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JOURNEY TO NIAGARA.

LETTER I.

Journey to Sheffield. White Marble. Rapid descent of

the Streams which fall into the Hudson, and into the Hooestennuc. Egremont. Manor of Livingston. Claverack. Character of First Settlers in little Landing Places. Kaatskill. Canton. Durham. Kaatskill Mountains. Bristol. Blenheim. Stamford. Harpersfield. Meredith. White Pine Tree. Franklin. Sidney. Miserable Inns. Troublesome Innkeeper. Unadilla. Oxford. Norwich. Jericho. Chenango River and Valley. Sherburne. Hamilton. Cazenovia.

DEAR SIR;

On Wednesday, September 19th, 1804, I began a journey to the falls of Niagara. I was detained by rain until three o'clock in the afternoon, and then rode to Watertown: twenty-six miles. The next day I proceeded to Sheffield : forty-one miles. At Litchfield, and afterwards at Canaan, I had expected to find my destined companions in this excursion; but missed of them in both places. At the latter, after a solitary ride of between fifty and sixty miles, I found some gentlemen going to Sheffield, whose company made the remainder of the way very agreeable. The day was remarkably cold for the season, and was followed by a severe frost; the ice at Sheffield being, the next morning, about the thickness of a dollar, and the tender vegetables generally destroyed. During the preceding nine years there has not, in those parts of the country where I have journeyed, been a frost, sufficiently intense to destroy vegetables of this class, until about the middle of October.

VOL. IV.

B

At Sheffield I found two gentlemen designing to set out for Kaatskill*, and with them I proceeded very pleasantly on the journey. The road turns directly west from Sheffield, and enters the state of New York in the township of Hillsdale. The part of it, which is in Massachusetts, is alternately a forest and a collection of solitary settlements.

About a mile and a half from Sheffield we passed by a number of workmen employed in sawing, grinding, and polishing marble. Immense quarries of this mineral are found in the range of hills, at the foot of which their works were erected. It is white, and generally of the same texture with that at West-Stockbridge. The workmen, however, showed uś some specimens of a much finer quality, and very beautiful. . The business is here in its infancy; but, if pursued with industry and prudence, can scarcely fail of being profitable.

The ascent of the Taghkannuc range, on the eastern side, is gradual and easy; on the western, the declivity is longer and steeper. From the bottom of this range the tributary streams of the Hudson run through a country twenty miles in breadth, with a rapidity not less than that, with which those of the Hooestennuc run five miles. Both the valley and the bed of the Hudson, therefore, are much nearer the level of the ocean, in this latitude, than those of the Hooestennuc. This conclusion is obvious, also, from an attention to the current of these rivers. That of the Hooestennuc, from Canaan to Derby, is almost universally rapid ; and is interrupted by several falls and rifts. The whole perpendicular descent of these must be more than two hundred feet; and that of the general current much more. From Canaan to the Sound, the length of the river, as measured on the road, is seventy-two miles; and this distance, although the road follows the course of the river in a remarkable degree, is yet short of the truth. Almost all this distance is a continued ripple. Three hundred feet will be a moderate allowance for such a descent, throughout such a distance. In the Hudson there is not even a rapid below Troy.

The first township through which we passed, after leaving Sheffield, was Egremont in Massachusetts, bordering upon

* The name of this town was originally spelled Kaatskill, but has since been altered by the legislature to Catskill.-Pub.

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the western line of the state, and lying on the summit and eastern declivity of Taghkannuc. The soil of this township is generally good. The settlement is comparatively recent. The inhabitants live on scattered plantations; and suffer the usual inconveniences, both moral and physical, of such settlements. Their number, in 1790, was 759; in 1800, 835; and, in 1810, 790.

From the ridge of this mountain there is a handsome view of the Green Mountain range, and a noble one of the Kaatskill mountains.

The stone found on Tagbkannuc, so far as we had an opportunity to observe it, is principally blue, shining schist, like that, formerly mentioned, on Saddle Mountain.

After we began to descend from the ridge, we saw on the left, between two steep declivities, a small and very beautiful valley, of a rich soil and verdure, so narrow and so deep, as to be styled without impropriety a ravine. In this retired spot stood a few humble dwellings, which appeared as if every storm, both of the natural and political world, would pass over them without disturbing their peaceful inhabitants. has presented to my eye more forcibly the idea of being sequestered from intrusion and bustle. It was a valley of Switzerland ; and I felt as if it would be easy to find in this little cluster the cottage of Venoni.

When we had passed the line, which divides Massachusetts from New York, the appearance of the country in many respects was changed in an instant. The houses became ordinary and ill-repaired. A great number of them were taverns; generally, however, of so wretched an appearance, as must, one would think, prevent the entrance of any traveller. Not a church nor a school-house was visible till we reached Claverack; at the distance of sixteen or eighteen miles. About the taverns, early as it was, were gathered a number of persons from the neighbourhood, idling and drinking away their time, rude in their appearance, and clownish in their manners.

From the ridge to Claverack the whole country is slate ground, the soil tolerably good, and the surface an alternation of hills and vallies. There is so much sameness in the succession as to make the whole prospect tame and dull, without any thing picturesque or even sprightly. The houses, also, are generally indifferent, and the agriculture on a humble scale. I ought to add, that this tract is extensively cultivated by tenants; and belongs to one branch of the family of Livingston.

We dined at a very good inn in Claverack, a pleasant and very ancient Dutch settlement. This town is about four miles from Hudson, and contains sixty or seventy substantial houses, built in the Dutch manner; two churches, a Dutch and an Episcopal, a court house, and a gaol, all of them ordinary buildings. The site of Claverack is a handsome elevation, near a sprightly mill-stream, which is bordered with intervals.

Agriculture in this neighbourhood seems to be at a stand. Neither improvement nor enterprise meets the eye, and every thing, except the passing of a great number of waggons, wears the appearance of stillness and seclusion.

Claverack is the shire town of the county of Columbia. In 1790, it contained 3,262 inhabitants; in 1800, 4,414; and, in 1810, 3,593.

On the Hudson there are many clusters of houses and stores, which are gathered at the end of every considerable road, terminating at the bank in what is called a landing. Trade is the motive, which at the first settlement summons to these places adventurers of every sort from every quarter. Together with a collection of discreet and virtuous people, there is sometimes an unhappy proportion of loose, lazy, shiftless, and unprincipled inhabitants. They are of the clan, which I have heretofore mentioned under the name of foresters.

It is a peculiar characteristic of the ignorant and vicious part of such aggregations to feel, that their settlement intimately resembles great trading towns. To exhibit this resemblance to each other, and to strangers, is always a favourite object of their attention. Too ignorant, however, to discern in what the real respectability of such towns principally consists, and too vicious willingly to adopt what is excellent in their character, they employ themselves in copying the fashions, follies, and vices of cities. To be first and excessive in fashions; to make a parade in the midst of poverty; to be pert; to gamble: to hannt taverns ; to drink; to swear; to

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