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company with an intelligent friend, set forth on the excursion which has furnished the materials for the narrative in the following pages. Believing that every speck of the soil of our country is interesting to its inhabitants, he is induced to suppose, that the description of the most massive of its piles of earth and stone, will be amusing to some.
Our journey had been along the Eastern side of the range, and upon the banks of the rapid, but beautiful stream of the Androscoggin. This noble river, issuing from a series of solitary lakes, embosomed in the forest, and dignified with Indian names, almost as formidable as the red warriors themselves, pours Westward seeking an outlet among the ridges of hills that encompass it about. At length, it does escape through an opening in the mountain barrier, and rushes through the vallies at its base, with a hurried motion, as if the favourable opportunity might be lost by any delay; but after journeying to the South for a few miles, it is again obstructed by an opposing ridge, and wanders on to the East, in quest of a channel to convey its waters to the sea.
It does not, however, take the direct course to the ocean, until it has traversed fifty miles between parallel bills, of so firm structure as to resist every attempt of their prisoner to break from its confinement. Then it goes on with a clear and tranquil motion, scattering fertility along its banks, till it meets with other obstructions. At Rumford a precipice is stretched across the bed of the waters : They are not precipitated in one broad sheet from its, edge, but tumbling from cliff to cliff, are dashed into foam. The spray, tinged with all the bright colors of the rainbow, rises from their commotion and is painted by the sun-beams. The thunder of this miniature cataract is heard from a distance, and the earth, either in reality or imagination, trembles with the heavy falling. The descent is estimated at seventy feet. After dashing over the rock, the river spreads out in a broad basin, and seems resting to recover power before it rushes over a second ledge, which opposes its passage about a fourth of a mile below. It leaps over this smaller bar, and frets along another quarter of a mile, and again plunges down a declivity, about fifteen feet in height. An island at the foot of the last rapid, covered with fair trees, rests placidly amid the uproar, as if smiling on the turmoil around it. The snowy whiteness of the stream is beautifully contrasted with the green
and waving foliage. All the difficulties are not yet surmounted. The Pejypscot rocks sturdily spread themselves across the path and the river descends about eighty feet: at Brunswick it goes down among saw mills and broken masses of stone fifty feet more. At length it joins itself to the Kenebeck, a lazy and sluggish stream, in Merry-meeting Bay: a very appropriate name : for if the Androscoggin could be supposed to be an intelligent and animated being, it inight well rejoice on coming within sight of the broad Atlantic. Indeed, it owes no gratitude to the earth for mingling its waters with its indolent partner and afterwards with the broad ocean : for, from the moment of its rising among the Northern Hills, until its arrival at the place of destination, it receives no farors, but forces its way along by violence; encountering and subduing all possible difficulties, and often scooping out for itself a channel through the solid rock.
This river has scenery singularly wild and elegant. I have been floated over its current where it steals out from the Lakes, in those bright days which gladden the declining year, when departing summer lingers with its warmest smile upon the lap of autumn. The Fish-Hawk screamed from the dry branches of some stately tree, and smoothed his feathers, or plunged in the water for his prey. The stream glided on calmly through green recesses, overshadowed by majestic pines, as if pausing to enjoy the cool shade. There was scarcely a sound, except the voluptuous humming of the bees, plundering from the flowers that bent over the clear expanse, their sweets. The Squirrel, that merry little Aristocrat, sat up and goawed his nut shell with a most princely air, and looked down upon the small birds, fluttering and pecking beneath, with supreme contempt, till tired with his feast, he bounded away and frolicked among the branches with light hearted joy. The Bittern crept along the sands, and the Wild Ducks swam down in fleets, till, frightened by the dashing of our oars, they took flight, with loud but not unmusical cries. Sometimes the stream gushed through narrow passes where the eternal hills closed down on either hand upon its path, and then there were the broken murmurs of the rapids. The forests stained by the early frosts, had put on their robes of many colors. Rich dyes were on the leaves, crimson and yellow, purple and gold. The Maples dressed in deep red, looked like warriors sprinkled with blood; and as the drapery, so peculiar to our seasons and climate, spread along the hills, it appeared like a Persian carpet let down from the summits and Boating along the sides.
Reserving a general description of the Mountains and á narration of the interesting facts gathered from the observations of others or the results of personal experience, to be placed, as important matters commonly are, in a Postscript, we would now invite the reader to join our little party and clamber with us over the rocks,
Leaving, with regret, the smooth and level road along the intervale of the Androscoggin, we turned Westward into the forest, and pursued our journey through highways hollowed out from the woods, and carried over the little streams and meadows on most uncomfortable structures, formed by placing the trunks of trees parallel with each other, and very happily named "gridiron bridges,” from their close resemblance to the separated bars and rough surface of that instrument, till we arrived at a cottage built of squared and jointed logs. The interstices between the timbers were closely filled with moss, so as to shut out wind and rain, and the building, wajpscotted on the interior with broad strips of Hemlock bark, had an air of great neatness and substantial useful
In the front, uprose the majestic height; the sides clothed with the deep green covering of Firs and Pines, except where dark furrows marked the path of the headlong torrents, fed from the snows above: and the bare summit, grey and bald
Having procured an addition to our party, not in the capacity of
a guide, but of a baggage waggon, to transport our moveables, we set forward. The inventory of our goods and chattels was not swelled with the list of philosophical instruments, the incumbrances of learned travellers. It was the noon of a sultry June day, and we succeeded in ascertaining, with tolerable accuracy, that it was hot, without the aid of a thermometer; we were equally fortunate, after a few hours toil, in the discovery that we were climbing up-bill, without the assistance of a barometer. Having no felonious design upon the stones, and little acquaintance with the profound science of minerals, so abounding with barbarous names, that the uninitiated are compelled to wonder, that words so stupendous should ever have been invented, and admire even more, that they can be recollected, we were not even provided with a hammer. Not intending to enter into any speculations on heights or distances, we had not brought in memory, sines, or angles, or tangents, figures which it is a wo to see, and a misery to hear named.
An easy walk of about two miles through a field of stately Maples, brought us to the foot of the mountain, on the North-East of the range, and we began to ascend along the banks of a stream which conveys its tribute to the Androscoggin. Beneath the Pines and Firs, the earth was covered with a thick and luxuriant growth of bushes, peculiar to the woods of Northern regions. As we advanced, the way, if so it may he said, where way there was none, became more difficult. Fallen and decaying trunks, prostrated by the storms, obstructed the passage. Sometimes rocks were piled upon rocks, presenting abrupt precipices along which we rose, resting on some feeble foothoid, and leaping from one moss grown crag to another, with great labor and some little peril. Had a branch broken, a root drawn from its slender fastening, or a stone overturned, the reader might have been amused with the pleasant addition of a catalogue of broken bones. The hosts of vexatious insects who find shelter among the evergreens, swarmed round us in such multitudes that it seemed as if intelligence must have been communicated by telegraphic dispatches of our arrival, to collect such legions in so short a space. The Mosquito sounded his shrill horn, the little Gnat answered the signal with bis trumpet, and the Black Flies joining their forces, they all commenced a most active attack upon our veins, continuing operations without mercy. They fixed their stings in every point of surface exposed without covering; where the protecting dress was thin, they settled and drank with great satisfaction of the blood below; where it was loose, they used no ceremony in procuring their repast. If fatigue forced us to yawn, they very freely entered our mouths, and with great impertinence intruded themselves along with the prospects, into our eyes. The Crocodile, notorious all over the world for his hypocrisy, is said to feign sleep, and spread open his enormous jaws, to secure a repast upon the prey collected in this manner: if the feast were not more agreeable to him, than it proved to us, he would not easily be persuaded to try the same trick a second time. Not a breath of air stirred among the leaves. The dense foliage shut out the views above, below, and around.
Six hours of severe labor had brought us about five miles upon our way, when the shades of evening came silently and calmly upon the forest. Upon the margin of a rivulet we found a suitable place for repose and there we kindled our fire to prepare our simple meal, to fright away the wild beasts, and to stifle with its smoke the legions of tormentors. Our tent was of easy construction. Clearing a little spot before the blaze, two forked sticks were erected, supporting a pole laid across horizontally; rafters rested on this beam, sloping towards the ground after the most approved architectural rules for the inclination of roofs. A thatch of Hemlock branches covered these timbers and the same material inclosed the sides. Small twigs of the Fir tree, spread under this shelter, made a fragrant and pleasant bed. The preparations for supper were of no trifling importance to those who had gained a keen appetite from severe exercise. Hunger wonderfully quickens invention, and we were soon supplied with a culinary apparatus, which Count Rumford might have envied for its simplicity and perfection. With a split stick for spit, strips of Birch bark for plates, fingers and teeth for knives and forks, and a mountain relish for food, we contrived to make a sumptuous repast of our roasted pork, and sweetened the princely feast with pure water from the spring, by way of desert. These preliminaries being satisfactorily adjusted, we stretched ourselves on the perfumed couches so easily prepared, and diligently invited sleep. Our winged enemies had no intention of concluding an armistice, or of ceasing hostilities, to permit the enjoyment of such refreshment; the only intervals of slumber were, when the thick smoke of the huge fire, blazing in front, fell upon the house and obliged these busy antagonists to decamp. Once, the impatience under their incessant provocation, had nearly produced serious inconvenience. In a moment of great indignation, I seized on one of the main pillars of the building, with a degree of strength, compared withi the trail structure, even as that of him of old, who moved the columps of the temple to and fro till they fell and crushed the flower of the Philistines, their best and noblest, on the day of their solemn festival: the results were almost similar: we were half buried beneath the ruins drawn down on the buzzing disturbers of
With the first light of returning day we struck our tent, and took up the line of march, to finish the remaining four miles. The trees became more dwarfish and diminutive in stature and the carpet of moss thicker and deeper. At length we emerged from among the taller plants and entered a zone of different character where the stunted Pines, short Spruces, and low Firs, were matted and twisted together. These natives of the highlands, perhaps planted in the solitude in the days of Adam, have scarcely reached a height equal to that of the degenerate descendants from