AN ENGLISHMAN'S TRAVELS IN AMERICA:
His Observations Of Life and Manners in the Free and Slave States.
BY J. BENWELL.
Personal narrative and adventure has, of late years, become so interesting a subject in the mind of the British public, that the author feels he is not called upon to apologize for the production of the following pages.
It was his almost unremitting practice, during the four years he resided on the North American continent, to keep a record of what he considered of interest around him; not with a view to publishing the matter thus collected, for this was far from his thoughts at the time, but through a long contracted habit of dotting down transpiring events, for the future amusement, combined, perhaps, with instruction, of himself and friends. It therefore became necessary, to fit it for publication, to collate the accumulated memoranda, and select such portions only as might be supposed to prove interesting to the general reader. In doing this he has been careful to preserve the phraseology as much as possible, with a view to give, as far as he could, something like a literal transcript of the sentiments that gave rise to the original minutes, and avoid undue addition or interpolation.
It was the wish and intention of the writer, before leaving England, to extend his travels by visiting some of the islands in the Caribbean Sea, a course which he regrets not having been able to follow, from unforeseen circumstances, which are partially related in the following pages. He laments this the more, as it would have added considerably to the interest of the work, and enabled him to enlarge upon that fertile subject, the relative position at the time of the negro race in those islands, and the demoralized condition of their fellow-countrymen, under the iniquitous system of slavery, as authorized by statute law, in the southern states of America. As it was, he was enabled to travel through the most populous parts of the states of New York and Ohio, proceeding, via Cincinnati, to the Missouri country; after a brief stay at St. Louis, taking the direct southern route down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, to New Orleans in Louisiana, passing Natchez on the way. The whole tour comprising upwards of three thousand miles.
From New Orleans he crossed an arm of the Gulf of Mexico to the Floridas, and after remaining in that territory for a considerable time, and taking part under a sense of duty in a campaign (more to scatter than annihilate), against the Seminole and Cherokee tribes of Indians, who, in conjunction with numberless fugitive slaves, from the districts a hundred miles round, were devastating the settlements, and indiscriminately butchering the inhabitants, he returned to Tallahassee, taking stage at that town to Macon in the state of Georgia, and from thence by the Greensborough Railway to Charleston in South Carolina, sailing after rather a prolonged stay, from that port to England.
Some of the incidents related in the following pages will be found to bear upon, and tend forcibly to corroborate, the miseries so patiently endured by the African race, in a vaunted land of freedom and enlightenment, whose inhabitants assert, with ridiculous tenacity, that their government and laws are based upon the principle, "That all men in the sight of God are equal," and the wrongs of whose victims have of late been so touchingly and truthfully illustrated by that eminent philanthropist, Mrs. Stowe, to the eternal shame of the upholders of the system, and the fearful incubus of guilt and culpability that will render for ever infamous, if the policy is persisted in, the nationality of America.
Well may the benevolent Doctor Percival in his day have said, when writing on the iniquitous system of slave holding and traffic, that "Life and liberty with the powers of enjoyment dependent on them are the common and inalienable gifts of bounteous heaven. To seize them by force is rapine; to exchange for them the wares of Manchester or Birminghan is improbity, for it is to barter without reciprocal gain, to give the stones of the brook for the gold of Ophir."
THE ENGLISHMAN IN AMERICA.
"Adieu, adieu! my native shore Fades o'er the waters blue, The night-winds sigh, the breakers roar, And shrieks the wild sea-mew. Yon sun that sets upon the sea We follow in his flight; Farewell awhile to him and thee, My native Land—Good night!"—BYRON.
Late in the fall of the year 18—, I embarked on board the ship Cosmo, bound from the port of Bristol to that of New York. The season was unpropitious, the lingering effects of the autumnal equinox rendering it more than probable that the passage would be tempestuous. The result soon proved the correctness of this surmise, for soon after the vessel departed from Kingroad, and before she got clear of the English coast, we experienced boisterous weather, which was followed by a succession of gales, that rendered our situation perilous. But a partial destruction of the rigging, the loss of some sheep on the deck of the vessel, and a slight indication of leakage, which was soon remedied by the carpenter of the ship and his assistants, were happily the only detrimental consequences arising from the weather.
Our progress on the whole was satisfactory, although, when we arrived between 48 and 52 degrees north latitude, we narrowly escaped coming in contact with an enormous iceberg, two of which were descried at daybreak by the "look-out," floundering majestically a little on the ship's larboard quarter, not far distant, the alarm being raised by an uproar on deck that filled my mind with dire apprehension, the lee bulwarks of the vessel were in five minutes thronged with half-naked passengers, who had been roused unexpectedly from their slumbers, staring in terror at the frigid masses which we momentarily feared would overwhelm the ship. The helm being put up, we were soon out of the threatened danger of a collision, which would have consigned us to a grave in the wide wide waters, without the remotest chance of escape. This consideration was, to all on board, a matter of deep thankfulness to the mighty Author of such stupendous wonders, who had so miraculously preserved our lives. Had the adventure occurred in the night, our destruction must have been inevitable, as the ship was sailing under heavy canvas, within a single point of the wake of one of the icebergs, which was drifting before a stiff breeze.
Although this encounter proved harmless, we shortly after had another to dread of a fearful nature. The number of fishing-boats off the coast of Newfoundland, makes the navigation perilous at almost any time to vessels approaching too near the banks, and after night-fall, the vessel going at the rate of ten knots an hour with a smacking breeze, we passed many of these at anchor, or rather, I suppose, riding on the waves; they displayed lights, or serious consequences might have ensued. Some of the skiffs were so near to us, that as I leaned over the ship's quarter-rail, dreading, and every moment expecting, that we should run one down, I could distinctly hear the crews hailing us to shorten sail and keep off. By adopting this course our vessel cleared the danger, and after slightly touching the banks, which caused the vessel to heel, and created a momentary panic on board amongst the passengers, she was steered more out to sea, and by the following morning nothing was to be seen but a boundless waste of waters, extending as far as the eye could reach.
After these temporary alarms, with the exception of baffling winds, which impeded the progress of the ship, and lengthened the duration of our confinement ten days or a fortnight, our voyage was prosperous, little occurring to break the monotony of confinement on ship-board that is experienced in sea-passages in general; the only excitement being a fracas between the captain and cook, owing to complaints made by the middle-cabin and steerage passengers, which nearly ended fatally to the former, who would have been stabbed to a certainty, but for a by-stander wresting the knife from the hand of the enraged subordinate, who had been supplied too liberally with spirits by the passengers; a predominating evil on board all emigrant ships, from the drawback of duty allowed on spirits shipped as stores, and which are retailed on the voyage to the passengers. The culprit was confined below during the remainder of the voyage, and when we arrived at New York presented a pitiable sight, having been rigidly debarred by the captain's orders of many of the commonest necessaries, I believe, the whole time. Here he was released and discharged from the ship, glad enough to escape further punishment, "prosecution" having been, since the occurrence, held in terrorem over him.
It was late in the afternoon of an intensely cold day, which caused the spray to congeal as it dashed against the bulwarks and cordage of the vessel, that we descried with great pleasure looming indistinctly in the distance, the shores of Sandy Hook, a desolate-looking island, near the coast of New Jersey, about seven miles south of Long Island Sound. This the captain informed me was formerly a peninsula, but the isthmus was broken through by the sea in 1767, the year after the declaration of American independence, an occurrence which was at the time deemed ominous of the severance of the colonies from the mother country, and which proved in reality to be the precursor of that event.
The sight of terra firma, though at a distance and but gloomy in aspect, put all on board in buoyant spirits; but these were but transitory, our enthusiasm being soon damped by a dense fog, resembling those the Londoners are so accustomed to see in the winter, and which in an incredibly short space of time, in this instance, obscured everything around. Our proximity to the shore rendered the circumstance hazardous to us, and it appeared necessary that the vessel's head should be again put seaward; but this the captain was evidently anxious to avoid, as it involved the risk of protracting the voyage. A general rummage for ammunition was therefore ordered, and a supply of this necessary having been obtained, the ship's carronade was after considerable delay put in order, and minute guns were fired. After discharging some thirty rounds or more, we were relieved from the state of anxiety we were in by a pilot hailing the ship, and in a minute after he was on deck issuing orders with great pertinacity.
It is impossible for any one unaccustomed to sea voyages to form a just conception of the relief afforded by the presence of that important functionary, a pilot. Perhaps a captain's greatest anxiety is, when his vessel, having braved a thousand perils on the deep, is about to enter on the termination of its voyage. On the broad expanse of ocean, or, in nautical phrase, with plenty of sea-room, if his bark is in good condition, he fears little or nothing, but when his vessel approaches its goal, visions of disaster arise before him, and he becomes anxious, thoughtful, and taciturn.
The pilot informed us that he had kept our vessel in chase for a considerable time, and had burnt a number of newspapers on the deck of his cutter to attract attention, but all his efforts proved unavailing, when just as he was about to abandon the pursuit, he descried and hailed the ship. This being the first specimen of an American whom many of the passengers had seen in his native climate, their curiosity was aroused, and they crowded round him, regarding every word and movement with the greatest attention and interest. The pilot was evidently displeased with being made "a lion" of, and gave vent to his feelings rather freely, while there was a curl of hauteur on his lip, that indicated a species of contempt for the company he was in. This disposition did not convey a very favourable idea of his countrymen, and was, to say the least of it, an ill-judged display before strangers; coming, however, as it did, from an illiterate man, belonging, as I knew from previous inquiry, to rather an exceptional class of individuals in America, I did not suffer my mind to be biassed, although I could see that many of the passengers were not disposed to view the matter in the same light. He was a brusque and uncouth man, of swaggering gait, about forty years of age, above the middle stature, and soon let the captain and crew know, by his authoritative manner and volubility of tongue, that he was chief in command on the occasion. No one seemed, however, to dispute this, for the passengers looked on him as a sort of divinity sent to their rescue; the ship's hands were implicitly obedient, and the captain very soon after his arrival retired into the cabin, glad to be relieved from a heavy responsibility.
The following morning, the haze having cleared off, we could again see the Jersey shore. The sea in every direction was now darkened with millions of black gulls, wild ducks, and other aquatic birds; we shot many of these from the ship's deck, but were, much to our mortification, obliged to see them drift away, the pilot, seconded by our austere captain, strenuously objecting to a boat being lowered; this was very discouraging, as such a change in our diet would, after a rather prolonged voyage, have been acceptable.
A favourable breeze soon carried our good ship to the quarantine ground, where we dropped anchor, in no little anxiety lest we should be detained. The medical officers from the college, or rather sanatory establishment, on shore, almost immediately came on board. All hands were mustered on deck, and ranged like soldiers on parade ground by these important functionaries, who, I may remark by the way, appeared like our pilot to be possessed of considerable notions of power and authority. After taking a rather cursory inspection they left the vessel, and we, to our great joy (a case of small pox having occurred during the passage), were allowed to proceed towards New York, which we did under easy sail, the breeze rendering a steam-tug unnecessary.
The scenery as we passed up the river was calculated to give a good impression of the country, the zest being, however, without doubt, greatly heightened by the monotonous dreariness of a tempestuous voyage. The highlands and valleys, as we sailed up, had a verdant woody appearance, and were interspersed with rural and chateau scenery; herds of cattle remarkable for length of horn, and snow-white sheep, were grazing placidly in the lowlands. The country, as far as I could judge, seemed in a high state of culture, and the farms, to use an expression of the celebrated Washington Irving's, when describing, I think, a farm-yard view in England, appeared "redolent of pigs, poultry, and sundry other good things appertaining to rural life."
On arriving at the approach to the entrance or mouth of the river Hudson, which is formed by an arm of the estuary, we turned the promontory, leaving Jersey on the left, the battery as we entered the harbour being in the foreground. The guns-bristled from this fortress with menacing aspect, and the sentinels, in light blue uniforms and Kosciusko caps, silently paced the ramparts with automatic regularity. This fortification, though formidable in appearance, and certainly in a commanding position, I was subsequently informed is little more than a mimic fort; this arises from the want of attention paid to defences of the kind in America, the little existing chance of invasion, perhaps, causing the indifference to the subject. If, however, the spirit of aggressive conquest shown by the federal government, of late years, of which the invasion of Mexico is a fair specimen, should continue to develop itself, it is not difficult to foresee that it will be necessary policy to pay greater attention to the subject, and to keep in a more effective state the seaboard defences of the country, as well as their army, which is at present miserably deficient. This has heretofore been so far neglected, as regards the marine, that not long before I arrived the commander of a French ship of war was much chagrined, on firing a salute as he passed the battery at New York, to find that his courtesy was not returned in the customary way. He complained of the omission as either a mark of disrespect to himself, or an insult to his nation, when it came out in explanation that the garrison was in such a defective state that there were not the appliances at hand to observe this national etiquette.
The city of New York is built almost close to the water's edge, with a broad levee or wharf running round a great portion of it. Its general appearance gives to a stranger an impression of its extent and importance. It has been aptly and accurately described as a dense pack of buildings, comprising every imaginable variety, and of all known orders of modernized architecture. The tide flows close up to the wharves which run outside of the city, and differs so little in height at ebb or flow, that vessels of the largest class ride, I believe, at all times as safely as in the West India docks in London, or the imperial docks of Liverpool. Here was assembled an incalculable number of vessels of all sizes and all nations, forming a beautiful and picturesque view of commercial enterprise and grandeur, perhaps outvying every other port in the world, not excepting Liverpool itself.
As our vessel could not at once be accommodated with a berth, owing to the crowded state of the harbour, she was moored in the middle of the stream, and being anxious to go on shore, I availed myself of the captain's offer to take me to the landing-place in his gig. We went on shore in an alcove, at the foot of Wall-street, and I experienced the most delightful sensation on once more setting foot on terra firma, after our dreary voyage. The day, notwithstanding it was now October, was intensely hot (although a severe frost for two or three days before gave indications of approaching winter), and the streets being unmacadamized, had that arid look we read of in accounts of the plains of Arabia, the dust being quite deep, and exceeding in quantity anything of the kind I had ever seen in European cities: clouds of it impregnated the air, and rendered respiration and sight difficult.
Hundreds of rudely-constructed drays were passing to and fro, heavily laden with merchandize, many of them drawn by mules, and the remainder by very light horses of Arabian build; the heavy English dray horse was nowhere to be seen, the breed as I afterwards learned not being cultivated, from a dislike to its ponderousness.
The lower part of Wall-street presented a busy mart-like appearance, every description of goods being piled heterogeneously before the warehouse-doors of their respective owners in the open thoroughfare, which is at this part very wide. Auctioneers were here busily engaged in the disposal of their merchandise, which comprised every variety of produce and manufacture, home and foreign, from a yard of linsey-woolsey, "hum spun" as they termed it, to a bale of Manchester long cloth, or their own Sea-Island cotton. The auctioneer in America is a curious specimen of the biped creation. He is usually a swaggering, consequential sort of fellow, and drives away at his calling with wondrous impudence and pertinacity, dispensing, all the while he is selling, the most fulsome flattery or the grossest abuse on those who stand around. One of these loquacious animals was holding forth to a crowd, just below the Courier and Inquirer newspaper office, where the street widens, as a preliminary introduction to the sale of a quantity of linen goods that had been damaged at a recent fire in the neighbourhood. I could not help admiring the man's tact. Fixing his eyes on an individual in a white dress, with an enormous Leghorn hat on his head, who was apparently eagerly listening, while smoking a cigar, to the harangue, he suddenly exclaimed, "There now is Senator Huff, from the State of Missouri, he heerd of this vendue a thousand mile up river, and wall knows I'm about to offer somethin woth having; look at him, he could buy up the fust five hunderd folks hed cum across anywhar in this city, and what's more, he's a true patriot, made o' the right kinder stuff, I guess."
He followed up the eulogium at great length, and after liberally dispensing "soft soap" on the listeners, declared the auction had commenced. I stood by for some minutes, gazing around and watching the operations, and was not long in discovering that Senator Huff kept running up the articles by pretended bids, and was evidently in league with him, in fact a confederate. This auctioneer was the very emblem of buffoonery and blackguardism; the rapidity with which he repeated the sums, supposed by the bystanders to be bid, the curt yet extravagant praise bestowed on his wares, and his insulting and unsparing remarks if a comment were made on the goods he offered, or if the company did not respond in bidding, stamped him as one of the baser sort of vulgarians.
Sales of this description were going on in every direction, and the street rang with the stentorian voices of the sellers. Many of these were mock auctions, as an observer of any intelligence would detect, and as I ascertained beyond doubt almost directly after leaving this man's stand; for, stepping into an open store close at hand, of which there are ranges on either side of the street, a sale of jewellery and watches was going on. A case of jewellery, containing, among other things, a gold watch and chain, apparently of exquisite workmanship, was put up just as I entered, and was started at six cents per article. Bid after bid succeeded, until, at last, the lot was knocked down to a southern gentleman present at fifty cents per item. On making the purchase, he naturally wished to know how many articles the box contained. This information, on the plea that it would delay the sale, was withheld. The auctioneer, however, insisted on the payment of a deposit of fifty dollars, in compliance with the published conditions of the sale, which sum, after a demur on the part of the purchaser, was paid. I could see, however, that he was now sensible he had been duped, and I afterwards learnt that some forty or fifty articles, of almost every fancy description, many of them worthless, such as pins, knives, tweezers, and a variety of other knick-knacks, were artfully concealed from view, by means of a false bottom to the case; this being lifted up revealed the truth. The man was greatly enraged on finding he had been cheated, but was treated with the most audacious coolness, and after some altercation left the store, as he said, to seek redress elsewhere, but I have no doubt he went off with the intention of losing his deposit.
This occurrence put me on my guard, and made me very wary of buying articles at such auctions during my stay in New York, although the apparent beauty and cheapness of many of the articles I saw offered, especially of French manufacture, were sufficient to decoy the most wary, and I did not wonder at people being victimized at such places. Emigrants are the chief sufferers, I was told, by such transactions, from their want of caution, and ignorance of the arts of the accomplished deceivers who conduct them.
Proceeding up Wall-street in the direction of Broadway, I reached that portion of it frequented by stock and real-estate brokers. Here crowds of gentlemanly-looking men, dressed mostly in black, and of busy mien, crowded the thoroughfare with scrip in hand. Each appeared intensely absorbed in business, and as I gazed on the assemblage, I could discover unmistakable symptoms of great excitement and mental anxiety, the proportion of rueful countenances being much greater than is usually seen in similar places of resort in England; a sudden depression in the market at the time might, however, account for much of this, although it is well known that brokers and speculators on the American continent engage in the pursuit with the avidity of professed gamblers.
Hundreds of Negroes were hurrying to and fro through the streets, these were chiefly labourers, decently dressed, and employed either as draymen or porters. They looked happier than labourers in England; and, being bathed in a profuse perspiration from the heat of the weather, their faces shone almost like black satin or patent leather.
After a few days' rest at my boarding-house, to which I was recommended by a touter, and which was in Canal-street, and was kept by a "cute" Down-easter, or native of the New England States, with whom I engaged for bed and board for eight dollars per week, I sallied forth to make my intended observations, preparatory to leaving for the west. Everything wore a novel aspect. The number of foreigners seen in the thoroughfares, the tawdry flimsily-built carriages, which strangely contrast with the more substantial ones seen in England, and the dresses of the people, all seemed strange to me. The habiliments of one or two in particular rivetted my attention. The first was a Kentuckian, who was dressed in a suit of grey home-spun cloth, and wore on his head a fantastical cap, formed of a racoon-skin, beautifully striped, the ears projecting just above his forehead on each side, while the forefeet of the animal, decorated with red cloth, formed the ear-laps, and the tail depended over his back like a quieu, producing a ludicrous effect. His appearance as he passed along attracted little notice, such vagaries being common in America. My attention was also arrested by a person who was arrayed in a hunting suit of buck-skin, curiously wrought with strips of dyed porcupine-quill, and who wore an otter-skin cap and Indian moccasins. There, is, however, little novelty in this costume, which I frequently saw afterwards. Caps of the description I have mentioned are commonly worn in the interior. I subsequently donned one myself, and found it an admirable adjunct to easy travelling.
During my stay at New York, I found the heat almost overpowering, the Indian summer (as the period between autumn and winter is there termed) having set in. An umbrella was quite a necessary appendage at times, to avoid its effects, which are often fatal to Europeans at the time of the summer solstice.
In perambulating the city of New York, its appearance is prepossessing to a visitor; the streets are well laid out, and are wide and regular, the houses being for the most part of the better class. The white or red paint (the latter predominates), and the green and white jalousie, venetian, and siesta blinds, giving a picturesqueness to the scene. Handsome mats lie outside the doors of many of the better description of houses.
Broadway is the principal place of attraction in New York, but it has so often been described by visitors, that it is a work of supererogation to comment much upon it here; as, however, every tourist can see and describe differently the same objects, I must not pass it in silence, especially as it ranks in the view of the New Yorkers, something as Bond-street and Regent-street do in the metropolis of England. It is, however, far inferior to these; it is not one, but a continuous line of streets, and, including Canal-street, extends about three miles in length. The Haarlem Railway comes down a considerable portion of the upper part, the rails being laid in the centre of the street The lower end of Broadway merges into the Battery Park, which is situated at the water's edge. In Broadway are to be seen magnificent hotels, theatres, magazines-de-mode, and all the etceteras of a fashionable mart, not omitting to mention crowds of elegantly dressed ladies and exquisitely attired gentlemen, including many of colour; the latter appearing in the extreme of the fashion, with a redundancy of jewellery which, contrasting with their sable colour, produces to the eye of a stranger an unseemly effect. The shops and stores are fitted up in the Parisian style, appear well attended by customers, and are crowded with the choicest description of goods.
Astor's Hotel, built by the so-called millionaire of that name, is a large but rather heavy-looking pile of building, and forms a conspicuous object in the park. Here many of the elite from the provinces sojourn on visiting the city. The accommodations are stated to be of the first order, and, from a cursory inspection, I should imagine this to be true, the only drawback being the enormous prices charged, exceeding, I was told, the ordinary run of first-class houses of that description. Noticing from the opposite side of the street that the entrance was much crowded, curiosity led me to cross over and ascend the steps and listen to what was going on, supposing it some political demonstration; in this, however, I was mistaken, for I found that the cause of the commotion was the recent arrival and presence of the celebrated statesman and lawyer, Daniel Webster, en route to Washington, whither he was called by Congressional duties. I pressed forward to shake hands with this great expounder of American laws, as he is called by the citizens, who seemed, by the way, on the occasion I refer to, to regard him as a sort of divinity. I could not, however, succeed in getting near enough to accomplish my object, although I strove hard for it. It was quite amusing to see the anxiety shown by some of those present to effect the same purpose. The senator kept shaking hands with all around, repeating over and over again, "Glad to see you, citizens, glad to see you." Amongst others, a gentlemanly-dressed negro with a gold-headed cane pressed forward and held out his hand. There was, however, no chance for him in the throng, for he was rudely pushed back, and I heard several angry exclamations of disapprobation from the crowd, at the liberty he had taken, one individual in particular crying out, "Kick that nigger off, what has he to do here." These exclamations caught the ear of the negro gentleman, and he shrunk back in an instant, as if electrified. Mr. Webster was a yeoman-like looking person, of rather a muscular-build, and at one time of life was, no doubt, as I have heard, possessed of great physical powers; he had a heavy and rather downcast turn of features, which were not improved by a pair of enormous black eyebrows; there was, however, an expression in his physiognomy that indicated deep thought, and a degree of intelligence above the mediocrity. In addition to this, there was also a pleasing urbanity in his manner that was certainly contrary to what might have been expected from his personal appearance and known burly character in business. He gradually retreated up the steps towards the interior of the hotel, the excessive attentions paid by the crowd appearing troublesome to him. He was closely followed, however, by his admirers, whose boisterous behaviour savoured much more of enthusiasm than deference or politeness. I had heard that the Americans profess never to do things by halves, and so set this instance down as a proof of their propensity to "go the whole hog," as they are wont to term their extremes and eccentricities.
The Town-hall, situate at the base of the Park, which is a triangular piece of land, well laid out and neatly kept, is a light edifice of some taste and architectural merit, its chief attraction being the white marble of which it is constructed, and which is brought from the quarries at Sing-Sing, some miles up the river Hudson. The effect, however, is not good; its exposure to the elements having given it a blurred or chalky appearance. It is surmounted by a small but elevated cupola, constructed of wood, which some time ago, I was informed by a citizen, caught fire at a pyrotechnic exhibition, and endangered the whole edifice, since which, displays of fire-works have been prohibited in the Park by the civic authorities. At the entrance there is a spacious vestibule, but this, as well as the interior, though elegant in its simplicity of style, is meagre of ornament. Proceeding to the interior, I reached the criminal court, where a squalid-looking prisoner was undergoing trial for murder. The judges and officers of the court were almost entirely without insignia of office, and the counsel employed, I thought, evinced much tact in their proceedings, especially in the cross-examination of witnesses, although they manifested great acerbity of feeling towards each other, and their acrimonious remarks would not, I imagine, have been allowed to pass without remonstrance in an English court of justice. I was told by a by-stander, with whom I entered into conversation, that if found guilty, the prisoner would be conducted to an underground apartment used for the purpose, and privately executed, the law of the State of New York, from motives that ought to be appreciated in England, prohibiting public executions. It is also customary there to allow criminals more time than in England, to prepare for the awful change they are doomed to undergo.
I was informed by a friend that there are some very astute lawyers in America, and I subsequently had opportunities to test the accuracy of the remark. Their code, however, differs materially from the English, although professing to be based upon its principles; and has the preeminent advantage of being pretty free from the intricacies and incongruities that so often tend to defeat justice in the mother-country, and render proceedings at law so expensive and perplexing. The slave laws (called the "codenoir"), adapted for the Southern States, must, however, be excepted, for it is notorious, that to subserve the ends of interested parties, they have been framed so as to present what may with propriety be termed a concatenation of entanglement and injustice to the slave subjects; the very wording of many of these enactments, carrying unmistakable evidence of their being concocted for the almost sole protection of the slave-owners.
Adjoining the Town-hall, or separated only by an avenue, is a heavy, monastic-looking building, used as a bridewell, and called the City Penitentiary. Having remained a considerable time in the hall where the trial was going on, the agonized state of the prisoner and sickening details of the murder caused a disinclination for the present to continue my perambulations, so I stepped into the Cafe de l'Independence, in Broadway, and called for a port-wine sangaree, endeavouring, while I sipped it, smoked a cigar, and read the Courier and Inquirer, to forget the scene I had just witnessed. Leaving soon after, I pursued my way down Broadway, passing Peel's Museum and the Astor House, to the Battery Marine Promenade. This is a delightful spot, the finest in point of situation (although not in extent) of the kind I ever saw, the Esplanade at Charleston in South Carolina, of which I shall have by-and-by to speak more particularly, being excepted.
Ladies and gentlemen were promenading up and down, under the umbrageous foliage of the lofty trees which skirt the Battery Park, and which were as yet unscathed by the recent frosts, forming a delightful retreat from the scorching rays of an American sun. The sea view from this point, with the adjacent scenery, is interesting and attractive; the broad expanse of ocean in the distance, the highlands looming in the perspective, the numerous aquatic birds skimming the surface of the estuary, and the picturesque fort and woody shores of New Jersey, all tending to diversify the scene and add to its natural beauty. I afterwards visited this place over and over again, and every succeeding visit added to my admiration and enhanced its attractions. To the left lies, in panoramic grandeur, the harbour, literally teeming with ships of all sizes and all nations; while, on the right, the entrance of the majestic Hudson or north river, with crowds of magnificent steamers, traders to Troy, Albany, and the West, forms a prominent feature in that direction. The passing and repassing of steamers and other vessels of home-traffic, and the more exciting arrival of ships from foreign parts, give a zest to the scene which must be witnessed to be fully appreciated.
A day or two after, having obtained, through a friend, leave of admission, I crossed over to Brooklyn, and visited the Navy-yard. The docks of this establishment contained, at this time, many specimens of American naval architecture of choice description; amongst the rest, a frigate and several other ships of war lying in ordinary. Everything appeared to indicate good management and efficiency, as far as a landsman could judge. This was very discernible on board the vessels we were allowed to inspect, where the utmost order and cleanliness prevailed. The officers, I thought, seemed to exact great deference from the men, and their martinet bearing ill accorded with a republican service, being decidedly more marked than on board British ships of war which I had visited at Deptford, Chatham, and elsewhere in England. Probably a stricter discipline may be found necessary, on account of the equality that exists in America, which might operate to render those under command more difficult of control, if such independence were allowed to be manifested.
I found that the army and navy, in America, are chiefly manned by English, Dutch and Irish, not a few Poles being in the ranks of the former: these are impelled, through lack of employment, and the additional inducement of a tolerably liberal pay, to join the service. The Americans themselves are too sensible of the inconveniences attending public services, as well as too acute, to follow such occupations in time of peace, though when danger has threatened, they have always shown themselves at the instant service of the State, and as citizen soldiers are not, perhaps, to be equalled in any other country.
From the Navy-yard I proceeded to Hoboken; this is a place of great resort in fine weather, and is situate nearly opposite the city of New York, or rather the eastern part of it. Here I found assembled a large company of pleasure-seekers in holiday attire, some lounging under the trees, others in groups at pic-nic, and not a small proportion of the gentlemen regaling themselves at the refreshment stalls or temporary cafes, erected on the grounds, on mint juleps and iced sangarees. The grounds are interspersed with park, woodland, and forest scenery, and are kept in admirable order, the managers studying to maintain the appearance of original nature, and to impress on the mind of the visitor, that he is ruralizing, far from city life, amongst primeval forest shades; the contiguous scenery is not, however, calculated to carry out the idea. It is quite the custom for American husbands to leave their families for the day, and enjoy relaxation in their own way, a practice that I apprehend would not be sanctioned by our English ladies, any more than it would be resorted to by English gentlemen, from motives of kindly and very proper feeling. Here, in a retired spot, is the duelling ground, which has attained no little notoriety in that latitude, as the spot where many a knotty point has been quietly solved by the aid of a pair of pistols or Colt's rifles; although, for the credit of the citizens of New York and its neighbourhood, it must be recorded that they are not so ready to fly to this disgraceful alternative as their ensanguined brethren in the Southern or Slave States.
My stay in New York being limited by previous arrangements, I was anxious to get back to the city, although a day might well be taken up in ruralizing, and exploring the Arcadian beauties of Hoboken, the favourite resort of the citizens of New York. So, after a pretty general though cursory survey of its attractions, I recrossed, as I had come, in a ferry propelled by steam. The construction of this boat, a whole fleet of which description were busily plying to and fro, being unique, and unlike any I had seen before, I must not pass it over without remark. In principle it consisted of two barge-like vessels placed side by side, a platform being laid on the top, for the engine, passengers, and steersman; the latter, as in all American steam-vessels, of whatever size, being perched in an elevated round-house on deck. The stem and stern of this vessel were alike, the necessity of turning being thus altogether obviated, as in some of the steam-boats on the Thames.
A practice prevails amongst newspaper publishers in America, which is, I believe, only resorted to in England in cases of public emergency or unusual excitement, and that but seldom; I mean that of posting on large placards the latest arrival of news, home or foreign: thus, whenever you return home after a sojourn in the city, the eager inquiry is sure to be, "Any news up town?" This custom keeps up a lively interest in passing events, and disseminates amongst the citizens at large, the current news of the day, and if it has no other beneficial effects, prevents rumours, that commonly circulate in times of public excitement to the detriment often of many individuals in crowded communities. I noticed the walls of New York thickly posted with placards chiefly of an inflammatory political character. Many of these breathed agrarian principles, that would in Europe have been inadmissible, and would, without doubt, have led to the immediate arrest and imprisonment of the authors. Here, however, they are but little noticed by the populace, and not at all, I believe, by the authorities. Cheap newspapers are pushed into the face of the passer-by, at the corner of every principal thoroughfare, the prices varying from two to six cents. These, as may be supposed, contain, together with the current news, every description of scandal and trash imaginable, their personality being highly offensive, injurious, and reprehensible. Thus the freedom of the press is abused in every part of America, and this powerful engine of "good or ill" converted from a benefit (as it is if managed with propriety) into a public nuisance.
One peculiarity, exceedingly annoying to an Englishman, which is observable even in good society in New York and elsewhere in America, is a prying curiosity as to the affairs of those with whom they converse. Their habits at table also often fill one with disgust, and the want of good-breeding I witnessed on more than one occasion would have been resented in England. This is the more remarkable, as the Americans entertain high notions of refinement, and yet, paradoxical as it may appear, seem to glory in their contempt of good manners. I do not, however, include the ladies in this remark; on the contrary, I must unequivocally assert, that I always observed in them, not only in New York, but in every other part of the North American continent which I visited, the greatest disposition to cover the misdoings of the opposite sex, and a great degree of cultivation and politeness; although they are perfectly freezing in their manners before formal introduction, I do not doubt that there are many among them of great refinement and powers of intellect, their personal appearance being also consonant with their known amiability.
The bustle and drive in the trading quarters of the city is very great. The merchants and their assistants have a hurried manner of doing business, discernible in a moment to a stranger, which is much to be deprecated, and too often leads, as I afterwards found, to disastrous results. Business with these men is in general quite a "go-a-head" sort of affair, and not being accompanied with method, in many cases leads to an embarrassed state of circumstances. Thus it frequently happens, that on investigation, the assets of a merchant who has stopped payment and is a supposed bankrupt, realize more than enough to pay the creditors, and the party finds to his agreeable surprise, that his position is not so bad after all.
The churches and other places of public worship in New York have a temporary appearance, the steeples of the former being, when I visited the city, chiefly of painted-wood. This, I believe, is partly the reason why bells are not used, although a friend in whose presence I noticed this, stated that contempt for so English a custom had much to do with their disuse. If so, the prejudice is not confined to New York alone, for I was not cheered by the inspiriting sound of a peal in any other part of the Union I visited, although I think I have heard they are in use in Philadelphia and some of the eastern cities.
The time I had allotted to remain in New York having expired, and being anxious to proceed on my route before the close of navigation, I reluctantly bade adieu to my kind friends in that city, and made preparations to pursue my way to the more western part of the Union, hoping to reach the Mississippi country before the season when the rivers and canals leading to it would be locked up in ice.
"See how yon flaming herald treads The ridged and rolling waves, As, crashing o'er their crested heads, She bows her surly slaves; With foam before and fire behind, She rends the clinging sea, That flies before the roaring wind, Beneath her hissing lea." HOLMES—The Steam Boat.
My first stage, in proceeding to the interior of the country, was to Albany, 160 miles north of New York. To effect this, I took passage, on board a splendidly-equipped steamer, called the Narraganset, and esteemed at the time the swiftest boat on the Hudson River. I must confess I was rather timid when I did so, for the reckless manner in which the crack boats are run, in order to maintain their character for celerity, is proverbial, and, as may be supposed, is little consonant with safe travelling. The almost constant recurrence of steam-boat explosions and consequent sacrifice of life, reports of which are daily to be seen in the newspapers, weighed somewhat heavily on my mind, and the latent fear was not lessened by seeing four barrels of pitch rolled on board, the very moment I set foot on the deck of the Narraganset. I had to console myself, however, as I best could under the circumstances, and trust to Providence; but had it not been for the payment of my fare, which had previously been arranged, and its inevitable loss if I stopped behind, I believe I should have declined the passage, from my horror of a race. Although, before the boat got under weigh, my lurking fears of explosion were great, they were much enhanced just after starting, in consequence of an opposition boat being loosed from her moorings at the same minute that our vessel got clear of the levee. This accounted for the barrels of pitch I had seen on deck, the heads of which were knocked out just as we entered the Hudson, and a portion of the contents thrown with the fuel into the roaring furnaces; this powerful generator of caloric of course gave increased rapidity to the motion of the engines, and in a couple of hours we left our opponent far behind.
It is remarkable that, although the Americans, as a people, travel more, perhaps, than any other nation, so little attention is paid by them to safety in transit. It is openly avowed that nothing is more common than steam-boat explosions and steam disasters of various kinds throughout this vast continent; and where boats are constructed to carry 1000 or 1200 passengers, as is usual on the American rivers, the loss of life, in case of accident, is fearful to contemplate. I am aware that the subject has been discussed in Congress, and that the question of remedial measures has occupied the attention of the Executive during several successive Presidentships; but still the evil remains, and the public mind in America is almost daily agitated by disasters of this nature. As long as the rampant spirit of competition and desire to outvie their fellows, which prevails amongst a large class of Americans, is tacitly, if not openly, encouraged by the governing powers, such a state of things must exist, and will probably increase; but it is a positive disgrace to a country possessing great natural attractions, and, on this account, visited by many foreigners, that they should by this system be exposed to daily peril of their lives. The acts of Congress lately promulgated, although apparently stringent, are virtually a dead letter, in consequence of the facilities for evasion, and the ingenuity of the offenders. The effort to outrun a rival is attended by an insane excitement, too often participated in by the passengers, who forget for the time that they are in a similar situation to a man sitting on a barrel of gunpowder within a few feet of a raging furnace. I frequently found myself in such a position, in consequence of this dangerous propensity, and the remedy suggested to my mind, and which I recommend to others, was never to take a passage, on American waters, in a first-class steam-boat, as the principle acted upon is to maintain the character of a first-rater at all hazards, regardless of the life or limbs of the helpless passengers.
The Narraganset, like most of the large river steamers, was constructed with three decks, and fitted up in sumptuous style. One large saloon, with a portion partitioned off for the ladies, serving as a cabin and dining apartment. There is no professed distinction of class in the passengers on board steam-boats in America. I found, however, that the higher grades, doubtless from the same causes that operate in other parts of the world, kept aloof from those beneath them.
The scene from the upper or hurricane deck (as it is called) was very attractive. Flowing, as the river Hudson does, through a fine mountainous country, the magnificent scenery on the banks strikes the observer with feelings allied to awe. The stream being broad and tortuous, beetling crags, high mountains and bluffs, and dense forests, burst suddenly and unexpectedly into view; fearful precipices abound here and there, amidst luxuriant groves and uncouth pine barrens, forming altogether a diversity that gives the whole the character of a stupendous panorama.
Before we were out of the tide, which for miles flows up the river, our vessel grounded three times, but after puffing and straining for a considerable time, she got off without damage and pursued her onward course. Most of my fellow-voyagers were disposed to be distant and taciturn, and so I enjoyed the grandeurs of the scene in solitary musings, to which the steamers, sloops under sail, and other vessels proceeding up and down the river, gave a pleasant enlivenment. The promenade deck, crowded with lady passengers and beautiful children, under a gay awning, added to the cheerfulness of the surrounding aspect, and the fineness of the weather, but for the fear of collapsing boilers, would have made the trip one of great enjoyment.
Another drawback I had nearly forgotten, and as it serves to illustrate steam-boat and indeed all other travelling inconveniences in America, I must not pass it over; I refer to the vulgarity of the men passengers, who, in default of better occupation, chew tobacco incessantly, and, to the great annoyance of those who do not practise the vandalism, eject the impregnated saliva over everything under foot. The deck of the vessel was much defaced by the noxious stains; and even in converse with ladies the unmannerly fellows expectorated without sense of decency. The ladies, however, seemed not to regard it, and one bright-eyed houri I saw looking into the face of a long sallow-visaged young man, who had the juice oozing out at each angle of his mouth with disgusting effect, so that enunciation was difficult.
Some miles up the Hudson, on a high piece of table-land, amidst romantic scenery, stands in prominent relief the military college of West Point. It commands an extensive view, and, was, I believe, an important outpost during the late war. The young graduates were exercising in parties on the parade ground under officers, and appeared dressed in dark jackets with silver-coloured buttons, and light blue trowsers. We saw the targets used by the graduates in artillery, who practise on the river banks; at least, it was so stated by a fellow-passenger, who either was, or pretended to be, acquainted with all the affairs of that college.
Beneath the summit of a high bluff, covered with wood, contiguous to the college, I observed a monument or obelisk, which I ascertained to have been erected to the memory of Kosciusko, a Polish patriot, who took a prominent part in the annihilation of British rule in America. It had a very picturesque effect, and was regarded with feelings of veneration by many of the American passengers, one of whom paid a tribute to the departed hero, which he wound up by observing with nasal emphasis and lugubrious countenance, "If twarnt for that ere man, wher'd we be, I waunt to know; not here I guess." This sentiment, although I could scarcely see the point of it myself, elicited half-a-dozen "do tells" and "I waunt to knows" from those around; expressions which, foolish as they sound to English ears, are in common use in the northern and eastern states, when an individual acquiesces in, or is anxious to know more about, what is stated.
As the scenery on the Hudson, although picturesque and highly romantic, savours somewhat of sameness, I shall forbear any further description of it. No one visiting America should omit, if possible, a passage to Albany, in order to enjoy, perhaps, the finest natural scenery in the world.
The individual who delivered the eulogium I have noted on Kosciusko, stated, that at the time of the war, an immense chain cable was thrown across the river at West Point, to prevent the British vessels proceeding to the interior, and this they in vain tried to destroy by firing chain or bar shots.
After a favourable passage, we at length reached Albany, which is an extensive city, and the depot for produce, especially wheat, brought via the Erie Canal from the interior; being, in fact, the storehouse of the trade to and from the interior States of the Union, west, as well as from Canada and the Lakes. It is finely situated on the west bank of the Hudson; many of its inhabitants are descended from the first colonists, especially the adventurous and persevering Dutch, who, like the Scotch, cling with tenacity to the spot they fix upon, and quickly accumulate property. This city is continually growing in importance, from the vast number of small capitalists who flock there and settle; and it will eventually, no doubt, vie with New York itself in wealth and importance. As I determined to make no stay here, but to proceed up the Erie Canal to Buffalo, I did not see much of this place, and must therefore omit any lengthened description of it. From what I did see, it appeared a densely-populated, well-built city, laid out with much regularity, and boasting of many substantial buildings, several of the edifices being constructed of white marble.
Having secured a passage on board a canal packet about to start, I at once embarked, and in a few hours after was running up the Erie Canal at the rate of six miles an hour, the boat being towed by four light horses of high mettle. The trappings of these animals were of a novel description, bells being appended to various parts of the harness, and streamers, or plumes of white hair and gaudy ribbons, floating in the air from the bridle of each. A postilion, in a suit of grey, with an otter-skin cap, rode on the rearmost or saddle horse, and his nonchalance and perfect command of his team were surprising. This boat was some sixty yards in length, and constructed only for passengers and their luggage. The interior formed a long saloon in miniature, fitted up with lounges, and tastefully decorated; a promenade on the deck or top furnishing a good place for exercise. At night our saloon was converted into a general dormitory, a portion being partitioned off for the ladies, by ranges of shelves being suspended from the sides, on which were laid the mattresses, &c. Owing to the number of locks and stoppages at the miserable towns and villages on the canal banks, our passage to Buffalo took several days; and the country being flat and uninteresting, although divided into farms, which in general appeared to be in a state of tolerable cultivation, I was not a little relieved when we began to approach the city.
The formation of the Erie Canal was one of those grand internal improvements frequently to be met with in that country, and which have contributed to its general prosperity in no small degree. The projector of this vast undertaking, De Witt Clinton, is justly esteemed by American citizens, who regard him as a public benefactor, and his name ranks with the founders of their independence. The canal runs, for a considerable distance before it reaches Buffalo, parallel with the lake, but separated from it by a sort of artificial sea-wall. As we merged into the vicinity of this magnificent inland sea, the sun was shining brightly, and gave it the appearance of molten silver. As far as the eye could reach, a wide expanse of water presented itself, and the distant shores of Canada gave beauty to the scene. At Black-rock we could distinguish the sites of the British fortifications, from which in the last war red-hot cannon-balls were ejected, to the dismay of the terrified Americans, and the destruction of many of their houses.
Buffalo is a flourishing city on the border of Lake Erie, and about twenty miles south of the Falls of Niagara. It is within the boundary of the state of New York, and has of late years greatly increased in extent, wealth, and population. The old town, quite an inconsiderable place, on the site of which the present city has risen, phoenix-like, was burnt to the ground during the late war, by some British officers, who made a sortie from the Canada shores; which circumstance, having been handed down from father to son, still rankles in the bosoms of many of the older inhabitants, who do not fail to state their belief that retributive justice will eventually be administered by the entire subjugation of Canada. During my rather prolonged stay in Buffalo, I had frequent opportunities of discovering that the most rancorous feelings exist on the subject; and in proof of this it may be remembered by the reader that the Canadian insurgents were assisted at the late insurrection by supplies of stores from this city. These were conveyed to Navy Island by the steamer Caroline, which was subsequently seized, and sent over the Falls of Niagara by the British troops, a number of the crew being cruelly massacred.
From inquiries made of parties well informed on the subject, both in Canada and the United States, I am convinced that the public act of Sir John Colborne, before quitting the governorship of the province, in 1835, viz., the allotment or appropriation of 346,252 acres of the soil, as a clergy reserve, and the institution of the fifty-seven rectories, was the chief predisposing cause of the insurrection. By this Act a certain portion of land in every township was set apart for the maintenance of "a Protestant clergy," under which ambiguous term, the clergy of the Church of England have always claimed the sole enjoyment of the funds arising from the sale of such portions of land. This is looked upon by dissenters of all denominations as a direct infringement of the original intention of the Act, which they maintain was for the purpose of aiding the Protestant cause at large against the innovations of the Roman Catholic Church. Much ill-will and sectarian prejudice are the natural consequence; in fact, the Act is a perfect apple of discord throughout the Canadas, and has engendered more animosity and resentment than any one legislative act, sanctioned by the Home Government, since the acquisition (if so it can he called) of the country. It is an indelible disgrace to England, that such a manifestly bigoted and narrow-minded policy should have been allowed to continue so long; and I am fully persuaded that this enactment, which, there is little doubt, originated in sectarianism, perpetuates a degree of rancorous feeling in the minds of people there, that is sufficient to account for the disaffection and tendency to rebellion that ever and anon displays itself; and that to remove this blister, and allow the application of these funds to all creeds alike, would be to restore peace, and convert doubtfully-affected communities to allegiance. If there is one consideration that ought to weigh in the minds of the British as a people, to endeavour to rivet the affections of the Canadians, more than another, and prevent the ultimate cession of that country to the Americans, it is, that the dependency affords now the only asylum for those persecuted outcasts of humanity, the slaves of the United States. Canada, the land of freedom, is associated in their minds with paradisaical thoughts of happiness—and many a heart-stricken creature in the Southern States of America, as I had many opportunities of ascertaining, toils on in content, with "Canada" in view, as the ultimatum of his hopes and the land of his redemption.
The population of Buffalo is fluctuating, owing to the vast number of emigrants who are constantly arriving, en route to Ohio, Michigan, and the far West. It averages in population, about ten thousand. The city is not of great extent, and consists in chief of one principal thoroughfare, called Maine-street, which is wide, the lower part terminating at the water's edge, along which spacious stores are erected for the reception of wheat and goods in transit. The harbour is formed by an arm of Lake Erie uniting with Buffalo river. Here are always congregated a large fleet of steamers, many of them of leviathan dimensions, which are employed in running to and from Detroit, in Michigan, and the intermediate ports, as well as in the Upper Lake trade. Being quite a depot, Buffalo bids fair, ere the lapse of many years, to be the grand emporium of the West. The public buildings do not deserve much notice; the Eagle Theatre, a joint-stock concern, being the only building of much interest. There are, however, several spacious hotels, and two or three banks, that boast some architectural merit, although much, I believe, cannot be said as to their stability. The lateral streets are rather obscure, and, not being regularly built upon, give the city an unfinished look. These are, however, dotted here and there with chateaux, having good gardens well arranged. The Niagara Railway station is situated to the left of Maine-street, about half-way up that premier thoroughfare.
At night the distant moan of the Niagara falls was audible, and this, together with what I had heard and read, made me very anxious to visit the spot. Accordingly, one splendid morning I started by train for the purpose. For some miles before we reached Niagara, we constantly heard the roar of the rushing waters, and were thus prepared for the stupendous scene that burst upon the view, as we alighted at the doors of that ne plus ultra of modern hostelries, the Pavilion Hotel.
My powers of description will fall short of conveying to the mind of the reader the awful grandeur of this cataract, so often commented upon by travellers. The first impression felt by me was, that the whole substratum on which I stood, which seemed to tremble, was about to be swept away by the vast inundation. It was not the height of the falls, but the immense body of water, which comprehends, with constant accumulations from the tributaries on the way, the overflowings of Lakes Erie, Superior, Michigan, and Huron. The astonishing effect of such a body of water, dashed abruptly over a precipice of 150 perpendicular feet, may be conceived; such is the momentum of this immense volume of fluid, that, when it strikes the rocky bed at the base of the cataract, it rebounds in a thick cloud of vapour—and when the sun's rays intercept it, as was the case when I arrived there, a beautiful rainbow of vivid colours encircles the area of the chasm, and, together with the natural curiosities and situation of the entire scene, presents to the amazed beholder, the effect of a highly-executed picture in a frame of sun-light, although far surpassing the productions of human skill, which may well be said, in comparison, to sink into utter insignificance.
A large company of visitors were assembled at the time of my arrival, probably from all parts of the world—so that I found it impossible to get a bed, unless I penetrated into the interior with a view to obtain accommodation at some farm-house, or crossed to the Canada side; but, feeling too tired, after the day's excitement, to pursue either such course, I took an evening train and returned to Buffalo the same day, where I arrived at 9 P.M.
About three miles from Buffalo is an Indian village, called Tonawanda. I frequently saw parties of the inhabitants, who resort to the city to dispose of their wares and produce. Some of the warriors were fine athletic fellows, of great stature, the lowest I saw being over six feet in height. They were clothed in tanned buck-skin, curiously fringed and ornamented with porcupine-quills richly dyed; their squaws (wives) being enveloped in fine Canadian blue broad cloth, their favourite costume; the crimson or other gaudy-coloured selvedge forming a conspicuous ornament.
Like all the aborigines of America, they cling with tenacity to primeval habits and customs, resisting every attempt made by the white population, to make or persuade them to conform to civilized life. The ill-usage they have been subjected to by the Americans, may, however, account for this in a great measure. They were described to me by one of the residents as a dissipated set of fellows, who squandered all they got in "fire-water," as they term ardent spirits, and when inebriated are so quarrelsome that it is dangerous in the highest degree to irritate them.
Not very long after I arrived, a circumstance occurred that threatened most fearful consequences. The Indians whom I have before referred to were in the frequent habit, when they came to the city, to dispose of their produce (for many of them followed husbandry) of getting so tipsy, that there was continual danger of bloodshed; their natural animosity on such occasions being roused with fearful vehemence, so that the authorities were compelled to adopt some steps to remedy the evil. It was no uncommon occurrence to see an Indian waggon by the road-side, with its pair of horses sans driver, who might have been found either drunk or quarreling at the other end of the city. And although the horses were always impounded, and a fine inflicted, still the nuisance continued without abatement, in fact, was rather on the increase. The new Mayor, being a man more alive than his predecessor to this evil, caused a regulation to be passed by the Civic Council, that any Indian found so far the worse for liquor in the streets of Buffalo as to be incapable of taking care of himself, should be punished by being made to work on the high roads for a short period, with an iron ball and chain attached to his leg. When this law was promulgated, there was a strong impression that the Indians would show resistance. This was soon found to be a correct view of the case, for not a week had elapsed before two warriors were brought before the Mayor, and sentenced to ten days' probation at road-mending, in pursuance of the decree. They had, however, only been at work two days in the upper part of Maine-street, in charge of two constables, when a large body of their fraternity, armed cap-a-pie, entered the city, and, with horrid yells and brandished tomahawks, rescued the culprits, knocked off their chains, and carried them in triumph to the Indian village, amidst fearful threats of fire and blood. As this attack was unexpected, no resistance was offered; and although there was much discussion afterwards, about the laws being vindicated and an example being made, the matter, from motives, no doubt, of public safety, was allowed to drop, and for the future the red men had it all their own way, although there were certainly signs of amendment, and the evil decreased to a very great extent. The Indian maxim being, "Firm in friendship but ruthless in war," there is little doubt that the course pursued on this occasion by the city authorities, was the best under such circumstances.
Lake Erie is a fine piece of water, being 265 miles long, from Buffalo to Detroit, the two extreme ends, and averaging about 60 miles broad. At its north-east end it communicates with Lake Ontario and the Canadian shores, by the gut or strait of Niagara. Towards the west end are numerous islands and banks, which are furnished with light-houses for the guidance of the mariner. Its waters wash the foot of Maine-street (Buffalo) where they meet the river from which that city takes its name. It is frequently visited by furious gales, which play havoc with the steamers, many of which are annually wrecked.
While I remained in Buffalo, I took several excursions to the towns that skirt this beautiful inland sea. On one of these occasions, the steamer was driven by stress of weather to take shelter in the small harbour of Huron, some distance up the lake; this we reached with much difficulty, the violence of the sea threatening every moment the total destruction of the vessel. As we entered the harbour, the air rang with a shout of welcome from the inhabitants of the place, who had been watching our perilous progress in great anxiety, and were assembled at the end of the little pier. Here we remained for two days and nights, the wind blowing all that time with the fury of a hurricane; the lake, during the storm, presenting the appearance of the sea in a stiff north-wester, the white-crested waves rising in violent commotion to a fearful height.
Huron is but a small and uninteresting place, situate in a most unwholesome locality, lying opposite to a murky swamp, whose poisonous vapours spread disease and death around. It is the highway to Sandusky city, an inland border town, rendered famous for the obstinacy with which the inhabitants and a body of U.S. Infantry defended a fort there against the attacks of the British troops in 1812. Having ascertained the captain's intention not to sail until the day following, and it being described as a very attractive spot, I hired a horse, and, after a seven miles' ride through a country dotted with farm houses, which had a desolate look, and the lands appertaining to which were subdivided by zigzag log fences (hedges being unknown in the back settlements), I reached the so-called city, which is built in nearly the form of a parallelogram, the area of greensward having a pretty effect. Here are some good hotels, and a seminary or college for young ladies, which is much patronized by the better classes of the northern and eastern states, especially New York. I looked in vain for the Fort, which has, since the war, been demolished; but the landlord of the hotel at which I afterwards dined, took me to its site, and related several incidents that occurred in connection with the fortress, and the struggle between the belligerent parties at the time. As, however, I considered these somewhat apocryphal, from several of his relations failing to hang together, and his decided bias against the Britishers, as he called the English, I shall not trouble the reader with the details. After viewing the place and its suburbs to my satisfaction, and after an excellent dinner of green maize and venison, I rode back to the steamer.
It was towards evening when I arrived; and, as I approached Huron, by the banks of the creek that divides the swamp I have mentioned, and which was unusually swollen, I noticed a canoe that had broken loose from its moorings, drifting down the current; a moment afterwards the owner arrived in breathless haste, to endeavour to save it from destruction; his exertions were, however, useless, and, finding there was no alternative, he hailed the bystanders, and offered the reward of a dollar to any one who would swim to and paddle the canoe on shore; this offer was eagerly caught at by a tall man, of great muscular power, who was amongst the crowd, and who at once threw off his coat and plunged into the stream. This was very rapid, and, after a few moments battling with the turbid current, he was overpowered; uttering a loud cry for assistance, which I shall never forget and which rang in my ears like a death knell, he disappeared from the view of the spectators, and, being probably entangled in the trees and debris that were floating down the torrent, he did not rise again. A loud wail arose from the terrified assemblage, who were unable to render the poor fellow any assistance, and who ran about in frantic excitement. The canoe was lost, being carried at a rapid rate into the open lake, where it capsized, and sunk immediately. After dragging for the body for upwards of an hour, it was fished up from under some logs of timber moored some distance below where the catastrophe occurred. The body being landed and placed on the bank, a loud altercation ensued as to the means to be used to attempt resuscitation—a vain hope—but still persisted in by those assembled. Some wanted to roll it on a barrel, others to suspend it by the heels, that the water might be voided. At length a doctor arrived, and, after some inquiry, pronounced effort useless, from the time the body had been under water. This at once damped the ardour of the crowd, although it did not discourage a female, who had taken a prominent part in the operations, and who, with that true womanly tenderness and solicitude which do honour to her sex, and which are nowhere more conspicuous than in America, insisted upon the corpse being taken to a neighbouring house, where, like a ministering angel, she persevered in her efforts for a considerable time, although of course without effect.
The banks of Lake Erie, in the vicinity of Huron, are thickly studded with small trees and coppice wood. This scenery, being interspersed with open natural meadow-land, gives it a park-like aspect, and several spots would, graced with a mansion, have formed an estate any nobleman in Europe might have been proud of, the shores of Canada, looming in the hazy distance, giving a fine effect to the scene.
The noise and disagreeable odour arising from the bull-frogs and other reptiles that infest the swamp opposite the village at night, filled the air, and rendered it impossible for me to sleep. As I lay restless on my bed, I suddenly heard a gun fired, and, starting up in some alarm, I hastily put on my clothes and descended to the bar of the hotel. Here several of the inmates were assembled, and were preparing to cross the creek with lanterns, to explore the swamp, cries of distress having been distinctly heard, as of some benighted traveller who had lost his way. After listening intently, and firing several rifles to guide the wanderer or apprize him that assistance was at hand, the party crossed the creek in a canoe, and moved along the skirts of the morass, hallooing loudly all the time; the cries, however, heard only at intervals at the commencement, became gradually indistinct, and at last ceased altogether. After an ineffectual search for an hour or more, the party again turned towards Huron, strongly impressed with the belief, that the unfortunate being had sunk with his horse in the soft bed of the swamp, which is some miles in extent, and had perished miserably. The day following, I visited the nearest point from which the cries were heard, but I could discern no sign of the sufferer, nor could I even trace footmarks; this, however, is not remarkable, as they would speedily be obliterated by the many reptiles nurtured in the morass. It was afterwards questioned, whether the supposed wanderer was only a catamount, a species of jaguar that emits doleful cries at night.
The storm having abated, I soon after returned on board, and in due course reached Buffalo, where I had the pleasure of meeting with an old acquaintance, from whom I had long been separated, and who had delayed his intended voyage up the lake, to await my return. A large proportion of the population of Buffalo are people of colour, and one quarter of the town is almost exclusively inhabited by them; many of these, I regret to add, are living in a state of degradation pitiable to behold, apparently without the least endeavour being made by their white fellow-citizens to improve their condition. Some of these coloured people keep eating-houses, for the accommodation of those of their own complexion, but the greater number are employed as stokers and steam-boat hands. A few of these men, despite the prejudice that exists (and it is nowhere in the Union more marked than in Buffalo), rise above the common level, and by that probity of character and untiring energy, which I believe to be inherent in the race, become men of substance.
One instance of this deserves especial notice, as the subject of it had, entirely by the good qualities mentioned, amassed a fortune, and had married a woman of English birth. I was introduced to this individual some time after my arrival in Buffalo, and his singularly correct views and uprightness of character made me partial to his company. His wife was a notable, well-informed, good-looking woman, about forty years of age. Irrespective of colour, I certainly admired her discrimination in the choice of a partner, although she was looked down upon by the wives of the white citizens, and, in common with her husband, was almost entirely shunned by them. There may, perhaps, have been a higher consideration than that of a good settlement to cause an English woman in this instance to marry a dark mulatto; but I was always of opinion, and she confirmed this by hints dropped casually, that the consideration of a fortune had more to do with the alliance than love. This gentleman kept a good house, and had many servants. His wife being fond of amusements, he hired a box for her use at the Eagle Theatre, which she always attended alone, the etiquette of the white citizens not permitting his attendance with her. He appeared almost always in a desponding mood, a tendency arising entirely from the insulting demeanour used towards him by the citizens; and he frequently talked of removing to Canada, or the far West, to avoid the treatment he was subjected to at the hands of a pack of young scoundrels, who took every opportunity to annoy and treat him with indignity for marrying a white woman. The consequence was, that neither he nor his wife scarcely ever ventured out. If they did so, it was never in company, and usually after dark. I was politely offered the use of their box at the theatre during my stay, and on one occasion availed myself of the offer. But I never ventured again—the box was evidently marked, and during the performance I was subjected to the most disgusting remarks and behaviour from the audience. Indeed, this was carried so far, that I retired long before the curtain dropped. So intent were his fellow-citizens on annoying this inoffensive man, that soon after he was mobbed in Maine-street by the young desperadoes I have referred to, who, from their determined opposition to intermixed marriages, were known in the place as "anti-amalgamists." On this occasion poor P—— nearly lost his life, and, but for running, would, no doubt, have done so; as it was, he was much burnt about the head and neck, the ruffians in the scuffle having set fire to his frock-coat, which was of linen.
It is rather remarkable that, at St. Louis, on the Missouri, some ten months afterwards, I met this very man, he having purchased some government land in a remote part of that state. Our meeting was quite accidental, for I crossed the street and accosted him as he was hurrying along. In the course of our interview he pressed me earnestly to go up the country with him; but this I declined from motives of prudence, the route lying through a slave-holding state, where a white and coloured man travelling on terms of equality, would be sure to excite suspicion. He had a small bundle of papers under his arm, and on my remarking he appeared intent on business, he stated they were his free papers, and that not ten minutes before he had been challenged to produce them; but this, he said, would not have prevented his arrest and detention in the city gaol until the authorities of Buffalo had been written to under suspicion of his being a fugitive, had he not taken the precaution, before he left that city, to obtain from the mayor a certificate of his intention to proceed to the Missouri country, and the object of his visit. He told me that if he liked his purchase, he should build a house on it, and cultivate the land as a farm, as his continued residence in Buffalo, after the disposition to annoy him shown by the citizens, rendered his stay there out of the question. I afterwards dined with him at his "hotel," which was an obscure tavern in an unfrequented part of the city, in and about which I saw several coloured people. I afterwards ascertained that this was what is there derisively termed a "nigger boarding-house," and that the keepers of superior hotels would not think of accommodating a coloured person even for a night. From subsequent experience in such matters, I have no doubt that this version was a true one.
The hotels and cafes in the Slave States are all frequented by slave owners and dealers; these would not think of putting up at quarters where "coloured folks" were entertained. This distinction is so marked, that no negro would attempt to apply for refreshment at the bar of such places, as the inevitable consequence of such a liberty would be refusal, if not summary ejectment. It is therefore the custom, in all southern towns and cities, for the negro population to resort to places kept expressly for the accommodation of coloured people. These are not always kept by men of their own complexion, but often by white men, who, having become friendly with them, have lost caste with the whites, and are in fact discarded by them.
In the harbour of Buffalo, I saw two brigs, that during the war in 1812 had been captured by the Americans, and sunk somewhere up the lake on the American side. These had recently been raised by means of apparatus invented by an ingenious American. They were strong, substantially-built brigs, of about 250 tons burden each. I was surprised to find what a preserving effect the lake water had upon the timber, the wood being almost black in colour, and so hard that it was difficult to make an impression upon it even with an axe. These vessels had been sold to a shipping company, and were at the time employed, I think, in the Chicago or Upper Lake trade.
I had frequently heard of the number of rattle and other snakes to be met with on the banks of the lake, but these have been nearly exterminated by the settlers. During my stay in the suburbs I only found a few water-snakes, basking in the sun amongst the wilderness of aquatic plants that cover the surface of the water in the creeks.
The superstitious dread of inhaling the east wind blowing from the mouth of the lake, is now exploded, and is considered in the light of a by-gone tale; although, for three-quarters of a century, it was considered baneful even to the healthy. Consumptive patients are, however, soon carried off, the biting blasts from the Canadian shores proving very fatal in pulmonary complaints, and the winters being very severe.
A plentiful supply of excellent fish of various sorts, is procured from the lake. These are salted in barrels, and find a ready market in the northern and eastern states.
My abode in the city of Buffalo extended over the greater part of a year, and during this period I had frequent opportunities of witnessing that tendency to overreach that has, perhaps, with some justice, been called a disposition in the generality of Americans to defraud. I do not mean to stygmatize any particular class of men in this imputation, but I must record my decided conviction, arising from transactions with them, that business with the mass of citizens there is not that upright system that obtains with such successful results in the mother country, amongst those engaged in commercial relations. Perhaps it would be but fair to make some excuse for men of this class, in a country whose heterogeneous population, and consequent exposure to competition, renders it a struggle to obtain a livelihood. It is notorious that thousands of men in America are obliged, as it were, to succumb to this influence or become paupers, and are thus driven out of the paths of strict rectitude and honesty of purpose, and compelled to resort to all sorts of chicanery to enable them to make two ends meet. In no instance is this more observable than in the "selling" propensities of the Americans. "For sale" seems to be the national motto, and would form an admirable addendum to the inscription displayed on the coins, "E pluribus unum." Everything a man possesses is voluntarily subjected to the law of interchange. The farmer, the land speculator, and the keeper of the meanest grocery or barber's stall, are alike open to "a trade," that is, an exchange of commodities, in the hope or prospect of some profit, honestly or dishonestly, being attached to the transaction. This induces a loose, gambling propensity, which, indulged in to excess, often leads to ruin and involvement, and, if absolute beggary is deferred, causes numerous victims to be perpetually floundering in debt, difficulty, and disgrace.
"Then blame mo not that I should seek, although I know not thee, To waken in thy heart its chords of holiest sympathy, It is for woman's bleeding heart, for woman's humbled form, O'er which the reeking lash is swung, with life's red current warm." E M CHANDLER
On a fine morning in June, I took my departure from Buffalo, in the lake steamer Governor Porter, for the port of Cleveland in the state of Ohio. The sun was shining on the silvery bosom of the lake, which in a dead calm gave it a refulgent glassy appearance. We had not, however, been two hours at sea before the clouds began to collect, and a heavy gale came on with rapidity. This continued to increase until the day following, during which the vessel had passed Cleveland, the place of my destination, and was driving before a furious north-wester towards Detroit, at the head of the lake. The captain stated that all his endeavours to make the landing-place at Cleveland had been unavailing, but if those passengers whom he had engaged to land there would proceed with him on the voyage to his destination, he would land them on his return, which he said would probably be in three or four days. As this offer necessarily included board, the three passengers, who were in the same predicament as myself, after a short consultation agreed to accept it; and as time was not an object to me, I did not demur, for I much wished to have a view of the country in that direction. Had either of us dissented, the captain would, probably, have landed us at the next port, a result that would have involved the expense and inconvenience of a thirty miles' ride, or thereabouts, to Cleveland, in a rough stage, over rougher roads.
The weather moderated towards sunset, and we had a very favourable passage to the head of the lake, and entering Detroit harbour, which lies at the foot of the town, I soon after landed, and took a stroll into it. It is not a very populous place, the inhabitants being, I should say, under 4000. The houses are in general, heavy dirty-looking buildings, though the streets are tolerably wide, and built with regularity. It is, I believe, peopled principally by French and Dutch, who appeared to be in low circumstances, and who follow the usual town occupations.
This town, which is essentially Gaelic in appearance, is situated on the west side of the strait, between Lakes St. Clare and Erie, and is within sight of Malden in Canada, with the shores of which province a constant trade or communication is kept up by steam. Here is situated an extensive government agency for the sale of land in Michigan; whither, at the time, vast numbers of new settlers were daily proceeding in search of homes and happiness. I saw many of these on their way, and as they toiled to their new homes, they looked haggard, forlorn, and abject; and I thought I could distinguish in almost all, especially the women, an aspect of grief that indicated they were exiles, who had left behind all that tended to make life joyous and happy, to seek a precarious existence in an unknown wilderness. As the town afforded few attractions, the only place of amusement being a temporary theatrical exhibition, I was not a little rejoiced when the vessel again started down the lake, which she did with every advantage of favourable weather. In due course we reached Cleveland, and, as I was anxious to proceed onwards, I took but a cursory view of the place, which is, like Detroit, situated on a somewhat rising ground. It appeared a thriving town, and the hotels were in general superbly fitted up.
As I was strolling towards the canal to take my passage to the Ohio river, a little incident occurred, which, as it illustrates a very old adage, I will not omit. Passing some low-built houses near the canal, my attention was arrested by the screams of a female, who uttered loud cries for assistance.
Hastening to the door of the house from which the alarm proceeded, I lifted the latch in great trepidation, when I saw a man just about to strike a woman (who proved to be his wife) with an uplifted chair. The fellow was vociferating loudly, and appeared in a towering passion. My first impulse was to cry out "Drop it!" when, lo! as if I had, like Katerfelto, the by-gone professor of legerdemain, cried "Presto," the scene changed, and both man and woman, who were Americans of the lower class, commenced bullying me in right earnest. I made my retreat with some difficulty, as they seemed, both of them, inclined to serve me roughly for my well-intentioned, though, perhaps, mistimed interference. As I made my escape, however, I intimated, pretty loudly, that I should at once apply to a magistrate on the subject, a threat, by-the-bye, that was little regarded, and only increased the showers of abuse levelled at me. As my appealing to a magistrate would be of little avail in the case of a family jar, and would certainly have entailed inconvenience and delay, I did not carry my threat into execution, wondering, at the same time, at my temerity in interfering in a quarrel between man and wife, which I now practically learnt, for the first time in my life, was to incur the unmitigated anger of both, and to learn how true it is that
"Those who in quarrels interpose, Must oft expect a bloody nose."
I visited the portion of the town appropriated by the Mormons as a residence. Here, in the midst of their dwellings, they had erected a temple for worship, which, on their emigrating west, their arch-leader, Smith, prophesied would, by the interposition of heaven, be destroyed by fire. The prophecy was verified as to the fact, but heaven had, it appeared, little to do with it; for it was ascertained to be the work of an incendiary of their sect, who was detected and brought to condign punishment.
I was afterwards informed by an American gentleman, to whom I had a letter of introduction, and who had been a great sufferer by these impostors, that some time before the great body of Mormons migrated to the interior, they started a bank. Having managed to put a vast number of their notes in circulation, for which they received produce, they closed the doors, and left the public to be losers by their nefarious schemes. I had the misfortune myself, in my ignorance, to take from a dishonest store-keeper a ten-dollar bill of this spurious currency, and did not detect the imposture until I offered it to the captain of the boat I had engaged a passage in to La Belle Riviere, as the Ohio is called. I must mention, however, that I took it previously to the interview with the gentleman I have adverted to, and actually, without knowing it, had the note in my pocket-book when he mentioned the default of these pseudo bankers. I paid ten dollars for a useful lesson.
The passengers from Cleveland formed a motley group; for, irrespective of French, Dutch, Americans, and Canadians, we had on board eight or ten families of the Mormon sect, following in the wake of their leaders, Smith and Rigdon, to their new settlement in the far west. These people were very reserved, and seemed inclined to keep aloof from their fellow-passengers. This, however, may be accounted for by the prejudice so justly existing at the time against them, as a body, from the causes I have already mentioned; in fact, the indignation of the people could hardly be kept in check by the authorities, and lynching was resorted to on more than one occasion. The men were clothed in drab broad-cloth, and wore large white hats; their garb altogether resembling that of the more respectable Society of Friends, in America. The resemblance, however, ceases with the dress, for, if reports speak true, and they are many-tongued, they are very exceptionable in their morality and general principles, amongst other peculiarities, polygamy being allowed, for the avowed purpose of extending and perpetuating the sect.
Our progress was pretty rapid, though it lay through an uninteresting country, in many parts uncultivated and barren-looking. Massillon is a very flourishing town, with some good stores and two or three hotels. As the captain was obliged to make a short stay here, I went into the town and, stepping into an hotel to procure a cigar, I found a company engaged in earnest conversation, interrupted at intervals by loud laughter. On inquiry, I was told that the landlord had that morning been played a Yankee trick by a travelling pedlar, who had stopped the previous night at his house. It appeared that the same man had some months before practised on the landlord; but, either supposing the matter blown over and forgotten, or, what is more likely, with a view to put another of his arts into exercise, he again put up at the same house. The proprietor, however, at once recognized the pedlar, and after taxing him with the cheat he had practised on the former occasion, wound up his lecture by stating, in true American style, that if he again succeeded in cheating him he would forego the amount of his tavern expenses. The man exclaimed, "Done," and at once it appeared set his wits to work to obtain the object. A few hours after the conversation, the fellow brought in from his waggon some boxes of fancy goods, and endeavoured to induce the landlady to purchase. This, however, no doubt prompted by her husband, she resolutely refused, and he had them removed to his room upstairs, as is customary. After breakfast, the following morning, he called the landlady aside and said he forgot the day before to show her a fancy quilt of superior workmanship, and if she would only look at it he would be satisfied, as it was one of great beauty. She consented to this, and the man at once went to his waggon, which was now at the door, he being about to start, and brought in a box which contained, amongst numerous other articles, the quilt he had been eulogizing. The landlady was much taken with its appearance, and after some little persuasion consented to become the purchaser. Accordingly, the bargain was concluded, and the balance between his tavern bill and the article in question was handed over at the hotel bar to the pedlar, who at once started from the house, the landlord on his doing so jocosely remarking on the conversation of the previous day, in reply to which the wily pedlar observed, that "he guessed it was all right." Soon after the man left, the landlady called her spouse to the inner room, and showing him her bargain, said she had been induced to buy the quilt, because it was an exact match for the one in the large room up-stairs. This led to a female help (as servants are there called), being despatched to the room to fetch and compare the original with that newly purchased. The girl speedily returned in the greatest consternation, saying it had vanished. The truth now became apparent; the artful pedlar had actually sold the landlady her own quilt!
This ludicrous circumstance led to the confusion I had noticed when I arrived; the man had gone they knew not whither, and had it been possible to overtake him, I question whether he would have been pursued, the cleverness of the trick being highly applauded by the company, and the landlord feeling, perhaps, ashamed of being outwitted a second time, after himself giving the challenge. The ingenuity of American pedlars in cozening their countrymen, has long been proverbial, and in general, people are wary of them; they have, however, I suppose by long practice, become such adepts at roguery, that however alive to their propensities, folks are daily victimized by such men. It was nothing new to hear a roguish action applauded, but on this occasion the company were vociferous in his praise, and declared they would certainly patronize him when he came that way again, for he deserved encouragement.
After strolling through the town, which presented little worth recording, I again returned to the boat, which proceeded on its way. I had frequently heard and read of those vast flocks of wild pigeons which periodically pursue their flight to milder latitudes: and, as the boat was now approaching the centre of the state of Ohio, where myriads of these birds were seen the year before, I anxiously watched the horizon for their appearance. For several days, however, I was doomed to disappointment, and gave it up in despair; but a day or two after, when in the vicinity of the Tuscarawas river, it being about noon, the helmsman suddenly called out, "A field of pigeons." This announcement called all hands to the promenade deck of the packet. Looking in the direction indicated, a heavy black cloud appeared in the far horizon; this seemed to extend from right to left, and was so dense that the novices amongst us at once pronounced it, either a mistake or a hoax. The helmsman declared that it was neither, and that we should soon be convinced of it. The cloud seemed now gradually and visibly to spread; in truth, the whole firmament in that direction was totally obscured. By this time a general rummage had commenced in the boat for fire-arms; the captain hailed the driver on the towing path, who pulled up, and the boat was moored by the canal side. We now landed, intending to replenish the larder of the vessel with what, to most of the passengers, was a rare treat. On the left bank of the canal, and on the banks of the river, which here ran parallel with it, was a forest of gigantic trees; and, as the birds were evidently making in that direction, it was decided that all those who wished to take part in the expected sport, should proceed, and wait their passing this spot, in the hope that some would settle on the branches of the trees. Accordingly, after crossing the river by a rude bridge, which was very nearly half a quarter of a mile in length, we reached the intended spot after wading up to our knees in a swamp or turbary, and getting miserably bemauled by the briars and cane vines. We had not to wait long; the birds, wearied by a long flight, were evidently attracted by the favourable resting-place, and in less than a quarter of an hour, the air was darkened with the hosts hovering over our heads; the sound of their wings defies description, those of my readers who remember the peculiar noise made by a single pigeon in its flight, may form a faint idea by multiplying the sound a million times. It in fact filled the air, and produced a startling effect. Thousands of the birds alighted on the trees, the branches of which snapped and crackled fearfully under the superincumbent load; those of our party who were armed, continued to fire and load as fast as they possibly could. They brought hundreds to the ground, but still, through weariness, perhaps, the rest kept their station on the branches, and did not appear to heed the attack much—shifting their position or only flying off for a moment and then again alighting. By this time many of the settlers from the surrounding districts had arrived to share in the quarry. Thousands of birds were brought to the ground; in fact, every discharge of the guns and rifles brought down showers to our feet; and the noise seemed to resemble our being engaged in action with a foe; without, however, the dire effects of such a rencontre to ourselves. After bagging our game, of which we secured nearly two hundred brace, we returned to the boat, leaving the rest of the sport to those who chose to continue it. We had enough, and, for the remainder of the passage, were completely surfeited with pigeon fare, administered by the boat's cook in all sorts of outlandish forms. In our progress onward through the state, we saw many carcases of these birds outside the villages, such numbers having been destroyed, that the inhabitants could not consume them, and they were accordingly thrown out as refuse. These birds were in good condition, and were excellent eating.