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The following are travelling notes from a memorandum-book of Mr. Knickerbocker :
The Kaatsberg, or Catskill Mountains, have always been a region full of fable. The Indians considered them the abode of spirits, who influenced the weather, spreading sunshine or clouds over the landscape, and sending good or bad hunting seasons. They were ruled by an old squaw spirit, said to be their mother. She dwelt on the highest peak of the Catskills, and had charge of the doors of day and night, to open and shut them at the proper hour. She hung up the new moons in the skies, and cut up the old ones into stars. In times of drought, if properly propitiated, she would spin light summer clouds out of cobwebs and morning dew, and send them off from the crest of the mountain, flake after flake, like flakes of carded cotton, to float in the air; until, dissolved by the heat of the sun, they would fall in gentle showers, causing the grass to spring, the fruits to ripen, and the corn to grow an inch an hour. If displeased, however, she would brew up clouds black as ink, sitting in the midst of them like a bottle-bellied spider in the midst of its web; and when these clouds broke, woe betide the valleys !
In old times, say the Indian traditions, there was a kind of Manitou or Spirit, who kept about the wildest recesses of the Catskill Mountains, and took a mischievous pleasure in wreaking all kinds of evils and vexations upon the red men. Sometimes he would assume the form of a bear, a panther, or a deer, lead the bewildered hunter a weary chase through tangled forests and among ragged rocks, and then spring off with a loud ho! ho! leaving him aghast on the brink of a beetling precipice or raging torrent.
The favorite abode of this Manitou is still shown. It is a great rock or cliff on the loneliest part of the mountains, and, from the flowering vines which clamber about it, and the wild flowers which abound in its neighborhood, is known by the name of the Garden Rock. Near the foot of it is a small lake, the haunt of the solitary bittern, with water-snakes basking in the sun on the leaves of the pond-lilies, which lie on the surface. This place was held in great awe by the Indians, insomuch that the boldest hunter would not pursue his game within its precincts. Once upon a time, however, a hunter who had lost his way penetrated to the garden rock, where he beheld a number of gourds placed in the crotches of trees. One of these he seized, and made off with it; but in the hurry of his retreat he let it fall among the rocks, when a great stream gushed forth, which washed him away and swept him down precipices, where he was dashed to pieces, and the stream made its way to the Hudson, and continues to flow to the present day; being the identical stream known by the name of the Kaaters-kill.
SUGGESTIONS OF TOPICS OF INQUIRY.
What is the general character of this sketch?
What is a barometer? How is the word applied in the first paragraph? Explain the sentence, "The blue tints of the upland melt away into the fresh green of the nearer landscape." Find a similar passage in the first paragraph of The Widow and her Son. Compare the two descriptions. What is the force of the word profitable in the expression "an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor"? Is labor usually profitable? Was Rip's labor profitable? Why? or why not?
What was the condition of Rip's farm?
Why is it called his patrimonial estate?
What is meant by a "torrent of household eloquence"?
"A tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.' To whom does this apply?
What is the force of the word mellows?
How did Rip escape from labor and his wife's tongue?
Describe the dog, Wolf.
Describe the stranger whom Rip met on the mountain.
Who composed "the most melancholy party of pleasure he had ever witnessed"? What contradiction does there seem to be in this expression? What is a paradox?
What effect did the liquor have on Rip? Narrate the story till he reaches the village.
What changes does he perceive in the village?
What is going on in the village?
What is the result of his inquiries for his old companions?
What causes the greatest confusion in Rip's mind?
How many in the company are named Rip?
What comforting news does Judith, his daughter, tell him?
How is the whole mystery cleared away?
Who corroborates the story? Why is he authority?
How did Rip pass the rest of his life?
Select two or three humorous sentences or expressions, and state why they are at all funny.
Commit to memory the first paragraph of this sketch.
Turn the last paragraph into sentences, each of which shall be exactly equivalent in meaning to the corresponding original sentence.
It was a brilliant moonlight night, but extremely cold; our chaise whirled rapidly over the frozen ground; the postboy smacked his whip incessantly, and a part of the time his horses. were on a gallop. "He knows where he is going," said my companion, laughing, "and is eager to arrive in time for some of the merriment and good cheer of the servants' hall. My
Saint Francis (1182-1226), founder of the order of Franciscan Friars. Saint Benedight (about 480-543), founder of the order of Benedictine Monks.
Hight, called. Good fellow Robin, Robin Good-fellow, Puck, a celebrated fairy, the "merry wanderer of the night," who figures largely in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, and in many stories of which the scene is laid in England, Germany, and Northern Europe.
Curfew (Fr. couvrir, to cover; feu, fire). The curfew (cover-fire) was the ringing of a bell at eight o'clock at night as a signal to the inhabitants to put out fires and retire to rest. This custom, which was established in the reign of William the Conqueror (who reigned 1066-1087), is still retained in some of the country districts in England.
Cartwright. See note, p. 82.
2. Postboy (Lat. posta, posita, placed, a station where relays of horses are kept for carrying the mails, etc.), a boy that drives a post-chaise; that is, a carriage for conveying travellers or letters from one station to another.
father, you must know, is a bigoted devotee of the old school, and prides himself upon keeping up something of old English hospitality. He is a tolerable specimen of what you will rarely meet with nowadays in its purity, the old English country 10 gentleman; for our men of fortune spend so much of their time in town, and fashion is carried so much into the country, that the strong rich peculiarities of ancient rural life are almost polished away. My father, however, from early years, took honest Peacham for his text-book, instead of Chesterfield: he deter- 15 mined in his own mind, that there was no condition more truly honorable and enviable than that of a country gentleman on his paternal lands, and therefore passes the whole of his time on his estate. He is a strenuous advocate for the revival of the old rural games and holiday observances, and is deeply read in the 20 writers, ancient and modern, who have treated on the subject. Indeed, his favorite range of reading is among the authors who flourished at least two centuries since; who, he insists, wrote and thought more like true Englishmen than any of their sucHe even regrets sometimes that he had not been born 20 a few centuries earlier, when England was itself, and had its peculiar manners and customs. As he lives at some distance from the main road, in rather a lonely part of the country, without any rival gentry near him, he has that most enviable of all blessings to an Englishman, an opportunity of indulging the bent of his own humor without molestation. Being representative of the oldest family in the neighborhood, and a great part of the peasantry being his tenants, he is much looked up to, and, in general, is known simply by the appellation of the Squire,'
7. Bigoted, unreasonably attached to a particular opinion and blind to all argument to the contrary. Devotee (Lat. devovēre, devotāre, to dedicate to the deity), one who is wholly devoted to certain duties, studies, and ceremonies. Old school, a school or party belonging to a former time; a sect, or body of followers, having the character and opinions of old time.
15. Peacham, Henry Peacham of Trinity College, Cambridge, author of The Complete Gentleman, 1622. Chesterfield. Lord Chesterfield (16941773), as a literary man, is best known by his Letters to his Son, which treat of manners and politeness.
a title which has been accorded to the head of the family since 35 time immemorial. I think it best to give you these hints about my worthy old father, to prepare you for any eccentricities that might otherwise appear absurd."
We had passed for some time along the wall of a park, and at length the chaise stopped at the gate. It was in a heavy, 40 magnificent old style, of iron bars, fancifully wrought at top into flourishes and flowers. The huge square columns that supported the gate were surmounted by the family crest. Close adjoining was the porter's lodge, sheltered under dark fir-trees, and almost buried in shrubbery.
The postboy rang a large porter's bell, which resounded through the still frosty air, and was answered by the distant barking of dogs, with which the mansion-house seemed garrisoned. An old woman immediately appeared at the gate. As the moonlight fell strongly upon her, I had a full view of a little 50 primitive dame, dressed very much in the antique taste, with a neat kerchief and stomacher, and her silver hair peeping from under a cap of snowy whiteness. She came courtesying forth, with many expressions of simple joy at seeing her young master. Her husband, it seemed, was up at the house keeping Christmas 55 eve in the servants' hall; they could not do without him, as he was the best hand at a song and story in the household.
My friend proposed that we should alight and walk through the park to the hall, which was at no great distance, while the chaise should follow on. Our road wound through a noble co avenue of trees, among the naked branches of which the moon glittered as she rolled through the deep vault of a cloudless sky. The lawn beyond was sheeted with a slight covering of snow, which here and there sparkled as the moonbeams caught a frosty crystal; and at a distance might be seen a thin transparent es
36. Time immemorial, time whose beginning is not remembered, or cannot be ascertained; time beyond memory.
52. Kerchief (Fr. couvrechief, covering for the head, from couvrir, to cover, and chef, or chief, the head), a cover for the head, head-dress. Stomacher. See note, p. 39.