This is part six of a twelve-part series.
Read part one here, two here, part three here, part four here,
part five here, part seven here, part eight here, part nine here,
part ten here, part eleven here, and part twelve here.
Brook Farm, Oct. 9, 1841. — A walk this afternoon to, Cow Island. The clouds had broken away towards noon, and let forth a few sunbeams, and more and more blue sky ventured to appear, till at last it was really warm and sunny, — indeed, rather too warm in the sheltered hollows, though it is delightful to be too warm now, after so much stormy chillness. O the beauty of grassy slopes, and the hollow ways of paths winding between hills, and the intervals between the road and wood-lots, where summer lingers and sits down, strewing dandelions of gold, and blue asters, as her parting gifts and memorials! I went to a grape-vine, which I have already visited several times, and found some clusters of grapes still remaining, and now perfectly ripe. Coming within view of the river, I saw several wild ducks under the shadow of the opposite shore, which was high, and covered with a grove of pines. I should not have discovered the ducks had they not risen and skimmed the surface of the glassy stream, breaking its dark water with a bright streak, and, sweeping round, gradually rose high enough to fly away. I likewise started a partridge just within the verge of the woods, and in another place a large squirrel ran across the wood-path from one shelter of trees to the other. Small birds, in flocks, were flitting about the fields, seeking and finding I know not what sort of food. There were little fish, also, darting in shoals through the pools and depths of the brooks, which are now replenished to their brims, and rush towards the river with a swift, amber-colored current.
Cow Island is not an island, — at least, at this season, — though, I believe, in the time of freshets, the marshy Charles floods the meadows all round about it, and extends across its communication with the mainland. The path to it is a very secluded one, threading a wood of pines, and just wide enough to admit the loads of meadow hay which are drawn from the splashy shore of the river. The island has a growth of stately pines, with tall and ponderous stems, standing at distance enough to admit the eye to travel far among them; and, as there is no underbrush, the effect is somewhat like looking among the pillars of a church.
I returned home by the high-road. On my right, separated from the road by a level field, perhaps fifty yards across, was a range of young forest-trees, dressed in their garb of autumnal glory. The sun shone directly upon them; and sunlight is like the breath of life to the pomp of autumn. In its absence, one doubts whether there be any truth in what poets have told about the splendor of an American autumn; but when this charm is added, one feels that the effect is beyond description. As I beheld it to-day, there was nothing dazzling; it was gentle and mild, though brilliant and diversified, and had a most quiet and pensive influence. And yet there were some trees that seemed really made of sunshine, and others were of a sunny red, and the whole picture was painted with but little relief of darksome hues, — only a few evergreens. But there was nothing inharmonious; and, on closer examination, it appeared that all the tints had a relationship among themselves. And this, I suppose, is the reason that, while Nature seems to scatter them so carelessly, they still never shock the beholder by their contrasts, nor disturb, but only soothe. The brilliant scarlet and the brilliant yellow are different hues of the maple-leaves, and the first changes into the last. I saw one maple-tree, its centre yellow as gold, set in a framework of red. The native poplars have different shades of green, verging towards yellow, and are very cheerful in the sunshine. Most of the oak-leaves have still the deep verdure of summer; but where a change has taken place, it is into a russet-red, warm, but sober. These colors, infinitely varied by the progress which different trees have made in their decay, constitute almost the whole glory of autumnal woods; but it is impossible to conceive how much is done with such scanty materials. In my whole walk I saw only one man, and he was at a distance, in the obscurity of the trees. He had a horse and a wagon, and was getting a load of dry brush-wood.
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Sunday, October 10. — I visited my grape-vine this afternoon, and ate the last of its clusters. This vine climbs around a young maple-tree, which has now assumed the yellow leaf. The leaves of the vine are more decayed than those of the maple. Thence to Cow Island, a solemn and thoughtful walk. Returned by another path, of the width of a wagon, passing through a grove of hard wood, the lightsome hues of which make the walk more cheerful than among the pines. The roots of oaks emerged from the soil, and contorted themselves across the path. The sunlight, also, broke across in spots, and otherwheres the shadow was deep; but still there was intermingling enough of bright hues to keep off the gloom from the whole path.
Brooks and pools have a peculiar aspect at this season. One knows that the water must be cold, and one shivers a little at the sight of it; and yet the grass about the pool may be of the deepest green, and the sun may be shining into it. The withered leaves which overhanging trees shed upon its surface contribute much to the effect.
Insects have mostly vanished in the fields and woods. I hear locusts yet, singing in the sunny hours, and crickets have not yet finished their song. Once in a while I see a caterpillar, — this afternoon, for instance, a red, hairy one, with black head and tail. They do not appear to be active, and it makes one rather melancholy to look at them.
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Tuesday, October 12. — The cawing of the crow resounds among the woods. A sentinel is aware of your approach a great way off, and gives the alarm to his comrades loudly and eagerly, — Caw, caw, caw! Immediately the whole conclave replies, and you behold them rising above the trees, flapping darkly, and winging their way to deeper solitudes. Sometimes, however, they remain till you come near enough to discern their sable gravity of aspect, each occupying a separate bough, or perhaps the blasted tip-top of a pine. As you approach, one after another, with loud cawing, flaps his wings and throws himself upon the air.
There is hardly a more striking feature in the landscape now-a-days than the red patches of blueberry and whortleberry bushes, as seen on a sloping hillside, like islands among the grass, with trees growing in them; or crowning the summit of a bare, brown bill with their somewhat russet liveliness; or circling round the base of an earth-embedded rock. At a distance, this hue, clothing spots and patches of the earth, looks more like a picture than anything else, — yet such a picture as I never saw painted.
The oaks are now beginning to look sere, and their leaves have withered borders. It is pleasant to notice the wide circle of greener grass beneath the circumference of an overshadowing oak. Passing an orchard, one hears an uneasy rustling in the trees, and not as if they were struggling with the wind. Scattered about are barrels to contain the gathered apples; and perhaps a great heap of golden or scarlet apples is collected in one place.
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Wednesday, October 13. — A good view, from an upland swell of our pasture, across the valley of the river Charles. There is the meadow, as level as a floor, and carpeted with green, perhaps two miles from the rising ground on this side of the river to that on the opposite side. The stream winds through the midst of the flat space, without any hanks at all; for it fills its bed almost to the brim, and bathes the meadow grass on either side. A tuft of shrubbery, at broken intervals, is scattered along its border; and thus it meanders sluggishly along, without other life than what it gains from gleaming in the sun. Now, into the broad, smooth meadow, as into a lake, capes and headlands put themselves forth, and shores of firm woodland border it, covered with variegated foliage, making the contrast so much the stronger of their height and rough outline with the even spread of the plain. And beyond, and far away, rises a long, gradual swell of country, covered with an apparently dense growth of foliage for miles, till the horizon terminates it; and here and there is a house, or perhaps two, among the contiguity of trees. Everywhere the trees wear their autumnal dress, so that the whole landscape is red, russet, orange, and yellow, blending in the distance into a rich tint of brown-orange, or nearly that, — except the green expanse so definitely hemmed in by the higher ground.
I took a long walk this morning, going first nearly to Newton, thence nearly to Brighton, thence to Jamaica Plain, and thence home. It was a fine morning, with a northwest wind; cool when facing the wind, but warm and most genially pleasant in sheltered spots; and warm enough everywhere while I was in motion. I traversed most of the by-ways which offered themselves to me; and, passing through one in which there was a double line of grass between the wheel-tracks and that of the horses’ feet, I came to where had once stood a farm-house, which appeared to have been recently torn down. Most of the old timber and boards had been carted away; a pile of it, however, remained. The cellar of the house was uncovered, and beside it stood the base and middle height of the chimney. The oven, in which household bread had been baked for daily food, and puddings and cake and jolly pumpkin-pies for festivals, opened its mouth, being deprived of its iron door. The fireplace was close at hand. All round the site of the house was a pleasant, sunny, green space, with old fruit-trees in pretty fair condition, though aged. There was a barn, also aged, but in decent repair; and a ruinous shed, on the corner of which was nailed a boy’s windmill, where it had probably been turning and clattering for years together, till now it was black with time and weather-stain. It was broken, but still it went round whenever the wind stirred. The spot was entirely secluded, there being no other house within a mile or two.
No language can give an idea of the beauty and glory of the trees, just at this moment. It would be easy, by a process of word-daubing, to set down a confused group of gorgeous colors, like a bunch of tangled skeins of bright silk; but there is nothing of the reality in the glare which would thus be produced. And yet the splendor both of individual clusters and of whole scenes is unsurpassable. The oaks are now far advanced in their change of hue; and, in certain positions relatively to the sun, they light up and gleam with a most magnificent deep gold, varying according as portions of the foliage are in shadow or sunlight. On the sides which receive the direct rays, the effect is altogether rich; and in other points of view it is equally beautiful, if less brilliant. This color of the oak is more superb than the lighter yellow of the maples and walnuts. The whole landscape is now covered with this indescribable pomp; it is discerned on the uplands afar off; and Blue Hill in Milton, at the distance of several miles, actually glistens with rich, dark light, — no, not glistens, nor gleams, — but perhaps to say glows subduedly will be a truer expression for it.
Met few people this morning; — a grown girl, in company with a little boy, gathering barberries in a secluded lane; a portly, autumnal gentleman, wrapped in a great-coat, who asked the way to Mr. Joseph Goddard’s; and a fish-cart from the city, the driver of which sounded his horn along the lonesome way.
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Monday, October 18. — There has been a succession of days which were cold and bright in the forenoon, and gray, sullen, and chill towards night. The woods have now taken a soberer tint than they wore at my last date. Many of the shrubs which looked brightest a little while ago are now wholly bare of leaves. The oaks have generally a russet-brown shade, although some of them are still green, as are likewise other scattered trees in the forests. The bright yellow and the rich scarlet are no more to be seen. Scarcely any of them will now bear a close examination; for this shows them to be rugged, wilted, and of faded, frost-bitten hue; but at a distance, and in the mass, and enlivened by the sun, they have still somewhat of the varied splendor which distinguished them a week ago. It is wonderful what a difference the sunshine makes; it is like varnish, bringing out the hidden veins in a piece of rich wood. In the cold, gray atmosphere, such as that of most of our afternoons now, the landscape lies dark, — brown, and in a much deeper shadow than if it were clothed in green. But, perchance, a gleam of sun falls on a certain spot of distant shrubbery or woodland, and we see it brighten with many hues, standing forth prominently from the dimness around it. The sunlight gradually spreads, and the whole sombre scene is changed to a motley picture, — the sun bringing out many shades of color, and converting its gloom to an almost laughing cheerfulness. At such times I almost doubt whether the foliage has lost any of its brilliancy. But the clouds intercept the sun again, and lo! old Autumn appears, clad in his cloak of russet-brown.
Beautiful now, while the general landscape lies in shadow, looks the summit of a distant bill (say a mile off), with the sunshine brightening the trees that cover it. It is noticeable that the outlines of hills, and the whole bulk of them at the distance of several miles, become stronger, denser, and more substantial in this autumn atmosphere and in these autumnal tints than in summer. Then they looked blue, misty, and dim. Now they show their great humpbacks more plainly, as if they had drawn nearer to us.
A waste of shrubbery and small trees, such as overruns the borders of the meadows for miles together, looks much more rugged, wild, and savage in its present brown color than when clad in green.
I passed through a very pleasant wood-path yesterday, quite shut in and sheltered by trees that had not thrown off their yellow robes. The sun shone strongly in among them, and quite kindled them; so that the path was brighter for their shade than if it had been quite exposed to the sun.
In the village graveyard, which lies contiguous to the street, I saw a man digging a grave, and one inhabitant after another turned aside from his way to look into the grave and talk with the digger. I heard him laugh, with the hereditary mirthfulness of men of that occupation.
In the hollow of the woods, yesterday afternoon, I lay a long while watching a squirrel, who was capering about among the trees over my head (oaks and white-pines, so close together that their branches intermingled). The squirrel seemed not to approve of my presence, for he frequently uttered a sharp, quick, angry noise, like that of a scissors-grinder’s wheel. Sometimes I could see him sitting on an impending bough, with his tail over his back, looking down pryingly upon me. It seems to be a natural posture with him, to sit on his hind legs, holding up his forepaws. Anon, with a peculiarly quick start, he would scramble along the branch, and be lost to sight in another part of the tree, whence his shrill chatter would again be heard. Then I would see him rapidly descending the trunk, and running along the ground; and a moment afterwards, casting my eye upward, I beheld him flitting like a bird among the high limbs at the summit, directly above me. Afterwards, he apparently became accustomed to my society, and set about some business of his. He came down to the ground, took up a piece of a decayed bough, (a heavy burden for such a small personage,) and, with this in his mouth, again climbed up, and passed from the branches of one tree to those of another, and thus onward and onward till he went out of sight. Shortly afterwards he returned for another burden, and this he repeated several times. I suppose he was building a nest, — at least, I know not what else could have been his object. Never was there such an active, cheerful, choleric, continually-in-motion fellow as this little red squirrel, talking to himself, chattering at me, and as sociable in his own person as if he had half a dozen companions, instead of being alone in the lonesome wood. Indeed, he flitted about so quickly, and showed himself in different places so suddenly, that I was in some doubt whether there were not two or three of them.
I must mention again the very beautiful effect produced by the masses of berry-bushes, lying like scarlet islands in the midst of withered pasture-ground, or crowning the tops of barren hills. Their hue, at a distance, is lustrous scarlet, although it does not look nearly as bright and gorgeous when examined close at hand. But at a proper distance it is a beautiful fringe on Autumn’s petticoat
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Friday, October 22. — A continued succession of unpleasant, Novembery days, and Autumn has made rapid progress in the work of decay. It is now somewhat of a rare good fortune to find a verdant, grassy spot, on some slope, or in a dell; and even such seldom-seen oases are bestrewn with dried brown leaves, — which, however, methinks, make the short, fresh grass look greener around them. Dry leaves are now plentiful everywhere, save where there are none but pine-trees. They rustle beneath the tread, and there is nothing more autumnal than that sound. Nevertheless, in a walk this afternoon I have seen two oaks which retained almost the greenness of summer. They grew close to the huge Pulpit Rock, so that portions of their trunks appeared to grasp the rough surface; and they were rooted beneath it, and, ascending high into the air, overshadowed the gray crag with verdure. Other oaks, here and there, have a few green leaves or boughs among their rustling and rugged shade.
Yet, dreary as the woods are in a bleak, sullen day, there is a very peculiar sense of warmth and a sort of richness of effect in the slope of a bank and in sheltered spots, where bright sunshine falls, and the brown oaken foliage is gladdened by it. There is then a feeling of comfort, and consequently of heart-warmth, which cannot be experienced in summer.
I walked this afternoon along a pleasant wood-path, gently winding, so that but little of it could be seen at a time, and going up and down small mounds, now plunging into a denser shadow and now emerging from it. Part of the way it was strewn with the dusky yellow leaves of white-pines, — the cast-off garments of last year; part of the way with green grass, close-cropped and very fresh for the season. Sometimes the trees met across it; sometimes it was bordered on one side by an old rail-fence of moss-grown cedar, with bushes sprouting beneath it, and thrusting their branches through it; sometimes by a stone wall of unknown antiquity, older than the wood it closed in. A stone wall, when shrubbery has grown around it, and thrust its roots beneath it, becomes a very pleasant and meditative Object. It does not belong too evidently to man, having been built so long ago. It seems a part of nature.
Yesterday I found two mushrooms in the woods, probably of the preceding night’s growth. Also I saw a mosquito, frost-pinched, and so wretched that I felt avenged for all the injuries which his tribe inflicted upon me last summer, and so did not molest this lone survivor.
Walnuts in their green rinds are falling from the trees, and so are chestnut-burrs.
I found a maple-leaf to-day, yellow all over, except its extremest point, which was bright scarlet. It looked as if a drop of blood were hanging from it. The first change of the maple-leaf is to scarlet; the next, to yellow. Then it withers, wilts, and drops off, as most of them have already done.
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October 27. — Fringed gentians, — I found the last, probably, that will be seen this year, growing on the margin of the brook.
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1842. — Some man of powerful character to command a person, morally subjected to him, to perform some act. The commanding person suddenly to die; and, for all the rest of his life, the subjected one continues to perform that act.
“Solomon dies during the building of the temple, but his body remains leaning on a staff, and overlooking the workmen, as if it were alive.”
A tri-weekly paper, to be called the Tertian Ague.
Subject for a picture, — Satan’s reappearance in Pandemonium, shining out from a mist, with “shape star-bright.”
Five points of Theology, — Five Points at New York.
It seems a greater pity that an accomplished worker with the hand should perish prematurely, than a person of great intellect; because intellectual arts may be cultivated in the next world, but not physical ones.
To trace out the influence of a frightful and disgraceful crime in debasing and destroying a character naturally high and noble, the guilty person being alone conscious of the crime.
A man, virtuous in his general conduct, but committing habitually some monstrous crime, — as murder, — and doing this without the sense of guilt, but with a peaceful conscience, — habit, probably, reconciling him to it; but something (for instance, discovery) occurs to make him sensible of his enormity. His horror then.
The strangeness, if they could be foreseen and forethought, of events which do not seem so strange after they have happened. As, for instance, to muse over a child’s cradle, and foresee all the persons in different parts of the world with whom he would have relations.
A man to swallow a small snake, — and it to be a symbol of a cherished sin.
Questions as to unsettled points of history, and mysteries of nature, to be asked of a mesmerized person.
Gordier, a young man of the Island of Jersey, was paying his addresses to a young lady of Guernsey. He visited the latter island, intending to be married. He disappeared on his way from the beach to his mistress’s residence, and was afterwards found dead in a cavity of the rocks. After a time, Galliard, a merchant of Guernsey, paid his addresses to the young lady; but she always felt a strong, unaccountable antipathy to him. He presented her with a beautiful trinket. The mother of Gordier, chancing to see this trinket, recognized it as having been bought by her dead son as a present for his mistress. She expired on learning this and Galliard, being suspected of the murder, committed suicide.
The curé of Montreux in Switzerland, ninety-six years old, still vigorous in mind and body, and able to preach. He had a twin-brother, also a preacher, and the exact likeness of himself. Sometimes strangers have beheld a white-haired, venerable clerical personage, nearly a century old; and, upon riding a few miles farther, have been astonished to meet again this white-haired, venerable, century-old personage.
When the body of Lord Mohun (killed in a duel) was carried home, bleeding, to his house, Lady Mohun was very angry because it was “flung upon the best bed.”
A prophecy, somewhat in the style of Swift’s about Partridge, but embracing various events and personages.
An incident that befell Dr. Harris, while a Junior at college. Being in great want of money to buy shirts or other necessaries, and not knowing how to obtain it, he set out on a walk from Cambridge to Boston. On the way, he cut a stick, and after walking a short distance perceived that something had become attached to the end of it. It proved to be a gold ring, with the motto, “God speed thee, friend.”
Brobdignag lay on the northwest coast of the American continent.
A gush of violets along a wood-path.
People with false hair and other artifices may be supposed to deceive Death himself, so that he does not know when their hour is come.
Bees are sometimes drowned (or suffocated) in the honey which they collect. So some writers are lost in their collected learning.
Advice of Lady Pepperell’s father on her marriage, — never to work one moment after Saturday sunset, — never to lay down her knitting except in the middle of the needle, — always to rise with the sun, — to pass an hour daily with the housekeeper, — to visit every room daily from garret to cellar, — to attend herself to the brewing of beer and the baking of bread, — and to instruct every member of the family in their religious duties.
Service of plate, presented by the city of London to Sir William Pepperell, together with a table of solid silver. The table very narrow, but long; the articles of plate numerous, but of small dimensions, — the tureen not holding more than three pints. At the close of the Revolution, when the Pepperell and Sparhawk property was confiscated, this plate was sent to the grandson of Sir William, in London. It was so valuable, that Sheriff Moulton of old York, with six well-armed men, accompanied it to Boston. Pepperell’s only daughter married Colonel Sparhawk, a fine gentleman of the day. Andrew Pepperell, the son, was rejected by a young lady (afterwards the mother of Mrs. General Knox), to whom he was on the point of marriage, as being addicted to low company and low pleasures. The lover, two days afterwards, in the streets of Portsmouth, was sun-struck, and fell down dead. Sir William had built an elegant house for his son and his intended wife; but after the death of the former he never entered it. He lost his cheerfulness and social qualities, and gave up intercourse with people, except on business. Very anxious to secure his property to his descendants by the provisions of his will, which was drawn up by Judge Sewall, then a young lawyer. Yet the Judge lived to see two of Sir William’s grandchildren so reduced that they were to have been numbered among the town’s poor, and were only rescued from this fate by private charity.
The arms of the Pepperell family were displayed over the door of every room in Sir William’s house, and his crest on every door. In Colonel Sparhawk’s house there were forty portraits, most of them in full length. The house built for Sir William’s son was occupied as barracks during the Revolution, and much injured. A few years after the peace, it was blown down by a violent tempest, and finally no vestige of it was left, but there remained only a summer-house and the family tomb.
At Sir William’s death, his mansion was hung with black, while the body lay in state for a week. All the Sparhawk portraits were covered with black crape, and the family pew was draped with black. Two oxen were roasted, and liquid hospitality dispensed in proportion.
Old lady’s dress seventy or eighty years ago. Brown brocade gown, with a nice lawn handkerchief and apron, — short sleeves, with a little ruffle, just below the elbow, — black mittens, — a lawn cap, with rich lace border, — a black velvet hood on the back of the head, tied with black ribbon under the chin. She sat in an old-fashioned easy-chair, in a small, low parlor, — the wainscot painted entirely black, and the walls hung with a dark velvet paper.
A table, stationary ever since the house was built, extending the whole length of a room. One end was raised two steps higher than the rest. The Lady Ursula, an early Colonial heroine, was wont to dine at the upper end, while her servants sat below. This was in the kitchen. An old garden and summer-house, and roses, currant-bushes, and tulips, which Lady Ursula had brought from Grondale Abbey in Old England. Although a hundred and fifty years before, and though their roots were propagated all over the country, they were still flourishing in the original garden. This Lady Ursula was the daughter of Lord Thomas Cutts of Grondale Abbey in England. She had been in love with an officer named Fowler, who was supposed to have been slain in battle. After the death of her father and mother, Lady Ursula came to Kittery, bringing twenty men-servants and several women. After a time, a letter arrived from her lover, who was not killed, but merely a prisoner to the French. He announced his purpose to come to America, where he would arrive in October. A few days after the letter came, she went out in a low carriage to visit her work-people, and was blessing the food for their luncheon, when she fell dead, struck by an Indian tomahawk, as did all the rest save one. They were buried. where the massacre took place, and a stone was erected, which (possibly) still remains. The lady’s family had a grant from Sir Ferdinando Gorges of the territory thereabout, and her brother had likewise come over and settled in the vicinity. I believe very little of this story. Long afterwards, at about the commencement of the Revolution, a descendant of Fowler came from England, and applied to the Judge of Probate to search the records for a will, supposed to have been made by Lady Ursula in favor of her lover as soon as she heard of his existence. In the mean time the estate had been sold to Colonel Whipple. No will could be found. (Lady Ursula was old Mrs. Cutts, widow of President Cutts.)
The mode of living of Lady Ursula’s brother in Kittery. A drawbridge to the house, which was raised every evening, and lowered in the morning, for the laborers and the family to pass out. They kept thirty cows, a hundred sheep, and several horses. The house spacious, — one room large enough to contain forty or fifty guests. Two silver branches for candles, — the walls ornamented with paintings and needlework. The floors were daily rubbed with wax, and shone like a mahogany-table. A domestic chaplain, who said prayers every morning and evening in a small apartment called the chapel. Also a steward and butler. The family attended the Episcopal Church at Christmas, Easter, and Good Friday, and gave a grand entertainment once a year.
Madam Cutts, at the last of these entertainments, wore a black damask gown, and cuffs with double lace ruffles, velvet shoes, blue silk stockings, white and silver stomacher. The daughter and granddaughters in rich brocades and yellow satin. Old Major Cutts in brown velvet, laced with gold, and a large wig. The parson in his silk cassock, and his helpmate in brown damask. Old General Atkinson in scarlet velvet, and his wife and daughters in white damask. The Governor in black velvet, and his lady in crimson tabby trimmed with silver. The ladies wore bell-hoops, high-heeled shoes, paste buckles, silk stockings, and enormously high head-dresses, with lappets of Brussels lace hanging thence to the waist.
Among the eatables, a silver tub of the capacity of four gallons, holding a pyramid of pancakes powdered with white sugar.
The date assigned to all this about 1690.
What is the price of a day’s labor in Lapland, where the sun never sets for six months?
Miss Asphyxia Davis!
A life, generally of a grave hue, may be said to be embroidered with occasional sports and fantasies.
A father confessor, — his reflections on character, and the contrast of the inward man with the outward, as he looks around on his congregation, all whose secret sins are known to him.
A person with an ice-cold hand, — his right hand, which people ever afterwards remember when once they have grasped it.
A stove possessed by a Devil.
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June 1, 1842. — One of my chief amusements is to see the boys sail their miniature vessels on the Frog Pond. There is a great variety of shipping owned among the young people, and they appear to have a considerable knowledge of the art of managing vessels. There is a full-rigged man-of-war, with, I believe, every spar, rope, and sail, that sometimes makes its appearance; and, when on a voyage across the pond, it so identically resembles a great ship, except in size, that it has the effect of a picture. All its motions, — its tossing up and down on the small waves, and its sinking and rising in a calm swell, its heeling to the breeze, — the whole effect, in short, is that of a real ship at sea; while, moreover, there is something that kindles the imagination more than the reality would do. If we see a real, great ship, the mind grasps and possesses, within its real clutch, all that there is of it; while here the mimic ship is the representation of an ideal one, and so gives us a more imaginative pleasure. There are many schooners that ply to and fro on the pond, and pilot-boats, all perfectly rigged. I saw a race, the other day, between the ship above mentioned and a pilot-boat, in which the latter came off conqueror. The boys appear to be well acquainted with all the ropes and sails, and can call them by their nautical names. One of the owners of the vessels remains on one side of the pond, and the other on the opposite side, and so they send the little bark to and fro, like merchants of different countries, consigning their vessels to one another.
Generally, when any vessel is on the pond, there are full-grown spectators, who look on with as much interest as the boys themselves. Towards sunset, this is especially the case: for then are seen young girls and their lovers; mothers, with their little boys in hand; school-girls, beating hoops round about, and occasionally running to the side of the pond; rough tars, or perhaps masters or young mates of vessels, who make remarks about the miniature shipping, and occasionally give professional advice to the navigators; visitors from the country; gloved and caned young gentlemen; — in short, everybody stops to take a look. In the mean time, dogs are continually plunging into the pond, and swimming about, with noses pointed upward, and snatching at floating ships; then, emerging, they shake themselves, scattering a horizontal shower on the clean gowns of ladies and trousers of gentlemen; then scamper to and fro on the grass, with joyous barks.
Some boys cast off lines of twine with pin-hooks, and perhaps pull out a horned-pout, that being, I think, the only kind of fish that inhabits the Frog Pond.
The ship-of-war above mentioned is about three feet from stem to stern, or possibly a few inches more. This, if I mistake not, was the size of a ship of the line in the navy of Liliput.
Fancy pictures of familiar places which one has never been in, as the green-room of a theatre, &c.
The famous characters of history, — to imagine their spirits now extant on earth, in the guise of various public or private personages.
The case quoted in Combe’s Physiology of a young man of great talents and profound knowledge of chemistry, who bad in view some new discovery of importance. In order to put his mind into the highest possible activity, he shut himself up for several successive days, and used various methods of excitement. He had a singing-girl, he drank spirits, smelled penetrating odors, sprinkled Cologne-water round the room, &c., &c. Eight days thus passed, when he was seized with a fit of frenzy which terminated in mania.
Flesh and Blood, — a firm of butchers.
Miss Polly Syllable, a schoolmistress.
Mankind are earthen jugs with spirits in them.
A spendthrift, — in one sense he has his money’s worth by the purchase of large lots of repentance and other dolorous commodities.
This is part six of a twelve-part series.
Read part one here, two here, part three here, part four here,
part five here, part seven here, part eight here, part nine here,
part ten here, part eleven here, and part twelve here.
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