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and grievous annoyance,) by the very general and most disgusting habit of spitting, without regard to time, place, or circumstance; if at such times I find my faith in my favourable sentiments unshaken, and feel convinced of their correctness, I place them as Mr. Cecil placed his tried characters, upon the shelf. But if fresh circumstances should arise to excite a suspicion that, after all, my impressions are erroneous, I wait till provoked by the malicious misrepresentations of the state of things in my own country, or by ill-natured remarks on acknowledged defects in her institutions; and if I still feel bound by sincerity and candour to make my former admissions, I seldom suffer myself again to call them into question.
Marblehead, the second town in the commonwealth before the revolution, is now comparatively "the top of a rock, a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea." It is from this place principally, that the Newfoundland fishery is carried on. The trade, however, has latterly been very unproductive; and I saw the fishing craft, which was now drawn on shore, very generally advertised for sale or charter.
On the 27th I dined with an old friend at Salem. Our conversation turned a good deal on the remaining traces of the primitive manners of the Pilgrim Fathers. One of these I found was the substitution of a thanksgiving day in November, instead of Christmas day, and the renunciation of so heretic a dish as mince-pies, as connected with that day, as associated with ecclesiastic institutions which the Puritans held in abhorrence.
Christmas day, however, is now observed more and more generally every year, and mince-pies we find in every tavern. Another Puritanic custom (which I was informed still lingers in Boston also,) is the commencement of the Christian Sabbath on Saturday night, and its termination on Sunday evening, at five or six o'clock ("the evening and the morning were the first day.") My friend told me, that in a very strict family in Connecticut in which he was brought up, (a clergyman's family,) Saturday evening was observed with the greatest strictness and rigidity, and Sunday also till after tea, when the orthodox lady invariably brought out her knitting.-Before I leave Salem I should add, that it is a singular little town, of astonishing wealth, and formerly had sixty or seventy ships in the India trade, employed principally in carrying the produce of China and the Eastern Archipelago to the various parts of Europe. Indeed, most of the large commercial fortunes I have observed in America, some of them almost without a paralel in Europe, have been made in those branches of the East India trade which our East India Company never engaged in, but from which their monopoly entirely excludes British subjects.
We reached Boston at 10 o'clock at night, and lay on two chairs at the stage-house till two, when we set off for Northampton, 100 miles distant, where we arrived at ten o'clock in the evening, after passing through Worcester and Leicester. The following day we set out for Hartford. The part of the valley of Connecticut through which we passed is generally admitted to be one of the
finest portions of the cultivated regions of America, and the panoramic views from some of the eminences, will, I hope, be one day rendered more familiar to British imagination, either by the pencil or the pen. We rode a great part of the day on the very brink of the river, which appeared to be from a third to half a mile broad. The ground was covered with snow; but the day was bright, and every twig was enclosed in a sparkling icicle. On this day's route we saw some of the finest American elms we have observed in the country. They are very different from ours, far more lofty and expanded; and every branch is like a separate tree. I think I almost give them the preference over either the live oaks or magnolias of the Carolinas, or the tulip trees or sycamores of the western country. The timber on the Atlantic coast, with the exception of the pine, does not generally exceed ours in size; at which I was much disappointed at our first arrival; but as you proceed westward it improves in magnitude, till it reaches the stupendous size of those tulip or sycamore trees, at the sight of which we have often stopped our horses almost instinctively, and sat lost in astonishment. Indeed, a person travelling from Boston to Savannah along the coast, which is the ordinary road, will know as little of the fertility, beauty, or magnificence of this highly favoured country, as he will of the society, if his observations are confined to steam boats, stages, or hotels. How often have I wished for you in the autumn, to show you an American forest, in its coat of many colours! I do not exactly know the reason
(it is stated to be the early occurrence of frost); but the foliage here seems to assume its variegated autumnal appearance before the leaves begin to fall, and the beautiful tints and mellow hues, far deeper and more diversified than ours, often blended harmoniously in the same tree, or contrasted with the deepest green of a kindred branch, appear too healthy and vigorous to be precursors of dissolution or symptoms of decay. The late Dr. Dwight has remarked that he was surprised that this beautiful appearance was not described by Thomson in his seasons; but, upon inquiry, he found that it was unknown in Great Britain. The bright yellow of the walnut, the scarlet of the maple, the fresh green of the laurel, and the sombre brown of the cedar, are often the most prominent colours; but these are mingled with a variety of others more soft and delicate, which melt imperceptibly into each other, and throw a rich and luxuriant beauty over the gorgeous forest.
I have already said so much of the extreme clearness and transparency of the atmosphere in this country, that I dare scarcely allude to it again to tell you how much it adds to the beauty of the natural scenery. Indeed a common landscape is often rendered beautiful by the extreme distinctness with which every outline is defined, or the vivid colouring with which, at sunset, the air itself seems suffused. I do not know whether the purity of the atmosphere does not add still more to the beauty of a moonlight scene. A winter moonlight night in America, when the ground is covered with snow, is really like enchantment. On a beautiful autumnal day, with not a cloud to inter
cept the rays of the sun, I have seen a planet quite distinctly at three o'clock in the afternoon at Boston.
I am not, however, enamoured of the climate; or at least, I have deliberately decided in favour of our own, the vicissitudes here being very sudden, and the extremes formidable; but there are (and very frequently) days so beautiful that I feel as if I would pay almost any price for the enjoyment they bring. When at Montreal in August, we had the thermometer one day at 99 deg., and in Boston, in September, at five o'clock in the evening at 93 or 94 deg.; it having risen 17 degrees in nine hours. At New-Haven, in Connecticut, when I was there last month, the thermometer was 12 deg. ; at Springfield 23 deg.; and at Northampton 26 deg. below zero. In the Carolinas and Georgia, a variation of 20 degrees in 24 hours is common. In Charleston, on the 17th March, 1819, the thermometer fell 33 deg. in 12 hours; in 1751, 46 deg. in 16 hours. At the same season of the year, the heat in different latitudes of this continent varies to a great extent. In February last, while we were oppressed with heat amidst the orange groves of Charleston, and eating green peas grown in the open air, they were sleighing in the streets of Philadelphia, and the mail from New-York was stopped two or three days by snow. On the 6th of February, the preceding year, the thermometer was 33 deg. below zero at Montreal. and 67 deg. above at Savannah. I am, &c.