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Schroon Lako-A Nut for Sportsmen-Woods on Firo,
Lumbermen-A Student and Hunter outwitted by a Professor-A Philosophi
cal Husband-A Prospective Widow looking out for her own interest, 264
Odds and Ends-Trial of a Thief in the Backwoods—New Mode of Report.
ing an Election-Paradox Lake-Von Raumer and his Statements. 279
The letters in this volume embrace two different sum
mers which I spent in the forest.
An attack on the brain
first drove me from the haunts of men to seek mental
repose and physical strength in the woods. The deci. sion of an able physician, which was that I “must go where a printed page could not meet my eye, and I should be forced to take constant exercise in the open air, or
impelled me to undertake at first what two years after I prosecuted with pleasure.
Thus much for the reasons which first induced me to penetrate the pathless and unknown wilderness of central New York.
I publish the results of my two trips, because I wish to make that portion of our State better known; for it bears the same relation to us that the Highlands do to Scotland, and the Oberland to Switzerland. That rela. tion will be acknowledged yet, and every summer will witness throngs of travelers on their way to those wild mountains, and surpassingly beautiful lakes. No such scenery is to be found in our picturesque country, and none, that in my opinion, will match it this side of the Alps. De• scriptions cannot, of course, give an adequate idea of it, as Prof. Emmons, in his work embraced in the great Geological Report of the State says:
• It is not, however, by description that the scenery of this region can be made to pass before the eye of the imagination; it must be witnessed, the solitary summits in the distance, the cedars and firs which clothe the rocks and shores must be seen; the solitude must be felt or if it is broken by the scream of the panther, the shrill cry of the northern diver, or the shout of the hunter; the echo from the thousand hills must be heard before all the truth in the
scene can be realized.”
After such a glowing description emboded in our State Reports, I think there is little danger that anything I shall say will be considered as exaggerated.
Some may object to the want of gravity, or as others wil! term it, “ dignity,” in these letters. All that I can say, is, they are a faithful transcript of my feelings and experience, and hence the fault if it be one, has no remedy but in dishonesty.
In the woods, the mask that society compels one oo wear
is cast aside, and the restraints which the thousand eyes and reckless tongues about him fasten on the heart, are thrown off, and the soul rejoices in its liberty and again becomes a child in action. The ludicrous incident, the careless joke, the thrilling story, the eager chase, are all in place in the forest, and as harmless as the sports of the deer.
I hate hypocrisy in an author-writing not as he feels but as he knows bigoted or narrow-minded men think he ought to feel-moralizing on paper where he never thought of it in fact, and giving us theological disquisitions on doctrinal points
“ When the bosom is full and the thoughts are high,”
with the floods of excitement and rapture which some won. drous and glorious spectacle has awakened. Nature and the Bible are in harmony—they both speak one language to the heart—yet in the wilderness there is no formality in the ex. pression of one's feelings. A man
Laughs when he's merry,
without thinking or caring how it would appear in the saloon or grave assemblage.
The engravings are from original drawings by the dis. tinguished artists Messrs. Ingham, Durand, Gignoux, and Hill of Vermont to whom I feel deeply indebted for their kindness. These give a value to the work I could not otherwise claim for it.
I am sorry that I could get no sketches of some of the romantic and beautiful scenery of the nore central regions but no artist has ever yet ventured into them. At some future day there will be a collection of those views made, which will not be surpassed in beauty by any in Europe.
The Moose Lakes described in one of the letters, I have never seen, but a friend of mine, who has once been through the wilderness with me, furnished the material, and for the sake of uniformity, I used it as my own.