Imágenes de páginas

purposing to take the more circuitous road of the Great Falls of the Potomac.

I pass over in silence the common occurrences of the road; the waggoners who returned no answer to my interrogations, and the plantationcurs that disturbed my reveries with their barking. About noon I reached the cross roads, and taking to the right, I could every minute hear more distinctly the roar of the Great Falls. At length I came to a spacious stream called “ Dif“ ficult Run;" an appellation derived from the difficulty in crossing it. But no place could be more romantic. On one bank towered a majestic mountain, from the side of which rocks hanging in fragments menaced the Traveller with destruction; while others that had tumbled into the stream interrupted its course, producing a tumultuous roar that absorbed the cry of the water fowl hovering over the waves.

I was in suspense whether to ford this Run, or wait for a guide on its bank, when I descried two boys on the opposite shore who obeyed my call with alacrity; leaping from rock to rock till they reached the spot where I stood. With the assistance of a pole they conducted me to the opposite bank, where I learned that one of my young guides was called Basil Hurdle, and the other Jack Miller.

I now ascended a hill that led to the Great Falls, and on a sudden my steps were suspended by the conflict of elements, the strife of na

ture. I beheld the course of a large river abruptly obstructed by rocks, over which it was breaking with a tremendous roar; while the foam of the water seemed ascending to the clouds, and the shores that confined it to tremble at the convolution. I gazed for some time in silent awe at this war of elements, when having recovered from my admiration, I could not help exclaiming to the Great Maker of Heaven and of Earth, “Lord! “ What is man that thou art mindful of him, or " the son of man, that thou regardest him !"

For several hours I continued gazing at these Falls, lost in musing over the grandest object the Universe can supply ; and when I beheld the wilderness around me, I could not but be impressed with the idea that nature delighted to perform her wonders in the secrecy of solitude.

The obstruction of these Falls to boats conveying the produce of the interior country to Alexandria and the city of Washington, has been obviated with unremitted labour by the construction of locks ; and large boats ascend and descend without much difficulty. Of these locks' it

may be expected that I should give some account; but after the noble spectacle of the Falls, I had no disposition to examine an Aqueduct deviscd probably by the incitement of avarice or luxury. When I journeyed fifteen miles out of the beaten road, it was not art but nature that

called me.

A little below the Falls, on the bank of the

his way

Potomac, stand a few scattered buildings, which form a kind of hamlet called Charlotieville. The first settler in this savage wilderness was the Lady of General Lee, from whose christian name the place takes its appellation.

At a house of entertainment kept by Widow Myers, I was accommodated with a supper and a bed. This buxom Widow was by persuasion a Methodist, and possessed of considerable property. Into what part of the world has not Love found

? The goat herd in Virgil discovered him to be an inhabitant of caverns; and the Widow Myers acknowledged his power in the wilderness of the Potomac Falls. The muscular form of a young Scotchman enchained the glances of the pious Widow ; whose eyes seemed to say

56 to the brawny Caledonian, Stay me with flag

gons, comfort me with apples ; for I am sick $5 of love !"

On leaving the Great Falls of the Potomac I was followed by a dog, whose attendance I rather encouraged than repulsed. I was tired of travelling alone, and I wanted a companion.

An European who has confined his trarels to his own country, can have but a very imperfect idea of the forest scenery of America. His imagination, familiar only with open and clear grounds, will scarce form an adequate conception of the endless and almost impenetrable woods in the Western Continent: It was through such

[ocr errors]

woods that I now journeyed with an accession of cheerfulness from the company of my dog; and smoking tobacco in my march, with which I never went unprovided.

I never remember to have felt a more perfect exemption from care than in my journey from the Potomac Falls. I rioted in health, and I walked forward oblitus meorum et obliviscendus ab illis. I embraced the Universe as my country, and it was wholly indifferent to me where I terminated my pilgrimage ; for whether I ended my days in the wilds of the Potomac, or the close of Salisbury, the earth and its bands would have been about me for ever,

I eat my dinner in a log-house on the road. It was kept by a small planter of the name of Homer. Such a tavern would have raised the thunder and lightning of anger in the page of my brother-travellers in America. But the lamented scarcity of American inns is easily accounted for. In a country where every private house is a temple dedicated to hospitality, and open alike to Travellers of every description, ought it to excite surprize that so few good taverns are to be found ? When, therefore, the Travellers through the United States, curse in their pages of calamity the musquitoes, and fleas, and bugs, and ticks that interrupt their slumbers, they make the eulogium of American hospitality.

The inhabitants of these woods are remarkably prolific ; they obey at least one of the divine in

junctions, they increase and multiply their species. Mr. Homer was out felling the lofty trees of the forest, but Mrs. Homer was sitting by the fire, surrounded by half a dozen girls and boys, and giving a bosom of maternal exuberance to a child she held in her arms. A curly-pated boy and girl were eating their dinner on the hearth: it seemed to be short commons; for after thrusting their fingers into the platter, they licked them with great gusto. Come, you eat the sop, cried the boy, the egg belongs to me. No it don't, said the girl, for mammy's hen laid it.

Leaving the hut of Mr. Homer, I walked vigorously forward, indulging the hope I should get to Frying-Pan before night. But before dusk I found myself bewildered in the woods, whose solitude was rendered more melancholy from the cry

of the owl. I had given myself up for lost, and was taking the flint from my pocket to kindle a fire, and pass the night under a tree, when the sound of the axe chopping wood rejoiced my hearing. Not more delightful was sleep ever to the

weary, or water to the thirsty,'than the sound to my ear.

Guided by the noise of the axe, I got to a tobacco plantation ; but I had scarce leaped the fence when a couple of huge dogs assailed me, barking, advancing and retreating, all in a breath. Now, thought I, if these curs were to devour me, svhat an ignominious death would terminaté my pilgrimage on earth. Fcar is not only an igno

« AnteriorContinuar »