September 12, 1857

12 September 1857


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by ROBERT BONNER, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.



Well—I've "done" the Caatskills! I've tugged up that steep mountain, one of the hottest days in which a quadruped or a biped ever perspired, packed to suffocation, with other gasping sufferers, in that crucifying institution called a stage-coach, until I became resignedly indifferent, whether it reached its destination, or rolled head over heels—or rather head over wheels—over the precipice. Landing at last, at the hotel I was concious of only one want, a bed-room; which, when obtained, was close enough, and which I shared with three other jaded mortals. The next morning thanks to a good Providence and the landlord, I emigrated into unexceptionable quarters.

Ah—now I breathe! now I remember no more that purgatorial reeling stage-coach, and its protracted jigglings—wrigglings—jolthings and bumpings. Now I am repaid—now I gaze—oh, how can I gaze with only one pair of eyes, on all this beauty and magnificence? This vast plain spread out so far below our feet like an immense garden, with its luxuriant foliage—its little cottages, smaller than a child's toy;—its noble river, specked with white sails, lessened by distance to a silver thread, winding through the meadows; and beyond—still other plains, other streams, other mountains—on—on—stretching far beyond the dizzy ken, till the eye fills, and the heart swells, and leaning in an exstacy of happiness on the bosom of "Our Father" we cry—"Oh—what is man that Thou art mindful of him?"

Now—as if the scene were too gorgeous for mortal sight, nature gently, compassionately drops a silvery veil of mist before it, veiling, yet not hiding—withdrawing, yet not removing—giving us now sunshine, now shadow; bringing out now the vivid green of a meadow, now the silver sheen of the river; now the bold outline of a pine-girdled mountain. And now—the scene changes, and fleets of clouds sail slowly—glide ghostly, round the mountain's base; winding-sheets wrapped round the shapely trees, from which they burst with a glorious resurrection; while over and above all arches the blue heavens, smiling that it canopies a scene so fair. See—village after village, like specks in the distance—where human hearts throb to human joys and sorrows; where restless ambition flutters against the barred cage of necessity, pining for the mountain-top of freedom; when, gained, oh, weary traveler, to lose its distant golden splendor, and wrap thee in the chill vapors of discontent. What matter—if thou but accept this proof of thy immortality? Yes—village after village;—farmers plodding on, as farmers too often will, turning up the soil for dollars and cents, seeing only in the clouds the filter for their crops; in the lakes the refrigerator for their fish; in the glorious trees their fuel; in the waving grass and sloping meadows, feed for their cattle; in the sweet sunrise an alarm bell to labor, in the little bird's vespers but a call to feed and sleep.

Now—twilight steals upon the mountains, calm as Heaven. The bright valleys sleep in their deepening shadows, while on the mountain-tops lingers the glory, as if loth to fade into the perfumed night. With a graceful sweep the little bird mounts to the clouds, takes his last circling flight, and sings his evening hymn, sweet and soft as the rapt soul's whispered farewell to earth. And yet—oh, God!—this is but the porch to the temple, before whose dazzling splendors even thy seraphs veil their sinless eyes.

Source Text:

Fanny Fern, "A Trip to the Caatskills. Number One," The New-York Ledger (12 September 1857): 4, column 3

To cite this project:

Fanny Fern, "A Trip to the Caatskills. Number One," Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger, Ed. Kevin McMullen (2023)

Contributors to the digital file:

Jordan Harper and Kevin McMullen