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covered by the visits of the benevolent, and proclaimed to exist in the suburbs of our cities, it is regarded by the community as a merely transient evil, which must cease, in the natural order of things, when the immigration from less favored countries shall be properly provided for and regulated. Yankee economy goes hand in hand with plenty. The habit of self-denial is not the bitter fruit of woful experience. If it be always distasteful in some measure, it is the less so from being voluntary, and from bringing with it, like every other sacrifice of an indulgence to a duty, a pleasurable feeling of self-respect. In all our prosperous towns, there are many who look from the comfortable but not too luxurious present, to a better condition in the future, sure to be attained by patient industry and habitual good management. The Yankee farmer or mechanic, even the shopkeeper or merchant, — notable exceptions proving the rule, - lives within his means.
He is well acquainted with the value of every article he buys, sells, or consumes, and is therefore proverbially shrewd at a bargain. He is not ashamed to attend to trivial matters of profit and loss, and to the minutiæ of household and family expenditure, such thrifty considerations being too universal among his neighbours to be at all conspicuous in him.
Though his mind may seem to have but a narrow scope, being cramped by petty calculations and anxieties, he never reaches that point of penny-wise aud pound-foolish prudence which hoards savings in a strong-box, leaving profitable enterprises and investments for the exclusive benefit of great capitalists. He is no miser; his children are well educated, respectably clad, and live in a comfortable and cheerful home. When he is past labor, they will gratefully cherish the parent who has given to each a little fortune in the industrious and economical habits in which they have been educated.
That the same traits which govern the Yankee in private life regulate his conduct also as a citizen may be seen, in Massachusetts at least, by her freedom from the infamy of repudiation, slavery, and the spirit of war and conquest; by her admirable system of schools, her liberal encouragement of industrial enterprise and foreign commerce, and generally by her affluent command of all the sources of physical and social well-being. We might have begun the enumeration with the somewhat tardy economy which has ordered a sur
vey of the agricultural wealth of the State, with a view to the more careful husbanding of it for posterity.
One would suppose a long-headed Yankee land-owner would not fell a single oak, which has been brought to perfection by the slow lapse of fifty or a hundred years, without at the same time planting an acorn. Such merciless havoc as has been made among time-honored heads, hardy, straight trunks, and graceful limbs, such wholesale extermination of the primitive occupants of the soil, reminds one of the vanished tribes of the red men, who once followed the deer through the woods, where now stands a forest of chimneys and steeples. Were it not for spontaneous growth, Nature being ever kindly officious in repairing waste, and embellishing with intrusive bounty the frontiers of the ploughman's domain, timber-trees would by this time be nearly as rare as Indians, and be looked upon with the same poetic interest, falling and dying out as civilization advances. Even now, though Nature and a taste for ornamental gardening have created in favored spots some refreshing shade for our sunbeaten heads, people gaze at the few stately old trees, which by some lucky chance have escaped proscription, with a sort of wondering respect and admiration, as they seem the ancient nobility of the forest, left towering in lonely grandeur among modern upstarts.
It is difficult to account for the thoughtless destruction of rich resources of this kind, in a land where so universal and laudable an economy prevails in the use of all things that are worth money.
Our ancestors, in their struggle for a livelihood, waged war with fire and steel upon every thing which obstructed the plough and spade ; all trees were ruthlessly doomed to be burned or sawn in sunder, as usurpers of the soil. The oldest farms are mostly broad fields without shade, except where chuckle-headed apple-trees are set in rows, or where too neat a husbandry has not forbidden the stone-walls and hedges to mantle themselves with a clustering and luxuriant growth of trees and shrubs. The eye of the traveller rests upon these with a lingering gaze, but is seldom attracted by groups of lofty oaks left to crown the swelling slope, or by clusters of elms in the meadow, or willows fringing a stream. The rivulets and pools, and even ponds of such size as to have a name and a fame for skating and fishing, have gradually dwindled and dried up under the unin
terrupted beams of the sun. A curious instance of this effect of the clearing of woodland may be mentioned here. One of the earliest factories in Massachusetts was built
upon Frostfish brook, in the old town of Beverly, by William Burley, a man of some distinction in his time, and not deficient in judgment or good sense, notwithstanding his idle collection of spindles. The building stood in sullen silence many years, and perhaps is frowning there yet, while the shallow, dimpling stream provokes a smile from every passer-by, on account of its ludicrous disproportion to the task it was expected to perform. The sources which once swelled the brook to a respectable river-like flow were dried up, one by one, as the neighbourhood was swept of its wood to supply fuel for the hospitable, old-fashioned, cavernous fireplaces in the village.
Could we go back to the times of the early settler, and see him striving to let in the glad sun upon the dank, marshy soil, on which lay rotting trunks and masses of rank vegetation, forming what is technically called a swamp, teeming with rattlesnakes and wildcats, and sending up unwholesome and fetid vapors from the stagnant pools which had been created in every hollow by obstructed streams, we should not wonder that his first thought was to get rid of the superabundance of wood as soon as possible. To save any individual tree, or cluster of trees, for its picturesque effect or for future use, would be as far from his mind as to pity the clasping vines which twined about their trunks and among their crowded branches, or the wild-flowers growing at their foot. The perfection of the picturesque, in the view of the thriving settler, -- and truly it is not without its beauty as a picture, when set in a frame of shady, dark-green forest, may be found in a sunny expanse of land, cleared of woods and weeds, stumps and stones, and green with the promise of a bountiful crop ; light and shade chasing each other across fields of wheat and rye, the wind playing with the wavy leaves of the graceful Indian corn, the gaudy pumpkin-blossoms and sunflowers relieving the sombre, rusty green of the potato-ground ; the log-cabin in which he began life in the woods, now tenanted by his numerous dumb family, no, not dumb, for it resounds with many cheerful voices, crowing, gabbling, and cackling, in harmony with a nasal bass accompaniment from the adjoining low-roofed pen ; the VOL. LXVI. NO. 138.
prim, straight-sided, three-storied house, painted white and half-unfinished within, the owner having ambition and an eye to future grandeur ; and in front, with their taper spires and light glancing leaves furnishing an orpament with the least possible obstruction of sunshine, a row of aristocratic Lombardy poplars, following each other proudly along the margin of the road, like a file of grenadiers, as far as the improved territory extends.
An individual of more humble pretensions and simpler taste might place his low-roofed, red farm-house under the protecting arch of a spreading elm, and shelter his barnyard with a few tall buttonwoods and balm-of-Gilead trees. Nevertheless, every acre redeemed from the wild woodland, and turned to the possible production of food which was wanted, instead of timber which every body had enough of, was a victory and a triumph ; and he and his sturdy sons and successors lifted up their axes upon the thick trees, with mighty zeal, to their total extermination, leaving a bare spot where nothing was to be planted, and where nothing has ever grown since but huckleberry bushes (we prefer the Yankee spelling), brambles, barberries, and wild-flowers. The demand for fuel in rapidly growing towns, where people in days past would as readily have tried to burn granite as coal, devoured the little remnant, and left five sixths of the land in Massachusetts as bald as an old man's crown. Of course, prices rise, and Maine, in haste to be rich, and with no more provident scruples than her elder sister, undergoes the cropping process in her turn ; her valuable forests are falling, like grass before the scythe, and as soon as the waters burst their icy fetters in the spring, the rivers are disfigured by logs floating down in myriads, to come under the teeth of insatiably voracious saw-mills, which lie in wait all the way to
Large tracts have been burnt over, the fire which was kindled to hasten the process of clearing land often overleaping its prescribed boundaries, or crawling insidiously under ground to break out unexpectedly where there are no means to control its glowing wrath. Once beyond check, its spread is terrific. The heat raises a whirlwind, and not only forests, but villages, are swept away by its fiery breath like stubble. The smoke darkens the sky, and creates an unnatural twilight over all the region, — dark days being traced to this cause within a circle of wo or three hundred miles round one of these unquenchable Tophets.
We have heard much lately — with incredulous ears, we confess of impish urchins firing out-buildings from pure love of mischief, and then exulting in the red glare and the hurrying concourse of men and engines. If there are such incendiaries, Dante himself could not imagine a more appropriate Inferno, wherein they should be compelled to wander in expiation of their ruthless sport, than the centre of one of these burnt tracts. All objects are of the same funereal hue as far as the horizon formed by the scathed trees, tossing their black arms in the murky sky, like so many demons. Some years ago, we ourselves, guiltless of aught but a shuddering, remorseful admiration of the sublime element which was devouring our neighbour's fænile magazine, happened to ride for miles through scenery of this sort, so unutterably dismal, that we cannot even now think of it without horror.
It must have been because our botanical enthusiasm was then in its early fervor, that we could not even weep at the sight of our martyred venerable friends standing hideous and half-consumed upon the blackened ground. We hurried along through their gloomy ranks, like Æneas among the ghosts of the unentombed in Tartarus,
“ Multa putans, sortemque animo miseratus iniquam.” At the present time, owing partly to the diversion of lumber-vessels to a more profitable carrying-trade, wood for fuel and the materials for building are becoming scarce and highpriced. In the vicinity of Boston, the great focus of trade, and in many other places, new houses are rising as quickly as if the Slaves of the Lamp aided the weary carpenters; but they bid fair to be as unsubstantial, as fairy palaces, and occasionally tumble down before they are finished. The quantity of good oak timber deemed necessary for one respectable mansion, in our grandfathers' day, would suffice to frame a dozen of these airy edifices. Here, every body is now wide awake to the value of wood, and disposed to be sufficiently economical in the use of it ; while in certain parts of the State, we are credibly informed, the inhabitants have not yet begun to rub their beclouded eyes, or to inquire, while they are cutting down oaks and hickories at two dollars and a half a cord, how an adequate supply is to be secured for the future increased demand. A few years more, and the lumber and charcoal trade in Maine and New York must die a