Nathan] [Hale.

Notes made during an excursion to the highlands of New Hampshire and Lake Winnipiseogee online

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Come, give thy soul a loose, and taste

The pleasures of vicissitude. Dryden.





for sale by them, and by






To Mrs. H. W. B.

These notes having been exposed to the curiosity of
an Editor of a distant Newspaper, extracts, I know not
to what extent, were printed without the writer's knowl-

The remarks which remained on the loose, and near-
ly worn out cards, are here transcribed for your amuse-
ment. In one instance they have excited the curiosity
of some of your friends to make an excursion to the re-
gion of lakes and mountains ; but I understand they re-
turned exceedingly disappointed. The Spartan soup
that gave vigour to the Lacedemonians, was very dis-
tasteful to the luxurious Asiatics ; so your fair friends
not being prepared by a proper temperament, to feel the
invigorating freshness of mountain air, returned to their
sea coal fire, exhausted by the fatigue of the journey.
Happily, however, for them, their nervous and dyspep-
tical complaints were suspended from the hour they
came in sight of Lake Winnipiseogee to the seventeenth
day after they reached home ; thus giving them a taste
of the pleasures of vicissitude.

" Sometimes 'tis grateful for the rich to try

A short vicissitude, and fit of poverty :

A savory dish, a homely treat,

Where all is plain, where all is neat,

Without the stately spacious room.

The Persian carpet, or the Tyrian loom,

Clear up the cloudy foreheads of the great." Drydtn.



The Jews mast have been a happy people daring the
forty years in which they were journeying through the
desert ; for they were not encumbered with the care of
houses and farms ; and though they were a money-getting
and a money-savint; race from the time of their first mi-
gration from Mesopotania ; through their long captivityo^
in Babylon, and ever since their dispersion, they had no
temptation to accumulate what would but increase their
burdens without gratifying their desires. The land of
promise was before tliem ; to this all their movements
were directed, and here all their hopes were concentrat-
ed. Somewhat of the like feeling animates the man, who,
determining to visit a certain quarter of the earth, on
quitting the Egyptian hubbub of the city, leaves all his
cares in the Red sea, or the River, and committing him-
self to the Hobab of the stage coach, proceeds, almost un-
conscious of the time, to the place of his destination.

It requires no strong effort of the imagination to pic-
ture scenes of beauty and magnificence ; with the con-
ception of something enchantingly picturesque or sublime-
Jy terrific in the unknown regions we are about to visit ;
the impressions we have received from the written or ver-


bal accounts of former travellers ; the sketches we have
seen delineated by the pencil of the artist ; and the vivid
descriptions of the poet all serve to divert our attention
from intermediate objects ; and we pass over rugged roads,
and even encounter perils without much observation.

This propensity of the human mind to anticipate hap-
piness, has afforded much speculation to philosophers, and
much theologization to divines ; but its immediate influ-
ence is in the common occurrencies of life, where we stop
not to analyse and theorize, but to receive impressions ;
and having exhausted curiosity, or blunted the edge of
sensibility with common and daily objects, we eagerly
catch at any thing that can revive or excite emotions.

The same principle that urges the scholar to the ruins
of antiquity ; Capt. Parry to the frozen ocean ; Bishop
Heber to the burning and deadly climate of Calcutta ; the
man of fashion to the court ; the lady to the rout; the
citizen to the coffee house ; the politician to the news
room ; the crowd to a conflagration ; the mob to a camp
meeting or an insurrection caucus, drives some to Niag-
ara and us to Winnipiseogee.

We may however, be as much disappointed as was the
amiable Mrs. Murphy, who, when transported from the sim-
plicity of a rural life to the fashionable associations of the
city, said to her husband, " I expected fiom what I had
heard of the affectionate amiability of your female friends,
to have been introduced to a very polished circle, accom-
plished in manners ; elevated in principle ; social in in-
tercourse, and open hearted."

To Winnipiseogee, however, we go, and having chosen
almost the only day that has escaped the superstitious de-
nunciations of some civilized, classical, or savage nation,
we set out under the most promising and propitious sky.

A long sojourn in a private carriage appropriated to a


select few, is of all dull modes of conveyance, the dullest,
for this very reason, that all know each others sentiments ;
and this may be the reason why so many married people
appear so listless in each other's company. On the con-
trary a stage coach is generally animated, at least after a
social dinner has opened the mouths and removed the tim-
idity and restraint of the company.

It has often been my fate to be seated among some very
pugnacious animals of a political party, and a more un-
pleasant bearbating could not occur. Now the men were
all gentlemen of intelligence on other subjects than the
five points, and the pending election and the women unob-
trusively kind ; and when we left them, we felt the loss
of agreeable companions with whom we had broken the
same bread of humanity, and drank of the same cup of

" Now," vociferated a lad from the top of the carriage
to a companion within, " we are on the summit of Tug
hill," — a name which they had given to the eminence on
which the Andover Theological Seminary is situated.
Whether it derived that name from the labor of the ascent
from the village below, or from the toil of their studies we
did not learn. From this summit we had an extensive
prospect of a rich and fertile territory, reaching to moun-
tains on the west, over a space of 60 or 70 miles. A gen-
tleman in the carriage assured us that he had clearly dis-
tinguished the buildings of the Institution from the sum-
mit of Wachusett.

Much has been said, and much written about and
against this Institution, and Amherst College. All litera-
ry institutions have some peculiarities, vv-hich do not much
affect the ultimate object of education. In general how-
ever, it is but prudent that the friends of classical educa-
tion, should miss no opportunity for strengthening the


hands, whether sectarian or not, of those who would erect
barriers against a fluctuating, if not a deluging sea of igno-
rance and indifference. That all institutions must event-
ually conform to the spirit of the age has been proved by
experience. Catholic England, yielded to Protestantism.
Harvard may become Calvinistic, or Amherst Unitarian ;
but while they both improve the understandings of young
men by unrestricted classical learning, they are among
the most efficient means of elevating the moral feeling,
and character of the people. Our liberal fruit grows
from the puritanic stock, and this perhaps is the best for
producing that which is durable and refined.

This Institution is constantly furnishing the public
with able preachers. I could name one, and he not the
only one, who has the superlative art of blending ethical
and theological subjects, so skilfully as to make deeper
impressions than probably either would, separately treated.
His labor is in ratiocination ; his relaxation in wit. From
profound abstraction, he rises to a ready popular display
of impressive moral truths. His style bears the impress
of originality ; it may exhibit the thoughts of others; but
it is with examples and illustrations furnished by observa-
tion on life. Hence he has no paragraphs which look
like accidental patches ; and though not new, every idea
so perfectly belongs to the subject, as to make the whole
consistent and novel. His style is likewise correct with-
out being labored ; impressive without being pointed, and
variegated without deviating from simplicity. A mind
that strongly conceived, and furnished with a copious
supply of words wanted not the embellishments of the
rhetorician to arrest attention. It was impossible not to
admire the expression, while we deeply felt the force and
justness of the sentiments. When we read a Rambler,
we are hurried on by the torrent of Johnson's eloquence,


and afterwards wonder whence our mingled sensations of
surprise and energy. We return to examine phrases, im-
ages and splendid paragraphs, and conclude in admiring
the art of a writer who could clothe common place thoughts
in such a captivating dress. In ***** vve have the like
strength of mind — that more profundity of thought, and
an equal felicity of illustration, yet so simple, and perspic-
uous that we select no extrinsic beauties to examine. —
Striking peculiarities of language sometimes appear — al-
ways racy — sometimes quaint — and often bold.

A grand, magnificent, or strange production of nature,
takes, it appears to me, a stronger hold on the memory,
and is connected with more associations, than belong to
such works of art. Is it because they have the chara.c-
ter of permanency of age ? A Town that has sucji a
land mark is sure to be remembered. Amid a thousand'
trees, the great elm in the centre of this village is distin-
guishable. An attempt to remove this Tree was success-
fully resisted by the neighbors, the lovers of the picturesque
and the useful. We were shown a copy of some verses
made on this subject, which, though destitute of all poet-
ic merit, we thought worthy of being preserved, as a me-
morial of a patriotic and philanthropic spirit. — See Ap-
pendix A.

How many of the little incidents of social intercourse,
indifferent at first, afford agreeable sensations on recollec-
tion. In passing yonder low roofed cottage, seeming to
the traveller never to have been the abode of gay amuse-
ment, many past pleasures, of which it was the scene,
rise vividly to view. There, once associated a few sum-
mer boarders, who, for the sake of health had come from
the sea-ports to breath the invigorating air of this salubri-
ous region ; not unfrequently seeking inspiration in the
cool and shady scenery of yonder eminence which they


named Mount Carmel. They soon drew around them
some of tlie literati of the vicinity. A little society was
thus formed, which by conversation curtailed the hours
of sleep. Among them was a gentleman, remarkable for
sudden bursts of rare and original observations. There
were in his manners and his remarks something irresista-
bly engaging. Society mellowed his wit; and when
the thoughts of others seemed to be exhausted, he would
strike a vein, and produce a flow of animation. Then it
was that his flashes, like a morning sun, aroused every
person, however much disposed to retire. He however
could not avoid, nor always parry the jokes of the young
ladies ; and once he was the subject of a Jeu d^esprit
which, if we remember right ran thus :

'Twas a beautiful day, and the beauty was brighter,
That care on our bosoms grew lighter and lighter,
As friends sitting round us, repeated with pleasure,
" How sweet is this meeting of friendship and leisure ","
Not a cloud in tiie sky, nor a curl on the brow,
A repose stole upon us, we could not tell how !
Nor should we have broken this feeling of heaven,
Had the tongue of the clock not reported, " eleven,"
When the 'Squire starting up at his client's loud call,
" From paradise," cried, " thus was old Adam's fall,
Yet, though care approaches, and though the sky lowers,
In sun-shine, we ravish'd a bliss of three hours,
And may I to Jericho, rudely bo carted.
If next when we meet thus, with ease we'll be parted." —
To Jericho ! wherefore — cries 'Lis, with a smile —
" But you need not remain there a wonderful while —
And should you go thither, I trust you will ride,
, For you walk it so slowly, you'll lose the whole tide !"

The 'Squire was struck dumb by the sly little wit,
And in private, confessed 'twas a palpable hit,
For now, to his sorrow, so long had he tarried,
The Church might be closed ere he went to be married !

Noon brought us to Haverhill on the north bank of the
Merrimack, a town no less beautiful from its natural sit-
uation, than from the aspect of its buildings. Its antiqui-
ties and history afford some tragical, and many romantic


incidents for the embellishment of future novels, and the
catastrophies of future dramatic compositions. The sack
of the town by the Indians and French in 1708 ; the
heroic conduct of Mrs, Dustan ; the sagacity and address
of Hagar the slave, in secreting the two infants, and ma-
ny other events which are yet fresh in tradition, narrated
with truth, and embellished with the colours of an imagi-
nation that could remigrate a century and a half, would
be as interesting as it would be novel.

I dislike historical romances even from the pen of Flo-
rian, because they confound history. But those whose
bodies are real, and where dress only is fanciful, like the
historical plays of Shakspeare, personify the age, assist
our conceptions of character and actions, and bring the
very fashions and pressure of the times home to our bo-

After dining at the hotel, we stopped the stage on the
Exeter road, to receive Mr. W. who was to conduct us to
the White Hills, but not being ready, he promised to join
us to-morrow.

While the horses stopped to bait, after we left ***, cu-
riosity prompted me to look at the unwashed cheeks of
Mrs. ****. Thirty seven years had elapsed since a beau-
tiful girl of 15 sat on the knee of Washington at *****.
A kiss of Washington could not leave a spot on the char-
riest maiden's cheek, and if it had, it would always be
considered a beauty spot, which no fair one would erase.
As Washington passed to New Hampshire, he was con-
ducted through this rout, to be present at the wedding of
his secretary Mr. Lear.

People of each sex, and all ages flocked from every
part of the country to see him. Two beautiful girls went
on the day previous, to their relative's where he was to
lodge, in order to see the reputed father of his Country.


After the evening levee was ended, they were introduced,
with reference, by their jolly relation, to the visit of the
queen of a far distant Country to see the glory of Israel.
Their, modest, gentle, and affectionate carriage exceed-
ingly gratified the General, and engaged his attention.
Nothing tends more to social intercourse, than the perfor-
mance of some little favour. One of Washington's gloves
had a rip — one of the girls, without speaking, took it up,
opened her thread case, repaired it, and silently put it on
the sofa. Washington observed the act, and instead of
complimenting, took her hand, and drew her towards him,
and impressed a kiss on her cheek. All this was a move-
ment of the heart, on the part of both. She declared
she would never wash that spot ; and T could not
help thinking, as I looked upon her, that the rosy
blush had not been impaired by time, and that like the
immortal amaranth it retained its freshness and beauty,
fed by the '' sweet contentment of her thoughts!"

I must here relate another instance which came with-
in my knowledge of the feelings of Washington towards
his friends, because more of the heart is seen in these lit-
tle remembrances, than in a whole life of public transac-
tions. Thomas Austin was his steward while the head
quarters of the army were at Cambridge. Mrs. Austin
superintended the household. Many years had elapsed
and she was advanced in years and infirm. Probably he
never expected to see her again. Old as she was, howev-
er, she determined to see him ; and on the morning of
his departure from Boston, was conveyed to town and
seated at a window in Union street to see him pass. The
cavalcade approached ; she was all eagerness, and fixed
her eyes intently on the carriage containing several per-
sons, one of whom she supposed to be the man she long-
ed to behold ; but neither of them noticed her, nor did


she see any resemblance of Washington : time and fa-
tigue must have changed his appearance or she must be
forgoCten. On a sudden the procession made a momen-
tary halt ; what was the matter ? — Washington had caught
a view of her face ; he checked his horse, moved his head,
waved his hand, repeated the movements ; she turned not
her gaze from the carriage, and he was obliged to proceed
without being recognized. When the good lady was in-
formed of all this, she almost fainted, and looked as though
she would say, " now let me depart, for he remembers

We tarried a little while in *****^ formerly the second
town in New Hampshire. Though it shows the marks
of age, it has not many relics of ancient times. Former-
ly the people of***** were noticed for their extreme di-
vision into classes; there was -an aristocracy separate
from the plebeian. In all small places, where the proper-
ty is in the possession of the few, those few will soon be
employed by the rest to conduct the public affairs of the
community ; and a long continuance in the magistracy,
attended with the deference usually paid to authority, su-
perinduces a feeling of superiority ; increasing till it
swells into a kind of hereditary claim ; and every new
aspirant is viewed as an interloper. This classification
continued to the end of the revolution. A few struggled
to preserve it long after, but to a new order of things old
prejudices were obliged to submit. The age of buckram,
of hoop-petticoats, of scarlet cloaks, bush wigs, slashed
sleeves, silver buckles and tight breeches, must yield to
the more easy and convenient forms of modern dress.
Bladam comes into church metamorphosed into a plain
matron, and Sir is revolutionized into pantaloons, a round
hat, and shoe strings. The congregation no longer wait
at the door for the Squire's, the General's and the Cor-


poral's family to enter or depart the church ; and even
the minister has ceased to strew flowers over the illustri-
ous dead where none grew before.

Hence this country shows at present no class of singu-
lar old men, retaining with ancient garments, ancient
manners. Broad caricatures may be given to regularity,
but broad comedy can draw but few supplies from odd
and singular characters ; these are furnished by older
countries : these belong to the old age of nations whose
every condition of life is stationary ; and manners grow
up with the peculiarities of the soil. Hence our novelists,
who profess to paint the manners as they are, have re-
course to other nations, and other times, for broad and
singular characters ; not perhaps recollecting, that as so-
ciety refines, though the same nature pervades the age
under different shapes and modifications, the colours giv-
en to the one will not represent the other ; in fact, that it
requires a very comprehensive knowledge of human socie-
ty under its various modifications, to trace the operations
of the passions, and detect the same character under dif-
ferent circumstances. He will be little respected as the
painter of the times, though he employ the wit of Swift,
who shall place to this age a grave procession of Templars,
marching in solemn order, with all the paraphernalia of
clouts and banners, to lay the foundation stone of a pub-
lic edifice ; because, every one at once perceives, that it
is out of character with the age. An age as remarkable
for the exercise of a discriminating judgment ; a taste
critically correct in manners ; and an exquisite sensibili-
ty of moral propriety ; as for its lofty assumption of that
grave dignity of character which elevates above the child-
ish adherence to those solemn triflings, which enchanted
the barbarous and superstitious inheritors of the feudal
spectacles which the aristocracy of Europe used as the


means of diverting their vassals from the exercise of that
common sense, by which the American people commenc-
ed their career of free inquiry, and by which they have
established a national character peculiarly original. He
might as well pretend, that Washington danced on the
slack rope for the entertainment of the rabble, as that
grave judges, learned lawyers, pious ministers, skilful
physicians, alert chimney sweeps, dignified barbers, and
the whole fraternity of masons, entered and performed in
the puppet show, in an enlightened age, and this, not in
the doubled locked recess of a tavern, but in open day, and
amid thousands of spectators. In fact, every age, like ev-
ery shrub, has discriminating characteristics. The pu-
pils of Linnasus so skilfully arranged the dissimilar parts
of different plants, as to form one whose juncture could
not be discerned by the unpractised eye, but the natural-
ist at once detected incongruities that could not exist in
nature. Yet, whoever attempts to contrast the manners
of the former with the present times may find in ****
some fine relics of the formal and dio-nified demeanour :
the set, mathematically adjusted bow and courtesy ; the
measured step, the polite oblique turn of the body, the
complimentary address, and the high disdainful toss of
the head, among the men and women of the old school.
But even these will not afford a full picture of the olden
time, for diluted by modern mixtures, the colours are not
strong enough to tinge the whole ground. In other times,
(and had this country been acquired by conquest,) these
would have been the magnates, the Dukes, the Barons,
the Lairds whose territories would have stretched from
Portsmouth to Boston, from Boston to Wachusett, and
from Wachusett to the White Hills. The few owners of
the soil, would have transmitted their power to govern
and dispose of the many born to serve ; and, what is


more, would have assumed all the genius and talent
which prodigal nature now sifts over the very serfs with
which she has filled the country.

At sun set we arrived at D*** where my friends en-
cumbered me with civilities. In the evening I was told
that Capt. Porter was on that station, engaged in making
daily excursions in his steam boat ; and that a company
of the villagers were to make a cruise with him tomor-
row, and that I was to be of the party. In vain did T
plead indisposition, engagement, and disinclination. I was
promised to be landed at the bridge at Portsmouth, or
any where T chose, but go on board we must, or lie and
she and she and he would not go. Besides, Squire S., one
of the heads of the town, and even his lady, the minister,
the doctor, and half the selectmen, were going— nay the
S. had sent his commands that the boat should not pro-
ceed otherwise — there was no resisting {he. orders of the
respectable , united to the solicitations of the gay and
amiable — so on board we went at 10 o'clock, but the tide
did not float the vessel till 12.

Such delays produce a temporary sadness, and never
fail to be announced by some superstitious persons as
ominous. It is certainly annoying, as there is no com-
munion of spirit till the vessel is under way ; as in our
Boston governmental excursions in the harbour, there is
no punch till Fort Independence is passed, however long
may be the voyage thither. Capt. Porter promised to re-
compense his delay with a dinner of fresh fish and chow-
der at 4 o'clock, and till then we were to amuse ourselves
as well as we could.

The company consisted of several entire families; some
single women ; the Doctor, the methodist minister and his
wife, amounting to about 60 persons, accompanied by a
drummer and fifer, and several loungers and attendants.


Luckily we had no wits aboard to bespatter the cloth of
the clergyman ; and no cockney to strut about with his
cigar and cane ; on the contrary, all were rational and or-
derly people, determined " to please and be pleased."

The first thing requisite is to lose no opportunity in

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Online LibraryNathan] [HaleNotes made during an excursion to the highlands of New Hampshire and Lake Winnipiseogee → online text (page 1 of 14)