It was the smallest funeral I ever saw, and my
effort to play the part of a sympathizing public by hovering in the
background, I fear, was only an intrusion after all.

[* Footnote: In England the church always stands in the midst of the
graveyard, and hence can be approached only on foot. People it seems,
never go to church in carriages or wagons, but on foot, along paths and
lanes.]

Having loitered to my heart's content amid the stillness of the old
church, and paced to and fro above the illustrious dead, I set out,
with the sun about an hour high, to see the house of Anne Hathaway at
Shottery, shunning the highway and following a path that followed
hedge-rows, crossed meadows and pastures, skirted turnip-fields and
cabbage-patches, to a quaint gathering of low thatched houses,--a
little village of farmers and laborers, about a mile from Stratford. At
the gate in front of the house a boy was hitching a little gray donkey,
almost hidden beneath two immense panniers filled with coarse hay.

"Whose house is this?" inquired I, not being quite able to make out the
name.

"Hann' Ataway's 'ouse," said he.

So I took a good look at Anne's house,--a homely, human-looking
habitation, with its old oak beams and thatched roof,--but did not go
in, as Mrs. Baker, who was eying me from the door, evidently hoped I
would, but chose rather to walk past it and up the slight rise of
ground beyond, where I paused and looked out over the fields, just lit
up by the setting sun. Returning, I stepped into the Shakespeare
Tavern, a little, homely wayside place on a street, or more like a
path, apart from the main road, and the good dame brought me some
"home-brewed," which I drank sitting by a rude table on a rude bench in
a small, low room, with a stone floor and an immense chimney. The coals
burned cheerily, and the crane and hooks in the fireplace called up
visions of my earliest childhood. Apparently the house and the
surroundings, and the atmosphere of the place and the ways of the
people, were what they were three hundred years ago. It was all sweet
and good, and I enjoyed it hugely, and was much refreshed.

Crossing the fields in the gloaming, I came up with some children, each
with a tin bucket of milk, threading their way toward Stratford. The
little girl, a child ten years old, having a larger bucket than the
rest, was obliged to set down her burden every few rods and rest; so I
lent her a helping hand. I thought her prattle, in that broad but
musical patois, and along these old hedge-rows, the most delicious I
ever heard. She said they came to Shottery for milk because it was much
better than they got at Stratford. In America they had a cow of their
own. Had she lived in America, then? "Oh, yes, four years," and the
stream of her talk was fuller at once. But I hardly recognized even the
name of my own country in her innocent prattle; it seemed like a land
of fable,--all had a remote mythological air, and I pressed my
inquiries as if I was hearing of this strange land for the first time.
She had an uncle still living in the "States of Hoio," but exactly
where her father had lived was not so clear. In the States somewhere,
and in "Ogden's Valley." There was a lake there that had salt in it,
and not far off was the sea. "In America," she said, and she gave such
a sweet and novel twang to her words, "we had a cow of our own, and two
horses and a wagon and a dog." "Yes," joined in her little brother,
"and nice chickens and a goose." "But," continued the sister, "we owns
none o' them here. In America 'most everybody owned their houses, and
we could 'a' owned a house if we had stayid."

"What made you leave America?" I inquired.

"'Cause me father wanted to see his friends."

"Did your mother want to come back?"

"No, me mother wanted to stay in America."

"Is food as plenty here,--do you have as much to eat as in the
States?"

"Oh, yes, and more.  The first year we were in America we could not get
enough to eat."

"But you do not get meat very often here, do you?"

"Quite often,"--not so confidently.

"How often?"

"Well, sometimes we has pig's liver in the week time, and we allers has
meat of a Sunday; we likes meat."

Here we emerged from the fields into the highway, and the happy
children went their way and I mine.

In the evening, as I was strolling about the town, a poor, crippled,
half-witted fellow came jerking himself across the street after me and
offered himself as a guide.

"I'm the Teller what showed Artemus Ward around when he was here.
You've heerd on me, I expect? Not? Why, he characterized me in
'Punch,' he did. He asked me if Shakespeare took all the wit out of
Stratford? And this is what I said to him: `No, he left some for me.'"

But not wishing to be guided just then, I bought the poor fellow off
with a few pence, and kept on my way.

Stratford is a quiet old place, and seems mainly the abode of simple
common folk. One sees no marked signs of either poverty or riches. It
is situated in a beautiful expanse of rich, rolling farming country,
but bears little resemblance to a rural town in America: not a tree,
not a spear of grass; the houses packed close together and crowded up
on the street, the older ones presenting their gables and showing their
structure of oak beams. English oak seems incapable of decay even when
exposed to the weather, while indoors it takes three or four centuries
to give it its best polish and hue.

I took my last view of Stratford quite early of a bright Sunday
morning, when the ground was white with a dense hoar-frost. The great
church, as I approached it, loomed up under the sun through a bank of
blue mist. The Avon was like glass, with little wraiths of vapor
clinging here and there to its surface. Two white swans stood on its
banks in front of the church, and, without regarding the mirror that so
drew my eye, preened their plumage; while, farther up, a piebald cow
reached down for some grass under the brink where the frost had not
settled, and a piebald cow in the river reached up for the same morsel.
Rooks and crows and jackdaws were noisy in the trees overhead and about
the church spire. I stood a long while musing upon the scene.

At the birthplace of the poet, the keeper, an elderly woman, shivered
with cold as she showed me about. The primitive, home-made appearance
of things, the stone floor much worn and broken, the rude oak beams and
doors, the leaden sash with the little window-panes scratched full of
names, among others that of Walter Scott, the great chimneys where
quite a family could literally sit in the chimney corner, were what I
expected to see, and looked very human and good. It is impossible to
associate anything but sterling qualities and simple, healthful
characters with these early English birthplaces. They are nests built
with faithfulness and affection, and through them one seems to get a
glimpse of devouter, sturdier times.

From Stratford I went back to Warwick, thence to Birmingham, thence to
Shrewsbury, thence to Chester, the old Roman camp, thence to Holyhead,
being intent on getting a glimpse of Wales and the Welsh, and maybe
taking a tramp up Snowdon or some of his congeners, for my legs
literally ached for a mountain climb, a certain set of muscles being so
long unused. In the course of my journeyings, I tried each class or
compartment of the cars, first, second, and third, and found but little
choice. The difference is simply in the upholstering, and, if you are
provided with a good shawl or wrap-up, you need not be particular about
that. In the first, the floor is carpeted and the seats substantially
upholstered, usually in blue woolen cloth; in the second, the seat
alone is cushioned; and in the third, you sit on a bare bench. But all
classes go by the same train, and often in the same car, or carriage,
as they say here. In the first class travel the real and the shoddy
nobility and Americans; in the second, commercial and professional men;
and in the third, the same, with such of the peasantry and humbler
classes as travel by rail. The only annoyance I experienced in the
third class arose from the freedom with which the smokers, always
largely in the majority, indulged in their favorite pastime. (I
perceive there is one advantage in being a smoker: you are never at a
loss for something to do,--you can smoke.)

At Chester I stopped overnight, selecting my hotel for its name, the
"Green Dragon." It was Sunday night, and the only street scene my
rambles afforded was quite a large gathering of persons on a corner,
listening, apparently with indifference or curiosity, to an ignorant,
hot-headed street preacher. "Now I am going to tell you something you
will not like to hear, something that will make you angry. I know it
will. It is this: I expect to go to heaven. I am perfectly confident I
shall go there. I know you do not like that." But why his hearers
should not like that did not appear. For my part, I thought, for the
good of all concerned, the sooner he went the better.

In the morning, I mounted the wall in front of the cathedral, and, with
a very lively feeling of wonder and astonishment, walked completely
around the town on top of it, a distance of about two miles. The wall,
being in places as high as the houses, afforded some interesting views
into attics, chambers, and back yards. I envied the citizens such a
delightful promenade ground, full of variety and interest. Just the
right distance, too, for a brisk turn to get up an appetite, or for a
leisurely stroll to tone down a dinner; while as a place for chance
meetings of happy lovers, or to get away from one's companions if the
flame must burn in secret and in silence, it is unsurpassed. I
occasionally met or passed other pedestrians, but noticed that it
required a brisk pace to lessen the distance between myself and an
attractive girlish figure a few hundred feet in advance of me. The
railroad cuts across one corner of the town, piercing the walls with
two very carefully constructed archways. Indeed, the people are very
choice of the wall, and one sees posted notices of the city authorities
offering a reward for any one detected in injuring it. It has stood now
some seven or eight centuries, and from appearances is good for one or
two more. There are several towers on the wall, from one of which some
English king, over two hundred years ago, witnessed the defeat of his
army on Rowton Moor. But when I was there, though the sun was shining,
the atmosphere was so loaded with smoke that I could not catch even a
glimpse of the moor where the battle took place. There is a gateway
through the wall on each of the four sides, and this slender and
beautiful but blackened and worn span, as if to afford a transit from
the chamber windows on one side of the street to those of the other, is
the first glimpse the traveler gets of the wall. The gates beneath the
arches have entirely disappeared. The ancient and carved oak fronts of
the buildings on the main street, and the inclosed sidewalk that ran
through the second stories of the shops and stores, were not less
strange and novel to me. The sidewalk was like a gentle upheaval in its
swervings and undulations, or like a walk through the woods, the oaken
posts and braces on the outside answering for the trees, and the
prospect ahead for the vista.

The ride along the coast of Wales was crowded with novelty and
interest,--the sea on one side and the mountains on the other,--the
latter bleak and heathery in the foreground, but cloud-capped and
snow-white in the distance. The afternoon was dark and lowering, and
just before entering Conway we had a very striking view. A turn in the
road suddenly brought us to where we looked through a black framework
of heathery hills, and beheld Snowdon and his chiefs apparently with
the full rigors of winter upon them. It was so satisfying that I lost
at once my desire to tramp up them. I barely had time to turn from the
mountains to get a view of Conway Castle, one of the largest and most
impressive ruins I saw. The train cuts close to the great round tower,
and plunges through the wall of gray, shelving stone into the bluff
beyond, giving the traveler only time to glance and marvel.

About the only glimpse I got of the Welsh character was on this route.
At one of the stations, Abergele I think, a fresh, blooming young woman
got into our compartment, occupied by myself and two commercial
travelers (bag-men, or, as we say, "drummers"), and, before she could
take her seat, was complimented by one of them on her good looks.
Feeling in a measure responsible for the honor and good-breeding of the
compartment, I could hardly conceal my embarrassment; but the young
Abergeless herself did not seem to take it amiss, and when presently
the jolly bag-man addressed his conversation to her, replied
beseemingly and good-naturedly. As she arose to leave the car at her
destination, a few stations beyond, he said "he thought it a pity that
such a sweet, pretty girl should leave us so soon," and seizing her
hand the audacious rascal actually solicited a kiss. I expected this
would be the one drop too much, and that we should have a scene, and
began to regard myself in the light of an avenger of an insulted Welsh
beauty, when my heroine paused, and I believe actually deliberated
whether or not to comply before two spectators! Certain it is that she
yielded the highwayman her hand, and, bidding him a gentle good-night
in Welsh, smilingly and blushingly left the car. "Ah," said the
villain, "these Welsh girls are capital; I know them like a book, and
have had many a lark with them."

At Holyhead I got another glimpse of the Welsh.  I had booked for
Dublin, and having several hours on my hands of a dark, threatening
night before the departure of the steamer, I sallied out in the old
town tilted up against the side of the hill, in the most adventurous
spirit I could summon, threading my way through the dark, deserted
streets, pausing for a moment in front of a small house with closed
doors and closely, shuttered windows, where I heard suppressed voices,
the monotonous scraping of a fiddle, and a lively shuffling of feet,
and passing on finally entered, drawn by the musical strains, a quaint
old place, where a blind harper, seated in the corner of a rude kind of
coffee and sitting room, was playing on a harp. I liked the atmosphere
of the place, so primitive and wholesome, and was quite willing to have
my attention drawn off from the increasing storm without, and from the
bitter cup which I knew the Irish sea was preparing for me. The harper
presently struck up a livelier strain, when two Welsh girls, who were
chatting before the grate, one of them as dumpy as a bag of meal and
the other slender and tall, stepped into the middle of the floor and
began to dance to the delicious music, a Welsh mechanic and myself
drinking our ale and looking on approvingly. After a while the
pleasant, modest-looking bar-maid, whom I had seen behind the
beer-levers as I entered, came in, and, after looking on for a moment,
was persuaded to lay down her sewing and join in the dance. Then there
came in a sandy-haired Welshman, who could speak and understand only
his native dialect, and finding his neighbors affiliating with an
Englishman, as he supposed, and trying to speak the hateful tongue,
proceeded to berate them sharply (for it appears the Welsh are still
jealous of the English); but when they explained to him that I was not
an Englishman, but an American, and had already twice stood the beer
all around (at an outlay of sixpence), he subsided into a sulky
silence, and regarded me intently.

About eleven o'clock a policeman paused at the door, and intimated that
it was time the house was shut up and the music stopped, and to outward
appearances his friendly warning was complied with; but the harp still
discoursed in a minor key, and a light tripping and shuffling of
responsive feet might occasionally have been heard for an hour later.
When I arose to go, it was with a feeling of regret that I could not
see more of this simple and social people, with whom I at once felt
that "touch of nature" which "makes the whole world kin," and my
leave-taking was warm and hearty accordingly.

Through the wind and the darkness I threaded my way to the wharf, and
in less than two hours afterward was a most penitent voyager, and
fitfully joining in that doleful gastriloquial chorus that so often
goes up from the cabins of those Channel steamers.

I hardly know why I went to Ireland, except it was to indulge the few
drops of Irish blood in my veins, and maybe also with a view to shorten
my sea voyage by a day. I also felt a desire to see one or two literary
men there, and in this sense my journey was eminently gratifying; but
so far from shortening my voyage by a day, it lengthened it by three
days, that being the time it took me to recover from the effects of it;
and as to the tie of blood, I think it must nearly all have run out,
for I felt but few congenital throbs while in Ireland.

The Englishman at home is a much more lovable animal than the
Englishman abroad, but Pat in Ireland is even more of a pig than in
this country. Indeed, the squalor and poverty, and cold, skinny
wretchedness one sees in Ireland, and (what freezes our sympathies) the
groveling, swiny shiftlessness that pervades these hovels, no traveler
can be prepared for. It is the bare prose of misery, the unheroic of
tragedy. There is not one redeeming or mitigating feature.

Railway traveling in Ireland is not so rapid or so cheap as in England.
Neither are the hotels so good or so clean, nor the fields so well
kept, nor the look of the country so thrifty and peaceful. The
dissatisfaction of the people is in the very air. Ireland looks sour
and sad. She looks old, too, as do all those countries beyond
seas,--old in a way that the American is a stranger to. It is not the
age of nature, the unshaken permanence of the hills through long
periods of time, but the weight of human years and human sorrows, as if
the earth sympathized with man and took on his attributes and
infirmities.

I did not go much about Dublin, and the most characteristic things I
saw there were those queer, uncomfortable dog-carts,--a sort of Irish
bull on wheels, with the driver on one side balancing the passenger on
the other, and the luggage occupying the seat of safety between. It
comes the nearest to riding on horseback, and on a side-saddle at that,
of any vehicle-traveling I ever did.

I stopped part of a day at Mallow, an old town on the Blackwater, in
one of the most fertile agricultural districts of Ireland. The
situation is fine, and an American naturally expects to see a charming
rural town, planted with trees and filled with clean, comfortable
homes; but he finds instead a wretched place, smitten with a plague of
filth and mud, and offering but one object upon which the eye can dwell
with pleasure, and that is the ruins of an old castle, "Mallow Castle
over Blackwater," which dates back to the time of Queen Elizabeth. It
stands amid noble trees on the banks of the river, and its walls, some
of them thirty or forty feet high, are completely overrun with ivy. The
Blackwater, a rapid, ambercolored stream, is spanned at this point by a
superb granite bridge.

And I will say here that anything like a rural town in our sense,--a
town with trees and grass and large spaces about the houses, gardens,
yards, shrubbery, coolness, fragrance,--seems unknown in England or
Ireland. The towns and villages are all remnants of feudal times, and
seem to have been built with an eye to safety and compactness, or else
men were more social, and loved to get closer together, then than now.
Perhaps the damp, chilly climate made them draw nearer together. At any
rate, the country towns are little cities; or rather it is as if
another London had been cut up in little and big pieces and distributed
over the land.

In the afternoon, to take the kinks out of my legs, and to quicken, if
possible, my circulation a little, which since the passage over the
Channel had felt as if it was thick and green, I walked rapidly to the
top of the Knockmeledown Mountains, getting a good view of Irish fields
and roads and fences as I went up, and a very wide and extensive view
of the country after I had reached the summit, and improving the
atmosphere of my physical tenement amazingly. These mountains have no
trees or bushes or other growth than a harsh prickly heather, about a
foot high, which begins exactly at the foot of the mountain. You are
walking on smooth, fine meadow land, when you leap a fence and there is
the heather. On the highest point of this mountain, and on the highest
point of all the mountains around, was a low stone mound, which I was
puzzled to know the meaning of. Standing there, the country rolled away
beneath me under a cold, gray November sky, and, as was the case with
the English landscape, looked singularly desolate,--the desolation of a
dearth of human homes, industrial centres, families, workers, and
owners of the soil. Few roads, scarce ever a vehicle, no barns, no
groups of bright, well-ordered buildings, indeed no farms and
neighborhoods and schoolhouses, but a wide spread of rich, highly
cultivated country, with here and there, visible to close scrutiny,
small gray stone houses with thatched roofs, the abodes of poverty and
wretchedness. A recent English writer says the first thing that struck
him in American landscape-painting was the absence of man and the
domestic animals from the pictures, and the preponderance of rude, wild
nature; and his first view of this country seems to have made the same
impression. But it is certainly true that the traveler through any of
our older States will see ten houses, rural habitations, to one in
England or Ireland, though, as a matter of course, nature here looks
much less domesticated, and much less expressive of human occupancy and
contact. The Old World people have clung to the soil closer and more
lovingly than we do. The ground has been more precious. They have had
none to waste, and have made the most of every inch of it. Wherever
they have touched they have taken root and thriven as best they could.
Then the American is more cosmopolitan and less domestic. He is not so
local in his feelings and attachments. He does not bestow himself upon
the earth or upon his home as his ancestors did. He feathers his nest
very little. Why should he? He may migrate tomorrow and build another.
He is like the passenger pigeon that lays its eggs and rears its young
upon a little platform of bare twigs. Our poverty and nakedness is in
this respect, I think, beyond dispute. There is nothing nest-like about
our homes, either in their interiors or exteriors. Even wealth and
taste and foreign aids rarely attain that cozy, mellowing atmosphere
that pervades not only the lowly birthplaces but the halls and manor
houses of older lands. And what do our farms represent but so much real
estate, so much cash value?

Only where man loves the soil, and nestles to it closely and long, will
it take on this beneficent and human look which foreign travelers miss
in our landscape; and only where homes are built with fondness and
emotion, and in obedience to the social, paternal, and domestic
instincts, will they hold the charm and radiate and be warm with the
feeling I have described.

And, while I am upon the subject, I will add that European cities
differ from ours in this same particular. They have a homelier
character,--more the air of dwelling-places, the abodes of men drawn
together for other purposes than traffic. People actually live in them,
and find life sweet and festal. But what does our greatest city, New
York, express besides commerce or politics, or what other reason has it
for its existence? This is, of course, in a measure the result of the
modern worldly and practical business spirit which more and more
animates all nations, and which led Carlyle to say of his own
countrymen that they were becoming daily more "flat, stupid, and
mammonish." Yet I am persuaded that in our case it is traceable also to
the leanness and depletion of our social and convivial instincts, and
to the fact that the material cares of life are more serious and
engrossing with us than with any other people.

I spent part of a day at Cork, wandering about the town, threading my
way through the back streets and alleys, and seeing life reduced to
fewer makeshifts than I had ever before dreamed of. I went through, or
rather skirted, a kind of secondhand market, where the most sorry and
dilapidated articles of clothing and household utensils were offered
for sale, and where the cobblers were cobbling up old shoes that would
hardly hold together. Then the wretched old women one sees, without any
sprinkling of young ones,--youth and age alike bloomless and unlovely.

In a meadow on the hills that encompass the city, I found the American
dandelion in bloom, and some large red clover, and started up some
skylarks as I might start up the field sparrows in our own uplying
fields.

Is the magpie a Celt and a Catholic?  I saw not one in England, but
plenty of them in France, and again when I reached Ireland.

At Queenstown I awaited the steamer from Liverpool, and about nine
o'clock in the morning was delighted to see her long black form moving
up the bay. She came to anchor about a mile or two out, and a little
tug was in readiness to take us off. A score or more of emigrants, each
with a bag and a box, had been waiting all the morning at the wharf.
When the time of embarkation arrived, the agent stepped aboard the tug
and called out their names one by one, when Bridget and Catherine and
Patrick and Michael, and the rest, came aboard, received their tickets,
and passed "forward," with a half-frightened, half-bewildered look. But
not much emotion was displayed until the boat began to move off, when
the tears fell freely, and they continued to fall faster and faster,
and the sobs to come thicker and thicker, until, as the faces of
friends began to fade on the wharf, both men and women burst out into a
loud, unrestrained bawl. This sudden demonstration of grief seemed to
frighten the children and smaller fry, who up to this time had been
very jovial; but now, suspecting something was wrong, they all broke
out in a most pitiful chorus, forming an anti-climax to the wail of
their parents that was quite amusing, and that seemed to have its
effect upon the "children of a larger growth," for they instantly
hushed their lamentations and turned their attention toward the great
steamer. There was a rugged but bewildered old granny among them, on
her way to join her daughter somewhere in the interior of New York, who
seemed to regard me with a kindred eye, and toward whom, I confess, I
felt some family affinity. Before we had got halfway to the vessel, the
dear old creature missed a sheet from her precious bundle of worldly
effects, and very confidentially told me that her suspicions pointed to
the stoker, a bristling, sooty "wild Irishman." The stoker resented the
insinuation, and I overheard him berating the old lady in Irish so
sharply and threateningly (I had no doubt of his guilt) that she was
quite frightened, and ready to retract the charge to hush the man up.
She seemed to think her troubles had just begun. If they behaved thus
to her on the little tug, what would they not do on board the great
black steamer itself? So when she got separated from her luggage in
getting aboard the vessel, her excitement was great, and I met her
following about the man whom she had accused of filching her bed linen,
as if he must have the clew to the lost bed itself. Her face brightened
when she saw me, and, giving me a terribly hard wink and a most
expressive nudge, she said she wished I would keep near her a little.
This I did, and soon had the pleasure of leaving her happy and
reassured beside her box and bundle.

The passage home, though a rough one, was cheerfully and patiently
borne. I found a compound motion,--the motion of a screw steamer, a
roll and a plunge--less trying to my head than the simple rocking or
pitching of the side-wheeled Scotia. One motion was in a measure a foil
to the other. My brain, acted upon by two forces, was compelled to take
the hypothenuse, and I think the concussion was considerably diminished
thereby. The vessel was forever trembling upon the verge of immense
watery chasms that opened now under her port bow, now under her
starboard, and that almost made one catch his breath as he looked into
them; yet the noble ship had a way of skirting them or striding across
them that was quite wonderful. Only five days was, I compelled to "hole
up" in my stateroom, hibernating, weathering the final rude shock of
the Atlantic. Part of this time I was capable of feeling a languid
interest in the oscillations of my coat suspended from a hook in the
door. Back and forth, back and forth, all day long, vibrated this black
pendulum, at long intervals touching the sides of the room, indicating
great lateral or diagonal motion of the ship. The great waves, I
observed, go in packs like wolves. Now one would pounce upon her, then
another, then another, in quick succession, making the ship strain
every nerve to shake them off. Then she would glide along quietly for
some minutes, and my coat would register but a few degrees in its
imaginary arc, when another band of the careering demons would cross
our path and harass us as before. Sometimes they would pound and thump
on the sides of the vessel like immense sledge-hammers, beginning away
up toward the bows and quickly running down her whole length, jarring,
raking, and venting their wrath in a very audible manner; or a wave
would rake along the side with a sharp, ringing, metallic sound, like a
huge spear-point seeking a vulnerable place; or some hard-backed
monster would rise up from the deep and grate and bump the whole length
of the keel, forcibly suggesting hidden rocks and consequent wreck and
ruin.

Then it seems there is always some biggest wave to be met somewhere on
the voyage,--a monster billow that engulfs disabled vessels, and
sometimes carries away parts of the rigging of the stanchest. This big
wave struck us the third day out about midnight, and nearly threw us
all out of our berths, and careened the ship over so far that it seemed
to take her last pound of strength to right herself up again. There was
a slamming of doors, a rush of crockery, and a screaming of women,
heard above the general din and confusion, while the steerage
passengers thought their last hour had come. The vessel before us
encountered this giant wave during a storm in mid-ocean, and was
completely buried beneath it; one of the officers was swept over board,
the engines suddenly stopped, and there was a terrible moment during
which it seemed uncertain whether the vessel would shake off the sea or
go to the bottom.

Besides observing the oscillations of my coat, I had at times a stupid
satisfaction in seeing my two new London trunks belabor each other
about my stateroom floor. Nearly every day they would break from their
fastenings under my berth and start on a wild race for the opposite
side of the room. Naturally enough, the little trunk would always get
the start of the big one, but the big one followed close, and sometimes
caught the little one in a very, uncomfortable manner. Once a knife and
fork and a breakfast plate slipped off the sofa and joined in, the
race; but, if not distanced, they got sadly the worst of it, especially
the plate. But the carpet had the most reason to complain. Two or three
turns sufficed to loosen it from the floor, when, shoved to one side,
the two trunks took turns in butting it. I used to allow this sport to
go on till it grew monotonous, when I would alternately shout and ring
until "Robert" appeared and restored order.

The condition of certain picture-frames and vases and other frail
articles among my effects, when I reached home, called to mind not very
pleasantly this trunken frolic.

It is impossible not to sympathize with the ship in her struggles with
the waves. You are lying there wedged into your berth, and she seems
indeed a thing of life and conscious power. She is built entirely of
iron, is 500 feet long, and, besides other freight, carries 2500 tons
of railroad iron, which lies down there flat in her bottom, a dead,
indigestible weight, so unlike a cargo in bulk; yet she is a quickened
spirit for all that. You feel every wave that strikes her; you feel the
sea bearing her down; she has run her nose into one of those huge
swells, and a solid blue wall of water tons in weight comes over her
bows and floods her forward deck; she braces herself, every rod and
rivet and timber seems to lend its support; you almost expect to see
the wooden walls of your room grow rigid with muscular contraction; she
trembles from stem to stern, she recovers, she breaks the gripe of her
antagonist, and, rising up, shakes the sea from her with a kind of
gleeful wrath; I hear the torrents of water rush along the lower decks,
and, finding a means of escape, pour back into the sea, glad to get
away on any terms, and I say, "Noble ship! you are indeed a god!"

I wanted to see a first-class storm at sea, and perhaps ought to be
satisfied with the heavy blow or hurricane we had when off Sable
Island, but I confess I was not, though, by the lying to of the vessel
and the frequent soundings, it was evident there was danger about. A
dense fog uprose, which did not drift like a land fog, but was as
immovable as iron; it was like a spell, a misty enchantment; and out of
this fog came the wind, a steady, booming blast, that smote the ship
over on her side and held her there, and howled in the rigging like a
chorus of fiends. The waves did not know which way to flee; they were
heaped up and then scattered in a twinkling. I thought of the terrible
line of one of our poets:--

       "The spasm of the sky and the shatter of the sea."

The sea looked wrinkled and old and oh, so pitiless!  I had stood long
before Turner's "Shipwreck" in the National Gallery in London, and this
sea recalled his, and I appreciated more than ever the artist's great
powers.

These storms, it appears, are rotary in their wild dance and promenade
up and down the seas. "Look the wind squarely in the teeth," said an
ex-sea-captain among the passengers, "and eight points to the right in
the northern hemisphere will be the centre of the storm, and eight
points to the left in the southern hemisphere." I remembered that, in
Victor Hugo's terrible dynamics, storms revolved in the other direction
in the northern hemisphere, or followed the hands of a watch, while
south of the equator they no doubt have ways equally original.

Late in the afternoon the storm abated, the fog was suddenly laid, and,
looking toward the setting sun, I saw him athwart the wildest, most
desolate scene in which it was ever my fortune to behold the face of
that god. The sea was terribly agitated, and the endless succession of
leaping, frothing waves between me and the glowing west formed a
picture I shall not soon forget.

I think the excuse that is often made in behalf of American literature,
namely, that our people are too busy with other things yet, and will
show the proper aptitude in this field, too, as soon as leisure is
afforded, is fully justified by events of daily occurrence. Throw a
number of them together without anything else to do, and they at once
communicate to each other the itch of authorship. Confine them on board
an ocean steamer, and by the third or fourth day a large number of them
will break out all over with a sort of literary rash that nothing will
assuage but some newspaper or journalistic enterprise which will give
the poems and essays and jokes with which they are surcharged a chance
to be seen and heard of men. I doubt if the like ever occurs among
travelers of any other nationality. Englishmen or Frenchmen or Germans
want something more warm and human, if less "refined;" but the average
American, when in company, likes nothing so well as an opportunity to
show the national trait of "smartness." There is not a bit of danger
that we shall ever relapse into barbarism while so much latent
literature lies at the bottom of our daily cares and avocations, and is
sure to come to the surface the moment the latter are suspended or
annulled!

While abreast of New England, and I don't know how many miles at sea,
as I turned in my deck promenade, I distinctly scented the land, a
subtle, delicious odor of farms and homesteads, warm and human, that
floated on the wild sea air, a promise and a token. The broad red line
that had been slowly creeping across our chart for so many weary days,
indicating the path of the ship, had now completely bridged the chasm,
and had got a good purchase down under the southern coast of New
England; and according to the reckoning we ought to have made Sandy
Hook that night; but though the position of the vessel was no doubt
theoretically all right, yet practically she proved to be much farther
out at sea, for all that afternoon and night she held steadily on her
course, and not till next morning did the coast of Long Island, like a
thin, broken cloud just defined on the horizon, come into view. But
before many hours we had passed the Hook, and were moving slowly up the
bay in the midday splendor of the powerful and dazzling light of the
New World sun. And how good things looked to me after even so brief an
absence!--the brilliancy, the roominess, the deep transparent blue of
the sky, the clear, sharp outlines, the metropolitan splendor of New
York, and especially of Broadway; and as I walked up that great
thoroughfare, and noted the familiar physiognomy and the native
nonchalance and independence, I experienced the delight that only the
returned traveler can feel,--the instant preference of one's own
country and countrymen over all the rest of the world.



INDEX

Blackbird, crow, or purple grackle (Quiscalus quiscula).
Blackbird, European.
Bluebird (Sialia sialis).
Bobolink (Dodichonyx oryzivorus).
Buzzard, or turkey vulture (Cathartes aura).

Cardinal.  See Grosbeak, cardinal.
Cedar-bird, or cedar waxwing (Ampelis cedrorum).
Chickadee (Parus atricapillus).
Creeper, brown (Certhia familiaris americana).
Crow, American (Corvus brachyrhynchos).
Crow, carrion.
Crow, fish (Corvus ossifragus).
Cuckoo.

Finch, purple (Carpodacus purpureus).
Flicker.  See High-hole.
Fox, Arctic.
Fox, cross.
Fox, gray.
Fox, prairie.
Fox, red.
Fox, silver-gray or black.

Goldfinch, American (Astragalinus  tristis).
Goose, domestic.
Goose, wild or Canada (Branta canadensis).
Grackle, purple.  See Blackbird, crow.
Grosbeak, cardinal, or cardinal, (Cardinalis cardinalis).
Grouse, ruffed.  See Partridge.
Gulls.

Hairbird, or chipping sparrow (Spizella socialis).
Hare, northern.

High-hole, or flicker (Colaptes auratus luteus).

Jackdaw.
Jay, blue (Cyanocitta cristata).
Jay, European.
Junco, slate-colored.  See Snowbird.
Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus).
Kinglets.

Lark.  See Skylark.
Liver-leaf.  See Hepatica.

Magpie.
Meadowlark (Sturnella magna).
Nightingale.
Nuthatches.
Oriole, Baltimore (Icterus galbula).
Oriole, orchard.  See Starling, orchard.
Oven-bird.  See Wood-wagtail.

Partridge, or ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus).
Partridge, European.
Pheasant.
Pigeon, passenger (Ectopistes migratorius).
Pipit, American, or titlark (Anthus pensilvanicus).
Plover, English.
Prairie lien (Tympanuchus americanus).
Quail, European.

Robin, American (Merula migratoria).
Robin redbreast.
Rook.

Skylark on the South Downs.
Snowbird, or slate-colored junco (Junco hyemalis).
Sparrow, chipping.  See Hairbird.
Sparrow, song (Melospiza cinerea melodia).
Sparrow, tree or Canada (Spizella monticola).
Sparrow, vesper (Poaecetes gramineus).
Squirrel, black.
Squirrel, European.
Squirrel, flying.
Squirrel, gray.
Squirrel, red.
Starling, orchard, or orchard oriole (Icterus spurius).
Swallow, English.

Tern, sooty (Sterna fuliginosa).
Thrush, wood (Hylocichla mustelina lira).
Titlark.  Bee Pipit, American.
Trout, brook.
Turkey, domestic.
Vulture, turkey.  See Buzzard.

Warbler, black and white creeping (Mniotilta varia).
Waxwing, cedar.  See Cedar-bird.

Wood-wagtail, or oven-bird (Seiurus aurocapillus).
Wren, winter (Olbiorchilus hiemalis).




_____________________________________________________________

[Transcribist's note: John Burroughs used some characters
which are not standard to our writing in 2001.

He used a diaeresis in preeminent, and accented "e"s in
debris and denouement, and in some French words. These have
been replaced with plain English letters.

I substituted the letters "oe" for the ligature, used often
in the word phoebe.  Simularly the "e" in the golden eagle's
scientific name is modernized.

He also used symbols available to a typesetter which are
unavailable to us in ASCII (plain vanilla text) to illustrate
bird calls and notes.  I have replaced these with a description
of what was there originally.

Finally, he used italics throughout the book that I was
unable to retain, because of the ASCII format.  The two
uses of the italics were to denote scientific names and to
emphasize.  I have done nothing to note where the italics were
used, as I don't think it really has a great affect on reading
this book.]
_____________________________________________________________




End of the Project Gutenberg Etext of Winter Sunshine, by John Burroughs


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