Albert Struthers Stewart.

St. Luke's garden online

. (page 1 of 6)
Online LibraryAlbert Struthers StewartSt. Luke's garden → online text (page 1 of 6)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook








'\'.'\ .V.





R 1917 LJ

Copyright, 1911
Sherman, French & Company




While this volume claims no guide-book office
as to scenery nor scientific accuracy in allusion,
the writer trusts that nothing found within will
mislead the wandering foot nor offend the in-

"Old West Point," indeed, has been trans-
formed almost past recognition, the white walls
of "The Church of St. Nicholas The Con-
queror" have been frescoed, and the city that
you saw yesterday you hardly know to-day;
but heaven's radiance falls unfailingly on field
and forest, mountain and stream, and the swift
tides surge in the sunlight by North Brother's
shore where a thousand souls perished when
the "General Slocum" was burnt. ("A Morn-
ing Ride" was written June 16th, 1904.)

In some of the chapters, justification will be
found for the dedication to the best known
champion of conservation, and no "this fable
teaches" may be necessary to indicate a casual
moral here and there in other lines; but after
all, you, gentle reader, perusing these pages
with fondness for impressionistic flavor, may
say, as did the little maid to him who gave to
her the sagittate sorrel leaf, as she for the first
time essayed its taste, "Isn't that sweet".?

A. S. S.




I. St. Luke's Garden



An Afternoon in the Fields

I . 6


A Mission Field in West Vii



Huckleberries .



A Roundabout Ramble



A Study in Green



The Poplars of Horse Cree

K . 28


Scenes Unsung .



The Top of the World

. 37


Branching Waters

. 39


From Forest to Lake



Notes of Passage



The Hudson



A Rural Road .



Down East

. 57


A Ride to Denmark .

. 62


The Land of Snow

. 66


Orange and Sussex

. 69


A Hill Country

. 75


Out the Erie

. 78


Going to Presbytery .



The Hudson Highlands






From Passaic to Paterson .



Memories of the Meadows .



Prohibition Park



Lest We Forget

. 103


The Church of St. Nicholas the




A Morning Ride



A Pauper Funeral



The Irish Shoemaker



An Appreciation




A tradesman, who had acquired a modest
competence in the metropolis, sought a more
leisurely life in a fair city on the Hudson. He
built a fine house in a sightly location. He pre-
pared a lawn and planted shrubbery; and
then, as time hung heavy on his hands, he did
some amateur gardening. It happened, how-
ever, that the house, set well back in the lot to
secure the fine view thus afforded, left no great
space in the rear; so the good man brought
forward his kitchen-garden planting on a strip
at one side of the dwelling.

Alas, for the simple-minded soul: his cab-
bages grew great and bewrayed him. The
passersby said in their hearts:

"This new neighbor lacks sense of the fit-
ting." Certain sojourners, attending an an-
cient school in the city, scoffed at what seemed
to them too sordid a motive; themselves but
now absolved from like labors on the farms of
the prairies.

No doubt there is a place for everything,
and roses may seem to have more right than
radishes about a mansion's portals; while the
duty of the gardener who serves wealth is
rather to provide flowers than fruit. But



the king himself is served by the field, and it
is of good omen that now, more and more,
charitable and penal institutions devote a
large share of their domain to vegetable cul-
ture. So it has come about that over against
the home of the friend of whom this parable
began to speak, is now St. Luke's Garden,
where beets and beans, corn and cabbage, po-
tatoes and onions, grow, in parallel files,
straight and comely. This garden is an ex-
ample of careful and skilful culture, and its
healthy growth may well claim admiration
from the passing citizen or divide the attrac-
tions of the fine view spread out before the
eyes of the patients who resort to the build-
ing's balconies.

St. Luke's, indeed, has a fair green lawn,
sloping from its western portal, and the steep
descent on the east bears full-grown maples
and beech trees, with elms and basswoods
mingled, while here and there is some tangle of
shrubbery, whose untrained wildness is not un-
grateful to the eye that looks lovingly on Na-
ture's own license.

But you have guessed already that "St.
Luke's" is a hospital, and may ask yourself or
me, what relation can be between a pharmaco-
peia and a gardener's hand-book?

Our parable may not be too much pressed
to present an answer; but to prevent is better


than to cure, and to nourish life than to mend
the broken body with ever so skilful surgery.
True, man does not live by bread alone; but
in the plane on which we are now moving, with-
out bread, in a very literal sense, he dies. The
Great Physician Himself showed alike His
kindness and His saneness when He directed
that to the little maiden whom He had called
back to life something to eat should be given.

The relation, indeed, between the gardens
of our grandmothers and the "materia medica"
of druggists' shelves or hospital stores seems
obvious enough, as these gardens furnished
the herbs for old wives' decoctions. The pres-
ent purpose, however, is not to present such
parallel, but to show by the example of the
garden where vegetables grow on the grounds
of St. Luke's, that its medical management
does not ignore the commonplace necessities of
life, and that the exigencies of healing the sick
do not forbid provision for the comfort of the
convalescent. It is even suggested that the
sight of this healthy life of the garden may be
restful to wearied eyes and soothing to tired

Here, then, is potent protest against the
gibes of the thoughtless or the disdain of the
high-minded. The disciples of plain living and
high thinking may hold themselves superior to
much concern for the garden's green growth


or the golden grain of the harvest field. But
let us trust that a day of saner sentiment has
come, and wholesome, if homely, ideals in the
transformation of noisesome vacant lots and
reclamation of suburban wastes. To teach the
artisan how to hide the hideousness of his own
back-yard may be more to him than medicine.
So St. Luke's garden may serve as an example
of the growing appreciation of the worth and
beauty of olericulture; — the name may not be
familiar, the thing is as old as Eden, which
our great-first-father was to "dress and keep."

Happily, in standard books on our library
shelves and in current issues of the periodical
press, you may read at length of gardens
ancient and modern. Many of these publica-
tions no doubt give most space and illustration
to floriculture or landscape gardening, but in
them there is usually some note taken of the
kitchen-garden of the amateur. One writer
says, in lighter vein, "There is poetry in po-
tatoes, and lots of sentiment in Brussels
sprouts and carrots." Another says of ama-
teur gardening: "It is increasing to the no
small advantage of the community, the nation,
and the world."

In all this, the thought is not of base use or
servile utility. It is rather of the healthful in-
spiration of the gardener's occupation. As
compared with agriculture, horticulture savors


less of need or compulsion. The garden sup-
plies not bare necessities, so much as articles
of beauty and enjoyment. True, avocation
may shade into vocation here: the diversion of
the well-to-do may be the poor man's serious
occupation, as he delves with daily diligence,
earning his bread in the sweat of his face.
But when the Angelus sounds, at morning,
noon, or evening hour, the peasant leaning on
the implement of his hard toil, lifts eye and
heart to the bending heavens; and for him as
for no other, it may be, the still voice whis-
pers: "To him that overcometh, to him will I
give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the
Paradise of God." Surely for the whole world
round, the curse shall be turned into a bless-
ing; and the word of assurance abides, whether
in lower and literal sense or of higher, heav-
enly, consummation: "He hath made her wil-
derness like Eden, and her desert like the
garden of Jehovah."



A half-dozen cedars stand in picturesque
distribution in a fair field on the borders of the
city. Except for a few suburban villas in the
distance half hidden in the foliage, there is the
seclusion of rural peacefulness. A little way
northward stands a tenant's house, in outline
and color conforming well with the general ap-
pearance, and beside it the great Powellton-
farm barn.

All the horizon round is wooded, with clumps
and groves, in the nearer or farther distance.
Most graceful of all are the elms in the fore-
ground, or where, at a short distance apart
two fine springs flow, one from the foot of the
swelling hills, the other from the base of the
triangular plain. Over the last a single elm
stands guard, in an almost motherly way
spreading its green, graceful canopy over the
fountain whose face seems like that of a child
that looks out on a new world in timid yet fas-
cinated wonder. Then, as if impelled by mys-
terious forces, the limpid waters flow quietly
through a field where the green grass grows
rank while bordering hills were here white with
daisies, there reddish brown with the sorrel's



bloom — fair enough to the painter's eye, but
hateful to the husbandman.

The flocks and herds which so often appear
in such a picture are wanting, though a bunch
of horses are grazing near, and rural sounds
are heard — bird-song and insects' hum. Here
it might seem that one could commune alone
with Nature or Nature's God. But in such
seclusion, hidden here in this natural amphi-
theater lies a baseball "diamond" on which a
game was played on a Saturday in Summer
between the nine of the Union Church and rep-
resentatives of the First Presbyterian.

As I sat at the foot of one of the cedars I
wished for Old Homer's powers to paint the
scene before me, for it was such a combination
of Nature's loveliness and human movement
as none but he could picture in words. He
would call the roll of the eighteen players —
this fair-haired catcher of giant bulk, a lawyer
by profession, or this first-baseman, long and
lithe — a clergyman he, whose blue-eyed elder
in the left field catches a swift ball "on the
fly." His, too, is the wary pitcher whose wily
ways sometimes win victory where hateful de-
feat impends. For livelihood he holds an ac-
countant's pen. This other colossus whose bat
sends the white ball far afield belongs to the
craftsmen who are named from their work in
lead. And this stocky man, who neither


catches, pitches nor bats, with feet firmly
planted and hands on knees, looking alertly
over the field, surely Homer would paint him
for his marked figure as well as for his import-
ance in the game — the umpire, who deals in
coal. He would tell with joy of this swift run-
ner or of the short-stop's athletic pose, in what
winged words you can imagine.

So the mimic battle is waged on the arena-
like plain. Innings follow innings like the
change of scene in some old-time open-air the-
atricals, and now and then a murmur rises for
a favorite's defeat; or a shout of applause for
a victory won, goes up from spectators perched
on overlooking hill-tops or reclined along the
grassy level.

Breeze there was little or none behind the
circling hills, but the long-continued, all-per-
vading haze, far borne from Adirondack's
forest fires, seemed to absorb most of the June
day's heat, and effectually screened visitors
and players from the sun hanging like a bra-
zen ball in the smoky sky. Perhaps the strange
effect of the scene was due in part to these at-
mospheric conditions.

Even more dream-like is another play close
by, on the golf-links beyond the narrow by-
way that divides the fields. Here, in the dis-
tant quiet, white-robed maidens pass in twos
and threes with caddies at proper distance.


over the grassy swells, while now and then a
man or two, belted and canvas-shod, paused in
their own leisurely play to observe the contest
on the plain at the foot of the cedar trees.

So afternoon passes to evening, golfers go
their ways, the "diamond" is deserted, and
long before the darkness falls the fields are left
to the creeping things and the bird in the ce-
dars who sings his love song to his mate, while
the fountain under the elm flows silently on
through the twilight in likeness of His mercy
that fails not day nor night.



The field lies on Ten Mile Creek, from its
junction with Cabin Creek at Leewood to Kay-
ford, where two mountain brooks unite to form
this brawling branch, nearly five miles in
length. Close and steep on either side, the hills
rise a thousand feet. These were once heavily
covered with hardwoods and a scattering of
hemlock and scrub pine. The finest timber has
found its way to the company's sawmill, but
enough remains to furnish pit posts and give
forest character to all the view except for a
few garden patches along the base. Between
the hills, highway and railroad and stream
dispute possession of the straitened space.
The glory of autumn foliage seems doubled by
this close setting of the painted mountain wall
over against its fellow, and the pencil only can
present the picturesque effect of Acme's mile
of red miners' cottages, between spring's hills
of green, while leafless winter discloses the
summit's rocky escarpment and castle-like

The Cabin Creek branch of the Chesapeake
and Ohio railroad runs from the mouth of the
creek at Coalburg to Kayford, sixteen miles,
with a spur to Dacota from Leewood, about



five miles. On the forty miles of freight track-
age, there are fifty mine openings. A dozen of
these, operated by the Cabin Creek Consoli-
dated Coal Company, lie in the field. They
are in upward order the Cherokee, the Caledo-
nia, the Red Warrior, the Buckeye, the Em-
pire, the Keystone, the Acme, the Thistle, the
Rose, the Shamrock, the Raccoon, the Cabin

A new railroad has been hewn out along the
face of the mountain from Caledonia, a mile
below Acme, to reach coal and timber lands on
the fork of Coal River in Raleigh County. The
grade is very steep, with a tunnel at the sum-
mit nearly a mile long. The railroad cuttings
disclose geological features interesting even to
the lay observer, and numerous coal seams be-
tray the riches for which the miner delves in
the darkness of the mountain's depths. Truly
the treasures of Pluto are hidden in these high

Scarcely a score of years ago these glens so
near the capital itself (Acme is thirty miles,
from Charleston) were in a state of almost
primeval wildness. Only trails led between
the scattered cabins of these mountaineers^
whose mode of life was most primitive. But
now two passenger trains daily make connec-
tion with the main line (Chesapeake & Ohio)
at Cabin Creek Junction, and the people take


frequent trips to Charleston and other points,
on business or pleasure. The little city of
Charleston, like the young state, is beginning
***to find itself" and impresses the visitor with
its air of enterprise and wealth. Even on the
'''creeks" the company-stores make a brave
^how of up-to-date wares, including the green-
grocer's line. Here lies temptation indeed for
the always prodigal miner to spend all he
makes for food and clothing. Happily on the
field there are few saloons, though upon the
border "The Black Cat" lures many a simple
soul to waste his substance and debauch his

The typical house at Acme is a cottage of
four rooms and sometimes a shed kitchen at-
tached. There are a few more commodious
•dwellings supplied with modern improvements
and furnished with taste, while the luxuries of
life are enjoyed in some managers' homes.

Religious services are held in the school-
house at Leewood and at Red Warrior and in
a hall at Kayford. The Stevens Coal Com-
pany built and maintains at Acme a respect-
able church building and allows the use of a
cottage to the minister, and one also for the
two women "missionaries." The miner can
hardly be called religious. Even here, where
open temptations are not much in evidence, he
is beguiled into drinking and gambling, and a


mule-driver's oaths might shame a sailor. There
are some, however, who truly fear the Lord.
The mountaineer indeed is by nature religious,
but his simple soul has too often been beguiled
by the sophistries of some wandering "Elder,"
Mormon or otherwise.

Before the strike of 1904-5 laborers were
largely of native birth, but now Negro and
Italian are employed along with Slav and
Greek, and the Syrian merchant bids for trade.

The "strike" also brought in machines to
take the place of miners who left. Still, consid-
erable "pick-work" is done. The men prefer
this, and an average workman can earn from
three to four dollars in a nine-hour day, the
draw-back being idle days, sometimes self-im-

The work is not unhealthful, though hazard-
ous enough. Fatalities are not infrequent,
while minor injuries by falling slate or from
contact with mules or mine cars are of common

Two seams of coal are worked. One of
these lies high up in the mountain, the steep
inclined plane of the Acme mine being eleven
hundred and sixty feet long. This is locally
known as "hard coal." It is furnished for fuel
at Acme, and as it is comparatively clean,
smoke and soot are less in evidence here than
in most bituminous regions. Nevertheless, the


workman who goes into the mine in the morn-
ing with face of the fairest comes out sadly
begrimed at the close of the day.

The cleanliness next to godliness is often
wanting in mining towns, though it is but just
to say that in personal appearance the inhab-
itants of Ten-Mile Branch of Cabin Creek are
behind no other community, the children espe-
cially being winsome.


He who gathers the luscious fruit must
climb the steep hillside with toil and care. If
he goes in the earliest morning, the dews of
the night still clinging to the close set herbage
will saturate all his garments. To avoid this,
he may choose the western slope, where the
early sun has partially dispelled the moisture,
but those same rays will smite him hotly till
he reaches the timber line (artificial), and es-
caping the shining arrows he will but find the
copse about him breathless, as, panting, he
pushes his way upward. Still steeper is the
face of the mountain. His footing is unstable
on the shelving shale as he walks half blindly,
seeking a way around the abrupt cliffs that rise
before him. If for aid he grasps at the young
growth up-springing about him, he may feel
more disappointing than broken reed the
treacherous help offered by the spiny green-
brier or the honey-locust stinging with its

Has he any reward when he reaches at last
the summit? Yes, he may find delicious fruit,
and as he patiently picks the tiny globules, he
11 doubtless recall that hymn's true word:

Little drops of water," etc.



And is this the reward of his labors — ^huck-
leberries ?

All the trees of the forest are here, the herbs
that Solomon knew, and hundreds more be-
sides. Animal life of higher forms is not
abundant, but he may hear the scream of the
hawk circling above him or the sweet note of
some hidden warbler calling to its mate
across the valley. He may even hear on occa-
sion the rattlesnake's warning whir. He
treads, it may be, a carpet softer than any
from the looms of Brussels or Wilton, while
outcropping ledge and weatherworn cliff give
token of the earth's vast frame beneath him.

But some one says : "Alas ! What is all
this to me? I am but a classical! I profited
above many mine equals in old Homer's story
and Virgil's song; but I hardly know a beech
from a birch tree, and my children ask in vain
for the names of flower or shrub or bright-
winged bird. Woe is me, that I did not choose
the 'scientific' course. Had I done so, I would
not gather 'huckleberries,' but the Vaccinium
Pennsylvanicum ! Why did I barter scientific
attainments for humanistic endowment.^"

With such like remorseful reflections, when
the sun is high, the gatherer descends with con-
stant care lest the beautiful blue-berries be
scattered as food for creeping things, as he
stumbles, hot and breathless, downward.


Months later, when the face of the mountain
is bare and the winter wind sweeps through
the naked trees on the crest, as he sits at his
evening meal, he remarks to the good-wife that
by her homely process she has produced a very
palatable huckleberry jam.

Is this the meaning of it all? This purple
pottage? What else? This, if he had learned
to look on nature through the pagan poet's
eyes, or listen to the rhythm of the mountain's
heart-beats with an ear that classical measures
had trained to hear true, there alone on the
forest heights, he had gained without guile the
birthright of the sons of God.

No Pisgah view, indeed, is here, nor, let us
be sure, are many mountain visions so wide as
some have supposed. But standing on the nar-
row summit, the eastward scene reaches to the
bounding hills of Cabin Creek, over a broken
land clothed with living green. A thousand
feet below him lies Ten-Mile Creek, ever flow-
ing from the springs of the mountain to the
far-away sea. Facing round and looking over
the mighty furrows plowed by primeval forces,
where some woodman's ax has cleared away
the mantling forest, the hills beyond Charles-
ton, thirty miles away, rise into the silent blue.
Here is a vision of eternal times. So once be-
fore in Michigan's level land, where other ber-
ries grow a few miles from its shore, when sud-


denly Huron's calm blue expanse was revealed,
it seemed that light and strength eternal, at
once, were there, and he who saw went all his
years as one who had looked on the face of
God, alone.

Haec fabula docet: "Art is long and time
is fleeting," therefore, let us, for our limita-
tions, choose well between appreciative power
and labeled knowledge. The scientific course
may give the last, but still there will be scien-
tists and scientists ; and some of these, success-
ful in material lines, are sorely tempted, in
these days of practical progress, to barter the
better for the worse. Even Chancellor Mc-
Cormick's well-chosen words and eloquent pe-
riods touching Practical Education* may
leave in your heretic heart a question how far
applied science about Pittsburgh has wrought
to "the glory of the great King over all," and
how far to the fame of Carnegie and the for-
tune of Westinghouse. Fortunes have failed
in Pittsburgh, and men of great practical abil-
ity have fallen low in the scale of righteousness
there. Where fishers spread their nets was
once a city, whose men were worldly-wise, of
which God's prophet said: "By thy great
wisdom and by thy traffic hast thou increased
thy riches, and thy heart is lifted up because
of thy riches ! therefore — "

*See Presbyterian Banner, July 2, 1908.


The Chancellor's words, indeed, are weighty ;
his plea for combination more than plausible,
and pity it is that so few can answer the ques-
tions of the Professor's children. (A small
boy at the foot of the mountain, just now,
said: "Mary, how do lightning bugs make
lightning?" Who can tell him?)

Let us not, then, love science less, but prize
more the old humanities, and hold still the
heritage of the simple sons of that earlier, no
less real world, when the immortals walked

1 3 4 5 6

Online LibraryAlbert Struthers StewartSt. Luke's garden → online text (page 1 of 6)