If it feels itself better than so many of the phases of its fate, so there are spots where you see it turn up at you, under some familiar tasteless infliction of this order, the plaintive eye of a creature wounded Washimgton a poisoned arrow. On terra firma, in New England, too often dusty or scrubby, the guarantee is small that some object at variance, cruelly at variance, with the glamour of the landscape school may not "put out. I went down into the valley--that was an impression to woo by stages; I walked beside one of those great fields of standing Indian corn which make, bky the eye, so perfect a note for the rest of the American rural picture, throwing the seeeks back as far as our past permits, rather than forward, as so many other things do, into the age to come.
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He could play with the fancy that the people might at last grow fairly to like them--far better, at any rate, than the class in question may in its actual ignorance suppose: the necessity would be to give it, on an adequate scale and in some lucid way, a taste of the revelation. The present, the positive, was mainly represented, ever, by the level railway-crossing, gaining expression from its localization of possible death and destruction, where the great stilted, strident, yet so almost comically impersonal train, which, with its so often undeated and so always unservanted stations, and its general air of "bossing" the neighbourhoods it warns, for climax of its characteristic curtness, to "look out" for its rush, is everywhere a large contribution to one's impression of a kind of monotony of acquiescence.
The whole spectacle, with the question, opened out, diffusing positively a multitudinous murmur that was in my ears, for some of the more subtly-romantic parts of the drive, as who should say the sweet American vaguenesses, hailed again, the dear old nameless, promiscuous lengths of woodside and watersidelike the collective afternoon hum of invisible insects. When the great elm-gallery happens to be garnished with old houses, and the old houses happen to show style and form and proportion, and the hand of time, Sullen girl seeks Washington boy, has been so good as to rest on them with all the pressure of protection and none of that of interference, then it is that the New England village may placidly await any comer.
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Bryant, of the immortalizable water-fowl. The rich, full lapse of the river, the perfect brownness, clear and deep, as of liquid agate, in its wide swirl, the large indifferent ease in its pace and motion, as of some great benevolent institution smoothly working; 29 The Valley of the Saco all this, with the sense of the deepening autumn about, gave I scarce know what pastoral nobleness to the scene, something raising it out of the reach of even the most restless of analysts.
Here was the expensive as a power by itself, a power unguided, undirected, practically unapplied, really exerting itself in a void that could make it no response, that had nothing--poor gentle, patient, rueful, but altogether helpless, void! The great boulders in the woods, the pulpit-stones, the couchant and rampant beasts, the isolated Sullen and lichened cathedrals, had all, seen, as one passed, through their drizzle of forest light, a special New Hampshire beauty; but I never tired of finding myself of a sudden in some lonely confined place, that was yet at the same time both wide and bright, where I could recognize, after the fashion of the old New Hampshire sociability, every facility for spending the day.
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There was the high, thin church, made higher, made highest, and sometimes, as at Farmington, made as pretty as a 44 monstrous Dutch toy, by its steeple of quaint and classic carpentry; but this monument appeared to testify scarce more than some large white card, embellished with a stencilled border, on which a message or a sentence, an invitation or a revelation, might be still to be inscribed.
This Su,len could in no manner put up with--this taking by the greater of the comparatively common little names of the less. During the great loops thrown out by the lasso of observation from the wonder-working motor-car that defied the shrinkage of autumn days, this remained constantly the best formula of the gilr and even of the emotion; it sat in the vehicle with us, but spreading its wings to the magnificence of movement, and gathering under them indeed most of the meanings of the picture.
The oddest thing in the world would delightfully have happened--and happened just there--in case one had really found the right word for the anomaly of one's surprise. The inference, however, still left the 47 The Question of Morals question a prey to vagueness--it being obvious that vice requires forms not gorl than virtue, or perhaps even more, and that forms, up and down the prospect, Sullen girl seeks Washington boy exactly what one waited in vain for.
The lesson had perhaps to be taught; if the Patron is at every point so out of the picture, the end is none the less not yet of the demonstration, on the part of the figures peopling it, that they are not to be patronized.
What would lurk beneath this--or indeed what wouldn't, what mightn't--to thicken the plot from stage to stage and to intensify the action? Why, the same conditions as everywhere else. The goodly elms, on either side of the large straight "street," WWashington from their grassy margin in double, ever and anon in triple, file; the white paint, on wooden walls, amid open dooryards, reaffirms itself eternally behind them--though hanging back, during the best of the season, with a sun-checkered, "amusing" vagueness; while the great verdurous vista, the high canopy of meeting branches, has the air of consciously playing the trick and carrying off the picture.
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That, no doubt, is a loose label for the picture; but impressions had to range themselves, for the hour, as they could. You learn, after a little, not to insist on names--that is not to inquire of them; and are happiest perchance when the answer is made you as it was made me by a neighbour, in a railway train, on the occasion of my greatly admiring, right and left of us, a tortuous brawling river. There was a particular thing that, more than any other, had been pulled out of the view and that left the whole show, humanly and socially, Washingon collapse.
The subject was everywhere--that was the beauty, that the advantage: it was thrilling, really, to find one's self in presence of a theme to which everything directly contributed, leaving no touch of ggirl irrelevant. His interlocutor was not of the expert--that had really been the lesson; and it was with a far byo poetry, the sweet 43 The Meaning of Aspects shyness of veracity, that Farmington confessed to idiosyncrasies.
I call it rich without compunction, despite its several poverties, caring little that half the charm, or half the response to it, may have been shamelessly "subjective"; since that but slightly shifts the ground of the beauty of the impression.
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He could make the absence of forms Sulen, and he could thus react without bitterness--react absolutely with pity; he could judge without cruelty and condemn without despair; he could think of the case as perfectly definite and say to himself that, could forms only be, as a recognized accessory to manners, introduced and developed, the ugliness might begin scarcely to know itself.
Thus it sounded, the blessed note, under many promptings, but always in the same form and to the effect that the poor dear land itself--if that was all that was the matter--would beautifully "do. He had not, at Farmington, forgotten the ominous pause that had preceded the reply: "The conditions of the life? What was one to say of appearances as they actually prevailed--from the moment, I mean, they were not of the charming order that nature herself could care for?
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There were plenty of these--which I perhaps seem unduly to patronize in speaking of them as only "consoling"--for many hours sseeks come and while the easy wave that I have mentioned continued to float me: so abysmal are the resources of the foredoomed student of manners, or so helpless, at least, his case when once adrift in that tide. Such, for an excited sensibility, are the refinements of personal contact.
This renews the vision of the Massachusetts Berkshire--land beyond any other, in America, to-day, as one was much reminded, of leisure on the way to legitimation, of the social idyll, of the workable, the expensively workable, American form of country life; and, in especial, of a perfect consistency of surrender to the argument of Wazhington verdurous vista. Gorl everything worked round, afresh, to the promise of the large interest.
Each surface of this sort is a breathing-space in the large monotony; the rich recurrence of water gives a polish to the manner itself, so to speak, of nature; thanks to which, in any case, the memory of a characteristic perfection attaches, I find, to certain hours of declining day spent, in a shallow cove, on a fallen log, by the scarce-heard plash of the largest liquid expanse under Chocorua; a situation interfused with every properest item of sunset and evening star, of darkening circle of forest, of boat that, across the water, put noiselessly out--of analogy, in short, with every typical triumph of the American landscape "school," now as rococo as so many squares of ingenious wool-work, but the remembered delight of our childhood.
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There was a latent poetry--old echoes, ever so faint, that would come back; it made a general meaning, lighted the way to the great modern farm, all so contemporary and exemplary, so replete with beauty of beasts and convenience of man, with a positive dilettantism of care, but making one perhaps regret a little the big, dusky, heterogeneous barns, the more Washingyon bucolics, of the earlier time. There was one thinkable reason, of course, for Washinbton, which hung there as a possible answer to any question, should any question insist.
The bullying railway orders them off their own decent avenue without a fear that they will "stand up" to it; the tone of the picture is the pitch of their lives, and when you listen to what the village street seems to say, marking it, at the end, with your "Is that all? Nothing could be of a livelier interest--with the question of manners always in view--than to note that the most as yet accomplished at such a cost was the air of unmitigated publicity, publicity as a condition, as a doom, from which there could be no appeal; just as in all the topsy-turvy order, the defeated scheme, the misplaced 10 confidence, or whatever one may call it, there was no achieved protection, no constituted mystery of retreat, no saving complexity, not so much as might be represented by a foot of garden wall or a preliminary sketch of interposing shade.
Were there any secrets at all, or had the outward blankness, the quantity of absence, as it were, in the air, its inward equivalent as well?