Page images

mer class, must be ruin, perpetual destitution of necessary things, dependence, and degradation, to the latter.

Lest any should say that we have left too obscure the distinction between what we have called useful things, and things approved by good taste, on the one hand, and frivolous luxuries, useless finery, and ill-judged attempts at elegance, on the other, we observe: that it is neither practicable nor needful to mark the distinction with the accuracy of scientific definition. It is a matter for the discretion and taste of intelligent, reasonable people. Even the devotees of fashion are sensible enough of wants of a more pressing urgency, and wants of a higher dignity, than the factitious, trifling, and sordid ones on which a strange infatuation drives them to expend all their substance. Before closing, we owe one word to our sense of the beneficial tendency of a more general diffusion of sound elementary treatises of political economy, in imparting a juster sense of the estimation due to all useful employments, however humble they are accounted now; in showing the true and only honest way to wealth; in leading to a better appreciation of the measures of public administration, touching the revenue, industry, and trade of the country. Among the elementary works on the subject, now in circulation, we are disposed to single out, for especial praise, that of President WAYLAND. have seen, with high satisfaction, the prospectus of the American Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, that political economy is to occupy a respectable place in their contemplated series of publications. May their noble enterprise, in this and all other things, meet the warm and effective approbation due from an intelligent, patriotic people.


[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

WEST of the Shawangunk mountain, lies a sweet valley, in the days of our story called 'Mamakating Hollow.' It diverges from the valley of the Hudson River, at Æsopus, and makes its way, like the bed of some ancient stream, in a southerly direction, until it meets the northern line of New-Jersey. It requires but little fancy to conceive, that the Hudson river once ploughed its course through this wonderful ravine, and mingled its waters with those of Delaware Bay. Indeed, were the barrier which fills the northern mouth of the Mamakating Hollow, even now, removed, it might contend with the Highland channel for the honor of conducting to the ocean the rich billows of our northern Pactolus. And magnificent as is the Highland scenery, the traveller would lose but little in exchanging it for the stern cliffs of the Shawangunk, which, like a sturdy brother, walks beside this beautiful valley, from her northern to her southern limit.

The judicious descendants of DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER were the first to discover and improve this rich alluvial valley, the natural entrance to which is from Esopus. Their farms, some twenty years ago, before turnpike-roads and a canal intersected those regions, were stretched across the Hollow from the Shawangunk to the corresponding mountain on the west. They were thus furnished, at either extremity, with woodland and pastures; while the spacious bed between the ridges, varying from two to five miles in width, was a carpeted meadow.

The traveller who sets out in the morning from the beautiful vil

The Delaware and Hudson.'

lage of Bloomingburgh, to pursue his journey westward, soon finds himself, by an easy ascent, on the summit of the Shawangunk. Before him will generally be spread an ocean of mist, enveloping and concealing from his view the deep valley and lovely village which lie almost beneath his feet. If he reposes here for a short time, until the vapors are attenuated and broken by the rays of the morning sun, he is astonished to see the abyss before him, deepening and opening on his vision. At length, far down in the newly-revealed region, the sharp white spire of a village church is seen, piercing the incumbent cloud; and as the day advances, a village, with its ranges of bright-colored houses and animated streets, is revealed to the admiring eye. So strange is the process of its development, and so much are the houses diminished by the depth of the ravine, that the traveller can scarcely believe he is not beholding the phantoms of fairy land, or still ranging in those wonderful regions which are unlocked to the mind's eye by the wand of the god of dreams.

But as he descends the western declivity of the mountain, the din of real life rises to greet his ear, and he soon penetrates into the midst of the ancient settlements, of which we have before spoken. The Dutch farmers placed their flat houses near the middle of their farms, with little regard to symmetry or taste in their arrangements. Probably at the time many of these houses were erected, no roads piercing farther into the interior had been laid out. At the date of our story, some enterprising Yankees had cut a straight turnpikeroad across the valley, much to the annoyance of its old-fashioned inhabitants; and the wandering tracks by which their farm-houses were connected with this profane channel, resembled, in their larities and versions, the diagrams of geometry.


Well established in the fattest part of this exuberant valley, lived HANS SWARTZ, one of the patriarchs of the village. His ancestors had been patriarchs time out of mind, and the chimney of his paternal mansion contained certain amorphous masses, which tradition designated as the identical bricks brought by his ancestors from Holland. The house of Hans, covering an immense area, with its roof descending on each side nearly to the ground, resembling one of those homely implements in New-England, 'yclept a hen-coop; his barracks, made of four perpendicular timbers, surmounted by a square, thatched roof, in which he persisted to store his grain and hay, notwithstanding the modern invention of barns; the diverging corncribs before his door; the pig-pens in their neighborhood; the grindstone, aviary, and out-door oven, scattered around in mockery of symmetry; all bespoke a man of weight and means, according to the estimation of that day.

Hans, however, had become somewhat degenerate. His wife was of mixed blood; and as a punishment for marrying out of caste, she proved to be a terrible thorn in his side. She exercised a pretty decided supremacy in all matters occurring in her personal presence, for Hans was naturally good-tempered and yielding, and the habit of obedience had become a second nature.

The most severe test of his docility, was on the occasion of interruptions, from his better part, of certain patriarchal levées, which Hans had, from time immemorial, been accustomed to hold at the

door of his mansion. It was his delight, as it had been that of his fathers, to collect around him, on a summer's eve, those who, like himself, loved the cup and a pipe better than hard work. At such times, Hans was in his true glory. Seated in a large chair, upon the step of his door, with the above-mentioned instruments of quiet enjoyment in either hand, he discussed at length the hardships of olden times, the decay of fine horses, the woful laxity of Dutch integrity, and the inroads of the bustling Yankees, to the great edification and enjoyment of his subordinate friends, who, stretched on the seats of turf or slates, on either side, quietly enjoyed the patriarch's discourse and hospitality.

The terrible inroads of Hans' wife had, however, more than once disturbed this quiet, vegetating circle of worthies; insomuch that the most urgent entreaties of Hans, backed by the potent arguments of the bowl, could seldom prevail on his faint-hearted friends to retain their places after the clock had tolled nine.

[ocr errors]

One summer's eve, surrounded by his obsequious neighbors, Hans had descanted with uncommon felicity of utterance on the woful conflicts of their ancestors with the inconveniences of a new settlement, and his enthusiasm, assisted by an extra bowl, had so engrossed all attention, that the usual hour of departure passed unnoticed. The starting eyes and slobbering mouths of all around him, attested the unusual interest aroused by his narration. Mistress SALLY SWARTZ, or 'Aunt Sorchie,' as the neighbors familiarly called her, had long since put the last child to bed, mended the last stocking, and covered the few dying coals of a summer fire, and was yawning impatiently in a window-seat, for the session of social friends at her door to break up, and restore her good man to his quiet bed. But she waited in vain. To such a pitch were the feelings of all excited by the marvellous rehearsals of Hans, that, heedless of the hour, and of the thickening indignation of Aunt Sorchie,' they but drew nearer to the speaker, as if chained by fascination. Hans had even risen from his leather-bottomed chair, having deposited his pipe on the ground, in the fervor of his discourse, and was in the midst of a thrilling narrative of Indians and evil spirits, when Aunt Sorchie, tortured beyond endurance by this unseasonable delay, with angry visage, made her appearance on the threshhold, directly behind the elevated form of the speaker. At this alarming apparition, every Dutchman started from his seat, as if the ghost of old Wilhelmus Testy himself had grinned in their faces. Ere Hans had time to shut his capacious mouth, much less to turn a look behind him, the strong hands of Sorchie were closely placed on either side his head, somewhat more closely than was exactly comfortable for his ears, which organs, notwithstanding their duress, were made to hear the grating sounds: 'Hans! will ye never stop short your drunken speeches, and come to bed!' The sapient audience waited not for any further salutation. Each mynheer was under way, as soon as the ponderous nature of his moveables permitted, and ere Hans was fairly veered around, and marched over the threshhold, not a mortal was left who had not put at least a fence, a barrack, or corn-crib, between himself and the fearful apparition.

The shock was quite too much for the obtuse capacity of poor

Hans; and whether the grog which had given him such an honied utterance had also, Sampson-like, shaken the pillars of his understanding, or whether the sudden compression of Sorchie's hands produced a paralysis of his senses, certain it is, that he knew little of what was passing, until he had been safely lodged in bed, and had snored, for some two or three hours, like the boiler of a steam-boat. It was near the dread hour of midnight, when horror sometimes steals over the firmest breast, that Hans seemed to be disturbed from his broken slumbers by a slight rattling at the door of the apartment. The do r slowly opened, and by the dim, flittering light of the em bers on the hearth, he seemed clearly to distinguish the outline of a human being on the threshhold. It entered, and was followed by another and another, each more horrid than his fellow. It was in vain that Hans attempted to scream, or to spring from his recumbent posture. Terror, like a night-mare, bound him down, with its indescribable yet agonizing helplessness. The ruffians cautiously approached the bed side. A dagger gleamed in the right hand of the foremost, and the dark outline of a pistol was seen in his left hand. In this moment of dreadful suspense, what would Hans have given to hear even the grating voice of Sorchie ! But she was slumbering with hearty breathings by his side, unconscious of the approaching danger. Ætna's self was a light burden on Enceladus, compared with the weight at that moment on the breast of Hans. At length, the haggard assassin, motioning his fellows to halt, approached the bedside, bent slowly over the trembling victim of his wrath, and in a low, distinct tone, said: Wretch, I come for thee! Rise, and follow me!' As if warned by the last trump, Hans sprung, stark naked, upon the floor. The figure pointed to his under garments, and these were almost as soon in their proper places. There were no suspenders in those days, and the dimensions of this article at that period made its ready adjustment much less difficult than the lacing, and buttoning, and strapping, of degenerate modern pantaloons. The figure then led the way to the door. Hans followed like an automaton, and the two attendants brought up the rear. The night was one of those in which the spirits of a darker world appear to be revelling in the upper regions; burying the moon's face at intervals in dark clouds, and forcing the fleet winds in cross currents through the mountains and valleys.

[ocr errors]

It were tedious to describe the dark ravines and pathless summits traversed in the remainder of the night, by that triad and their obsequious prisoner. Not a word escaped them, as they proceeded on their solemn and silent march. Rivers were crossed on decayed trunks of trees, precipices were passed, and chasms leaped, of such desperate width as to astonish Hans at the sudden agility of his cumbrous limbs. All the horrors of darkness enveloped the forest. Beasts of prey, startled from their lairs by this unearthly procession, howled along its flank, in fearful anger. A cold clammy sweat ran down the weary limbs of the wretched Dutchman. He toiled, and puffed, and struggled, to keep up the rapid gait, and each effort of his exhausted frame seemed to be the last which it was possible to make.

At length, streaks of light shot up in the eastern sky, and a ray of hope penetrated the breast of poor Hans, that he might once more

« PreviousContinue »