Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
high and low, and founded on fact! This closed car smells of salt
fish, the strong New England and commercial scent, reminding me
of the Grand Banks and the fisheries. Who has not seen a salt fish,
thoroughly cured for this world, so that nothing can spoil it, and
putting, the perseverance of the saints to the blush? with which you
may sweep or pave the streets, and split your kindlings, and the
teamster shelter himself and his lading against sun, wind, and rain
behind it-and the trader, as a Concord trader once did, bang it up by
his door for a sign when he commences business, until at last his
oldest customer cannot tell surely whether it be animal, vegetable, or
mineral, and yet it shall be as pure as a snowflake, and if it be put
into a pot and boiled, will come out an excellent dunfish for a
Saturday’s dinner. Next Spanish hides, with the tails still preserving
their twist and the angle of elevation they had when the oxen that
wore them were careering over the pampas of the Spanish Main-a
type of all obstinacy, and evincing how almost hopeless and
incurable are all constitutional vices. I confess, that practically
speaking, when I have learned a man’s real disposition, I have no
hopes of changing it for the better or worse in this state of existence.
As the Orientals say, "A cur’s tail may be warmed, and pressed, and
bound round with ligatures, and after a twelve years’ labor bestowed
upon it, still it will retain its natural form." The only effectual cure
for such inveteracies as these tails exhibit is to make glue of them,
which I believe is what is usually done with them, and then they will
stay put and stick. Here is a hogshead of molasses or of brandy
directed to John Smith, Cuttingsville, Vermont, some trader among
the Green Mountains, who imports for the farmers near his clearing,
and now perchance stands over his bulkhead and thinks of the last
arrivals on the coast, how they may affect the price for him, telling
his customers this moment, as he has told them twenty times before
this morning, that he expects some by the next train of prime quality.
It is advertised in the Cuttingsville Times.
While these things go up other things come down. Warned by the
whizzing sound, I look up from my book and see some tall pine,
hewn on far northern hills, which has winged its way over the Green
Mountains and the Connecticut, shot like an arrow through the
township within ten minutes, and scarce another eye beholds it;
going "to be the mast Of some great ammiral."
And hark! here comes the cattle-train bearing the cattle of a thousand
hills, sheepcots, stables, and cow-yards in the air, drovers with their
sticks, and shepherd boys in the midst of their flocks, all but the
mountain pastures, whirled along like leaves blown from the
mountains by the September gales. The air is filled with the bleating
of calves and sheep, and the hustling of oxen, as if a pastoral valley
were going by. When the old bellwether at the head rattles his bell,
the mountains do indeed skip like rams and the little hills like lambs.
A carload of drovers, too, in the midst, on a level with their droves
now, their vocation gone, but still clinging to their useless sticks as
their badge of office. But their dogs, where are they? It is a stampede
to them; they are quite thrown out; they have lost the scent.
Methinks I hear them barking behind the Peterboro’ Hills, or panting
up the western slope of the Green Mountains. They will not be in at
the death. Their vocation, too, is gone. Their fidelity and sagacity are
below par now. They will slink back to their kennels in disgrace, or
perchance run wild and strike a league with the wolf and the fox. So
is your pastoral life whirled past and away. But the bell rings, and I
must get off the track and let the cars go by;
What’s the railroad to me? I never go to see Where it ends.
It fills a few hollows, And makes banks for the swallows, It sets the
sand a-blowing, And the blackberries a-growing, but I cross it like a
cart-path in the woods. I will not have my eyes put out and my ears
spoiled by its smoke and steam and hissing.