Obrázky stránek

the autumn, or fall, is in the brilliant hues which are then taken by the foliage. The autumnal tints are fine with us. They are lovely and bright wherever foliage and vegetation form a part of the beauty of scenery. But in no other land do they approach the brilliancy of the fall in America. The bright rose colour, the rich bronze which is almost purple in its richness, and the glorious golden yellows must be seen to be understood. By me at any rate they cannot be described. These begin to show themselves in September, and perhaps I might name the latter half of that month as the best time for visiting the White Mountains.

I am not going to write a guide-book, feeling sure that Mr. Murray will do New England, and Canada, including Niagara and the Hudson river, with a peep into Boston and New York before many more seasons have passed by. But I cannot forbear to tell my countrymen that any enterprising individual with a hundred pounds to spend on his holiday,-a hundred and twenty would make him more comfortable in regard to wine, washing, and other luxuries,—and an absence of two months from his labours, may see as much and do as much here for the money as he can see or do elsewhere. In some respects he may do more; for he will learn more of American nature in such a journey than he can ever learn of the nature of Frenchmen or Americans by such an excursion among them. Some three weeks of the time, or perhaps a day or two over, he must be at sea, and that portion of his trip will cost him fifty pounds --presuming that he chooses to go in the most comfortable and costly way ;-but his time on board ship will not be lost. He will learn to know much of Americans there, and will perhaps form acquaintances of which he will not altogether lose sight for many a. year. He will land at Boston, and staying a day or two there will visit Cambridge, Lowell, and Bunker Hill; and, if he be that way given, will remember that here live, and occasionally are to be seen alive, men such as Longfellow, Emerson, Hawthorne, and a host of others whose names and fames have made Boston the throne of Western Literature. He will then,-if he take my advice and follow my track,-go by Portland up into the White Mountains. At Gorham, a station on the Grand Trunk line, he will find an hotel as good as any of its kind, and from thence he will take a light waggon, so called in these countries ;—and here let me presume that the traveller is not alone; he has his wife or friend, or perhaps a pair of sisters,—and in his waggon he will go up through primeval forests to the Glen House. When there he will ascend Mount Washington on a pony. That is de rigueur, and I do not, therefore, dare to recommend him to omit the ascent. I did not gain much myself by my labour. He will not stay at the Glen House, but will go on to-Jackson's I think they call the next hotel; at which he will sleep. From thence he will take his waggon on through the Notch to the Crawford House, sleeping there again ; and when here let him of all things remember to go up Mount Willard. It is but a walk of two hours, up and down, if so much. When reaching the top he will be startled to find that he looks down into the ravine without an inch of fore-ground. He will come out suddenly on a ledge of rock, from whence, as it seems, he might leap down at once into the valley below. Then going on from the Crawford House he will be driven through the woods of Cherry Mount, passing, I fear without toll of custom, the house of my excellent friend Mr. Plaistead, who keeps an hotel at Jefferson. “Sir," said Mr. Plaistead, “I have everything here that a man ought to want; air, sir, that ain't to be got better nowhere; trout, chickens, beef, mutton, milk,--and all for a dollar a day. A-top of that hill, sir, there's a view that ain't to be beaten this side of the Atlantic, or I believe the other. And an echo, sir !- We've an echo that comes back to us six times, sir; floating on the light wind, and wafted about from rock to rock till you would think the angels were talking to you. If I could raise that echo, sir, every day at command I'd give a thousand dollars for it. It would be worth all the money to a house like this.” And he waved his hand about from hill to hill, pointing out in graceful curves the lines which the sounds would take. Had destiny not called on Mr. Plaistead to keep an American hotel, he might have been a poet.

My traveller, however, unless time were plenty with him, would pass Mr. Plaistead, merely lighting a friendly cigar, or perhaps breaking the Maine Liquor Law if the weather be warm, and would return to Gorham on the railway. All this mountain district is in New Hampshire, and presuming him to be capable of going about the world with his mouth, ears, and eyes open, he would learn much of the way in which men are settling themselves in this still sparsely populated country. Here young farmers go into the woods, as they are doing far down west in the Territories, and buying some hundred acres at perhaps six shillings an acre, fell and burn the trees and build their huts, and take the first steps, as far as man's work is concerned, towards accomplishing the will of the Creator in those regions. For such pioneers of civilization there is still ample room even in the long settled States of New Hampshire and Vermont.

But to return to my traveller, whom having brought so far, I must send on. Let him go on from Gorham to Quebec, and the heights of Abraham, stopping at Sherbrooke that he might visit from thence the lake of Memphra Magog. As to the manner of travelling over this ground I shall say a little in the next chapter, when I come to the progress of myself and my wife. From Quebec he will go up the St. Lawrence to Montreal. He will visit Ottawa, the new capital, and Toronto. He will cross the Lake to Niagara, resting probably at the Clifton House on the Canada side. He will then pass on to Albany, taking the Trenton falls on his way. From Albany he will go down the Hudson to West-Point. He cannot stop at the Catskill Mountains, for the hotel will be closed. And then he will take the river boat, and in a few hours will find himself at New York. If he desires to go into American city society, he will find New York agreeable ; but in that case he must exceed his two months. If he do not so desire, a short sojourn at New York will show him all that there is to be seen, and all that there is not to be seen in that great city. That the Cunard line of steamers will bring him safely back to Liverpool in about eleven days, I need not tell to any Englishman, or, as I believe, to any American. So much, in the spirit of a guide, I vouchsafe to all who are willing to take my counsel, thereby anticipating Murray, and leaving these few pages as a legacy to him or to his collaborateurs.

I cannot say that I like the hotels in those parts, or indeed the mode of life at American hotels in general. In order that I may not unjustly defame them, I will commence these observations by declaring that they are cheap to those who choose to practise the economy which they encourage, that the viands are profuse in quantity and wholesome in quality, that the attendance is quick and unsparing, and that travellers are never annoyed by that grasping greedy hunger and thirst after francs and shillings which disgrace in Europe many English and many continental inns. All this is, as must be admitted, great praise; and yet I do not like the American hotels.

One is in a free country and has come from a country in which one has been brought up to hug one's chains,--so at least the English traveller is constantly assured-and yet in an American inn one can never do as one likes. A terrific gong sounds early in the morning, breaking one's sweet slumbers, and then a second gong sounding some thirty minutes later,


makes you understand that you must proceed to breakfast, whether


be dressed or no. You certainly can go on with your toilet and obtain your meal after half an hour's delay. Nobody actually scolds you for so doing, but the breakfast is, as they say in this country, “through." You sit down alone,

," and the attendant stands immediately over you. Probably there are two so standing. They fill your cup the instant it is · empty. They tender you fresh food before that which has disappeared from your plate has been swallowed. They begrudge you no amount that you can eat or drink; but they begrudge you a single moment that you sit there neither eating nor drinking. This is your fate if you're too late, and therefore as a rule you are not late. In that case you form one of a long row of eaters who proceed through their work with a solid energy that is past all praise. It is wrong to say that Americans will not talk at their meals. I never met but few who would not talk to me, at any rate till I got to the far west; but I have rarely found that they would address me first. Then the dinner comes early; at least it always does so in New England, and the ceremony is much of the same kind. You came there to eat, and the food is pressed on you almost ad nauseam. But as far as one can see there is no drinking. In these days, I am quite aware, that drinking has become improper, even in England. We are apt at home to speak of wine as a thing tabooed, wondering how our fathers lived and swilled. I believe that as a fact we drink as much as they did; but nevertheless that is our theory. I confess, however, that I like wine. It is very wicked, but it seems to me that

my dinner goes down better with a glass of sherry than without it. As a rule I always did get it at hotels in America. But I had no comfort with it. Sherry they do not understand at all. Of course I am only speaking of hotels. Their claret they get exclusively from Mr. Gladstone, and looking at the quality, have a right to quarrel even with Mr. Gladstone's price. But it is not the quality of the wine that I hereby intend to subject to ignominy, so much as the want of any opportunity for drinking it. After dinner, if all that I hear be true, the gentlemen occasionally drop into the hotel bar and" liquor up.

Or rather this is not done specially after dinner, but without prejudice to the hour at any time that may be found desirable. I also have “liquored up," but I cannot say that I enjoy the process. I do not intend hereby to accuse Americans of drinking much, but I maintain that what they do drink, they drink in the most uncomfortable manner that the imagination can devise.

The greatest luxury at an English inn is one's tea, one's fire, and one's book. Such an arrangement is not practicable at an American hotel. Tea, like breakfast, is a great meal, at which meat should be eaten, generally with the addition of much jelly, jam, and sweet preserves; but no person delays over his tea-cup. Í love to have my tea-cup emptied and filled with gradual pauses, so that time for oblivion may accrue, and no exact record be taken. No such meal is known at American hotels. It is possible to hire a separate room and have one's meals served in it; but in doing so a man runs counter to all the institutions of the country, and a woman does so equally. A stranger does not wish to be viewed askance by all around him; and the rule which holds that men at Rome should do as Romans do, if true anywhere, is true in America. Therefore I say

that in an American inn one can never do as one pleases. In what I have here said I do not intend to speak of hotels in the largest cities, such as Boston or New York. At them meals are served in the public room separately, and pretty nearly at any or at all hours of the day ; but at them also the attendant stands over the unfortunate eater, and drives him. The guest feels that he is controlled by laws adapted to the usages of the Medes and Persians. He is not the master on the occasion, but the slave; a slave well treated and fattened up to the full endurance of humanity; but yet a slave.

From Gorham we went on to Island Pond, a station on the same Canada Trunk Railway, on a Saturday evening, and were forced by the circumstances of the line to pass a melancholy Sunday at the place. The cars do not run on Sundays, and run but once a day on other days over the whole lipe; so that in fact the impediment to travelling spreads over two days. Island Pond is a lake with an island in it, and the place which has taken the name is a small village, about ten years old, standing

a in the midst of uncut forests, and has been created by the railway. In ten years more there will no doubt be a spreading town at Island Pond; the forests will recede, and men rushing out from the crowded cities will find here food and space and wealth. For myself I never remain long in such a spot without feeling thankful that it has not been my mission to be a pioneer of civilization.

The farther that I got away from Boston the less strong did I find the feeling of anger against England. There, as I have said before, there was a bitter animosity against the mother country in that she had shown no open sympathy with the North. In Maine and New Hampshire I did not find this to

« PředchozíPokračovat »