"It is certain that here the natural state of the earth is to be covered with woods; that's the state of wild nature, and this untamed wilderness, as sovereign, still dominates the regions into which civilization has only penetrated in the last forty or fifty years. The woods are the emblem of this sauvagerie. (We have no word to render the idea that the English express by the word wilderness.) Thus it's against the woods that all the energy of civilized man seems to be directed. With us one cuts wood to use it; here it's but to destroy it. Prodigious efforts are made to annihilate it, and often these efforts are powerless. The growth of vegetation is so rapid that it eludes man's attack. and their children learn already at an early age to use the axe against the trees, their enemies. There is therefore in America a general feeling of hatred against trees. The prettiest country houses sometimes lack shade on this account. They believe that the absence of woods is a sign of civilization; nothing seems uglier than a forest; on the contrary, they are charmed by a field of wheat. . . .
I was saying that the whole country is but a forest. I might add that everywhere where a clearing is to be seen, which is rare enough, the clearing is a village. They give to these villages the most celebrated names of ancient or modern cities, such as Troy, Rome, Liverpool, etc., etc. Besides, these burgs need only eight or ten years to become cities, where ever there is a collection of men and a certain number of buildings. The construction of the houses, which are generally of wood, is not lacking in elegance; their style is often imitated from the Greek. The innds are especially remarkable in this respect. As for the small isolated dwellings that one encounters here and there in the midst of the woods, they are made with a few logs placed one on top of the other; it's what is called a Loghouse.
Beyond this there is nothing extraordinary in the aspect of the country. It much resembles France; no high mountains are to be seen. The only picturesque thing I saw on the road from Albany to Utica was the bank of the Mohawk, which in certain places presents cliffs and waterfalls that are altogether remarkable.
The verdure of the trees is not the same as in France. With us it is unifrom and monotonous; here the foliage is much more varied; the pines form in all the woods a sombre background which brings out all the other foliages. I, who do not share the enthusiasm of the Americans for wheat fields, regret the fine trees they have cut. How beautiful these forests musst have been before the hand of man had dishonoured them! Now they can be compared to a beautiful woman shorn of part of her hair."
Beaumont, letter to his sister (Pierson 192-194)
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