Page images

let me speak of the Hollow as I found it, after an absence of many years, when it was kindly given me once more to revisit the haunts of my boyhood. It was a genial day, as I approached that fated region. The warm sunshine was tempered by a slight haze, so as to give a dreamy effect to the landscape. Not a breath of air shook the foliage. The broad Tappan Sea was without a ripple, and the sloops, with drooping sails, slept on its glassy bosom. Columns of smoke, from burning brushwood, rose lazily from the folds of the hills, on the opposite side of the river, and slowly expanded in mid air. The distant lowing of a cow, or the noontide crowing of a cock, coming faintly to the ear, seemed to illustrate, rather than disturb, the drowsy quiet of the scene.

I entered the Hollow with a beating heart. Contrary to my apprehensions, I found it but little changed. The march of intellect, which had made such rapid strides along every river and highway, had not yet, apparently, turned down into this favored valley. Perhaps the wizard spell of ancient days still reigned over the place, binding up the faculties of the inhabitants in happy contentment with things as they had been handed down to them from yore. There were the same little farms and farm-houses, with their old bats for the housekeeping wren; their stone wells, moss-covered buckets, and long balancing poles. There were the same little rills, whimpering down to pay their tributes to the Pocantico; while that wizard stream still kept on its course, as of old, through solemn woodlands and fresh green meadows: nor were there wanting joyous holiday boys, to loiter along its banks, as I had done ; throw their pin-hooks in the stream, or launch their mimic barks. I watched them with a kind of melancholy pleasure, wondering whether they were under the same spell of the fancy, that once rendered this valley a fairy land to me. Alas ! alas ! to me every thing now stood revealed in its simple reality. The echoes no longer answered with wizard tongues; the dream of youth was at an end; the spell of Sleepy Hollow was broken!

I sought the ancient church, on the following Sunday. There it stood, on its green bank, among the trees; the Pocantico swept by it in a deep dark stream, where I had so often angled ; there expanded the millpond, as of old, with the cows under the willows on its margin, kneedeep in water, chewing the cud, and lashing the flies from their sides with their tails. The hand of improvement, however, had been busy with the venerable pile. The pulpit, fabricated in Holland, had been superseded by one of modern construction, and the front of the semi-Gothic edifice was decorated by a semi-Grecian portico. Fortunately, the two weather-cocks remained undisturbed on their perches, at each end of the church, and still kept up a diametrical opposition to each other, on all points of windy doctrine.

On entering the church, the changes of time continued to be apparent. The elders round the pulpit were men whom I had left in the gamesome frolic of their youth, but who had succeeded to the sanctity of station of which they once had stood so much in awe. What most struck my eye, was the change in the female part of the congregation. Instead of the primitive garbs of homespun manufacture, and antique Dutch fashion, I beheld French sleeves, French capes, and French collars, and a fearful fluttering of French ribbands.

When the service was ended, I sought the church-yard in which I had sported in my unthinking days of boyhood. Several of the modest brown stones, on which were recorded, in Dutch, the names and virtues of the patriarchs, had disappeared, and had been succeeded by others of white marble, with urns, and wreaths, and scraps of English tomb-stone poetry, marking the intrusion of taste, and literature, and the English language, in this once unsophisticated Dutch neighborhood.

As I was stumbling about among these silent yet eloquent memorials of the dead, I came upon names familiar to me; of those who had paid the debt of nature during the long interval of my absence. Some I remembered, my companions in boyhood, who had sported with me on the very sod under which they were now mouldering; others who in those days had been the flower of the yeomanry, figuring in Sunday finery on the church green; others, the whitehaired elders of the sanctuary, once arrayed in awful sanctity around the pulpit, and ever ready to rebuke the ill-timed mirth of the wanton stripling, who, now a man, sobered by years, and schooled by vicissitudes, looked down pensively upon their graves. “Our fathers,' thought I, where are they! — and the prophets, can they live for ever!'

I was disturbed in my meditations, by the noise of a troop of idle urchins, who came gambolling about the place where I had so often gambolled. They were checked, as I and my playmates had often been, by the voice of the sexton, a man staid in years and demeanor. I looked wistfully in his face; had I met him any where else, I should probably have passed him by without remark; but here I was alive to the traces of former times, and detected in the demure features of this guardian of the sanctuary, the lurking lineaments of one of the very playmates I have alluded to. We renewed our acquaintance. He sat down beside me, on one of the tomb-stones over which we had leaped in our juvenile sports, and we talked together about our boyish days, and held edifying discourse on the instability of all sublunary things, as instanced in the scene around us. He was rich in historic lore, as to the events of the last thirty years, and the circumference of thirty miles, and from him I learned the appalling revolution that was taking place throughout the neighborhood. All this I clearly perceived he attributed to the boasted march of intellect, or rather to the all-pervading influence of steam. He bewailed the times when the only communication with town was by the weekly market-boat, the ‘Farmers' Daughter,' which, under the pilotage of the worthy Gabriel Requa, braved the perils of the Tappan Sea. Alas! Gabriel and the Farmers' Daughter’ slept in peace. Two steam-boats now splashed and paddled up daily to the little rural port of Tarrytown. The spirit of speculation and improvement had seized even upon that once quiet and unambitious little dorp. The whole neighborhood was laid out into town lots. Instead of the little tavern below the hill, where the farmers used to loiter on market days, and indulge in cider and gingerbread, an ambitious hotel, with cupola and verandahs, now crested the summit, among churches built in the Grecian and Gothic styles, showing the great increase of piety and polite taste in the neighborhood. As to Dutch dresses and sun-bonnets,

they were no longer tolerated, or even thought of; not a farmer's daughter but now went to town for the fashions ; nay, a city milliner had recently set up in the village, who threatened to reform the heads of the whole neighborhood.

I had heard enough! I thanked my old playmate for his intelligence, and departed from the Sleepy Hollow church, with the sad conviction that I had beheld the last lingerings of the good old Dutch times, in this once favored region. If any thing were wanting to confirm this impression, it would be the intelligence which has just reached me,

that a bank is about to be established in the aspiring little port just mentioned. The fate of the neighborhood is, therefore, sealed. I see no hope of averting it. The golden mean is at an end. The country is suddenly to be deluged with wealth. The late simple farmers are to become bank directors, and drink claret and champagne; and their wives and daughters to figure in French hats and feathers; for French wines and French fashions commonly keep pace with

paper money. How can I hope that even Sleepy Hollow can escape the general inundation ? In a little while, I fear the slumber of ages will be at end ; the strum of the piano will succeed to the hum of the spinning wheel; the trill of the Italian opera to the nasal quaver of Ichabod Crane ; and the antiquarian visitor to the Hollow, in the petulance of his disappointment, may pronounce all that I have recorded of that once favored region, a fable.


[blocks in formation]

I NEVER walk abroad in the fields or in the woods, at morn or twilight, or in the sultry noontide, that I do not bear, and feel, and see, that God is within, around, and above me.' FULLER.

God's praise is in the zephyr's sigh,

Low breathed the greenwood boughs among,
And where the wild wind rushes by,

Its cadence greets us, clear and strong.

We hear it, when the ocean waves

Break genily on the solemn shore,
And when the tempest-spirit raves,

To swell their hollow-sounding roar.

We read it in the gorgeous cloud,

Tinged by the day.god's parting glow,
We read it in the misty shroud,

Whose folds conceal the mountain's brow.

Do not those silver lamps on high,

Suspended o'er the throne of night,
Demand of us, unceasingly,

To ask from whence and what their light?

To ask from what exhaustless urn,

From age to age, their fires are fed?
When will their glories cease to burn,

Their latest rays through space be shed !



[ocr errors]

The rapid development of the resources of the United States, since the general peace of 1815, has attracted the attention of political economists, and opened many new relations between the old and new world. It is highly important that these relations should be fully understood, and properly appreciated, in order to derive from them the utmost mutual advantage. Peace has become the settled policy, as it has always been the best interest, of all civilized nations; the relations, therefore, of which we speak, are such as are consequent upon this happy state of things, namely, those of trade and commerce; and particularly such as naturally grow up between a country like ours, of boundless extent, unexampled fertility, and inexhaustible resources, requiring additional population, and increased means, for their full development, and nations like those of Europe, whose territories are overburdened with population; whose fields of enterprise are all occupied; whose capacities are all tried, and whose surplus capital can scarcely find any profitable investment.

The intimacy of these relations are most sensibly felt between the United States and Great Britain, Ireland, France, Holland, and Germany; nations which, while they have furnished us the greater part of our population, are at the same time those with which we have the most intimate commercial intercourse. It is therefore the nations above-mentioned, to which the remarks we have to offer will more particularly refer.

In examining the relations which naturally subsist between different portions of the world thus situated, we are forcibly impressed with numerous reciprocal benefits which they can confer on each other, and are led to contemplate the various ways in which they can promote each others' prosperity. It is not only in the ordinary and regular transactions of trade and commerce, that these advantages can be secured; but, in the peculiar situation in which these countries are placed, there are other movements, hardly less important in their results. We allude to the furnishing of population and capital by the old world, to develope the resources of the new. Let it be borne in mind, that we have boundless tracts of untouched, virgin soil, which the hand of industry, fostered with a little capital, can in a few years make more rich and productive than the best cultivated fields of England. Take, for example, the state of Indiana, which a short time since was a wilderness of prairie and forest, producing nothing for the support of man, except wild game and fish, but possessing an uncommonly fertile soil

, throughout its whole extent. Imagine a population of five hundred thousand inhabitants, rapidly emigrating, to occupy this rich but rude region ; most of them poor,

for the wealthy, and even those in comfortable circumstances merely, rarely emigrate. As soon as the new settlement numbers fifty thousand people, they form themselves into a state, and are admitted into the confederacy. As the tide of emigration increases, and sweeps over a greater extent of territory, the enterprising, hardy, and intel

[ocr errors]

ligent citizens begin to turn their attention to rail-roads and canals, as necessary facilities to get their produce to market. Churches, schools, seminaries, and various benevolent and useful institutions, spring up, on every hand; men who went there comparatively penniless, and who perhaps borrowed a few hundred dollars, at exorbitant interest, to commence the improvement of their farms, become shortly independent land-holders; and the land which a few years before cost them a dollar or two an acre, in fee, now yields them a clear income of as much or more than the original cost per annum. The same principle extends to the community, and developes the same increase of the aggregate wealth of the whole people.

The state being organized, and advancing rapidly in prosperity, issues its stock, or obligations to pay money, perhaps twenty or thirty years ahead, bearing interest at five or six per cent. per annum, and devotes the proceeds of the sale of these bonds, to making rail-roads, canals, and other improvements, which enhance the permanent value of lands, by opening facilities to market; and before the expiration of the twenty years, have added several times the amount of the debt thus contracted, to the substantial wealth of the state. It has also been proved, by abundant experience, that the income from tolls on these improvements, is sufficient to pay the interest on the debt incurred for their construction, even in the early stages of the settlement, before much of the country through which they pass is reduced to cultivation; and of course, as the settlement advances, with renewed vigor, under the fostering auspices of so wise a policy, the revenue from the works themselves must increase with proportionable rapidity. It has even been found, on some of the routes of these improvements, (we may particularly instance that of the Wabash and Erie canal, running through the states of Ohio and Indiana, and connecting the navigable waters of the Mississippi and its branches with those of the great lakes, and passing entirely through a wild country, where the lands, at the time of the undertaking, belonged almost exclusively to the government,) that the sale of one half of the lands embraced within six miles of each side of the canal, has amounted to enough to defray the whole expenditure, leaving the other half to the government, increased in worth four fold, beside the enhancement in value of the lands more remote. This is by no means a singular instance, but has proved true in relation to the grand Erie canal

, the Ohio canal, and all the other great thoroughfares through extensive sections of the vast valleys of the lakes and of the Mississippi. The object of these great internal improvements through these fine valleys, of unexampled fertility, is to form a navigable water communication from them to the Atlantic sea-board, making a great entrepôt at Buffalo, the Constantinople of the West. All such improvements as are west of the state of New York, connect these two valleys together, and bring their products into the great lakes, and through the lakes to the entrepôt at Buffalo. There these products meet the merchandise of the east, brought through the Erie canal, and there the warehousing and exchanges take place. Standing at the point of exchange between the merchandise of the east and the produce of the west, and reaching, by these channels, through a territory of a fertility never before equalled, and of greater extent

« PreviousContinue »