Salem,October 14th.--A walk through Beverly toBrowne's Hill, and home by the iron-factory. A bright, coolafternoon. The trees, in a large part of the space through whichI passed, appeared to be in their fullest glory, bright red,yellow, some of a tender green, appearing at a distance as ifbedecked with new foliage, though this emerald tint was likewisethe effect of frost. In some places, large tracts of ground werecovered as with a scarlet cloth,--the underbrush being thuscolored. The general character of these autumnal colors is not gaudy, scarcely gay;there is something too deep and rich in it: it is gorgeous andmagnificent, but with a sobriety diffused. The pastures at thefoot of Browne's Hill were plentifully covered withbarberry-bushes, the leaves of which were reddish, and they werehung with a prodigious quantity of berries. From the summit ofthe hill, looking down a tract of woodland at a considerabledistance, so that the interstices between the trees could not beseen, their tops presented an unbroken level, and seemed somewhatlike a richly variegated carpet. The prospect from the hill iswide and interesting; but methinks it is pleasanter in the moreimmediate vicinity of the hill than miles away. It is agreeableto look down at the square patches of cornfield, or ofpotato-ground, or of cabbages still green, or of beets lookingred,--all a man's farm, in short,--each portion of which heconsiders separately so important, while you take in the whole ata glance. Then to cast your eye over so many differentestablishments at once and rapidly compare them,--here a house ofgentility, with shady old yellow-leaved elms hanging around it;there a new little white dwelling; there an old farm-house; tosee the barns and sheds and all the out-houses clusteredtogether; to comprehend the oneness and exclusiveness and whatconstitutes the peculiarity of each of so many establishments,and to have in your mind a multitude of them, each of which isthe most important part of the world to those who live init,--this really enlarges the mind, and you come down the hillsomewhat wiser than you go up. Pleasant to look over an orchardfar below, and see the trees, each casting its own shadow; thewhite spires of meeting-houses; a sheet of water, partly seenamong swellinglands. This Browne's Hill is a long ridge, lying in themidst of a large, level plain; it looks at a distance somewhatlike a whale, with its head and tail under water, but its immenseback protruding, with steep sides, and a gradual curve along itslength. When you have climbed it on one side, and gaze from thesummit at the other, you feel as if you had made adiscovery,--the landscape being quite different on the two sides.The cellar of the house which formerly crowned the hill, and usedto be named Browne's Folly, still remains, two grass-grownand shallow hollows, on the highest part of the ridge. The houseconsisted of two wings, each perhaps sixty feet in length, unitedby a middle part, in which was the entrance-hall, and whichlooked lengthwise along the hill. The foundation of a spaciousporch may be traced on either side of the central portion; someof the stones still remain; but even where they are gone, theline of the porch is still traceable by the greener verdure. Inthe cellar, or rather in the two cellars, grow one or twobarberry-bushes, with frost-bitten fruit; there is also yarrowwith its white flower, and yellow dandelions. The cellars arestill deep enough to shelter a person, all but his head at least,from the wind on the summit of the hill; but they are allgrass-grown. A line of trees seems to have been planted alongthe ridge of the bill. The edifice must have made quite amagnificent appearance.
September 9th.--A walkyesterday forenoon through the Notch, formed between SaddleMountain and another adjacent one. This Notch is otherwisecalled the Bellowspipe, being a long and narrow valley, with asteep wall on either side. The walls are very high, and thefallen timbers lie strewed adown the precipitous descent. Thevalley gradually descends from the narrowest part of the Notch, and a stream ofwater flows through the midst of it, which, farther onward in itscourse, turns a mill. The valley is cultivated, there being twoor three farm-houses towards the northern end, and extensivefields of grass beyond, where stand the hay-mows of last year,with the hay cut away regularly around their bases. All the moredistant portion of the valley is lonesome in the extreme; and onthe hither side of the narrowest part the land is uncultivated,partly overgrown with forest, partly used as sheep-pastures, forwhich purpose it is not nearly so barren as sheep-pasturesusually are. On the right, facing southward, rises Graylock, allbeshagged with forest, and with headlong precipices of rockappearing among the black pines. Southward there is a mostextensive view of the valley, in which Saddleback and itscompanion mountains are crouched,--wide and far,--a broad, mistyvalley, fenced in by a mountain wall, and with villages scatteredalong it, and miles of forest, which appear but as patchesscattered here and there upon the landscape. The descent fromthe Notch southward is much more abrupt than on the other side.A stream flows down through it; and along much of its course ithas washed away all the earth from a ledge of rock, and thenformed a descending pavement, smooth and regular, which thescanty flow of water scarcely suffices to moisten at this period,though a heavy rain, probably, would send down a torrent, raging,roaring, and foaming. I descended along the course of thestream, and sometimes on the rocky path of it, and, turning offtowards the south village, followed a cattle-path till I came toa cottage.
The pastures andgrass-fields have not yet a general effect of green; nor havethey that cheerless brown tint which they wear in later autumn,when vegetation has entirely ceased. There is now a suspicion ofverdure,--the faint shadow of it,--but not the warm reality.Sometimes, in a happy exposure,--there is one such tract acrossthe river, the carefully cultivated mowing-field, in front of anold red homestead,--such patches of land wear a beautiful andtender green, which no other season will equal; because, let thegrass be green as it may hereafter, it will not be so set off bysurrounding barrenness. The trees in our orchard, and elsewhere,have as yet no leaves; yet to the most careless eye they appearfull of life and vegetable blood. It seems as if, by one magictouch, they might instantaneously put forth all their foliage,and the wind, which now sighs through their naked branches, mightall at once find itself impeded by innumerable leaves. Thissudden development would be scarcely more wonderful than thegleam of verdure which often brightens, in a moment, as it were,along the slope of a bank or roadside. It is like a gleam ofsunlight. Just now it was brown, like the rest of the scenery:look again, and there is an apparition of green grass. TheSpring, no doubt, comes onward with fleeter footsteps, becauseWinter has lingered so long that, at best, she can hardlyretrieve half the allotted term of her reign.
March11th.--After the ground had been completely freed ofsnow, there has been a snow-storm for the two days precedingyesterday, which made the earth all white again. This morning atsunrise, the thermometer stood at about 18 degrees above zero.Monument Mountain stands out in great prominence, with its darkforest-covered sides, and here and there a large, white patch,indicating tillage or pasture land; but making a generally darkcontrast with the white expanse of the frozen and snow-coveredlake at its base, and the more undulating white of thesurrounding country. Yesterday, under the sunshine of mid-day,and with many voluminous clouds hanging over it, and a mist of wintry warmthin the air, it had a kind of visionary aspect, although still itwas brought out in striking relief. But though one could see allits bulgings, round swells, and precipitous abruptnesses, itlooked as much akin to the clouds as to solid earth and rocksubstance. In the early sunshine of the morning, the atmospherebeing very clear, I saw the dome of Taconic with moredistinctness than ever before, the snow-patches, and brown,uncovered soil on its round head, being fully visible. Generallyit is but a dark blue unvaried mountain-top. All the ruggednessof the intervening hill-country was likewise effectively broughtout. There seems to be a sort of illuminating quality in newsnow, which it loses after being exposed for a day or two to thesun and atmosphere. 2b1af7f3a8