Home as Found
James Fenimore Cooper
Part 4 out of 9
no Venetian blinds; no verandah or piazza; no outside paint, nor gay
blending of colours. On the contrary, it was a plain old structure,
built with great solidity, and of excellent materials, and in that
style of respectable dignity and propriety, that was perhaps a little
more peculiar to our fathers than it is peculiar to their successors,
our worthy selves. In addition to the entrance tower, or porch, on
its northern front, John Effingham had also placed a prettily devised
conceit on the southern, by means of which the abrupt transition from
an inner room to the open air was adroitly avoided. He had, moreover,
removed the "firstly" of the edifice, and supplied its place with a
more suitable addition that contained some of the offices, while it
did not disfigure the building, a rare circumstance in an
Internally, the Wigwam had gradually been undergoing improvements,
ever since that period, which, in the way of the arts, if not in the
way of chronology, might be termed the dark ages of Otsego. The great
hall had long before lost its characteristic decoration of the
severed arm of Wolf, a Gothic paper that was better adapted to the
really respectable architecture of the room being its substitute; and
even the urn that was thought to contain the ashes of Queen Dido,
like the pitcher that goes often to the well, had been broken in a
war of extermination that had been carried on against the cobwebs by
a particularly notable housekeeper. Old Homer, too, had gone the way
of all baked clay. Shakspeare, himself, had dissolved into dust,
"leaving not a wreck behind;" and of Washington and Franklin, even,
indigenous as they were, there remained no vestiges. Instead of these
venerable memorials of the past, John Effingham, who retained a
pleasing recollection of their beauties as they had presented
themselves to his boyish eyes, had bought a few substitutes in a New-
York shop, and _a_ Shakspeare, and _a_ Milton, and _a_ Caesar, and _a_
Dryden, and _a_ Locke, as the writers of heroic so beautifully
express it, were now seated in tranquil dignity on the old medallions
that had held their illustrious predecessors. Although time had, as
yet, done little for this new collection in the way of colour, dust
and neglect were already throwing around them the tint of antiquity.
"The lady," to use the language of Mr. Bragg, who did the cooking of
the Wigwam, having every thing in readiness, our party took their
seats at the breakfast table, which was spread in the great hall, as
soon as each had paid a little attention to the _toilette_. As the
service was neither very scientific, nor sufficiently peculiar,
either in the way of elegance or of its opposite quality, to be
worthy of notice, we shall pass it over in silence.
"One will not quite so much miss European architecture in this
house," said Eve, as she took her seat at table, glancing an eye at
the spacious and lofty room, in which they were assembled; "here is
at least size and its comforts, if not elegance."
"Had you lost all recollection of this building, my child?" inquired
her father, kindly; "I was in hopes you would feel some of the
happiness of returning home, when you again found yourself beneath
"I should greatly dislike to have all the antics I have been playing
in my own dressing-room exposed," returned Eve, rewarding the
parental solicitude of her father by a look of love, "though Grace,
between her laughing and her tears, has threatened me with such a
disgrace. Ann Sidley has also been weeping, and, as even Annette,
always courteous and considerate, has shed a few tears in the way of
sympathy, you ought not to imagine that I have been altogether so
stoical as not to betray some feeling, dear father. But the paroxysm
is past, and I am beginning to philosophize. I hope, cousin Jack, you
have not forgotten that the drawing-room is a lady's empire!"
"I have respected your rights, Miss Effingham, though, with a wish to
prevent any violence to your tastes, I have caused sundry
antediluvian paintings and engravings to be consigned to the--"
"Garret?" inquired Eve, so quickly as to interrupt the speaker.
"Fire," coolly returned her cousin. "The garret is now much too good
for them; that part of the house being converted into sleeping-rooms
for the maids. Mademoiselle Annette would go into hysterics, were she
to see the works of art, that satisfied the past generation of
masters in this country, in too close familiarity with her Louvre-
"_Point du tout, monsieur_," said Mademoiselle Viefville, innocently;
"_Annette a du gout dans son metier sans doute_, but she is too well
bred to expect _impossibilites._ No doubt she would have conducted
herself with decorum."
Every body laughed, for much light-heartedness prevailed at that
board, and the conversation continued.
"I shall be satisfied if Annette escape convulsions," Eve added, "a
refined taste being her weakness; and, to be frank, what I recollect
of the works you mention, is not of the most flattering nature."
"And yet," observed Sir George, "nothing has surprised me more than
the respectable state of the arts of engraving and painting in this
country. It was unlooked for, and the pleasure has probably been in
proportion to the surprise."
"In that you are very right, Sir George Templemore," John Effingham
answered; "but the improvement is of very recent date. He who
remembers an American town half a century ago, will see a very
different thing in an American town of to-day; and this is equally
true of the arts you mention, with the essential difference that the
latter are taking a right direction under a proper instruction, while
the former are taking a wrong direction, under the influence of
money, that has no instruction. Had I left much of the old furniture,
or any of the old pictures in the Wigwam, we should have had the
bland features of Miss Effingham in frowns, instead of bewitching
smiles, at this very moment."
"And yet I have seen fine old furniture in this country, cousin
"Very true; though not in this part of it. The means of conveyance
were wanting half a century since, and few people risk finery of any
sort on corduroys. This very house had some respectable old things,
that were brought here by dint of money, and they still remain; but
the eighteenth century in general, may be set down as a very dark
antiquity in all this region."
When the repast was over, Mr. Effingham led his guests and daughter
through the principal apartments, sometimes commending, and sometimes
laughing, at the conceits of his kinsman. The library was a good
sized room; good sized at least for a country in which domestic
architecture, as well as public architecture, is still in the
chrysalis state. Its walls were hung with an exceedingly pretty
gothic paper, in green, but over each window was a chasm in the upper
border; and as this border supplied the arches, the unity of the
entire design was broken in no less than four places, that being the
precise number of the windows. The defect soon attracted the eye of
Eve, and she was not slow in demanding an explanation.
"The deficiency is owing to an American accident," returned her
cousin; "one of those calamities of which you are fated to experience
many, as the mistress of an American household. No more of the border
was to be bought in the country, and this is a land of shops and not
of _fabricants_. At Paris, Mademoiselle, one would send to the paper-
maker for a supply; but, alas! he that has not enough of a thing with
us, is as badly off as if he had none. We are consumers, and not
producers of works of art. It is a long way to send to France for ten
or fifteen feet of paper hangings, and yet this must be done, or my
beautiful gothic arches will remain forever without their key-
"One sees the inconvenience of this," observed Sir George--"we feel
it, even in England, in all that relates to imported things."
"And we, in nearly all things, but food."
"And does not this show that America can never become a manufacturing
country?" asked the baronet, with the interest an intelligent
Englishman ever feels in that all-absorbing question. "If you cannot
manufacture an article as simple as that of paper-hangings, would it
not be well to turn your attention, altogether, to agriculture?"
As the feeling of this interrogatory was much more apparent than its
logic, smiles passed from one to the other, though John Effingham,
who really had a regard for Sir George, was content to make an
evasive reply, a singular proof of amity, in a man of his caustic
The survey of the house, on the whole, proved satisfactory to its
future mistress, who complained, however, that it was furnished too
much like a town residence.
"For," she added, "you will remember, cousin Jack, that our visits
here will be something like a _villeggiatura_."
"Yes, yes, my fair lady; it will not be long before your Parisian and
Roman tastes will be ready to pronounce the whole country a
"This is the penalty, Eve, one pays for being a Hajji," observed
Grace, who had been closely watching the expression of the others'
countenances; for, agreeably to her view of things, the Wigwam wanted
nothing to render it a perfect abode. "The things that _we_ enjoy,
"That is an argument, my dear coz, that would apply equally well, as
a reason for preferring brown sugar to white."
"In coffee, certainly, Miss Eve," put in the attentive Aristabulus,
who having acquired this taste, in virtue of an economical mother,
really fancied it a pure one. "Every body, in these regions, prefers
the brown in coffee."
"_Oh, mon pere et ma mere, comme je vous en veux,_" said Eve, without
attending to the nice distinctions of Mr. Bragg, which savoured a
little too much of the neophyte in cookery, to find favour in the
present company, "_comme je vous en veux_ for having neglected so
many beautiful sites, to place this building in the very spot it
"In that respect, my child, we may rather be grateful at finding so
comfortable a house, at all. Compared with the civilization that then
surrounded it, this dwelling was a palace at the time of its
erection; bearing some such relation to the humbler structures around
it, as the _chateau_ bears to the cottage. Remember that brick had
never before been piled on brick, in the walls of a house, in all
this region, when the Wigwam was constructed. It is the Temple of
Neptune of Otsego, if not of all the surrounding counties."
Eve pressed to her lips the hand she was holding in both her own, and
they all passed out of the library into another room. As they came in
front of the hall windows, a party of apprentice-boys were seen
coolly making their arrangements to amuse themselves with a game of
ball, on the lawn directly in front of the house.
"Surely, Mr. Bragg," said the owner of the Wigwam, with more
displeasure in his voice than was usual for one of his regulated
mind, "you do not countenance this liberty?"
"Liberty, sir!--I am an advocate for liberty wherever I can find it.
Do you refer to the young men on the lawn, Mr. Effingham?"
"Certainly to them, sir; and permit me to say, I think they might
have chosen a more suitable spot for their sports. They are mistaking
_liberties_ for liberty I fear."
"Why, sir, I believe they have _always_ played ball in that precise
"_Always_!--I can assure you this is a great mistake. What private
family, placed as we are in the centre of a village, would allow of
an invasion of its privacy in this rude manner? Well may the house be
termed a Wigwam, if this whooping is to be tolerated before its
"You forget, Ned," said John Effingham, with a sneer, "that an
American _always_ means just eighteen months. _Antiquity_ is reached
in five lustres, and the dark ages at the end of a human life. I dare
say these amiable young gentlemen, who enliven their sports with so
many agreeable oaths, would think you very unreasonable and
encroaching to presume to tell them they are unwelcome."
"To own the truth, Mr. John, it _would_ be downright unpopular."
"As I cannot permit the ears of the ladies to be offended with these
rude brawls, and shall never consent to have grounds that are so
limited, and which so properly belong to the very privacy of my
dwelling, invaded in this coarse manner, I beg, Mr. Bragg, that you
will, at once, desire these young men to pursue their sports
Aristabulus received this commission with a very ill grace; for,
while his native sagacity told him that Mr. Effingham was right, he
too well knew the loose habits that had been rapidly increasing in
the country during the last ten years, not to foresee that the order
would do violence to all the apprentices' preconceived notions of
their immunities; for, as he had truly stated, things move at so
quick a pace in America, and popular feeling is so arbitrary, that a
custom of a twelve months' existence is deemed sacred, until the
public, itself, sees fit to alter it. He was reluctantly quitting the
party, on his unpleasant duty, when Mr. Effingham turned to a
servant, who belonged to the place, and bade him go to the village
barber, and desire him to come to the Wigwam to cut his hair; Pierre,
who usually performed that office for him, being busied in unpacking
"Never mind, Tom," said Aristabulus obligingly, as he took up his
hat; "I am going into the street, and will give the message to Mr.
"I cannot think, sir, of employing you on such a duty," hastily
interposed Mr. Effingham, who felt a gentleman's reluctance to impose
an unsuitable office on any of his dependants--"Tom, I am sure, will
do me the favour."
"Do not name it, my dear sir; nothing makes me happier than to do
these little errands, and, another time, you can do as much for me."
Aristabulus now went his way more cheerfully, for he determined to go
first to the barber, hoping that some expedient might suggest itself,
by means of which he could coax the apprentices from the lawn, and
thus escape the injury to his popularity, that he so much dreaded. It
is true, these apprentices were not voters, but then some of them
speedily would be, and all of them, moreover, had _tongues_, an
instrument Mr. Bragg held in quite as much awe as some men dread
salt-petre. In passing the ball-players, he called out in a wheedling
tone to their ringleader, a notorious street brawler--
"A fine time for sport, Dickey; don't you think there would be more
room in the broad street than on this crowded lawn, where you lose
your ball so often in the shrubbery?"
"This place will do, on a pinch," bawled Dickey--"though it might be
better. If it warn't for that plagued house, we couldn't ask for a
"I don't see," put in another, "what folks built a house just in that
spot for; it has spoilt the very best play-ground in the village."
"Some people have their notions as well as others," returned
Aristabulus; "but, gentlemen, if I were in your place, I would try
the street; I feel satisfied you would find it much the most
agreeable and convenient."
The apprentices thought differently, however, or they were indisposed
to the change; and so they recommenced their yells, their oaths, and
their game. In the mean while, the party in the house continued their
examination of John Effingham's improvements; and when this was
completed, they separated, each to his or her own room.
Aristabulus soon reappeared on the lawn; and, approaching the ball-
players, he began to execute his commission, as he conceived, in good
earnest. Instead of simply saying, however, that it was disagreeable
to the owner of the property to have such an invasion on his privacy,
and thus putting a stop to the intrusion for the future as well as at
the present moment, he believed some address necessary to attain the
"Well, Dickey," he said, "there is no accounting for tastes; but, in
my opinion, the street would be a much better place to play ball in
than this lawn. I wonder gentlemen of your observation should be
satisfied with so cramped a play-ground!"
"I tell you, Squire Bragg, this will do," roared Dickey; "we are in a
hurry, and no way particular; the bosses will be after us in half an
hour. Heave away, Sam."
"There are so many fences hereabouts," continued Aristabulus, with an
air of indifference; "it's true the village trustees say there _shall
be no ball-playing in the street_, but I conclude you don't much mind
what _they_ think or threaten."
"Let them sue for that, if they like," bawled a particularly amiable
blackguard, called Peter, who struck his ball as he spoke, quite into
the principal street of the village. "Who's a trustee, that he should
tell gentlemen where they are to play ball!"
"Sure enough," said Aristabulus, "and, now, by following up that
blow, you can bring matters to an issue. I think the law very
oppressive, and you can never have so good an opportunity to bring
things to a crisis. Besides, it is very aristocratic to play ball
among roses and dahlias."
The bait took; for what apprentice--American apprentice, in
particular--can resist an opportunity of showing how much he
considers himself superior to the law? Then it had never struck any
of the party before, that it was vulgar and aristocratic to pursue
the sport among roses, and one or two of them actually complained
that they had pricked their fingers, in searching for the ball.
"I know Mr. Effingham will be very sorry to have you go," continued
Aristabulus, following up his advantage; "but gentlemen cannot always
forego their pleasures for other folks."
"Who's Mr. Effingham, I would like to know?" cried Joe Wart. "If he
wants people to play ball on his premises, let him cut down his
roses. Come, gentlemen, I conform to Squire Bragg, and invite you all
to follow me into the street."
As the lawn was now evacuated, _en masse_, Aristabulus proceeded with
alacrity to the house, and went into the library, where Mr. Effingham
was patiently waiting his return.
"I am happy to inform you, sir," commenced the ambassador, "that the
ball-players have adjourned; and as for Mr. Lather, he declines your
"Declines my proposition!"
"Yes, sir; he dislikes to come; for he thinks it will be altogether a
poor operation. His notion is, that if it be worth his while to come
up to the Wigwam to cut your hair, it may be worth your while to go
down to the shop, to have it cut. Considering the matter in all its
bearings, therefore, he concludes he would rather not engage in the
transaction at all."
"I regret, sir, to have consented to your taking so disagreeable a
commission, and regret it the more, now I find that the barber is
disposed to be troublesome."
"Not at all, sir. Mr. Lather is a good man, in his way, and
particularly neighbourly. By the way, Mr. Effingham, he asked me to
propose to let him take down your garden fence, in order that he may
haul some manure on his potato patch, which wants it dreadfully, he
"Certainly, sir. I cannot possibly object to his hauling his manure,
even through this house, should he wish it. He is so very valuable a
citizen, and one who knows his own business so well, that I am only
surprised at the moderation of his request."
Here Mr. Effingham rose, rang the bell for Pierre, and went to his
own room, doubting, in his own mind, from all that he had seen,
whether this was really the Templeton he had known in his youth, and
whether he was in his own house or not.
As for Aristabulus, who saw nothing out of rule, or contrary to his
own notions of propriety, in what had passed, he hurried off to tell
the barber, who was so ignorant of the first duty of his trade, that
he was at liberty to pull down Mr. Effingham's fence, in order to
manure his own potato patch.
Lest the reader should suppose we are drawing caricatures, instead of
representing an actual condition of society, it may be necessary to
explain that Mr. Bragg was a standing candidate for popular favour;
that, like Mr. Dodge, he considered every thing that presented itself
in the name of the public, as sacred and paramount, and that so
general and positive was his deference for majorities, that it was
the bias of his mind to think half-a-dozen always in the right, as
opposed to one, although that one, agreeably to the great decision of
the real majority of the entire community, had not only the law on
his side, but all the abstract merits of the disputed question. In
short, to such a pass of freedom had Mr. Bragg, in common with a
large class of his countrymen, carried his notions, that he had
really begun to imagine liberty was all means and no end.
"In sooth, thou wast in very gracious fooling last night, when thou
spokest of Pigrogromotus, of the Vapians passing the equinoctial of
Queubus; 't was very good i' faith."--SIR ANDREW AGUE-CHEEK.
The progress of society, it has just been said, in what is termed a
"new country," is a little anomalous. At the commencement of a
settlement, there is much of that sort of kind feeling and mutual
interest, which men are apt to manifest towards each other, when they
are embarked in an enterprise of common hazards. The distance that is
unavoidably inseparable from education, habits and manners, is
lessened by mutual wants and mutual efforts; and the gentleman, even
while he may maintain his character and station, maintains them with
that species of good-fellowship and familiarity, that marks the
intercourse between the officer and the soldier, in an arduous
campaign. Men, and even women, break bread together, and otherwise
commingle, that, in different circumstances, would be strangers; the
hardy adventures and rough living of the forest, apparently lowering
the pretensions of the man of cultivation and mere mental resources,
to something very near the level of those of the man of physical
energy, and manual skill. In this rude intercourse, the parties meet,
as it might be, on a sort of neutral ground, one yielding some of his
superiority, and the other laying claims to an outward show of
equality, that he secretly knows, however, is the result of the
peculiar circumstances in which he is placed. In short, the state of
society is favourable to the claims of mere animal force, and
unfavourable to those of the higher qualities.
This period may be termed, perhaps, the happiest of the first century
of a settlement. The great cares of life are so engrossing and
serious, that small vexations are overlooked, and the petty
grievances that would make us seriously uncomfortable in a more
regular state of society, are taken as matters of course, or laughed
at as the regular and expected incidents of the day. Good-will
abounds; neighbour comes cheerfully to the aid of neighbour; and life
has much of the reckless gaiety, careless association, and buoyant
merriment of childhood. It is found that they who have passed through
this probation, usually look back to it with regret, and are fond of
dwelling on the rude scenes and ridiculous events that distinguish
the history of a new settlement, as the hunter is known to pine for
To this period of fun, toil, neighbourly feeling and adventure,
succeeds another, in which society begins to marshal itself, and the
ordinary passions have sway. Now it is, that we see the struggles for
place, the heart-burnings and jealousies of contending families, and
the influence of mere money. Circumstances have probably established
the local superiority of a few beyond all question, and the
conditioese serves as a goal for the rest to aim at. The learned
professions, the ministry included, or what, by courtesy, are so
called, take precedence, as a matter of course, next to wealth,
however, when wealth is at all supported by appearances. Then
commence those gradations of social station, that set institutions at
defiance, and which as necessarily follow civilization, as tastes and
habits are a consequence of indulgence.
This is, perhaps, the least inviting condition of society that
belongs to any country that can claim to be free and removed from
barbarism. The tastes are too uncultivated to exercise any essential
influence; and when they do exist, it is usually with the pretension
and effort that so commonly accompany infant knowledge. The struggle
is only so much the more severe, in consequence of the late _pele
mele_, while men lay claim to a consideration that would seem beyond
their reach, in an older and more regulated community. It is during
this period that manners suffer the most, since they want the nature
and feeling of the first condition, while they are exposed to the
rudest assaults of the coarse-minded and vulgar; for, as men usually
defer to a superiority that is long established, there being a charm
about antiquity that is sometimes able to repress the passions, in
older communities the marshalling of time quietly regulates what is
here the subject of strife.
What has just been said, depends on a general and natural principle,
perhaps; but the state of society we are describing has some features
peculiar to itself. The civilization of America, even in its older
districts, which supply the emigrants to the newer regions, is
unequal; one state possessing a higher level than another. Coming as
it does, from different parts of this vast country, the population of
a new settlement, while it is singularly homogenous for the
circumstances, necessarily brings with it its local peculiarities. If
to these elements be added a sprinkling of Europeans of various
nations and conditions, the effects of the commingling, and the
temporary social struggles that follow, will occasion no surprise.
The third and last condition of society in a "new country," is that
in which the influence of the particular causes enumerated ceases,
and men and things come within the control of more general and
regular laws. The effect, of course, is to leave the community
possession of a civilization that conforms to that of the whole
region, be it higher or be it lower, and with the division into
castes that are more or less rigidly maintained, according to
The periods, as the astronomers call the time taken in a celestial
revolution, of the two first of these epochs in the history of a
settlement, depend very much on its advancement in wealth and in
numbers. In some places, the pastoral age, or that of good
fellowship, continues for a whole life, to the obvious retrogression
of the people, in most of the higher qualities, but to their manifest
advantage, however, in the pleasures of the time being; while, in
others, it passes away rapidly, like the buoyant animal joys, that
live their time, between fourteen and twenty.
The second period is usually of longer duration, the migratory habits
of the American people keeping society more unsettled than might
otherwise prove to be the case. It may be said never to cease
entirely until the great majority of the living generation are
natives of the region, knowing no other means of comparison than
those under which they have passed their days. Even when this is the
case, there is commonly so large an infusion of the birds of passage,
men who are adventurers in quest of advancement, and who live without
the charities of a neighbourhood, as they may be said almost to live
without a home, that there is to be found, for a long time, a middle
state of society, during which it may well be questioned whether a
community belongs to the second or to the third of the periods named.
Templeton was properly in this equivocal condition, for while the
third generation of the old settlers were in active life, so many
passers-by came and went, that the influence of the latter nearly
neutralized that of time and the natural order of things. Its
population was pretty equally divided between the descendants of the
earlier inhabitants, and those who flitted like swallows and other
migratory birds. All of those who had originally entered the region
in the pride of manhood, and had been active in converting the
wilderness into the abodes of civilized men, if they had not been
literally gathered to their fathers, in a physical sense had been
laid, the first of their several races, beneath those sods that were
to cover the heads of so many of their descendants. A few still
remained among those who entered the wilderness in young manhood, but
the events of the first period we have designated, and which we have
imperfectly recorded in another work, were already passing into
tradition. Among these original settlers some portion of the feeling
that had distinguished their earliest communion with their neighbours
yet continued, and one of their greatest delights was to talk of the
hardships and privations of their younger days, as the veteran loves
to discourse of his marches, battles, scars, and sieges. It would be
too much to say that these persons viewed the more ephemeral part of
the population with distrust, for their familiarity with changes
accustomed them to new faces; but they had a secret inclination for
each other, preferred those who could enter the most sincerely into
their own feelings, and naturally loved that communion best, where
they found the most sympathy. To this fragment of the community
belonged nearly all there was to be found of that sort of sentiment
which is connected with locality; adventure, with them, supplying the
place of time; while the natives of the spot, wanting in the
recollections that had so many charms for their fathers, were not yet
brought sufficiently within the influence of traditionary interest,
to feel that hallowed sentiment in its proper force. As opposed in
feeling to these relics of the olden time, were the birds of passage
so often named, a numerous and restless class, that, of themselves,
are almost sufficient to destroy whatever there is of poetry, or of
local attachment, in any region where they resort.
In Templeton and its adjacent district, however, the two hostile
influences might be said to be nearly equal, the descendants of the
fathers of the country beginning to make a manly stand against the
looser sentiment, or the want of sentiment, that so singularly
distinguishes the migratory bands. The first did begin to consider
the temple in which their fathers had worshipped more hallowed than
strange altars; the sods that covered their fathers' heads more
sacred than the clods that were upturned by the plough; and the
places of their childhood and childish sports dearer than the highway
trodden by a nameless multitude.
Such, then, were the elements of the society into which we have now
ushered the reader, and with which it will be our duty to make him
better acquainted, as we proceed in the regular narration of the
incidents of our tale.
The return of the Effinghams, after so long an absence, naturally
produced a sensation in so small a place, and visiters began to
appear in the Wigwam as soon as propriety would allow. Many false
rumours prevailed, quite as a matter of course; and Eve, it was
reported, was on the point of being married to no less than three of
the inmates of her father's house, within the first ten days, viz:
Sir George Templemore, Mr. Powis, and Mr. Bragg; the latter story
taking its rise in some precocious hopes that had escaped the
gentleman himself, in the "excitement" of helping to empty a bottle
of bad Breton wine, that was dignified with the name of champagne.
But these tales revived and died so often, in a state of society in
which matrimony is so general a topic with the young of the gentler
sex, that they brought with them their own refutation.
The third day, in particular, after the arrival of our party, was a
reception day at the Wigwam; the gentlemen and ladies making it a
point to be at home and disengaged, after twelve o'clock, in order to
do honour to their guests. One of the first who made his appearance
was a Mr. Howel, a bachelor of about the same age as Mr. Effingham,
and a man of easy fortune and quiet habits. Nature had done more
towards making Mr. Howel a gentleman, than either cultivation or
association; for he had passed his entire life, with very immaterial
exceptions, in the valley of Templeton, where, without being what
could be called a student, or a scholar, he had dreamed away his
existence in an indolent communication with the current literature of
the day. He was fond of reading, and being indisposed to contention,
or activity of any sort, his mind had admitted the impressions of
what he perused, as the stone receives a new form by the constant
fall of drops of water. Unfortunately for Mr. Howel, he understood no
language but his mother tongue; and, as all his reading was
necessarily confined to English books, he had gradually, and unknown
to himself, in his moral nature at least, got to be a mere reflection
of those opinions, prejudices, and principles, if such a word can
properly be used for such a state of the mind, that it had suited the
interests or passions of England to promulgate by means of the press.
A perfect _bonne foi_ prevailed in all his notions; and though a very
modest man by nature, so very certain was he that his authority was
always right, that he was a little apt to be dogmatical on such
points as he thought his authors appeared to think settled. Between
John Effingham and Mr. Howel, there were constant amicable skirmishes
in the way of discussion; for, while the latter was so dependent,
limited in knowledge by unavoidable circumstances, and disposed to an
innocent credulity, the first was original in his views, accustomed
to see and think for himself, and, moreover, a little apt to estimate
his own advantages at their full value.
"Here comes our good neighbour, and my old school-fellow, Tom Howel."
said Mr. Effingham, looking out at a window, and perceiving the
person mentioned crossing the little lawn in front of the house, by
following a winding foot-path--"as kind-hearted a man, Sir George
Templemore, as exists; one who is really American, for he has
scarcely quitted the county half-a-dozen times in his life, and one
of the honestest fellows of my acquaintance."
"Ay," put in John Effingham, "as real an American as any man can be,
who uses English spectacles for all he looks at, English opinions for
all he says, English prejudices for all he condemns, and an English
palate for all he tastes. American, quotha! The man is no more
American than the Times' newspaper, or Charing Cross! He actually
made a journey to New-York last war, to satisfy himself with his own
eyes that a Yankee frigate had really brought an Englishman into
"His English predilections will be no fault in my eyes," said the
baronet, smiling--"and I dare say we shall be excellent friends."
"I am sure Mr. Howel is a very agreeable man," added Grace--"of all
in your Templeton _coterie_, he is my greatest favourite."
"Oh! I foresee a tender intimacy between Templemore and Howel,"
rejoined John Effingham; "and sundry wordy wars between the latter
and Miss Effingham."
"In this you do me injustice, cousin Jack. I remember Mr. Howel well,
and kindly; for he was ever wont to indulge my childish whims, when a
"The man is a second Burchell, and, I dare say never came to the
Wigwam when you were a child, without having his pockets stuffed with
cakes, or _bonbons_."
The meeting was cordial, Mr. Howel greeting the gentlemen like a warm
friend, and expressing great delight at the personal improvements
that had been made in Eve, between the ages of eight and twenty. John
Effingham was no more backward than the others, for he, too, liked
their simple-minded, kind-hearted, but credulous neighbour.
"You are welcome back--you are welcome back," added Mr. Howel,
blowing his nose, in order to conceal the tears that were gathering
in his eyes. "I did think of going to New-York to meet you, but the
distance at my time of life is very serious. Age, gentlemen, seems to
be a stranger to you."
"And yet we, who are both a few months older than yourself, Howel,"
returned Mr. Effingham, kindly, "have managed to overcome the
distance you have just mentioned, in order to come and see _you!_"
"Ay, you are great travellers, gentlemen, very great travellers, and
are accustomed to motion.--Been quite as far as Jerusalem, I hear!"
"Into its very gates, my good friend; and I wish, with all my heart,
we had had you in our company. Such a journey might cure you of the
"I am a fixture, and never expect to look upon the ocean, now. I did,
at one period of my life, fancy such an event might happen, but I
have finally abandoned all hope on that subject. Well, Miss Eve, of
all the countries in which you have dwelt, to which do you give the
"I think Italy is the general favourite," Eve answered, with a
friendly smile; "although there are some agreeable things peculiar to
almost every country."
"Italy!--Well, that astonishes me a good deal! I never knew there was
any thing particularly interesting about Italy! I should have
expected _you_ to say, England."
"England is a fine country, too, certainly; but it wants many things
that Italy enjoys."
"Well, now, what?" said Mr. Howel, shifting his legs from one knee to
the other, in order to be more convenient to listen, or, if
necessary, to object. "What _can_ Italy possess, that England does
not enjoy in a still greater degree?"
"Its recollections, for one thing, and all that interest which time
and great events throw around a region."
"And is England wanting in recollections and great events? Are there
not the Conqueror? or, if you will, King Alfred? and Queen Elizabeth,
and Shakspeare--think of Shakspeare, young lady--and Sir Walter
Scott, and the Gun-Powder Plot; and Cromwell, Oliver Cromwell, my
dear Miss Eve; and Westminster Abbey, and London Bridge, and George
IV., the descendant of a line of real kings,--what, in the name of
Heaven, can Italy possess, to equal the interest one feels in such
things as these?'
"They are very interesting no doubt;" said Eve, endeavouring not to
smile--"but Italy has its relics of former ages too; you forget the
"Very good sort of persons for barbarous times, I dare say, but what
can they be to the English monarchs? I would rather look upon a _bona
fide_ English king, than see all the Caesars that ever lived. I never
can think any man a real king but the king of England!"
"Not King Solomon!" cried John Effingham.
"Oh! he was a Bible king, and one never thinks of them. Italy! well,
this I did not expect from your father's daughter! Your great-great-
great-grandfather must have been an Englishman born, Mr, Effingham?"
"I have reason to think he was, sir."
"And Milton, and Dryden, and Newton, and Locke! These are prodigious
names, and worth all the Caesars put together. And Pope, too; what
have they got in Italy to compare to Pope?"
"They have at least _the_ Pope," said Eve, laughing.
"And, then, there are the Boar's Head in East-Cheap; and the Tower;
and Queen Anne, and all the wits of her reign; and--and--and Titus
Oates; and Bosworth field; and Smithfield, where the martyrs were
burned, and a thousand more spots and persons of intense interest in
"Quite true," said John Effingham, with an air of sympathy--"but,
Howel, you have forgotten Peeping Tom of Coventry, and the climate!"
"And Holyrood-House; and York-Minster; and St Paul's;" continued the
worthy Mr. Howel, too much bent on a catalogue of excellencies, that
to him were sacred, to heed the interruption, "and, above all,
Windsor Castle. What is there in the world to equal Windsor Castle as
a royal residence?"
Want of breath now gave Eve an opportunity to reply, and she seized
it with an eagerness that she was the first to laugh at herself,
"Caserta is no mean house, Mr. Howel; and, in my poor judgment, there
is more real magnificence in its great stair-case, than in all
Windsor Castle united, if you except the chapel."
"But, St. Paul's!"
"Why, St. Peter's may be set down, quite fairly, I think, for its
_pendant_ at least."
"True, the Catholics _do_ say so;" returned Mr. Howel, with the
deliberation one uses when he greatly distrusts his own concession;
"but I have always considered it one of their frauds. I don't think
there _can_ be any thing finer than St. Paul's. Then there are the
noble ruins of England! _They_, you must admit, are unrivalled."
"The Temple of Neptune, at Paestum, is commonly thought an interesting
ruin, Mr. Howel."
"Yes, yes, for a _temple_, I dare say; though I do not remember to
have ever heard of it before. But no temple can ever compare to a
ruined _abbey_ /"
"Taste is an arbitrary thing, Tom Howel, as you and I know when as
boys we quarrelled about the beauty of our ponies," said Mr.
Effingham, willing to put an end to a discussion that he thought a
little premature, after so long an absence. "Here are two young
friends who shared the hazards of our late passage with us, and to
whom, in a great degree, we owe our present happy security, and I am
anxious to make you acquainted with them. This is our countryman, Mr.
Powis, and this is an English friend, who, I am certain, will be
happy to know so warm an admirer of his own country--Sir George
Mr. Howel had never before seen a titled Englishman, and he was taken
so much by surprise that he made his salutations rather awkwardly. As
both the young men, however, met him with the respectful ease that
denotes familiarity with the world, he soon recovered his self-
"I hope you have brought back with you a sound American heart, Miss
Eve," resumed the guest, as soon as this little interruption had
ceased. "We have had sundry rumours of French Marquisses, and German
Barons; but I have, all along, trusted too much to your patriotism to
believe you would marry a foreigner."
"I hope you except Englishmen," cried Sir George, gaily: "we are
almost the same people."
"I am proud to hear you say so, sir. Nothing flatters me more than to
be thought English; and I certainly should not have accused Miss
Effingham of a want of love of country, had----"
"She married half-a-dozen Englishmen," interrupted John Effingham,
who saw that the old theme was in danger of being revived. "But,
Howel, you have paid me no compliments on the changes in the house. I
hope they are to your taste."
"A little too French, Mr. John."
"French!--There is not a French feature in the whole animal. What has
put such a notion into your head?"
"It is the common opinion, and I confess I should like the building
better were it less continental."
"Why, my old friend, it is a nondescript--original--Effingham upon
Doolittle, if you will; and, as for models, it is rather more
_English_ than any thing else."
"Well, Mr. John, I am glad to hear this, for I do confess to a
disposition rather to like the house. I am dying to know, Miss Eve,
if you saw all our distinguished contemporaries when in
Europe?--_That_ to me, would be one of the greatest delights of
"To say that we saw them _all_, might be too much; though we
certainly did meet with many."
"Scott, of course."
"Sir Walter we had the pleasure of meeting, a few times, in London."
"And Southey, and Coleridge, and Wordsworth, and Moore, and Bulwer,
and D'Israeli, and Rogers, and Campbell, and the grave of Byron, and
Horace Smith, and Miss Landon, and Barry Cornwall, and--"
"_Cum multis aliis_" put in John Effingham, again, by way of
arresting the torrent of names. "Eve saw many of these, and, as Tubal
told Shylock, 'we often came where we did hear' of the rest. But you
say nothing, friend Tom, of Goethe, and Tieck, and Schlegel, and La
Martine, Chateaubriant, Hugo, Delavigne, Mickiewicz, Nota, Manzoni,
Niccolini, &c. &c. &c. &c. &c. &c."
Honest, well-meaning Mr. Howel, listened to the catalogue that the
other ran volubly over, in silent wonder; for, with the exception of
one or two of these distinguished men, he had never even heard of
them; and, in the simplicity of his heart, unconsciously to himself,
he had got to believe that there was no great personage still living,
of whom he did not know something.
"Ah, here comes young Wenham, by way of preserving the equilibrium,"
resumed John Effingham, looking out of a window--"I rather think you
must have forgotten him, Ned, though you remember his father, beyond
Mr. Effingham and his cousin went out into the hall to receive the
new guest, with whom the latter had become acquainted while
superintending the repairs of the Wigwam.
Mr. Wenham was the son of a successful lawyer in the county, and,
being an only child, he had also succeeded to an easy independence.
His age, however, brought him rather into the generation to which Eve
belonged, than into that of the father; and, if Mr. Howel was a
reflection, or rather a continuation, of all the provincial notions
that America entertained of England forty years ago, Mr. Wenham might
almost be said to belong to the opposite school, and to be as ultra-
American, as his neighbour was ultra-British.--If there is _lajeune
France_, there is also _la jeune Amerique_, although the votaries of
the latter march with less hardy steps than the votaries of the
first. Mr. Wenham fancied himself a paragon of national independence,
and was constantly talking of American excellencies, though the
ancient impressions still lingered in his moral system, as men look
askance for the ghosts which frightened their childhood on crossing a
church-yard in the dark. John Effingham knew the _penchant_ of the
young man, and when he said that he came happily to preserve the
equilibrium, he alluded to this striking difference in the characters
of their two friends.
The introductions and salutations over, we shall resume the
conversation that succeeded in the drawing-room.
"You must be much gratified, Miss Effingham," observed Mr. Wenham,
who, like a true American, being a young man himself, supposed it _de
rigueur_ to address a young lady in preference to any other
present,--"with the great progress made by _our_ country since you
Eve simply answered that her extreme youth, when she left home, had
prevented her from retaining any precise notions on such subjects.
"I dare say it is all very true," she added, "but one, like myself,
who remembers only older countries, is, I think, a little more apt to
be struck with the deficiencies, than with what may, in truth, be
improvements, though they still fall short of excellence."
Mr. Wenham looked vexed, or indignant would be a better word, but he
succeeded in preserving his coolness--a thing that is not always easy
to one of provincial habits and provincial education, when he finds
his own _beau ideal_ lightly estimated by others.
"Miss Effingham must discover a thousand imperfections." said Mr.
Howel, "coming, as she does, directly from England. That music,
now,"--alluding to the sounds of a flute that were heard through the
open windows, coming from the adjacent village--"must be rude enough
to her ear, after the music of London."
"The _street_ music of London is certainly among the best, if not the
very best, in Europe," returned Eve, with a glance of the eye at the
baronet, that caused him to smile, "and I think this fairly belongs
to the class, being so freely given to the neighbourhood."
"Have you read the articles signed Minerva, in the Hebdomad, Miss
Effingham," inquired Mr. Wenham, who was determined to try the young
lady on a point of sentiment, having succeeded so ill in his first
attempt to interest her--"they are generally thought to be a great
acquisition to American literature."
"Well, Wenham, you are a fortunate man," interposed Mr. Howel, "if
you can find any literature in America, to add to, or to substract
from. Beyond almanacs, reports of cases badly got up, and newspaper
verses, I know nothing that deserves such a name."
"We may not print on as fine paper, Mr. Howel, or do up the books in
as handsome binding as other people," said Mr. Wenham, bridling and
looking grave, "but so far as sentiments are concerned, or sound
sense, American literature need turn its back on no literature of the
"By the way, Mr. Effingham, you were in Russia; did you happen to see
"I had that pleasure, Mr. Howel."
"And is he really the monster we have been taught to believe him?".
"Monster!" exclaimed the upright Mr. Effingham, fairly recoiling a
step in surprise. "In what sense a monster, my worthy friend? surely
not in a physical?"
"I do not know that. I have somehow got the notion he is any thing
but handsome. A mean, butchering, bloody-minded looking little chap,
"You are libelling one of the finest-looking men of the age."
"I think I would submit it to a jury. I cannot believe, after what I
have read of him in the English publications, that he is so very
"But, my good neighbour, these English publications must be wrong;
prejudiced perhaps, or even malignant."
"Oh! I am not the man to be imposed on in that way. Besides, what
motive could an English writer have for belying an Emperor of
"Sure enough, what motive!" exclaimed John Effingham.--"You have your
"But you will remember, Mr. Howel," Eve interposed, "that we have
_seen_ the Emperor Nicholas."
"I dare say, Miss Eve, that your gentle nature was disposed to judge
him as kindly as possible; and, then, I think most Americans, ever
since the treaty of Ghent, have been disposed to view all Russians
too favourably. No, no; I am satisfied with the account of the
English; they live much nearer to St. Petersburg than we do, and they
are more accustomed, too, to give accounts of such matters."
"But living nearer, Tom Howel," cried Mr. Effingham, with unusual
animation, "in such a case, is of no avail, unless one lives near
enough to see with his own eyes."
"Well--well--my good friend, we will talk of this another time. I
know your disposition to look at every body with lenient eyes. I will
now wish you all a good morning, and hope soon to see you again. Miss
Eve, I have one word to say, if you dare trust yourself with a youth
of fifty, for a minute, in the library."
Eve rose cheerfully, and led the way to the room her father's visiter
had named. When within it, Mr. Howel shut the door carefully, and
then with a sort of eager delight, he exclaimed--
"For heaven's sake, my dear young lady, tell me who are these two
strange gentlemen in the other room."
"Precisely the persons my father mentioned, Mr. Howel; Mr. Paul
Powis, and Sir George Templemore."
"Englishmen, of course!"
"Sir George Templemore is, of course, as you say, but we may boast of
Mr. Powis as a countryman."
"Sir George Templemore!--What a superb-looking young fellow!"
"Why, yes," returned Eve, laughing; "he, at least, you will admit is
a handsome man."
"He is wonderful!--The other, Mr.--a--a--a--I forget what you called
him--he is pretty well too; but this Sir George is a princely youth."
"I rather think a majority of observers would give the preference to
the appearance of Mr. Powis," said Eve, struggling to be steady, but
permitting a blush to heighten her colour, in despite of the effort.
"What could have induced him to come up among these mountains--an
English baronet!" resumed Mr. Howel, without thinking of Eve's
confusion. "Is he a real lord?"
"Only a little one, Mr. Howel. You heard what my father said of our
having been fellow-travellers."
"But what _does_ he think of us. I am dying to know what such a man
_really_ thinks of us?"
"It is not always easy to discover what such men _really_ think;
although I am inclined to believe that he is disposed to think rather
favourably of some of us."
"Ay, of you, and your father, and Mr. John. You have travelled, and
are more than half European; but what _can_ he think of those who
have never left America?"
"Even of some of those," returned Eve, smiling, "I suspect he thinks
"Well, I am glad of that. Do you happen to know his opinion of the
"Indeed. I do not remember to have heard him mention the Emperor's
name; nor do I think he has ever seen him."
"That is extraordinary! Such a man should have seen every thing, and
know every thing; but I'll engage, at the bottom, he does know all
about him. If you happen to have any old English newspapers, as
wrappers, or by any other accident, let me beg them of you. I care
not how old they are. An English journal fifty years old, is more
interesting than one of ours wet from the press."
Eve promised to send him a package, when they shook hands and parted.
As she was crossing the hall, to rejoin the party, John Effingham
"Has Howel made proposals?" the gentleman inquired, in an affected
"None, cousin Jack, beyond an offer to read the old English
newspapers I can send him."
"Yes, yes, Tom Howel will swallow all the nonsense that is _timbre a
"I confess a good deal of surprise at finding a respectable and
intelligent man so weak-minded as to give credit to such authorities,
or to form his serious opinions on information derived from such
"You may be surprised, Eve, at hearing so frank avowals of the
weakness; but, as for the weakness itself, you are now in a country
for which England does all the thinking, except on subjects that
touch the current interests of the day."
"Nay, I will not believe this! If it were true, how came we
independent of her--where did we get spirit to war against her."
"The man who has attained his majority is independent of his father's
legal control, without being independent of the lessons he was taught
when a child. The soldier sometimes mutinies, and after the contest
is over, he is usually the most submissive man of the regiment."
"All this to me is very astonishing! I confess that a great deal has
struck me unpleasantly in this way, since our return; especially in
ordinary society; but I never could have supposed it had reached to
the pass in which I see it existing in our good neighbour Howel."
"You have witnessed one of the effects, in a matter of no great
moment to ourselves; but, as time and years afford the means of
observation and comparison, you will perceive the effects in matters
of the last moment, in a national point of view. It is in human
nature to undervalue the things with which we are familiar, and to
form false estimates of those which are remote, either by time, or by
distance. But, go into the drawing-room, and, in young Wenham, you
will find one who fancies himself a votary of a new school, although
his prejudices and mental dependence are scarcely less obvious than
those of poor Tom Howel."
The arrival of more company, among whom were several ladies,
compelled Eve to defer an examination of Mr. Wenham's peculiarities
to another opportunity. She found many of her own sex, whom she had
left children, grown into womanhood, and not a few of them at a
period of life when they should be cultivating their physical and
moral powers, already oppressed with the cares and feebleness that
weigh so heavily on the young American wife.
"Nay we must longer kneel; I am a suitor."
The Effinghams were soon regularly domesticated, and the usual
civilities had been exchanged. Many of their old friends resumed
their ancient intercourse, and some new acquaintances were made. The
few first visits were, as usual, rather labored and formal; but
things soon took their natural course, and, as the ease of country
life was the aim of the family, the temporary little bustle was
The dressing-room of Eve overlooked the lake, and, about a week after
her arrival, she was seated in it enjoying that peculiarly lady-like
luxury, which is to be found in the process of having another gently
disposing of the hair. Annette wielded the comb, as usual, while Ann
Sidley, who was unconsciously jealous that any one should be employed
about her darling, even in this manner, though so long accustomed to
it, busied herself in preparing the different articles of attire that
she fancied her young mistress might be disposed to wear that
morning. Grace was also in the room, having escaped from the hands of
her own maid, in order to look into one of those books which
professed to give an account of the extraction and families of the
higher classes of Great Britain, a copy of which Eve happened to
possess, among a large collection of books, _Allmanachs de Gotha_,
Court Guides, and other similar works that she had found it
convenient to possess as a traveller.
"Ah! here it is," said Grace, in the eagerness of one who is suddenly
successful after a long and vexatious search.
"Here is what, coz?"
Grace coloured, and she could have bitten her tongue for its
indiscretion, but, too ingenuous to deceive, she reluctantly told the
"I was merely looking for the account of Sir George Templemore's
family; it is awkward to be domesticated with one, of whose family we
are utterly ignorant."
"Have you found the name?"
"Yes; I see he has two sisters, both of whom are married, and a
brother who is in the Guards. But--"
"But what, dear?"
"His title is not so _very_ old."
"The title of no Baronet _can_ be very old, the order having been
instituted in the reign of James I."
"I did not know that. His ancestor was created a baronet in 1701, I
see. Now, Eve--"
"Now, what, Grace?"
"We are both--" Grace would not confine the remark to herself--"we
are both of older families than this! You have even a much higher
English extraction; and I think I can claim for the Van Cortlandts
more antiquity than one that dates from 1701!"
"No one doubts it, Grace; but what do you wish me to understand by
this? Are we to insist on preceding Sir George, in going through a
Grace blushed to the eyes, and yet she laughed, involuntarily.
"What nonsense! No one thinks of such things in America."
"Except at Washington, where, I am told, 'Senators' ladies' do give
themselves airs. But you are quite right, Grace; women have no rank
in America, beyond their general social rank, as ladies or no ladies,
and we will not be the first to set an example of breaking the rule.
I am afraid our blood will pass for nothing, and that we must give
place to the baronet, unless, indeed, he recognizes the rights of the
"You know I mean nothing so silly. Sir George Templemore does not
seem to think of rank at all; even Mr. Powis treats him, in all
respects, as an equal, and Sir George seems to admit it to be right."
Eve's maid, at the moment, was twisting her hair, with the intention
to put it up; but the sudden manner in which her young mistress
turned to look at Grace, caused Annette to relinquish her grasp, and
the shoulders of the beautiful and blooming girl were instantly
covered with the luxuriant tresses.
"And why should _not_ Mr. Powis treat Sir George Templemore as one
every way his equal, Grace?" she asked, with an impetuosity unusual
in one so trained in the forms of the world.
"Why, Eve, one is a baronet, and the other is but a simple
Eve Effingham sat silent for quite a minute. Her little foot moved,
and she had been carefully taught, too, that a lady-like manner,
required that even this beautiful portion of the female frame should
be quiet and unobtrusive. But America did not contain two of the same
sex, years, and social condition, less alike in their opinions, or it
might be said their prejudices, than the two cousins. Grace Van
Cortlandt, of the best blood of her native land, had unconsciouslv
imbibed in childhood, the notions connected with hereditary rank,
through the traditions of colonial manners, by means of novels, by
hearing the vulgar reproached or condemned for their obtrusion and
ignorance, and too often justly reproached and condemned, and by the
aid of her imagination, which contributed to throw a gloss and
brilliancy over a state of things that singularly gains by distance.
On the other hand, with Eve, every thing connected with such subjects
was a matter of fact. She had been thrown early into the highest
associations of Europe; she had not only seen royalty on its days of
gala and representation, a mere raree-show that is addressed to the
senses, or purely an observance of forms that may possibly have their
meaning, but which can scarcely be said to have their reasons, but
she had lived long and intimately among the high-born and great, and
this, too, in so many different countries, as to have destroyed the
influence of the particular nation that has transmitted so many of
its notions to America as heir-looms. By close observation, she knew
that arbitrary and political distinctions made but little difference
between men of themselves; and so far from having become the dupe of
the glitter of life, by living so long within its immediate
influence, she had learned to discriminate between the false and the
real, and to perceive that which was truly respectable and useful,
and to know it from that which was merely arbitrary and selfish. Eve
actually fancied that the position of an American gentleman might
readily become, nay that it _ought_ to be the highest of all human
stations, short of that of sovereigns. Such a man had no social
superior, with the exception of those who actually ruled, in her
eyes, and this fact she conceived, rendered him more than noble, as
nobility is usually graduated. She had been accustomed to see her
father and John Effingham moving in the best circles of Europe,
respected for their information and independence, undistinguished by
their manners, admired for their personal appearance, manly,
courteous, and of noble bearing and principles, if not set apart from
the rest of mankind by an arbitrary rule connected with rank. Rich,
and possessing all the habits that properly mark refinement, of
gentle extraction, of liberal attainments, walking abroad in the
dignity of manhood, and with none between them and the Deity, Eve had
learned to regard the gentlemen of her race as the equals in station
of any of their European associates, and as the superiors of most, in
every thing that is essential to true distinction. With her, even
titular princes and dukes had no estimation, merely as princes and
dukes; and, as her quick mind glanced over the long catalogue of
artificial social gradations and she found Grace actually attaching
an importance to the equivocal and purely conventional condition of
an English baronet, a strong sense of the ludicrous connected itself
with the idea.
"A simple gentleman, Grace!" she repeated slowly after her cousin;
"and is not a simple gentleman, a simple _American_ gentleman, the
equal of any gentleman on earth--of a poor baronet, in particular?"
"Poor baronet, Eve!"
"Yes, dear, _poor_ baronet; I know fully the extent and meaning of
what I say. It is true, we do not know as much of Mr. Powis' family,"
and here Eve's colour heightened, though she made a mighty effort to
be steady and unmoved, "as we might; but we know he is an _American_;
that, at least, is something; and we see he is a gentleman; and what
American gentleman, a real American gentleman, _can_ be the inferior
of an English baronet? Would your uncle, think you; would cousin
Jack; proud, lofty-minded cousin Jack, think you, Grace, consent to
receive so paltry a distinction as a baronetcy, were our institutions
to be so far altered as to admit of such social classifications?"
"Why, what would they be, Eve, if not baronets?"
"Earls, Counts, Dukes, nay Princes! These are the designations of the
higher classes of Europe, and such titles, or those that are
equivalent, would belong to the higher classes here."
"I fancy that Sir George Templemore would not be persuaded to admit
"If you had seen Miss Eve, surrounded and admired by princes, as I
have seen her, Miss Grace," said Ann Sidley, "you would not think any
simple Sir George half good enough for her."
"Our good Nanny means, _a_ Sir George," interrupted Eve, laughing,
"and not _the_ Sir George in question. But, seriously, dearest coz,
it depends more on ourselves, and less on others, in what light they
are to regard us, than is commonly supposed. Do you not suppose there
are families in America who, if disposed to raise any objections
beyond those that are purely personal, would object to baronets, and
the wearers of red ribands, as unfit matches for their daughters, on
the ground of rank? What an absurdity would it be, for _a_ Sir
George, or _the_ Sir George either, to object to a daughter of a
President of the United States for instance, on account of station;
and yet I'll answer for it, _you_ would think it no personal honour,
if Mr. Jackson had a son, that he should, propose to my dear father
for you. Let us respect ourselves properly, take care to be truly
ladies and gentlemen, and so far from titular rank's being necessary
to us, before a hundred lustres are past, we shall bring all such
distinctions into discredit, by showing that they are not necessary
to any one important interest, or to true happiness and
respectability any where."
"And do you not believe, Eve, that Sir George Templemore thinks of
the difference in station between us?"
"I cannot answer for that," said Eve, calmly. "The man is naturally
modest; and, it is possible, when he sees that we belong to the
highest social condition of a great country, he may regret that such
has not been his own good fortune in his native land; especially,
Grace, since he has known _you_."
Grace blushed, looked pleased, delighted even, and yet surprised. It
is unnecessary to explain the causes of the three first expressions
of her emotions; but the last may require a short examination.
Nothing but time and a change of circumstances, can ever raise a
province or a provincial town to the independent state of feeling
that so strikingly distinguishes a metropolitan country, or a
capital. It would be as rational to expect that the inhabitants of
the nursery should disregard the opinions of the drawing-room, as to
believe that the provincial should do all his own thinking. Political
dependency, moreover, is much more easily thrown aside than mental
dependency. It is not surprising, therefore, that Grace Van
Cortlandt, with her narrow associations, general notions of life,
origin, and provincial habits, should be the very opposite of Eve, in
all that relates to independence of thought, on subjects like those
that they were now discussing. Had Grace been a native of New
England, even, she would have been less influenced by the mere social
rank of the baronet than was actually the case; for, while the
population of that part of the Union feel more of the general
subserviency to Great Britain than the population of any other
portion of the republic, they probably feel less of it, in this
particular form, from the circumstance that their colonial habits
were less connected with the aristocratical usages of the mother
country. Grace was allied by blood, too, with the higher classes of
England, as, indeed, was the fact with most of the old families among
the New York gentry; and the traditions of her race came in aid of
the traditions of her colony, to continue the profound deference she
felt for an English title. Eve might have been equally subjected to
the same feelings, had she not been removed into another sphere at so
early a period of life, where she imbibed the notions already
mentioned--notions that were quite as effectually rooted in her moral
system, as those of Grace herself could be in her own.
"This is a strange way of viewing the rank of a baronet, Eve!" Grace
exclaimed, as soon as she had a little recovered from the confusion
caused by the personal allusion. "I greatly question if you can
induce Sir George Templemore to see his own position with your eyes."
"No, my dear; I think he will be much more likely to regard, not only
that, but most other things, with the eyes of another person. We will
now talk of more agreeable things, however; for I confess, when I do
dwell on titles, I have a taste for the more princely appellations;
and that a simple _chevalier_ can scarce excite a feeling that such
is the theme."
"Nay, Eve," interrupted Grace, with spirit, "an _English_ baronet
_is_ noble. Sir George Templemore assured me that, as lately as last
evening. The heralds, I believe, have quite recently established that
fact to their own satisfaction."
"I am glad of it, dear," returned Eve, with difficulty refraining
from gaping, "as it will be of great importance to them, in their own
eyes. At all events, I concede that Sir George Templemore, knight, or
baronet, big baron or little baron, is a noble fellow; and what more
can any reasonable person desire. Do you know, sweet coz, that the
Wigwam will be full to overflowing next week?--that it will be
necessary to light our council-fire, and to smoke the pipe of many
"I have understood Mr. Powis, that his kinsman, Captain Ducie, will
arrive on Monday."
"And Mrs. Hawker will come on Tuesday, Mr. and Mrs. Bloomfield on
Wednesday, and honest, brave straight-forward, literati-hating
Captain Truck, on Thursday, at the latest. We shall be a large
country-circle, and I hear the gentlemen talking of the boats and
other amusements. But I believe my father has a consultation in the
library, at which he wishes us to be present; we will join him, if
As Eve's toilette was now completed, the two ladies rose, and
descended together to join the party below. Mr. Effingham was
standing at a table that was covered with maps, while two or three
respectable-looking men, master-mechanics, were at his side. The
manners of these men were quiet, civil, and respectful, having a
mixture of manly simplicity, with a proper deference for the years
and station of the master of the house; though all but one, wore
their hats. The one who formed the exception, had become refined by a
long intercourse with this particular family; and his acquired taste
had taught him that, respect for himself, as well as for decency,
rendered it necessary to observe the long-established rules of
decorum, in his intercourse with others. His companions, though
without a particle of coarseness, or any rudeness of intention, were
less decorous, simply from a loose habit, that is insensibly taking
the place of the ancient laws of propriety in such matters, and which
habit, it is to be feared, has a part of its origin in false and
impracticable political notions, that have been stimulated by the
arts of demagogues. Still, not one of the three hardworking, really
civil, and even humane men, who now stood covered in the library of
Mr. Effingham, was probably conscious of the impropriety of which he
was guilty, or was doing more than insensibly yielding to a vicious
and vulgar practice.
"I am glad you have come, my love," said Mr. Effingham, as his
daughter entered the room, "for I find I need support in maintaining
my own opinions here. John is obstinately silent; and, as for all
these other gentlemen, I fear they have decidedly taken sides against
"You can usually count on my support, dearest father, feeble as it
may be. But what is the disputed point to-day?"
"There is a proposition to alter the interior of the church, and our
neighbour Gouge has brought the plans, on which, as he says, he has
lately altered several churches in the county. The idea is, to remove
the pews entirely, converting them into what are called 'slips,' to
lower the pulpit, and to raise the floor, amphitheatre fashion."
"Can there be a sufficient reason for this change?" demanded Eve,
with surprise. "Slips! The word has a vulgar sound even, and savours
of a useless innovation. I doubt its orthodoxy."
"It is very popular, Miss Eve," answered Aristabulus, advancing from
a window, where he had been whispering assent. "This fashion takes
universally and is getting to prevail in all denominations."
Eve turned involuntarily, and to her surprise she perceived that the
editor of the Active Inquirer was added to their party. The
salutations, on the part of the young lady, were distant and stately,
while Mr. Dodge, who had not been able to resist public opinion, and
had actually parted with his moustachios, simpered, and wished to
have it understood by the spectators, that he was on familiar terms
with all the family.
"It may be popular, Mr. Bragg," returned Eve, as soon as she rose
from her profound curtsey to Mr. Dodge; "but it can scarcely be said
to be seemly. This is, indeed, changing the order of things, by
elevating the sinner, and depressing the saint."
"You forget, Miss Eve, that under the old plan, the people could not
see; they were kept unnaturally down, if one can so express it, while
nobody had a good look-out but the parson and the singers in the
front row of the gallery. This was unjust."
"I do not conceive, sir, that a good look-out, as you term it, is at
all essential to devotion, or that one cannot as well listen to
instruction when beneath the teacher, as when above him."
"Pardon me, Miss;" Eve recoiled, as she always did, when Mr. Bragg
used this vulgar and contemptuous mode of address; "we put no body up
or down; all we aim it is a just equality--to place all, as near as
possible, on a level."
Eve gazed about her in wonder; and then she hesitated a moment, as if
distrusting her ears.
"Equality! Equality with what? Surely not with the ordained ministers
of the church, in the performance of their sacred duties! Surely not
with the Deity!"
"We do not look at it exactly in this light, ma'am. The people build
the church, _that_ you will allow, Miss Effingham; even _you_ will
allow _this_, Mr. Effingham."
Both the parties appealed to, bowed a simple assent to so plain a
proposition, but neither spoke.
"Well, the people building the church very naturally ask themselves
for what purpose it was built?"
"For the worship of God," returned Eve with a steady solemnity of
manner that a little abashed even the ordinarily indomitable and
"Yes, Miss; for the worship of God and the accommodation of the
"Certainly," added Mr. Dodge; "for the public accommodation and for
public worship;" laying due emphasis on the adjectives.
"Father, you, at least, will never consent to this?"
"Not readily, my love. I confess it shocks all my notions of
propriety to see the sinner, even when he professes to be the most
humble and penitent, thrust himself up ostentatiously, as if filled
only with his own self-love and self-importance."
"You will allow, Mr. Effingham," rejoined Aristabulus, "that churches
are built to accommodate the public, as Mr. Dodge has so well
"No, sir; they are built for the worship of God, as my daughter has
so well remarked."
"Yes, sir; that, too, I grant you"
"As secondary to the main object--the public convenience, Mr. Bragg
unquestionably means;" put in John Effingham, speaking for the first
time that morning on the subject.
Eve turned quickly, and looked towards her kinsman. He was standing
near the table, with folded arms, and his fine face expressing all
the sarcasm and contempt that a countenance so singularly calm and
gentleman-like, could betray.
"Cousin Jack," she said earnestly, "this ought not to be."
"Cousin Eve, nevertheless this will be."
"Surely not--surely not! Men can never so far forget appearances as
to convert the temple of God into a theatre, in which the convenience
of the spectators is the one great object to be kept in view!"
"_You_ have travelled, sir," said John Effingham, indicating by his
eye that he addressed Mr. Dodge, in particular, "and must have
entered places of worship in other parts of the world. Did not the
simple beauty of the manner in which all classes, the great and the
humble, the rich and the poor, kneel in a common humility before the
altar, strike you agreeably, on such occasions; in Catholic
countries, in particular?"
"Bless me! no, Mr. John Effingham. I was disgusted at the meanness of
their rites, and really shocked at the abject manner in which the
people knelt on the cold damp stones, as if they were no better than
"And were they not beggars?" asked Eve, with almost a severity of
tone: "ought they not so to consider themselves, when petitioning for
mercy of the one great and omnipotent God?"
"Why, Miss Effingham, the people _will_ rule; and it is useless to
pretend to tell them that they shall not have the highest seats in
the church as well as in the state. Really, I can see no ground why a
parson should be raised above his parishioners. The new-order
churches consult the public convenience, and place every body on a
level, as it might be. Now, in old times, a family was buried in its
pew; it could neither see nor be seen; and I can remember the time
when I could just get a look of our clergyman's wig, for he was an
old-school man; and as for his fellow-creatures, one might as well be
praying in his own closet. I must say I am a supporter of liberty, if
it be only in pews."
"I am sorry, Mr. Dodge," answered Eve, mildly, "you did not extend
your travels into the countries of the Mussulmans, where most
Christian sects might get some useful notions concerning the part of
worship, at least, that is connected with appearances. There you
would have seen no seats, but sinners bowing down in a mass, on the
cold stones, and all thoughts of cushioned pews and drawing-room
conveniences unknown. We Protestants have improved on our Catholic
forefathers in this respect; and the innovation of which you now
speak, in my eyes is an irreverent, almost a sinful, invasion of the
proprieties of the temple."
"Ah, Miss Eve, this comes from substituting forms for the substance
of things," exclaimed the editor. "For my part, I can say, I was
truly shocked with the extravagancies I witnessed, in the way of
worship, in most of the countries I visited. Would you think it, Mr.
Bragg, rational beings, real _bona fide_ living men and women,
kneeling on the stone pavement, like so many camels in the Desert,"
Mr. Dodge loved to draw his images from the different parts of the
world he had seen, "ready to receive the burthens of their masters;
not a pew, not a cushion, not a single comfort that is suitable to a
free and intelligent being, but every thing conducted in the most
abject manner, as if accountable human souls were no better than so
many mutes in a Turkish palace."
"You ought to mention this in the Active Inquirer," said Aristabulus.
"All in good time, sir; I have many things in reserve, among which I
propose to give a few remarks, I dare say they will be very worthless
ones, on the impropriety of a rational being's ever kneeling. To my
notion, gentlemen and ladies, God never intended an American to
The respectable mechanics who stood around the table did not
absolutely assent to this proposition, for one of them actually
remarked that "he saw no great harm in a man's kneeling to the
Deity;" but they evidently inclined to the opinion that the new-
school of pews was far better than the old.
"It always appears to me, Miss Effingham," said one, "that I hear and
understand the sermon better in one of the low pews, than in one of
the old high-backed things, that look so much like pounds."
"But can you withdraw into yourself better, sir? Can you more truly
devote all your thoughts, with a suitable singleness of heart, to the
worship of God?"
"You mean in the prayers, now, I rather conclude?"
"Certainly, sir, I mean in the prayers and the thanksgivings."
"Why, we leave them pretty much to the parson; though I will own it
is not quite as easy leaning on the edge of one of the new-school
pews as on one of the old. They are better for sitting, but not so
good for standing. But then the sitting posture at prayers is quite
coming into favour among our people, Miss Effingham, as well as among
yours. The sermon is the main chance, after all."
"Yes," observed Mr. Gouge, "give me good, strong preaching, any day,
in preference to good praying. A man may get along with second-rate
prayers, but he stands in need of first-rate preaching."
"These gentlemen consider religion a little like a cordial on a cold
day," observed John Effingham, "which is to be taken in sufficient
doses to make the blood circulate. They are not the men to be
_pounded_ in pews, like lost sheep, not they?"
"Mr. John will always have his say;" one remarked: and then Mr.
Effingham dismissed the party, by telling them he would think of the
When the mechanics were gone, the subject was discussed at some
length between those that remained--all the Effinghams agreeing that
they would oppose the innovation, as irreverent in appearance,
unsuited to the retirement and self-abasement that best comported
with prayer, and opposed to the delicacy of their own habits; while
Messrs. Bragg and Dodge contended to the last that such changes were
loudly called for by the popular sentiment--- that it was unsuited to
the dignity of a man to be 'pounded,' even in a church--and
virtually, that a good, 'stirring' sermon, as they called it, was of
far more account, in public worship, than all the prayers and praises
that could issue from the heart or throat.
"We'll follow Cade--we'll follow Cade."
"The views of this Mr. Bragg, and of our old fellow-traveller, Mr.
Dodge, appear to be peculiar on the subject of religious forms,"
observed Sir George Templemore, as he descended the little lawn
before the Wigwam, in company with the three ladies, Paul Powis, and
John Effingham, on their way to the lake. "I should think it would be
difficult to find another Christian, who objects to kneeling at
"Therein you are mistaken, Templemore," answered Paul; "for this
country, to say nothing of one sect which holds it in utter
abomination, is filled with them. Our pious ancestors, like
neophytes, ran into extremes, on the subject of forms, as well as in
other matters. When you go to Philadelphia, Miss Effingham, you will
see an instance of a most ludicrous nature--ludicrous, if there were
not something painfully revolting mingled with it--of the manner in
which men can strain at a gnat and swallow a camel; and which, I am
sorry to say, is immediately connected with our own church."
It was music to Eve's ears, to hear Paul Powis speak of his pious
ancestors, as being American, and to find him so thoroughly
identifying himself with her own native land; for, while condemning
so many of its practices, and so much alive to its absurdities and
contradictions, our heroine had seen too much of other countries, not
to take an honest pride in the real excellencies of her own. There
was, also, a soothing pleasure in hearing him openly own that he
belonged to the same church as herself.
"And what is there ridiculous in Philadelphia, in particular, and in
connection with our own church?" she asked. "I am not so easily
disposed to find fault where the venerable church is concerned."
"You know that the Protestants, in their horror of idolatry,
discontinued, in a great degree, the use of the cross, as an outward
religious symbol; and that there was probably a time when there was
not a single cross to be seen in the whole of a country that was
settled by those who made a profession of love for Christ, and a
dependence on his expiation, the great business of their lives?"
"Certainly. We all know our predecessors were a little over-rigid and
scrupulous on all the points connected with outward appearances."
"They certainly contrived to render the religious rites as little
pleasing to the senses as possible, by aiming at a sublimation that
peculiarly favours spiritual pride and a pious conceit. I do not know
whether travelling has had the same effect on you, as it has produced
on me; but I find all my inherited antipathies to the mere visible
representation of the cross, superseded by a sort of solemn affection
for it, as a symbol, when it is plain, and unaccompanied by any of
those bloody and minute accessories that are so often seen around it
in Catholic countries. The German Protestants, who usually ornament
the altar with a cross, first cured me of the disrelish I imbibed, on
this subject, in childhood."
"We, also, I think, cousin John, were agreeably struck with the same
usage in Germany. From feeling a species of nervousness at the sight
of a cross, I came to love to see it; and I think you must have
undergone a similar change; for I have discovered no less than three
among the ornaments of the great window of the entrance tower, at the
"You might have discovered one, also, in every door of the building,
whether great or small, young lady. Our pious ancestors, as Powis
calls them, much of whose piety, by the way, was any thing but
meliorated with spiritual humility or Christian charity, were such
ignoramuses as to set up crosses in every door they built, even while
they veiled their eyes in holy horror whenever the sacred symbol was
seen in a church."
"Every door!" exclaimed the Protestants of the party.
"Yes, literally every door, I might almost say certainly every
panelled door that was constructed twenty years since. I first
discovered the secret of our blunder, when visiting a castle in
France, that dated back from the time of the crusade. It was a
_chateau_ of the Montmorencies, that had passed into the hands of the
Conde family by marriage; and the courtly old domestic, who showed me
the curiosities, pointed out to me the stone _croix_ in the windows,
which has caused the latter to be called _croisees_, as a pious usage
of the crusaders. Turning to a door, I saw the same crosses in the
wooden stiles; and if you cast an eye on the first humble door that
you may pass in this village, you will detect the same symbol staring
you boldly in the face, in the very heart of a population that would
almost expire at the thoughts of placing such a sign of the beast on
their very thresholds."
The whole party expressed their surprise; but the first door they
passed corroborated this account, and proved the accuracy of John
Effingham's statements. Catholic zeal and ingenuity could not have
wrought more accurate symbols of this peculiar sign of the sect; and
yet, here they stood, staring every passenger in the face, as if
mocking the ignorant and exaggerated pretension which would lay undue
stress on the minor points of a religion, the essence of which was
faith and humility.
"And the Philadelphia church?" said Eve, quickly, so soon as her
curiosity was satisfied on the subject of the door; "I am now more
impatient than ever, to learn what silly blunder we have also
"Impious would almost be a better term," Paul answered. "The only
church spire that existed for half a century, in that town, was
surmounted by a _mitre_, while the _cross_ was studiously rejected!"
A silence followed; for there is often more true argument in simply
presenting the facts of a case, than in all the rhetoric and logic
that could be urged, by way of auxiliaries. Every one saw the
egregious folly, not to say presumption, of the mistake; and at the
moment, every one wondered how a common-sense community could have
committed so indecent a blunder. We are mistaken. There was an
exception to the general feeling in the person of Sir George
Templemore. To his church-and-state notions, and anti-catholic
prejudices, which were quite as much political as religious, there
was every thing that was proper, and nothing that was wrong, in
rejecting a cross for a mitre.
"The church, no doubt, was Episcopal, Powis," he remarked, "and it
was not Roman. What better symbol than the mitre could be chosen?"
"Now I reflect, it is not so very strange," said Grace, eagerly, "for
you will remember, Mr. Effingham, that Protestants attach the idea of
idolatry to the cross, as it is used by Catholics."
"And of bishops, peers in parliament, church and state, to a mitre."
"Yes, but the church in question I have seen; and it was erected
before the war of the revolution. It was an English rather than an
"It was, indeed, an English church, rather than an American; and
Templemore is very right to defend it, mitre and all."
"I dare say, a bishop officiated at its altar?"
"I dare say--nay, I know, he did; and, I will add, he would rather
that the mitre were two hundred feet in the air, than down on his own
simple, white-haired, apostolical-looking head. But enough of
divinity for the morning; yonder is Tom with the boat, let us to our
The party were now on the little wharf that served as a village-
landing, and the boatman mentioned lay off, in waiting for the
arrival of his fare. Instead of using him, however, the man was
dismissed; the gentlemen preferring to handle the oars themselves.
Aquatic excursions were of constant occurrence in the warm months, on
that beautifully limpid sheet of water, and it was the practice to
dispense with the regular boatmen, whenever good oarsmen were to be
found among the company.
As soon as the light buoyant skiff was brought to the side of the
wharf, the whole party embarked; and Paul and the baronet taking the
oars, they soon urged the boat from the shore.
"The world is getting to be too confined for the adventurous spirit
of the age," said Sir George, as he and his companion pulled
leisurely along, taking the direction of the eastern shore, beneath
the forest-clad cliffs of which the ladies had expressed a wish to be
rowed; "here are Powis and myself actually rowing together on a
mountain lake of America, after having boated as companions on the
coast of Africa, and on the margin of the Great Desert. Polynesia,
and Terra Australis, may yet see us in company, as hardy cruisers."
"The spirit of the age is, indeed, working wonders in the way you
mean," said John Effingham. "Countries of which our fathers merely
read, are getting to be as familiar as our own homes to their sons;
and, with you, one can hardly foresee to what a pass of adventure the
generation or two that will follow us may not reach."
"_Vraiment, c'est fort extraordinaire de se trouver sur un lac
Americain_," exclaimed Mademoiselle Viefville.
"More extraordinary than to find one's self on a Swiss lake, think
you, my dear Mademoiselle Viefville?"
"_Non, non, mais tout aussi extraordinaire pour une Parisienne._"
"I am now about to introduce you, Mr. John Effingham and Miss Van
Cortlandt excepted," Eve continued, "to the wonders and curiosities
of this lake and region. There, near the small house that is erected
over a spring of delicious water, stood the hut of Natty Bumppo, once
known throughout all these mountains as a renowned hunter; a man who
had the simplicity of a woodsman, the heroism of a savage, the faith
of a Christian, and the feelings of a poet. A better than he, after
his fashion, seldom lived."
"We have all heard of him," said the baronet, looking round
curiously; "and must all feel an interest in what concerns so brave
and just a man. I would I could see his counterpart."
"Alas!" said John Effingham, "the days of the 'Leather-stockings'
have passed away. He preceded me in life, and I see few remains of
his character in a region where speculation is more rife than
moralizing, and emigrants are plentier than hunters. Natty probably
chose that spot for his hut on account of the vicinity of the spring:
is it not so. Miss Effingham?"
"He did; and yonder little fountain that you see gushing from the
thicket, and which comes glancing like diamonds into the lake, is
called the 'Fairy Spring,' by some flight of poetry that, like so
many of our feelings, must have been imported; for I see no
connection between the name and the character of the country, fairies
having never been known, even by tradition, in Otsego."
The boat now came under a shore where the trees fringed the very
water, frequently overhanging the element that mirrored their
fantastic forms. At this point, a light skiff was moving leisurely
along in their own direction, but a short distance in advance. On a
hint from John Effingham, a few vigorous strokes of the oars brought
the two boats near each other.
"This is the flag-ship," half whispered John Effingham, as they came
near the other skiff, "containing no less a man than the 'commodore.'
Formerly, the chief of the lake was an admiral, but that was in times
when, living nearer to the monarchy, we retained some of the European
terms; now, no man rises higher than a commodore in America, whether
it be on the ocean or on the Otsego, whatever may be his merits or
his services. A charming day, commodore; I rejoice to see you still
afloat, in your glory."
The commodore, a tail, thin, athletic man of seventy, with a white
head, and movements that were quick as those of a boy, had not
glanced aside at the approaching boat, until he was thus saluted in
the well-known voice of John Effingham. He then turned his head,
however, and scanning the whole party through his spectacles, he
smiled good-naturedly made a flourish with one hand, while he
continued paddling with the other, for he stood erect and straight in
the stern of his skiff, and answered heartily--
"A fine morning, Mr. John, and the right time of the moon for
boating. This is not a real scientific day for the fish, perhaps; but
I have just come out to see that all the points and bays are in their
"How is it, commodore, that the water near the village is less limpid
than common, and that even up here, we see so many specks floating on
"What a question for Mr. John Effingham to ask on his native water!
So much for travelling in far countries, where a man forgets quite as
much as he learns, I fear." Here the commodore turned entirely round,
and raising an open hand in an oratorical manner, he added,--"You
must know, ladies and gentlemen, that the lake is in blow."
"In blow, commodore! I did not know that the lake bore its blossoms."
"It does, sir, nevertheless. Ay, Mr. John, and its fruits, too; but
the last must be dug for, like potatoes. There have been no
miraculous draughts of the fishes, of late years, in the Otsego,
ladies and gentlemen; but it needs the scientific touch, and the
knowledge of baits, to get a fin of any of your true game above the
water, now-a-days. Well, I have had the head of the sogdollager
thrice in the open air, in my time; though I am told the admiral
actually got hold of him once with his hand."
"The sogdollager," said Eve, much amused with the singularities of
the man, whom she perfectly remembered to have been commander of the
lake, even in her own infancy; "we must be indebted to you for an
explanation of that term, as well as for the meaning of your allusion
to the head and the open air."
"A sogdollager, young lady, is the perfection of a thing. I know Mr.
Grant used to say there was no such word in the dictionary; but then
there are many words that ought to be in the dictionaries that have
been forgotten by the printers. In the way of salmon trout, the
sogdollager is their commodore. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I should
not like to tell you all I know about the patriarch of this lake, for
you would scarcely believe me; but if he would not weigh a hundred
when cleaned, there is not an ox in the county that will weigh a
pound when slaughtered."
"You say you had his head above water?" said John Effingham.
"Thrice, Mr. John. The first time was thirty years ago; and I confess
I lost him, on that occasion, by want of science; for the art is not
learned in a day, and I had then followed the business but ten years.
The second time was five years later: and I had then been fishing
expressly for the old gentleman, about a month. For near a minute, it
was a matter of dispute between us, whether he should come out of the
lake or I go into it; but I actually got his gills in plain sight.
That was a glorious haul! Washington did not feel better the night
Cornwallis surrendered, than I felt on that great occasion!"
"One never knows the feelings of another, it seems. I should have
thought disappointment at the loss would have been the prevailing
sentiment on that great occasion, as you so justly term it."
"So it would have been, Mr. John, with an unscientific fisherman; but
we experienced hands know better. Glory is to be measured by quality,
and not by quantity, ladies and gentlemen; and I look on it as a
greater feather in a man's cap, to see the sogdollager's head above
water, for half a minute, than to bring home a skiff filled with
pickerel. The last time I got a look at the old gentleman, I did not
try to get him into the boat, but we sat and conversed for near two
minutes; he in the water, and I in the skiff."
"Conversed!" exclaimed Eve, "and with a fish, too! What could the
animal have to say!"
"Why, young lady, a fish can talk as well as one of ourselves; the
only difficulty is to understand what he says. I have heard the old
settlers affirm, that the Leather-stocking used to talk for hours at
a time, with the animals of the forest."
"You knew the Leather-stocking, commodore?"
"No, young lady, I am sorry to say I never had the pleasure of
looking on him even. He _was_ a great man! They may talk of their
Jeffersons and Jacksons, but I set down Washington and Natty Bumppo
as the two only really great men of my time."
"What do you think of Bonaparte, commodore?" inquired Paul.
"Well, sir, Bonaparte had some strong points about him, I do really
believe. But he could have been nothing to the Leather-stocking, in
the woods! It's no great matter, young gentleman, to be a great man
among your inhabitants of cities--what I call umbrella people. Why,
Natty was almost as great with the spear as with the rifle; though I
never heard that he got a sight of the sogdollager."
"We shall meet again this summer, commodore," said John Effingham;
"the ladies wish to hear the echoes, and we must leave you."
"All very natural, Mr. John," returned the commodore, laughing, and
again flourishing his hand in his own peculiar manner. "The women all
love to hear the echoes, for they are not satisfied with what they
have once said, but they like to hear it over again. I never knew a
lady come on the Otsego, but one of the first things she did was to
get paddled to the Speaking Rocks, to have a chat with herself. They
come out in such numbers, sometimes, and then all talk at once, in a
way quite to confuse the echo. I suppose you have heard, young lady,
the opinion people have now got concerning these voices."
"I cannot say I have ever heard more than that they are some of the
most perfect echoes known;" answered Eve, turning her body, so as to
face the old man, as the skiff of the party passed that of the
"Some people maintain that there is no echo at all, and that the
sounds we hear come from the spirit of the Leather-stocking, which
keeps about its old haunts, and repeats every thing we say, in
mockery of our invasion of the woods. I do not say this notion is
true, or that it is my own; but we all know that Natty _did_ dislike
to see a new settler arrive in the mountains, and that he loved a
tree as a muskrat loves water. They show a pine up here on the side
of the Vision, which he notched at every new-comer, until reaching
seventeen, his honest old heart could go no farther, and he gave the
matter up in despair."
"This is so poetical, commodore, it is a pity it cannot be true. I
like this explanation of the 'Speaking Rocks,' much better than that
implied by the name of 'Fairy Spring.'"
"You are quite right, young lady," called out the fisherman, as the
boats separated still farther; "there never was any fairy known in
Otsego; but the time has been when we could boast of a Natty Bumppo."
Here the commodore flourished his hand again, and Eve nodded her
adieus. The skiff of the party continued to pull slowly along the
fringed shore, occasionally sheering more into the lake, to avoid
some overhanging and nearly horizontal tree, and then returning so
closely to the land, as barely to clear the pebbles of the narrow
strand with the oar.
Eve thought she had never beheld a more wild or beautifully
variegated foliage, than that which the whole leafy mountainside
presented. More than half of the forest of tall, solemn pines, that
had veiled the earth when the country was first settled, had already
disappeared; but, agreeably to one of the mysterious laws by which
nature is governed, a rich second growth, that included nearly every
variety of American wood, had shot up in their places. The rich
Rembrandt-like hemlocks, in particular, were perfectly beautiful,
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