A RAMBLE OF SIX THOUSAND MILES THROUGH THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BY S. A. FERRALL, ESQ.
The few sketches contained in this small volume were not originally intended for publication—they were written solely for the amusement of my immediate acquaintances, and were forwarded to Europe in the shape of letters. Subsequent considerations have induced me to publish them; and if they be found to contain remarks on some subjects, which other travellers in America have passed over unnoticed, the end that I have in view will be fully answered.
Although I remained in the seaboard cities sufficiently long to have collected much information; yet knowing that the statistics of those places had been so often and so ably set before the public, I felt no inclination to trouble my friends with their repetition.
In Europe, the name of America is so associated with the idea of emigration, that to announce an intention of crossing the Atlantic, rouses the interfering propensity of friends and acquaintances, and produces such a torrent of queries and remonstrances, as will require a considerable share of moral courage to listen to and resist. All are on the tiptoe of expectation, to hear what the inducements can possibly be for travelling in America. America!! every one exclaims—what can you possibly see there? A country like America—little better than a mere forest—the inhabitants notoriously far behind Europeans in refinement—filled with wild Indians, rattle-snakes, bears, and backwoodsmen; ferocious hogs and ugly negros; and every other species of noxious and terrific animal!
Without, however, any definite scientific object, or indeed any motive much more important than a love of novelty, I determined on visiting America; within whose wide extent all the elements of society, civilized and uncivilized, were to be found—where the great city could be traced to the infant town—where villages dwindle into scattered farms—and these to the log-house of the solitary backwoodsman, and the temporary wig-wam of the wandering Pawnee.
I have refrained nearly altogether from touching on the domestic habits and manners of the Americans, because they have been treated of by Captain Hall and others; and as the Americans always allowed me to act as I thought proper, and even to laugh at such of their habits as I thought singular, I am by no means inclined to take exception to them.
Sail for New York in an American vessel—the crew—ostentation of the Captain—a heavy gale—soundings—icebergs—bay of New York—Negros and Negresses—White Ladies—climate—fires—vagrant pigs—Frances Wright—Match between an Indian canoe and a skiff
Depart for Albany—the Hudson—Albany—Cohoe's Falls—Rome—the Little Falls—forest of charred trees—"stilly night" in a swamp—fire fly—Rochester—Falls of Gennessee—Sam. Patch—an eccentric character—Falls of Niagara—the Tuscarora Indians—Buffalo—Lake Erie—the Iroquois—the Wyandots—death of Seneca John, and its consequences—ague fever—Wyandot prairie—the Delawares' mode of dealing with the Indians—the transporting of Negros to Canada
Arrive at Marion—divorces—woodlands—Columbus—land offices—population, &c. Shaking Quakers—kidnapping free Negros—Cincinnati—the farmers of Ohio—a corn-husking frolic—qualifications necessary to Senators, Legislators, and Electors—a camp-meeting—militia officers' muster—Presbyterian parsons—price of land, cattle, &c.—fever and ague
Set out for New Harmony—the roads—a backwoodsman—the journey—peaches—casualties—travelling—New Harmony—M. Le Seur—barter—excursion down the Wabash—the co-operative community—Robert Owen
Depart for St. Louis—Albion—the late Messrs. Birkbeck and Flowers—Hardgrove's prairie—the roads—the Grand prairie—prairie wolf—mode of training dogs—Elliott's inn—inhabitants of Illinois—ablutions—coal—soil and produce—the American Bottom—St Louis—monopolies—Fur companies—incivility of a certain Major—trapping expedition—trade with Santa Fe—lead mines—Carondalot—Jefferson barracks—discipline—visit to a slave-holder—the Ioway hostages—Indian investigation—character of the Indians.
Leave St. Louis—Indian mounds—remains of ancient fortifications—burial caverns—mummies—Flint's description of a mummy—the languages of America—town making—the Indian summer—population, &c. of Illinois—the prairie hen—the Turkey buzzard—settlers—forest in autumn—a gouging scrape—the country—extent and population of Indiana—hogs—a settler in bottom land—the sugar maple—roads—a baptism
Set out for New Orleans—Louisville—Mississippi steam-boats—the Ohio—the Mississippi—sugar plantations—the valley of the Mississippi—New Orleans—Quadroons—slavery—a Methodist slavite—runaway Negros—incendiary fires at Orleans—liberty of the press—laws passed by the legislature of Louisiana—Miss Wright—public schools—yellow fever—the Texas
Depart for Louisville—tellandsea, or Spanish moss—Natchez—the yellow fever—cotton plantations—Mississippi wood-cutters—freshets—planters, sawyers, and snags—steam-boat blown up—the Chickesaws—hunting in Tennessee—electioneering—vote by ballot—trade on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers—the People—the President's veto—finances—government banks—Kentucky—the Kentuckians—court-houses—an election—universal suffrage—an Albino—Diluvian reliqua
The political condition of the Indians—Missionaries—the letter of Red-jacket—the speech of the wandering Pawnee chief
Kenhawa salt-works—coal—a Radical—rattle-snakes—Baltimore—Philadelphia—taxation—shipping
"The Workies"—Miss Wright—the opening of the West India ports to American vessels—voyage homeward—the stormy petrel—Gulf weed—the remora—the molusca—quarantine
Following the plan I had laid down for myself, I sought and found a goodly Yankee merchantman, bound for and belonging to the city of New York. Our vessel was manned with a real American crew, that is, a crew, of which scarcely two men are of the same nation—which conveys a tolerably correct notion of the population of the United States. The crew consisted of one Russian, one German, one Italian, one Scotchman, one Newfoundlander, one Irishman, two Englishmen, two New Englanders, and two Negros—the cook and steward. The seamen of America are better paid, and better protected, than those of any other nation; but work harder, and must understand their duty well. Indeed if we had not had a good crew, our ship, being old, might have suffered severely.
In selecting this ship, in addition to accommodations, I only took into account her build; and so far was not disappointed, for when she could carry sail, she scudded along in gallant style; but with ships as with horses, the more they have done, the less they have to do.
I had a strong impression on my mind that a person travelling in America as a professed tourist, would be unable to form a correct estimate of the real character and condition of the people; for, from their great nationality, they would be likely to show him the best side of every thing. Of this kind of ostentation I very soon had a slight proof. Our ship left port in gallant trim, but had no sooner gained the open sea, than all hands were employed in stowing away the finery, and covering the rigging with mats—even the very cabin doors were taken off the hinges, and brass knobs and other ornaments which appeared to have been fixtures, were unshipped and deposited below, where they remained until our approach to New York, when the finery was again displayed, and all was placed once more in statu quo.
For the first twelve days we had rather pleasant weather, and nothing remarkable occurred, unless a swallow coming on board completely exhausted with flying, fatigue made it so tame that it suffered itself to be caressed; it however popped into the coop, and the ducks literally gobbled it up alive. The ducks were, same day, suffered to roam about the decks, and the pigs fell foul of one of them, and eat the breast off it. Passing the cabouse, I heard the negro steward soliloquising, and on looking in, perceived him cutting a hen's throat with the most heartfelt satisfaction, as he grinned and exclaimed, by way of answer to its screams, "Poor feller! I guess I wouldn't hurt you for de world;" I could not help thinking with Leibnitz, that most sapient of philosophers, that this is the best of all possible worlds.
On the thirteenth day we encountered a heavy gale, which continued to increase for four successive days. During this period we were unable to carry more canvass than was barely necessary to render the vessel manageable. A heavy gale, for the first time, is rather interesting than otherwise: the novelty of the sea's appearance—the anxiety of the crew and officers—the promptitude with which commands are given and executed—and the excitement produced by the other incidental occurrences, tend to make even a storm, when encountered in open sea, by no means destitute of pleasing interest. During this gale, the sailors appeared to be more than ordinarily anxious only upon one occasion, and then only for a minute—the circumstance was not calculated to create alarm in the mind of a person totally ignorant of nautical affairs, but being somewhat of a sailor, I understood the danger tolerably well. The helm was struck by a sea, and strained at the bolts; from the concussion occasioned by the blow, it was apprehended for a moment that it had been carried away. Without a helm, in such weather, much was to be feared; for her timbers being old, she could hardly meet the shock of an ocean wave upon her broadside without suffering serious injury. The helmsman was knocked down—the captain and mate jumped aft, to ascertain the extent of the damage; while the sailors scowled along the deck, as they laid their shoulders to the weather side of the ship—all was anxiety for the instant. At length the mate cried, "helm all right," and the crew pulled away as usual. At the close of the fourth day the storm subsided, and we approached the banks of Newfoundland.
It is generally supposed that the colour of the sea is a sure indication of the presence or absence of soundings; that is, that there are soundings where the water is green, and that there are none where the water is blue. The former is, I believe, true in every instance; but the latter is certainly not so, as the first soundings we got here, were in water as blue as indigo, depth fifty odd fathoms.
We were thirty days crossing these tiresome banks; during which time we were befogged, and becalmed, and annoyed with all sorts of disagreeable weather. The fogs or mists were frequently so dense, that it was impossible to see more than thirty yards from the vessel. This course is not that usually taken by ships bound for the United States, as they generally cross the Atlantic at much lower latitudes, but our captain "calculated" on escaping calms, and avoiding the influence of the Gulf stream, and thus making a quicker passage; he was, however, mistaken, as a packet ship that left Liverpool four days after, arrived at New York sixteen days before us.
We found the thermometer of incalculable service, both for ascertaining when we got into the stream, and for disclosing our dangerous proximity to icebergs. That we had approached near icebergs we discovered one evening to be the case by the mercury falling, suddenly, below 40 deg., in foggy weather. We notwithstanding held on our course, and fortunately escaped accident. Many vessels which depart from port with gallant crews, and are never heard of more, are lost, I am convinced, by fatal collision with these floating islands. From the beginning of spring to the latter end of summer, masses of brash ice are occasionally encountered in these latitudes.
Towards the evening of the fiftieth day we entered the bay of New York: the bay is really beautiful, and at this season (summer) perhaps appeared to the greatest advantage. The numerous islands with which it is interspersed, were covered to the water's edge with foliage and verdure, and here and there studded with handsome villas. The city appeared to be literally surrounded by a thick grove of masts, from which floated the flags of many nations—the scene, thus gradually unfolding itself to the eyes of one who had been for so long a time immured within a vessel, was really fascinating.
While at New York, I staid at the "Pearl-street Boarding-house," and experienced from Messrs. Haskell and Perry, the proprietors, the most polite attention. Most Europeans are astonished at the rapidity with which the Americans despatch their meals; but I, having admitted the proposition, that there was "nothing new under the sun," had long previously ceased to be astonished at any thing. On the first day of my dining at the table d'hote, one of those gentlemen told me, when we sat down to dinner, that most of the persons at table were men of business, who were in the habit of eating much quicker than he knew I was accustomed to, and requested that that might not in the slightest interfere with my habits, but that I should entirely suit my own comfort and convenience. After that preface, I think I should have been most unreasonable to fall into a passion with the New Yorkers, because they bolted instead of masticating.
New York is altogether a trading place, and different from any thing of the same magnitude in Europe: scarcely a single street is exclusively filled with private residences;—in a mercantile point of view, it is the Liverpool of the United States.
The negros and mulattos constitute a considerable portion of the population. It is impossible to imagine the extreme ugliness of some of the sooty gentry; a decent ourang-outang might, without presumption, vie with many of these people, even of the fair sex, and an impartial judge should certainly decide that the said ourang-outang was the handsomer animal. Many of them are wealthy, and dress remarkably well. The females, when their shins and misshapen feet are concealed by long gowns, appear to have good figures. A few days after my arrival, walking down "Broadway" (the principal street) I was struck with the figure of a fashionably dressed woman, who was sauntering before me. After passing, I turned round, when—O angels and ministers of ugliness!—I beheld a face, as black as soot—a mouth that reached from ear to ear—a nose, like nothing human—and lips a full inch in diameter! On the following morning, whilst dressing at my bed-room window, I heard a squeaking sort of voice warbling forth, "Love was once a little Boy," and "I'd be a Butterfly." The strange melody and unusual intonations induced me to look out, when, to my astonishment, I found that the fair songstress was a most hideous-looking negress! Such are the scenes that constantly present themselves here, and remind a European that he is in a new region.
The white ladies dress fashionably, generally a la Francoise; have straight figures, and with the help of a little cotton, judiciously disposed, and sometimes, the smallest possible portion of rouge, contrive to look rather interesting; in general, they are lamentably deficient in tournure and en-bon-point. The hands and feet of the greatest belle, are pas mignon, and would be termed plebeian by the Anglo-Normans—the aristocracy of England. Yet I have seen many girls extremely handsome indeed, having a delicate bloom and fair skin; but this does not endure long, as the variable nature of the climate—the sudden and violent transitions of temperature which occur on this continent, destroy, in a few years, the complexion of the finest woman. When she arrives at the age of thirty, her skin is shrivelled and discoloured; she is thin, and has all the indications of premature old age. The women of England retain their beauty at least ten years longer than those of America.
The inhabitants of that part of New York nearest the shipping, are extremely sallow and unhealthy looking, and many have a most cadaverous aspect. Malaria certainly exists here in some degree. A man will tell you that the city is perfectly healthy, whilst his own appearance most unquestionably indicates disease. I speak now of the quays and adjacent streets; and the cause is very apparent. The wharfs are faced with wood, and the retiring of the tide exposes a rotten vegetable substance to the action of an almost tropical sun, which, added to the filth that is invariably found in the neighbourhood of shipping, is quite sufficient to produce the degree of unhealthiness that exists. On going up the town, the appearance of the inhabitants gradually improves, and approaching the suburbs, the difference is striking,—in this district I have seen persons as stout and healthy looking as any in England or Ireland.
On the night of my arrival, a fire broke out, by which several extensive warehouses were entirely consumed. There is nothing more remarkable here than the frequent occurrence of this calamity, except the excellent arrangements that are made for arresting its progress. The engines, apparatus, and corps de pompiers, are admirably maintained, and the promptitude and regularity with which they arrive at the scene of devastation truly astonishing: indeed, were this not the case, the city must very soon be destroyed; for notwithstanding all their exertions, every conflagration makes it minus several houses, and few nights pass without bringing a misfortune of this nature.
There are several theatres, churches, and other public buildings, dispersed throughout the city. The City Hall, which stands near the upper end of a small enclosure, called the Park, is considered the handsomest building in the United States. It was finished in 1812, and cost half a million dollars.
The police regulations appear not to be so severe as they ought to be, for droves of hogs are permitted to roam about the streets, to the terror of fine ladies, and the great annoyance of all pedestrians.
New York was settled by the Dutch in 1615, and called by them New Amsterdam. In 1634, it was conquered by the English,—retaken by the Dutch in 1673, and restored in 1674. Its present population is estimated at 213,000.
Having heard that the celebrated Frances Wright, authoress of "A Few Days in Athens," was publicly preaching and promulgating her doctrines in the city, I determined on paying the "Hall of Science" a visit, in which establishment she usually lectured. The address she delivered on the evening I attended had been previously delivered on the fourth of July, in the city of Philadelphia; but, at the request of a numerous party of "Epicureans," she was induced to repeat it. The hall might contain perhaps ten or twelve hundred persons, and on this occasion it was filled to excess, by a well-dressed audience of both sexes.
The person of Frances Wright is tall and commanding—her features are rather masculine, and the melancholy cast which her countenance ordinarily assumes gives it rather a harsh appearance—her dark chestnut hair hangs in long graceful curls about her neck; and when delivering her lectures, her appearance is romantic and unique.
She is a speaker of great eloquence and ability, both as to the matter of her orations, and the manner of their delivery. The first sentence she utters rivets your attention; and, almost unconsciously, your sympathies are excited, and you are carried onward by the reasonings and the eloquence of this disciple of the Gardens. The impression made on the audience assembled on that occasion was really wonderful. Once or twice, when I could withdraw my attention from the speaker, I regarded the countenances of those around me, and certainly never witnessed any thing more striking. The high-wrought interest depicted in their faces, added to the breathless silence that reigned throughout the building, made the spectacle the most imposing I ever beheld. She was the Cumaean Sibyl delivering oracles and labouring under the inspiration of the God of Day.—This address was chiefly of a political character, and she took care to flatter the prejudices of the Americans, by occasionally recurring to the advantages their country possessed over European states—namely, the absence of country gentlemen, and of a church establishment; for to the absence of these the Americans attribute a large portion of the very great degree of comfort they enjoy.
Near Hoboken, about three miles up North river, at the opposite side to New York, a match took place between a boat rowed by two watermen, and a canoe paddled by two Indians. The boat was long and narrow, similar in form to those that ply on the Thames. The canoe was of the lightest possible construction, being composed of thin hickory ribs covered with bark. In calm weather, the Indians propel these vessels through the water with astonishing velocity; but when the wind is high, and the water much disturbed, their progress is greatly impeded. It so happened on this day that the water was rough, and consequently unfavourable to the Aborigines. At the appointed signal the competitors started. For a short distance the Indians kept up with their rivals, but the long heavy pull of the oar soon enabled the boatmen to leave them at a distance. The Indians, true to their character, seeing the contest hopeless, after the first turn, no longer contended for victory; they paddled deliberately back to the starting place, stepped out, and carried their canoe on shore. The superiority of the oar over the paddle was in this contest fully demonstrated.
Having determined on quitting "the London of the States," as my friends the Yankees call New York, I had bag and baggage conveyed on board a steamer bound for Albany. The arrangements and accommodations on board this boat were superb, and surpassed any thing of the kind I ever met with in Europe, on the same scale; and the groups of well-dressed passengers fully indicated the general prosperity of the country.
The distance between New York and Albany is about 165 miles. The scenery on the Hudson is said to be the most beautiful of any in America, and I believe cannot be surpassed in any country. Many of the beauties of rich European scenery are to be found along the banks of that noble river. In the highlands, about fifty miles from New York, is West Point, on which stands a strong fortress, containing an arsenal, a military-school, and a garrison. It is romantically situated among lofty crags and mountains, which rise above the level of the water from 1100 to 1500 feet. There are many handsome country seats and villages between West Point and Hudson, where the river is more than a mile wide.
After a passage of about sixteen or seventeen hours, we arrived at Albany. The charge for passage, including dinner and tea, was only three dollars; and the day following the cost was reduced, through the spirit of opposition, to one dollar.
Albany is the legislative capital of New York. It is a handsome city, and one of the oldest in the Union. Most of the houses are built of wood, which, when tastefully painted (not often the case) have rather a pleasing appearance. The situation of this city is advantageous, both from the direct communication which it enjoys with the Atlantic, by means of sloops and schooners, and the large tract of back country which it commands. A trade with Canada is established by means of the Erie and Hudson canal. The capitol, and other public buildings, are large and handsome, and being constructed of either brick or stone, give the city a respectable appearance.
Albany, in 1614, was first settled by the Dutch, and was by them called Orange. On its passing into the hands of the English, in 1664, its present name was given to it, in honour of the Duke of York. It was chartered in 1686.
From Albany I proceeded along the canal, by West Troy and Junction, and near the latter place we came to Cohoe's Falls, on the Mohawk. The river here is about 250 yards wide, which rushing over a jagged and uneven bed of rocks, produces a very picturesque effect. The canal runs nearly parallel with this river from Junction to Utica, crossing it twice, at an interval of seven miles, over aqueducts nearly fifty rods in length, constructed of solid beams of timber. The country is very beautiful, and for the most part well cultivated. The soil possesses every variety of good and bad. The farms along the canal are valuable, land being generally worth from fifty to a hundred dollars per acre.
Above Schenectady, a very ancient town, the bed of the canal gave way, which of course obliged us to come to a dead halt. I hired, for myself and two others, a family waggon (dignified here with the appellation of carriage) to take us beyond the break, in expectation of being able to get a boat thence onwards, but unfortunately all the upward-bound boats had proceeded. We were, therefore, obliged to wait until next morning. My fellow travellers having light luggage, got themselves and it into a hut at the other side of the lock; but I, having heavy baggage, which it was impossible to carry across, was compelled to remain on the banks, between the canal and the Mohawk, all night. On the river there were several canoes, with fishermen spearing by torch-light; while on the banks the boatmen and boys, Mulattos and whites, were occupied in gambling. They had tables, candles, dice, and cards. With these, and with a quantum sufficit of spirits, they contrived to while away the time until day-break; of course interlarding their conversation with a reasonable quantity of oaths and imprecations. The breach being repaired early in the morning, the boats came up, and we proceeded to Utica.
Seven miles above Utica is seated Rome, a small and dirty town, bearing no possible resemblance to the "Eternal City," even in its more modern condition, as the residence of the "Triple Prince;" but, on the contrary, having, if one could judge from the habitations, every appearance of squalid poverty. Fifteen miles further on, we passed the Little Falls. It was night when we came to them, but it being moonlight, we had an opportunity of seeing them to advantage. The crags are here stupendous—irregular and massive piles of rocks, from which spring the lofty pine and cedar, are heaped in frightful disorder on each other, and give the scene a terrifically grand appearance.
From Rome to Syracuse, a distance of forty-six miles, the canal is cut through a swampy forest, a great portion of which is composed of dead trees. One of the most dismal scenes imaginable is a forest of charred trees, which is occasionally to be met with in this country, especially in the route by which I was travelling. It is caused by the woods being fired, by accident or otherwise. The aspect of these blasted monuments of ruined vegetation is strange and peculiar; and the air of desertion and desolation which pervades their neighbourhood, reminds one of the stories that are told of the Upas valley of Java, for here too not a bird is to be seen. The smell arising from this swamp in the night, was so bad as to oblige us to shut all the windows and doors of the boat, which, added to the bellowing and croaking of the bull frogs—the harsh and incessant noise of the grasshoppers, and the melancholy cry of the whip-poor-will, formed a combination not of the most agreeable nature. Yet, in defiance of all this, we were induced occasionally to brave the terrors of the night, in order to admire that beautiful insect the fire-fly, or as it is called by the natives, "lightning bug." They emit a greenish phosphorescent light, and are seen at this season in every part of the country. The woods here were full of them, and seemed literally to be studded with small stars, which emitted a bright flickering light.
After you pass Syracuse, the country begins to improve; but still it is low and marshy, and for the most part unhealthy, as the appearance of the people clearly indicates. In this country, as in every other, the canals are generally cut through comparatively low lands, and the low lands here, with few exceptions, are all swampy; however, a great deal of the unhealthiness which pervades this district, arises from want of attention. A large portion of the inhabitants are Low Dutch, who appear never to be in their proper element, unless when settled down in the midst of a swamp. They allow rotten timber to accumulate, and stagnant pools to remain about their houses, and from these there arises an effluvium which is most unpleasant in warm weather, which, however, they do not seem to perceive.
We entered Rochester, through an aqueduct thirty rods in length, built of stone, across the Genessee river. Rochester is the handsomest town on this line. Some of the houses here are tastefully decorated. All the windows have Venetian blinds, and generally there are one or two covered balconies attached to the front of each house. Before the doors there are small parterres, planted with rose-trees, and other fragrant shrubs. About half a mile from the town are the Falls of Genessee. The water glides over an even bed of limestone rock, ninety-six feet above the level of the river below. There is a beautiful regularity in this fall, but its extreme uniformity divests it of picturesque effect. Here the celebrated diver, Sam. Patch, subsequently met his fate in diving off this precipice. He had performed similar feats at the Falls of Niagara, without sustaining any injury. He was not killed by the fall; but is supposed to have fainted when midway from, his leap, as his arms were observed to relax, and his legs to open, before he reached the water.
On my journey I met with an Englishman, a Mr. W——. He dressed a la Mungo Park, wearing a jacket and trowsers of jean, and a straw hat. He was a great pedestrian; had travelled through most of the southern States, and was now on his tour through this part of the country. He was a gentleman about fifty,—silent and retiring in his habits. Enamoured of the orange-trees of Georgia, he intended returning there or to Carolina, and ending his days. We agreed to visit the Falls of Niagara together, and accordingly quitted the boat at Tonawanta. When we had dined, and had deposited our luggage in the safe keeping of the Niagara hotel-keeper, my companion shouldered his vigne stick, and to one end of which he appended a small bundle, containing a change of linen, &c., and I put on my shooting coat of many pockets, and shouldered my gun. Thus equipped, we commenced our journey to the Great Falls. The distance from Tonawanta to the village of the Falls, now called Manchester, is about eleven miles. The way lies through a forest, in which there are but a few scattered habitations. A great part of the road runs close to the river Niagara; and the occasional glimpses of this broad sheet of water, which are obtained through the rich foliage of the forest, added to the refreshing breeze that approached us through the openings, rendered our pedestrian excursion extremely delightful.
Towards evening we arrived at the village, and proceeded to reconnoitre, in order to fix our position for the night. After having done this satisfactorily, we then turned our attention to the all-important operation of eating and drinking. While supping, an eccentric-looking person passed out through the apartment in which we were. His odd appearance excited our curiosity, and we inquired who this mysterious-looking gentleman was. We were informed that he was an Englishman, and that he had been lodging there for the last six months, but that he concealed his real name. He slept in one corner of a large barrack room, in which there were of course several other beds. On a small table by his bed-side there were a few French and Latin books, and some scraps of poetry touching on the tender passion. These, and a German flute, which we observed standing against the window, gave us some clue to his character. He was a tall, romantic-looking young man, apparently about twenty-seven or twenty-eight years of age. His dress was particularly shabby. This the landlord told us was from choice, not from necessity, as he had two trunks full of clothes nearly new. The reason he gave for dressing as he did, was his knowing, he said, that if he dressed well, people would be talking to him, which he wished to avoid; but, that by dressing as he did, he made sure that no one would ever think of giving him any annoyance of that kind. I thought this idea unique: and whether he be still at Niagara, or has taken up his abode at the foot of the Rocky mountains, I pronounce him to be a Diogenes without a tub. He has read at least one page in the natural history of civilized man.
We visited the Falls, at the American side by moonlight. There was then an air of grandeur and sublimity in the scene which I shall long remember. Yet at this side they are not seen to the greatest advantage. Next morning I crossed the Niagara river, below the Falls, into Canada. I did not ascend the bank to take the usual route to the Niagara hotel, at which place there is a spiral staircase descending 120 feet towards the foot of the Falls, but clambered along at the base of the cliffs until I reached the point immediately below the stairs. I here rested, and indeed required it much, for the day was excessively warm, and I had unfortunately encumbered myself with my gun and shot pouch. The Falls are here seen in all their grandeur. Two immense volumes of water glide over perpendicular precipices upwards of 170 feet in height, and tumble among the crags below with a roaring that we distinctly heard on our approach to the village, at the distance of five miles up the river: and down the river it can be heard at a much greater distance. The Falls are divided by Goat Island into two parts. The body of water which falls to the right of the island is much greater than that which falls to the left; and the cliffs to the right assume the form of a horse-shoe. To the left there is also a considerable indentation, caused by a late falling in of the rock; but it scarcely appears from the Canadian side. The rushing of the waters over such immense precipices—the dashing of the spray, which rises in a white cloud at the base of the Falls, and is felt at the distance of a quarter of a mile—the many and beautiful rainbows that occasionally appear,—united, form a grand and imposing coup d'oeil.
The Fall is supposed to have been originally at the table-land near Lewiston; and indeed, from the nature of the ground, and its present condition below the Falls, no reasonable objection can be entertained to that supposition. The upper part of the cliffs is composed of hard limestone, and underneath is a bed of schistus. Now this schistus is continually worn away by the water's dashing against it. This leaves the upper part, or immediate bed of the river, without foundation. When, therefore, from extraordinary floods, the pressure of the incumbent fluid becomes more than usually great, the rock gives way; and thus, gradually, the Falls have receded several miles.
I at length ascended the stairs, and popped my head into the shanty, sans ceremonie, to the no small amazement of the cunning compounder of "cock-tails," and "mint julaps" who presided at the bar. It was clear that I had ascended the stairs, but how the deuce I had got down was the question. I drank my "brandy sling," and retreated before he had recovered from his surprise, and thus I escaped the volley of interrogatories with which I should have been most unsparingly assailed. I walked for some distance along the Canadian heights, and then crossed the river, where I met my friend waiting my return under a clump of scrub oak.
We had previously determined on visiting the Tuscarora village, an Indian settlement about eight miles down the river, and not far from Ontario. This is a tribe of one of the six nations, the last that was admitted into the Confederation. They live in a state of community; and in their arrangements for the production and distribution of wealth, approach nearer to the Utopean system than any community with which I am acquainted. The squaws told us that no Indian there could claim any thing but what was contained within his own cabin; that the produce of the land was common property, and that they never quarrelled about its division. We dined in one of their cabins, on lean mutton and corn bread. The interior of their habitations is not conspicuous for cleanliness; nor are they so far civilized as to be capable of breaking their word. The people at the Niagara village told us, that with the exception of two individuals in that community, any Indian could get from them on credit either money or goods to whatever amount he required.
I here parted with my fellow traveller, perhaps for ever. He went to Lewiston, whence he intended to cross into Canada, and to walk along the shores of Ontario; whilst I made the best of my way back through the woods to Manchester. I certainly think our landlord had some misgivings respecting the fate of my companion. We had both departed together: I alone was armed—and I alone returned. However, as I unflinchingly stood examination and cross-examination, and sojourned until next morning, his fears seemed to be entirely dispelled. Next day I took a long, last look at Niagara, and departed for Tonawanta.
At Tonawanta I again took the canal-boat to Buffalo, a considerable town on the shores of lake Erie, and at the head of the canal navigation. There are several good buildings in this town, and some well-appointed hotels. Lake schooners, and steam and canal boats are here in abundance, it being an entrepot for western produce and eastern merchandize. A few straggling Indians are to be seen skulking about Buffalo, like dogs in Cairo, the victims of the inordinate use of ardent spirits.
From Buffalo I proceeded in a steamer along lake Erie, to Portland in Ohio, now called Sandusky City; the distance 240 miles. After about an hour's sail, we entirely lost sight of the Canadian shores. The scenery on the American side is very fine, particularly from Presqu' Isle onward to the head of the lake, or rather from its magnitude, it might be termed an inland sea.
On landing at Sandusky, I learned that there were several Indian reserves between that place and Columbus, the seat of government. This determined me on making a pedestrian tour to that city. Accordingly, having forwarded my luggage, and made other necessary arrangements, I commenced my pergrinations among the Aborigines.
The woods in the upper part of Ohio, nearest the lake, are tolerably open, and occasionally interspersed with sumach and sassafras: the soil somewhat sandy. I met with but few Indians, until my arrival at Lower Sandusky, on the Sandusky river; here there were several groups returning to their reserves, from Canada, where they had been to receive the annual presents made them by the British government. In the next county (Seneca) there is a reservation of about three miles square, occupied by Senecas, Cayugas, and part of the Iroquois or six nations, once a most powerful confederation amongst the red men. In Crawford county there is a very large reserve belonging to the Huron or Wyandot Indians. These, though speaking a dialect of the Iroquois tongue, are more in connexion with the Delawares than with the Iroquois. The Wyandots are much esteemed by their white neighbours, for probity and good behaviour. They dress very tastefully. A handsome chintz shawl tied in the Moorish fashion about the head—leggings of blue cloth, reaching half way up the thigh, sewn at the outside, leaving a hem of about an inch deep—mocassins, or Indian boots, made of deer-skin, to fit the foot close, like a glove—a shirt or tunic of white calico—and a hunting shirt, or frock, made of strong blue-figured cotton or woollen cloth, with a small fringed cape, and long sleeves,—a tomahawk and scalping knife stuck in a broad leather belt. Accoutred in this manner, and mounted on a small hardy horse, called here an Indian pony, imagine a tall, athletic, brown man, with black hair and eyes—the hair generally plaited in front, and sometimes hanging in long wavy curls behind—aquiline nose, and fearless aspect, and you have a fair idea of the Wyandot and Cayuga Indian. The Senecas and Oneidas whom I met with, were not so handsome in general, but as athletic, and about the same average height—five feet nine or ten.
The Indians here, as every where else, are governed by their own laws, and never have recourse to the whites to settle their disputes. That silent unbending spirit, which has always characterized the Indian, has alone kept in check the rapacious disposition of the whites. Several attempts have been made to induce the Indians to sell their lands, and go beyond the Mississippi, but hitherto without effect. The Indian replies to the fine speeches and wily language of the whites, "We hold this small bit of land, in the vast country of our fathers, by your written talk, and it is noted on our wampums—the bones of our fathers lie here, and we cannot forsake them. You tell us our great father (the president) is powerful, and that his arm is long and strong—we believe it is so; but we are in hopes that he will not strike his red children for their lands, and that he will leave us this little piece to live upon—the hatchet is long buried, let it not be disturbed."
Jackson has lately published a manifesto to all the Indian tribes within the limits of the United States, commanding them to sell their reserves; and with few exceptions, has been answered in this manner.
A circumstance occurred a few days previous to my arrival, in the Seneca reserve, which may serve to illustrate the determined character of the Indian. There were three brothers (chiefs) dwelling in this reservation. "Seneca John," the eldest brother, was the principal chief of the tribe, and a man much esteemed by the white people. He died by poison. The chiefs in council, having satisfactorily ascertained that his second brother "Red-hand," and a squaw, had poisoned him, decreed that Red-hand should be put to death. "Black-snake," the other brother, told the chiefs that if Red-hand must die, he himself would kill him, in order to prevent feuds arising in the tribe. Accordingly in the evening he repaired to the hut of Red-hand, and after having sat in silence for some time, said, "My best chiefs say, you have killed my father's son,—they say my brother must die." Red-hand merely replied, "They say so;" and continued to smoke. After about fifteen minutes further silence, Black-snake said, pointing to the setting sun, "When he appears above those trees"—moving his arm round to the opposite direction—"I come to kill you." Red-hand nodded his head in the short significant style of the Indian, and said "Good." The next morning Black-snake came, followed by two chiefs, and having entered the hut, first put out the squaw, he then returned and stood before his brother, his eyes bent on the ground. Red-hand said calmly, "Has my brother come that I may die?"—"It is so," was the reply. "Then," exclaimed Red-hand, grasping his brother's left hand with his own right, and dashing the shawl from his head, "Strike sure!" In an instant the tomahawk was from the girdle of Black-snake, and buried in the skull of the unfortunate man. He received several blows before he fell, uttering the exclamation "hugh," each time. The Indians placed him on the grass to die, where the backwoodsman who told me the story, saw him after the lapse of two hours, and life was not then extinct,—with such tenacity does it cling to the body of an Indian. The scalping knife was at length passed across his throat, and thus ended the scene.
From Sandusky city, in Huron county, I passed into Sandusky county, and from thence through Seneca county. These three counties are entirely woodlands, with the exception of a few small prairies which lay eastward of my course. The land is generally fertile. Some light sandy soil is occasionally to be met with, which produces more quickly than the heavier soil, but not so abundantly. I saw in my travels through these counties a few persons who were ill of ague-fever, as it is here called. The prevalence of this disease is not to be attributed to a general unhealthiness of the climate, but can at all times be referred to localities.
I next entered Crawford county, and crossed the Wyandot prairie, about seven miles in length, to Upper Sandusky. This was the first of those extensive meadows I had seen, and I was much pleased with its appearance—although this prairie is comparatively but small, yet its beauty cannot be surpassed; and the groves, and clusters of trees, iles de bois, with which it is interspersed, make it much resemble a beautiful domain.
Attached to the Wyandot reserve (nine miles by sixteen) is that of the Delawares (three miles square). On reaching Little Sandusky—Kahama's curse on the town baptizers of America!—there are often five or six places named alike in one state: upper and lower, little and big, great and small—and invariably the same names that are given to towns in one State, are to be found in every other. Then their vile plagiarisms of European names causes a Babelonish confusion of ideas, enough to disturb the equanimity of a "grisly saint;" and, with all humility, I disclaim having any pretensions to that character. I have frequently heard a long-legged, sallow-looking backwoodsman talk of having come lately from Paris, or Mecca, when instead of meaning the capital of La grande nation, or the city of "the holy prophet," he spoke of some town containing a few hundred inhabitants, situated in the backwoods of Kentucky, or amidst the gloomy forests of Indiana. The Americans too speak in prospective, when they talk of great places; no doubt "calculating" that, one day, all the mighty productions of the old world will be surpassed by their ingenuity and perseverance.
I reached Little Sandusky about one o'clock in the day, and there learned that there was a treaty being holden with the Delawares—accordingly I repaired to the council ground. On a mat, under the shade of seven large elm trees, which in more prosperous times had waved over the war-like ancestors of this unfortunate people, were seated three old sachems, the principal of the tribe. The oldest appeared to be nearly eighty years of age, the next about seventy, and the last about fifty. On a chair to the right of the Indians was seated a young "half-breed" chief, the son of one of the sachems by a white squaw; and on their left, seated on another chair, a Delaware dressed in the costume of the whites. This young man was in the pay of the States, and acted as interpreter—he interpreting into and from the Delaware language, and a gentleman of the mission (a Captain Walker) into and from the Wyandot. At a table opposite the Indians were seated the commissioners.
The Lenni Lenape, or Delawares, as they were called by the English, from the circumstance of their holding their great "Council-fire" on the banks of the Delaware river, were once the most powerful of the several tribes that spoke the Delaware tongue, and possessed an immense tract of country east of the Alleghany mountains. This unfortunate people had been driven from place to place, until at last they were obliged to accept of an asylum from the Wyandot, whom they call their uncle; and now are forced to sell this, and go beyond the Mississippi. To a reflecting mind, the scene was touching beyond description. Here was the sad remnant of a great nation, who having been forced back from the original country of their fathers, by successive acts of rapacity, are now compelled to enter into a compact which obliges them, half civilized as they are, to return to the forest. The case is this,—the white people, or rather Jackson and the southerns, say, that the Indians "retard improvement"—precisely in the same sense that a brigand, when he robs a traveller, might say, that the traveller retarded improvement—that is, retarded his improvement, inasmuch as he had in his pocket, what would improve the condition of the brigand. The Indians have cultivated farms, and valuable tracts of land, and no doubt it will improve the condition of the whites, to get possession of those farms and rich lands, for one tenth of their saleable value. The profits that have accrued to the United States from the systematic plunder of the Indians, are immense, and a great portion of the national debt has been liquidated by this dishonest means.
The reserve of the Delawares contained nine square miles, or 5760 acres. For this it was agreed at the treaty, that they should be paid 6000 dollars, and the value of the improvements, which I conceived to be a fair bargain. I was not then aware of the practice pursued by the government, of making deductions, under various pretences, from the purchase-money, until the unfortunate Indian is left scarcely anything in lieu of his lands, and says, that "the justice of the white man is not like the justice of the red man," and that he cannot understand the honesty of his Christian brother. The following extract, taken from the New York American, will give some insight into the mode of dealing with the Indians.
"The last of the Ottowas.—Maumee Bay, Ohio, Sept. 3, 1831.—Mr. James B. Gardiner has concluded a very important treaty at Maumee Bay, in Michigan, for a cession of all the lands owned by the Ottowa Indians in Ohio, about 50,000 acres. It was attended with more labour and greater difficulties than any other treaty made in this state: it was the last foothold which that savage, warlike, and hostile tribe held in their ancient dominion. The conditions of this treaty are very similar to those treaties of Lewistown and Wapaghkenetta, with this exception, that the surplus avails of their lands, after deducting seventy cents per acre to indemnify the government, are to be appropriated for paying the debts of their nation, which amount to about 20,000 dollars." [Query, what are those debts?—could they be the amount of presents made them on former occasions?] "The balance, if any, accrues to the tribe. Seventy thousand acres of land are granted to them west of the Mississippi. The Ottowas are the most depredating, drunken, and ferocious in Ohio. The reservations ceded by them are very valuable, and those on the Miami of the lake embrace some of the best mill privileges in the State."
The Delawares were too few (being but fifty-one in number) to contend the matter, and therefore accepted of the proposed terms. At the conclusion of the conference, the Commissioners told them that they should have a barrel of flour, with the beef that had been killed for the occasion, which was received with "Yo-ha!—Yo-ha!" They then said, laughing, "that they hoped their father would allow them a little milk," meaning whisky, which was accordingly granted. They drank of this modern Lethe and forgot for a time their misfortunes.
On the Osage fork of the Merrimack river, there are two settlements of the Delawares, to the neighbourhood of which these Indians intend to remove.
Near the Delaware reserve, I fell in with a young Indian, apparently about twenty years of age, and we journeyed together for several miles through the forest. He spoke English fluently, and conformed as far as his taste would permit him, to the habits of the whites. His dress consisted of a blue frock coat, blue cloth leggings, moccasins, a shawl tied about the head, and a red sash round his waste. In conversation, I asked him if he were not a Cayuga—: "No," says he, "an Oneida," placing both his hands on his breast—"a clear Oneida." I could not help smiling at his national pride;—yet this is man: in every country and condition he is proud of his descent, and loves the race to which he belongs. This Oneida was a widow's son. He had sixteen acres of cleared land, which, with occasional assistance, he cultivated himself. When the produce was sold, he divided the proceeds with his mother, and then set out, and travelled until his funds were exhausted. He had just then returned from a tour to New York and Philadelphia, and had visited almost every city in the Union. As Guedeldk—that was the Oneida's name—and I were rambling along, we met a negro who was journeying in great haste—he stopped to inquire if we had seen that day, or the day previous, any nigger-woman going towards the lake. I had passed the day before two waggon loads of negros, which were being transported, by the state, to Canada. A local law prohibits the settlement of people of colour within the state of Ohio, which was now put in force, although it had remained dormant for many years.
There was much hardship in the case of this poor fellow. He had left his family at Cincinnati, and had gone to work on the canal some eighteen or twenty miles distant. He had been absent about a week; and on his return he found his house empty, and was informed that his wife and children had been seized, and transported to Canada. The enforcement of this law has been since abandoned; and I must say, although the law itself is at variance with the Constitution of the United States, which is paramount to all other laws, that its abandonment is due entirely to the good feeling of the people of Ohio, who exclaimed loudly against the cruelty of the measure.
 De Witt Clinton, speaking of the Iroquois, or five nations, says, "Their exterior relations, general interests, and national affairs, were conducted and superintended by a great council, assembled annually in Onondaga, the central canton, composed of the chiefs of each republic; and eighty sachems were frequently convened at this national assembly. It took cognizance of the great questions of war and peace; of the affairs of the tributary nations, and their negotiations with the French and English colonies. All their proceedings were conducted with great deliberation, and were distinguished for order, decorum, and solemnity. In eloquence, in dignity, and in all the characteristics of profound policy, they surpassed the assembly of feudal barons, and perhaps were not inferior to the great Amphictyonic Council of Greece."
Amount of lands sold up to the year 1824 44,229,837
173,176,606 acres unsold, estimated at one dollar per acre. The Congress price was then two dollars, but was subsequently reduced to a dollar and a quarter, and is now 75 cents. 173,176,606 —————- 217,406,443
Deduct value of annuities, expenses of surveying, &c. &c., being the amount of purchase-money paid for same 4,243,632 —————-
Profit arising to the United States from purchases of land from the Indians 213,162,811 —————- Allowing 480 cents, to the pound sterling, the gross profit is L44,408,918. 19s. 2d.
 There are lands west of the Mississippi, which would be dear at ten cents per hundred acres.
From Little Sandusky, I passed through Marion, in Marion county. This town, like most others in Ohio, is advancing rapidly, and has at present several good brick buildings. The clap-boarded frame houses, which compose the great mass of habitations in the towns throughout the western country, in general have a neat appearance. I here saw gazetted three divorces, all of which had been granted on the applications of the wives. One, on the ground of the husband's absenting himself for one year: another, on account of a blow having been given: and the third for general neglect. There are few instances of a woman's being refused a divorce in the western country, as dislike is very generally—and very rationally—supposed to constitute a sufficient reason for granting the ladies their freedom.
I crossed Delaware county into Franklin county, where Columbus, the capital of the state, is situated. The roads from the lake to this city, with few exceptions, passed through woodlands, and the country is but thinly settled. Beech, oak, elm, hickory, walnut, white-oak, ash, &c. compose the bulk of the forest trees; and in the bottom lands, enormous sycamores are to be seen stretching their white arms almost to the very clouds. The land is of various denominations, but in general may be termed fertile.
Columbus, the capital of Ohio, is seated on the Scioto river, which is navigable for keel and flat boats, and small craft, almost to its source; and by means of a portage of about four miles, to Sandusky river, which flows into lake Erie, a convenient communication is established between the lakes, and the great western waters. The town is well laid out. The streets are wide; and the court-house, town-hall, and public offices, are built of brick. There are some good taverns here, and the tables d'hotes are well and abundantly supplied.
There are land offices in every county seat, in which maps and plans of the county are kept. On these, the disposable tracts of country are distinguished from those which have been disposed of. The purchaser pays one fourth of the purchase money, for which he gets a receipt,—this constitutes his title, until, on paying the residue, he receives a regular title deed. He may however pay the full amount at once, and receive a discount of, I believe, eight per cent. A township comprises thirty-six square miles (twenty three thousand and forty acres) in sections of six hundred and forty acres each, which are subdivided, to accommodate purchasers, into quarter sections, or lots of a hundred and sixty acres. The sixteenth section is not sold, but reserved for the support of the poor, for education, and other public uses. There is no provision made in this, or any other state, for the ministers of religion, which is found to be highly beneficial to the interests of practical Christianity. The congress price of land has lately been reduced from a dollar and a quarter per acre, to seventy-five cents.
Ohio averages 184 miles in extent, from north to south, and 220 miles from east to west. Area, 40,000 square miles, or 25,600,000 acres. The population in 1790, was 3000; in 1800, 45,365; in 1810, 230,760; and in 1820, 581,434. White males, 300,609; white females, 275,955; free people of colour, 4723; militia in 1821, 83,247. The last census, taken in 1830, makes the population 937,679.
Having no more Indian reserves to visit, I took the stage, and rumbled over corduroys, republicans, stumps, and ruts, until my ribs were literally sore, through London, Xenia, and Lebanon, to Cincinnati.
At Lebanon there is a large community of the shaking Quakers. They have establishments also in Mason county, and at Covington, in Kentucky: their tenets are strictly Scriptural. They contend, that confessing their sins to one another, is necessary to a state of perfection; that the church of Christ ought to have all things in common; that none of the members of this church ought to cohabit, but be literally virgins; and that to dance and be merry is their duty, which part of their doctrines they take from the thirty-first chapter of Jeremiah.
Their ceremonies are as follows:—The men sit on the left hand, squatting on the floor, with their knees up, and their hands clasped round them. Opposite, in the same posture, sit the women, whose appearance is most cadaverous and sepulchral, dressed in the Quaker costume. After sitting for some time in this hatching position, they all rise and sing a canting sort of hymn, during which the women keep time by elevating themselves on their toes. After the singing has ceased, a discourse is delivered by one of the elders; which being ended, the men pull off their coats and waistcoats. All being prepared, one of the brethren steps forward to the centre of the room, and in a loud voice, gives out a tune, beating time with his foot, and singing lal lal la, lal lal la, &c., being joined by the whole group, all jumping as high as possible, clapping their hands, and at intervals twirling round,—but making rather ungraceful pirouettes: this exercise they continue until they are completely exhausted. In their ceremonials they much resemble the howling Dervishes of the Moslems, whom they far surpass in fanaticism.
Within about ten miles of Cincinnati we took up an old doctor, who was going to that city for the purpose of procuring a warrant against one of his neighbours, who, he had reason to believe, was concerned in the kidnapping of a free negro the night before. This is by no means an uncommon occurrence in the free states bordering the great rivers. The unfortunate black man, when captured, is hurried down to the river, thrust into a flat boat, and carried to the plantations. Such negros are not exposed for sale in the public bazaars, as that would be attended with risk; but a false bill of sale is made out, and the sale is effected to some planter before they reach Orleans. There is, of course, always collusion between the buyer and seller, and the man is disposed of, generally, for half his value.
These are certainly atrocious acts; yet when a British subject reads such passages as the following, in the histories of East India government, he must feel that if they were ten times as infamous and numerous as they are in reality, it becomes not him to censure them. Bolts, who was a judge of the mayor's court of Calcutta, says, in his "Considerations on India Affairs," page 194, "With every species of monopoly, therefore, every kind of oppression to manufacturers of all denominations throughout the whole country has daily increased; insomuch that weavers, for daring to sell their goods, and Dallals and Pykars, for having contributed to, or connived at, such sales, have by the Company's agents, been frequently seized and imprisoned, confined in irons, fined considerable sums of money, flogged, and deprived, in the most ignominious manner, of what they esteem most valuable, their castes. Weavers also, upon their inability to perform such agreements as have been forced from them by the Company's agents, universally known in Bengal by the name of Mutchulcahs, have had their goods seized and sold on the spot, to make good the deficiency: and the winders of raw silk, called Nagaards, have been treated also with such injustice, that instances have been known of their cutting off their thumbs, to prevent their being forced to wind silk. This last kind of workmen were pursued with such rigour, during Lord Clive's late government in Bengal, from a zeal for increasing the Company's investment of raw silk, that the most sacred laws of society were atrociously violated; for it was a common thing for the Company's scapoys to be sent by force of arms to break open the houses of the Armenian merchants established at Sydabad (who have from time immemorial been largely concerned in the silk trade), and forcibly take the Nagaards from their work, and carry them away to the English factory."
As we approached Cincinnati the number of farms, and the extent of cultivated country, indicated the comparative magnitude of that city. Fields in this country have nothing like the rich appearance of those in England and Ireland, being generally filled with half-rotten stumps, scattered here and there among the growing corn, producing a most disagreeable effect. Then, instead of the fragrant quickset hedge, there is a "worm fence"—the rudest description of barrier known in the country—which consists simply of bars, about eight or nine feet in length, laid zig-zag on each other alternately: the improvement on this, and the ne plus ultra in the idea of a west country farmer, is what is termed a "post and rail fence." This denomination of fence is to be seen sometimes in the vicinity of the larger towns, and is constructed of posts six feet in length, sunk in the ground to the depth of about a foot, and at eight or ten feet distance; the rails are then laid into mortises cut into the posts, at intervals of about thirteen or fourteen inches, which completes the work.
Cincinnati is built on a bend of the Ohio river, which takes here a semicircular form, and runs nearly west; it afterwards flows in a more southerly direction. A complete chain of hills, sweeping from one point of the bend round to the other, encloses the city in a sort of amphitheatre. The houses are mostly brick, and the streets all paved. There are several spacious and handsome market houses, which on market days are stocked with all kinds of provisions—indeed I think the market of Cincinnati is very nearly the best supplied in the United States. There are many respectable public buildings here, such as a court-house, theatre, bazaar, (built by Mrs. Trollope, but the speculation failed), and divers churches, in which you may see well-dressed women, and hear orthodox, heterodox, and every other species of doctrine, promulgated and enforced by strength of lungs, and length of argument, with pulpit-drum accompaniment, and all other requisites ad captandum vulgus.
The city stands on two plains: one called the bottom, extends about 260 yards back from the river, and is three miles in length, from Deer Creek to Mill Creek; the other is fifty feet higher than the first, and is called the Hill; this extends back about a mile. The bottom is sixty-five feet above low water mark. In 1815 the population was estimated at 6000, and at present it is supposed to be upwards of 25,000 souls. By means of the Dayton canal, which runs from that town nearly parallel with the "Big Miami" river, a very extensive trade, for all kinds of produce, is established with the back country. Steamers are constantly arriving at, and departing from the wharf, on their passage up and down the river. This is one of the many examples to be met with in the western country, of towns springing into importance within the memory of comparatively young men—a log-house is still standing, which is shewn as the first habitation built by the backwoodsman, who squatted in the forest where now stands a handsome and flourishing city.
On arriving at Cincinnati, I learned that my friend T—— had taken up his abode at a farm-house a few miles from town, where I accordingly repaired, and found him in good health, and initiated into all the manners, habits, customs, and diversions of the natives. Farming people in Ohio work hard. The women have no sinecures, being occupied the greater part of the day in cooking; as they breakfast at eight, dine at half-past twelve, and sup at six, and at each of these meals, meat, and other cooked dishes are served up. In farming they co-operate with each other. When a farmer wishes to have his corn husked, he rides round to his neighbours and informs them of his intention. An invitation of this kind was once given in my presence. The farmer entered the house, sat down, and after the customary compliments were passed, in the usual laconic style, the following dialogue took place. "I guess I'll husk my corn to-morrow afternoon."—"You've a mighty heap this year."—"Considerable of corn." The host at length said, "Well, I guess we'll be along"—and the matter was arranged. All these gatherings are under the denomination of "frolics"—such as "corn-husking frolic," "apple-cutting frolic," "quilting frolic," &c.
Being somewhat curious in respect to national amusements, I attended a "corn-husking frolic" in the neighbourhood of Cincinnati. The corn was heaped up into a sort of hillock close by the granary, on which the young "Ohiohians" and "buck-eyes"—the lasses of Ohio are called "buck-eyes"—seated themselves in pairs; while the old wives, and old farmers were posted around, doing little, but talking much. Now the laws of "corn-husking frolics" ordain, that for each red ear that a youth finds, he is entitled to exact a kiss from his partner. There were two or three young Irishmen in the group, and I could observe the rogues kissing half-a-dozen times on the same red ears. Each of them laid a red-ear close by him, and after every two or three he'd husk, up he'd hold the redoubtable red-ear to the astonished eyes of the giggling lass who sate beside him, and most unrelentingly inflict the penalty. The "gude wives" marvelled much at the unprecedented number of red-ears which that lot of corn contained: by-and-by, they thought it "a kind of curious" that the Irishmen should find so many of them—at length, the cheat was discovered, amidst roars of laughter. The old farmers said the lads were "wide awake," and the "buck-eyes" declared that there was no being up to the plaguy Irishmen "no how," for they were always sure to have every thing their own way. But the mischief of it was, the young Americans took the hint, and the poor "buck-eyes" got nothing like fair play for the remainder of that evening. All agreed that there was more laughing, and more kissing done at that, than had been known at any corn-husking frolic since "the Declaration."
The farmers of Ohio are a class of people about equivalent to our second and third rate farmer, inasmuch as they work themselves, but possessing infinitely more independence in their character and deportment. Every white male, who is a citizen of the United States, and has resided one year in the state, and paid taxes, has a vote. The members of the legislature are elected annually, and those of the senate biennially; half of the members of the latter branch vacating their seats every year. The representatives, in addition to the qualifications necessary to the elector, must be twenty-five years of age; and the senators must have resided in the state two years, and must be thirty years of age. The governor must be thirty years of age, an inhabitant of the state four years, and a citizen of the United States twelve years,—he is eligible only for six years in eight.
Notwithstanding the numerous religious sects that are to be found in this country, there is nothing like sectarian animosity prevailing. This is to be attributed to the ministers of religion being paid as they deserve, and no one class of people being taxed to support the religious tenets of another.
The farmers of this state are by no means religious, in a doctrinal sense; on the contrary, they appear indifferent on matters of this nature. The girls sometimes go to church, which here, as in all Christian countries, is equivalent to the bazaars of Smyrna and Bagdad; and as the girls go, their "dads" must pay the parson. The Methodists are very zealous, and have frequent "revivals" and "camp-meetings." I was at two of the latter assemblages, one in Kentucky, and the other in Ohio. I shall endeavour to convey some idea of this extraordinary species of religious festival.
To the right of Cheriot, which lies in a westerly direction, about ten miles from Cincinnati, under the shade of tall oak and elm trees, the camp was pitched in a quadrangular form. Three sides were occupied by tents for the congregation, and the fourth by booths for the preachers. A little in advance before the booths was erected a platform for the performing preacher, and at the foot of this, inclosed by forms, was a species of sanctuary, called "the penitents' pen." People of every denomination might be seen here, allured by various motives. The girls, dressed in all colours of the rainbow, congregated to display their persons and costumes; the young men came to see the girls, and considered it a sort of "frolic;" and the old women, induced by fanaticism, and other motives, assembled in large numbers, and waited with patience for the proper season of repentance. At the intervals between the "preachments," the young married and unmarried women promenaded round the tents, and their smiling faces formed a striking contrast to the demure countenances of their more experienced sisters, who, according to their age or temperament, descanted on the folly, or condemned the sinfulness of such conduct. Some of those old dames, I was informed, were decoy birds, who shared the profits with the preachers, and attended all the "camp-meetings" in the country.
The psalmodies were performed in the true Yankee style of nasal-melody, and at proper and seasonable intervals the preachings were delivered. The preachers managed their tones and discourses admirably, and certainly displayed a good deal of tact in their calling. They use the most extravagant gestures—astounding bellowings—a canting hypocritical whine—slow and solemn, although by no means musical intonations, and the et ceteras that complete the qualifications of a regular camp-meeting methodist parson. During the exhortations the brothers and sisters were calling out—Bless God! glory! glory! amen! God grant! Jesus! &c.
At the adjournment for dinner, a knowing-looking gentleman was appointed to deliver an admonition. I admired this person much for the ingenuity he displayed in introducing the subject of collection, and the religious obligation of each and every individual to contribute largely to the support of the preacher and his brothers of the vineyard. He set forth the respectability of the county, as evinced by former contributions, and thence inferred, most logically, that the continuance of that respectable character depended on the amount of that day's collection. A conversation took place behind me, during this part of the preacher's exhortation, between three young farmers, which, as being characteristic, I shall repeat.
"The old man is wide awake, I guess."
"I reckon he knows a thing or two."
"I calculate he's been on board a flat afore now."
"Yes, I guess a Yankee 'd find it damned hard to sell him hickory nutmegs."
"It'd take a pretty smart man to poke it on to a parson any how."
"I guess'd it'd come to dollars and cents in the end."
After sunset the place was lighted up by beacon fires and candles, and the scene seemed to be changing to one of more deep and awful interest. About nine o'clock the preachers began to rally their forces—the candles were snuffed—fuel was added to the fires—clean straw was shook in the "penitents' pen"—and every movement "gave dreadful note of preparation." At length the hour was sounded, and the faithful forthwith assembled. A chosen leader commenced to harangue—he bellowed—he roared—he whined—he shouted until he became actually hoarse, and the perspiration rolled down his face. Now, the faithful seemed to take the infection, and as if overcome by their excited feelings, flung themselves headlong on the straw into the penitents' pen—the old dames leading the way. The preachers, to the number of a dozen, gave a loud shout and rushed into the thick of the penitents. A scene now ensued that beggars all description. About twenty women, young and old, were lying in every direction and position, with caps and without caps, screeching, bawling, and kicking in hysterics, and profaning the name of Jesus. The preachers, on their knees amongst them, were with Stentorian voices exhorting them to call louder and louder on the Lord, until he came upon them; whilst their attachees, with turned-up eyes and smiling countenances, were chanting hymns and shaking hands with the multitude. Some would now and then give a hearty laugh, which is an indication of superior grace, and is called "the holy laugh." The scene altogether was highly entertaining—penitents, parsons, caps, combs, and straw, jumbled in one heterogeneous mass, lay heaving on the ground, and formed at this juncture a grouping that might be done justice to by the pencil of Hogarth, or the pen of the author of Hudibras; but of which I fear an inferior pen or pencil must fail in conveying an adequate idea.
The women were at length carried off, fainting, by their friends, and the preachers began to prepare for another scene. From the time of those faintings, the "new birth" is dated, which means a spiritual resurrection or revival.
The scene that followed appeared to be a representation of "the Last Supper." The preachers assembled round a table, and acted as disciples, whilst one of them, the leader, presided. The bread was consecrated, divided and eaten—the wine served much after the same manner. The faithful, brothers and sisters, were now called upon to partake of the Sacrament—proper warning, however, being given to the gentlemen, that when the wine was handed to them, they were not to take a drink, as that was quite unnecessary, as a small sup would answer every purpose. One gentleman seemed to have forgotten this hint, and attempted to take rather more than a sup; but he was prevented by the administering preacher snatching the goblet from him with both hands. Many said they were obliged to substitute brandy and water for wine; but for this fact I cannot vouch. Another straw-tumbling scene now began; and, as if by way of variety, the inmates of five or six tents got up similar scenes among themselves. The preachers left the field to join the tenters; and, if possible, surpassed their previous exhibitions. The women were occasionally making confessions, pro bono publico, when sundry "backslidings" were acknowledged for the edification of the multitude. We left the camp about two o'clock in the morning, when these poor fanatics were still in full cry.
At Hell Town, near this place, there was an officer's muster held about this time. Every citizen exercising the elective franchise is also eligible to serve in the militia. There are two general musters held every year in each county, and several company meetings. Previous to the general muster there is an officer's muster, when the captains and subalterns are put through their exercise by the field officers. At this muster, which I attended, the superior officers in command certainly appeared to be sufficiently conversant with tactics, and explained the rationale of each movement in a clear and concise manner; but the captains and subalterns went through their exercise somewhat in the manner of the yeomen of the Green Island. When the gentlemen were placed in line, and attention was commanded, the General turned round to converse with his coadjutors—no sooner had he done this than about twenty heroes squatted a l'Indien; no doubt deeming it more consistent, the day being warm, to sit than stand. On the commander observing this movement, which he seemed to think quite unmilitary, he remonstrated—the warriors arose; but, alas! the just man falls seven times a day, and the militia officers of Hamilton county seemed to think it not derogatory to their characters to squat five or six. The offence was repeated several times, and as often censured. They wheeled into battalions, and out of battalions, in most glorious disorder—their straight lines were zig-zag. In marching abreast, they came to a fence next the road—the tavern was opposite, and the temptation too great to be resisted—a number threw down their muskets—tumbled themselves over the fence, and rushed into the bar-room to refresh! An American's heart sickens at restraint, and nothing but necessity will oblige him to observe discipline.
The question naturally arises, how would these forces resist the finely disciplined troops of Europe? The answer is short: If the Americans would consent to fight a bataille rangee on one of the prairies of Illinois, undoubtedly the disciplined troops would prevail; but as neither their experience nor inclination is likely to lead them into such circumstances, my opinion is, that send the finest army Europe can produce into this country, in six months, the forests, swamps, and deadly rifle, united, will annihilate it—and let it be remembered, that at the battle of New Orleans, there were between two and three thousand British slain, and there were only twelve Americans killed, and perhaps double that number wounded. In patriotism and personal courage, the Americans are certainly not inferior to the people of any nation.
There had been lately throughout the States a good deal of excitement produced by an attempt, made by the Presbyterians, to stop the mails on the sabbath. This party is headed by a Doctor Ely, of Philadelphia, a would-be "lord spiritual," and they made this merely as a trial of strength, preparatory to some other measures calculated to lead to a church establishment. Their designs, however, have been detected, and measures accordingly taken to resist them. At a meeting at which I was present at Cincinnati, the people were most enthusiastic, and some very strong resolutions were passed, expressive of their abhorrence of this attempt to violate the constitution of America.
Good farms within about three or four miles of Cincinnati, one-third cleared, are sold at from thirty to fifty dollars per acre. Cows sell at from ten to twenty dollars. Horses, at from twenty-five to seventy-five and one hundred dollars. Sheep from two to three dollars. There are some tolerable flocks of sheep throughout this state, but they are of little value beyond the price of the wool, a most unaccountable antipathy to mutton existing among the inhabitants.
Whilst on the banks of Lake Erie, having heard a great deal of conversation about the "lake fever," I made several inquiries from the inhabitants on that subject, the result of which confirmed me in the opinion, that the shores of the lakes are quite as healthy as any other part of the country, and that here, as elsewhere, the disease arises from stagnant pools, swamps, and masses of decayed animal and vegetable matter, which are allowed to remain and accumulate in the vicinity of settlements. When at New York, I met an old and wealthy farmer, who was himself, although eighty years of age, in the enjoyment of rude health. He informed me that he had resided in Canada, on the shores of Lake Erie, for the last fifty years, and that neither he nor any one of his family had ever been afflicted with fever of any description. The district in which he lived, was entirely free from local nuisances, and the inhabitants he represented as being as healthy as any in the United States.
My observations, so far, lead me to conclude, that this climate agrees fully as well with Europeans as with the natives, indeed that the susceptibility to fever and ague is greater in the natives than in Europeans of good habits. The cause I conceive to be this: the early settlers had to encounter swamps of the most pestilential description, and dense forests through which the sun's rays had never penetrated, and which industry and cultivation have since made in a great measure to disappear. They notoriously suffered much from the ravages of malaria, and such as survived the baleful effects of this disease, escaped with impaired constitutions. Now this susceptibility to intermittent fever, appears to me to have been transmitted to their descendants, and to act as the predisposing cause. I have seen English and Irish people who have been in the country upwards of thirty years, who look just as you would expect to find persons of their age at home.
There are situations evidently unhealthy, such as river bottoms, and the vicinity of creeks. The soil in those situations is alluvial, and its extreme fertility often induces unfortunate people to reside in them. The appearance of those persons in general is truly wretched.
The women here, although they live as long as those in the old country, yet they fade much sooner, and, with few exceptions, have bad teeth.
Having decided on visiting New Harmony, in Indiana, where our friend B—— had been for some time enjoying the delights of sylvan life, and the refinements of backwoods-society, T—— and I purchased a horse, and Dearborne, a species of light waggon used in this country for travelling. We furnished ourselves with a small axe, hunting knives, and all things necessary for encamping when occasion required, and so set out about the beginning of September.
We crossed the Big-Miami river, and proceeded by a tolerable road, and some good farms, to Lawrenceburg, a handsome town on the Ohio, within a mile of the outlet of the Miami. From thence we drove on towards Wilmington; but our horse becoming jaded, we found it expedient to "camp out," within some miles of that town. Next morning we passed through Wilmington, but lost the direct track through the forest, and took the road to Versailles, which lay in a more northerly direction than the route we had proposed to ourselves. This road was one of those newly cut through the forest, and there frequently occurred intervals of five or six miles between the settlements; and of the road itself, a tolerably correct idea may be formed by noting the stipulations made with the contractors, which are solely that the roads shall be of a certain width, and that no stump shall be left projecting more than fifteen inches above the ground.
On the night of the second day we reached the vicinity of Versailles, and put up at the residence of a backwoodsman—a fine looking fellow, with a particularly ugly squaw. He had come from Kentucky five years before—sat down in the forest—"built him" a log-house—wielded his axe to the tune of "The Hunters of Kentucky," and had now eighteen acres of cleared land, and all the et ceteras of a farm. We supped off venison-steaks and stewed squirrel. Our host told us that there was "a pretty smart chance of deer" in the neighbourhood, and that when he first "located," "there was a small sprinkling of baar" (bear), but that at present nothing of the kind was to be seen. There was very little comfort in the appearance of this establishment; yet the good dame had a side-saddle, hung on a peg in one of the apartments, which would not have disgraced the lady of an Irish squireen. This appears to be an article of great moment in the estimation of West-country ladies, and when nothing else about the house is even tolerable, the side-saddle is of the most fashionable pattern.