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Creator: n/a
Date: January 1839
Publication: The Knickerbocker
Source: Available at selected libraries

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'Unrivalled attraction! grand entrée! feats of the ring! ground and lofty tumbling! still vaulting by the whole company!


I KNOW of some villages, which are happy in an unusual seclusion, whose situation protects them from the intrusion of the world. So surrounded are they by hills, and so embosomed in forests, so 'remote from cities,' and from public highways, that the heart of Zimmerman might envy their solitude. The most violent tempests in the political world can hardly affect them. They are like mountains whose sum-mits are basking in the sunbeams, while their base is uprooted by the storm. 'The wind and the hurricane rage in the distance; the destruction is beyond their horizon of peace.'


Thither, by the eternal impediments of nature, no post-routes or rail-ways can ever come, to work out their magical changes; no manufactories stun with their clatter, or darken the atmosphere with smoke. The spirit of utility, which is abroad in the country, which levels to the earth so many monuments of affection, and forbids any thing to stand as it is, cannot come here. There are few changes except the ever-recurring ones of nature and mortality. The aspect of to-day remains the same to-morrow; and the solitary spire which pierces the blue skies now, will fifty years hence look down upon the peaceful abodes of men 'whose fathers worshipped in this mountain.'


The primeval silence of these places remains almost unbroken; scarcely is echo awakened among the rocks. Their situation is not marked upon the maps, and their existence is a secret to the world. Perhaps a few quiet gentlemen come there in the summer, to sail on the clear lakes, or drop their lines for the golden-speckled trout. But they are wily fishermen; and when


'The melancholy days return, the saddest of the year,'


and they go back to the marts of commerce, careful are they not to reveal the pleasant spots where they laid in wait for the 'scaly people.'


One might suppose that the current of life ran along almost too sleepily, and that the inhabitants of such places would be ready to die with weariness and disgust. But let it be remembered, that they do not live in idleness, nor are their sickly natures fed with excitement, as a food. They have sports and pastimes in abundance, and incidents which the bustling world would deem unworthy of notice are continually occurring, to relieve them from monotony, and to create a spicy variety of life. Sometimes a pedlar comes along, and is a welcome visiter. He opens doors without knocking, and enters with the familiarity of a friend. His variegated wares are spread out; brass buttons, and tortoise-shell combs, and supender and ear-rings, and jewelry of pure gold. The housewives find it to their advantage to purchase his salves and essences, and his o-pod-elic, as he terms it, which is a 'sartin cure for the rhumatiz.'


Ever and anon, there is a show of dancing puppets, and a barrel organ turned by some worn-out soldier, whose simple airs a fat, rosy-faced woman accompanies, while in a very sweet voice, but a raw accent, she sings, rolling her dark, supplicating eyes to the windows:


I'd be a butterfly, horn in a bow'r,
Where roses and lilies and violets meet,
Roving for ever from flower to flower,
Kissing all things that is pretty, a-n-d sweet.
I'd never languish for wealth or for power,
I'd never sigh to see slaves at my feet.'


And not in vain does she expend her melody. For soon her eyes are refreshed by a pattering shower of silver coin, which honest boys collect from the earth, and place in her hands, while some kind-hearted spirit crowns the whole with a goblet of sparkling water. She inhales the draught, more delicious than wine of the old vintage, and passes on to the next cottage, leaving a God's blessing, sweet to the rustic ear as the lately-expired music. A few moments elapse, and her distant voice is again heard; for having detected in a window a golden-haired, beautiful girl, peeping from behind the jalousies of the honeysuckle, she sings of the 'minstrel's return,' or of a youth now far, far away, but whom at midsummer the propitious fates will restore to the embrace of his mistress. And again, in a song not excelled for a simplicity which touches the heart, she declares the enduring attachments of home:


'Midst pleasures and palaces though I may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.'


I charge all persons, and especially husbandmen, that they reward most generously these only relics of the troubadours. Many a weary mile do they walk, the messengers of music. Small is the boon which they ask or desire, and entirely unequal to their deserts. Treat them kindly, treat them tenderly, and they will repay you ten-fold; neglect them, and the doric muse has perished.


There are few wandering fortune-tellers in the country, nor are our villages rendered animate by the scene of a gipsey encampment. Let those arrant poachers remain in England; their absence is cer-tainly to be regretted, on the score of the picturesque. Yet we cannot accord with the solemn exclamation of the nursery song

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