A Pleasant Place Of Summer Resort Near Home.
West Brattleboro, Vt., August 1870.
It has been said that the extreme heat of the season has, this year, driven the greater crowd seaward, but in my own rambles, I have seen little to confirm such an impression. In this direction there is certainly no percepible thinning out as yet. And why should there be when fresh breezes and fair landscapes and the best of company and tables loaded with the products of garden and hillside and orchard, are in such unfailing abundance. The village of West Brattleboro, numbering about 50 dwellings, beside stores, hotels, shops, and a female seminary,--is neat and well kept, amply shaded with maples and elms, and nestles in as charming a valley as you can find in all New England. The hills, which environ it, are now abrupt and now sloping, partially wooded, and in Summer time always green. There is no point from which you can gain extensive views, but a greater variety and freshness seems hardly possible. To-day the air is as sweet as in June; a last night's rain having cooled and refreshed the hot and thirsty earth.
Next to its natural attractions, the first object of interest here is the Glenwood Ladies' Seminary. 'That? That's a young ladies' female seminary!' said a young man who was proud of being able to give valuable information. But the writer can remember when the ground upon which it stands was occupied by an academy for both sexes; a slightly imposing structure with tall poplars at the right and left of its door, and in which,--not the trees, but the structure,--young men were trained for college, and young ladies to be teachers and 'helpmeets.' I need not remind the reader that those were days when the prevailing theory, respecting men and women, was that of the oak and the vine. It was further thought that it was a good thing for young ladies and gentlemen to be educated together,--good for them intellectually and morally, for their minds and for their manners. No matter if there was a little cautious love-making now and then. There were the best of opportunities for knowing each others' talents and tempers. I stand up for the mixed system; and my wife agrees with me.
In those days Father Harris was the literary prince of the village, and 'Uncle Tom' did the tall story-telling at the horse-sheds, on Sunday noons. 'I tell you,' he would say, 'take the locust and split it into rails, and lay these heart-edge up into a fence, and they will last forever. I've tried it!' But the dynasty of Father Harris has passed away, albeit his erect form and slightly jerky step may be seen on occasions in the village yet. As for Uncle Tom he has gone where the worshippers have no need of horse-sheds, and story-tellers have a more cautious regard to facts.
But 'as I was going to say,' times and other things have changed. The quandam school-boy returns to find that boys are no longer wanted here; at least in term time. The ancient academy has given place to the more elegant structures and the ampler grounds of a school for young ladies only--an excellent institution of its class, and presided over by a principal--Miss Tenney--who is abundantly qualified for her position. And these are the halls and the grounds which have, for a few Summer weeks so generously opened their doors and extended their arms for 'Summer boarders.' And here they are--the grave and the gay,--the lame and the lazy. You will see them--for the atmosphere is literary,--book in hand upon the numerous settees under maple and evergreen shades at all times of the day. For their evening's entertainment Prof. Welch, who is here from Yale college brings out his gymnastic class, which is composed of ladies and gentlemen who are under training as teachers of that art, and puts them through their evolutions and exercises. And I have no doubt you would be as astonished, as the admirers of muscle are cheered, at the way they march and stamp and beat their chests and gesticulate and attitudinize. Occasionally the guests recreate themselves with parlor theatricals. At one of these, the other evening, a pistol charge of powder was lodged in the eye of one of the actors. The play, I believe, was entitled 'Blunderbuss,' and it is to be presumed that this was a part of the programme.
This pleasant village is just now rejoicing in a newly discovered mineral spring. Mr. E. Atwood is the happy owner of the soil and rock from which it gushes forth; and a distinguished chemist has pronounced it most valuable for its tonic and alterative properties.
Even so meager a sketch as this should not be concluded without some allusion to the village preacher, Rev. Joseph Chandler, who for a quarter of a century has done a quiet, but by no means fruitless work, among this favored people. A dozen years ago, I heard him in a 'charge' at the ordination of a youthful preacher, say, 'I charge you, my brother, to avoid the holy tones. Have so much of genuine religion that you can afford to be natural!' Excellent counsel! And few have given a better illustration of its excellence than he. May another quarter of a century be added to his years and work.
Vermont Record and Farmer, September 2, 1870.
Reprinted from The Springfield Republican.