previous next
[35] of the village tavern for an hour at a time and not see a living creature. Occasionally a pedler, with sleigh bells round his horse, goes Jingling by. Occasionally a farmer's wagon drives up to one of the stores. Occasionally a stage, rocking in its leather suspenders, stops at the post-office for a moment, and then rocks away again. Occasionally a doctor passes in a very antiquated gig. Occasionally a cock crows, as though he were tired of the dead silence. A New York village, a quarter the size and wealth of Amherst, makes twice its noise and bustle. Forty years ago, however, when Horace Greeley used to come to the stores there, it was a place of somewhat more importance and more business than it is now, for Manchester and Nashua have absorbed many of the little streams of traffic which used to flow towards the county town. It is a curious evidence of the stationary character of the place, that the village paper, which had fifteen hundred subscribers when Horace Greeley was three years old, and learned to read from it, has fifteen hundred subscribers, and no more, at this moment. It bears the same name it did then, is published by the same person, and adheres to the same party.

The township of Amherst contains about eight square miles of some-what better land than the land of New England generally is. Wheat cannot be grown on it to advantage, but it yields fair returns of rye, oats, potatoes, Indian corn, and young men: the last-named of which commodities forms the chief article of export. The farmers have to contend against hills, rocks, stones innumerable, sand, marsh, and long winters; but a hundred years of tillage have subdued these obstacles in part, and the people generally enjoy a safe and moderate prosperity. Yet severe is their toil. To see them ploughing along the sides of those steep rocky hills, the plough creaking, the oxen groaning, the little boy-driver leaping from sod to sod, as an Alpine boy is supposed to leap from crag to crag, the ploughman wrenching the plough round the rocks, boy and man every minute or two uniting in a prolonged and agonizing yell for the panting beasts to stop, when the plough is caught by a hidden rock too large for it to overturn, and the solemn slowness with which the procession winds, and creaks, and groans along, gives to the languid citizen, who chances to pass by, a new idea of hard work, and a new sense of the happiness of his lot.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Horace Greeley (2)
Wheat (1)
Amherst (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: