Page images
PDF
EPUB

to become useful missionaries, physicians, schoolmasters, or interpreters, and to communicate to the heathen nations such knowledge in agriculture and the arts, as may prove the means of promoting Christianity and civilization." Is not this a truly noble object?

Our

My hostess was the grand-daughter of the former pastor of the village. Her eldest daughter, a pleasing young person of a serious disposition, seemed much interested with Mr. Leigh Richmond's "Little Jane," which I left with her. It was a great pleasure to me to read it in this little valley, with all the associations with which it seemed so well to harmonize. We left Cornwall at ten o'clock, on the 3d, in an open sleigh. road, for three or four miles, lay through a natural grove of hemlock, spruce, and cedar, which made an arch over our heads, and whose matted boughs and dark green leaves, formed a fine contrast with the new fallen snow which rested upon them in masses, or fell through, and gave a softer appearance to the frozen surface over which we travelled. A rapid brook, which we sometimes heard below dashing over the rocks, and to the brink of which the road occasionally descended, improved the scene.

Soon after crossing the Housatonic, we ascended a mountain, from which we took our last view of this consecrated spot, whose scenery, I reflected, would be carried to almost every part of the world, in the breasts of the young missionaries, associated in many instances with interesting recollections of early piety, and of vows which, made in

the first fervour of their devotion to the sacred cause, would often be recalled in far distant scenes, to sustain their fainting spirits, or re-animate their slackened efforts, in the meridian or evening of their days.

When we descended the mountain on the other side, we were gratified by a long succession of scenery which reminded me more of the high moorlands of our own country than any thing we had lately seen. The little valleys which lay between them were very level and richly cultivated, and the small farm-houses had more of the cottage and less of the parlour style in their appearance than is usual in New-England-perhaps I ought to say, more of the kitchen style, for the picturesque cottage of Old England is seen here as seldom as the miserable hovel or crumbling mud cabin.

Soon after passing Sharon, we entered the state of New-York; and it was not without regret that I bade adieu to New-England, where I had found so much to please and to interest me.

I first entered New-England, in the state of Vermont, which I crossed in the autumn, and with which I was much delighted. It well deserves its name; and I do not think that I have had a more interesting ride of the same length since my arrival in America, except perhaps in the valley of the Shenandoah,-and there there were some slaves at least, while here the "Green mountain boys" are as free and independent as in the times which Mrs. Grant describes, and perhaps a little more enlightened. We found schools in every township, and there are various colleges in the State.

The attention of the clergy to their duties is most exemplary, and non-residence is said not to be known among them. I scarcely saw an inn without a Bible in the parlour; and I several times found a volume of Scott's Bible in my bed-chamber. At one place where we changed horses, were the life of Harriot Newell, (a present from the minister to the innkeeper's daughter,) Whitfield's Sermon's, Young's Night Thoughts, &c.; and at another Walter Scott, the Pastor's Fire-side, Blair's Lectures, Paley's Philosophy, Darwin's Botanic Garden, French Grammar, and some others,-and this in one room in a country inn. The face of the country sometimes reminded me of the richest meadow land in Craven, sometimes of the most romantic part of Derbyshire, and very often of a valley to us more dear and beautiful than can be found in either. The houses, either when grouped in villages or standing alone, are clean white frame houses with Venetian blinds. The churches are of white frame also, with lofty spires; simple, pretty, and, better than all, very numerous. I remember as we crossed the Connecticut river,which there divides the states of Vermont and NewHampshire, I asked the driver, a young man of about eighteen years of age, whether we should find the New-Hampshire people as civil as the

66

green mountain boys?" He said, “No; you will not find them quite as civil, and certainly not so enlightened: as their land is so poor in general, that they have not the same opportunities of improvement, although there are schools in every district, and every one can read." Indeed, the

number of schools which you observe as you pass along the roads in New-England, and the neat appearance and respectable civil manners of the children going or returning with their little books under their arms, are very pleasing.

Mr. Webster was quite correct in his remark on this subject, in his eloquent oration at the second centenary of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers on the Plymouth Rock. "Although," said he, "the representatives of the kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland listened to a gentleman of distinguished character (Mr. Brougham) with astonishment and delight, when detailing his plan of national education, we hear no principles with which we ourselves have not been familiar from youth: we see nothing in the plan but an approach to that system which has been established in New-England for more than a century and a half. It is said, that in England not more than one child in fifteen possesses the means of being taught to read and write: in Wales, one in twenty; in France, until lately, when some improvement was made, not more than one in thirty-five. Now it is hardly too strong to say that in New-England every child possesses such means. That which is elsewhere left to chance or charity, we secure by law. For the purpose of public instruction, we hold every man subject to taxation in proportion to his property; and we look not to the question whether he himself have or have not children to be benefited by the education for which he pays. We regard it as a wise and liberal system of policy, by which property, and life, and the peace of society are se

cured. We seek to prevent in some measure the extension of the penal code, by inspiring a salutary and conservative principle of virtue and of knowledge at an early age. We hope for a security beyond the law, and above the law, in the prevalence of enlightened and well-principled moral sentiment. We hope to continue and prolong the time when in the villages or farm-houses of NewEngland there may be undisturbed sleep within unbarred doors. And knowing that our government rests directly in the public will, that we may preserve it, we endeavour to give a safe and proper direction to that public will." All this is to be ascribed to the peculiar character of the first settlers of New-England. It has been well observed, "The scattered settlements along the shores of Massachusetts and Connecticut, which in the map of the now extensive empire of America can hardly be made visible, were not inhabited, as is often the case in a new colony, by men of forlorn prospects and ruined character, or by desperate expelled outcasts, but by gentlemen and yeomen of England, who, in a period of stern religious dissent, went into a voluntary distant exile to preserve what they considered the truth. These men, who had been bred in the antique cloisters of Oxford and Cambridge, united all the learning of the schools to the piety and zeal of confessors and martyrs." "Poetry," says Mr. Webster, "has fancied nothing in the wandering of heroes so distinct and characteristic. Here was man, unprotected indeed, and unprovided for on the shore of a rude and fearful wilderness; but it was politic, intelli

« PreviousContinue »