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Title: Retrospect of Western Travel, Volume I (of 2)

Author: Harriet Martineau

Release Date: July 19, 2012 [EBook #40280]

Language: English

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The Works of Charles Lamb. To which are prefixed his Letters, and a Sketch of his Life, by Thomas Noon Talfourd. 2 vols. 12mo. Portrait.

A Journal of Travels on the Continent of Europe: viz., in England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, Switzerland, some Parts of Germany, and the Netherlands, during the Years 1835 and '36. By Wilbur Fisk, D.D. 8vo. With Engravings.

Memoirs of Aaron Burr. With Miscellaneous Selections from his Correspondence. 2 vols. 8vo. Portraits.

A New Hieroglyphical Bible, with 400 Cuts, by Adams. 16mo.

Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petræa, and the Holy Land. 2 vols. 12mo. Third Edition. With Engravings.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Comprising the Details of a Mutiny and atrocious Butchery on board the American Brig Grampus on her Way to the South Seas in the Month of June, 1827, &c., &c., &c. 12mo. Engravings.

Sketches of the Life and Character of the Rev. Lemuel Haynes, A.M. By Timothy Mather Cooley, D.D. With some Introductory Remarks by Wm. B. Sprague, D.D. 12mo. Portrait.

The Economy of Health; or, the Stream of Human Life from the Cradle to the Grave. With Reflections, Moral, Physical, and Philosophical, on the Septennial Phases of Human Existence. By James Johnson, M.D. 18mo.

The Monk of Cimiés. By Mrs. Sherwood. 12mo. Engravings. [Vol. XIV. of her Works.]

Henry Milner. Complete. [Vol. XV. of Mrs. Sherwood's Works.]

Sacred History of the World. By Sharon Turner. Vol. III. [No. 83 of the Family Library.]

Scenery of the Heavens. By Thomas Dick, LL.D., Author of "Christian Philosopher," &c. 18mo. Engravings.

Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat. By Edmund Roberts. 8vo.

Zion's Songster. Compiled by Rev. T. Mason. 48mo.

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Leila; or, the Siege of Grenada. By E. L. Bulwer: Esq., Author of "Eugene Aram," &c. 12mo.

Ernest Maltravers. By the Author of "Pelham," "Rienzi," &c. 2 vols. 12mo.

Attila. By the Author of "Richelieu," "Philip Augustus," "The Gipsy," &c. 2 vols. 12mo.

Pelayo: a Story of the Goth. By the Author of "Guy Rivers," "Mellichampe," &c. 2 vols. 12mo.

Burton; or, the Sieges. By the Author of "Lafitte," &c. 2 vols. 12mo.

Live and Let Live; or, Domestic Service Illustrated. By the Author of "The Linwoods," "The Poor Rich Man," &c. 18mo.

A Love Token for Children. By the Author of "Live and Let Live," &c. 18mo.

Cromwell: a Romance. By the Author of "The Brothers," &c. 2 vols. 12mo.

Recollections of a Southern Matron. By the Author of "Recollections of a New-England Housekeeper." 12mo.

Falkner. By the Author of "Frankenstein," "Lodore," &c. 12mo.

Constance Latimer; or, the Blind Girl. With other Stories. By Mrs. Emma C. Embury. 18mo.

Anthon's Series of Classical Works for Schools and Colleges, now in the course of publication.

—> The following works, already published, may be regarded as specimens of the whole series, which will consist of about thirty volumes.

Sallust's Jugurthine War and Conspiracy of Catiline, with an English Commentary, and Geographical and Historical Indexes. By Charles Anthon, LL.D. Sixth Edition, corrected and enlarged. 12mo. With a Portrait.

Select Orations of Cicero, with an English Commentary, and Historical, Geographical, and Legal Indexes. By Charles Anthon, LL.D., &c: 12mo. Third Edition.

Cæsar. With Notes; etc., by Professor Anthon. 12mo. With a Map of Ancient Gaul, and Plans of Battles, Sieges, &c.

A Grammar of the Greek Language, for the Use of Schools and Colleges, with Teutonic, Gothic, Sclavonic, Gaelic, Sanscrit, and Zend Analogies. By C. Anthon, LL.D. 12mo.

A System of Greek Prosody and Metre, with Illustrations of the Choral Scanning in the Dramatic Writers. By C. Anthon; LL.D. 12mo.

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When I finished my late work on Society in America, I had not the most remote idea of writing anything more on the subject of the New World. I have since been strongly solicited to communicate more of my personal narrative, and of the lighter characteristics of men, and incidents of travel, than it suited my purpose to give in the other work. It has also been represented to me that, as my published-book concerns the Americans at least as much as the English, there is room for another which shall supply to the English what the Americans do not want—a picture of the aspect of the country, and of its men and manners. There seems no reason why such a picture should not be appended to an inquiry into the theory and practice of their society; especially as I believe that I have little to tell which will not strengthen the feelings of respect and kindness with which the people of Great Britain are more and more learning to regard the inhabitants of the Western Republic. I have, therefore, willingly acceded to the desire of such of my readers as have requested to be presented with my Retrospect of Western Travel.

H. Martineau.

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The Voyage 13
First Impressions 35
The Hudson 43
Pine Orchard House 57
Weddings 63
High Road Travelling 71
Fort Erie 90
Niagara 96
Priestley 109
Prisons 123
First Sight of Slavery 139
Life at Washington 143
The Capitol 164
Mount Vernon 186
Madison 189
Jefferson's University 199
Country Life in the South 208
City Life in the South 223
Restless Slaves 242
New-Orleans 254

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"When the sun dawn'd, gay and glad,
We set the sail and plied the oar;
But when the night-wind blew like breath,
For joy of one day's voyage more,
We sang together on the wide sea,
Like men at peace on a peaceful shore;
Each sail was loosed to the wind so free,
The helm made sure by the twilight star,
And in a sleep as calm as death
We the voyagers from afar
Lay stretched."
Paracelsus, Part iv.

The packet-ship in which my passage was taken, the United States, Captain Nathan Holdrege, was to have sailed from Liverpool on Friday, the 8th of August, 1834, at eleven o'clock. At half past ten my fellow-traveller and I, with our friends, were on the way to the dock, in some doubt about our departure, from the wind being directly against us, when we met a gentleman interested in the sailing of the vessel, who told us that we might turn back, as the captain had given up all hope of getting out of port that day. This was uncomfortable news enough. We had bidden farewell to many friends, half the pain of parting was over, and there was little pleasure in having it all to go through again.

We resolved to proceed to the dock, to put our luggage on board, and see for ourselves the true state of affairs. It was not very agreeable. The deck was encumbered with water-casks and chests; the captain was fidgeting about, [Pg 14] giving his orders in a voice rather less placid than ordinary; a great number of inquiring persons, who had come down to see us off, had to be told that we were not going to-day, and why; and several of the American passengers were on the spot, looking very melancholy. They had entered the 8th in their journals as the day of sailing, brought down their portmanteaus, paid their bills at the hotel, and taken leave of Boots and chambermaid. Here they were left with four-and-twenty dreary and expensive hours upon their hands, and who knew how many more than four-and-twenty? One declared that the wind appeared as if it had set in against us, and he should not be surprised if it was a week before we sailed. Their fate was so truly mournful, that I was ashamed of feeling any discomfiture on my own account, domesticated as I was in the nearest and dearest of homes next to my own. Our disconsolate acquaintance among the passengers were invited to dispose of their evening with us; and we returned to tell the children, and everybody whom we met, that we were not gone, and wherefore. Of course, we presently recollected several reasons why it was well that we had another day. There were two letters which it was highly desirable I should write from Liverpool rather than from New-York; and the children had never before found leisure to show me the cupboards and shelves where they kept their playthings; so that, if the wind had been fair, I should actually have gone away without seeing them.

We sauntered all the afternoon in the Zoological Gardens, and, as we returned, caught each other looking up at every weathercock we passed. In the evening our visiters dropped in, each ready with a speculation as to how the wind would be to-morrow.

On the morrow the weathercock told no better news; and a note was on the breakfast-table which informed us that there was no chance of our sailing that day. I was now really sorry. It was Saturday; and I feared my host would write no sermon if I remained to keep his household in an unsettled state. Our seadresses, too, would not serve for a Sunday in Liverpool, and our books and work were all on board with our wardrobes. The tidings were therefore welcome which were brought early in the forenoon, that the captain had engaged a steamboat to tow us out to sea. By eleven o'clock the carriage of a friend was at the door, with bouquets of flowers, and baskets of grapes and other acid refreshments, which it was thought might be welcome at sea.

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"Have you no misgivings?" asked an intimate, before whose imagination the Western World now rose tremendous in its magnitude. "Have you no misgivings now?" I had none, and it was well. If I had had such as would have made me draw back in the last moment, what a world of good should I have foregone! Not only what knowledge, but what a store of imagery! What intense and varied enjoyment! and, above all, what friendships! When I now look back upon what I have gained, and at how small an expense of peril and inconvenience, I cannot but regard my setting foot on board ship as one of the most fortunate acts of my life.

When we arrived at the dock we found there was really to be no further delay. The knots of friends, the crowds of gazers were gathering; the steamer was hissing and puffing in the river, and the song of the sailors was heard, as they were warping our ship out of the dock. In a few minutes we and the other passengers were requested to step on board. I first carried my flowers down to my stateroom, intending to hide them there till we should be out of sight of land, when an apparition of fresh flowers upon deck might be more than commonly welcome. I then took my station by a window of the roundhouse, whence I could see all that passed on shore without being much seen. Thence I could observe my brother and sisters speaking to each other, and pointing out things which I could easily interpret. It occurred to me that I could send them one more token, by means of the little waves which rolled away from the sides of our ship, and washed the pier on which the crowd was standing. I threw out a rose at a moment when I caught a watchful eye; and I saw it borne, after many vagaries, directly under their feet. Suddenly I missed them from the spot where they were standing, and supposed they were quite tired (as they well might have been), and had gone home. But it was not so. They had withdrawn only in order to secure front places at the extreme end of the pier, whence they might watch us yet longer than from their former station. There they stood, as long as we could distinguish any forms from among the crowd. Then three cheers were exchanged between the crew and the shore, and the passengers strained their eyes no more.

The greater number then went below to make arrangements in their staterooms; and afterward ensued the ceremony of introducing the company to each other on deck. [Pg 16] Our number was twenty-three, six of whom formed the party to which I belonged; or, rather, so it seemed to ourselves before we went on board. The distinction was afterward forgotten, for the company assembled was, with two or three exceptions, so exceedingly agreeable and so wonderfully congenial, considering how accidentally we were brought together, that we mingled completely as one party. We had among us a Prussian physician; a New-England divine; a Boston merchant, with his sprightly and showy young wife; a high-spirited young South Carolinian, fresh from a German university; a newly-married couple, whose station was not exactly discoverable while on board, but who opened a public-house soon after their arrival in New-York; a Scotch major, whose peculiarities made him the butt of the young men; an elderly widow lady; two amiable young ladies; and a Scotch lady, "of no particular age," but of very particular placidity and good-humour; and a youth out of Yorkshire, who was leaving his parents' roof for the first time alone, and who was destined never to return to it. The number was made up by English and American merchants; young men so accustomed to pass between Liverpool and New-York, that the voyage was little more to them than an expedition to Primrose Hill is to a cockney.

The cold dinner and drinking of healths customary on the day of sailing succeeded. Then there was the library to look over, and trial to be made of a seat on the rail, whence we could see the dim shores as we glided smoothly along in the wake of the steamer. By the time it was dusk the latter had performed her engagement. We saw the payment handed over, and the shaking of hands of the two captains, and then she disengaged herself from us, and began ploughing her way to the north coast of Ireland. We felt very helpless when she was gone, the little wind there was being unfavourable. There was so little, however, as to allow us novices a night of sound sleep at the outset.

On Sunday we crept along in almost a calm, having a glimpse of the dim outline of the Isle of Man in the morning, and being still in sight of Holyhead in the evening. To me it was a day of luxury; for, jaded as I had been with business and novelty, there was no circumstance of the voyage that I valued so highly as the impossibility of receiving letters or news for three weeks or a month. The gliding on thus in a calm, with time to think and be still, was all that I wanted; but the Americans, who had home on the [Pg 17] horizon before them, and longed to be at rest there, looked grave on this inauspicious beginning of their transit. On Monday, however, they felt, from another cause, a good deal worse. The wind had freshened, but I believe nobody cared which way or how fast it blew us. The only meal at which I was not present was that of Monday's dinner. I can testify to the breakfast and tea being quiet and sad enough, with a sprinkling of languid passengers at table, and a knowledge of how wretched all the rest were in their rooms.

On Tuesday began my experience of the pleasures of the sea. The wind had freshened to a strong breeze, which had so rocked us in our berths that I rose miserably ill. I was strongly persuaded of the necessity of exertion in seasickness, of having fresh air, and of getting out of the way of the sights and sounds of the cabin; and I therefore persevered in dressing and going up to the deck. There was the captain, with only one passenger to talk with, and heartily glad at the prospect of another being convalescent. He seated me on the rail, where I kept my eyes away from the helpless invalids who were strewed about the deck, and in half an hour I was quite well. We were careering along in most exhilarating style. The wind was so strong as to put the wearing a bonnet out of the question. I had happily been furnished with a sort of cap, which no lady should go to sea without; a black silk cap, well wadded. With the head thus defended, and a large warm cloak, a lady may abide almost any weather, and avoid the désagremens and unwholesomeness of the cabin. My eye was never weary of watching the dashing and boiling of the dark green waves, from the gray horizon to the ship's side; and I know of no motion so gladsome as that of riding the high billows in a brisk breeze. The captain pointed out to me the first of the monsters of the deep that I ever saw; a large blackfish, tumbling about joyously by itself in the stormy sea, now throwing its thick body forward in ungainly gambols, and now rearing its forked tail perpendicularly as it prepared to dive.

My flowers did not disappoint my expectations. They were still quite fresh on the Wednesday, when, as we were out of sight of land, I carried them up to the deck, and gave each passenger one, that being precisely my supply. I never saw flowers give so much pleasure before, except in [Pg 18] cases of long confinement from illness. Truly they were very like a message from home.

In two or three days more all but two ladies and one gentleman had settled themselves into the routine of sea life. It was very desirable that they should do so, as on the 15th we were still little more than three hundred miles from Liverpool. It would have been dismal to add idleness and unsettledness to the discouragement caused by such a beginning of our voyage. Our mode of life was very simple and quiet; to me, very delightful. I enjoyed it so much that I delayed beginning my letters home till we had been a week at sea, lest I should write some extravagance which I should afterward have to qualify or retract. None of my subsequent experience, however, has altered my feeling that a voyage is the most pleasant pastime I have ever known.

The passengers showed themselves upon deck some time between seven and nine in the morning. Each one either made his way to the binnacle to see for himself what course we were upon, or learned the important intelligence from some obliging individual who held the fact at the general service. We all asked the captain at first, but soon discontinued the practice when we found that favourable answers were likely to be rare, and how it must vex him to tell us every morning that we were scarcely getting on at all.

After a brisk morning's walk upon deck, no one was sorry to hear the breakfast-bell. Breakfast was the most cheerful meal of the day. If ever there was any news to tell, it was then. The early risers could sometimes speak to the sluggards of a big fish, of a passing sail, of a frolic among the sailors. I was asked once by a passenger, in a tone whose laziness cannot be conveyed on paper, "What, did ye see the whale this mornin'?"

"No. It came at four o'clock, when I was asleep; but the captain promises to have me called next time, whatever the hour may be."

"What, d'ye want to see a whale?"

"Yes, very much."

"Well, but I dare say you have seen a pictur' o' one."

It was not apparent to him that this was not an equally good thing.

After breakfast, the gentlemen who kept journals produced their writing-cases in the cabin. The ladies sat in sunny or shaded places on deck, netting, making table-mats, or reading, or mounted the railing to talk or look abroad. I [Pg 19] had a task to do, which is a thing that should be avoided on board ship. I had a long article to write; and nothing else would I do, on fine mornings, till it was finished. It is disagreeable writing in the cabin, with people flitting all about one. It is unwholesome writing in one's stateroom in the month of August. The deck is the only place. The first care, after breakfast, of my clerical friend the New-Englander, was to find me a corner where the wind would not blow my paper about, where the sun would not dazzle me, and where I might be quiet; and then he took his seat behind the roundhouse, with a row of children from the steerage before him to do their lessons. I wondered at first how he would teach them without books, slates, or any other visible implements of instruction; but when I saw him get a potato, and cut it into two and four parts, to show the children what halves and quarters were, I was assured he would prosper with them. And so he did. They went to school to excellent purpose; and I dare say they will send back grateful thoughts all through their lives upon the kind gentleman who attended to them on the voyage.

For some time I was daily baffled in my purpose of writing by the observation of persons who seemed not only entirely ignorant of the process of composition, but very anxious to learn it. Not only did the children from the steerage spy from behind chests and casks, and peep over my shoulder, but the inquirer about the whale was wont to place himself directly in front of me, with his arms akimbo, and his eyes fixed on the point of my pen. Somebody gave him a hint at last, and I was left in peace. By two o'clock, when the deck began to fill again after luncheon, my head and eyes had had enough of writing, and I joyfully mounted the rail. If I wanted to watch the sea undisturbed, I held a Shakspeare in my hand. If I carried no book, somebody came to talk. What fleets of Portuguese men-of-war did we see at those hours! I hardly know whether these little mariners of the deep are most beautiful when gliding, rich in their violet hues, along the calm sunny surface of the summer sea, or when they are tossed about like toys by rough dark waves. One day, when I was exclaiming on their beauty, a young lady, industriously working at her table-mats, observed that it was very odd that she had crossed this ocean three times, and had never seen a Portuguese man-of-war. I concluded that she had never looked for them, and asked the favour of her to stand by my side for one half hour. [Pg 20] She did so, and saw three. I strongly suspect that those who complain of the monotony of the ocean do not use their eyes as they do on land. It seems to be the custom at sea to sit on deck, looking abroad only when the sun is setting, or the moon rising, or when there is a sail to be speculated upon. Some of the most beautiful sights I caught were when no one else was looking down quite into the deep, the only way to see most of the creatures that live there. One day I was startled, while thus gazing, with an excessive radiance, like an expanse of brilliant rainbow, far down in the sunny deep under our bows. My exclamation brought one witness to behold, as I did, the distinct form of a dolphin come out of the light. It was a family of dolphins, the only ones that were seen on the voyage. Many a flying fish darted from the crest of one wave into another. Many a minuet did Mother Carey's chickens trip, with their slender web-feet, on the momentary calm left between two billows. Many a shining visiter came up from the lowest deep to exchange glances and be gone. I soon found it was in vain to call people to look. These sights are too transient to be caught otherwise than by watching. When a shoal of porpoises came to race with the ship, every one on board was up on the rail to see; and an exhilarating sight it is, when the ship is going before the wind in a rough sea, and the porpoises dart visibly through the midst of a billow, and pitch, and rise, and cross each other's path, swiftly and orderly, without ever relaxing their speed, till they are tired of play. It is impossible to help having a favourite among the shoal, and watching him with an interest and admiration which, upon consideration, are really ridiculous.

The most generally interesting sight, perhaps, was a sail; and we were never a day without seeing one or more. Sometimes three or four seemed to be peeping at us from the horizon. Sometimes our ship and another were nearing each other almost all day. Once or twice I was startled with a sudden apparition of one close at hand, with all her sails set, black in a streak of moonlight, when I went up to bid the sea good-night. One morning early I found the deck in a bustle, from a ship having made signals of distress. "A ship in distress!" everybody began shouting. "A ship in distress!" cried I to the ladies in the cabin, one of whom came up muffled in a cloak, and another with her nightcap under her bonnet, rather than miss the romance of the scene. The hearts of the novices were all ready to [Pg 21] bleed; the faces of the gentlemen began to wear, in anticipation, an expression of manly compassion, as we hung out our colours, shortened sail (one of the first times we had been going right on our course), and wore round, while all the people of both ships gathered on the decks, and the captains brandished their trumpets. She was French, and her distress was that she had lost her longitude! Our good captain, very angry at the loss of time from such a cause, said they ought to have lost their heads with it, shouted out the longitude, and turned into our course again. The ladies went back to finish their toilet in an ordinary mood of sensibility, and the French went on their way, we may conclude, rejoicing.

A distant sail was one day decided to be a merchant ship from the south of France, to everybody's apparent satisfaction but mine. I had a strong persuasion that she was not French, but felt how presumptuous it would be to say so. I watched her, however; and, at the end of three hours, directed the captain's attention again to her. He snatched his glass, and the next moment electrified us all by the vehemence of his directions to the helmsman and others of the crew. It was a rival packet-ship, the Montreal, which had left Portsmouth four days before we sailed. We were in for a race, which lasted three days, after which we lost sight of our rival, till she reached New-York after us. Our captain left the dinner-table three times this first day of the race, and was excessively anxious throughout. It was very exciting to us all. We concluded, after fair trial, that she beat in a light wind and we in a strong one. Some weeks after our landing I fell in with two passengers from the Montreal, who described the counterpart of the scene we had beheld as having taken place on board their ship. There had been the same start of surprise on the part of their captain, who had also left the dinner-table three times; the same excitement among the passengers; and the same conclusion as to the respective sailing merits of the two vessels.

From four to six we were dining. Some of us felt it rather annoying to be so long at table; but it is a custom established on board these packets, for the sake, I believe, of those who happen to find the day too long. Such persons need compassion, and their happier companions can afford to sacrifice something to their ease; so no one objects openly to devoting two of the best hours of the day to dinner and dessert. The rush up to the deck, however, when [Pg 22] they are over, shows what the taste of the majority is. One afternoon the ladies were called down again, and found in their cabin a surprise at least as agreeable as my flowers. A dessert of pines and grapes had been sent in by a gentleman who found that a friend had put a basket of choice fruits on board for his use, but who preferred favouring the ladies with them. He was sent for to preside at the table he had thus spread, and was not a little rallied by his brother passengers on his privileges. These things seem trifles on paper, but they yield no trifling amusement on a voyage. Our afternoons were delightful; for the greater number of the forty-two days that we were at sea, the sun set visibly, with more or less lustre, and all eyes were watching his decline. There was an unusual quietness on board just about sunset. All the cabin passengers were collected on one side, except any two or three who might be in the rigging. The steerage passengers were to be seen looking out at the same sight, and probably engaged as we were in pointing out some particular bar of reddened cloud, or snowy mountain of vapours, or the crimson or golden light spattered on the swelling sides of the billows as they heaved sunward. Then came the last moment of expectation, even to the rising on tiptoe, as if that would enable us to see a spark more of the sun; and then the revival of talk, and the bustle of pairing off to walk. This was the hour for walking the deck; and, till near teatime, almost the whole company might be seen parading like a school. I never grew very fond of walking on a heaving floor, on which you have to turn at the end of every thirty paces or so; but it is a duty to walk on board ship, and it is best to do it at this hour, and in full and cheerful company.

After tea the cabin was busy with whist and chess parties, readers, and laughers and talkers. On damp and moonless evenings I joined a whist party; but my delight was the deck at this time, when I had it all to myself, or when I could at least sit alone in the stern. I know no greater luxury than sitting alone in the stern on fine nights, when there is no one within hearing but the helmsman, and sights of beauty meet the eye wherever it turns. Behind, the light from the binnacle alone gleams upon the deck; dim, shifting lights and shadows mark out the full sails against the sky, and stars look down between. The young moon drops silently into the sea afar. In our wake is a long train of pale fire, perpetually renewed as we hiss through the dark waves. [Pg 23] On such a quiet night, how startling is a voice from the deck, or a shout of laughter from the cabin! More than once, when I heard the voices of children and the barking of a dog from the steerage, I wholly forgot for the moment that I was at sea, and, looking up, was struck breathless at the sight of the dim, gray, limitless expanse. Never, however, did I see the march of the night so beautiful over hill, dale, wood, or plain, as over the boundless sea, roofed with its complete arch. The inexpressible silence, the undimmed lustre, the steady, visible motion of the sky, make the night what it can nowhere be on land, unless in the midst of the Great Desert or on a high mountain-top. It is not the clear still nights alone that are beautiful. Nothing can be more chilling to the imagination than the idea of fog, yet I have seen exquisite sights in a night fog; not in a pervading, durable mist, but in such a fog as is common at sea, thick and driving, with spaces through which the moon may shine down, making clusters of silvery islands on every side. This was an entirely new appearance to me, and the white archipelago was a spectacle of great beauty. Then, again, the action of the ship in a strong night-breeze is fine, cutting her steady way through the seething water, and dashing them from her sides so uniformly and strongly, that for half a mile on either hand the sea is as a white marble floor gemmed with stars; just like a child's idea of "the pavement of the heavenly courts." Such are the hours when all that one has ever known or thought that is beautiful comes back softly and mysteriously; snatches of old songs, all one's first loves in poetry and in the phantasmagoria of nature. No sleep is sweeter than that into which one sinks in such a mood, when one's spirit drops anchor amid the turbulence of the outward world, and the very power of the elements seems to shed stillness into the soul.

There must be many a set-off against such hours, however, or the whole world would be rushing to sea. There would be parties to the Azores as there now are to Rome, and people would be doubling the Capes as they now cross the Simplon. There are disagreeable hours and days at sea; whole days, when the ship rolls so as to stop employment in the cabin, and the rain pours down so as to prevent any weary passenger from putting out his head upon deck; when the captain is to be seen outside in his seacoat, with the water streaming from nose, chin, hat, and every projection of his costume; when every one's limbs are aching with [Pg 24] keeping himself from tumbling over his neighbour; when the tea and coffee are cold, and all that is liquid is spilled, and everything solid thrown out of its place. The best thing to be done on such days is to sit in the roundhouse, each one well wedged in between two, the balustrade in front, and the wall behind; all as loquacious as possible, talking all manner of sense or nonsense that may occur; those who can joke, joking; those who can sing, singing; those who know any new games, teaching them. This is better than the only other thing that can be done, lying in one's heaving berth; better, not only because it is more sociable, but because there is a fairer chance of appetite and sleep after the exercise of laughing (be the laughter about anything or nothing) than after a day of uncomfortable listlessness.

A calm is a much less disagreeable affair, though it is not common to say so. A dead calm affords a fine opportunity to the gentlemen for writing and reading, and to the ladies for the repairs of the wardrobe. Sewing, which I think a pleasant employment everywhere else, is trying to the head at sea; and many omissions and commissions may be observed in the matter of costume, which the parties would be ashamed of on land. The difference after a calm is remarkable: the cap-borders are spruce; the bonnets wear a new air; the gloves are whole; the married gentlemen appear with complete sets of buttons and rectified stocks. The worst quality of a calm is that it tries tempers a little too far. If there be an infirmity of temper, it is sure to come out then. At such a time there is much playing of shuffleboard upon deck, and the matches do not always end harmoniously. "You touched mine with your foot." "I did not, I declare." "Now, don't say so," &c., &c. "You are eight." "No, we are ten." "I can show you you are only eight." "Well, if you can't count any better than that," and so on. After three days of calm there may be heard a subdued tone of scolding from the whist party at the top of the table, and a stray oath from some checkmated person lower down; and while the ladies are brushing their hair in their cabin, certain items of information are apt to be given of how Mr. A. looked when the lady's partner turned up trumps, and how shockingly Mr. B. pushed past Mr. C. in going up the cabin to dinner. The first breath of favourable wind, however, usually blows all these offences away, and tempers turn into their right course with the ship.

I had heard so much at home of the annoyances on board [Pg 25] ship, that I made a list of them at the time for the consolation of my friends at home, who were, I suspected, bestowing more compassion upon me than I had any title to. I find them noted down as follows:—

Next to the sickness, an annoyance scarcely to be exaggerated while it lasts, there is, first, the damp clammy feel of everything you touch. Remedy, to wear gloves constantly, and clothes which are too bad to be spoiled. In this latter device nearly the whole company were so accomplished that it was hard to say who excelled.

Next, want of room. The remedy for this is a tight, orderly putting away of everything; for which there is plenty of time.

Thirdly, the candles flare, and look untidy from running down twice as fast as they burn. Remedy, to go out of the way of them; to the stern, for instance, where there are far better lights to be seen.

Fourthly, the seats and beds are all as hard as boards: a grievance where one cannot always walk when one's limbs want resting with exercise. Remedy, patience. Perhaps air-cushions may be better still.

Fifthly, warning is given to be careful in the use of water. Remedy, to bathe in seawater, and drink cider at dinner.

Sixthly, the cider is apt to get low. Remedy, take to soda-water, ale, hock, or claret.

Seventhly, the scraping of the deck sets one's teeth on edge. For this I know of no remedy but patience; for the deck must be scraped.

Eighthly, the rattling, stamping, and clattering overhead when the sails are shifted in the night. Remedy, to go to sleep again.

Ninthly, sour bread. Remedy, to eat biscuit instead.

Tenthly, getting sunburnt. Remedy, not to look in the glass.

These are all that I can allow from my own experience. Some people talk of danger, but I do not believe there is more than in travelling on land. Some have called a ship a prison so often, that the saying seems to have become current. But, in my idea, the evils of a prison are the being coerced by another person's will; the being disgraced; the being excluded from the face of nature; and the being debarred from society, employment, and exercise. None of these objections apply to a ship as a residence. As for the [Pg 26] one point of resemblance, the being unable to walk a mile or more out and back again, of how many persons is this the voluntary choice, who were never either in a prison or a ship? I would never take the responsibility of recommending any elderly, or nervous, or untravelled persons to put themselves into a place which will not keep still, nor anything in it, for a month or six weeks, and from which they cannot get out; but I cannot think the confinement, by itself, anything to be much complained of.

A bad captain must be the worst of annoyances, to judge by contrast from the comfort we enjoyed under the government of an exceedingly good one. We had all great faith in Captain Holdrege as an excellent sailor; and we enjoyed daily and hourly proofs of his kindness of heart, and desire to make everybody about him happy. It was amazing with what patience he bore the teazings of some who were perpetually wanting to know things that he could not possibly tell them; when we should be at New-York, and so forth. The gentleman who unconsciously supplied the most merriment to the party waylaid the captain one busy morning; one of the first when there had been anything for the captain to do, and he was in such a bustle that nobody else dreamed of speaking to him.

"Captain," said the gentleman, "I want to speak to you."

"Another time, sir, if you please. I am in a hurry now."

"But, captain, I want to speak to you very much."

"Speak, then, sir, and be quick, if you please."

"Captain, I am very glad you have a cow on board, because of the milk."

"Hum," said the captain, and went on with his business.

One Sunday morning, when we were on "the Banks," this gentleman came to me with a doleful face, to tell me that he thought we should have been at New-York to-day. I found that he had actually expected this up to the night before, because he had been told, previous to sailing, that we should probably spend our fourth Sunday at New-York. It was proposed to tell him that we should probably be in the Pacific by the next morning, to see whether he would believe it; but I believe the experiment was not ventured upon. Some of the passengers, talking one day at dinner of percussion caps, asked him whether they were used in a [Pg 27] regiment of which he had frequently spoken. He replied that he did not know, as he had not inquired much into the costume of the army.

By the 23d of August we were only about one hundred and twenty miles N.W. of the Azores. On the 1st of September, when our thoughts wandered homeward to the sportsmen all abroad in the stubble, to the readers of monthly periodicals in which we were interested, and to our families, who were doubtless fancying us on the point of landing, we were not far from where we were a week ago. We had had beautiful weather, but every variety of westerly wind with it. The passengers began to flag. The novels were all read; the ladies' work was all done; and shuffleboard and chess will not do for ever. The captain began to send up an occasional whet of cherry bounce to the ladies before dinner. For my own part, I was finishing my writing, and finding my first leisure for books; and I found myself forgetting New-York, and losing sight of all I expected to see beyond it, in the pleasures of the sea. We were now scarcely half way. The turning point of the voyage came the next day in the shape of a storm.

Before I went on board I had said that I should like to behold a storm as fierce as we could escape from without fatal damage. Some passenger repeated this wish of mine (very common in persons going to sea for the first time) in the hearing of the mate, who told the sailors; who, accordingly, were overheard saying one afternoon that I had better come on deck, and see what I should see. My clerical friend took the hint, and called me hastily, to observe the crew make ready for a squall. I ran up, and perceived the black line advancing over the water from the horizon, the remarkable indication of a coming squall. The sailors were running up the shrouds to get the sails in. The second mate was aloft, in the post of danger, his long hair streaming in the wind, while with us below all was calm. The sails were got in just in time. The captain did not come down to dinner. Orders were given to "splice the main-brace;" for the crew had been handling the ropes since four in the morning. I saw them come for their grog, and then wait for what might happen next. By sunset the sky was tremendous; the sea rising, the wind moaning and whistling strangely. When I staggered to the stern, to bid the sea good-night, according to custom, the waters were splendidly luminous. Floods [Pg 28] of blue fire were dashed abroad from our bows, and beyond, the whole expanse sparkled as with diamonds.

All night the noises would have banished sleep if we could have lain quiet. There was a roar of wind; the waves dashed against the sides of the ship as if they were bursting in; water poured into our cabin, though the skylight was fastened down. A heavy fall was now and then heard from the other cabin; some passenger heaved out of his berth. After five hours I could hold in no longer, and a tremendous lurch tossed me out upon the floor, where I alighted upon my thimble and scissors, the ottoman I was working (and which, I had felt confident, was far enough off), my clothes, books, and the empty water-bottle. All these things were lying in a wet heap. I traversed the ladies' cabin to explore, holding by whatever was fastened to the floor. The only dry place in which I could lie down was under the table, and standing was out of the question; so I brought a blanket and pillow, laid down with a firm hold of the leg of the table, and got an hour's welcome sleep, by which time the storm was enough to have wakened the dead. The state of our cabin was intolerable; the crashing of glass, the complaining voices of the sick ladies, the creaking and straining of the ship; and, above all, the want of air, while the winds were roaring over head. I saw no necessity for bearing all this; so, sick as I was, I put my clothes on, swathed myself in one cloak, and carried up another, wherewith to lash myself to something on deck.

There, all was so glorious that I immediately stumbled down again to implore the other ladies to come up and be refreshed; but no one would listen to me. They were too ill. I got the captain's leave to fasten myself to the post of the binnacle, promising to give no trouble, and there I saw the whole of the never-to-be-forgotten scene.

We were lying in the trough of the sea, and the rolling was tremendous. The captain wished to wear round, and put out a sail, which, though quite new, was instantly split to ribands, so that we had to make ourselves contented where we were. The scene was perfectly unlike what I had imagined. The sea was no more like water than it was like land or sky. When I had heard of the ocean running mountains high, I thought it a mere hyperbolical expression. But here the scene was of huge wandering mountains—wandering as if to find a resting-place—with dreary leaden [Pg 29] vales between. The sky seemed narrowed to a mere slip overhead, and a long-drawn extent of leaden waters seemed to measure a thousand miles; and these were crested by most exquisite shades of blue and green where the foam was about to break. The heavens seemed rocking their masses of torn clouds, keeping time with the billows to the solemn music of the winds; the most swelling and mournful music I ever listened to. The delight of the hour I shall not forget; it was the only new scene I had ever beheld that I had totally and unsuspectingly failed to imagine.

It was impossible to remain longer than noon, unless we meant to be drowned. When two or three gentlemen had been almost washed off, and the ship had been once nearly half her length under water, it was time to go below, sad as the necessity was. The gale gradually abated. In the afternoon the ladies obtained leave to have their skylight opened, their cabin mopped, and the carpets taken up and carried away to dry.

The sailors got the mate to inquire how I liked the storm. If I was not satisfied now, I never should be. I was satisfied, and most thankful. The only thing that surprised me much was, that there was so little terrific about it. I was not aware till the next day, when the captain was found to have set it down a hurricane in the logbook, how serious a storm it was. The vessel is so obviously buoyant, that it appears impossible to overwhelm her; and we were a thousand miles from any rocks. In the excitement of such an hour, one feels that one would as soon go down in those magnificent waters as die any other death; but there was nothing present which impressed me with the idea of danger but the terrors of two of the passengers. Of the poor ladies I can give no account; but one gentleman pulled his travelling-cap forward over his eyes, clasped his hands on his knees, and sat visibly shaking in a corner of the roundhouse, looking shrunk to half his size. The fears of another I regarded with more respect, because he tried hard to hide them. He followed me throughout, talking in an artist-like style about the tints, and the hues, and many other things that were to be noted, but not talked about at the moment. If he succeeded in covering up his fears from himself, one may well excuse the bad taste of the means employed. My clerical friend did better. He was on the watch for others and for himself. In high exhilaration, he [Pg 30] helped everybody, saw everything, and will, to the end of his days, I will answer for it, forget nothing of that glorious time.

After the storm we met with few delays. A calm of nine hours enabled the crew to repair all damage sustained; the rest of the time we were making progress, though it was sometimes very slow. We went south of "the Banks," and so missed something besides the fogs; our hoped-for treat of fresh cod, and the spectacle of the fishermen's boats. Hereabout the dog in the steerage smelt land, and stood snuffing, with his paws on the rail. A wild pigeon flew on board, too, supposed to be from Newfoundland; and the air was sensibly colder, as it becomes on approaching the shore. The lottery with which the gentlemen had amused themselves became now very interesting. It consisted of ten tickets, at a sovereign each, answering to the ten days during which it had been thought probable that we should land. The two earliest were now sold for a shilling and eighteenpence; and the Captain gave five pounds for the last, which bore date the 11th. This seemed to indicate the captain's expectation that our progress would still be slow; but we were scarcely more likely to land on the 11th than on the 4th or 5th.

A passenger beckoned the captain out of the cabin one evening about this time, and asked him to look down into the hold, where a tallow candle, with a long wick, was seen leaning over the side of a candlestick, which was standing on a heap of loose cotton! Such are the perils that careless sailors will expose themselves and others to. The captain took care to impress his crew with his opinion on the matter.

I believe a regular piece of amusement on board these packet-ships is emptying the letter-bags out on the deck. A fine morning is chosen for this; and to a person who sits on the rail it affords a pretty picture. The ladies draw their chairs round the immense heap of letters; the gentlemen lie at length, and scarcely an epistle escapes comment. A shout of mirth bursts forth now and then at some singular name or mode of address; commonly at some Irish epistle, addressed to an emigrant in some out-of-the-way place, which there is scarcely room to insert, though the direction runs from corner to corner over the whole square.

About this time a pedler, who was among the steerage [Pg 31] passengers, appeared on deck with his wares. His pretence was, that some of his silk handkerchiefs and gloves had got slightly spotted at sea, and that he was not so anxious as before to carry them to New-York. However this might be, the merchant showed himself a shrewd man. He saw that the pleasure of shopping, after being for some weeks out of sight of land, would open to him the purse of many a passenger. It was most amusing to see the eagerness of both gentlemen and ladies, and their pleasure in purchases which they would have disdained on shore. For the next two or three days the company was spruce in damaged handkerchiefs, and ribands, and mildewed gloves, rending in all directions; while the pedler escaped duties, and stepped ashore with a heavy purse and light pack.

On the 15th we were still between five and six hundred miles from our port. A sheep had jumped overboard, and so cheated us of some of our mutton. The vegetables were getting very dry. It was found best not to look into the dishes of dried fruits which formed our dessert. All was done that care and cookery could do; but who could have anticipated such a length of voyage? Open declarations of ennui began to be made by not a few; and I was almost afraid to own, in answer to questions, that I was not tired of the sea; but I could not honestly say that I was. The gentlemen began to spar at table about the comparative merits of England and America; the Prussian could not find English in which to bemoan himself sufficiently, and shrugged. The cider, ale, soda-water, and claret were all gone, and we were taking to porter, which must needs soon come to an end. Some show of preparation to land was this day made, and a lively bustle ensued on the first hint from the captain. He went round to take down the names of the passengers at length, in order to their being reported on arrival. The ages had to be affixed to the names; and as the captain could not ask the ladies for their ages, he committed it to the gentlemen to decide upon each. The ladies, who were quilling, trimming, and sorting their things in their own cabin, could not conceive the meaning of the shouts of laughter which came from the top of the gentlemen's table, till the young Carolinian came and told what the fun was. The standing joke is to make the young ladies many years too old, and the old ladies ridiculously young; and this was done now, the ladies considering the affair no business of theirs. [Pg 32] One lady, who had frequently crossed, told me that ten years before she had been set down as forty; she stood now as twenty-four.

On the 17th we were surrounded with weed, and Mother Carey's chickens began to disappear. Soundings were this day taken, and I was called to see and touch the first American soil, the thimbleful deposited on the lead. The next day, Thursday, the wind continuing fair, we were within one hundred miles of our port, and all was liveliness and bustle.

The American divine was requested by all the passengers to propose, after dinner, the health of Captain and Mrs. Holdrege, using the opportunity to express our hearty thanks to the captain for the whole of his conduct towards us. The captain rose to speak in acknowledgment of the toast, but was so taken by surprise with his lady's name being hailed with our good wishes, that after two words of thanks he shot out of the cabin, every one understanding the cause of his brevity. In the evening we were told that we should see land on rising in the morning; and some of us requested to be called at five.

At five, on the morning of the 19th, I started up, and at the foot of the companion-way was stopped by the Scotch lady, who told me I might go back again, as we were becalmed, and I might see the shore just as well two hours hence. This was being a little too cool about such a matter. I saw the dim shore; a long line of the New-Jersey coast, with distinguishable trees and white houses. By breakfast-time our eyes were painfully strained, as only one could have the glass at a time, and I did not like to snatch it from those who were enjoying the pleasure of recognising familiar objects; tracing the first features of home. I was taken by surprise by my own emotions. All that I had heard of the Pilgrim Fathers, of the old colonial days, of the great men of the Revolution, and of the busy, prosperous succeeding days, stirred up my mind while I looked upon the sunny reach of land on the horizon. All the morning I sat dreaming, interrupted now and then by the smiling but tearful young mother, who expected tidings of her child before the day was over; or by others, who had less cause for being deeply moved, who came to describe to me the pleasures of Long Branch (the bathing-place in view), or to speculate on how long this tedious calm would last. All the morning I [Pg 33] sat on the rail, or played sister Anne to the ladies below, when once the wind had freshened, and we glided slowly along towards Sandy Hook. "Now I see a large white house." "Now I see Neversink. Come up and see Neversink!" "Now I see a flock of sheep on the side of a hill; and now a fisherman standing beside his boat," and so forth.

What were the ladies below for? They were dressing for the shore. The gentlemen, too, vanished from the deck, one by one, and reappeared in glossy hats, coats with the creases of the portmanteau upon them, and the first really black shoes and boots we had seen for weeks. The quizzing which was properly due to the discarded sea-garments was now bestowed on this spruce costume; and every gentleman had to encounter a laugh as he issued from the companion-way. We agreed to snatch our meals as we pleased this day. No one was to remain at table longer than he liked. Everything looked joyous. The passengers were in the most amiable mood: we were in sight of a score of ships crossing the bar at Sandy Hook; the last company of porpoises was sporting alongside, and shoals of glittering white fish rippled the water. The captain was fidgety, however. Those vessels crossing the bar might be rival packet-ships, and no pilot was yet to be seen. "Here he is!" cried a dozen voices at once; and an elegant little affair of a boat was seen approaching. A curious-looking old gentleman swung himself up, and seemed likely to be torn in pieces by the ravenous inquirers for news. He thrust an armful of newspapers among us, and beckoned the captain to the stern, where the two remained in a grave consultation for a few minutes, when the captain called one of the lady passengers aside to ask her a question. What the pilot wanted to know was, whether George Thomson, the abolition missionary, was on board. He was to have been, but was not. The pilot declared that this was well, as he could not have been landed without the certainty of being destroyed within a week, the abolition riots in New-York having taken place just before. What the captain wanted to learn of the lady passenger was, what my opinions on slavery were, in order to know whether he might safely land me. She told him that I was an abolitionist in principle; but that she believed I went to America to learn and not to teach. So the good captain nodded, and said nothing to me on the subject. [Pg 34]

Next arrived a boat from the newspaper office of the Courier and Enquirer, whose agent would not hear of dinner or any other delay, but shouldered his bag of news, got the list of our names, and was off. The American passengers, all by this time good friends of mine, came to show me, with much mirth, paragraphs in the newspapers the pilot had brought, exhorting their readers not to chew tobacco or praise themselves in my presence, under penalty of being reported of in London for these national foibles.

After dinner we were off Sandy Hook, and the hills of New-Jersey, Long Island, and Staten Island were growing purple in the cloudy sunset, when a small shabby steamboat was seen emerging from the Narrows. Oh, the speculations and breathless suspense as to whether she was coming to us! In a few minutes there remained no further doubt. Then there was a rush to the side, and one of the young ladies saw through her tears her two brothers, and other passengers other relations showing themselves on the bows of the steamer. They presently boarded us, we strangers having all retired to the other side. I never liked introductions better than those which followed. With broad smiles my passenger friends came up, saying, "I have the great pleasure of introducing to you my brother." "I am sure you will be glad to hear that my family are all well." These are occasions when sympathy is very sweet, and when it is always ready.

Then was heard the captain's loudest voice, crying, "All who wish to go up to the city to-night get ready directly." We had all previously agreed how much better it was that we should spend this night on board, as the harbour would be seen to much more advantage by the morning light; but we forgot all this in a moment, and nobody dreamed of being left behind. Our little bundles were made up in a trice, and we left our ship. The crew and steerage passengers assembled on deck, and gave us three parting cheers, which might be heard all over the harbour. Our gentlemen returned them, and our hearts yearned towards our beautiful ship, as she sat dark upon the evening waters, with all her sails majestically spread. "Does she not look well now?" "Does she not show herself beautifully now?" exclaimed one and another, in the hearing of the gratified captain.

The light was failing as we entered the Narrows. The captain and several other friends pointed out to me every [Pg 35] headland, bay, and fortification as we passed. We were detained a long while at the quarantine ground. The doctor was three miles off, and nearly an hour elapsed before the great news reached him that we were all quite well, and we were therefore allowed to proceed. It now rained heavily, and we were obliged to crowd into the small cabin of the poorest steamer in the bay. There, by the light of one dim and dirty lamp, was the question first asked me, in joke, which has since been repeated in so many moods, "How do you like America?" The weather cleared up in another half hour. We stood in the dark on the wet deck, watching the yellow lights and shadowy buildings of the shore we were rapidly nearing, till we felt the expected shock, and jumped upon the wharf amid the warm welcomes of many friends, who, in their own joy at alighting on their native shore, did not forget to make it at once a home to us strangers.

This was at eight in the evening of the 19th of September, 1834, after a long but agreeable voyage of forty-two days.


"Navigia, atque agri culturas, mœnia, leges
Arma, vias, vesteis, et cætera de genere horum
Præmia, delicias quoque vitæ funditus omneis,
Carmina, picturas, ac dædala signa, politus
Usus, et impigræ simul experientia mentis,
Paullatim docuit pedetentim progredienteis."
Lucretius, lib. v.

The moment of first landing in a foreign city is commonly spoken of as a perfect realization of forlornness. My entrance upon American life was anything but this. The spirits of my companions and myself were in a holyday dance while we were receiving our first impressions; and New-York always afterward bore an air of gayety to me from the association of the early pleasures of foreign travel.

Apartments had been secured for us at a boarding-house in Broadway, and a hackney-coach was in waiting at the wharf. The moonlight was flickering through the trees of the Battery, the insects were buzzing all about us, the catydids [Pg 36] were grinding, and all the sounds, except human voices, were quite unlike all we had heard for six weeks. One of my companions took the sound of the catydid for a noise in her head for many hours after coming into their neighbourhood. As we rattled over the stones, I was surprised to find that the street we were in was Broadway; the lower and narrower end, however; but nothing that I saw, after all I had heard, and the panorama of New-York that I had visited in London, disappointed me so much as Broadway. Its length is remarkable, but neither its width nor the style of its houses. The trees with which it is lined gave it, this first evening, a foreign air.

Our hostess at the boarding-house shook hands with us, and ordered tea. While we were waiting for it, and within ten minutes after I had crossed the first American threshold, three gentlemen introduced themselves to me, one of whom was the melancholy politician whom I have mentioned elsewhere [1] as having forewarned me of the total overthrow of the United States' institutions which would certainly take place while I was in the country. This gentleman afterward became a dear and intimate friend; and we found that politics are, perhaps, the only subject on which we entertain irreconcilable differences of opinion. We often amused ourselves with recurring to this our first meeting. This gentleman afforded me an early specimen of the humour which I think one of the chief characteristics of the Americans. In the few minutes during which we were waiting for tea, he dropped some drolleries so new to me, and so intense, that I was perplexed what to do with my laughter.

While we were at tea a few gentlemen dropped in, and read the newspapers at the long table at which we were seated. One fixed my attention at once. He had the carriage of a soldier, with an uncommonly fine countenance, bearing a general resemblance to the great men of the Revolution with whose portraits the English are most familiar. I think it is not a mere fancy that there is an air common to Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. This gentleman reminded me of them all; and the quietness with which he made his remarks, and his evident high breeding, piqued the curiosity of a stranger. He was General Mason, the father of the young governor of Michigan; and the most eminent citizen [Pg 37] of Detroit. From time to time, in my travels, I met various members of his family, whose kindness always made me thankful that accident had placed me in the same house with them at the outset.

In our rooms we found beds with four posts, looking as if meant to hang gowns and bonnets upon; for there was no tester. The washstand was without tumbler, glass, soap, or brush-tray. The candlestick had no snuffers. There was, however, the luxury, sufficient for the occasion, that every article of furniture stood still in its place, and that the apartment itself did not rock up and down. The first few days after a voyage go far towards making one believe that some things have a quality of stability, however one may be metaphysically convinced that the sea affords a far truer hint of the incessant flux and change which are the law of the universe. If I had rejoiced in the emblem at sea, I now enjoyed the deception on land.

At five in the morning I threw up my sash to see what I could see. I cannot conceive what travellers mean by saying that there is little that is foreign in the aspect of New-York. I beheld nothing at this moment that I could have seen at home, except the sky and the grass of the courtyard. The houses were all neatly and brightly painted, had green outside blinds to every window, and an apparatus for drying linen on the roof. A young lady in black silk, with her hair neatly dressed, was mopping the steps of one house, and a similar young lady was dusting the parlour of another. A large locust-tree grew in the middle of the courtyard of the house I was in, and under it was a truly American woodpile. Two negroes were at the pump, and a third was carrying muskmelons.

When the breakfast-bell rang the long and cross tables in the eating-room were filled in five minutes. The cross table, at which our hostess presided, was occupied by General Mason's family, a party of Spaniards, and ourselves. The long one was filled up with families returning southward from the springs; married persons without children, who preferred boarding to housekeeping; and single gentlemen, chiefly merchants. I found this mode of living rather formidable the first day; and not all the good manners that I saw at public tables ever reconciled me to it.

From a trunk belonging to a lady of our party having been [Pg 38] put on board a wrong ship, we had some immediate shopping to do, and to find a mantuamaker. We suspected we should soon be detained at home by callers, and therefore determined to transact our business at once, though our luggage had not arrived from the custom-house, and we were not "dressed for Broadway," as the phrase is.

In the streets I was in danger of being run down by the fire-engines, so busy were my eyes with the novelties about me. These fire-engines run along the side-pavement, stopping for nobody; and I scarcely ever walked out in New-York without seeing one or more out on business, or for an airing. The novelties which amused me were the spruce appearance of all the people; the pervading neatness and brightness, and the business-like air of the children. The carmen were all well dressed, and even two poor boys who were selling matches had clean shirt-collars and whole coats, though they were barefooted. The stocks of goods seemed large and handsome, and we were less struck with the indifference of manner commonly ascribed to American storekeepers than frequently afterward. The most unpleasant circumstance was the appearance and manner of the ladies whom we saw in the streets and stores. It was now the end of a very hot summer, and every lady we met looked as if she were emerging from the yellow fever; and the languid and unsteady step betokened the reverse of health.

The heat was somewhat oppressive. We were in the warm dresses we had put on while yet at sea, as our trunks had not made their appearance. Trains of callers came in the afternoon and evening; members of Congress, candidates for state offices, fellow-passengers and their friends, and other friends of our friends; and still we were not "dressed for Broadway." In the evening the luggage of my companions was brought up, but not mine. Special orders had been issued from the custom-house that my baggage should pass without examination; and it was therefore at this moment on board ship. To-night it was too late; next morning it was Sunday, and everything in the hold was under lock and key, and unattainable till Monday. There seemed no hope of my getting out all day, and I was really vexed. I wanted to see the churches, and hear the preaching, and be doing what others were doing; but the heat was plainly too great to be encountered in any gown but a muslin one. A lady boarding in the house happened to hear of the case, [Pg 39] and sent her servant to say that she believed her dresses would fit me, and that she should be happy to supply me with a gown and bonnet till my trunks should arrive. I accepted her kind offer without any scruple, feeling that a service like this was just what I should wish to render to any lady under the same circumstances; so I went to church equipped in a morning-gown and second-best bonnet of this neighbourly lady's.

The church that we went to was the Unitarian church in Chamber-street. Its regular pastor was absent, and a professional brother from Philadelphia preached. We were most deeply impressed by the devotional part of his service, delivered in a voice which I have certainly never heard equalled for music and volume. His discourse moved us no less. We looked at one another in much delight. I warned my companion not to be too certain that this preaching was all we then felt it to be; we had been six Sundays at sea, and some of the impression might be owing to this being the renewal of the privilege of social worship in a church. I heard much of the same preaching afterward, however; and I am now of the same opinion that I was this first day; that it is the most true, simple, and solemn that I ever listened to. The moment the service was over the minister came down from the pulpit, addressed me as an old friend, and requested me to accept the hospitality of his house when I should visit Philadelphia. Under the emotions of the hour it was impossible to help giving a glad assent; and in his house I afterward enjoyed many weeks of an intercourse as intimate as can ever exist between members of the same family. We kept up the most rapid and copious correspondence the whole time I was in America, and he and his wife were my American brother and sister, the depositaries of all those "impressions" on the mind of a stranger about which American society is so anxious.

General Mason introduced me to Governor Cass, then secretary-at-war, now ambassador at Paris. Governor Cass is a shrewd, hard-looking man, the very concentration of American caution. He is an accomplished and an honest man; but his dread of committing himself renders both his solid and ornamental good qualities of less value to society than they should be. The state of Michigan, which is under great obligations to him, is proud of her citizen; and it is agreed, I believe, on all hands, that his appointment is [Pg 40] more satisfactory and honourable to his country than that of many who have been sent as ministers to foreign courts.

I feel some doubt about giving any account of the public men of the United States; I do not mean scruples of conscience; for when a man comes forward in political or other kind of public life, he makes a present of himself to society at large, and his person, mind, and manners become a legitimate subject of observation and remark. My doubts arise from the want of interest in the English about the great men of America; a want of interest which arises from no fault in either party, I believe, but from the baseness of the newspapers, whose revilings of all persons in turn who fill a public station are so disgusting as to discourage curiosity, and set all friendly interest at defiance. The names of the English political leaders of the day are almost as familiar in the mouths of Americans as of natives, while people in London are asking who Mr. Clay is, and what part of the Union Mr. Calhoun comes from. The deeds of Mr. Clay and the aspirations of Mr. Calhoun would be at least as interesting in London as the proceedings of French and German statesmen, if they could be fairly placed under observation; but every man of feeling and taste recoils from wading through such a slough of rancour, folly, and falsehood as the American newspapers present as the only medium through which the object is to be attained.

Mr. Gallatin's name is, however, everywhere known and welcome. Mr. Gallatin did me the honour of calling on me in New-York, having heard that I desired to learn the precise grounds of the quarrel which was agitating the country about the bank. I was delighted to listen to his full and luminous report of the question, and of many other matters, on which he spoke with a freedom and courtesy which would go far towards making the current of human affairs run smooth, if they were but general. He told me something of the early part of his career, which began in 1787; described his three visits to England, and sketched the character of the reigns of our last two kings, of Louis Philippe, and of President Jackson. He entered upon the philosophy of the presidentship; exhibited the spirit of the three great divisions of the United States, the north, south, and west; explained the principles on which the letting of land proceeds; described the Germans and other agricultural population of the country, and showed the process by which the aristocratic [Pg 41] class rises and is replenished in a democratic republic. While he was talking I felt as if he was furnishing me with new powers of observation; and when he was gone I hastened to secure what he had told me, lest its novelty and abundance should deceive my memory. I believe Mr. Gallatin was at this time seventy-two; but he did not appear so old. He is tall, and looks dignified and courteous. He is a native of Switzerland, and speaks with a very slight foreign accent, but with a flow and liveliness which are delightful.

I was assured at the outset that the late abolition riots in New-York were the work of the Irish emigrants, who feared the increase of a free black population as likely to interfere with their monopoly of certain kinds of labour. This I afterward found to be untrue. Some Irish may have joined in "the row," but the mischief originated with natives. It is remarkable that I heard no more of abolition for many weeks; I think not till I was about leaving Philadelphia.

We obtained some "impressions" of the environs of New-York to add to those we had of the city itself, by going to spend an evening at Mr. Kings at High Wood, two miles beyond Hoboken, on the New-Jersey side of the river. The frame cottages, with their thatched verandahs, struck me as very pretty. I could not say much for the beauty of the corn, whose plants, long since stripped of their cobs, were standing yellow and dry, and fast hastening to decay. There were ridges of gray rock, interspersed with woods, which still flourished in their summer greenness. Above all was a sunset, which, if seen in England, would persuade the nation that the end of the world was come. The whole arch of the sky appeared lined with conflagration. It seemed strange to see the wagon-driver talking with his bullocks and the old Dutch dame spinning in the stoop as quietly as if that scarlet sky had been of its usual summer blue.

I was shown on the way the spot where Hamilton received his death-wound from Colonel Burr. It was once made a qualification for office that the candidate should never have fought a duel. Duelling is an institution not to be reached by such a provision as this. No man under provocation to fight would refrain from fear of disqualifying himself for office hereafter; and the operation of the restriction was accordingly found to be this; that duels were as [Pg 42] frequent as ever, and that desirable candidates were excluded. The provision was got rid of on the plea that promissory oaths are bad in principle. The cure of duelling, as of every other encroachment of passion and selfishness on such higher principles as, being passive, cannot be imbodied in acts, must be the natural result of the improved moral condition of the individual or of society. No one believes that the legal penalties of duelling have had much effect in stopping the practice; and it is an injury to society to choose out of the ample range of penalties disqualification for social duty as one.

The view from Mr. King's garden at High Wood is beautiful. From one opening a reach of twelve miles of the Hudson is commanded, from the Narrows upward. A soft red light was resting on the waters, the last tinge from the late flaming sky. The dark sloops moored below were thus rendered visible, while the twilight shrouded the rocks. Opposite there was a flare in the woods from a glasshouse; and the lights of the city twinkled afar off, reflected in the waters.

One of the first impressions of a foreigner in New-York is of the extreme insolence and vulgarity of certain young Englishmen, who thus make themselves very conspicuous. Well-mannered Englishmen are scarcely distinguishable from the natives, and thus escape observation; while every commercial traveller who sneers at republicanism all day long, and every impertinent boy, leaving home for the first time, with no understanding or sympathy for anything but what he has been accustomed to see at home, obtrudes himself upon the notice, and challenges the congeniality of such countrymen and countrywomen as he can contrive to put himself in the way of. I was annoyed this evening, on my return home, by a very complete specimen of the last-mentioned order of travellers.

Need I say, after thus detailing the little incidents which followed my landing in America, that my first impressions of the country were highly agreeable?

[Pg 43]


"Oh, there is not lost
One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet,
After the flight of untold centuries,
The freshness of her far beginning lies,
And yet shall lie."

I went three times up the Hudson; and, if I lived at New-York, should be tempted to ascend it three times a week during the summer. Yet the greater number of ladies on board the steamboat remained in the close cabin among the crying babies, even while we were passing the finest scenery of the river. They do not share the taste of a gentleman who, when I was there, actually made the steamboat his place of abode during the entire summer season, sleeping on board at Albany and New-York on alternate nights, and gazing at the shores all the day long with apparently undiminishing delight.

The first time we went up the early part of the morning was foggy, and the mist hung about the ridge of the Palisades, the rocky western barrier of the river. There were cottages perched here and there, and trees were sprinkled in the crevices, and a little yellow strand, just wide enough for the fisherman and his boat, now and then intervened between the waters and the perpendicular rock. In the shadowy recesses of the shore wore sloops moored. Seagulls dipped their wings in the gleams of the river, and the solitary fishhawk sailed slowly over the woods. I saw on the eastern bank a wide flight of steps cut in the turf, leading to an opening in the trees, at the end of which stood a white house, apparently in deep retirement. Farther on the river widened into the Tappan Sea, and then the hills rose higher behind the banks, and wandering gleams lighted up a mountain region here and there. The captain admitted us, as strangers (of course without any hint from us), into the wheel-room, which was shady, breezy, roomy, and commanding the entire view. Hence we were shown Mr. Irvings's cottage, the spot where André was captured, and the other [Pg 44] interesting points of the scenery. Then the banks seemed to close, and it was matter for conjecture where the outlet was. The waters were hemmed in by abrupt and dark mountains, but the channel was still broad and smooth enough for all the steamboats in the republic to ride in safety. Ridges of rock plunged into the waters, garnished with trees which seemed to grow without soil; above them were patches of cultivation on the mountain sides, and slopes of cleared land, with white houses upon them. Doves flitted among the nearest trees, and gay rowboats darted from point to point from one island to another.

West Point, beautiful as it is, was always visible too soon. Yet to leave the boat was the only way to remain in sight of the Highlands; and the charms of the place itself are scarcely to be surpassed. The hotel is always full of good company in the season. Mr. Cozens keeps a table for the officers, and is permitted to add as many guests as his house will hold; but, under such circumstances, he takes pains to admit only such as are fit company for his permanent boarders. The views from the hotel are so fine, and there is such a provision of comfort and entertainment, that there would be no hardship in sitting within doors for a week; but we made the best use we could of our opportunities, and saw and achieved everything pertaining to the place, except mounting the Crow's Nest; an expedition which the heat of the weather prevented our undertaking.

In some solitary spots of this settlement the stranger cannot help meditating on the vast materials of human happiness which are placed at the disposal of the real administrators of this great country. How great is the apparatus to be yet put to use! Here, where life is swarming all around, how few are the habitations of men! Here are woods climbing above woods to the clouds and stretching to the horizon, in which myriads of creatures are chirping, humming, and sporting; clefts whence the waters gush out; green slopes ready for the plough and the sickle; flat meadows with a few haycocks lying at the foot of mountains as yet untouched. Grasshoppers spring at every step one takes in the rich grass, and many a blue dragon-fly balances itself on the tips of the strongest blades; butterflies, green, black, white, and yellow, dazzle the eye that would follow them; yet how few men are near! A gay group on the steps of the hotel, a company of cadets parading on the [Pg 45] green, the ferryman and his fare, and the owners of this, and that, and the other house perched upon the pinnacles of the hills; these are all as yet visible in a region which will hereafter be filled with speech and busy with thought.

On the steep above the landing-place I was introduced to Mr. Irving, with whom I had a few minutes' conversation before he stepped into the ferryboat which was to take him over to the foundry to dinner. Many other persons with whom I was glad to have the opportunity of becoming acquainted were at the hotel. Mr. and Mrs. Morris were our guides to Fort Putnam after dinner; walkers as active and resolute as ourselves. The beauty from this elevated platform is really oppressive to the sense. One is glad to divert one's attention from its awful radiance by walking in precipitous places, by visiting the cell in which it is said, but doubtfully, that André was confined, or even by meditating on the lot of the solitary cow that has the honour of grazing in the midst of the only ruins that adorn American scenery.

A lady in the hotel offered to meet me on the housetop at five o'clock in the morning to see the sun rise. I looked out at three; there was a solitary light twinkling in the academy, and a faint gleam out of a cloudy sky upon the river. At five the sky was so thickly overspread with clouds that the expedition to the housetop had to be abandoned. The morning afterward cleared, and I went alone down to Kosciusko's Garden. I loved this retreat at an hour when I was likely to have it to myself. It is a nook scooped, as it were, out of the rocky bank of the river, and reached by descending several flights of steps from the platform behind the hotel and academy. Besides the piled rocks and the vegetation with which they are clothed, there is nothing but a clear spring, which wells up in a stone basin inscribed with the hero's name. This was his favourite retreat; and here he sat for many hours in a day with his book and his thoughts. After fancying for some time that I was alone, and playing with the fountain and the leaves of the red beech and the maple, now turning into its autumnal scarlet, I found, on looking up, that one of the cadets was stretched at length on a high projection of rock, and that another was coming down the steps. The latter accosted me, offering to point out to me the objects of interest about the place. We had a long conversation about his academical life. [Pg 46]

The students apply themselves to mathematics during the first and second years; during the third, to mathematics, chymistry, and natural philosophy; and during the fourth, to engineering. There is less literary pursuit than they or their friends would like; but they have not time for everything. Their work is from seven in the morning till four in the afternoon, with the exception of two hours for meals. Then come drill and recreation, and then the evening parade. During six weeks (I think) of the summer they camp out, which some of the youths enjoy, while others like it so much less than living under a roof, that they take this time to be absent on furlough. The friends of others come to see them while the pretty spectacle of a camp is added to the attractions of the place. Every care is used that the proficiency should be maintained at the highest point that it can be made to reach. The classes consist of not less than one hundred and forty, of whom only forty graduate. Some find the work too hard; some dislike the routine; others are postponed; and by this careful weeding out the choicest are kept for the public service. This process may go some way towards accounting for the present unpopularity of the institution, and the consequent danger of its downfall. The number of disappointed youths, whose connexions will naturally bear a grudge against the establishment, must be great. There is a belief abroad that its principle and administration are both anti-republican; and in answer to an irresistible popular demand, a committee of Congress has been engaged in investigating both the philosophy and practice of this national military academy; for some time previous to which there was difficulty in obtaining the annual appropriation for its support. I have not seen the report of this committee, but I was told that the evidence on which it is founded is very unfavourable to the conduct of the establishment in a political point of view. The advantages of such an institution in securing a uniformity of military conduct in case of war, from the young soldiers of all the states having received a common education; in affording one meeting point where sectional prejudice may be dissolved; and in concentrating the attention of the whole union upon maintaining a high degree of proficiency in science, are so great, that it is no wonder that an indignant and honest cry is raised against those who would abolish it on account of its aristocratical tendencies. I rather think it is a case in which both parties are more than [Pg 47] commonly right; that it is an institution which can scarcely be dispensed with, but which requires to be watched with the closest jealousy, that there may be no abuse of patronage, and no such combination as could lead to the foundation of a military aristocracy.

I saw the well-selected library, consisting of several thousand volumes, the spacious lecture-rooms, and students' apartments. I often wonder whether students are at all aware of the wistful longing, the envy, with which those who are precluded from academical life view the arrangements of colleges. No library in a private house conveys any idea of the power of devotion to study which is suggested by the sight of a student's apartment in a college. The sight of the snug solitary room, the bookshelves, the single desk and armchair, the larum, and even the flowerpot or two in the window, and the portrait of some favourite philosophical worthy; these things send a thrill of envy through the heart of the thoughtful politician, or man of business, or woman, who cannot command such facilities for study. I know that the fallacy of attributing too much to external arrangements enters here; that many study to as much advantage under difficulties as any academical member in his retirement; I know, too, that the student shares the human weakness of finding evil in his lot, and supposing that he should be better in some other circumstances; I know this by a revelation once made to me by a college student, for whose facilities I had been intensely thankful, a revelation of his deep and incessant trouble because he was living to himself, selfishly studying, and obliged to wait four or five years before he could bestir himself for his race; yet, in spite of all this knowledge that the common equality of pleasures and pains subsists here, I never see the interior of a college without longing to impress upon its inmates how envied and enviable they are. It is difficult to remember that the stillness of the cell is of no avail without the intentness of the mind, and that there is no efficacious solitude in the deepest retirement if the spirit is roving abroad after schemes of pleasure or ambition, or even of piety and benevolence, which are not the appointed duty of the time. But I have wandered from my new acquaintance in Kosciusko's Garden.

I was surprised to learn the extraordinary high average of health the place can boast of. The young men enter at the [Pg 48] age of from fourteen to twenty, stay three or four years, and number about three hundred at a time. The mortality in the seventeen years preceding my visit was only five. For eight years before the winter of 1834 there had been no death. Within a few months after, the superintendent's wife, a servant, and a cadet died; and this was, of course, considered an extraordinary mortality. I rather wondered at this account, for the young men look anything but robust, and the use of tobacco among them is very free indeed. It is prohibited, but not the less indulged in on that account, nor from the absence of evil example in their superintendents. My new acquaintance made very frank confessions on this subject. He told me that he believed the free use of tobacco had extensively and irreparably injured his health, and that he bitterly mourned his first indulgence in it.

"Do not you mean to leave it off?" said I.


"Do you think you could not?"

"I could; but it would take three weeks to cure myself; and during that time I could do nothing; and I cannot afford that. I could not learn my lessons without it, and the loss of three weeks would injure all my prospects in life."

"Hardly so fatally as the ruin of your health, I should think. Is your case a common one here?"

"Too common. But I assure you I do all I can to prevent the bad consequences of my own example. I warn my juniors, as they come in, very seriously."

"Do you find your warnings of much use?"

"I am afraid not much."

"They have the usual fate of mere precept, I suppose?"

"Yes, I am afraid so."

The manners of the cadets are excellent. They are allowed, under restrictions, to mix with the company at Mr. Cozens's, and thus to be frequently into ladies' society. There is a book kept at the hotel, where every cadet must, at each visit, enter his name at length, and the duration of his stay.

The second time I was at West Point was during the camping-out season. The artillery drill in the morning was very noisy and grand to the ladies, who had never seen anything of the "pomp and circumstance of glorious war." Then the cadets retired to their tents, and the ladies flitted about all the morning, making calls on each other. When [Pg 49] we had discharged this first of a traveller's duties, we sauntered to the cemetery. Never did I see such a spot to be buried in. The green hill projects into the river so that the monumental pillar erected by the cadets to the comrade who was killed by the bursting of a gun in 1817 is visible from two long reaches. One other accident had occurred a little while before; a cadet had been killed by a comrade in fencing. The tombs are few, and the inscriptions simple. Broad, spreading trees overshadow the long grass, and the whole is so hemmed in, so intensely quiet, that no sound is to be heard but the plash of oars from below and the hum of insects around, except when the evening gun booms over the heights, or the summer storm reverberates among the mountains.

Such a storm I had beheld the evening before from the piazza of the hotel. I stayed from the parade to watch it. As the thick veil of rain came down, the mountains seemed to retire, growing larger as they receded. As the darkness advanced, the scene became strangely compound. A friend sat with me in the piazza, talking of the deepest subjects on which human thought can speculate. Behind us were the open windows of the hotel, where, by turning the head, we might see the dancing going on; the gallant cadets and their pretty partners, while all the black servants of the house ranged their laughing faces in the rear. The music of the ballroom came to us mingling with the prolonged bursts of thunder; and other and grander strains rose from the river, where two large steamboats, with their lights, moved like constellations on the water, conveying a regiment from Pennsylvania which was visiting the soldiery of New-York State. They sent up rockets into the murky sky, and poured new blasts of music from their band as they passed our promontory. Every moment the lightning burst; now illuminating the interior of a mass of clouds; now quivering from end to end of heaven; now shedding broad livid gleams, which suddenly revealed a solitary figure on the terrace, a sloop on the waters, and every jutting point of rock. Still the dance went on till the hour struck which abruptly called the youths away from their partners, and bade them hie to their tents.

On returning from the cemetery we found Mr. and Mrs. Kemble, from the opposite side of the river, waiting to offer us their hospitality; and we agreed to visit them in the [Pg 50] afternoon. Mr. Kemble's boat awaited us at the landing-place by three o'clock, and we rowed about some time before landing on the opposite bank, so irresistible is the temptation to linger in this scene of magical beauty. The Catholic chapel of Coldspring is well placed on a point above the river; and the village, hidden from West Point by a headland, is pretty. From Mr. Kemble's we were to be treated with a visit to the Indian Fall, and were carried within half a mile of it by water. We followed the brawling brook for that distance, when we saw the glistening of the column of water through the trees. No fall can be prettier for its size, which is just small enough to tempt one to climb. A gentleman of our party made the attempt; but the rocks were too slippery with wet weed, and he narrowly escaped a tumble of twenty feet into the dark pool below. The boys, after bringing us branches of the black cherry, clustered with the fruit, found a safe and dry way up, and appeared waving their green boughs in triumph at the top of the rocks. The tide had risen so that the river was brimming full as we returned, and soft with the mountain shadows; but we landed at West Point in time to see the sun set twice, as it happened. At the landing-place we stood to see it drop behind the mountain; but just after we had bidden it good-night, I saw that a meditative cadet, lying at length upon a rock, was still basking in the golden light, and I ran up the steep to the piazza. There, in a gap between two summits, was the broad disk, as round as ever; and once more we saw it sink in a tranquillity almost as grand as the stormy splendour of the preceding night. Then ensued the evening parade, guitar music in the hotel, and dancing in the camp.

This evening a lady and her daughter steamed down from Fishkill with a request to us to spend a few days there; and a clergyman steamed up from New-York with an invitation from Doctor Hosack to visit him and his family at Hyde Park. We could not do both; and there was some difficulty in contriving to do either, anxiously as we desired it; but we presently settled that Fishkill must be given up, and that we must content ourselves with two days at Hyde Park.

The next morning I experienced a sensation which I had often heard of, but never quite believed in; the certainty that one has wakened in another world. Those who have travelled much know that a frequent puzzle, on waking from sound sleep in new places, is to know where one is; even in [Pg 51] what country of the world. This night I left my window open close to my head, so that I could see the stars reflected in the river. When I woke the scene was steeped in the light of the sunrise, and as still as death. Its ineffable beauty was all; I remarked no individual objects; but my heart stood still with an emotion which I should be glad to think I may feel again whenever I really do enter a new scene of existence. It was some time before my senses were separately roused; during the whole day I could not get rid of the impression that I had seen a vision; and even now I can scarcely look back upon the scene as the very same which, at other hours, I saw clouded with earth-drawn vapours, and gilded by the common sun.

At eleven o'clock we left West Point; and I am glad that we felt sure at the time that we should visit it again; a design which we did not accomplish, as the place was ravaged by scarlet fever at the season of the next year that we had fixed for our visit. Mr. Livingston, who had just returned from his French mission, was on board the boat. My letters of introduction to him were at the bottom of my trunk; but we did not put off becoming acquainted till I could get at them.

Mr. Livingston's name is celebrated and honoured in England (as over all Europe), through its connexion with the Louisiana Code, this gentleman's great work. He was born and educated in the state of New-York. While pursuing his studies at Princeton College in 1779 and 1780, he was subject to strange interruptions, the professors being repeatedly driven from their chairs by incursions of the enemy, and their scholars on such occasions forming a corps to go out and fight. The library was scattered, the philosophical apparatus destroyed, and the college buildings shared with troops quartered in the establishment; yet young Livingston left college a good scholar. He was a member of the fourth Congress, and there made himself remarkable by his exertions to ameliorate the criminal code of the United States, then as sanguinary as those of the Old World. In 1801 he returned to the practice of his profession of the law in New-York, but was not long permitted to decline public life. He was appointed attorney of the state of New-York, and mayor of the city. He remained in the city, in the discharge of his duties, while the yellow fever drove away every one who could remove. He nearly died [Pg 52] of the disease, and was ruined in his private affairs by his devotion to the public service. In 1804 he resigned his offices, and retired to Louisiana (then a new acquisition of the United States) to retrieve his fortunes; and from thence he discharged all his obligations, paying his debts, with interest upon them, to the last farthing. He was deprived, by a mistake of President Jefferson's, of an immense property which he had acquired there, and was involved in expensive litigation of many years' duration. The law decided in his favour, and the controversy ended in a manner the most honourable to both parties; in a reciprocation of hearty good-will.

During the invasion of Louisiana by the British Mr. Livingston took a prominent part in the defence of the state; and, when it was over, undertook, with two coadjutors, the formidable task of simplifying its laws, entangled as they were with Spanish prolixities, and all manner of unnecessary and unintelligible provisions. His system was adopted, and has been in use ever since. In 1820 the system of municipal law was revised at New-Orleans under the superintendence of Mr. Livingston, and his amendments were put in practice in 1823. He was at the same time engaged, without assistance, in preparing his celebrated penal code. When it was all ready for the press, in 1824, he sat up late one night to ascertain finally the correctness of the fair copy; and, having finished, retired to rest in a state of calm satisfaction at his great work being completed. He was awakened by a cry of fire. The room where he had been employed was burning, and every scrap of his papers was consumed. Not a note or memorandum was saved.

He appeared to be stunned for the hour; but, before the day closed, he had begun his labours again, and he never relaxed till, in two years from the time of the fire, he presented his work to the legislature of Louisiana, improved by the reconsideration which he had been compelled to give it. Men of all countries who understand jurisprudence seem to think that no praise of this achievement can be excessive.

He afterward represented Louisiana in both Houses of Congress; became Secretary of State in 1831; and, in 1833, minister to France. His was a busy life, of doing, suffering, and, we may confidently add, enjoying; for his was a [Pg 53] nature full of simplicity, modesty, and benevolence. His industry is of itself exhilarating to contemplate.

During the whole preceding year I had heard Mr. Livingston's name almost daily in connexion with his extremely difficult negotiations between the United States and France, or, rather, between President Jackson and Louis Philippe. I had read his despatches (some of which were made public that were never designed to be so), and had not been quite satisfied as to their straightforwardness, but concluded, on the whole, that he had done as much as human wits could well do in so absurd, and perplexed, and dangerous a quarrel, where the minister had to manage the temper of his own potentate as well as baffle the policy of the European monarch. A desire for peace and justice was evident through the whole of Mr. Livingston's correspondence; and under all, a strong wish to get home. Here he was, now ploughing his way up his own beloved river, whose banks were studded with the country-seats of a host of his relations. He came to me on the upper deck, and sat looking very placid with his staff between his knees, and his strong, observing countenance melting into an expression of pleasure when he described to me his enjoyment in burying himself among the mountains of Switzerland. He said he would not now hear of mountains anywhere else; at least not in either his own country or mine. He gave me some opinions upon the government of the King of the French which I little expected to hear from the minister of a democratic republic. We were deep in this subject when a great hissing of the steam made us look up and see that we were at Hyde Park, and that Dr. Hosack and a party of ladies were waiting for me on the wharf. I repeatedly met Mr. Livingston in society in New-York the next spring, when a deafness, which had been slight, was growing upon him, and impairing his enjoyment of conversation. The last time I saw him was at the christening of a grand-niece, when he looked well in health, but conversed little, and seemed rather out of spirits. Within a month of that evening he was seized with pleurisy, which would in all probability have yielded to treatment; but he refused medicine, and was carried off after a very short illness. Dr. Hosack died some months before him. How little did I think, as I now went from the one to the other, that both these vigorous old men would be [Pg 54] laid in their graves even before my return home should call upon me to bid them farewell!

The aspect of Hyde Park from the river had disappointed me, after all I had heard of it. It looks little more than a white house upon a ridge. I was therefore doubly delighted when I found what this ridge really was. It is a natural terrace, overhanging one of the sweetest reaches of the river; and, though broad and straight at the top, not square and formal, like an artificial embankment, but undulating, sloping, and sweeping between the ridge and the river, and dropped with trees; the whole carpeted with turf, tempting grown people, who happen to have the spirits of children, to run up and down the slopes, and play hide-and-seek in the hollows. Whatever we might be talking of as we paced the terrace, I felt a perpetual inclination to start off for play. Yet, when the ladies and ourselves actually did something like it, threading the little thickets and rounding every promontory, even to the farthest (which they call Cape Horn), I felt that the possession of such a place ought to make a man devout if any of the gifts of Providence can do so. To hold in one's hand that which melts all strangers' hearts is to be a steward in a very serious sense of the term. Most liberally did Dr. Hosack dispense the means of enjoyment he possessed. Hospitality is inseparably connected with his name in the minds of all who ever heard it; and it was hospitality of the heartiest and most gladsome kind.

Dr. Hosack had a good library; I believe, one of the best private libraries in the country; some good pictures, and botanical and mineralogical cabinets of value. Among the ornaments of his house I observed some biscuits and vases once belonging to Louis XVI., purchased by Dr. Hosack from a gentleman who had them committed to his keeping during the troubles of the first French Revolution.

In the afternoon Dr. Hosack drove me in his gig round his estate, which lies on both sides of the high road; the farm on one side and the pleasure-grounds on the other. The conservatory is remarkable for America; and the flower-garden all that it can be made under present circumstances, but the neighbouring country people have no idea of a gentleman's pleasure in his garden, and of respecting it. On occasions of weddings and other festivities, the villagers come up into the Hyde Park grounds to enjoy themselves; [Pg 55] and persons who would not dream of any other mode of theft, pull up rare plants, as they would wild flowers in the woods, and carry them away. Dr. Hosack would frequently see some flower that he had brought with much pains from Europe flourishing in some garden of the village below. As soon as he explained the nature of the case, the plant would be restored with all zeal and care; but the losses were so frequent and provoking as greatly to moderate his horticultural enthusiasm. We passed through the poultry-yard, where the congregation of fowls exceeded in number and bustle any that I had ever seen. We drove round his kitchen-garden too, where he had taken pains to grow every kind of vegetable which will flourish in that climate. Then crossing the road, after paying our respects to his dairy of fine cows, we drove through the orchard, and round Cape Horn, and refreshed ourselves with the sweet river views on our way home. There we sat in the pavilion, and he told me much of De Witt Clinton, and showed me his own Life of Clinton, a copy of which he said should await me on my return to New-York. When that time came he was no more; but his promise was kindly borne in mind by his lady, from whose hands I received the valued legacy.

We saw some pleasant society at Hyde Park: among the rest, some members of the wide-spreading Livingston family, and the Rev. Charles Stewart, who lived for some years as missionary in the South Sea Islands, and afterward published a very interesting account of his residence there. His manners, which are particularly gentlemanly and modest, show no traces of a residence among savages, or of the shifts and disorder of a missionary life; nor of any bad effects from the sudden fame which awaited him on his return into civilized life. I remember with great pleasure a conversation we had by the river-side, which proved to me that he understands the philosophy of fame, knowing how to appropriate the good and reject the evil that it brings, and which deepened the respect I had entertained for him from the beginning of our acquaintance.

The Livingston family, one of the oldest, most numerous, and opulent in the States, has been faithful in the days of its greatness to its democratic principles. In Boston it seems a matter of course that the "first people" should be federalists; that those who may be aristocratic in station should become aristocratic in principle. The Livingstons [Pg 56] are an evidence that this need not be. Amid their splendid entertainments in New-York, and in their luxurious retirements on the Hudson, they may be heard going further than most in defence of President Jackson's idiosyncracy. Their zeal in favour of Mr. Van Buren was accounted for by many from the natural bias of the first family in the state of New-York in favour of the first president furnished by that state; but there is no reason to find any such cause. The Livingstons have consistently advocated the most liberal principles through all changes; and that they retain their democratic opinions in the midst of their opulence and family influence is not the less honourable to them for their party having now the ascendency.

Dr. Hosack and his family accompanied us down to the wharf to see Mr. Stewart off by one boat and our party by another, when, on the third day of our visit, we were obliged to depart. Our hearts would have been more sorrowful than they were if we had foreseen that we should not enjoy our promised meeting with this accomplished and amiable family at New-York.

Dr. Hosack was a native American, but his father was Scotch. After obtaining the best medical education he could in America, he studied in Edinburgh and London, and hence his affectionate relations with Great Britain, and the warmth with which he welcomed English travellers. He practised medicine in New-York for upward of forty years, and filled the Professorship of Botany and Materia Medica in Columbia College for some time. He distinguished himself by his successful attention to the causes and treatment of yellow fever. But his services out of his profession were as eminent as any for which his fellow-citizens are indebted to him. He rendered liberal aid to various literary, scientific, and benevolent institutions, and was always willing and indefatigable in exertion for public objects. One of the most painful scenes of his life was the duel in which Hamilton perished. Dr. Hosack was Hamilton's second, and, probably, as well aware as his principal and others that the encounter could hardly end otherwise than as it did. Dr. Hosack was in New-York with his family the winter after my visit to Hyde Park. He was one day in medical conversation with Dr. M'Vickar of that city, and observed that it would not do for either of them to have an attack of apoplexy, as there would be small chance of their surviving it. Within [Pg 57] two weeks both were dead of apoplexy. Dr. Hosack lost property in the great fire at New-York; he over-exerted himself on the night of the fire, and the fatigue and anxiety brought on an attack of the disease he dreaded, under which he presently sank from amid the well-earned enjoyments of a vigorous and prosperous old age. He was in his 67th year, and showed to the eye of a stranger no symptom of decline. His eye was bright, his spirits as buoyant, and his life as full of activity as those of most men of half his years. I always heard the death of this enterprising and useful citizen mentioned as heading the list of the calamities of the Great Fire.


"But the new glory mixes with the heaven
And earth. Man, once descried, imprints for ever
His presence on all lifeless things; the winds
Are henceforth voices, wailing or a shout,
A querulous mutter or a quick gay laugh;
Never a senseless gust now man is born.
The herded pines commune, and have deep thoughts,
A secret they assemble to discuss,
When the sun drops behind their trunks which glare
Like grates of hell; the peerless cup afloat
Of the lake-lily is an urn some nymph
Swims bearing high above her head.

The morn has enterprise; deep quiet droops
With evening; triumph when the sun takes rest;
Voluptuous transport when the corn-fields ripen
Beneath a warm moon, like a happy face;
And this to fill us with regard for man,
Deep apprehension of his passing worth."
Paracelsus, Part v.

However widely European travellers have differed about other things in America, all seem to agree in their love of the Hudson. The pens of all tourists dwell on its scenery, and their affections linger about it like the magic lights which seem to have this river in their peculiar charge. Yet very few travellers have seen its noblest wonder. I may [Pg 58] be singular; but I own that I was more moved by what I saw from the Mountain House than by Niagara itself.

What is this Mountain House? this Pine Orchard House? many will ask; for its name is not to be found in most books of American travels. "What is that white speck?" I myself asked, when staying at Tivoli, on the east bank of the Hudson, opposite to the Catskills, whose shadowy surface was perpetually tempting the eye. That white speck, visible to most eyes only when bright sunshine was upon it, was the Mountain House; a hotel built for the accommodation of hardy travellers who may desire to obtain that complete view of the valley of the Hudson which can be had nowhere else. I made up my mind to go; and the next year I went, on leaving Dr. Hosack's. I think I had rather have missed the Hawk's Nest, the Prairies, the Mississippi, and even Niagara, than this.

The steamboat in which we left Hyde Park landed us at Catskill (thirty-one miles) at a little after three in the afternoon. Stages were waiting to convey passengers to the Mountain House, and we were off in a few minutes, expecting to perform the ascending journey of twelve miles in a little more than four hours. We had the same horses all the way, and therefore set off at a moderate pace, though the road was for some time level, intersecting rich bottoms, and passing flourishing farmhouses, where the men were milking, and the women looked up from their work in the piazzas as we passed. Haymaking was going on in the fields, which appeared to hang above us at first, but on which we afterward looked down from such a height that the haycocks were scarcely distinguishable. It was the 25th of July, and a very hot day for the season. The roads were parched up, and every exposed thing that one handled on board the steamboat or in the stage made one flinch from the burning sensation. The panting horses, one of them bleeding at the mouth, stopped to drink at a house at the foot of the ascent; and we wondered how, exhausted as they seemed, they would drag us up the mountain. We did not calculate on the change of temperature which we were soon to experience.

The mountain laurel conveyed by association the first impression of coolness. Sheep were browsing among the shrubs, apparently enjoying the shelter of the covert. We scrambled through deep shade for three or four miles, heavy [Pg 59] showers passing over us, and gusts of wind bowing the tree-tops, and sending a shiver through us, partly from the sudden chillness, and partly from expectation and awe of the breezy solitude. On turning a sharp angle of the steep road, at a great elevation, we stopped in a damp green nook, where there was an arrangement of hollow trees to serve for water-troughs. While the horses were drinking, the gusts parted the trees to the left, and exposed to me a vast extent of country lying below, checkered with light and shadow. This was the moment in which a lady in the stage said, with a yawn, "I hope we shall find something at the top to pay us for all this." Truly the philosophy of recompense seems to be little understood. In moral affairs people seem to expect recompense for privileges, as when children, grown and ungrown, are told that they will be rewarded for doing their duty; and here was a lady hoping for recompense for being carried up a glorious mountainside, in ease, coolness, leisure, and society, all at once. If it was recompense for the evil of inborn ennui that she wanted, she was not likely to find it where she was going to look for it.

After another level reach of road and another scrambling ascent I saw something on the rocky platform above our heads like (to compare great things with small) an illumined fairy palace perched among the clouds in opera scenery; a large building, whose numerous window-lights marked out its figure from amid the thunder-clouds and black twilight which overshadowed it. It was now half past eight o'clock and a stormy evening. Everything was chill, and we were glad of lights and tea in the first place.

After tea I went out upon the platform in front of the house, having been warned not to go too near the edge, so as to fall an unmeasured depth into the forest below. I sat upon the edge as a security against stepping over unawares. The stars were bright overhead, and had conquered half the sky, giving promise of what we ardently desired, a fine morrow. Over the other half the mass of thunder-clouds was, I supposed, heaped together, for I could at first discern nothing of the champaign which I knew must be stretched below. Suddenly, and from that moment incessantly, gushes of red lightning poured out from the cloudy canopy, revealing not merely the horizon, but the course of the river, in all its windings through the valley. This thread of river, thus illuminated, looked like a flash of lightning caught by some [Pg 60] strong hand and laid along in the valley. All the principal features of the landscape might, no doubt, have been discerned by this sulphurous light; but my whole attention was absorbed by the river, which seemed to come out of the darkness like an apparition at the summons of my impatient will. It could be borne only for a short time; this dazzling, bewildering alternation of glare and blackness, of vast reality and nothingness. I was soon glad to draw back from the precipice and seek the candlelight within.

The next day was Sunday. I shall never forget, if I live to a hundred, how the world lay at my feet one Sunday morning. I rose very early, and looked abroad from my window, two stories above the platform. A dense fog, exactly level with my eyes, as it appeared, roofed in the whole plain of the earth; a dusky firmament in which the stars had hidden themselves for the day. Such is the account which an antediluvian spectator would probably have given of it. This solid firmament had spaces in it, however, through which gushes of sunlight were poured, lighting up the spires of white churches, and clusters of farm buildings too small to be otherwise distinguished; and especially the river, with its sloops floating like motes in the sunbeam. The firmament rose and melted, or parted off into the likeness of snowy sky-mountains, and left the cool Sabbath to brood brightly over the land. What human interest sanctifies a bird's-eye view! I suppose this is its peculiar charm, for its charm is found to deepen in proportion to the growth of mind. To an infant, a champaign of a hundred miles is not so much as a yard square of gay carpet. To the rustic it is less bewitching than a paddock with two cows. To the philosopher, what is it not? As he casts his eye over its glittering towns, its scattered hamlets, its secluded homes, its mountain ranges, church spires, and untrodden forests, it is a picture of life; an epitome of the human universe; the complete volume of moral philosophy, for which he has sought in vain in all libraries. On the left horizon are the Green Mountains of Vermont, and at the right extremity sparkles the Atlantic. Beneath lies the forest where the deer are hiding and the birds rejoicing in song. Beyond the river he sees spread the rich plains of Connecticut; there, where a blue expanse lies beyond the triple range of hills, are the churches of religious Massachusetts sending up their Sabbath psalms; praise which he is too high to [Pg 61] hear, while God is not. The fields and waters seem to him to-day no more truly property than the skies which shine down upon them; and to think how some below are busying their thoughts this Sabbath-day about how they shall hedge in another field, or multiply their flocks on yonder meadows, gives him a taste of the same pity which Jesus felt in his solitude when his followers were contending about which should be greatest. It seems strange to him now that man should call anything his but the power which is in him, and which can create somewhat more vast and beautiful than all that this horizon encloses. Here he gains the conviction, to be never again shaken, that all that is real is ideal; that the joys and sorrows of men do not spring up out of the ground, or fly abroad on the wings of the wind, or come showered down from the sky; that good cannot be hedged in, nor evil barred out; even that light does not reach the spirit through the eye alone, nor wisdom through the medium of sound or silence only. He becomes of one mind with the spiritual Berkeley, that the face of nature itself, the very picture of woods, and streams, and meadows, is a hieroglyphic writing in the spirit itself, of which the retina is no interpreter. The proof is just below him (at least it came under my eye), in the lady (not American) who, after glancing over the landscape, brings her chair into the piazza, and, turning her back to the champaign, and her face to the wooden walls of the hotel, begins the study, this Sunday morning, of her lapful of newspapers. What a sermon is thus preached to him at this moment from a very hackneyed text! To him that hath much; that hath the eye, and ear, and wealth of the spirit, shall more be given; even a replenishing of this spiritual life from that which to others is formless and dumb; while from him that hath little, who trusts in that which lies about him rather than in that which lives within him, shall be taken away, by natural decline, the power of perceiving and enjoying what is within his own domain. To him who is already enriched with large divine and human revelations this scene is, for all its stillness, musical with divine and human speech; while one who has been deafened by the din of worldly affairs can hear nothing in this mountain solitude.

The march of the day over the valley was glorious, and I was grieved to have to leave my window for an expedition to the Falls a few miles off. The Falls are really very fine, or, [Pg 62] rather, their environment; but I could see plenty of waterfalls elsewhere, but nowhere else such a mountain platform. However, the expedition was a good preparation for the return to my window. The little nooks of the road, crowded with bilberries, cherries, and alpine plants, and the quiet tarn, studded with golden water-lilies, were a wholesome contrast to the grandeur of what we had left behind us.

On returning, we found dinner awaiting us, and also a party of friends out of Massachusetts, with whom we passed the afternoon, climbing higher and higher among the pines, ferns, and blue-berries of the mountain, to get wider and wider views. They told me that I saw Albany, but I was by no means sure of it. This large city lay in the landscape like an anthill in a meadow. Long before sunset I was at my window again, watching the gradual lengthening of the shadows and purpling of the landscape. It was more beautiful than the sunrise of this morning, and less so than that of the morrow. Of this last I shall give no description, for I would not weary others with what is most sacred to me. Suffice it that it gave me a vivid idea of the process of creation, from the moment when all was without form and void, to that when light was commanded, and there was light. Here, again, I was humbled by seeing what such things are to some who watch in vain for what they are not made to see. A gentleman and lady in the hotel intended to have left the place on Sunday. Having overslept that morning's sunrise, and arrived too late for that on Saturday, they were persuaded to stay till Monday noon; and I was pleased, on rising at four on Monday morning, to see that they were in the piazza below, with a telescope. We met at breakfast, all faint with hunger, of course.

"Well, Miss M.," said the gentleman, discontentedly, "I suppose you were disappointed in the sunrise."

"No, I was not."

"Why, do you think the sun was any handsomer here than at New-York?"

I made no answer; for what could one say? But he drove me by questions to tell what I expected to see in the sun.

"I did not expect to see the sun green or blue."

"What did you expect, then?"

I was obliged to explain that it was the effect of the sun on the landscape that I had been looking for. [Pg 63]

"Upon the landscape! Oh! but we saw that yesterday."

The gentleman was perfectly serious; quite earnest in all this. When we were departing, a foreign tourist was heard to complain of the high charges! High charges! As if we were to be supplied for nothing on a perch where the wonder is if any but the young ravens get fed! When I considered what a drawback it is in visiting mountain-tops that one is driven down again almost immediately by one's bodily wants, I was ready to thank the people devoutly for harbouring us on any terms, so that we might think out our thoughts, and compose our emotions, and take our fill of that portion of our universal and eternal inheritance.


"God, the best maker of all marriages,
Combine your hearts in one!"

Henry V.

I was present at four weddings in the United States, and at an offer of marriage.

The offer of marriage ought hardly to be so called, however. It was a petition from a slave to be allowed to wed (as slaves wed) the nursemaid of a lady in whose house I was staying. The young man could either write a little, or had employed some one who could to prepare his epistle for him. It ran from corner to corner of the paper, which was daubed with diluted wafer, like certain love-letters nearer home than Georgia. Here are the contents:

"Miss Cunningham it is My wishes to companion in your Present and I hope you will Be peeze at it and I hope that you will not think Hard of Me I have Ben to the Doctor and he was very well satafide with Me and I hope you is and Miss Mahuw all so

"thats all I has to say now wiheshen you will grant Me that honour I will Be very glad.
"S.B. Smith."
[Pg 64]

The nursemaid was granted; and as it was a love-match, and as the girl's mistress is one of the tender, the sore-hearted about having slaves, I hope the poor creatures are as happy as love in debasement can make them.

The first wedding I saw in Boston was very like the common run of weddings in England. It happened to be convenient that the parties should be married in church; and in the Unitarian church in which they usually worshipped we accordingly awaited them. I had no acquaintance with the family, but went on the invitation of the pastor who married them. The family connexion was large, and the church, therefore, about half full. The form of celebration is at the pleasure of the pastor; but, by consent, the administration by pastors of the same sect is very nearly alike. The promises of the married parties are made reciprocal, I observed. The service in this instance struck me as being very beautiful from its simplicity, tenderness, and brevity. There was one variation from the usual method, in the offering of one of the prayers by a second pastor, who, being the uncle of the bridegroom, was invited to take a share in the service.

The young people were to set out for Europe in the afternoon, the bride being out of health, the dreary drawback upon almost every extensive plan of action and fair promise of happiness in America. The lady has, I rejoice to hear, been quite restored by travel; but her sickness threw a gloom over the celebration, even in the minds of strangers. She and her husband walked up the middle aisle to the desk where the pastors sat. They were attended by only one bridesmaid and one groomsman, and were all in plain travelling dresses. They said steadily and quietly what they had to say, and walked down the aisle again as they came. Nothing could be simpler and better, for this was not a marriage where festivity could have place. If there is any natural scope for joy, let weddings by all means be joyous; but here there was sickness, with the prospect of a long family separation, and there was most truth in quietness.

The other wedding I saw in Boston was as gay a one as is often seen. The parties were opulent, and in the first rank in society. They were married in the drawing-room of the bride's house, at half past eight in the evening, by Dr. Channing. The moment the ceremony was over, crowds [Pg 65] of company began to arrive; and the bride, young and delicate, and her maidens, were niched in a corner of one of the drawing-rooms to courtesy to all comers. They were so formally placed, so richly and (as it then seemed) formally dressed, for the present revived antique style of dress was then quite new, that, in the interval of their courtesies, they looked like an old picture brought from Windsor Castle. The bride's mother presided in the other drawing-room, and the bridegroom flitted about, universally attentive, and on the watch to introduce all visiters to his lady. The transition from the solemnity of Dr. Channing's service to the noisy gayeties of a rout was not at all to my taste. I imagined that it was not to Dr. Channing's either, for his talk with me was on matters very little resembling anything that we had before our eyes; and he soon went away. The noise became such as to silence all who were not inured to the gabble of an American party, the noisiest kind of assemblage, I imagine (not excepting a Jew's synagogue), on the face of the globe. I doubt whether any pagans in their worship can raise any hubbub to equal it. I constantly found in a large party, after trying in vain every kind of scream that I was capable of, that I must give up, and satisfy myself with nodding and shaking my head. If I was rightly understood, well and good; if not, I must let it pass. As the noise thickened and the heat grew more oppressive, I glanced towards the poor bride in her corner, still standing, still courtesying; her pale face growing paler; her nonchalant manner (perhaps the best she could assume) more indifferent. I was afraid that if all this went on much longer, she would faint or die upon the spot. It did not last much longer. By eleven some of the company began to go away, and by a quarter before twelve all were gone but the comparatively small party (including ourselves) who were invited to stay to supper.

The chandelier and mantelpieces, I then saw, were dressed with flowers. There was a splendid supper; and, before we departed, we were carried up to a well-lighted apartment, where bride cake and the wedding presents were set out in bright array.

Five days afterward we went, in common with all her acquaintance, to pay our respects to the bride. The courtyard of her mother's house was thronged with carriages, though no one seemed to stay five minutes. The bridegroom [Pg 66] received us at the head of the stairs, and led us to his lady, who courtesied as before. Cake, wine, and liqueurs were handed round, the visiters all standing. A few words on common subjects were exchanged, and we were gone to make way for others.

A Quaker marriage which I saw at Philadelphia was scarcely less showy in its way. It took place at the Cherrystreet church, belonging to the Hicksites. The reformed Quaker Church, consisting of the followers of Elias Hicks, bears about the same relation to the old Quakerism as the Church of England to that of Rome; and, it seems to me, the mutual dislike is as intense. I question whether religious enmity ever attained a greater extreme than among the orthodox Friends of Philadelphia. The Hicksites are more moderate, but are sometimes naturally worried out of their patience by the meddling, the denunciations, and the calumnies of the old Quaker societies. The new church is thinking of reforming and relaxing a good deal farther, and in the celebration of marriage among other things. It is under consideration (or was when I was there) whether the process of betrothment should not be simplified, and marriage in the father's house permitted to such as prefer it to the church. The wedding at which I was present was, however, performed with all the formalities.

A Quaker friend of mine, a frequent preacher, suggested, a few days previously, that a seat had better be reserved for me near the speakers, that I might have a chance of hearing "in case there should be communications." I had hopes from this that my friend would speak, and my wishes were not disappointed.

The spacious church was crowded; and for three or four hours the poor bride had to sit facing the assemblage, aware, doubtless, that during the time of silence the occupation of the strangers present, if not of the friends themselves, would be watching her and her party. She was pretty, and most beautifully dressed. I have seldom pitied anybody more than I did her, while she sat palpitating for three hours under the gaze of some hundreds of people; but, towards the end of the time of silence, my compassion was transferred to the bridegroom. For want of something to do, after suppressing many yawns, he looked up to the ceiling; and in the midst of an empty stare, I imagine he caught the eye of an acquaintance in the back seats; for he was instantly troubled [Pg 67] with a most irrepressible and unseasonable inclination to laugh. He struggled manfully with his difficulty; but the smiles would come, broader and broader. If, by dint of looking steadfastly into his hat for a few minutes, he attained a becoming gravity, it was gone the moment he raised his head. I was in a panic lest we should have a scandalous peal of merriment if something was not given him to do or listen to. Happily "there were communications," and the course of his ideas was changed.

Of the five speakers, one was an old gentleman whose discourse was an entire perplexity to me. For nearly an hour he discoursed on Jacob's ladder; but in a style so rambling, and in a chant so singularly unmusical as to set attention and remembrace at defiance. Some parenthetical observations alone stood a chance of being retained, from their singularity; one, for instance, which he introduced in the course of his narrative about Jacob setting a stone for a pillow; "a very different," cried the preacher, raising his chant to the highest pitch, "a very different pillow, by-the-way, from any that we—are—accommodated—with." What a contrast was the brief discourse of my Quaker friend which followed! Her noble countenance was radiant as the morning; her soft voice, though low, so firm that she was heard to the farthest corner, and her little sermon as philosophical as it was devout. "Send forth thy light and thy truth," was her text. She spoke gratefully of intellectual light as a guide to spiritual truth, and anticipated and prayed for an ultimate universal diffusion of both. The certificate of the marriage was read by Dr. Parrish, an elderly physician of Philadelphia, the very realization of all my imaginings of the personal appearance of William Penn; with all the dignity and bonhommie that one fancies Penn invested with in his dealings with the Indians. Dr. Parrish speaks with affection of the Indians, from the experience some ancestors of his had of the hospitality of these poor people when they were in a condition to show hospitality. His grandfather's family were shipwrecked, and the Indians took the poor lady and her children home to an inhabited cave, and fed them for many weeks or months. The tree stump round which they used to sit at meals is still standing; and Dr. Parrish says that, let it stand as long as it will, the love of his family to the Indians shall outlast it.

The matrimonial promise was distinctly and well spoken [Pg 68] by both the parties. At the request of the bride and bridegroom, Dr. Parrish asked me to put the first signature, after their own, to the certificate of the marriage; and we adjourned for the purpose to an apartment connected with the church. Most ample sheets of parchment were provided for the signatures; and there was a prodigious array of names before we left, when a crowd was still waiting to testify. This multitudinous witnessing is the pleasantest part of being married by acclamation. If weddings are not to be private, there seems no question of the superiority of this Quaker method to that of the Boston marriage I beheld, where there was all the publicity, without the co-operation and sanction.

The last wedding which I have to give an account of is full of a melancholy interest to me now. All was so joyous, so simple, so right, that there seemed no suggestion to evil-boding, no excuse for anticipating such wo as has followed. On one of the latter days of July, 1835, I reached the village of Stockbridge; the Sedgwicks' village, for the second time, intending to stay four or five days with my friends there. I had heard of an approaching wedding in the family connexion, and was glad that I had planned to leave, so as to be out of the way at a time when I supposed the presence of foreigners, though friends, might be easily dispensed with. But when Miss Sedgwick and I were sitting in her room one bright morning, there was a tap at the door. It was the pretty black-eyed girl who was to be married the next week. She stood only a minute on the threshold to say, with grave simplicity, "I am come to ask you to join our friends at my father's house next Tuesday evening." Being thus invited, I joyfully assented, and put off my journey.

The numerous children of the family connexion were in wild spirits all that Tuesday. In the morning we went a strong party to the Ice Hole; a defile between two hills, so perplexed and encumbered with rocks that none but practised climbers need attempt the passage. It was a good way for the young people to work off their exuberant spirits. Their laughter was heard from amid the nooks and hiding-places of the labyrinth, and smiling faces might be seen behind every shrubby screen which sprang up from the crevices. How we tried to surpass each other in the ferns and mosses we gathered, rich in size and variety! What skipping and scrambling there was; what trunk bridges and [Pg 69] ladders of roots! How valiant the ladies looked with their stout sticks! How glad every one was to feast upon the wild raspberries when we struggled through the close defile into the cool, green, breezy meadow on the banks of the Housatonic! During the afternoon we were very quiet, reading one of Carlyle's reviews aloud (for the twentieth time, I believe, to some of the party), and discussing it and other things. By eight o'clock we were all dressed for the wedding; and some of the children ran over the green before us, but came back, saying that all was not quite ready; so we got one of the girls to sing to us for another half hour.

The house of the bride's father was well lighted, and dressed with flowers. She had no mother; but her elder sisters aided her father in bidding us welcome. The drawing-room was quite full; and while the grown-up friends found it difficult to talk, and to repress the indefinable anxiety and agitation which always attend a wedding, the younger members of the party were amusing themselves with whispered mirth. The domestics looked as if the most joyous event of their lives were taking place, and the old father seemed placid and satisfied.

In a few minutes we were summoned to another room, at the top of which stood the tall bridegroom, with his pretty little lady on his arm; on either side, the three gentlemen and three ladies who attended them; and in front, the Episcopalian minister who was to marry them, and who has since been united to one of the sisters. It was the first time of his performing the ceremony, and his manner was solemn and somewhat anxious, as might be expected.

The bridegroom was a professor in a college in the neighbouring State of New-York; a young man of high acquirements and character, to whom the old father might well be proud to give his daughter. His manners were remarkably pleasing; and there was a joyous, dignified serenity visible in them this evening, which at once favourably prepossessed us who did not previously know him. He was attended by a brother professor from the same college. When the service was over, we all kissed the grave and quiet bride. I trust that no bodings of the woes which awaited her cast a shadow over her spirits then. I think, though grave, she was not sad. She spoke with all her father's guests in the course of the evening, as did her husband. How often have [Pg 70] I of late tried to recall precisely what they said to me, and every look with which they said it!

We went back to the drawing-room for cake and wine; and then ensued the search for the ring in the great wedding cake, with much merriment among those who were alive to all the fun of a festivity like this, and to none of the care. There was much moving about between the rooms, and dressing with flowers in the hall; and lively conversation, as it must needs be where there are Sedgwicks. Then Champagne and drinking of healths went round, the guests poured out upon the green, all the ladies with handkerchiefs tied over their heads. There we bade good-night, and parted off to our several homes.

When I left the village the next morning two or three carriages full of young people were setting off, as attendants upon the bride and bridegroom, to Lebanon. After a few such short excursions in the neighbourhood, the young couple went home to begin their quiet college and domestic life.

Before a year had elapsed, a year which to me seemed gone like a month, I was at Stockbridge again and found the young wife's family in great trouble. She was in a raging fever, consequent on her confinement, and great fears were entertained for her life. Her infant seemed to have but a small chance under the circumstances, and there was a passing mention of her husband being ill. Every one spoke of him with a respect and affection which showed how worthy he was of this young creature's love; and it was our feeling for him which made our prayers for her restoration so earnest as they were. The last I heard of her before I left the country was that she was slowly and doubtfully recovering, but had not yet been removed from her father's house. The next intelligence that I received after my return to England was of her husband's death; that he had died in a calm and satisfied state of mind; satisfied that if their reasonable hopes of domestic joy and usefulness had not been fulfilled, it was for wise and kind reasons; and that the strong hand which thus early divided them would uphold the gentle surviver. No one who beheld and blessed their union can help beseeching and trusting, since all other hope is over, that it may be even thus.

[Pg 71]


"How far my pen has been fatigued like those of other travellers in this journey of it, the world must judge; but the traces of it, which are now all set o'vibrating together this moment, tell me it is the most fruitful and busy period of my life; for, as I had made no convention with my man with the gun as to time—by seizing every handle, of what size or shape soever which chance held out to me in this journey—I was always in company, and with great variety too."—Sterne.

Our first land travelling, in which we had to take our chance with the world in general, was across the State of New-York. My account of what we saw may seem excessively minute in some of its details; but this style of particularity is not adopted without reasons. While writing my journal, I always endeavoured to bear in mind the rapidity with which civilization advances in America, and the desirablness of recording things precisely in their present state, in order to have materials for comparison some few years hence, when travelling may probably be as unlike what it is now, as a journey from London to Liverpool by the new railroad differs from the same enterprise as undertaken a century and a half ago.

To avoid some of the fatigues and liabilities of common travelling, certain of our shipmates and their friends and ourselves had made up a party to traverse the State of New-York in an "exclusive extra;" a stage hired, with the driver, for our own use, to proceed at our own time. Our fellow-travellers were a German and a Dutch gentleman, and the Prussian physician and young South Carolinian whom I have mentioned in the list of our shipmates. We were to meet at the Congress Hall hotel in Albany on the 6th of October.

On our way from Stockbridge to Albany we saw a few objects characteristic of the country. While the horses were baiting we wandered into a graveyard, where the names on the tombstones were enough to inform any observer what country of the world he was in. One inscription was laudatory of Nelson and Nabby Bullis; another of Amasa and Polly Fielding. Hiram and Keziah were there [Pg 72] too. The signs in the American streets are as ludicrous for their confusion of Greek, Roman, and Hebrew names, as those of Irish towns are for the arbitrary divisions of words. One sees Rudolphus figuring beside Eliakim, and Aristides beside Zerug. I pitied an acquaintance of mine for being named Peleg, till I found he had baptized his two boys Peleg and Seth. On a table in a little wayside inn I found Fox's Martyr's; and against the wall hung a framed sampler, with the following lines worked upon it:—

"Jesus, permit thine awful name to stand
As the first offering of an infant's hand:
And as her fingers o'er the canvass move,
Oh fill her thoughtful bosom with thy love,
With thy dear children let her bear a part,
And write thy name thyself upon her heart."

In these small inns the disagreeable practice of rocking in the chair is seen in its excess. In the inn parlour are three or four rocking-chairs, in which sit ladies who are vibrating in different directions, and at various velocities, so as to try the head of a stranger almost as severely as the tobacco-chewer his stomach. How this lazy and ungraceful indulgence ever became general, I cannot imagine; but the nation seems so wedded to it, that I see little chance of its being forsaken. When American ladies come to live in Europe, they sometimes send home for a rocking-chair. A common wedding-present is a rocking-chair. A beloved pastor has every room in his house furnished with a rocking-chair by his grateful and devoted people. It is well that the gentlemen can be satisfied to sit still, or the world might be treated with the spectacle of the sublime American Senate in a new position; its fifty-two senators see-sawing in full deliberation, like the wise birds of a rookery in a breeze. If such a thing should ever happen, it will be time for them to leave off laughing at the Shaker worship.

As we approached Greenbush, which lies opposite to Albany, on the east bank of the Hudson, we met riding horses, exercised by grooms, and more than one handsome carriage; tokens that we were approaching some centre of luxury. The view of Albany rising from the river side, with its brown stone courthouse and white marble capitol, is fine; but it wants the relief of more trees within itself, or of a rural background. How changed is this bustling city, [Pg 73] thronged with costly buildings, from the Albany of the early days of Mrs. Grant of Laggan, when the children used to run up and down the green slope which is now State-street, imposing from its width and the massiveness of the houses seen behind its rows of trees! A tunnel is about to be made under the Hudson at Albany; meantime we crossed, as everybody does, by a horse ferryboat; a device so cruel as well as clumsy, that the sooner it is superseded the better. I was told that the strongest horses, however kept up with corn, rarely survive a year of this work.

We observed that, even in this city, the physicians have not always their names engraved on brass doorplates. On the most conspicuous part of their houses, perhaps on the angle of a corner house, is nailed some glazed substance like floorcloth, with "Dr. Such-an-one" painted upon it. At Washington I remember seeing "Magistrate" thus affixed to a mere shed.

As we surmounted the hill leading to our hotel, we saw our two shipmates dancing down the steps to welcome us. There certainly is a feeling among shipmates which does not grow out of any other relation. They are thrown first into such absolute dependance on one another, for better for worse, and are afterward so suddenly and widely separated, that if they do chance to meet again, they renew their intimacy with a fervour which does not belong to a friendship otherwise originated. The glee of our whole party this evening is almost ridiculous to look back upon. Everything served to make a laugh, and we were almost intoxicated with the prospect of what we were going to see and do together. We had separated only a fortnight ago, but we had as much to talk over as if we had been travelling apart for six months. The Prussian had to tell his adventures, we our impressions, and the Southerner his comparisons of his own country with Europe. Then we had to arrange the division of labour by which the gentlemen were to lighten the cares of travelling. Dr. J., the Prussian, was on all occasions to select apartments for us; Mr. S., the Dutchman, to undertake the eating department; Mr. H., the American, was paymaster; and Mr. O., the German, took charge of the luggage. It was proposed that badges should be worn to designate their offices. Mr. S. was to be adorned with a corncob. Mr. H. stuck a bankbill in front of his hat; and, next morning, when Mr. O. was looking another way, the [Pg 74] young men locked a small padlock upon his button-hole, which he was compelled to carry there for a day or two, till his comrades vouchsafed to release him from his badge.

The hotel was well furnished and conducted. I pointed out, with some complacency, what a handsome piano we had in our drawing-room; but when, in the dark hour, I opened it in order to play, I found it empty of keys! a disappointment, however, which I have met with in England.

Mr. Van Buren and his son happened to be in Albany, and called on me this afternoon. There is nothing remarkable in the appearance of this gentleman, whom I afterward saw frequently at Washington. He is small in person, with light hair and blue eyes. I was often asked whether I did not think his manners gentlemanly. There is much friendliness in his manners, for he is a kind-hearted man; he is also rich in information, and lets it come out on subjects in which he cannot contrive to see any danger in speaking. But his manners want the frankness and confidence which are essential to good breeding. He questions closely, without giving anything in return. Moreover, he flatters to a degree which so cautious a man should long ago have found out to be disagreeable; and his flattery is not merely praise of the person he is speaking to, but a worse kind still; a skepticism and ridicule of objects and persons supposed to be distasteful to the one he is conversing with. I fully believe that he is an amiable and indulgent domestic man, and a reasonable political master, a good scholar, and a shrewd man of business; but he has the skepticism which marks the lower order of politicians. His public career exhibits no one exercise of that faith in men and preference of principle to petty expediency by which a statesman shows himself to be great.

The consequence is, that, with all his opportunities, no great deed has ever been put to his account, and his shrewdness has been at fault in some of the most trying crises of his career. The man who so little trusts others, and so intensely regards self as to make it the study of his life not to commit himself, is liable to a more than ordinary danger of judging wrong when compelled, by the pressure of circumstances, to act a decided part. It has already been so with Mr. Van Buren more than once; and now that he is placed in a position where he must sometimes visibly lead, and cannot always appear to follow, it will be seen whether a due reverence [Pg 75] of men and a forgetfulness of self would not have furnished him with more practical wisdom than all his "sounding on his dim and perilous way." Mr. Calhoun is, I believe, Mr. Van Buren's evil genius. Mr. Calhoun was understood to be in expectation of succeeding to the presidential chair when Mr. Van Buren was appointed minister to Great Britain. This appointment of President Jackson's did not receive the necessary sanction from the Senate, and the new minister was recalled on the first possible day, Mr. Calhoun being very active in bringing him back. Mr. Calhoun was not aware that he was recalling one who was to prove a successful rival. Mr. Calhoun has not been president; Mr. Van Buren is so; but the successful rival has a mortal dread of the great nullifier; a dread so obvious, and causing such a prostration of all principle and all dignity, as to oblige observers to conclude that there is more in the matter than they see; that it will come out some day why the disappointed aspirant is still to be propitiated, when he seems to be deprived of power to do mischief. In "Society in America" I have given an account of the nullification struggle, and of the irritation, the mysterious discontent which it has left behind. [2]

Perhaps Mr. Van Buren may entertain the opinion which many hold, that that business is not over yet, and that the slavery question is made a pretext by the nullifiers of the South for a line of action to which they are impelled by the disappointed personal ambition of one or two, and the wounded pride of the many, who cannot endure the contrast between the increase of the free states of the North and the deterioration of the slave states of the South. However this may be, to propitiate Mr. Calhoun seems to have been Mr. Van Buren's great object for a long time past; an object probably hopeless in itself, and in the pursuit of which he is likely to lose the confidence of the North far faster than he could, at best, disarm the enmity of the South.

In the spring of 1836, when Mr. Van Buren was still vice-president, and the presidential election was drawing near, Mr. Calhoun brought forward in the Senate his bill (commonly called the Gag Bill) to violate the postoffice function, by authorizing postmasters to investigate the contents of the mails, and to keep back all papers whatsoever relating to the subject of slavery. The bill was, by consent, [Pg 76] read the first and second times without debate; and the Senate was to be divided on the question whether it should go to a third reading. The votes were equal, 18 to 18. "Where's the vice-president?" shouted Mr. Calhoun's mighty voice. The vice-president was behind a pillar, talking. He was compelled to give the casting vote, to commit himself for once; a cruel necessity to a man of his caution. He voted for the third reading, and there was a bitter cry on the instant, "The Northern States are sold." The bill was thrown out on the division on the third reading, and the vice-president lost by his vote the good-will of the whole body of abolitionists, who had till then supported him as the democratic and supposed anti-slavery candidate. As it was, most of the abolitionists did not vote at all, for want of a good candidate, and Mr. Van Buren's majority was so reduced as to justify a belief, that if the people had had another year to consider his conduct in, or if another democratic candidate could have been put forward, he would have been emphatically rejected. Having once committed himself, he has gone further still in propitiation of Mr. Calhoun. On the day of his presidential installation he declared that under no circumstances would he give his assent to any bill for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. This declaration does not arise out of a belief that Congress has not power to abolish slavery in the District; for he did, not long before, when hard pressed, declare that he believed Congress to possess that power. He has therefore hazarded the extraordinary declaration that he will not, under any circumstances, assent to what may become the will of the people constitutionally imbodied. This is a bold intimation for a "non-committal man" to make. It remains to be seen whether Mr. Calhoun, if really dangerous, can be kept quiet by such fawning as this; and whether the will of the people may not be rather stimulated than restrained by this sacrifice of them to the South, so as either to compel the president to retract his declaration before his four years are out, or to prevent his re-election.

How strange it is to recall one's first impressions of public men in the midst of one's matured opinions of them! How freshly I remember the chat about West Point and Stockbridge acquaintances that I had that afternoon at Albany, with the conspicuous man about whom I was then ignorant [Pg 77] and indifferent, and whom I have since seen committed to the lowest political principles and practices, while elected as professing some of the highest! It only remains to be said, that if Mr. Van Buren feels himself aggrieved by the interpretation which is commonly put upon the facts of his political life, he has no one to blame but himself; for such misinterpretation (if it exists) is owing to his singular reserve; a reserve which all men agree in considering incompatible with the simple honesty and cheerful admission of responsibility which democratic republicans have a right to require of their rulers.

Before breakfast the next morning we walked down to the Padroon's house, known by reputation, with the history of the estate, to everybody. We just caught a sight of the shrubbery, and took leave to pass through the courtyard, and hastened back to breakfast, immediately after which we proceeded by railroad to Schenectady. There we at once stepped into a canalboat for Utica. I would never advise ladies to travel by canal, unless the boats are quite new and clean; or, at least, far better kept than any that I saw or heard of on this canal. On fine days it is pleasant enough sitting outside (except for having to duck under the bridges every quarter of an hour, under penalty of having one's head crushed to atoms), and in dark evenings the approach of the boatlights on the water is a pretty sight; but the horrors of night and of wet days more than compensate for all the advantages these vehicles can boast. The heat and noise, the known vicinity of a compressed crowd, lying packed like herrings in a barrel, the bumping against the sides of the locks, and the hissing of water therein like an inundation, startling one from sleep; these things are very disagreeable. We suffered under an additional annoyance in the presence of sixteen Presbyterian clergymen, some of the most unprepossessing of their class. If there be a duty more obvious than another on board a canalboat, it is to walk on the bank occasionally in fair weather, or, at least, to remain outside, in order to air the cabin (close enough at best) and get rid of the scents of the table before the unhappy passengers are shut up to sleep there. These sixteen gentlemen, on their way to a Convention at Utica, could not wait till they got there to begin their devotional observances, but obtruded them upon the passengers in a most unjustifiable manner. They were [Pg 78] not satisfied with saying an almost interminable grace before and after each meal, but shut up the cabin for prayers before dinner; for missionary conversation in the afternoon, and for scripture reading and prayers quite late into the night, keeping tired travellers from their rest, and every one from his fair allowance of fresh air.

The passengers were all invited to listen to and to question a missionary from China who was of the party. The gentleman did not seem to have profited much by his travels, however; for he declared himself unable to answer some very simple inquiries. "Is the religion of the Christian missionaries tolerated by the Chinese government?" "I am not prepared to answer that question." "Are the Chinese cannibals?" "I am not prepared to answer that question." One requested that any brother would offer a suggestion as to how government might be awakened to the sinfulness of permitting Sunday mails; during the continuance of which practice there was no hope of the Sabbath being duly sanctified. No one was ready with a suggestion, but one offered a story, which every head was bent to hear. The story was of two sheep-drovers, one of whom feared God, and the other did not. The profane drover set out with his sheep for a particular destination two hours earlier than the other, and did not rest on Sunday like his pious comrade. What was the catastrophe? The Godfearing drover, though he had stood still all Sunday, arrived at his destination two hours earlier than the other. "Ah!" "Ah!" resounded through the cabin in all conceivable tones of conviction, no one asking particulars of what had happened on the road; of how and where the profane drover had been delayed. Temperance was, of course, a great topic with these divines, and they fairly provoked ridicule upon it. One passenger told me that they were so strict that they would not drink water out of the Brandywine river; and another remarked that they partook with much relish of the strong wine-sauce served with our puddings.

In addition to other discomforts, we passed the fine scenery of Little Falls in the night. I was not aware what we had missed till I traversed the Mohawk valley by a better conveyance nearly two years afterward. I have described this valley in my other work on America, [3] [Pg 79] and must therefore restrain my pen from dwelling on its beauties here.

The appearance of the berths in the ladies' cabin was so repulsive, that we were seriously contemplating sitting out all night, when it began to rain so as to leave us no choice. I was out early in the misty morning, however, and was presently joined by the rest of my party, all looking eagerly for signs of Utica being near.

By eight o'clock we were at the wharf. We thought Utica the most extempore place we had yet seen. The right-up shops, the daubed houses, the streets running into the woods, all seemed to betoken that the place had sprung up out of some sudden need. How much more ancient and respectable did it seem after my return from the West, where I had seen towns so much newer still! We were civilly received and accommodated at Bagg's hotel, where we knew how to value cold water, spacious rooms, and retirement, after the annoyances of the boat.

Our baggage-master was fortunate in securing a neat, clean stage to take us to Trenton Falls (14 miles), where we promised each other to spend the whole day, on condition of being off by five the next morning, in order to accomplish the distance to Syracuse in the course of the day. The reason for our economy of time was not merely that it was late in the season, and every day which kept us from the Falls of Niagara, therefore, of consequence, but that our German friend, Mr. O., was obliged to be back in New-York by a certain day. We all considered a little extra haste and fatigue a small tax to pay for the privilege of his companionship.

We clapped our hands at the sight of the "Rural Retreat," the comfortable, hospitable house of entertainment at Trenton, standing in its garden on the edge of the forest, so unlike hotels on the high road.

As no other company was there, we could choose our own hours. We ordered a late dinner, and proceeded to the Falls. We had only to follow a path in the pine forest for a few paces, and we were at the edge of the ravine which encloses the cascades.

It is a pity that the Indian name is not retained. Trenton Falls are called Cayoharic by the Indians. They are occasioned by the descent of West Canada Creek through a ravine, where it makes a succession of leaps from platforms [Pg 80] of rock, six of these falls being pretty easily accessible by travellers. Much has been said of the danger of the enterprise of ascending the ravine; but I saw no peril to persons who are neither rash nor nervous. The two accidents which have happened have, I believe, been owing, the one to extreme rashness, and the other to sudden terror.

From the edge of the ravine the black water, speckled with white foam, is seen rushing below with a swiftness which already half turns the head of the stranger. We descended five flights of wooden steps fixed against the steep face of the rock, and at the bottom found ourselves at the brink of the torrent. I never was in so dark and chill a place in the open air; yet the sun was shining on the opposite face of the rock, lighting the one scarlet maple which stood out from among the black cedars and dark green elms. We selected our footing with a care which we were quite ready to ridicule when we came back; and were not above grasping the chain which is riveted into the rock where the shelf which forms the pathway is narrowest, and where the angles are sharpest. The hollow is here so filled with the voice of many waters, that no other can be heard; and after many irreverent shouts had been attempted, we gave up all attempts to converse till we reached a quieter place. Being impatient to see the first fall, I went on before the rest, and having climbed the flight of wooden steps, so wetted with the spray of the fall as to be as slippery as ice, I stood on the platform under a covert of rock foaming with the thunder of the waters, and saw my companions, one by one, turn the angle of the path, and pause in front of the sheet of liquid amber sprinkled with snow. The path on which they stood seemed too narrow for human foot; and when, discerning me, they waved their hands, I trembled lest, disregarding their footing, they should be swept away by the furious torrent. When we found our heads turning with the rush of the dark waters, we amused ourselves with admiring the little wells in the rock, and the drip from the roots of a cedar projecting from the top of the ravine, a never-failing, glittering shower. Between the fifth and sixth fall there is a long tranquil reach of water; and here we lingered to rest our bewildered senses before entering upon the confusion of rocks through which the sixth forces its way. We seesawed upon a fallen trunk, sent autumn leaves whirling down the stream, and watched the endless dance of the balls of foam [Pg 81] which had found their way into the tiny creeks and bays opposite, and could not get out again.

Gay butterflies seemed quite at home in this ravine. They flit through the very spray of the falls. It seemed wonderful that an insect could retain its frail life in the midst of such an uproar. When the sun, in its course, suddenly shone full into the glen through a chasm in its rocky wall, how the cascade was instantly dressed in glory! crowned with a rainbow, and invested with all radiant hues! How the poor banished Indians must mourn when the lights of their Cayoharic visit their senses again in the dreams of memory or of sleep! The recollection of these poor exiles was an ever-present saddening thought in the midst of all the most beautiful scenes of the New World.

When we had surmounted the sixth fall, we saw indeed that we could go no farther. A round projection of rock, without trace of anything that I could call a foothold, barred us out from the privacy of the upper ravine. The falls there are said to be as beautiful as any that we saw, and it is to be hoped that, by blasting a pathway or by some other means, they also may be laid open to the affections of happy visiters.

They have been seen and reported of. A friend of mine has told me, since I was there, how Bryant the poet and himself behaved like two thoughtless boys in this place. Clambering about by themselves one summer day, when their wives had gone back to the house, they were irresistibly tempted to pass the barrier, and see what lay beyond. They got round the rock, I cannot conceive how, by inequalities in its surface. They met with so many difficulties and so much beauty higher up, that they forgot all about time, till they found themselves in utter darkness. They hastened to grope their way homeward through the forest, and were startled, after a while, by shouts and moving lights. Till that moment they never recollected how alarmed their wives must be. It was past ten o'clock, and the poor ladies had been in a state of uneasiness half the evening, and of mortal terror for the last two hours. They had got people from the neighbourhood to go out with torches, little expecting to see their husbands come walking home on their own feet, and with nothing the matter with them but hunger and shame. I hope the ladies were exceedingly angry when their panic was over.

[Pg 82]

The forest at the top of the ravine was a study to me, who had yet seen but little forest. Moss cushioned all the roots of the trees; hibiscus overspread the ground; among the pine stems there was a tangle of unknown shrubs; and a brilliant bird, scarlet except its black wings, hovered about as if it had no fear of us. I could learn nothing more about it than that the people call it the red robin. Before we returned the moon hung like a gem over the darkness of the ravine. I spent another happy day among these falls some months after, and was yet more impressed with their singularity and beauty.

When we had exchanged our wet clothes, an excellent dinner was served, and our host himself waited upon us, sitting down by the window when nothing was wanted. In the course of dinner Mr. H. related to me some particulars of the slave insurrection at Charleston a few years before, when upward of thirty slaves were hanged at once. Some circumstance which he told led me to observe that I should have done as the thirty did in their place. "Oh," said he, "so should I." I thanked him for his response, saying that no defence he could now make of slavery would stand against such an admission. He did not retract, but a long argument ensued, in which our host became deeply interested. He moved his chair forwarder and forwarder, till I saw him leaning over the table between two of the gentlemen to listen. Everybody had long done eating, and every dish on the table was quite cold, and the debate concluded, before our host remembered that we had not had our pudding, and started up to serve us.

We soon retired to our rooms, being in need of rest after the discomforts of the canalboat and the fatigues of the day; but it was not too late for the neighbours to offer their hospitable welcomes. Just after I was undressed, the cards of visiters were brought me, with a friendly message; but it was too late to do more than send a message in return.

We left the place at a little after five in the morning, in a dismal rain. While breakfasting at Utica, we engaged an "exclusive extra" to carry us to Buffalo for eighty dollars, the precise route being agreed upon, and the choice of times and seasons to remain with us. On going out to our carriage we found the steps of the hotel occupied by a number of persons, some from Boston, who offered me welcome to the country, and any information or assistance I might need. [Pg 83] One gentleman put into my hand a letter of introduction to an influential friend of his at Cincinnati, as it was understood that I was going there. So from this strange place, where I had not spent above two hours, we drove off amid a variety of friendly greetings.

This day I first saw a loghouse, and first felt myself admitted into the sanctuary of the forest. These things made the day full of interest to me, though the rain scarcely ceased from morning till night. Well-settled farms were numerous along the road, but in the intervals were miles of forests; dark thronging trees with their soft gay summits. Till now the autumn woods had appeared at a distance too red and rusty; these, when looked into, were the melting of all harmonious colours. As for the forms, some were drooping, some towering, their tall bare stems wreathed with crimson creepers. The cleared hollows and slopes, with the forest ever advancing or receding, are as fine to the imagination as any natural language can be. I looked for an Indian or two standing on the forest verge, within a shade as dusky as himself; but for this I had to wait another day.

Just after dark we arrived at Syracuse, in time for the common supper. I was surprised at the size and style of the hotel. Land and building material being cheap, and there being no window-tax, there is little inducement to economize space in the American houses, and the new hotels have the ambitious air which is given by spaciousness. The deficiency lies in furniture, and yet more in attendance; but I really think, that if travellers will trouble themselves to learn a little of the ways of the house, so as not to run into opposition to other people's convenience, much more comfort may be enjoyed in these places than unaccommodating tourists will believe. Our chambers were quite sufficiently furnished here; and I never in any place found difficulty in obtaining as large a supply of water as I wished by simply asking for it in good time. I observed that the hotel parlours in various parts of the country were papered with the old-fashioned papers, I believe French, which represent a sort of panorama of a hunting-party, a fleet, or some such diversified scene. I saw many such a hunting-party, the ladies in scarlet riding-habits, as I remember the landlord of the inn at Bray, near Dublin, to have been proud of in his best parlour. At Schenectady, the bay of Naples, with its fishing-boats on the water and groups of lazzaroni on the shore, [Pg 84] adorned our parlour walls. It seems to be an irresistible temptation to idle visiters, English, Irish, and American, to put speeches into the mouths of the painted personages; and such hangings are usually seen deformed with scribblings. The effect is odd, in wild places, of seeing American witticisms put into the mouths of Neapolitan fishermen, ancient English ladies of quality, or of tritons and dryads.

There is taste quite as bad as this in a matter of far more importance, the naming of places. Syracuse in the State of New-York! I often wonder whether it is yet too late to revert to the Indian names, to undo the mischief which has been done by boys fresh from their smattering of the classics, who have gone into the forest to hew out towns and villages. I heard many Americans say that the State of New-York ought to be called Ontario, and the city Manhattan. But, so far from bringing back the nomenclature to a better state, we not only find Utica, Syracuse, Manlius, and Camillus, and the village of Geneva on Seneca Lake, with Ithaca at its other extremity, but the village of Chittenango actually baptized into Sullivan; and all this in the neighbourhood of the lakes Onondago, Cayuga, and Owasco. It is as bad as the English in Van Diemen's Land, who, if I remember rightly, have got Palmyra, Richmond, and Jericho all in a line.

Some curious associations arise from a new nation using the language of the old. While speculating sometimes on what the classical conceptions can be in the minds of youths who hear every day, in the most sordid connexion, of Rome, Utica, Carthage, Athens, Palmyra, and Troy, it occurred to me that some of our commonest English writing must bear a different meaning to the Americans and to us. All that is written about cornfields, for instance, must call up pictures in their minds quite unlike any that the poets intended to create. "Waving corn" is not the true description to them; and one can scarcely bring one's tongue to explain that it means "small grain." Their poetical attachments are naturally and reasonably to their Indian corn, which is a beautiful plant, worthy of all love and celebration. But the consequence is, that we have not their sympathy about our sheaves, our harvest wain, our gleaners; for though they have wheat, their harvest, par excellence, is of corncobs, and their "small grain" bears about the same relation to poetry with them as turnips with us. Then, again, there [Pg 85] is the month of May, about which we lose their sympathy. Over a great proportion of the country May is one of their worst months, damp, drizzly, with intervals of biting winds, as little fit for the climate of a poem as our windy and dusty March. Many other such particulars might be mentioned, which it would be a new employment to trace out.

When I traversed New-York State at a subsequent period with another party of friends, we saw many Indians before reaching Syracuse. It was at Oneida Castle, a village on the borders of the Oneida territory, which was once fortified after the Indian fashion, whence its formidable name. We saw in such close neighbourhood as to cause many strange reflections, the Episcopalian church built for the Indians of the vicinity, who are declared to be reclaimed from idolatry and their ancient Council Grove, where they met to think their own thoughts and say their own sayings. This grove is a fine clump of twenty-seven butternut-trees. We passed through the village on the day when the Indians had all come in to receive their annual government allowance of seven dollars a head. Two men were drunk; the rest looked sober enough. The squaws were neatly dressed in blue pantaloons edged with white, and had clean blankets over their shoulders. The babies looked fat and lively. One squaw had her infant lashed to a board at her back. When we stopped to water the horses we saw several boys with bows and arrows, and Dr. F. made them understand by signs that any one who could strike a quarter dollar which he would fix on a post should have it. He made a notch in the post of a shed, and placed his coin, and forthwith the arrows flew like hail. One struck deep into a post, and we saw how easily fatal this weapon might be. An old Indian or two watched the sport, and assumed the superintendence. The coin fell, and Dr. F. was going to deliver it to the claimant, when an old Indian came forward with "No, no." He showed by signs that the coin had fallen, not from its being struck, but from the post having been shaken. The quarter dollar was put up again, and soon after struck and bent in the middle by the arrow of a youth, who looked as happy with his prize as if he had regained a tract of his native wood. The party gave us some very bright looks as we drove away.

In a hotel on this road I found a Sabbath-school history of Lady Jane Grey, compiled obviously for the purpose of [Pg 86] prejudicing the reader's mind against the Catholics. Among other wise things in it there was an explanation that the heroine was called "Lady" because she was related to the king; and people are sometimes called so in England. A clear idea to give the American youth of our English peerage!

We left Syracuse at dawn; and this was the morning when, finding ourselves too hungry to proceed to Skaneatles without food, we were treated to that abundant breakfast, so characteristically served, which I have described in my other book. [4] No one likes to breakfast twice over in description any more than in reality; and I therefore say nothing about Elbridge here. The greater part of this day, and some of the next, was spent at Auburn in viewing the prison, walking about the town, and driving down the shores of the pretty Owasco Lake.

The cultivation of the country now began to show the improvement which increases all the way to Buffalo. At the head of Cayuga Lake we travelled over the longest bridge I ever saw, even a mile and eight rods long. It is wooden, of course, laid upon piles, and more conspicuous for usefulness than beauty. The great ornament of this route is the village of Geneva, reared on a terrace which overhangs Seneca Lake. The Northern States abound in beautiful villages; but I know none more captivating than this. A long row of handsome white and red houses, each with its sloping garden, fronts the lake; and behind the dwellings the road is bordered with locust-trees, which seem to imbower the place. The gardens are more carefully cultivated than is at all common in America, and they well repay the trouble bestowed on them. There is a college standing on high ground above the lake, to which a natural lawn steeply descends from the open space in front of the building. Holstein, aiddecamp to Bolivar, was professor of modern languages in this college when I was first at Geneva. Before my second visit he had removed to Albany. To crown the temptations of Geneva as a place of residence, it has rather a choice society. It has been charged with not being healthy, but I believe this is not true. It seems to be well and speedily supplied with literature. I saw a placard outside a bookseller's store, "Two Old Men's Tales, [Pg 87] price 80 cents," that is, four shillings. One of my last interests, before I left England, had been watching over the publication of this work; and now here it was selling at four shillings, in the back of the State of New-York! I remarked two things more about this village; that all the women I saw were pretty, and that a profusion of azalea grew wild in the neighbourhood.

The road to Canandaigua ascends for a considerable distance after leaving Geneva, and the last view of the place from above was exquisite, imbosomed as it lay in the autumn woods, and with its blue lake stretched behind it in the sunny atmosphere. One element in the exhilaration of such scenes in America is the universal presence of competence. The boys who gather about the stage do not come to beg, or even to sell, but to amuse themselves while eating their bread and meat, or on their way to the field. The young women all well dressed, the men all at work or amusement, the farms all held in fee-simple, the stores all inadequate to their custom; these things are indescribably cheering to behold, and a never-failing source of pleasure to the traveller from Europe. It may be a questionable comfort, but it is a comfort to think, "if these people are not happy, it is their own fault." Whether their minds are as easy as their fortunes, it may not be safe to affirm; but at least the sin and sorrow of social injustice in regard to the first necessities of life are absent.

The moon was gleaming over Canandaigua Lake when we came in sight of it, and a golden planet dropped beneath the horizon when we took the turn towards the village. We found that Blossom's hotel did not answer to the favourable description which had been given us of it. This had been a training day, and the house was so noisy with drunken soldiers, that, when we had attained the drawing-room, we locked ourselves in till the house should be cleared, which happened as early as nine o'clock; but we still found the inn less comfortable than most upon the road.

The pretty village of Canandaigua is noted for its good society. It would have given me pleasure to have been able to accept the kind invitation of some of its inhabitants to prolong my stay now, or to revisit it the next year; but we had promised Mr. O. to cause no delay in getting to Niagara; and we engaged, in return for his agreeing to stop [Pg 88] this day, to travel all night; and I never was able to allot any future time to this place. We saw as much of it, however, as we could in one day.

There are many families of Scotch extraction at Canandaigua, and to this the village owes its superiority in gardens to almost any place in the country. We spent the greater part of the day with a gentleman who was born in Scotland, but had settled at Canandaigua thirty-four years before, when the place was almost a desert. He now sees himself surrounded by handsome dwellings, trim gardens, and a highly-cultivated society, able to command resources of books and other intellectual luxuries to almost any extent, from the directness and ease of communication with New-York. He had just taken possession of a splendid new dwelling, and had presented his old one to the Episcopalian church for a parsonage. He showed me from the top of the house, where his dwelling had stood, where it stood now, and how it had been moved entire in a day and a half. I think the distance could not have been much under a mile.

After our early breakfast we were engaged till church-time in receiving and making calls, as there was no time to be lost. We went to the Episcopalian church with our friends, and heard a sermon which could not please us, it was so full of dogmatism and bitterness. Our friends insisted on entertaining the whole of our large party, and invited some agreeable guests in addition, so that we spent a very profitable as well as pleasant afternoon. We walked over the grounds, enjoyed the view of the lake from the housetop, and picked up a good deal of information about the place and neighbourhood, which might seem to the inhabitants scarcely worthy of the name of knowledge, but which is inestimable to the stranger as opening new departments of inquiry, and explaining much which he did not understand before.

The stage was ordered for nine, and we returned to Blossom's for an hour's rest before setting out on our rough night's journey.

We reached Batavia to breakfast, and soon after found ourselves on the first piece of corduroy road we had encountered in the country. I mention this because corduroy roads appear to have made a deep impression on the imaginations of the English, who seem to suppose that American roads are all corduroy. I can assure them that there is a [Pg 89] large variety in American roads. There are the excellent limestone roads which stretch out in three directions from Nashville, Tennessee, and some like them in Kentucky, on which the tourist might sketch almost without difficulty while travelling at a rapid rate. There is quite another sort of limestone road in Virginia, in traversing which the stage is dragged up from shelf to shelf, some of the shelves sloping so as to throw the passengers on one another, on either side alternately. Then there are the rich mud roads of Ohio, through whose deep red sloughs the stage goes slowly sousing after rain, and gently upsetting when the rut on the one or the other side proves to be of a greater depth than was anticipated. Then there are the sandy roads of the pine-barrens, of an agreeable consistency after rain, but very heavy in dry weather. Then there is the ridge road, running parallel with a part of Lake Ontario, and supposed to be the edge of what was once its basin. The level terrace thus provided by Nature offered the foundation of an admirable road, one of the best in the states. Lastly, there is the corduroy road, happily of rare occurrence, where, if the driver is merciful to his passengers, he drives them so as to give them the association of being on the way to a funeral, their involuntary sobs on each jolt helping the resemblance; or, if he be in a hurry, he shakes them like pills in a pillbox. But the American drivers are a class of men marked by that merciful temper which naturally accompanies genius. They are men who command admiration equally by their perfection in their art, their fertility of resource, and their patience with their passengers. I was never upset in a stage but once during all my travels; and the worse the roads were, the more I was amused at the variety of devices by which we got on, through difficulties which appeared insurmountable, and the more I was edified at the gentleness with which our drivers treated female fears and fretfulness.

By this time a solitary Indian might be frequently seen standing on a heap of stones by the roadside, or sleeping under a fence. There is something which rivets the eye of the stranger in the grave gaze, the lank hair, the blanket-wrapped form of the savage, as he stands motionless. We were generally to be seen leaning out of every opening in the stage as long as the figure remained in sight.

We issued from the corduroy road upon one on which we could easily have performed twelve miles an hour. [Pg 90] Houses with porches of Ionic pillars began to be scattered by the roadside. We were obviously approaching Buffalo. Soon the lake was visible, and then we entered the long main street, and stopped at the entrance of the Eagle hotel.


"That night a child might understand
The de'il had business on his hand."


On consulting a good map, a little promontory may be seen jutting out into Lake Erie on the Canada shore, nearly opposite to Black Rock. Perhaps it may be marked Fort Erie, for there Fort Erie stood.

A lady of Buffalo, who happens to be a good walker, proposed that she and I should indulge in a ramble to Fort Erie one fine day towards the end of October. She showed me that she was provided with stout boots, in case of our having to cross swampy ground; and she said she believed we might trust to getting some sort of a dinner on the Canada side, and might therefore go unencumbered with provisions.

We set out from Buffalo soon after breakfast, and made our way over a waste, through brush, over fences, along a natural terrace once planted with guns, down to the ferry at Black Rock. On the way I saw one of the less prepossessing abodes of settlers so frequently described; its desolate appearance on the verge of the wood; its untidy garden, and the cool, uncomfortable manners, and the lank hair, and pale, dingy countenance of its mistress. I also heard, during our walk, some things which make me think that Buffalo is as undesirable a place of residence as any in the free States. It is the rendezvous of all manner of persons; the passage through which fugitives pass from the States to Canada, from Canada to the States, and from Europe and the Eastern States into the wild West. Runaway slaves come here, and their owners follow in hopes of recapturing them. Indian traders, land speculators, and poor emigrants come here, and the most debased Indians, [Pg 91] the half-civilized, hang about the outskirts. No influence that the mass of respectable inhabitants can exert can neutralize the bad effects of a floating population like this; and the place is unavoidably a very vicious one. A sufficient proof of this is, that ladies cannot walk beyond the streets without the protection of a gentleman. Some excellent English ladies opened a school in Buffalo, and, not being aware of the peculiarities of the place, followed, with their pupils, the English practice of taking country walks. They persevered for some time, hoping to obtain countenance for the wholesome practice; but were compelled, after a time, not only to give up walking, but to leave the place. It will be understood that I do not give this as any specimen of American towns. The corruption of Buffalo is owing chiefly to its frontier position, and consequent liability to a vicious, transient population.

After crossing the ferry at Black Rock we pursued our walk in a southwest direction, sometimes treading a firm sand and sometimes a greensward washed by the fresh waters of the lake. Though we were on British ground, we were entertained by an American woman who lived on the lake shore close by the fort. She treated us with negus and cake while preparing to get a dinner for us, and amused us with accounts of how butter and eggs are smuggled into Buffalo from her neighbourhood, these articles not being allowed to pass the custom-house. My eyes never rested on the Canada shore without my feeling how absurd it was that that poor country should belong to us, its poverty and hopeless inactivity contrasting, so much to our disgrace, with the prosperous activity of the opposite shore; but here was the climax of absurdity, the prohibition of a free traffic in butter and eggs! What a worthy subject of contention between two great nations, the one breaking the laws to provide Buffalo with butter and eggs, and the preventive force of the other exercised in opposition!

Our hostess was sewing when we went in, amusing herself meanwhile with snatches of reading from "Peter Parley," which lay open before her. She put away her work to cook for us, conversing all the while, and by no means sorry, I fancy, to have the amusement of a little company. She gave us tea, beefsteak, hot rolls and butter, honeycomb, and preserved plums and crab-apples. Immediately after dinner I went out to the fort, my friend promising to follow. [Pg 92]

The thickness of the remaining fragments of the walls shows the fort to have been substantially built. It was held by the Americans to the last extremity in the war of 1814, and then blown up by a brave man to prevent its falling into the hands of the British. He remained alone in the fort to do the deed; and as I now beheld the desolation of the solitude in which it stands, I felt as if I could enter into what his feelings must have been on the last day of his life. At one moment all had been dead silence; at the next the windows in Buffalo were blown out by the explosion.

I sat alone beside a pool in the middle of the fort. Fragments of the building lay tumbled around, overgrown with tall grass, and bristling with shrubbery. Behind me was the grim forest, with the ruins of a single deserted house standing within its shadow. Before me lay the waste of waters, with gulls dipping and sailing. A single birch overhung the pool beside me, and a solitary snipe, which seemed to have no fear of me, vibrated on the top of a bulrush. I do not know that I was ever so oppressed with a sense of solitude; and I was really glad soon to see my friend standing on a pinnacle of the ruined wall, and beckoning me to come up.

This afternoon she told me her wonderful story; a part of which, that part in which the public may be said to have an interest, I am going to relate.

At the time of the war of 1812 Mrs. W. lived in Buffalo with her father, mother, brothers, and sisters. In 1814, just when the war was becoming terrific on the frontier, her father and eldest brother were drowned in crossing the neighbouring ferry. Six months after this accident the danger of Buffalo was so great that the younger children of the family were sent away into the country with their married sister, under the charge of their brother-in-law, who was to return with his wagon for the mother and two daughters who were left behind, and for the clothes of the family. For three weeks there had been so strong an apprehension of a descent of the Indians, the barbarous allies of the British, that the ladies had snatched sleep with their clothes on, one watching while the others lay down. It was with some difficulty, and after many delays, that the wagon party got away, and there were still doubts whether it was the safer course to go or stay. Nothing was heard of them before night, however, and it was hoped that they were safe, and that the wagon would come for the remaining three the next morning. [Pg 93]

The ladies put out their lights early, as they were desired; and at eight two of the three lay down to sleep, Mrs. W., then a girl of sixteen, being one. At nine she was called up by the beating of a drum, the signal that the Indians were at hand. No description can give an idea of the loathing with which these savages were then regarded; the mingled horror, disgust, dread, and hatred. The Indians were insidious, dangerous, and cruel beyond example, even in the history of savage warfare. These poor ladies had been brought up to hate them with a deadly hatred; they were surrounded with persons burning with the injuries inflicted by Indian revenge and barbarity; for weeks they had lived in hourly dread of death by their hands; their strength was worn, and their nerves shaken by the long suspense; and now the hoarse drum woke them up with news that the hour was come. A deadly sickness overspread their hearts as they started from their beds. They looked from their windows, but could see nothing through the blank darkness. They listened, but they knew that if the streets had been quiet as death, the stealthy tread of the savages would have been inaudible. There was a bustle in the town. Was the fight beginning? No. It was an express sent by the scouts to say that it was a false alarm. The wornout ladies composed their spirits, and sank to sleep again. At four they were once more awakened by the horrid drum, and now there was a mustering in the streets which looked as if this were no false alarm. In the same moment the sister who was watching what passed in the street saw by torchlight the militia part asunder and fly; and Mrs. W., who was looking through the back window, perceived in the uncertain glimmer that a host of savages was leaping the garden fence; leaping along the walks to the house like so many kangaroos, but painted, and flourishing their tomahawks. She cried out to her mother and sister, and they attempted to fly; but there was no time. Before they could open the front door the back windows came crashing in, and the house was crowded with yelling savages. With their tomahawks they destroyed everything but the ladies, who put on the most submissive air possible. The trunks containing the clothing of the whole family stood in the hall, ready to be carried away when the wagon should arrive. These were split to fragments by the tomahawk. These wretches had actually met the wagon with the rest of the [Pg 94] family, and turned it back; but the brother-in-law, watching his opportunity, wheeled off from the road when his savage guards were somehow engaged, and escaped.

The ladies were seized, and, as Mrs. W. claimed protection, they were delivered into the charge of some squaws to be driven to the British camp. It was unpleasant enough the being goaded on through such a scene by savage women, as insolent as the men were cruel; but the ladies soon saw that this was the best thing that could have happened to them; for the town was burning in various directions, and soon no alternative would be left between being in the British camp and in the thick of the slaughter in the burning streets. The British officer did not wish to have his hands full of helpless female prisoners. He sent them home again with a guard of an ensign and a private, who had orders to prevent their house being burned. The ensign had much to do to fulfil his orders. He stood in the doorway, commanding, persuading, struggling, threatening; but he saved the house, which was, in two days, almost the only one left standing. The whole town was a mass of smoking ruins, in many places slaked with blood. Opposite the door lay the body of a woman who, in her despair, had drunk spirits, and then defied the savages. They tomahawked her in sight of the neighbours, and before her own door, and her body lay where it had fallen, for there were none to bury the dead. Some of the inhabitants had barricaded themselves in the jail, which proved, it was said, too damp to burn; the rest who survived were dispersed in the woods.

Before the fire was quite burned out the Indians were gone, and the inhabitants began to creep back into the town, cold and half dead with hunger. The ladies kept up a large fire (carefully darkening the windows), and cooked for the settlers till they were too weary to stand, and one at a time lay down to sleep before the fire. Mrs. W. often, during those dreary days, used to fasten a blanket, Indian fashion, about her shoulders, and go out into the wintry night to forage for food; a strange employment for a young girl in the neighbourhood of a savage foe. She traced the hogs in the snow, and caught many fowls in the dark. On the third day, very early in the morning, six Buffalo men were enjoying a breakfast of her cooking, when the windows were again broken in, and the house once more full of savages. [Pg 95] They had come back to burn and pillage all that was left. The six men fled, and, by a natural impulse, the girl with them. At some distance from the house she looked behind her, and saw a savage leaping towards her with his tomahawk already raised. She saw that the next instant it would be buried in her scull. She faced about, burst out a laughing, and held out both her hands to the savage. His countenance changed, first to perplexity; but he swerved his weapon aside, laughed, and shook hands, but motioned her homeward. She was full of remorse for having left her mother and sister. When she reached her door the house was so crowded that she could neither make her way in nor learn anything of their fate. Under the persuasion that they lay murdered within, she flew to some British dragoons who were sitting on the ground at a considerable distance, watching the burning of the remainder of the town. They expressed their amazement that she should have made her way through the savages, and guarded her home, where they procured an entrance for her, so that she reached the arms of her patient and suffering mother and sister. That house was, at length, the only one left standing; and when we returned Mrs. W. pointed it out to me.

The settlers remained for some time in the woods, stealing into a midnight warming and supper at the lone abode of the widow and her daughters. The ladies had nothing left but this dwelling. Their property had been in houses which were burned, and their very clothes were gone. The settlers had, however, carried off their money with them safely into the woods. They paid the ladies for their hospitality, and afterward for as much needlework as they could do; for every one was in want of clothes. By their industry these women raised themselves to independence, which the widow lived some tranquil years to enjoy. The daughter who told me the story is now the lady of a judge. She never boasts of her bravery, and rarely refers to her adventures in the war; but preserves all her readiness and strength of mind, and in the silence of her own heart, or in the ear of a sympathizing friend, gratefully contrasts the perils of her youth with the milder discipline of her riper age.

[Pg 96]


"Look back!
Lo! where it comes like an eternity,
As if to sweep down all things in its track,
Charming the eye with dread!"


It is not my intention to describe what we saw at Niagara so much as to relate what we did. To offer an idea of Niagara by writing of hues and dimensions is much like representing the kingdom of Heaven by images of jasper and topazes.

I visited the falls twice: first in October, 1834, in company with the party with whom we traversed the state of New-York, when we stayed nearly a week; and again with Dr. and Mrs. F., and other friends, in June, 1836, when we remained between two and three days. The first time we approached the falls from Buffalo, the next from Lewistown and Queenstown.

I expected to be disappointed in the first sight of the falls, and did not relish the idea of being questioned on the first day as to my "impressions." I therefore made a law, with the hearty agreement of the rest of the party, that no one should ask an opinion of the spectacle for twenty-four hours. We stepped into the stage at Buffalo at half past eight in the morning on the 14th of October. At Black Rock we got out to cross the ferry. We looked at the green rushing waters we were crossing, and wondered whether they or we should be at the falls first. We had to wait some minutes for the stage on the Canada side, and a comely English woman invited us into her kitchen to warm ourselves. She was washing as well as cooking; and such a log was blazing under her boilers as no fireplace in England would hold. It looked like the entire trunk of a pine somewhat shortened. I could not help often wishing that some of the shivering poor of London could have supplies of the fuel which lies rotting in the American woods.

The road is extremely hard all the way from the ferry to [Pg 97] the falls, and the bridges the rudest of the rude. The few farms looked decaying, and ill-clad children offered us autumn fruit for sale. We saw nothing to flatter our national complacency; for truly the contrast with the other side of the river was mournful enough. It was not till we had passed the inn with the sign of the "Chippeway Battle Ground" that we saw the spray from the falls. I believe we might have seen it sooner if we had known where to look. "Is that it?" we all exclaimed. It appeared on the left-hand side, whereas we had been looking to the right; and instead of its being suspended in the air like a white cloud, as we had imagined, it curled vigorously up, like smoke from a cannon or from a replenished fire. The winding of the road presently brought this round to our right hand. It seemed very near; the river, too, was as smooth as oil. The beginning of the Welland canal was next pointed out to me, but it was not a moment to care for canals. Then the little Round Island, covered with wood and surrounded by rapids, lay close at hand, in a recess of the Canada shore. Some of the rapids, of eight or ten feet descent, would be called falls elsewhere. They were glittering and foamy, with spaces of green water between. I caught a glimpse of a section of the cataract, but not any adequate view, before we were driven briskly up to the door of the hotel. We ran quickly from piazza to piazza till we reached the crown of the roof, where there is a space railed in for the advantage of the gazer who desires to reach the highest point. I think the emotion of this moment was never renewed or equalled. The morning had been cloudy, with a very few wandering gleams. It was now a little after noon; the sky was clearing, and at this moment the sun lighted up the Horseshoe Fall. I am not going to describe it. The most striking appearance was the slowness with which the shaded green waters rolled over the brink. This majestic oozing gives a true idea of the volume of the floods, but they no longer look like water.

We wandered through the wood, along Table Rock, and to the ferry. We sat down opposite to the American Falls, finding them the first day or two more level to our comprehension than the Great Horseshoe Cataract; yet throughout, the beauty was far more impressive to me than the grandeur. One's imagination may heap up almost any degree of grandeur; but the subtile colouring of this scene, [Pg 98] varying with every breath of wind, refining upon the softness of driven snow, and dimming all the gems of the mine, is wholly inconceivable. The woods on Goat Island were in their gaudiest autumn dress; yet, on looking up to them from the fall, they seemed one dust colour. This will not be believed, but it is true.

The little detached fall on the American side piqued my interest at once. It looks solitary in the midst of the crowd of waters, coming out of its privacy in the wood to take its leap by itself. In the afternoon, as I was standing on Table Rock, a rainbow started out from the precipice a hundred feet below me, and curved upward as if about to alight on my head. Other such apparitions seemed to have a similar understanding with the sun. They went and came, blushed and faded, the floods rolling on, on, till the human heart, overcharged with beauty, could bear no more.

We crossed the ferry in the afternoon. Our boat was tossed like a cork in the writhing waves. We soon found that, though driven hither and thither by the currents, the ferryman always conquers at last, and shoots his boat into the desired creek; but the tossing and whirling amid the driving spray seems a rather dubious affair at first. To be carried down would be no better than to be sucked up the river, as there is a fatal whirlpool below which forbids all navigation as peremptorily as the falls.

I still think the finest single impression of all is half way up the American Fall, seen, not from the staircase, but from the bank on the very verge of the sheet. Here we stood this first evening, and amid the rapids above. In returning, we saw from the river the singular effect of the clouds of spray being in shadow, and the descending floods in light; while the evening star hung over one extremity of the falls, and the moon over the other, and the little perpetual cloud, amber in the last rays from the west, spread its fine drizzle like a silver veil over the scene.

There is nothing like patient waiting in a place like this. The gazer, who sits for hours watching what sun and wind may be pleased to reveal, is sure to be rewarded, somewhat as Newton described himself as being when he set a thought before him, and sat still to see what would come out of it. It is surprising what secrets of the thunder cavern were disclosed to me during a few days of still watching; disclosed by a puff of wind clearing the spray for an instant, or by [Pg 99] the lightest touch of a sunbeam. The sound of the waters is lulling, even on the very brink; but if one wishes for stillness, there is the forest all around, where the eyes may become accustomed to common objects again. It is pleasant, after the high excitement, to stroll in the wild woods, and wonder what this new tree is and what that; and to gossip with the pigs, slim and spruce while fed on forest nuts and roots; and to watch the progress of a loghouse, sitting the while on a stump or leaning over a snake-fence; and then to return, with new wonder, to the ethereal vision.

The first evening the gentlemen were all restless under the prohibition to ask about impressions; every one of them was eager to tell, but too proud to pour out till others did the same. What an outpouring it was when it did happen!

One morning we found an old man, between seventy and eighty years old, gazing from Table Rock. He was an American. Being on a journey, he had walked from Queenstown to see the falls. He quietly observed that he was ashamed to think there had been wars near such a place, and that he hoped the English and Americans were grown wiser now, and would not think of fighting any more. This came in echo of my thought. I had been secretly wishing that all the enemies in the world could be brought together on this rock; they could not but love as brethren.

An English family at the hotel seemed marvellously skilled in putting away all the good influences of the place. The gentleman was so anxious about where he should settle, so incessantly pettish, so resolutely miserable, as to bespeak the compassion of all the guests for the ladies of his family, one of whom told me that she had forgotten all about the falls in her domestic anxieties. As this gentleman found fault with everybody and everything, and ostentatiously proved that nothing could give him any pleasure, it was not surprising that the cataract itself failed to meet his approbation; yet I was not prepared for the question he put to me across the table, in the presence of both Canadians and Americans, whether I did not think the natives made a very silly fuss about the falls, and whether the Falls of the Clyde were not much finer. Such are the persons by whom foreigners suppose themselves made acquainted with the English character. Such is the way in which not a few English study to mortify the inhabitants, and then come home and complain of American conceit. I told this [Pg 100] gentleman that I perceived he was speaking of the rapids, and had not seen the falls.

We wished, while we were in the neighbourhood, to obtain a glimpse of Lake Ontario, as we were not sure of being able to visit Canada at a future time. We took the opportunity of two of our party going northward, to accompany them as far as Queenstown, seven miles off, where we intended to see Brock's monument, satisfy ourselves with the view from the top of it, and walk home through the woods in the afternoon. In the stage were an Irish gentleman and his wife. The lady amused me by the zeal with which she knitted all the way, just as if she were in a dark parlour in the Old Jewry; and the gentleman with some sentiments which were wholly new to me; for instance, he feared that the independence of the Americans made them feel themselves independent of God. This consequence of democratic government had not struck me before, and I never perceived any traces of its existence; but if it should occur, there will probably soon be an epidemic or a bad season to bring them to their senses again.

Before the door of the wretched, foul inn at Queenstown, we sorrowfully shook hands with our Prussian and Dutch companions, hoping to meet them again in the course of our travels; which, indeed, happened more than once. We provided ourselves here with cider, cakes, and sandwiches; i.e., beefsteak laid between thick dry bread. With this provision we ascended the hill to the foot of Brock's monument, and found the portress, an active little Irishwoman, waiting to let us in. She was delighted to meet ladies from the old country, and heartily invited us to spread our dinner in her cottage below. She told us all her affairs, and seemed unwilling to leave us when we told her we meant to stay a long while on the top of the monument, and would not detain her from her washtub, but would come down to her by-and-by. She and her husband have, for showing the monument, sixty dollars a season (that is, while the boats run), and all that they happen to take in the winter. They were soon to have a cottage built for them nearer the monument. When we went down to her cottage she had spread plates, knives, and pickles, and had her head full of questions and communications. She was grateful for a small payment for her trouble, and gave us the impression of her [Pg 101] being a very amiable, contented person, whom we should like to see again.

Sir Isaac Brock fell at the battle of Queenstown, in October, 1812, near the base of this monument. It is 145 feet high, and, being built on a pretty steep hill, commands a fine view. To the left a prodigious sweep of forest terminates in blue Canadian hills. On the right is the American shore, at this time gaudy with autumn woods. There stands the village of Lewistown, with its winding descent to the ferry. At our feet lay Queenstown, its sordidness being lost in distance, and its long street presenting the appearance of an English village. The green river rushes between its lofty wooded banks, which suddenly widen at Queenstown, causing the waters to spread and relax their speed while making their way, with three or four bends, to the lake. We saw the white church of Niagara rising above the woods some miles off where the junction takes place; and beyond, the vast lake spreads its waters, gray on the horizon. There was life in this magnificent scene. The ferryboat was buffeted by the waves; groups were in waiting on either side the ferry, and teams were in the fields. The Irishwoman was grieved that she had no telescope wherewith to enable us to see what was doing on the lake. She and her husband had provided one for the accommodation of visiters. Some travellers (English) had thrown it down from the top of the monument, and when she asked for payment only bullied her; and her husband had not been able to afford to get another.

After dinner we sat on the top of the precipitous wooded bank of the river, looking down into its green eddies, and watching the family of white birds which hovered far beneath us, but yet high over the stream. Meditating, as we were, that we were now sitting on the spot where the falls were pouring down their flood ages before Babylon was founded or the Greek Mythology had arisen out of the elements of universal conviction, it was not surprising that we had no thoughts to spare for the weather. [5] We did not[Pg 102] observe how the sky had been darkening. Two wagons driven by lads stopped in passing, and their drivers offered us seats to Niagara. We at first declined, being bent upon walking; but feeling heavy drops of rain at the moment, we retracted our refusal, and jumped into one of the vehicles. It was a mere box upon wheels; a barbarous machine, but of great service to us in the ensuing storm. Before we reached our hotel we were thoroughly wet, but had obtained a good deal of information from our driver about the condition of the Canadian settlers in the neighbourhood. He was the son of a Canadian father and Scotch mother, who were doing well in the world, as he said the English settlers do who set the right way to work. The land is not the best near the road; so that what is seen there is no fair specimen of the state of the settlers. The farms hereabout consist of about 100 acres generally, and are all the property of the residents. Labourers live with the farmers, and receive, besides their board and lodging, about 120 dollars a year. A gentleman, a farmer and physician, from some distance, called on me one day when I was out, and left messages for me with one of our party. He said he wished me to see and do justice to Canada. People go, he believes, with wrong expectations, and so are disappointed. He, his wife and daughters, went expecting ease and comfort, and they have found it; but they have not wealth and luxury. He declared that civility and cheerfulness would always command good manners and service. As I had no opportunity of "seeing and doing justice to Canada," I give this gentleman's testimony. It is very agreeable, and I do not doubt its justness.

Another visiter of a very different kind came to our parlour as I was preparing for our departure. I looked up from my packing, and saw an extraordinary apparition in the doorway; a lady bridling, winking, and attitudinizing in a wonderful manner. On my asking her to come in and sit down, she said she was deputed by a gentleman to ask my address, in order to his communicating with me before I should publish my account of the falls. She seemed deeply grieved at finding that I did not contemplate any such [Pg 103] publication, saying that it would be a serious disappointment to the gentleman, who hoped I might have been of essential service to him—by recommending his hotel! It appeared that a sharp competition was going on about the letting of this hotel, and the gentleman in question was in hopes of getting it. He seemed to have one great qualification, the determination to leave no stone unturned.

The second time I visited Niagara I accomplished the feat of going behind the fall. In October it was too cold; on a sunny 8th of June there was no imprudence in it. When I descended the staircase with Dr. and Mrs. F. after breakfast, we had no such intention; but we were all tempted farther and farther over the rocks, nearer and nearer to the sheet, till the puffing away of the spray gave us glimpses of what was behind, and made us feel that this was the right day and hour. Mrs. F.'s chest was not very strong, and this was no enterprise for a child; so Dr. F. and I were to be the favoured ones. We ascended to the guide's house, and surveyed the extraordinary costume in which we were to make the expedition. Stout socks and shoes (but I would recommend ladies to go shod as usual), thick cotton garments reaching to the feet, green oilskin jackets and hats; in this mountaineer sort of costume is the adventure to be gone through. As the guide's wife was assisting me, she hoped I had enjoyed myself since I was last at the falls.

"Were you aware that I had been here before?"

"Yes, madam, I remember you well."

"Why, how is it possible that you should remember me among the thousands of people who have been here in two seasons? We were not acquainted, were we?"

"No, madam; but one evening you stopped and admired my cow."

"Did not this trumpet help you to remember me?"

"No, madam; I never saw it before."

How many ways there are to people's hearts! I now remembered having remarked to a companion on the beauty and docility of a cow which a woman was milking. The good wife had treasured up my observation as a personal compliment.

Mrs. F. and Charley accompanied us to the edge of the spray, when we sent them back, charging them not to expect us too soon, as we meant to look about us a while.

We had a stout negro for a guide. He took me by the [Pg 104] hand, and led me through the spray. I presently found the method of keeping myself at my ease. It was to hold down the brim of my hat, so as to protect my eyes from the dashing water, and to keep my mouth shut. With these precautions I could breathe and see freely in the midst of a tumult which would otherwise be enough to extinguish one's being. A hurricane blows up from the caldron; a deluge drives at you from all parts; and the noise of both wind and waters, reverberated from the cavern, is inconceivable. Our path was sometimes a wet ledge of rock just broad enough to allow one person at a time to creep along; in other places we walked over heaps of fragments both slippery and unstable. [6] If all had been dry and quiet, I might probably have thought this path above the boiling basin dangerous, and have trembled to pass it; but amid the hubbub of gusts and floods, it appeared so firm a footing that I had no fear of slipping into the caldron. From the moment that I perceived that we were actually behind the cataract, and not in a mere cloud of spray, the enjoyment was intense. I not only saw the watery curtain before me like tempest-driven snow, but by momentary glances could see the crystal roof of this most wonderful of Nature's palaces. The precise point where the flood left the rock was marked by a gush of silvery light, which, of course, was brighter where the waters were shooting forward than below where they fell perpendicularly. There was light enough to see one another's features by, and even to give a shadow to the side of the projecting rock which barred our farther progress. When we came within a few paces of this projection, our guide, by a motion of his hand (for speaking was out of the question), forbade my advancing farther. But it was no time and place to be stopped by anything but impossibilities. I saw that though there was no regular path on the other side of the guide, there were two pieces of rock wide enough for my feet, by standing on which I might touch the wall which limited our walk. I made the guide press himself back against the rock, and crossed between him and the caldron, and easily gained my object—laying my hand on Termination Rock. When I returned to my place Dr. F. passed both the guide and myself for the same purpose. In returning my hat blew off, in spite of all my efforts to hold [Pg 105] it on. The guide put his upon my head, and that was carried away in like manner. I ought to have been instructed to tie it well on, for mere holding will not do in a hurricane. It is a proof that we were well lighted in our cavern, that we all saw the outline of a hat which was jammed between two stones some way beneath us. The guide made for this, looking just as if he were coolly walking down into destruction; for the volumes of spray curled thickly up, as if eager to swallow him. He grasped the hat, but found it too much beaten to pieces to be of any use.

Mrs. F. says we looked like three gliding ghosts when her anxious eye first caught our forms moving behind the cloud. She was glad enough to see us; for some one passing by had made her expect us at least two minutes before we appeared. Dripping at all points as we were, we scudded under the rocks and up the staircase to our dressing-rooms, after which we wrote our names among those of the adventurers who have performed the same exploit, and received a certificate of our having visited Termination Rock. I was told that a fee and a wetting in the spray may secure such a certificate at any time. Be this as it may, ours were honest.

When we came down in our own likeness, Mrs. F. had found a glorious seat for us on a rock which jutted outward and upward, commanding the entire range of the falls, with every advantage of light, and also of solitude; no inconsiderable gain in a place where tourists may be heard discussing on Table Rock the probability of there being chickens for dinner. I felt some pain in my chest for a few hours, but was not otherwise injured by the expedition. When the other members of our party joined us, they were somewhat surprised to hear what we had done; and one of them followed our example another day.

I look back upon this morning as the very best of the many I spent at the falls. We found several new points of view, and the weather was divine. We clambered down to the water's edge, where men were gathering spars and other "curiosities." We sat long amusing ourselves with watching the vain attempts of the tree-trunks, which had been carried over from above, to get any farther down the river. They were whisked about like twigs in the boiling waters, and sometimes made a vigorous shoot as if to get free of the eddies; but as often as they reached a particular spot they were sure to be turned back, and sucked up the [Pg 106] stream to try again. I think they must be doing penance there still, unless, enormous logs as they are, they have been dashed to pieces. When the sun became too hot to be borne below, we came up to the foot of the staircase and sat in the shade, drinking from the drip the soft shower which could not make itself heard amid the solemn roar of the floods. Here Charley stood, placing spouts of reed which might convey water from the drip wherewith to wash his spars. Not a word of wonder had we from him. He gloried in the scene, and feared nothing, climbing, with the help of his father's strong hand, wherever it was practicable to set his little foot; but there was no wonder. The age of wonder has not arrived to children, savages, and other ignorant persons. They know too little of purposes, means, and obstructions to be aware of what either divine or human achievement is. A child believes you if you promise to take him into the moon; and a savage supposes that you eclipse the sun by firing a musket. An ignorant person annoys Mr. Babbage, after much praise of his machine, by asking to know one thing more: "If you put a question in wrong, will the answer come out right?" Charley would hardly have asked this question, child as he was; but he did not share our wonder at the cataract. He enjoyed the climbing, and the rainbows, and the emerald pillars based on clouds, which was the form the floods bore this sultry noon; but he went on washing his spars as tranquilly as if he had been beside our favourite brook in the wood at Stockbridge. His pity was stirred up this morning, however, with a story of a bird which I saw perish. It had got bewildered in the circuit of the Horseshoe Fall. I saw it driving and fluttering about for a minute or two in the spray, when it flew directly into the sheet, and was swallowed up.

The next day was devoted to Goat Island. Dr. F., who learned English to the last degree of perfection in little more than two years, happened to say one day that there was one English word whose exact meaning he did not understand, dawdle. We promised to afford him an exemplification of it this day. There was also a joke against me. I was now a practised traveller; and having found how the pleasures of travelling are economized by business-like habits of arrangement, I was the prompter of our somewhat inexperienced party about ordering dinner, packing at convenient times, and so contriving as to have our thoughts [Pg 107] at perfect liberty for pleasure while we were out of doors, instead of having to run or send to our lodgings about business which might have been settled while we were there. They asked me whether I could spend a whole day without thinking of time, meals, or the fitness of things in any way. No one was better pleased with such liberty than I; so we left behind us even our watches. It appears, however, that somebody must have carried money, for food was brought to us, and, doubtless, honestly paid for.

At some unknown hour of a bright morning, therefore, we set forth from our hotel, and in due time reached the ferry. The entire party paid sufficient attention to business to sit properly in the boat, which is no place for freak and frolic while bobbing about among the eddies. We dawdled long about the American Fall. I had never before been fully aware of its power over the senses. To-day I saw a lady who was sitting on the bank—as safe a seat as an armchair by the fireside—convulsively turn away from the scene and clasp the ground. Yet the water flows so tranquilly that I should not be afraid to stand in the flood near the bank where it takes the leap. I tried the force of the water there, and found it very moderate. After completing the ascent, Mrs. F. and I were standing looking at the rapids, when a letter was handed to me. Somebody had actually been mundane enough to remember the postoffice, and to go to it! I was glad it was not I. Further sins against the spirit of the day were presently committed. Of course, I cannot say what time it was, but, by the heat, probably about the middle of the day, when the ladies were sitting on the stem of a tree, in a tiny island amid the roaring rapids—an interesting love-story being their topic—and the gentlemen were seen approaching with bread, biscuits, cheese, ale, and lemonade. They had not even forgotten glasses. We ate our dinner on a bench under the trees, all except Charley, who niched himself in an ash which parted from the root into many stems. The boy looked like a beautiful fairy, and, for his own part, declared that this was far better than dining in any house.

We dawdled hours away in Goat Island; now lying on the grassy bank with our feet almost into the rapids; now fanning ourselves in the translucent green shades of the wood, among rabbits and goats, and then gathering new wild-flowers from the multitude which blossomed under our feet, the roar of the falls solemnizing all. The timid ones [Pg 108] sat in the alcove erected above the Horseshoe Fall, while the rest went down to the Terrapin Bridge and Tower. The tower, forty feet high, is built on rocks in the midst of the rapids, and its summit affords an absolutely complete view of the scene. The bridge is built on logs which extend from rock to rock in the rapids to the edge of the precipice, the flood gushing beneath in a dizzying whirl. At my first visit this bridge had been complete, and, to all appearance, secure. I had stood on its extreme point, which projected over the precipice. There I hung suspended above the fall, standing in the air on the extremity of a beam, and without any suspicion that I was not perfectly safe. It was there that I learned some of the secrets of the cataract. I saw there what can be seen nowhere else, the emerald columns broken and forced up, and falling again in gushes of diamonds, which again were melted into wreaths of dazzling snow. It was now too late to see this any more. The bridge had broken down some way from the end; the handrail was gone; and the brink of the precipice was no longer accessible. We got to the tower, however, and farther; and Charley and his father stepped down from the bridge among the rocks, and stood amid the water very near the brink of the great fall! Their position was shown to be perfectly safe by the verdure of these rocks. Slight shrubs, rooted in their crevices, were full of leaf. Their smallest twigs were tossed in the never-dying breeze without being snapped. Yet we were glad when our friends were safe on the bridge again.

We descended the Biddle staircase—the spiral staircase fixed against the perpendicular rock in Goat Island—and pursued a narrow path from its foot back to the fall, where we found a glacier! An enormous pile of snow and ice lay against the rock, so solid, under this intense June sun, that Charley climbed to the top of it. Here every successive pulse of the cataract was like a cannon shot a few yards off, so that there was no standing it long; there was much yet to do; and the party probably observed, though no one chose to mention it, that the sun was going down. We crossed the detached American Fall by its rustic bridge, and hunted it back to its retreat in the wood. Our faces were now turned homeward; but we lingered long in the shades, and afterward at Bath Island, where some one observed that it would be dusk before we could reach the ferry, [Pg 109] and that the walk home on the Canada side was not of a kind to be prosecuted in the dark. The sun disappeared before we reached the ferry-house, and the panorama from the river was seen in the magnitude and majesty of twilight. In the dark woods on the Canada side we made ourselves visible to each other by catching fireflies and sticking them in our bonnets. They sat very still among our bows of riband, and really served our purpose very well.

Bad news awaited us at home; news of Mr. Van Buren's casting vote in favour of the third reading of the Gag Bill, and of a fresh breaking out of the dreadful Creek war in Georgia; but now that that atrocious bill has long been thrown out, and the Creek war ended (though with grievous suffering and humiliation to the poor Creeks), this day of delicious dawdling (a word which Dr. F. by this time completely understood) stands out bright enough to be worthy of the scene and of our human life.


"Ingrata Patria!"

Dante's Epitaph.

"Que l'homme donc s'estime son prix: il a en lui la capacité de connôitre la vérité, et d'être heureux: mais il n'a point de vérité, ou constante, ou satisfaisante. Je voudrois donc porter l'homme a désirer d'en trouver: à être prêt et dégagé des passions pour la suivre où il la trouvera."—Pascal.

Among the select classes of men to whom the common race looks up with the heart-throb of mingled reverence and sympathy, none is perhaps so eminent as that of sufferers for opinion. If ever we are conscious of a breathing of the Godhead in man, it is in the sanctified presence, actual or ideal, of martyrs to truth. Such men, as a class, are liable to particular faults, are usually marked by the imperfections which attend their virtues, as shadows are a consequence of sunshine. But in no case are men in general so tolerant of faults as in theirs; I do not mean in their own day, when they are not commonly recognised as confessors and martyrs, but when they stand out from the records of time, [Pg 110] complete characters in history. The turbulence, jealousy, and self-will of such men are allowed for more liberally than the same faults in other orders of men; more slightly noticed; more eagerly extenuated. And why? Because, of all men, they most infallibly and extensively command sympathy. As truth is the one eternal good, the single pursuit of truth is the one eternal virtue which wins and elevates all human souls. But when, as in some rare instances, this devotion to truth is seen purified from the failings which elsewhere seem its natural accompaniments; when the hero is seen holy, harmless, and undefiled as the sage; when no regrets need mingle with the admiration of the disciple, as delicious a contemplation is afforded to the moral taste as the moral creation yields.

Such was Priestley, the singled-minded martyr, but the meek inquirer; the intrepid confessor, but the humble Christian; the gentle philosopher, the sympathizing friend. Circumstances have been unfavourable to a wide, but not to a full knowledge of his character. The comparatively few to whom his mind and heart have been absolutely laid open, regard him with a love which is only not idolatrous because it is perfectly reasonable. The many know him as a man who was driven away from Birmingham by a mob who destroyed his house, papers, and philosophical apparatus, burned his church, and sought his life; and that he took refuge in America, and died there. Some go on to believe what was said at the time; that he was a turbulent man, a mischief-maker, and either a conceited smatterer in theology and philosophy, or a deep malignant infidel, they do not know which. Others hold him to have been a good kind of man, who rashly drew upon his own head the tempests of his time, and had to bear only the natural though hard consequences of his own imprudence. But those whose knowledge of him is complete can tell that his imputed turbulence was intellectual activity; his conceit a simplicity too lofty for the apprehension of his enemies; his infidelity a devout constancy to truth. His depth was all of wisdom; his hatreds were of cant, hypocrisy, and designed obstruction of truth. He exposed himself to tribulation as innocently and unconsciously as he bore it meekly and heroically. He never sought martyrdom, for he loved life and its comforts in the bosom of his family and friends; he valued repose for his philosophical pursuits, and thought his daily probation [Pg 111] sufficient for every man's strength. He was playing backgammon with his wife after supper when the mob came upon him; he was so wholly unprepared that his MSS. and private letters lay all exposed to the rioters; and the philosopher suffered—calmly and bravely suffered—the anguish of feeling himself a hated and an injured man. Yet, thus taken by surprise, his emotions were not for himself, or for the many near and dear friends who were being overwhelmed with him. While he stood looking over a garden hedge where he could see the flames devouring his church, and hear the shouts of the mob which was demolishing his house, he dropped a natural expression of pity for the misery of those poor people when they should discover what mischief they had done. No word was ever heard from him about the effect which the sufferings of the day would have upon anybody's mind or upon any future time. He simply did the duty, and bore the probation of the hour, leaving unconsciously an example of sublime patience which has raised and kindled more minds than the highest order of good men ever dream of influencing, and whose force will not be spent while men are moved by disinterestedness or thrilled by heroism.

Of his retirement in America we have many particulars, but still not enough. Enough can never be learned of the course of life of one whose more homely virtues were now put to the severest test, after those which are commonly esteemed more lofty had well stood their trial. The following passage delivers over to us the impression of the philosopher's latter days, which Priestley's own correspondence and the notices of his friends leave on the mind of an affectionate admirer of the man.

"There, in one of its remote recesses, on the outer margin of civilization, he who had made a part of the world's briskest activity, who had led on the speed of its progress, whose mind had kept pace with its learning, and overtaken its science, and outstripped its freedom and its morality, gathered together his resources of philosophy and devotion; thence he looked forth on the vicissitudes and prospects of Europe with melancholy but hopeful interests, like the prophet from his mount on the land whose glories he was not to see. But it was not for such an energetic spirit as his to pass instantaneously into the quietude of exile without an irrecoverable shock. He had not that dreamy and idle [Pg 112] pietism which could enwrap itself in the mists of its own contemplations, and believe Heaven nearer in proportion as earth became less distinct. The shifting sights and busy murmurs that reached him from afar reminded him of the circulation of social toils which had plied his hand and heart. Year after year passed on, and brought him no summons of duty back into the stir of men; all that he did he had to devise and execute by his own solitary energies, apart from advice and sympathy, and with no hope but that of benefiting the world he was soon to leave. The effort to exchange the habits of the city for those of the cloister was astonishingly successful. But his mind was never the same again; it is impossible not to perceive a decline of power, a tendency to garrulity of style and eccentricity of speculation in his American publications. And yet, while this slight though perceptible shade fell over his intellect, a softened light seemed to spread itself over his character. His feelings, his moral perceptions were mellowed and ripened by years, and assumed a tenderness and refinement not observable before. Thanks to the genial and heavenly clime which Christianity sheds round the soul, the aged stem burst into blossom. And so it will always be when the mind is really pervaded by so noble a faith as Priestley's. There is no law of nature, there are no frosts of time to shed a snowblight on the heart. The feelings die out when their objects come to an end; and if there be no future, and the aims of life become shorter and shorter, and its treasures drop off, and its attractions are spent, and a few links only of its hours remain in the hand, well may there be no heart for effort and no eye for beauty, and well may love gather itself up to die. But open perfection to its veneration and immortality to its step; tell it of one who is and always will be the inspirer of genius, the originator of truth, the life of emotion; assure it that all which is loved shall live for ever; that that which is known shall enlarge for ever; that all which is felt shall grow intenser for ever, and the proximity of death will quicken instead of withering the mind; the eye will grow dim on the open page of knowledge; the hand will be found clasping in death the instruments of human good; the heart's last pulse will beat with some new emotion of benignity. In Priestley's case there was not merely a sustainment, but a positive advancement of character in later years. The symptoms of [Pg 113] restlessness gradually disappear without abatement of his activity; a quietude as of one who waits and listens comes over him; there are touches of sentiment and traces of tears in his letters, and yet an obvious increase of serenity and hope; there is a disposition to devise and accomplish more good for the world, and ply himself while an energy remained, and yet no anxiety to do what was beyond his powers. He successively followed to the grave a son and a wife; and the more he was left alone, the more did he love to be alone; and in his study, surrounded by the books which had been his companions for half a century and over half the earth, and sitting beneath the pictures of friends under the turf, he took his last survey of the world which had given him so long a shelter; like a grateful guest before his departure, he numbered up the bright and social, or the adventurous hours which had passed during his stay; and the philosophers who had welcomed him in his annual visits to London, the broad, sagacious face of Franklin, the benignant intelligence of Price, rose up before him, and the social voices of the group of heretics round the fireside of Essex-street floated on his ear; and as the full moon shone upon his table and glistened in his electrical machine, his eye would dream of the dining philosophers of the Lunar Society, and glisten to greet again the doughty features of Darwin, and the clear, calculating eye of Watt. Yet his retrospective thoughts were but hints to suggest a train of prospective far more interesting. The scenes which he loved were in the past, but most of the objects which clothed them with associations of interest were already transferred to the future: there they were in reserve for him, to be recovered (to use his own favourite phrase, slightly tinged with the melancholy spirit of his solitude) 'under more favourable circumstances;' and thither, with all his attachment to the world, whose last cliffs he had reached, and whose boundary ocean already murmured beneath, he hoped soon to emigrate." [7]

Priestley had much to suffer in America. His severest woes befell him there. There he lost his beloved son Harry; then his wife departed; and trials which exceeded even these put his Christian acquiescence to the fullest proof. To an intimate friend he writes, "From how much [Pg 114] trouble has my wife been relieved! She had a great mind, but the events that have taken place since her death would have affected her deeply. My trials, now towards the close of life, are as great as I can bear, though I doubt not that a wise and good Providence overrules all events, and I have daily a more habitual respect to it. Nothing else could support me.... We are frail, imperfect beings, and our faith is at best but weak, and requires to be strengthened by reading and reflection. I never omit reading, and I do it with more satisfaction than ever, a considerable portion of scripture every day, and by this means my mind is much relieved."

This is not the device of the devotee, the refuge of the disappointed man, who takes to religion as the only resource left him. This is the declaration of a philosopher, whose youth and whose riper years were given to the close study of the book which was now the pillow of his age.

I know not how it may appear to persons less familiarized than myself with the spirit of the man and the eloquent moderation of his language, but I have always regarded the letter on the death of his son Harry as an exquisite revelation of a healthy mind in sorrow:—

"Northumberland, Dec. 17, 1795.
"Dear Friend,

"I think that, in my last of the 7th instant, I mentioned Harry's being indisposed, in consequence, we imagined, of his attending his limekiln in the night. It proved to be a more serious illness than we or the physician imagined. He grew worse till the 11th, when he died, it is now almost certain, of an inflammation and mortification of the stomach. Having had little or no apprehension of danger till near the time of his death, the shock, you may suppose, was very great; and, being the first event of the kind, I am affected more than I thought I should have been, though I have unspeakable consolation in believing that nothing can befall us without the appointment of the best of Beings, and that we shall meet our departed children and friends in a better state.

"He had recovered from an ague which was common in this part of the country this summer; but, after this, he had frequent colds from exposing himself to cold and wet, and [Pg 115] not taking proper care of himself afterward, which certainly laid the foundation of his subsequent and last illness.

"Had he been bred a farmer, he could not have been more assiduous than he was. He was admired by everybody for his unremitting labour, as well as good judgment, in the management of his business, though only eighteen years old. With respect to his ardour in his pursuits, he was more like what I was at his age than any of my children, though our objects were very different. He was strictly virtuous, and was uncommonly beloved by all that worked under him; and it was always said that he was better served than any other farmer in this country. He had a sense of honour and generosity which, I am sorry to say, is not common here. I hope, therefore, that he had the foundation of something in his character on which a good superstructure may be raised hereafter. We thought his temper, and even his looks, altered for the worse by the severe illness he had at Hackney; but it is remarkable, that some time before his death (as his mother, who never left him, says), and very visibly afterward, he had the same sweet, placid, and even cheerful countenance that he had when he was young; much like that of his sister, whom, at that time, he greatly resembled. I never saw the countenance of a dead person so pleasing; and so it continued till he was buried. Even this seemingly trifling circumstance gives me much satisfaction. I know you and Mrs. Lindsey will excuse my writing so much about myself and family. I could not write so much to anybody else.

"My wife is much affected, as you will suppose, by the death of Harry; but, at the same time, discovers proper fortitude. By her constant attendance upon him she has made herself ill, but seems to be getting better." [8]

This is the man whom Johnson dared to execrate. At a chymical lecture he knit his brows, and was displeased with the lecturer for citing so often the discoveries of Dr. Priestley. When excuse was made that chymical lectures could not be faithfully given without citing Priestley's discoveries, "Well," said the moral Johnson, "I suppose we must give even the devil his due." Thus may even great men revile[Pg 116] greater, denouncing those to whom it would be well for them to kneel.

There are some who are as blind to Priestley's merits as Johnson, without half his excuse. Before I went to America I was aware that the Unitarians there, who ought to know everything about the apostle of their faith who took refuge in their country, were so far in the dark about him, as that they misapprehended his philosophy, and misrepresented its tendencies in a way and to a degree which seemed irreconcilable with the means of information within their reach. I knew that Dr. Channing's celebrated note on Priestley remained unretracted, though rebuked on the spot [9] with much spirit and tenderness by a then young divine, who better understood the Christian sage. I knew that the tendency of this sect in America to lean upon authority, with some other causes, must indispose them to do justice to Priestley. But, till I was among them, I had no idea that it was possible for those of them who were not ignorant of the character of the philosopher to allow their fear and dislike of some of his convictions to render them so insensible as they are to the majesty of the man. They themselves would deny the insensibility, and point to this and that testimony to Priestley being a well-meaning man, which may be found in their publications. But facts show what the insensibility is. Dr. Channing speaks of him now in a tone of patronage, admitting that he is under obligations to him for one or two detached sermons which breathe the true spirit. Another clergyman puts forth a small volume of selections from Priestley's works, with an apologetical preface, which states, that whatever Priestley's doctrines and writings may have been as a whole, there are portions which may be picked out for people to profit by. Such facts show that the character and mission of the man are not understood. Priestley was, above most men, one who came at a right point of time to accomplish a particular service; to break up the reliance on authority in matters of opinion and conscience, and insensibly to show, in an age when prejudice and denial were at fierce war, how noble and touching is the free, and fervent, and disinterested pursuit of truth. His character is to everlasting; but his writings are, for the most part, suitable to only a particular position of affairs, a critical social state. [Pg 117] Those who, like the Americans, are unprepared for—alienated from—his philosophy, and who are remarkable for their dependance on authority in matters of opinion, cannot possibly sympathize with Priestley's convictions, and a full appreciation of him ought not to be expected of them. But they had better, in such a position of circumstances, let his works alone. It is not necessary or desirable that they should study writings to which no impulse of sympathy or admiration leads them; but it is most desirable that they should not speak and write apologetically and patronisingly of one of the largest-minded and most single-hearted of sages. In the transition which the religious and philosophical society of America has to make from reliance on authority to a state of individual research and conviction, the philosopher may or may not yet become an apostle to them. In their present condition he cannot be so. The warmest friends of both see that it cannot be so. They only desire that his reputation should be left unvisited as his remains; and that, while no traveller is drawn aside from his path to seek the philosopher's tomb, no presumptuous hand should offer to endorse his merits, or push the claims to partial approbation of one who was created to command reverent discipleship; reverent discipleship in the pursuit of truth, if not in the reception of doctrine.

The first point of my travels fixed in my intentions was the retreat of Priestley, and my pilgrimage thither was accomplished within a few weeks after I landed. From Pittsburg we crossed the Alleghanies by the road through Ebensburg, and in four days reached Youngmanstown, eighteen miles from Northumberland. We breakfasted at Lewisburg on the 11th of November, and were very glad to leave behind us the most fretful stage company we were shut up with in all our travels. We crossed the Susquehanna in peace and quiet; and could freely enjoy our meditations, as every mile brought us nearer the philosopher's resting-place. I wish I could communicate to others of his disciples the harmony between the scenery and the man which now exists, and ever will exist, in my own mind. Priestley himself wrote, "I do not think there can be, in any part of the world, a more delightful situation than this and the neighbourhood;" and I revolved this in my thoughts as I gazed upon the broad, shoaly, and gleamy river bordered with pines, and the swelling hills and sloping fields which sometimes intervened [Pg 118] between us and the river. The morning was one of lustrous clouds and mild gleams, and the whole scene was of the tranquil character, and dressed in the soft light which is most accordant with the mood of those traversing the scenery with such reasons as mine. I was full of stronger emotions than when I found myself in sight of the spray of Niagara. There is nothing so sanctifying as the ideal presence of the pure in spirit; and not all the thronging images of what Niagara had witnessed since the earliest worship of an extinct race was paid there, before the ancient empires of the earth were heard of, affected me so much as the thought of the sage who came hither to forgive his enemies and hope all things for the world, in the midst of his hourly privations and daily regrets.

Abrupt wooded rocks dignify the river banks near the town; and nothing can be much more beautiful than the situation of the place, in the fork of the Susquehanna. The town itself, however, would delight an improvement-hater. It has scarcely advanced at all since Priestley's time. Some of the inhabitants complain that this stagnation is owing to the want of enterprise among their capitalists; but there would be enterprise there as elsewhere, if there was an average prospect of reward. Others allege that the place is not healthy. It is certainly subject to fever and ague, but the causes are thought to be removable. Sunbury, on the other shore of the eastern branch of the river, is a rival, a thriving competitor of Northumberland, but the growth of neither is to be compared with that of most American towns. The only interest connected with Northumberland still is its being Priestley's city of refuge.

We were hospitably received at the clean little inn, and I presently discovered that our hostess could give me more information about Priestley than anybody else in the place. Her father had been intimately acquainted with the philosopher; had been his confidant in his latest and severest trials; and she herself remembered him well, and could relate many little incidents which delighted me as giving life to objects that were before my eyes. No words can convey the passionate admiration, the devoted love with which this good lady spoke of him. A power went out of him which melted his enemies, and converted those who came with hatred into his presence; and it exalted the love of his friends to the highest pitch that human affection can reach. "All [Pg 119] that I have formerly said of Dr. Priestley is nonsense," declared a stiff religious bigot after an accidental interview with the philosopher. "I have now seen him for myself, and you must let me see more of him." Our good hostess told me how unequalled his preaching was, so simple, and earnest, and tender, quite unlike any other person's preaching, and his looks so bright: she dwelt on his goodness to his neighbours, and how inexhaustible were his charities; so thoughtful, so steady, so perpetual. She laughed again at the remembrance of his childlike gayety, bursting out in the midst of his heart-soreness, and declared that he was never long depressed; he was so sure that all was right in reality, that he could never be dismayed at its seeming otherwise for a time. She remembered that "he was much thought of when he first came," yet she never felt afraid of him. She was present at the only time when he was seen wholly overcome with grief, and will never forget the oppression of heart, the anguish of seeing tears streaming down his face when no one could do anything to help him. But her recollections of him are chiefly joyous; of his eagerness about his philosophical pursuits; the cheerful tone of his preaching; his sympathy with young people. Never was a lovelier picture of old age given—of its virtues, nor, alas! of its privileges—than by this affectionate observer. Her testimony is confirmed by every other that exists. I saw the gentleman who was with him when he received his Voltaic pile, and who told me how eagerly he pointed out the wire dissolving, and made his friend take a shock in his forefinger. All who conversed with him mentioned that his feelings became more sensitive towards the end of his life; his eyes were frequently seen to glisten in conversation, and he smiled oftener. A gentleman, now well known as an unbeliever of the last degree of bigotry, who shrinks with as much hatred and fear from the very mention of religion as persons of an opposite character from infidelity, bore a singular testimony to the state of Priestley's mind in his latter days. This gentleman was observing to me that it was strange, considering how irritable Priestley's temper was by nature, and that he died of a harassing and depressing disease, that he was eminently placid during the last few months of his life. I observed that his religion was of a sustaining nature, being no superstition, but a firmly-grounded, long-tried faith; and that the natural explanation [Pg 120] of his tranquillity was, that he was in a thoroughly religious state of mind. "Religious! bless me, no!" cried the gentleman; "he was always very cheerful whenever I saw him."

At the house of his grandson, cashier of the bank at Northumberland, I saw a delightful portrait of him. It is from a copy of this picture that the engraving in the "Gallery of Portraits," published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, is taken. The face and air are worthy of the man; gentle and venerable. The philosopher's house we found occupied by a judge and his lady, who are Quakers, while their children are orthodox; but this double difference of religious opinion does not impair their respect for the former inhabitant of their dwelling. They preserve with an honourable reverence every vestige of him and his pursuits. They show the willows that were planted in his time in the garden, and have preserved the round hole he made in the window-shutter of his study for the advantage of his optical experiments, and even the bit of wainscot which he scorched with his burning glasses. They took me to the corner of the library where he breathed his last, and to the balustrade on the top of the roof where he went up to meditate at eventide. It commands a beautiful prospect of the course of the two branches of the Susquehanna, and of their junction.

Priestley's Hill is so called from its vicinity to the lands held by his family. It is pleasant to know that he was possessed of abundance during the last years of his life. His own wants were few, almost all his expenditure being in charity and in his philosophical pursuits. He had enough for these, and to settle his sons on good farms. No man bestowed and accepted money with a better grace than he; his generous English friends, who had the best reasons for being aware of this, had the satisfaction of knowing that no pecuniary anxieties mingled with the trials of his closing years.

The tombs of the three—of Priestley, his excellent wife, and his son Harry—are in a family graveyard which is on the outskirts of the little town, and some way from the family residence. It is walled round, and has an iron gate. I was familiar with the account of Harry's funeral, written at the time, and could not understand how it happened that he lay in this place. It is clear, from the testimony of persons on the spot, that his body had never been moved; and as [Pg 121] the place of interment is described as being woodland, we must suppose that the bare place where he lies was within the verge of the forest in 1795. A resident in the neighbourhood wrote thus: "I attended the funeral to the lonely spot, and there I saw the good old father perform the service over the grave of his son. It was an affecting sight, but he went through it with fortitude, and, after praying, addressed the attendants in a few words, assuring them that, though death had separated them here, they should meet again in another and a better world."

How little did I think when, some years ago, I read and reread the narrative of Harry's death—striving to extract from it something more, and yet something more to throw light on the character of father and son—that I should stand by that very grave and plant a rose upon it! Few feet have wandered that way, and no hands seem to be busied about those graves; but I was thankful to have been there among the first of many pilgrims who will yet see the spot. For another pupil of the philosopher's, whose homage I carried with my own, I planted a snowberry on Priestley's grave. When that other and I were infants, caring for nothing but our baby plays, this grave was being dug for one who was to exert a most unusual influence over our minds and hearts, exercising our intellects, and winning our affections like a present master and parent, rather than a thinker who had passed away from the earth. Here I now stood by his grave, listening to tales which seemed as fresh as if he were living and walking yesterday, instead of having been wept before I knew any of the meanings of tears.

The inscription on Priestley's tomb is singularly inappropriate: "Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. I will lay me down in peace, and sleep until I awake in the morning of the resurrection." Phrases from the Old Testament and about the soul on the grave of Priestley!

I remained in the neighbourhood several days, and visited as many of the philosopher's haunts as I could get pointed out to me; and when I was at length obliged to resume my journey down the Susquehanna, it was with a strong feeling of satisfaction in the accomplishment of my object. These are the places in which to learn what are the real, in distinction from the comparatively insignificant, objects of regard; of approbation and hatred; of desire and fear. This was the place [Pg 122] to learn what survived of a well-exercised and much-tried man. He made mistakes; they are transient evils, for others have been sent to rectify them. He felt certain of some things still dubious; this is a transient evil, for he is gone where he will obtain greater clearness; and men have arisen and will arise to enlighten us, and those who will follow us. He exploded errors; this was a real, but second-rate good, which would have been achieved by another, if not by him. He discovered new truths; this is a real good, and as eternal as truth itself. He made an unusual progress towards moral perfection; this is the highest good of all, and never ending. His mistakes will be rectified; the prejudices against him on their account will die out; the hands that injured him, the tongues that wounded him, are all, or nearly all, stilled in death; the bitter tears which these occasioned have long since been all wept. These things are gone or going by; they have reached, or are tending to the extinction which awaits all sins and sorrows. What remains? Whatever was real of the man and of the work given him to do. Whatsoever truth he discovered will propagate itself for ever, whether the honour of it be ascribed to him or not. There remain other things no less great, no less real, no less eternal, to be reckoned among the spiritual treasures of the race; things of which Priestley, the immortal, was composed, and in which he manifestly survives; a love of truth which no danger could daunt and no toil relax; a religious faith which no severity of probation could shake; a liberality proof against prejudice from within and injury from without; a simplicity which no experience of life and men could corrupt; a charity which grew tenderer under persecution and warmer in exile; a hope which flourished in disappointment and triumphed in the grave. These are the things which remain, bearing no relation to country or time; as truly here as there, now as hereafter.

These realities are the inheritance of those who sit at home as well as of those who wander abroad; yet it may be forgiven to the weak, whose faith is dimsighted and whose affections crave a visible resting-place, if they find their sense of privilege refreshed by treading the shores of the exile's chosen Susquehanna.

[Pg 123]


"In the prison of Coldbath Fields, in which the silent system is believed to be brought to the greatest degree of perfection, under the management of a highly intelligent and able governor, who has at his command every possible advantage for working the system, there were in the year 1836 no less than 5138 punishments 'for talking and swearing.'"—Second Report of the Inspectors of Prisons of Great Britain, 1837.

"Silence and Secrecy!... Do thou thyself but hold thy tongue for one day; on the morrow how much clearer are thy purposes and duties! what wreck and rubbish have those mute workmen within thee swept away, when intrusive noises were shut out!"—Sartor Resartus.

I have shown in my account of Society in America that, after visiting several prisons in the United States, I was convinced that the system of solitary confinement at Philadelphia is the best that has yet been adopted. [10] So much has been heard in England of the Auburn prison, its details look so complete and satisfactory on paper, and it is so much a better system than the English have been accustomed to see followed at home, that it has a high reputation among us. But I think a careful survey of the institution on the spot must lessen the admiration entertained for this mode of punishment.

The convicts are, almost without exception, pale and haggard. As their work is done either in the open air or in well-ventilated shops, and their diet is good, their unhealthy appearance is no doubt owing chiefly to the bad construction of their night-cells. These cells are small and ill-ventilated, and do not even answer the purpose of placing the prisoners in solitude during the night. The convicts converse with nearly as much ease, through the air-pipes or otherwise, at night, as they do by speaking behind their teeth, without moving the lips, while at work in the day. In both cases they feel that they are transgressing the laws of the prison by doing an otherwise innocent and almost necessary act; a knowledge and feeling most unfavourable to reformation, and destructive of any conscientiousness [Pg 124] which retribution may be generating in them. Their anxious and haggard looks may be easily accounted for. They are denied the forgetfulness of themselves and their miseries which they might enjoy in free conversation; and also the repose and the shelter from shame which are the privileges of solitary confinement. Every movement reminds them that they are in disgrace; a multitude of eyes (the eyes of the wicked, too) is ever upon them; they can live neither to themselves nor to society, and self-respect is rendered next to impossible. A man must be either hardened, or restless and wretched under such circumstances; and the faces at Auburn are no mystery.

The finishing of the day's work and the housing for the night are sights barely endurable. The governor saw my disgust, and explained that he utterly disapproved of strangers being allowed to be present at all this; but that the free Americans would not be debarred from beholding the operation of anything which they have decreed. This is right enough; the evil is in there being any such spectacle to behold. The prisoners are ranged in companies for the march from their workshops into the prison. Each fills his pail and carries it, and takes up the can with his supper as he passes the kitchen; and, when I was there, this was done in the presence of staring and amused strangers, who looked down smiling from the portico. Some of the prisoners turned their heads every possible way to avoid meeting our eyes, and were in an agony of shame; while the blacks, who, from their social degradation, have little idea of shame, and who are remarkable for exaggeration in all they do, figured away ridiculously in the march, stamping and gesticulating as if they were engaged in a game at romps. I do not know which extreme was the most painful to behold. It is clear that no occasion should be afforded for either; that men should not be ignominiously paraded because they are guilty.

The arrangements for the women were extremely bad at that time; but the governor needed no convincing of this, and hoped for a speedy rectification. The women were all in one large room, sewing. The attempt to enforce silence was soon given up as hopeless; and the gabble of tongues among the few who were there was enough to paralyze any matron. Some rather hopeful-looking girls were side by side with old offenders of their own colour, and with some [Pg 125] most brutish-looking black women. There was an engine in sight which made me doubt the evidence of my own eyes; stocks of a terrible construction; a chair, with a fastening for the head and for all the limbs. Any lunatic asylum ought to be ashamed of such an instrument. The governor liked it no better than we; but he pleaded that it was his only means of keeping his refractory female prisoners quiet while he was allowed only one room to put them all into. I hope these stocks have been used for firewood before this.

The first principle in the management of the guilty seems to me to be to treat them as men and women; which they were before they were guilty, and will be when they are no longer so; and which they are in the midst of it all. Their humanity is the principal thing about them; their guilt is a temporary state. The insane are first men, and secondarily diseased men; and in a due consideration of this order of things lies the main secret of the successful treatment of such. The drunkard is first a man, and secondarily a man with a peculiar weakness. The convict is, in like manner, first a man, and then a sinner. Now, there is something in the isolation of the convict which tends to keep this order of considerations right in the mind of his guardians. The warden and his prisoner converse like two men when they are face to face; but when the keeper watches a hundred men herded together in virtue of the one common characteristic of their being criminals, the guilt becomes the prominent circumstance, and there is an end of the brotherly faith in each, to which each must mainly owe his cure. This, in our human weakness, is the great evil attendant upon the good of collecting together sufferers under any particular physical or moral evil. Visiters are shy of the blind, the deaf and dumb, and insane, when they see them all together, while they would feel little or nothing of this shyness if they met each sufferer in the bosom of his own family. In the one case, the infirmity, defying sympathy, is the prominent circumstance; in the other, not. It follows from this, that such an association of prisoners as that at Auburn must be more difficult to reform, more difficult to do the state's duty by, than any number or kind of criminals who are classed by some other characteristic, or not classed at all.

The wonderfully successful friend of criminals, Captain Pillsbury, of the Weathersfield prison, has worked on this principle, and owes his success to it. His moral power [Pg 126] over the guilty is so remarkable, that prison-breakers who can be confined nowhere else are sent to him to be charmed into staying their term out. I was told of his treatment of two such. One was a gigantic personage, the terror of the country, who had plunged deeper and deeper in crime for seventeen years. Captain Pillsbury told him when he came that he hoped he would not repeat the attempts to escape which he had made elsewhere. "It will be best," said he, "that you and I should treat each other as well as we can. I will make you as comfortable as I possibly can, and shall be anxious to be your friend; and I hope you will not get me into any difficulty on your account. There is a cell intended for solitary confinement, but we have never used it, and I should be sorry ever to have to turn the key upon anybody in it. You may range the place as freely as I do if you will trust me as I shall trust you." The man was sulky, and for weeks showed only very gradual symptoms of softening under the operation of Captain Pillsbury's cheerful confidence. At length information was given to the captain of this man's intention to break prison. The captain called him, and taxed him with it; the man preserved a gloomy silence. He was told that it was now necessary for him to be locked in the solitary cell, and desired to follow the captain, who went first, carrying a lamp in one hand and the key in the other. In the narrowest part of the passage the captain (who is a small, slight man) turned round and looked in the face of the stout criminal. "Now," said he, "I ask you whether you have treated me as I deserve? I have done everything I could think of to make you comfortable; I have trusted you, and you have never given me the least confidence in return, and have even planned to get me into difficulty. Is this kind? And yet I cannot bear to lock you up. If I had the least sign that you cared for me...." The man burst into tears. "Sir," said he, "I have been a very devil these seventeen years; but you treat me like a man." "Come, let us go back," said the captain. The convict had the free range of the prison as before. From this hour he began to open his heart to the captain, and cheerfully fulfilled his whole term of imprisonment, confiding to his friend, as they arose, all impulses to violate his trust, and all facilities for doing so which he imagined he saw.

The other case was of a criminal of the same character, [Pg 127] who went so far as to make the actual attempt to escape. He fell, and hurt his ankle very much. The captain had him brought in and laid on his bed, and the ankle attended to, every one being forbidden to speak a word of reproach to the sufferer. The man was sullen, and would not say whether the bandaging of his ankle gave him pain or not. This was in the night, and every one returned to bed when this was done. But the captain could not sleep. He was distressed at the attempt, and thought he could not have fully done his duty by any man who would make it. He was afraid the man was in great pain. He rose, threw on his gown, and went with a lamp to the cell. The prisoner's face was turned to the wall, and his eyes were closed, but the traces of suffering were not to be mistaken. The captain loosened and replaced the bandage, and went for his own pillow to rest the limb upon, the man neither speaking nor moving all the time. Just when he was shutting the door the prisoner started up and called him back. "Stop, sir. Was it all to see after my ankle that you have got up?"

"Yes, it was. I could not sleep for thinking of you."

"And you have never said a word of the way I have used you!"

"I do feel hurt with you, but I don't want to call you unkind while you are suffering as you are now."

The man was in an agony of shame and grief. All he asked was to be trusted again when he should have recovered. He was freely trusted, and gave his generous friend no more anxiety on his behalf.

Captain Pillsbury is the gentleman who, on being told that a desperate prisoner had sworn to murder him speedily, sent for him to shave him, allowing no one to be present. He eyed the man, pointed to the razor, and desired him to shave him. The prisoner's hand trembled, but he went through it very well. When he had done the captain said, "I have been told you meant to murder me, but I thought I might trust you." "God bless you, sir! you may," replied the regenerated man. Such is the power of faith in man!

The greatest advantage of solitary confinement is that it presents the best part of a prisoner's mind to be acted upon by his guardians; and the next is, that the prisoner is preserved from the evil influences of vicious companionship, of shame within the prison walls, and of degradation when [Pg 128] he comes out. I am persuaded that no system of secondary punishment has yet been devised that can be compared with this. I need not, at this time of day, explain that I mean solitary imprisonment with labour, and with frequent visits from the guardians of the prisoner. Without labour, the punishment is too horrible and unjust to be thought of. The reflective man would go mad, and the clown would sleep away his term, and none of the purposes of human existence could be answered. Work is, in prison as out of it, the grand equaliser, stimulus, composer, and rectifier; the prime obligation and the prime privilege. It is delightful to see how soon its character is recognised there. In the Philadelphia penitentiary work is forbidden to the criminal for two days subsequent to his entrance; he petitions for it before the two days are out, however doggedly he may have declared that he will never work. Small incidents show what a resource it is. A convict shoemaker mentioned to a visiter a very early hour of the winter day as that at which he began to work. "But how can you see at that time of a winter's morning? it must be nearly dark." "I hammer my leather. That requires very little light. I get up and hammer my leather."

On his entrance the convict is taken to the bathroom, where he is well cleansed, and his state of health examined into and recorded by the physician and warden. A hood is then put over his head, and he is led to his apartment. I never met with one who could in the least tell what the form of the central part of the prison was, or which of the radii his cell was placed in, though they make very accurate observations of the times at which the sun shines in. At the end of two days, during which the convict has neither book nor work, the warden visits him, and has a conversation with him about the mode of life in the institution. If he asks for work, he is offered a choice of three or four kinds, of which weaving and shoemaking are the chief. He is told that if he does a certain amount of work, he will have the full diet provided for hard labourers; if less, he will have what is sufficient for a moderate worker; if more, the price of it will be laid by to accumulate, and paid over to him on his leaving the prison. He is furnished with a Bible; and other books, provided by the friends to the institution, circulate among the convicts. Some who have books at home are allowed to have them brought. A convict gentleman [Pg 129] whom I visited had a fine library at home, and was plentifully supplied from thence. It was difficult to find occupation for this unhappy man, who had never been used to labour. He was filling bobbins when I saw him, and he wrote a great deal in various languages. His story was a dreadful one, too horrible to be related. His crime was murder, but committed under such intense provocation, real or imaginary, that he had the compassion of every one who knew his history. He had been justice of the peace for twenty years; and his interest was so strong that he had little doubt of being able to obtain a pardon, and for some years was daily racked with expectation. He told me that it was opposed by political enemies only; and this belief did not, of course, tend to calm his mind. Pardon came at last, when nine years of the twelve for which he was sentenced had expired. He was released a year and a half after I saw him.

In his case there were peculiar disturbing influences, and his seclusion was doubtless more painful and less profitable than that of most prisoners. His case was public; his station and the singularity of the circumstances made it necessarily so; and the knowledge of this publicity is a great drawback upon reformation and upon repose of mind. The most hopeful cases I met with were those of men who came from a distance, who were tried under a feigned name, or whose old connexions were, from other circumstances, unaware of their present condition. Of course I cannot publicly relate facts concerning any of these. They disclosed their stories to me in confidence. I can give nothing but general impressions, except in a few cases which are already notorious, or where death has removed the obligation to secrecy, by rendering it impossible for the penitent to be injured, while his reputation may be benefited by its being known what were the feelings of his latter days.

After a general survey of the establishment, which furnished me with all that the managers had to bring forward, I entered, by the kind permission of the board, upon the yet more interesting inquiry of what the convicts had to say for themselves. I supposed that, from their long seclusion from all society but that of their guardians, they would be ready to communicate very freely; and also, judging from my own feelings, that they could not do this in the presence of any third person. I therefore requested, and was allowed [Pg 130] to go entirely alone, the turnkey coming at the end of a specified time to let me out. No one of them, except the gentleman above mentioned, had any notice whatever of my coming. Their door was unlocked at an unusual hour, and I stepped in. My reception was in every case the same. Every man of them looked up, transfixed with amazement, one with his shuttle, another with his awl suspended. I said that if my visit was not agreeable, I would call the turnkey before he was out of hearing, and go away. If the contrary, perhaps I might be favoured with a seat. In an instant the workman sprang up, wiped his stool with his apron for me, and sat down himself on his workbench. In a few cases I had to make a further explanation that I did not come for prayer and religious discourse. The conversation invariably took that turn before I left, as it naturally does with the anxious and suffering; but two or three rushed at once into such shocking cant, that I lost no time in telling them the real object of my visit; to learn what were the causes of crime in the United States. I also told them all that I could not give them news from the city, because this was against the rules of the prison. They were glad to converse with me on my own conditions, and I am confident that they presented me faithfully with their state of mind as it appeared to themselves. I have never received confidence more full and simple than theirs, and much of it was very extraordinary. All, except two or three, voluntarily acknowledged their guilt; the last point, of course, on which I should have chosen to press them. It seemed a relief to them to dwell on the minutest particulars relating to their temptation to their crime, and the time and mode of its commission. One man began protesting his innocence early in our conversation; following the practice common among felons, of declaring himself a guilty fellow enough, but innocent of this particular crime. I stopped him, saying that I asked him no questions, and had no business with his innocence or guilt, and that I did not like such protestations as he was making: we would talk of something else. He looked abashed, and within half an hour he had communicated his first act of dishonesty in life; the festering wound which I have reason to believe he never before laid open to human eye.

Several incidents of this nature which occurred persuade me that almost anything may be done with these sufferers [Pg 131] by occasional intercourse and free sympathy. Each time that I went I was amazed at the effect of words that had passed, lightly enough, days or weeks before. I found them all expecting a pardon; and the most painful part of my duty to them was undeceiving them about this. It was dreadful to see the emotion of some; but I knew they would have no repose of mind, so necessary in their case, while racked with this hope; I therefore took pains to explain what punishment was for, and how rarely pardon could be justified. On my subsequent visits it was cheering to see how completely they had understood me, and how they had followed out the subject to their own entire conviction.

"Well, J.," said I to a young man who had been rather languid about his work, making only three shoes a week while expecting a pardon, "how have you been since I saw you?"

"Very fairly indeed, madam. I make seven shoes a week now."

"Ah! then you have left off fretting yourself about a pardon. You have made up your mind to your term, like a man."

"Yes, I have been thinking about that, and something more. I have been thinking that perhaps it is well that I am here now; for, madam, I got that that I took so easily, that I believe, if I had not been caught, I should have gone back to the same place and taken more, and so have come in for ten years instead of five."

Twenty months afterward I heard of this man from the warden. He was in health, cheerful, and industrious. I have no doubt of his doing well when he comes out.

A negro, in for a very serious offence, which he acknowledged, told me of another committed long before, which, since his imprisonment, had weighed much more heavily on his mind, perhaps because no one knew it or suspected him; it was a theft of sixteen dollars, committed with some treachery. This subject had been entirely dismissed, and had even gone out of my mind when we talked over the expiration of his term and his prospects in life. "Where do you mean to go first?" said I. "Stay in Philadelphia till I have worked for those sixteen dollars, and paid them," said he. This was without the slightest leading on my part.

Several told me more about their mothers than about anything else in their former lives; and those who were tried [Pg 132] under false names seemed more afraid of their mothers knowing where they were than of any other consequence. In every case some heartsore was at the bottom of the guilt. Many were as ignorant as Americans ever are, and had sought to get rid of their griefs, as ignorant people do, by physical excitement. First passion, then drink, then crime: this is the descent. Most declared that the privation of tobacco was the first tremendous suffering within the prison; then the solitude; then the vain hope of pardon. The middle part of their term is the easiest. Near the end they grow restless and nervous. Every one that I asked could promptly tell me the day of the month.

"May I ask," said I to one for whom I had much regard, "may I ask what all these black marks on your wall are for?" I was not without a conjecture, remembering that he was to go out on the 17th of the next August, this being the 1st of December.

He looked down, and said he had no secret in the matter, only that I should think him very silly. I told him that I did not think any amusement silly to one who had so few.

"Well, madam, I have been trying to find out what day of the week the 17th of next August will be; but I can't quite make it out, because I don't know whether the next is leap year."

The holding out my hand to them at parting brought every one of them to tears; yet there was nothing unmanly in their bearing; there was no lack of health, no feebleness of spirits, though a quietness of manner such as might be anticipated in men under punishment and subject to remorse. There was a degree of contentment (when the expectation of pardon was removed) which I did not look for. They spoke (such as were qualified) of other prisons with horror, and with approbation approaching to thankfulness of the treatment they met with in this, where they were not degraded as if they had done nothing but crime, as if they were not still men. I was much moved by the temper of one, and much humbled (as I often was) at thinking for how little guilt some are heavily visited, when there is not one of us, perhaps, who may not justly feel that, however safe and honoured he may appear, he has done worse, and deserved a more fearful retribution.

A friend of mine, who knew that I was visiting the penitentiary, asked me to see two brothers who were in for forging [Pg 133] and coining. The case was notorious, the elder brother being an old offender. I agreed to inquire for them; and upon this my friend somewhat imprudently told the mother of the convicts and the wife of the younger one what I had promised, and sent them to see me. I soon perceived that the wife was telling me a number of family particulars in the hope that I should communicate them to her husband. I felt myself obliged to put a stop to this, as I was upon honour, and could not think of violating any of the rules of the prison, one of which was that the convicts should receive no intelligence from without. The wife's reply was heart-wringing. She said she did not wish to show disrespect to any rules; there was but one thing that she implored me to convey to her husband. He had expected a pardon in three months from his conviction; five months had now passed, and he would be wondering. She only wanted him to know that it was through no want of exertion on her part that he was still in prison. I was compelled to refuse to communicate anything, and even to let the young man know that I had seen any of his family. But in my own mind I resolved not to see the convict till the warden, who was absent, should return to Philadelphia, and to tell him the whole, that he might communicate what he thought proper. By these means I believe the prisoner heard some comfortable tidings after I saw him, and I am sure he had never a hard thought of his good wife. I promised her a most minute account of her husband's situation, to which there could be no objection. She had done nothing wrong, and was not to be punished, though it appeared that some of the ladies of Philadelphia thought otherwise, as they took from her the needlework she had undertaken for the support of herself and her children during her husband's imprisonment. These virtuous ladies could not think of countenancing anybody connected with forgers and coiners.

I found the young man weaving. After some talk about the work, during which I saw that his mind was full of something else, I obviated all danger of his putting questions which I could not answer by asking him whether he had relations in the city. This put an end to all reserve. He mentioned his father, and the brother who had led him into crime, with a forbearance and delicacy of forgiveness which were extremely touching. He was not aware that I knew how different a tone might have been excused, might have [Pg 134] been almost justified. But he spoke most of his wife. He told me that he had always been weak, too easily persuaded, from being afraid of some people about him; and that his wife, who had a nobler mind, always kept him up, yet managing to do it when they were alone so as never to expose his weakness. He had unfortunately come to Philadelphia two days before her, and in that interval he had been threatened and persuaded into endeavouring to pass two counterfeit five-franc pieces. This was all. But he himself did not extenuate his offence or appear to think it a trifle. He observed, indeed, that at that time he was not aware what sins against property were; he used to think, that if some people had so much more than they wanted, there was no great harm in those who have too little taking some from them. He had had much time for thought since, and now saw so plainly how necessary it was that men should be protected while living in society, that he believed no compulsion could now make him break the laws in any such way. But the mischief was done. He had made his wife wretched, and all was over. I convinced him that it was not. His term was five years; and when it was fulfilled he would still be a young man, and might cherish his wife for a good many years. It was well that we thought so at the time, for the hope gave him substantial comfort. He lifted up his head from his loom, where it had sunk down in his bitter weeping, and began to talk upon the subject I dreaded, pardon. I saw what kind of mind I had to deal with, reasoning and reflective. I led him to consider, as he had found out the purposes of law, the purposes of punishment; and, at length, put the question to him whether he thought he ought to be pardoned. Trembling from head to foot, and white as the wall, he bravely answered "No." I asked him whether it would not be better to settle his mind to his lot than to be trembling for four years at every footstep that came near his cell, expecting deliverance, and expecting it in vain. He did not answer. I told him that when he was heartsick with expecting in vain, perhaps some hard thought of his wife—that she had not done all she could—might rise up to trouble him. "Oh no, no, never!" he cried. I had now obtained what I wanted for her.

I told him I should endeavour to see his wife. He desired me to tell her that he was in health, and had brought himself to own to me what he had done, and that he should [Pg 135] be pretty comfortable but for thinking how he had used her; but he would try to make up for it one day. He was quite cheerful when I left him.

The wife called on me the next day. She said she could not stay long, as she was about to set off, with her children, for a remote part of the country. It was a dreadful thing to her to leave her husband's neighbourhood; but she had been deprived of the means of support by her work being taken from her, and no resource remained but going to her father's house. She was surprised, and seemed almost sorry (no doubt from a jealousy for his reputation), that her husband had acknowledged his offence. She said he had not acknowledged it when he went in. I told her every particular about his cell and employments, as well as his looks and conversation, till, when I had done, she started up, saying that she was forgetting her children, and her journey, and everything. When we had parted she came back again from the door to ask "one thing more;" whether I thought there would ever be anything in the world that she could do for me. I thought it very possible in a world of change like this, and promised to rely upon her if she could ever serve me or mine.

She settled herself at her father's, and after a while drooped in spirits, and was sure something would happen. When bad news came she cried, "There! I knew it!" As the turnkey passed her husband's cell one day he heard some noise and looked in. The young man was just falling from his loom in a fit of apoplexy. There was no delay in doing all that can be done in such cases; but in a few hours he died. There is no reason to suppose that his imprisonment had anything to do with the attack. It was probably a constitutional tendency, aggravated by anxiety of mind.

The prison must be tried some years longer before a complete comparison of it with others can be made; but it appears at present, that if there be some few diseases which may possibly be aggravated by the silence and thoughtfulness attendant on solitary confinement (which I do not know to be the case), there are many more which disappear under the regularity of temperature and of hours, and the good diet of the establishment. There was certainly less sallowness and anxiety in the faces of the inmates than struck me in the other prisons. One man amazed me by calling the four years he had passed here the most comfortable he had ever [Pg 136] known; but when he told me the wretchedness of his previous life, I fully believed him.

I found, on visiting the elder of the brothers, how complete is the secrecy preserved in the prison. I had been repeatedly told that these brothers came in together, and, therefore, had no hesitation in mentioning the one to the other. I was thunderstruck with the vehemence with which the elder turned upon me with the question, "Is my brother in this prison?" "I was told you came in together," replied I. "Then they put him in just after me," cried he. "What did they find him guilty of? What part of the prison is he in? What work does he do?" and a number of other questions; none of which, of course, I would answer. I was not very sorry that he was accidentally made acquainted with what he had led his young brother into. I fear he could bear it only too well. When I told the warden the mistake I had made, I found that the younger brother came in three weeks after the elder.

The cases I became acquainted with were not all hopeful. Some of the convicts were so stupid as not to be relied upon, more or less. Others canted so detestably, and were (always in connexion with their cant) so certain that they should never sin more, that I have every expectation that they will find themselves in prison again some day. One fellow, a sailor, notorious for having taken more lives than probably any man in the United States, was quite confident that he should be perfectly virtuous henceforth. He should never touch anything stronger than tea, or lift his hand against money or life. I told him I thought he could not be sure of all this till he was within sight of money and the smell of strong liquors; and that he was more confident than I should like to be. He shook his shock of red hair at me, and glared with his one ferocious eye, as he said he knew all about it, as he had been the worst of men, and Christ had had mercy on his poor soul. When I had got him away from his cant, and upon subjects on which he could talk with some simplicity, I found that even this man preferred this prison to others that he had been in. It so happened that no conviction for murder had ever been procurable against him; his imprisonments were all for theft. His account of the old Walnut-street prison was dreadful. He there daily heard stories of crimes, from four in the winter afternoons till daylight. "Poor boasting! for the crimes [Pg 137] they bragged of were never done." I asked him how he got into that prison. "For a couple o' larcenies, a grand and a little," said he, with the most business-like nonchalance. He was waylaid by two old burglars on his coming out, and on the spot agreed upon an enterprise for the next night. His mother died in his arms; he went and committed the burglary, was caught, and before midnight was in prison again. His accounts of his deeds were too scientific for my understanding; but I made out enough to be ready when he asked my advice what to do when he came out. I answered as if he were in earnest, advising him to leave Philadelphia and all towns, and settle in the woods, out of the way of grogshops, bad company, and other people's property. But his keepers expect that he will end his days with them, and this is the hope of that part of society which fears his ferocity.

As the system of solitary imprisonment gains ground, I trust that the practice of prison-visiting will gain ground too. It is most desirable that it should not be left wholly in the hands of proselyting religionists, but be shared by those who better understand human nature and command a greater variety of influences. For the sake of religion itself this is desirable, to rescue it from becoming a mere prison solace; an excitement seized when no other can be had, and to be laid aside when old pursuits offer themselves for resumption. Kind-hearted persons will have an opportunity of doing extensive and unquestionable good by keeping up the social affections of the prisoners, giving them new ideas, making them cheerful, and investing with pleasant associations whatever things are honest, pure, lovely, and of good report.

In other prisons much might thus be done, though not, I think, with such extraordinary effect as under the system of solitary confinement. I was struck with something I saw at the Charlestown prison (Massachusetts). Several convicts, black and white, who had behaved well, were practising singing, which is allowed as an indulgence. It seemed strange to hear "The heavens are telling" from such lips; but I listened to it with more pleasure than in some far finer places. Any kind person who can introduce a new innocent pursuit into a prison as a solace to its inmates cannot fail to be doing an important good.

This reminds me that a service may be rendered, not so much to the convicts as to society, by any persons who can [Pg 138] supply the prisons where stonecutting is going on with a good set of epitaphs. At Auburn they are wanted, and much more at Nashville (Tennessee), where the stonecutting department is superintended by an honest Englishman, whose stock of epitaphs is small and of miserable quality. We half undertook to prepare and collect some for him, but found it a less easy task than we had supposed. We got out our pencils at three o'clock one summer morning, when our stage had broken down on a bad Tennessee road; but one of our party observing that this was the first time he had ever heard of making epitaphs for amusement, there was an end of the attempt; and the Nashville prison remains unsupplied, unless somebody else has done better than we.

I suspect the fault lies in the supposition that epitaphs of general application cannot be made at all. An epitaph should be the breathing of emotion arising out of a particular case; and none made for stonecutters' use can have much life or truth. Still, they may have grammar and general propriety, so as to be an advantageous substitute for some at present in use, if only persons can be found to compose them on such considerations.

I saw at the Charlestown prison a sight more impressive to me than all else that the walls contained; a man of might, but whose power has taken a wrong direction; his hand being against every man, and every man's against him. He is a prison-breaker so formidable as to be regarded and treated as if he were of Satanic race, and not as made up of flesh and blood, and emotions that may be roused, and affections subject to the touch. He seems, indeed, to have become somewhat of the Satanic kind, for he is now piqued to do all the harm he can. His pride is in for it; his reputation stands upon it. I was shown an enormous block of stone which he had displaced by the aid of a "gentleman" outside, who, for fear of the prison-breaker's blabbing, committed suicide on his recapture. The strong man was heavily fettered, confined in a different cell every night, and conducted to it by a procession of turnkeys. As we stood aside in the echoing passage to let the array go by, there was something really grand in the air of the man who had virtually said to himself, "Evil, be thou my good!" He stepped slowly, clanking his chains, and looking us full in the face as he passed. He cannot but have a calm sense of power when he nightly sees the irons, the bars and locks, and the six [Pg 139] fellow-men, all in requisition to keep him from working his will. As we saw him slowly turn into his cell, and heard lock after lock shot behind him, I could not help thinking that there was much true monarchical feeling within those four narrow walls.


"Ed io, ch'avea di riguardar desio
La condicion, che tal fortezza serra,
Com' i fu dentro, l'occhio intorno invio,
E veggio ad ogni man grande campagna
Piena ad duolo, e di tormento rio."


From the day of my entering the States till that of my leaving Philadelphia I had seen society basking in one bright sunshine of good-will. The sweet temper and kindly manners of the Americans are so striking to foreigners, that it is some time before the dazzled stranger perceives that, genuine as is all this good, evils as black as night exist along with it. I had been received with such hearty hospitality everywhere, and had lived among friends so conscientious in their regard for human rights, that, though I had heard of abolition riots, and had observed somewhat of the degradation of the blacks, my mind had not yet been really troubled about the enmity of the races. The time of awakening must come. It began just before I left Philadelphia.

I was calling on a lady whom I had heard speak with strong horror of the abolitionists (with whom I had then no acquaintance), and she turned round upon me with the question whether I would not prevent, if I could, the marriage of a white person with a person of colour. I saw at once the beginning of endless troubles in this inquiry, and was very sorry it had been made; but my determination had been adopted long before, never to evade the great question of colour; never to provoke it; but always to meet it plainly in whatever form it should be presented. I replied that I would never, under any circumstances, try to [Pg 140] separate persons who really loved, believing such to be truly those whom God had joined; but I observed that the case she put was one not likely to happen, as I believed the blacks were no more disposed to marry the whites than the whites to marry the blacks. "You are an amalgamationist!" cried she. I told her that the party term was new to me; but that she must give what name she pleased to the principle I had declared in answer to her question. This lady is an eminent religionist, and denunciations spread rapidly from her. The day before I left Philadelphia my old shipmate, the Prussian physician, arrived there, and lost no time in calling to tell me, with much agitation, that I must not go a step farther south; that he had heard on all hands, within two hours of his arrival, that I was an amalgamationist, and that my having published a story against slavery would be fatal to me in the slave states. I did not give much credit to the latter part of this news, and saw plainly that all I had to do was to go straight on. I really desired to see the working of the slave system, and was glad that my having published against its principles divested me altogether of the character of a spy, and gave me an unquestioned liberty to publish the results of what I might observe. In order to see things as they were, it was necessary that people's minds should not be prepossessed by my friends as to my opinions and conduct; and I therefore forbade my Philadelphia friends to publish in the newspapers, as they wished, an antidote to the charges already current against me.

The next day I first set foot in a slave state, arriving in the evening at Baltimore. I dreaded inexpressibly the first sight of a slave, and could not help speculating on the lot of every person of colour I saw from the windows the first few days. The servants in the house where I was were free blacks.

Before a week was over I perceived that all that is said in England of the hatred of the whites to the blacks in America is short of the truth. The slanders that I heard of the free blacks were too gross to injure my estimation of any but those who spoke them. In Baltimore the bodies of coloured people exclusively are taken for dissection, "because the whites do not like it, and the coloured people cannot resist." It is wonderful that the bodily structure can be (with the exception of the colouring of the skin) thus [Pg 141] assumed to be the pattern of that of the whites; that the exquisite nervous system, the instrument of moral as well as physicial pleasures and pains, can be nicely investigated, on the ground of its being analogous with that of the whites; that not only the mechanism, but the sensibilities of the degraded race should be argued from to those of the exalted order, and that men come from such a study with contempt for these brethren in their countenances, hatred in their hearts, and insult on their tongues. These students are the men who cannot say that the coloured people have not nerves that quiver under moral injury, nor a brain that is on fire with insult, nor pulses that throb under oppression. These are the men who should stay the hand of the rash and ignorant possessors of power, who crush the being of creatures, like themselves, "fearfully and wonderfully made." But to speak the right word, to hold out the helping hand, these searchers into man have not light nor strength.

It was in Baltimore that I heard Miss Edgeworth denounced as a woman of no intelligence or delicacy, whose works could never be cared for again, because, in Belinda, poor Juba was married, at length, to an English farmer's daughter! The incident is so subordinate that I had entirely forgotten it; but a clergyman's lady threw the volume to the opposite corner of the floor when she came to the page. As I have said elsewhere, Miss Edgeworth is worshipped throughout the United States; but it is in spite of this terrible passage, this clause of a sentence in Belinda, which nobody in America can tolerate, while no one elsewhere ever, I should think, dreamed of finding fault with it.

A lady from New-England, staying in Baltimore, was one day talking over slavery with me, her detestation of it being great, when I told her I dreaded seeing a slave. "You have seen one," said she. "You were waited on by a slave yesterday evening." She told me of a gentleman who let out and lent out his slaves to wait at gentlemen's houses, and that the tall handsome mulatto who handed the tea at a party the evening before was one of these. I was glad it was over for once; but I never lost the painful feeling caused to a stranger by intercourse with slaves. No familiarity with them, no mirth and contentment on their part, ever soothed the miserable restlessness caused by the presence of a deeply-injured fellow-being. No wonder or [Pg 142] ridicule on the spot avails anything to the stranger. He suffers, and must suffer from this, deeply and long, as surely as he is human and hates oppression.

The next slave that I saw, knowing that it was a slave, was at Washington, where a little negro child took hold of my gown in the passage of our boarding-house, and entered our drawing-room with me. She shut the door softly, as asking leave to stay. I took up a newspaper. She sat at my feet, and began amusing herself with my shoestrings. Finding herself not discouraged, she presently begged play by peeping at me above and on each side the newspaper. She was a brighteyed, merry-hearted child; confiding, like other children, and dreading no evil, but doomed, hopelessly doomed, to ignorance, privation, and moral degradation. When I looked at her, and thought of the fearful disobedience to the first of moral laws, the cowardly treachery, the cruel abuse of power involved in thus dooming to blight a being so helpless, so confiding, and so full of promise, a horror came over me which sickened my very soul. To see slaves is not to be reconciled to slavery.

At Baltimore and Washington again I was warned, in various stealthy ways, of perils awaiting me in the South. I had no means of ascertaining the justness of these warnings but by going on, and turning back for such vague reasons was not to be thought of. So I determined to say no word to my companions (who were in no danger), but to see the truth for myself. The threats proved idle, as I suspected they would. Throughout the South I met with very candid and kind treatment. I mention these warnings partly because they are a fact connected with the state of the country, and partly because it will afterward appear that the stranger's real danger lies in the North and West, over which the South had, in my case, greatly the advantage in liberality.

[Pg 143]


"With studious thought observed the illustrious throng,
In Nature's order as they pass'd along;
Their names, their fates."

Dryden's Æneid.

Washington is no place for persons of domestic tastes. Persons who love dissipation, persons who love to watch the game of politics, and those who make a study of strong minds under strong excitements, like a season at Washington; but it is dreary to those whose pursuits and affections are domestic. I spent five weeks there, and was heartily glad when they were over. I felt the satisfaction all the time of doing something that was highly useful; of getting knowledge that was necessary to me, and could not be otherwise obtained; but the quiet delights of my Philadelphia home (though there half our time was spent in visiting) had spoiled me for such a life as every one leads at the metropolis. I have always looked back upon the five weeks at Washington as one of the most profitable, but by far the least agreeable, of my residences in the United States.

Yet we were remarkably fortunate in our domestic arrangements there. We joined a party of highly esteemed and kind friends: a member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts, his wife and sister-in-law, and a senator from Maine. We (the above party) had a drawing-room to ourselves and a separate table at Mrs. Peyton's boarding-house; so that we formed a quiet family group enough, if only we had had any quiet in which to enjoy the privilege.

We arrived at Washington on the 13th of January, 1835, the year of the short session of Congress which closes on the 4th of March, so that we continued to see the proceedings of Congress at its busiest and most interesting time.

The approach to the city is striking to all strangers from its oddness. I saw the dome of the Capitol from a considerable distance at the end of a straight road; but, though I was prepared by the descriptions of preceding travellers, I was taken by surprise on finding myself beneath the splendid building, so sordid are the enclosures and houses on its [Pg 144] very verge. We wound round its base, and entered Pennsylvania Avenue, the only one of the grand avenues intended to centre in the Capitol which has been built up with any completeness. Our boarding-house was admirably situated, being some little way down this avenue, a few minutes' walk only from the Capitol, and a mile in a straight line from the White House, the residences of the heads of departments and the British legation.

In Philadelphia I had found perpetual difficulty in remembering that I was in a foreign country. The pronunciation of a few words by our host and hostess, the dinner-table, and the inquiries of visiters were almost all that occurred to remind me that I was not in a brother's house. At Washington it was very different. The city itself is unlike any other that ever was seen, straggling out hither and thither, with a small house or two a quarter of a mile from any other; so that, in making calls "in the city," we had to cross ditches and stiles, and walk alternately on grass and pavements, and strike across a field to reach a street. Then the weather was so strange; sometimes so cold that the only way I could get any comfort was by stretching on the sofa drawn before the fire up to the very fender (on which days every person who went in and out of the house was sure to leave the front door wide open); then the next morning, perhaps, if we went out muffled in furs, we had to turn back and exchange our wraps for a light shawl. Then we were waited upon by a slave appointed for the exclusive service of our party during our stay. Then there were canvass-back ducks, and all manner of other ducks on the table, in greater profusion than any single article of food, except turkeys, that I ever saw. Then there was the society, singularly compounded from the largest variety of elements: foreign ambassadors, the American government, members of Congress, from Clay and Webster down to Davy Crockett, Benton from Missouri, and Cuthbert, with the freshest Irish brogue, from Georgia; flippant young belles, "pious" wives dutifully attending their husbands, and groaning over the frivolities of the place; grave judges, saucy travellers, pert newspaper reporters, melancholy Indian chiefs, and timid New-England ladies, trembling on the verge of the vortex; all this was wholly unlike anything that is to be seen in any other city in the world; for all these are mixed up together in daily intercourse, like the higher circle of a little village, [Pg 145] and there is nothing else. You have this or nothing; you pass your days among these people, or you spend them alone. It is in Washington that varieties of manners are conspicuous. There the Southerners appear to the most advantage, and the New-Englanders to the least; the ease and frank courtesy of the gentry of the South (with an occasional touch of arrogance, however) contrasting favourably with the cautious, somewhat gauche, and too deferential air of the members from the North. One fancies one can tell a New-England member in the open air by his deprecatory walk. He seems to bear in mind perpetually that he cannot fight a duel, while other people can. The odd mortals that wander in from the western border cannot be described as a class, for no one is like anybody else. One has a neck like a crane, making an interval of inches between stock and chin. Another wears no cravat, apparently because there is no room for one. A third has his lank black hair parted accurately down the middle, and disposed in bands in front, so that he is taken for a woman when only the head is seen in a crowd. A fourth puts an arm round the neck of a neighbour on either side as he stands, seeming afraid of his tall wirehung frame dropping to pieces if he tries to stand alone; a fifth makes something between a bow and a courtesy to everybody who comes near, and proses with a knowing air: all having shrewd faces, and being probably very fit for the business they come upon.

Our way of life was so diversified that it is difficult to give an account of our day; the only way in which one day resembled another being that none had any privacy. We breakfasted about nine, surrounded by the heaps of newspapers, documents, and letters which the post and newsmen brought to the parliamentary members of our party. We amused ourselves with the different versions given by the Globe and the Intelligencer—the administration and opposition papers—to speeches and proceedings at which we had been present the day before; and were kindly made acquainted by our representative friend with the nature of much of his business, the petitions he had to present, the dilemmas in which he was placed by his constituents of different parties, and his hopes and fears about favourite measures in progress. The senator happened, from a peculiar set of circumstances, to be an idle man just now. He taught me many things, and rallied me on my asking him so few questions, [Pg 146] while, in fact, my head was already so much too full with what was flowing in upon me from all sides, that I longed for nothing so much as to go to sleep for a week. This gentleman's peculiar and not very agreeable position arose out of the troublesome question of Instructions to Representatives. Senators are chosen for a term of six years, one third of the body going out every two years; the term being made thus long in order to ensure some stability of policy in the Senate. If the government of the state from which the senator is sent changes its politics during his term, he may be annoyed by instructions to vote contrary to his principles, and, if he refuses, by a call to resign, on the ground of his representing the opinions of the minority. This had been the predicament of our companion; and the question of resigning or not under such circumstances had become generally a very important and interesting one, but one which there was no means of settling. Each member in such a scrape must act as his own judgment and conscience dictate under the circumstances of the particular case. Our companion made a mistake. When the attempt to instruct him was made, he said he appealed from the new legislature of his state to the people who chose him. He did appeal by standing candidate for the office of governor of the state, and was defeated. No course then remained but resigning; which he did immediately, when his senatorial term was within half a session of its close. He had withdrawn from the Senate Chamber, and was winding up his political affairs at the time when we joined his party.

At a little before eleven we usually set out for the Capitol, and passed the morning either in the Senate Chamber or the Supreme Court, unless it was necessary to make calls, or to sit to the artist who was painting my portrait, or to join a party on some excursion in the neighbourhood. We avoided spending the morning at home when we could, as it was sure to be entirely consumed with callers, and we became too much exhausted before the fatigues of the evening began. Much amusement was picked up in the artist's apartment in the Capitol; members and strangers dropped in, and the news of the hour circulated; but the Senate Chamber was our favourite resort. We returned home to dinner some time between four and six, and the cloth was seldom removed before visiters entered. The stream [Pg 147] continued to flow in during the whole evening, unless we were all going out together. We disappeared, one by one, to dress for some ball, rout, levee, or masquerade, and went out, more or less willingly, according as we left behind us visiters more or less pleasant. The half hour round our drawing-room fire after our return was the pleasantest time of the day, weary as we were. Then our foreigners' perplexities were explained for us; we compared impressions, and made common property of what had amused us individually; and, in some sort, set our overcharged minds in order before we retired to rest.

Our pleasantest evenings were some spent at home in a society of the highest order. Ladies, literary, fashionable, or domestic, would spend an hour with us on their way from a dinner or to a ball. Members of Congress would repose themselves by our fireside. Mr. Clay, sitting upright on the sofa, with his snuffbox ever in his hand, would discourse for many an hour in his even, soft, deliberate tone, on any one of the great subjects of American policy which we might happen to start, always amazing us with the moderation of estimate and speech which so impetuous a nature has been able to attain. Mr. Webster, leaning back at his ease, telling stories, cracking jokes, shaking the sofa with burst after burst of laughter, or smoothly discoursing to the perfect felicity of the logical part of one's constitution, would illuminate an evening now and then. Mr. Calhoun, the cast-iron man, who looks as if he had never been born and never could be extinguished, would come in sometimes to keep our understandings upon a painful stretch for a short while, and leave us to take to pieces his close, rapid, theoretical, illustrated talk, and see what we could make of it. We found it usually more worth retaining as a curiosity than as either very just or useful. His speech abounds in figures, truly illustrative, if that which they illustrate were but true also. But his theories of government (almost the only subject on which his thoughts are employed), the squarest and compactest that ever were made, are composed out of limited elements, and are not, therefore, likely to stand service very well. It is at first extremely interesting to hear Mr. Calhoun talk; and there is a never-failing evidence of power in all he says and does which commands intellectual reverence; but the admiration is too soon turned into regret, into absolute melancholy. It is impossible to [Pg 148] resist the conviction that all this force can be at best but useless, and is but too likely to be very mischievous. His mind has long lost all power of communicating with any other. I know of no man who lives in such utter intellectual solitude. He meets men, and harangues them by the fireside as in the Senate; he is wrought like a piece of machinery, set a going vehemently by a weight, and stops while you answer; he either passes by what you say, or twists it into a suitability with what is in his head, and begins to lecture again. Of course, a mind like this can have little influence in the Senate, except by virtue, perpetually wearing out, of what it did in its less eccentric days; but its influence at home is to be dreaded. There is no hope that an intellect so cast in narrow theories will accommodate itself to varying circumstances; and there is every danger that it will break up all that it can, in order to remould the materials in its own way. Mr. Calhoun is as full as ever of his nullification doctrines; and those who know the force that is in him, and his utter incapacity of modification by other minds (after having gone through as remarkable a revolution of political opinion as perhaps any man ever experienced), will no more expect repose and self-retention from him than from a volcano in full force. Relaxation is no longer in the power of his will. I never saw any one who so completely gave me the idea of possession. Half an hour's conversation with him is enough to make a necessarian of anybody. Accordingly, he is more complained of than blamed by his enemies. His moments of softness in his family, and when recurring to old college days, are hailed by all as a relief to the vehement working of the intellectual machine; a relief equally to himself and others. Those moments are as touching to the observer as tears on the face of a soldier.

One incident befell during my stay which moved everybody. A representative from South Carolina was ill, a friend of Mr. Calhoun's; and Mr. Calhoun parted from us one day, on leaving the Capitol, to visit this sick gentleman. The physician told Mr. Calhoun on his entrance that his friend was dying, and could not live more than a very few hours. A visiter, not knowing this, asked the sick man how he was. "To judge by my own feelings," said he, "much better; but by the countenances of my friends, not." And he begged to be told the truth. On hearing it, he instantly [Pg 149] beckoned Mr. Calhoun to him, and said, "I hear they are giving you rough treatment in the Senate. Let a dying friend implore you to guard your looks and words so as that no undue warmth may make you appear unworthy of your principles." "This was friendship, strong friendship," said Mr. Calhoun to me and to many others; and it had its due effect upon him. A few days after, Colonel Benton, a fantastic senator from Missouri, interrupted Mr. Calhoun in a speech, for the purpose of making an attack upon him, which would have been insufferable if it had not been too absurdly worded to be easily made anything of. He was called to order; this was objected to; the Senate divided upon the point of order, being dissatisfied with the decision of the chair; in short, Mr. Calhoun sat for two full hours hearing his veracity talked about before his speech could proceed. He sat in stern patience, scarcely moving a muscle the whole time; and, when it was all settled in his favour, merely observed that his friends need not fear his being disturbed by an attack of this nature from such a quarter, and resumed his speech at the precise point where his argument had been broken off. It was great, and would have satisfied the "strong friendship" of his departed comrade if he could have been there to see it.

Our active-minded, genial friend, Judge Story, found time to visit us frequently, though he is one of the busiest men in the world; writing half a dozen great law-books every year; having his full share of the business of the Supreme Court upon his hands; his professorship to attend to; the District Courts at home in Massachusetts, and a correspondence which spreads half over the world. His talk would gush out for hours, and there was never too much of it for us; it is so heartfelt, so lively, so various; and his face all the while, notwithstanding his gray hair, showing all the mobility and ingenuousness of a child's. There is no tolerable portrait of Judge Story, and there never will be. I should like to bring him face to face with a person who entertains the common English idea of how an American looks and behaves. I should like to see what such a one would make of the quick smiles, the glistening eye, the gleeful tone, with passing touches of sentiment; the innocent self-complacency, the confiding, devoted affections of the great American lawyer. The preconception would be totally at fault.

With Judge Story sometimes came the man to whom he [Pg 150] looked up with feelings little short of adoration—the aged Chief-justice Marshall. There was almost too much mutual respect in our first meeting; we knew something of his individual merits and services; and he maintained through life, and carried to his grave, a reverence for woman as rare in its kind as in its degree. It had all the theoretical fervour and magnificence of Uncle Toby's, with the advantage of being grounded upon an extensive knowledge of the sex. He was the father and the grandfather of women; and out of this experience he brought, not only the love and pity which their offices and position command, and the awe of purity which they excite in the minds of the pure, but a steady conviction of their intellectual equality with men; and, with this, a deep sense of their social injuries. Throughout life he so invariably sustained their cause, that no indulgent libertine dared to flatter and humour; no skeptic, secure in the possession of power, dared to scoff at the claims of woman in the presence of Marshall, who, made clearsighted by his purity, knew the sex far better than either.

How delighted we were to see Judge Story bring in the tall, majestic, brighteyed old man! old by chronology, by the lines on his composed face, and by his services to the republic; but so dignified, so fresh, so present to the time, that no feeling of compassionate consideration for age dared to mix with the contemplation of him. The first evening he asked me much about English politics, and especially whether the people were not fast ripening for the abolition of our religious establishment; an institution which, after a long study of it, he considered so monstrous in principle, and so injurious to true religion in practice, that he could not imagine that it could be upheld for anything but political purposes. There was no prejudice here on account of American modes being different; for he observed that the clergy were there, as elsewhere, far from being in the van of society, and lamented the existence of much fanaticism in the United States; but he saw the evils of an establishment the more clearly, not the less, from being aware of the faults in the administration of religion at home. The most animated moment of our conversation was when I told him I was going to visit Mr. Madison on leaving Washington. He instantly sat upright in his chair, and with beaming eyes began to praise Mr. Madison. Madison received the [Pg 151] mention of Marshall's name in just the same manner; yet these men were strongly opposed in politics, and their magnanimous appreciation of each other underwent no slight or brief trial.

Judge Porter sometimes came, a hearty friend, and much like a fellow-countryman, though he was a senator of the United States, and had previously been, for fourteen years, Judge of the Supreme Court of Louisiana. He was Irish by birth. His father was vindictively executed, with cruel haste, under martial law, in the Irish rebellion; and the sons were sent by their noble-minded mother to America, where Alexander, the eldest, has thus raised himself into a station of high honour. Judge Porter's warmth, sincerity, generosity, knowledge, and wit are the pride of his constituents, and very ornamental to the Senate. What their charm is by the fireside may be imagined.

Such are only a few among a multitude whose conversation filled up the few evenings we spent at home. Among the pleasantest visits we paid were dinners at the president's, at the houses of heads of departments, at the British legation, and at the Southern members' congressional mess. We highly enjoyed our dinings at the British legation, where we felt ourselves at home among our countrymen. Once, indeed, we were invited to help to do the honours as English ladies to the seven Judges of the Supreme Court, and seven great lawyers besides, when we had the merriest day that could well be. Mr. Webster fell chiefly to my share, and there is no merrier man than he; and Judge Story would enliven a dinner-table at Pekin. One laughable peculiarity at the British legation was the confusion of tongues among the servants, who ask you to take fish, flesh, and fowl in Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Irish, or French. The foreign ambassadors are terribly plagued about servants. No American will wear livery, and there is no reason why any American should. But the British ambassador must have livery servants. He makes what compromise he can, allowing his people to appear without livery out of doors except on state occasions; but yet he is obliged to pick up his domestics from among foreigners who are in want of a subsistence for a short time, and are sure to go away as soon as they can find any employment in which the wearing a livery is not requisite. The woes of this state of things, however, were the portion of the host, not of his guests; [Pg 152] and the hearty hospitality with which we were ever greeted by the minister and his attachés, combined with the attractions of the society they brought together, made our visits to them some of the pleasantest hours we passed in Washington.

Slight incidents were perpetually showing, in an amusing way, the village-like character of some of the arrangements at Washington. I remember that some of our party went one day to dine at Mr. Secretary Cass's, and the rest of us at Mr. Secretary Woodburys'. The next morning a lady of the Cass party asked me whether we had candied oranges at the Woodburys'. "No." "Then," said she, "they had candied oranges at the attorney-general's." "How do you know?" "Oh, as we were on the way, I saw a dish carried; and as we had none at the Cass's, I knew they must either be for the Woodburys or the attorney-general." There were candied oranges at the attorney-general's.

When we became intimate some time afterward with some Southern friends, with whom we now dined at their congressional mess, they gave us an amusing account of the preparations for our dinner. They boarded (from a really self-denying kindness) at a house where the arrangements were of a very inferior kind. Two sessions previous to our being there they had invited a large party of eminent persons to dinner, and had committed the ordering of the arrangements to a gentleman of their mess, advising him to engage a French cook in order to ensure a good dinner. The gentleman engaged a Frenchman, concluding he must be a cook, which, however, he was not; and the dinner turned out so unfortunately, that the mess determined to ask no more dinner-company while they remained in that house. When we arrived, however, it was thought necessary to ask us to dinner. There was little hope that all would go rightly; and the two senators of the mess were laughingly requested, in case of any blunder, to talk nullification as fast as possible to us ladies. This was done so efficaciously, that, when dinner was over, I could not have told a single dish that was on the table, except that a ham stood before me, which we were too full of nullification to attack. Our hosts informed us, long afterward, that it was a bad dinner badly served; but it was no matter.

At the president's I met a very large party, among whom there was more stiffness than I saw in any other society in [Pg 153] America. It was not the fault of the president or his family, but of the way in which the company was unavoidably brought together. With the exception of my party, the name of everybody present began with J, K, or L; that is to say, it consisted of members of Congress, who are invited alphabetically, to ensure none being left out. This principle of selection is not, perhaps, the best for the promotion of ease and sociability; and well as I liked the day, I doubt whether many others could say they enjoyed it. When we went in the president was standing in the middle of the room to receive his guests. After speaking a few words with me, he gave me into the charge of Major Donelson, his secretary, who seated me, and brought up for introduction each guest as he passed from before the president. A congressional friend of mine (whose name began with a J) stationed himself behind my chair, and gave me an account of each gentleman who was introduced to me; where he came from, what his politics were, and how, if at all, he had distinguished himself. All this was highly amusing. At dinner the president was quite disposed for conversation. Indeed, he did nothing but talk. His health is poor, and his diet of the sparest. We both talked freely of the governments of England and France; I, novice in American politics as I was, entirely forgetting that the great French question was pending, and that the president and the King of the French were then bandying very hard words. I was most struck and surprised with the president's complaints of the American Senate, in which there was at that time a small majority against the administration. He told me that I must not judge of the body by what I saw it then, and that after the 4th of March I should behold a Senate more worthy of the country. After the 4th of March there was, if I remember rightly, a majority of two in favour of the government. The ground of his complaint was, that the senators had sacrificed their dignity by disregarding the wishes of their constituents. The other side of the question is, that the dignity of the Senate is best consulted by its members following their own convictions, declining instructions for the term for which they are elected. It is a serious difficulty, originating in the very construction of the body, and not to be settled by dispute.

The president offered me bonbons for a child belonging to our party at home, and told me how many children (of his nephew's and his adopted son's) he had about him, with [Pg 154] a mildness and kindliness which contrasted well with his tone upon some public occasions. He did the honours of his house with gentleness and politeness to myself, and, as far as I saw, to every one else. About an hour after dinner he rose, and we led the way into the drawing-room, where the whole company, gentlemen as well as ladies, followed to take coffee; after which every one departed, some homeward, some to make evening calls, and others, among whom were ourselves, to a splendid ball at the other extremity of the city.

General Jackson is extremely tall and thin, with a slight stoop, betokening more weakness than naturally belongs to his years. He has a profusion of stiff gray hair, which gives to his appearance whatever there is of formidable in it. His countenance bears commonly an expression of melancholy gravity; though, when roused, the fire of passion flashes from his eyes, and his whole person looks then formidable enough. His mode of speech is slow and quiet, and his phraseology sufficiently betokens that his time has not been passed among books. When I was at Washington albums were the fashion and the plague of the day. I scarcely ever came home but I found an album on my table or requests for autographs; but some ladies went much further than petitioning a foreigner who might be supposed to have leisure. I have actually seen them stand at the door of the Senate Chamber, and send the doorkeeper with an album, and a request to write in it, to Mr. Webster and other eminent members. I have seen them do worse; stand at the door of the Supreme Court, and send in their albums to Chief-justice Marshall while he was on the bench hearing pleadings. The poor president was terribly persecuted; and to him it was a real nuisance, as he had no poetical resource but Watts's hymns. I have seen verses and stanzas of a most ominous purport from Watts, in the president's very conspicuous handwriting, standing in the midst of the crowquill compliments and translucent charades which are the staple of albums. Nothing was done to repress this atrocious impertinence of the ladies. I always declined writing more than name and date; but senators, judges, and statesmen submitted to write gallant nonsense at the request of any woman who would stoop to desire it.

Colonel Johnson, now Vice-president of the United States, sat opposite to me at the president's dinner-table. [Pg 155] This is the gentleman once believed to have killed Tecumseh, and to have written the Report on Sunday Mails, which has been the admiration of society ever since it appeared; but I believe Colonel Johnson is no longer supposed to be the author of either of these deeds. General Mason spoke of him to me at New-York with much friendship, and with strong hope of his becoming president. I heard the idea so ridiculed by members of the federal party afterward, that I concluded General Mason to be in the same case with hundreds more who believe their intimate friends sure of being president. But Colonel Johnson is actually vice-president, and the hope seems reasonable; though the slavery question will probably be the point on which the next election will turn, which may again be to the disadvantage of the colonel. If he should become president, he will be as strange-looking a potentate as ever ruled. His countenance is wild, though with much cleverness in it; his hair wanders all abroad, and he wears no cravat. But there is no telling how he might look if dressed like other people.

I was fortunate enough once to catch a glimpse of the invisible Amos Kendall, one of the most remarkable men in America. He is supposed to be the moving spring of the whole administration; the thinker, planner, and doer; but it is all in the dark. Documents are issued of an excellence which prevents their being attributed to persons who take the responsibility of them; a correspondence is kept up all over the country for which no one seems to be answerable; work is done, of goblin extent and with goblin speed, which makes men look about them with a superstitious wonder; and the invisible Amos Kendall has the credit of it all. President Jackson's Letters to his Cabinet are said to be Kendall's; the Report on Sunday Mails is attributed to Kendall; the letters sent from Washington to appear in remote country newspapers, whence they are collected and published in the Globe as demonstrations of public opinion, are pronounced to be written by Kendall. Every mysterious paragraph in opposition newspapers relates to Kendall; and it is some relief to the timid that his having now the office of postmaster-general affords opportunity for open attacks upon this twilight personage; who is proved, by the faults in the postoffice administration, not to be able to do quite everything well. But he is undoubtedly a great genius. He unites with his "great talent for silence" a splendid [Pg 156] audacity. One proof of this I have given elsewhere, in the account of the bold stroke by which he obtained the sanction of the Senate to his appointment as postmaster-general. [11]

It is clear that he could not do the work he does (incredible enough in amount any way) if he went into society like other men. He did, however, one evening; I think it was at the attorney-general's. The moment I went in, intimations reached me from all quarters, amid nods and winks, "Kendall is here:" "That is he." I saw at once that his plea for seclusion (bad health) is no false one. The extreme sallowness of his complexion, and hair of such perfect whiteness as is rarely seen in a man of middle age, testified to disease. His countenance does not help the superstitious to throw off their dread of him. He probably does not desire this superstition to melt away; for there is no calculating how much influence was given to Jackson's administration by the universal belief that there was a concealed eye and hand behind the machinery of government, by which everything could be foreseen, and the hardest deeds done. A member of Congress told me this night that he had watched through four sessions for a sight of Kendall, and had never obtained it till now. Kendall was leaning on a chair, with head bent down, and eye glancing up at a member of Congress with whom he was in earnest conversation, and in a few minutes he was gone.

Neither Mr. Clay nor any of his family ever spoke a word to me of Kendall except in his public capacity; but I heard elsewhere and repeatedly the well-known story of the connexion of the two men early in Kendall's life. Tidings reached Mr. and Mrs. Clay one evening, many years ago, at their house in the neighbourhood of Lexington, Kentucky, that a young man, solitary and poor, lay ill of a fever in the noisy hotel in the town. Mrs. Clay went down in the carriage without delay, and brought the sufferer home to her house, where she nursed him with her own hands till he recovered. Mr. Clay was struck with the talents and knowledge of the young man (Kendall), and retained him as tutor to his sons, heaping benefits upon him with characteristic bounty. Thus far is notorious fact. As to the causes of their separation and enmity, I have not heard Kendall's side of the question, and therefore say nothing; but go on to the [Pg 157] other notorious facts, that Amos Kendall left Mr. Clay's political party some time after Adams had been, by Mr. Clay's influence, seated in the presidential chair, and went over to Jackson; since which time he has never ceased his persecutions of Mr. Clay through the newspapers. It was extensively believed, on Mr. Van Buren's accession, that Kendall would be dismissed from office altogether; and there was much speculation about how the administration would get on without him. But he appears to be still there. Whether he goes or stays, it will probably be soon apparent how much of the conduct of Jackson's government is attributable to Kendall's influence over the mind of the late president, as he is hardly likely to stand in the same relation to the present.

I was more vividly impressed with the past and present state of Ireland while I was in America than ever I was at home. Besides being frequently questioned as to what was likely to be done for the relief of her suffering millions—suffering to a degree that it is inconceivable to Americans that freeborn whites should ever be—I met from time to time with refugee Irish gentry, still burning with the injuries they or their fathers sustained in the time of the rebellion. The subject first came up with Judge Porter; and I soon afterward saw, at a country-house where I was calling, the widow of Theobald Wolfe Tone. The poor lady is still full of feelings which amazed me by their bitterness and strength, but which have, indeed, nothing surprising in them to those who know the whole truth of the story of Ireland in those dreadful days. The descendants of "the rebels" cannot be comforted with tidings of anything to be done for their country. Naturally believing that nothing good can come out of England—nothing good for Ireland—they passionately ask that their country shall be left to govern herself. With tears and scornful laughter they beg that nothing may be "done for her" by hands that have ravaged her with gibbet, fire, and sword, but that she may be left to whatever hopefulness may yet be smouldering under the ashes of her despair. Such is the representation of Ireland to American minds. It may be imagined what a monument of idiotcy the forcible maintenance of the Church of England in Ireland must appear to American statesmen. "I do not understand this Lord John Russell of yours," said one of the most sagacious of them. "Is he serious in supposing that [Pg 158] he can allow a penny of the revenues, a plait of the lawn-sleeves of that Irish Church to be touched, and keep the whole from coming down, in Ireland first, and in England afterward?" We fully agree in the difficulty of supposing Lord John Russell serious. The comparison of various, but, I believe, pretty extensive American opinions about the Church of England yields rather a curious result. No one dreams of the establishment being necessary or being designed for the maintenance of religion; it is seen by Chief-justice Marshall and a host of others to be an institution turned to political purposes. Mr. Van Buren, among many, considers that the church has supported the state for many years. Mr. Clay, and a multitude with him, anticipates the speedy fall of the establishment. The result yielded by all this is a persuasion not very favourable (to use the American phrase) "to the permanence of our institutions."

Among our casual visiters at Washington was a gentleman who little thought, as he sat by our fireside, what an adventure was awaiting him among the Virginia woods. If there could have been any anticipation of it, I should have taken more notice of him than I did; as it is, I have a very slight recollection of him. He came from Maine, and intended before his return to visit the springs of Virginia, which he did the next summer. It seems that he talked in the stages rashly, and somewhat in a bragging style—in a style, at least, which he was not prepared to support by a harder testimony—about abolitionism. He declared that abolitionism was not so dangerous as people thought; that he avowed it without any fear; that he had frequently attended abolition meetings in the North, and was none the worse for it in the slave states, &c. He finished his visit at the Springs prosperously enough; but, on his return, when he and a companion were in the stage in the midst of the forest, they met at a crossroad—Judge Lynch; that is, a mob with hints of cowhide and tar and feathers. The mob stopped the stage, and asked for the gentleman by name. It was useless to deny his name, but he denied everything else. He denied his being an abolitionist; he denied his having ever attended abolition meetings, and harangued against abolitionism from the door of the stage with so much effect, that the mob allowed the steps to be put up, and the vehicle to drive off, which it did at full speed. It was not long before the mob became again persuaded that this gentleman was a fit object [Pg 159] of vengeance, and pursued him; but he was gone as fast as horses could carry him. He did not relax his speed even when out of danger, but fled all the way into Maine. It was not on the shrinking at the moment that one would animadvert so much as on the previous bragging. I have seen and felt enough of what peril from popular hatred is, in this martyr age of the United States, to find it easier to venerate those who can endure than to despise those who flinch from the ultimate trial of their principles; but every instance of the infliction of Lynch punishment should be a lesson to the sincerest and securest to profess no more than they are ready to perform.

One of our mornings was devoted to an examination of the library and curiosities of the State Department, which we found extremely interesting. Our imaginations were whirled over the globe at an extraordinary rate. There were many volumes of original letters of Washington's and other revolutionary leaders bound up, and ordered to be printed, for security, lest these materials of history should be destroyed by fire or other accident. There were British parliamentary documents. There was a series of the Moniteur complete, wherein we found the black list of executions during the reign of terror growing longer every day; also the first mention of Napoleon; the tidings of his escape from Elba; the misty days immediately succeeding, when no telegraphic communication could be made; his arrival at Lyons, and the subsequent silence till the announcement became necessary that the king and princes had departed during the night, and that his majesty the emperor had arrived at his palace of the Tuileries at eight o'clock the next evening. Next we turned to Algerine (French) gazettes, publishing that Mustaphas and such people were made colonels and adjutants. Then we lighted upon the journals of Arnold during the Revolutionary war, and read the postscript of his last letter previous to the accomplishment of his treason, in which he asks for hard cash, on pretence that the French had suffered so much by paper money that he was unwilling to offer them any more. Then we viewed the signatures of treaties, and decreed Metternich's to be the best; Don Pedro's the worst for flourish, and Napoleon's for illegibility. The extraordinary fact was then and there communicated to us that the Americans are fond of Miguel from their dislike of Pedro, but that they hope to "get along" very well [Pg 160] with the Queen of Portugal. The treaties with oriental potentates are very magnificent, shining, and unintelligible to the eyes of novices. The presents from potentates to American ambassadors are laid up here; gold snuffboxes set in diamonds, and a glittering array of swords and cimeters. There was one fine Damascus blade, but it seemed too blunt to do any harm. Then we lost ourselves in a large collection of medals and coins—Roman gold coins, with fat old Vespasian and others—from which we were recalled to find ourselves in the extremely modern and democratic United States! It was a very interesting morning.

We took advantage of a mild day to ascend to the skylight of the dome of the Capitol, in order to obtain a view of the surrounding country. The ascent was rather fatiguing, but perfectly safe. The residents at Washington declare the environs to be beautiful in all seasons but early winter, the meadows being gay with a profusion of wild flowers; even as early as February with several kinds of heart's-ease. It was a particularly cold season when I was there; but on the day of my departure, in the middle of February, the streets were one sheet of ice, and I remember we made a long slide from the steps of our boarding-house to those of the stage. But I believe that that winter was no rule for others. From the summit of the Capitol we saw plainly marked out the basin in which Washington stands, surrounded by hills except where the Potomac spreads its waters. The city was intended to occupy the whole of this basin, and its seven theoretical avenues may be traced; but all except Pennsylvania Avenue are bare and forlorn. A few mean houses dotted about, the sheds of a navy-yard on one bank of the Potomac, and three or four villas on the other, are all the objects that relieve the eye in this space intended to be so busy and magnificent. The city is a grand mistake. Its only attraction is its being the seat of government, and it is thought that it will not long continue to be so. The far-western states begin to demand a more central seat for Congress, and the Cincinnati people are already speculating upon which of their hills or tablelands is to be the site of the new Capitol. Whenever this change takes place all will be over with Washington; "thorns shall come up in her palaces, and the owl and the raven shall dwell in it," while her sister cities of the east will be still spreading as fast as hands can be found to build them. [Pg 161]

There was a funeral of a member of Congress on the 30th of January; the interment of the representative from South Carolina, whose death I mentioned in connexion with Mr. Calhoun. We were glad that we were at Washington at the time, as a congressional funeral is a remarkable spectacle. We went to the Capitol at about half an hour before noon, and found many ladies already seated in the gallery of the Hall of Representatives. I chanced to be placed at the precise point of the gallery where the sounds from every part of the house are concentred; so that I heard the whole service, while I was at such a distance as to command a view of the entire scene. In the chair were the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Representatives. Below them sat the officiating clergyman; immediately opposite to whom were the president and the heads of departments on one side the coffin, and the judges of the Supreme Court and members of the Senate on the other. The representatives sat in rows behind, each with crape round the left arm; some in black; many in blue coats with bright buttons. Some of the fiercest political foes in the country; some who never meet on any other occasion—the president and the South Carolina senators, for instance—now sat knee to knee, necessarily looking into each others' faces. With a coffin beside them, and such an event awaiting their exit, how out of place was hatred here!

After prayers there was a sermon, in which warning of death was brought home to all, and particularly to the aged; and the vanity of all disturbances of human passion when in view of the grave was dwelt upon. There sat the gray-headed old president, at that time feeble, and looking scarcely able to go through this ceremonial. I saw him apparently listening to the discourse; I saw him rise when it was over, and follow the coffin in his turn, somewhat feebly; I saw him disappear in the doorway, and immediately descended with my party to the Rotundo, in order to behold the departure of the procession for the grave. At the bottom of the stairs a member of Congress met us, pale and trembling, with the news that the president had been twice fired at with a pistol by an assassin who had waylaid him in the portico, but that both pistols had missed fire. At this moment the assassin rushed into the Rotundo where we were standing, pursued and instantly surrounded by a crowd. I saw his hands and [Pg 162] half-bare arms struggling above the heads of the crowd in resistance to being handcuffed. He was presently overpowered, conveyed to a carriage, and taken before a magistrate. The attack threw the old soldier into a tremendous passion. He fears nothing, but his temper is not equal to his courage. Instead of his putting the event calmly aside, and proceeding with the business of the hour, it was found necessary to put him into his carriage and take him home.

We feared what the consequences would be. We had little doubt that the assassin Lawrence was mad; and as little that, before the day was out, we should hear the crime imputed to more than one political party or individual. And so it was. Before two hours were over, the name of almost every eminent politician was mixed up with that of the poor maniac who caused the uproar. The president's misconduct on the occasion was the most virulent and protracted. A deadly enmity had long subsisted between General Jackson and Mr. Poindexter, a senator of the United States, which had been much aggravated since General Jackson's accession by some unwarrantable language which he had publicly used in relation to Mr. Poindexter's private affairs. There was a prevalent expectation of a duel as soon as the expiration of the president's term of office should enable his foe to send him a challenge. Under these circumstances the president thought proper to charge Mr. Poindexter with being the instigator of Lawrence's attempt. He did this in conversation so frequently and openly, that Mr. Poindexter wrote a letter, brief and manly, stating that he understood this charge was made against him, but that he would not believe it till it was confirmed by the president himself; his not replying to this letter being understood to be such a confirmation. The president showed this letter to visiters at the White House, and did not answer it. He went further; obtaining affidavits (tending to implicate Poindexter) from weak and vile persons whose evidence utterly failed; having personal interviews with these creatures, and openly showing a disposition to hunt his foe to destruction at all hazards. The issue was, that Lawrence was proved to have acted from sheer insanity; Poindexter made a sort of triumphal progress through the states, and an irretrievable stain was left upon President Jackson's name.

Every one was anxiously anticipating the fierce meeting of these foes on the president's retirement from office, when [Pg 163] Mr. Poindexter last year, in a fit either of somnambulism or of delirium from illness, walked out of a chamber window in the middle of the night, and was so much injured that he soon died.

It so happened that we were engaged to a party at Mr. Poindexter's the very evening of this attack upon the president. There was so tremendous a thunder-storm that our host and hostess were disappointed of almost all their guests except ourselves, and we had difficulty in merely crossing the street, being obliged to have planks laid across the flood which gushed between the carriage and the steps of the door. The conversation naturally turned on the event of the morning. I knew little of the quarrel which was now to be so dreadfully aggravated; but the more I afterward heard, the more I admired the moderation with which Mr. Poindexter spoke of his foe that night, and as often as I subsequently met him.

I had intended to visit the president the day after the funeral; but I heard so much of his determination to consider the attack a political affair, and I had so little wish to hear it thus treated, against the better knowledge of all the world, that I stayed away as long as I could. Before I went I was positively assured of Lawrence's insanity by one of the physicians who were appointed to visit him. One of the poor creature's complaints was, that General Jackson deprived him of the British crown, to which he was heir. When I did go to the White House, I took the briefest possible notice to the president of the "insane attempt" of Lawrence; but the word roused his ire. He protested, in the presence of many strangers, that there was no insanity in the case. I was silent, of course. He protested that there was a plot, and that the man was a tool, and at length quoted the attorney-general as his authority. It was painful to hear a chief ruler publicly trying to persuade a foreigner that any of his constituents hated him to the death; and I took the liberty of changing the subject as soon as I could. The next evening I was at the attorney-general's, and I asked him how he could let himself be quoted as saying that Lawrence was not mad. He excused himself by saying that he meant general insanity. He believed Lawrence insane in one direction; that it was a sort of Ravaillac case. I besought him to impress the president with this view of the case as soon as might be. [Pg 164]

It would be amusing, if it were possible to furnish a complete set of the rumours, injurious (if they had not been too absurd) to all parties in turn, upon this single and very common act of a madman. One would have thought that no maniac had ever before attacked a chief magistrate. The act might so easily have remained fruitless! but it was made to bear a full and poisonous crop of folly, wickedness, and wo. I feared on the instant how it would be, and felt that, though the president was safe, it was very bad news. When will it come to be thought possible for politicians to have faith in one another, though they may differ, and to be jealous for their rivals rather than for themselves?


" ... You have unto the support of a true and natural aristocracy the deepest root of a democracy that hath been planted. Wherefore there is nothing in art or nature better qualified for the result than this assembly."—Harrington's Oceana.

The places of resort for the stranger in the Capitol are the Library, the Supreme Court, the Senate Chamber, and the Hall of Representatives.

The former library of Congress was burnt by the British in their atrocious attack upon Washington in 1814. Jefferson then offered his, and it was purchased by the nation. It is perpetually increased by annual appropriations. We did not go to the library to read, but amused ourselves for many pleasant hours with the prints and with the fine medals which we found there. I was never tired of the cabinet of Napoleon medals; the most beautifully composed piece of history that I ever studied. There is a cup carved by Benvenuto Cellini, preserved among the curiosities of the Capitol, which might be studied for a week before all the mysteries of its design are apprehended. How it found its way to so remote a resting-place I do not remember.

Judge Story was kind enough to send us notice when any cause was to be argued in the Supreme Court which it was probable we might be able to understand, and we passed a few mornings there. The apartment is less fitted for its [Pg 165] purposes than any other in the building, the court being badly lighted and ventilated. The windows are at the back of the judges, whose countenances are therefore indistinctly seen, and who sit in their own light. Visiters are usually placed behind the counsel and opposite the judges, or on seats on each side. I was kindly offered the reporter's chair, in a snug corner, under the judges, and facing the counsel; and there I was able to hear much of the pleadings and to see the remarkable countenances of the attorney-general, Clay, Webster, Porter, and others, in the fullest light that could be had in this dim chamber.

At some moments this court presents a singular spectacle. I have watched the assemblage while the chief-justice was delivering a judgment; the three judges on either hand gazing at him more like learners than associates; Webster standing firm as a rock, his large, deep-set eyes wide awake, his lips compressed, and his whole countenance in that intent stillness which easily fixes the eye of the stranger; Clay leaning against the desk in an attitude whose grace contrasts strangely with the slovenly make of his dress, his snuffbox for the moment unopened in his hand, his small gray eye and placid half-smile conveying an expression of pleasure which redeems his face from its usual unaccountable commonness; the attorney-general, his fingers playing among his papers, his quick black eye, and thin tremulous lips for once fixed, his small face, pale with thought, contrasting remarkably with the other two; these men, absorbed in what they are listening to, thinking neither of themselves nor of each other, while they are watched by the groups of idlers and listeners around them; the newspaper corps, the dark Cherokee chiefs, the stragglers from the Far West, the gay ladies in their waving plumes, and the members of either house that have stepped in to listen; all these I have seen at one moment constitute one silent assemblage, while the mild voice of the aged chief-justice sounded through the court.

Every one is aware that the wigs and gowns of counsel are not to be seen in the United States. There was no knowing, when Webster sauntered in, threw himself down, and leaned back against the table, his dreamy eyes seeming to see nothing about him, whether he would by-and-by take up his hat and go away, or whether he would rouse himself suddenly, and stand up to address the judges. For the generality there was no knowing; and to us, who were [Pg 166] forewarned, it was amusing to see how the court would fill after the entrance of Webster, and empty when he had gone back to the Senate Chamber. The chief interest to me in Webster's pleading, and also in his speaking in the Senate, was from seeing one so dreamy and nonchalant roused into strong excitement. It seemed like having a curtain lifted up through which it was impossible to pry; like hearing auto-biographical secrets. Webster is a lover of ease and pleasure, and has an air of the most unaffected indolence and careless self-sufficiency. It is something to see him moved with anxiety and the toil of intellectual conflict; to see his lips tremble, his nostrils expand, the perspiration start upon his brow; to hear his voice vary with emotion, and to watch the expression of laborious thought while he pauses, for minutes together, to consider his notes, and decide upon the arrangement of his argument. These are the moments when it becomes clear that this pleasure-loving man works for his honours and his gains. He seems to have the desire which other remarkable men have shown, to conceal the extent of his toils, and his wish has been favoured by some accidents; some sudden, unexpected call upon him for a display of knowledge and power which has electrified the beholders. But on such occasions he has been able to bring into use acquisitions and exercises intended for other occasions, on which they may or may not have been wanted. No one will suppose that this is said in disparagement of Mr. Webster. It is only saying that he owes to his own industry what he must otherwise owe to miracle.

What his capacity for toil is was shown, in one instance among many, in an affair of great interest to his own state. On the 7th of April, 1830, the town of Salem, Massachusetts, was thrown into a state of consternation by the announcement of a horrible murder. Mr. White, a respectable and wealthy citizen of Salem, about eighty years of age, was found murdered in his bed. The circumstances were such as to indicate that the murder was not for common purposes of plunder, and suspicions arose which made every citizen shudder at the idea of the community in which he lived containing the monsters who would perpetrate such a deed. A patrol of the citizens was proposed and organized, and none were more zealous in propositions and in patrolling than Joseph and John Knapp, relatives of the murdered man. The conduct of these young men on the [Pg 167] occasion exposed them to dislike before any one breathed suspicion. Several acquaintances of the family paid visits of condolence before the funeral. One of these told me, still with a feeling of horror, how one of the Knapps pulled his sleeve, and asked, in an awkward whisper, whether he would go up stairs and see "the old devil." The old gentleman's housekeeper had slept out of the house that particular night; a back window had been left unfastened, with a plank placed against it on the outside; and a will of the old gentleman's (happily a superseded one) was missing. Suspicious circumstances like these were found soon to have accumulated so as to justify the arrest of the two Knapps, and of two brothers of the name of Crowninshield. A lawyer was ready with testimony that Joseph Knapp, who had married a grand-niece of Mr. White, had obtained legal information, that if Mr. White died intestate, Knapp's mother-in-law would succeed to half the property. Joseph Knapp confessed the whole in prison, and Richard Crowninshield, doubtless the principal assassin, destroyed himself. The state prosecutors were in a great difficulty. Without the confession, the evidence was scarcely sufficient; and though Joseph Knapp was promised favour from government if he would repeat his evidence on the side of the prosecution in court, it was not safe, as the event proved, to rely upon this in a case otherwise doubtful. The attorney and solicitor-general of the state were both aged and feeble men; and, as the day of trial drew on, it became more and more doubtful whether they would be equal to the occasion, and whether these ruffians, well understood to be the murderers, would not be let loose upon society again, from bad management of the prosecution. The prosecuting officers of the government were prevailed upon, within three days of the trial, to send to seek out Mr. Webster and request his assistance.

A citizen of Salem, a friend of mine, was deputed to carry the request. He went to Boston: Mr. Webster was not there, but at his farm by the seashore. Thither, in tremendous weather, my friend followed him. Mr. Webster was playing checkers with his boy. The old farmer sat by the fire, his wife and two young women were sewing and knitting coarse stockings; one of these last, however, being no farmer's daughter, but Mr. Webster's bride, for this was shortly after his second marriage. My friend was first [Pg 168] dried and refreshed, and then lost no time in mentioning "business." Mr. Webster writhed at the word, saying that he came down hither to get out of hearing of it. He next declared that his undertaking anything more was entirely out of the question, and pointed, in evidence, to his swollen bag of briefs lying in a corner. However, upon a little further explanation and meditation, he agreed to the request with the same good grace with which he afterward went through with his task. He made himself master of all that my friend could communicate, and before daybreak was off through the woods, in the unabated storm, no doubt meditating his speech by the way. He needed all the assistance that could be given him, of course; and my friend constituted himself Mr. Webster's fetcher and carrier of facts for these two days. He says he was never under orders before since his childish days; but in this emergency he was a willing servant, obeying such laconic instructions as "Go there;" "Learn this and that;" "Now go away;" and so forth.

At the appointed hour Mr. Webster was completely ready. His argument is thought one of the finest, in every respect, that he has produced. I read it before I knew anything of the circumstances which I have related; and I was made acquainted with them in consequence of my inquiry how a man could be hanged on evidence so apparently insufficient as that adduced by the prosecution. Mr. Webster had made all that could be made of it; his argument was ingenious and close, and imbued with moral beauty; but the fact was, as I was assured, the prisoners were convicted on the ground of the confession of the criminal more than on the evidence adduced by the prosecutors; though the confession could not, after all, be made open use of. The prisoners had such an opinion of the weakness of the case, that Joseph, who had been offered favour by government, refused to testify, and the pledge of the government was withdrawn. Both the Knapps were hanged.

The clearness with which, in this case, a multitude of minute facts is arranged, and the ingenuity with which a long chain of circumstantial evidence is drawn out, can be understood only through a reading of the entire argument. Even these are less remarkable than the sympathy by which the pleader seems to have possessed himself of the emotions, the peculiar moral experience, of the quiet, good [Pg 169] people of Salem, when thunderstruck with this event. While shut up at his task, Mr. Webster found means to see into the hearts which were throbbing in all the homes about him. "One thing more," said he to my friend, who was taking his leave of him on the eve of the trial. "Do you know of anything remarkable about any of the jury?" My friend had nothing to say, unless it was that the foreman was a man of a remarkably tender conscience. To this we doubtless owe the concluding passage of the argument, delivered, as I was told, in a voice and manner less solemn than easy and tranquil.

"Gentlemen—Your whole concern should be to do your duty, and leave consequences to take care of themselves. You will receive the law from the court. Your verdict, it is true, may endanger the prisoner's life; but, then, it is to save other lives. If the prisoner's guilt has been shown and proved beyond all reasonable doubt, you will convict him. If such reasonable doubts still remain, you will acquit him. You are the judges of the whole case. You owe a duty to the public as well as to the prisoner at the bar. You cannot presume to be wiser than the law. Your duty is a plain, straightforward one. Doubtless, we would all judge him in mercy. Towards him, as an individual, the law inculcates no hostility; but towards him, if proved to be a murderer, the law, and the oaths you have taken, and public justice, demand that you do your duty.

"With consciences satisfied with the discharge of duty, no consequences can harm you. There is no evil that we cannot face or fly from but the consciousness of duty disregarded.

"A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the seas, duty performed or duty violated is still with us, for our happiness or our misery. If we say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light our obligations are yet with us. We cannot escape their power nor fly from their presence. They are with us in this life, will be with us at its close; and in that scene of inconceivable solemnity which lies yet farther onward, we shall still find ourselves surrounded by the consciousness of duty, to pain us wherever it has been violated, and to console us so far as God may have given us grace to perform it." [Pg 170]

How must the mention of the tremendous "secret" have thrilled through the hearts of citizens who had for weeks been anxiously searching every man's countenance to find it out. The picture given as from the pleader's imagination was, as every man knew, derived from the confession of the criminal.

"The deed was executed with a degree of self-possession and steadiness equal to the wickedness with which it was planned. The circumstances, now clearly in evidence, spread out the whole scene before us. Deep sleep had fallen on the destined victim and on all beneath his roof. A healthful old man, to whom sleep was sweet, the first sound slumbers of the night held in their soft but strong embrace. The assassin enters through the window, already prepared, into an unoccupied apartment. With noiseless foot he paces the lonely hall, half lighted by the moon; he winds up the ascent of the stairs, and reaches the door of the chamber. Of this he moves the lock, by soft and continued pressure, till it turns on its hinges, and he enters, and beholds his victim before him. The room was uncommonly open to the admission of light. The face of the innocent sleeper was turned from the murderer, and the beams of the moon, resting on the gray locks of his aged temple, showed him where to strike. The fatal blow is given! and the victim passes, without a struggle or a motion, from the repose of sleep to the repose of death! It is the assassin's purpose to make sure work; and he yet plies the dagger, though it was obvious that life had been destroyed by the blow of the bludgeon. He even raises the aged arm, that he may not fail in his aim at the heart, and replaces it again over the wounds of the poniard. To finish the picture, he explores the wrist for the pulse! he feels it, and ascertains that it beats no longer! It is accomplished. The deed is done. He retreats, retraces his steps to the window, passes out through it as he came in, and escapes. He has done the murder; no eye has seen him, no ear heard him. The secret is his own, and it is safe! Ah, gentlemen, that was a dreadful mistake. Such a secret can be safe nowhere. The whole creation of God has neither nook nor corner where the guilty can bestow it and say it is safe. Not to speak of that Eye which glances through all disguises, and beholds everything as in the splendour of noon, such secrets of guilt are never safe from detection, even by men. True it is, [Pg 171] generally speaking, that 'murder will out.' True it is that Providence hath so ordained, and doth so govern things, that those who break the great law of Heaven by shedding man's blood seldom succeed in avoiding discovery. Especially, in a case exciting so much attention as this, discovery must come, and will come, sooner or later. A thousand eyes turn at once to explore every man, every thing, every circumstance connected with the time and place; a thousand ears catch every whisper, a thousand excited minds intensely dwell on the scene, shedding all their light, and ready to kindle the slightest circumstance into a blaze of discovery. Meantime, the guilty soul cannot keep its own secret. It is false to itself; or, rather, it feels an irresistible impulse of conscience to be true to itself. It labours under its guilty possession, and knows not what to do with it. The human heart was not made for the residence of such an inhabitant. It finds itself preyed on by a torment which it does not acknowledge to God or man. A vulture is devouring it, and it can ask no sympathy or assistance either from heaven or earth. The secret which the murderer possesses soon comes to possess him; and, like the evil spirits of which we read, it overcomes him, and leads him whithersoever it will. He feels it beating at his heart, rising to his throat, and demanding disclosure. He thinks the whole world sees it in his face, reads it in his eyes, and almost hears its workings in the very silence of his thoughts. It has become his master. It betrays his discretion, it breaks down his courage, it conquers his prudence. When suspicions from without begin to embarrass him, and the net of circumstance to entangle him, the fatal secret struggles with still greater violence to burst forth. It must be confessed; it will be confessed; there is no refuge from confession but suicide; and suicide is confession."

Mr. Webster was born in 1782, in New-Hampshire. His father was a farmer who had retreated into the wilderness, and, as his son says, "had lighted his fire nearer to the North Pole than any other citizen of the States." The good man had, however, come down into the meadows at the foot of the hills before his second son Daniel was born. By the means which are within reach of almost every child in his country—the schools and colleges of easy access—Daniel became qualified for an apprenticeship to law; and by industry, great intellectual power, and some few fortunate accidents, [Pg 172] rose into notice, employment, and eminence. He has for some years been considered the head of the federal party, and he is therefore now on the losing side in politics. His last great triumph was his exposure of the nullification doctrine in 1833. Since that time he has maintained his influence in Congress by virtue of his great talents and former services; but, his politics being in opposition to those of the great body of the people, he is unable to do more than head the opposition in the Senate. He was an unsuccessful candidate in the last presidential election; and there seems little probability of his attainment of office, unless by his taking the lead of the abolition movement. For this it is probably now too late. The abolitionists have done the most difficult part of the work in rousing the public mind; they are chiefly of the democratic side in politics; and they do not entertain, I believe, that faith in the great leader of the federalists which would induce them to support his claims as the anti-slavery candidate for the next presidentship.

Mr. Webster owes his rise to the institutions under which he lives; institutions which open the race to the swift and the battle to the strong; but there is little in him that is congenial with them. He is aristocratic in his tastes and habits, and but little republican simplicity is to be recognised in him. Neither his private conversation nor his public transactions usually convey an impression that he is in earnest. When he is so, his power is majestic, irresistible; but his ambition for office, and for the good opinion of those who surround him, is seen too often in alternation with his love of ease and luxury to allow of his being confided in as he is admired. If it had been otherwise, if his moral had equalled his intellectual supremacy, if his aims had been as single as his reason is unclouded, he would long ago have carried all before him, and been the virtual monarch of the United States. But to have expected this would have been unreasonable. The very best men of any society are rarely or never to be found among its eminent statesmen; and it is not fair to look for them in offices which, in the present condition of human affairs, would yield to such no other choice than of speedy failure or protracted martyrdom. Taking great politicians as they are, Mr. Webster's general consistency may be found not to have fallen below the average, though it has not been so remarkable as to ensure on his behalf a confidence at all to be compared with the universal admiration of his talents. [Pg 173]

Mr. Webster speaks seldom in the Senate. When he does, it is generally on some constitutional question, where his reasoning powers and knowledge are brought into play, and where his authority is considered so high, that he has the glorious satisfaction of knowing that he is listened to as an oracle by an assemblage of the first men in the country. Previous to such an exercise he may be seen leaning back in his chair, not, as usual, biting the top of his pen, or twirling his thumbs, or bursting into sudden and transient laughter at Colonel Benton's oratorical absurdities, but absent and thoughtful, making notes, and seeing nothing that is before his eyes. When he rises, his voice is moderate and his manner quiet, with the slightest possible mixture of embarrassment; his right hand rests upon his desk, and the left hangs by his side. Before his first head is finished, however, his voice has risen so as to fill the chamber and ring again, and he has fallen into his favourite attitude, with his left hand under his coat-tail, and the right in full action. At this moment the eye rests upon him as upon one under the true inspiration of seeing the invisible and grasping the impalpable. When the vision has passed away, the change is astonishing. He sits at his desk, writing letters or dreaming, so that he does not always discover when the Senate is going to a division. Some one of his party has not seldom to jog his elbow, and tell him that his vote is wanted.

There can scarcely be a stronger contrast than between the eloquence of Webster and that of Clay. Mr. Clay is now my personal friend; but I have a distinct recollection of my impression of his speaking while he was yet merely an acquaintance. His appearance is plain in the extreme, being that of a mere west-country farmer. He is tall and thin, with a weather-beaten complexion, small gray eyes, which convey an idea of something more than his well-known sagacity, even of slyness. It is only after much intercourse that Mr. Clay's personal appearance can be discovered to do him any justice at all. All attempts to take his likeness have been in vain, though upward of thirty portraits of him, by different artists, were in existence when I was in America. No one has succeeded in catching the subtile expression of placid kindness, mingled with astuteness, which becomes visible to the eyes of those who are in daily intercourse with him. His mode of talking, deliberate and somewhat formal, including sometimes a grave humour [Pg 174] and sometimes a gentle sentiment, very touching from the lips of a sagacious man of ambition, has but one fault, its obvious adaptation to the supposed state of mind of the person to whom it is addressed. Mr. Clay is a man of an irritable and impetuous nature, over which he has obtained a truly noble mastery. His moderation is now his most striking characteristic; obtained, no doubt, at the cost of prodigious self-denial on his own part, and on that of his friends of some of the ease, naturalness, and self-forgetfulness of his manners and discourse. But his conversation is rich in information, and full charged with the spirit of justice and kindliness, rising, on occasion, to a moving magnanimity. By chances, of some of which he was totally unaware, I became acquainted with several acts of his life, political and private, which prove that his moderation is not the mere diffusion of oil upon the waves, but the true stilling of the storm of passion and selfishness. The time may come when these acts may be told; but it has not yet arrived.

Mr. Clay is sometimes spoken of as a "disappointed statesman," and he would probably not object to call himself so; for it makes no part of his idea of dignity to pretend to be satisfied when he is sorry, or delighted with what he would fain have prevented; but he suffers only the genuine force of disappointment, without the personal mortification and loss of dignity which are commonly supposed to be included in it. He once held the balance of the Union in his hand, and now belongs to the losing party; he more than once expected to be president, and has now no chance of ever being so. Thus far he is a disappointed statesman; but, at the same time, he is in possession of more than an equivalent for what he has lost, not only in the disciplined moderation of his temper, but in the imperishable reality of great deeds done. No possession of office could now add to his dignity any more than the total neglect of the present generation of the people could detract from it. The fact that Mr. Clay's political opinions are not in accordance with those now held by the great body of the people is no disgrace to him or them, while the dignity of his former services, supported by his present patience and quietness, places him far above compassion, and every feeling but respect and admiration. This admiration is exalted to enthusiasm in those who know how difficult it is to a man of Mr. Clay's nature, who has lived in public all his life, to fall back into [Pg 175] obscurity; an obscurity not relieved, alas! by the solace of a cheerful home. Few spectacles can be more noble than he is in that obscurity, discoursing of public men and affairs with a justice which no rivalship can impair, and a hopefulness which no personal disappointment can relax.

Mr. Clay is the son of a respectable clergyman in Virginia, and was born in April, 1777. His father died when he was quite young; and he was, in consequence, left to the common educational chances which befriend all the young citizens of the United States. He studied law after leaving the common school at which his education began, and settled early at Lexington, in Kentucky, where his residence has ever since been fixed. His first important act was labouring diligently in favour of a plan for the gradual abolition of slavery in Kentucky, which was proposed in 1798. His exertions were, however, in vain. In 1803 he entered the legislature of his state, and in 1806 was sent, with the dignity of senator, to Washington, having not quite attained the requisite age. In 1809 he found occasion to advocate the principle of protection to domestic manufactures, which he has since had the very questionable honour of imbodying in his famous American System. In 1811 he became Speaker of the House of Representatives, and for three years exercised in that situation a powerful influence over the affairs of the country. In 1814 he was appointed one of the commissioners who negotiated the treaty of Ghent; and when that business was concluded, he repaired to London with his colleagues, Messrs. Adams and Gallatin, and there concluded the commercial convention which was made the basis of all the subsequent commercial arrangements between the United States and Europe. In 1825 Mr. Clay accepted the appointment of Secretary of State under Mr. Adams, an act for which he is still extensively and vehemently blamed, but with how much or how little reason I do not pretend, from want of knowledge of the party politics of the time, to understand. While in this office he did a great deal in procuring, with much labour and difficulty, a recognition of the independence of the Spanish colonies in South America; a recognition which had the all-important effect of deterring the great European powers from their contemplated intervention on behalf of Spain. Mr. Clay's speeches were read at the head of the armies of the South American republics; and if his name were forgotten everywhere else, [Pg 176] it would stand in the history of their independence. Mr. Clay has since been a powerful advocate of internal improvements, and the framer of "the American System;" the founder of the protective policy, which I believe he is more proud of than of any act of his public life, while many others are justly amazed that a man of his sagacity should not see the unsoundness of the principle on which the whole system is based. Much more honour is due to him for the Compromise Bill, by which he virtually surrendered his system, and immediately put an end to the nullification struggle. Mr. Webster victoriously exposed the badness of the nullification principle, and Mr. Clay removed the present cause of its exercise. The one humbled South Carolina to the dust on her nullification ground, the other left her in triumphant possession of her principle of free trade, while disarming her by a wise and well-principled compromise.

The one act of Mr. Clay's public life for which he must be held to require pardon from posterity, is that by which he secured the continuance of slavery in Missouri, and, in consequence, its establishment in Arkansas and Florida; the one an admitted state, the other a territory destined to be so. Mr. Clay is not an advocate of slavery, though, instead of being a friend to abolition, he is a dupe of colonization. When he held the destinies of American slavery in his hand, he had, unhappily, more regard for precedent in human arrangements than for the spirit of the divine laws in the light of which such arrangements should be ever regarded. He acted to avert the conflict which cannot be averted. It was still to take place; it is now taking place, under less favourable circumstances; and his measure of expediency is already meeting with the retribution which ever follows upon the subordination of a higher principle to a lower. For many of his public acts Mr. Clay will be permanently honoured; with regard to others, the honour will be mingled with allowance for error in philosophy; for this one he will have to be forgiven.

Mr. Clay married an excellent woman, who is still living, the surviver of six daughters, taken away, some of them in the bloom of promise, and one in the maturity of virtue. The great stateman's house is very desolate. He must seek in his own strength of soul, and in the love and honour with which his friends regard him, that good which has been [Pg 177] denied to him in the latter days of his political and domestic life.

His recollections of Europe are very vivid and pleasurable. We spent many an hour of my visit to him in Kentucky in talking over our mutual English friends, till we forgot the time and space we had both traversed since we parted from them, and looked up surprised to find ourselves, not at a London dinner-table, but in the wild woods of the West. Mr. Clay has not kept up his knowledge of British life and politics so accurately as some of his brother-statesmen; but he is still full of the sayings of Castlereagh and Canning, of Lords Eldon and Stowell, of Mackintosh and Sydney Smith.

The finest speech I heard from Mr. Clay in the Senate was on the sad subject of the injuries of the Indians. He exposed the facts of the treatment of the Cherokees by Georgia. He told how the lands in Georgia, guaranteed by solemn treaties to the Cherokees, had been surveyed and partitioned off to white citizens of the state; that, though there is a nominal right of appeal awarded to the complainants, this is a mere mockery, as an acknowledgment of the right of Georgia to divide the lands is made a necessary preliminary to the exercise of the right; in other words, the Indians must lay down their claims on the threshold of the courts which they enter for the purpose of enforcing these claims! The object of Mr. Clay's plea was to have the Supreme Court open to the Cherokees, their case being, he contended, contemplated by the Constitution. A minor proposition was that Congress should assist, with territory and appliances, a body of Cherokees who desired to emigrate beyond the Mississippi.

It was known that Mr. Clay would probably bring forward his great topic that day. Some of the foreign ambassadors might be seen leaning against the pillars behind the chair, and many members of the other house appeared behind and in the passages; and one sat on the steps of the platform, his hands clasped, and his eyes fixed on Mr. Clay, as if life hung upon his words. As many as could crowd into the gallery leaned over the balustrade; and the lower circle was thronged with ladies and gentlemen, in the centre of whom stood a group of Cherokee chiefs, listening immoveably. I never saw so deep a moral impression produced by a speech. The best testimony to this was the [Pg 178] disgust excited by the empty and abusive reply of the senator from Georgia, who, by-the-way, might be judged from his accent to have been about three months from the Green Island. This gentleman's speech, however, showed us one good thing, that Mr. Clay is as excellent in reply as in proposition; prompt, earnest, temperate, and graceful. The chief characteristic of his eloquence is its earnestness. Every tone of his voice, every fibre of his frame bears testimony to this. His attitudes are, from the beginning to the close, very graceful. His first sentences are homely, and given with a little hesitation and repetition, and with an agitation shown by a frequent putting on and taking off of the spectacles, and a trembling of the hands among the documents on the desk. Then, as the speaker becomes possessed with his subject, the agitation changes its character, but does not subside. His utterance is still deliberate, but his voice becomes deliciously winning. Its higher tones disappointed me at first; but the lower ones, trembling with emotion, swelling and falling with the earnestness of the speaker, are very moving, and his whole manner becomes irresistibly persuasive. I saw tears, of which I am sure he was wholly unconscious, falling on his papers as he vividly described the woes and injuries of the aborigines. I saw Webster draw his hand across his eyes; I saw every one deeply moved except two persons, the vice-president, who yawned somewhat ostentatiously, and the Georgian senator, who was busy brewing his storm. I was amazed at the daring of this gentleman; at the audacity which could break up such a moral impression as this Cherokee tale, so told, had produced, by accusing Mr. Clay of securing an interest in opposition to Georgia "by stage starts and theatric gesticulations." The audience were visibly displeased at having their feelings thus treated, in the presence even of the Cherokee chiefs; but Mr. Clay's replies both to argument and abuse were so happy, and the Georgian's rejoinder was so outrageous, that the business ended with a general burst of laughter. The propositions were to lie over till the next day; and, as I soon after left Washington, I never learned their ultimate fate.

The American Senate is a most imposing assemblage. When I first entered it I thought I never saw a finer set of heads than the forty-six before my eyes: two only being absent, and the Union then consisting of twenty-four states. [Pg 179] Mr. Calhoun's countenance first fixed my attention; the splendid eye, the straight forehead, surmounted by a load of stiff, upright, dark hair; the stern brow; the inflexible mouth; it is one of the most remarkable heads in the country. Next him sat his colleague, Mr. Preston, in singular contrast; stout in person, with a round, ruddy, good-humoured face, large blue eyes, and a wig, orange to-day, brown yesterday, and golden to-morrow. Near them sat Colonel Benton, a temporary people's man, remarkable chiefly for his pomposity. He sat swelling amid his piles of papers and books, looking like a being designed by nature to be a good-humoured barber or innkeeper, but forced by fate to make himself into a mock-heroic senator. Opposite sat the transcendant Webster, with his square forehead and cavernous eyes; and behind him the homely Clay, with the face and figure of a farmer, but something of the air of a divine, from his hair being combed straight back from his temples. Near them sat Southard and Porter; the former astute and rapid in countenance and gesture; the latter strangely mingling a boyish fun and lightness of manner and glance with the sobriety suitable to the judge and the senator. His keen eye takes in everything that passes; his extraordinary mouth, with its overhanging upper lip, has but to unfold into a smile to win laughter from the sourest official or demagogue. Then there was the bright bonhommie of Ewing of Ohio, the most primitive-looking of senators; and the benign, religious gravity of Frelinghuysen; the gentlemanly air of Buchanan; the shrewdness of Poindexter; the somewhat melancholy simplicity of Silsbee; all these and many others were striking, and for nothing more that for their total unlikeness to each other. No English person who has not travelled over half the world can form an idea of such differences among men forming one assembly for the same purposes, and speaking the same language. Some were descended from Dutch farmers, some from French Huguenots, some from Scotch Puritans, some from English cavaliers, some from Irish chieftains. They were brought together out of law-courts, sugar-fields, merchants' stores, mountain farms, forests, and prairies. The stamp of originality was impressed upon every one, and inspired a deep, involuntary respect. I have seen no assembly of chosen men, and no company of the highborn, invested with the antique dignities of an antique realm, half [Pg 180] so imposing to the imagination as this collection of stout-souled, full-grown, original men, brought together on the ground of their supposed sufficiency, to work out the will of their diverse constituencies.

In this splendid chamber, thus splendidly inhabited, we spent many hours of many weeks. Here I was able to gain no little knowledge of the state, political and other, of various parts of the country, from my large acquaintance among the members of the Senate. When dull official reports were read, and uninteresting local matters were discussed, or when the one interminable speaker, Benton, was on his legs, one member or another of the body would come and talk with us. I have heard certain of the members, stalking from their seats towards those of the ladies, compared to cranes in search of fish. The comparison is not a bad one.

I wished every day that the ladies would conduct themselves in a more dignified manner than they did in the Senate. They came in with waving plumes, and glittering in all the colours of the rainbow, causing no little bustle in the place, no little annoyance to the gentlemen spectators, and rarely sat still for any length of time. I know that these ladies are no fair specimen of the women who would attend parliamentary proceedings in any other metropolis. I know that they were the wives, daughters, and sisters of legislators, women thronging to Washington for purposes of convenience or pleasure, leaving their usual employments behind them, and seeking to pass away the time. I knew this, and made allowance accordingly; but I still wished that they could understand the gravity of such an assembly, and show so much respect to it as to repay the privilege of admission by striving to excite as little attention as possible, and by having the patience to sit still when they happened not to be amused, till some interruption gave them opportunity to depart quietly. If they had done this, Judge Porter would not have moved that they should be appointed seats in the gallery instead of below; and they would have been guiltless of furnishing a plea for the exclusion of women, who would probably make a better use of the privilege, from the galleries of other houses of parliament.

I was glad of an opportunity of hearing both the South Carolina senators soon after my arrival in Washington. They are listened to with close attention, and every indication of their state of feeling is watched with the interest [Pg 181] which has survived the nullification struggle. Mr. Calhoun on this occasion let us a little into his mind; Mr. Preston kept more closely to the question before the body. The question was whether a vote of censure of the president, recorded in the minutes of the proceedings of the Senate the preceding session, should be expunged. The motion for the expunging was made by Colonel Benton, and rejected, as it had been before, and has been since; though it was finally carried, to the agony of the opposition, at the end of last session (February, 1837).

Mr. Preston was out of health, and unable to throw his accustomed force into his speaking; but his effort showed us how beautiful his eloquence is in its way. It is not solid. His speeches, if taken to pieces, will be found to consist of analogies and declamation; but his figures are sometimes very striking, and his manner is as graceful as anything so artificial can be. I never before understood the eloquence of action. The action of public speakers in England, as far as I have observed (and perhaps I may be allowed to hint that deaf persons are peculiarly qualified to judge of the nature of such action), is of two kinds; the involuntary gesture which is resorted to for the relief of the nerves, which may or may not be expressive of meaning, and the action which is wholly the result of study; arbitrary, and not the birth of the sentiment; and, therefore, though pleasing, perhaps, to the eye, perplexing to the mind of the listener. Mr. Preston's manner unites the advantages of these two methods, and avoids most of their evils. It is easy to see that he could not speak without an abundant use of action, and that he has therefore done wisely in making it a study. To an unaccustomed eye it appears somewhat exuberant; but it is exquisitely graceful, and far more than commonly appropriate. His voice is not good, but his person is tall, stout, and commanding, and his countenance animated.

Mr. Calhoun followed, and impressed me very strongly. While he kept to the question, what he said was close, good, and moderate, though delivered in rapid speech, and with a voice not sufficiently modulated. But when he began to reply to a taunt of Colonel Benton's, that he wanted to be president, the force of his speaking became painful. He made protestations which it seemed to strangers had better have been spared, that he would not turn on his heel to be president; and that he had given up all for his own brave, [Pg 182] magnanimous little State of South Carolina. While thus protesting, his eyes flashed, his brow seemed charged with thunder, his voice became almost a bark, and his sentences were abrupt, intense, producing in the auditory that sort of laugh which is squeezed out of people by the application of a very sudden mental force. I believe he knew little what a revelation he made in a few sentences. They were to us strangers the key, not only to all that was said and done by the South Carolina party during the remainder of the session, but to many things at Charleston and Columbia which would otherwise have passed unobserved or unexplained.

I was less struck than some strangers appear to have been with the length and prosy character of the speeches in Congress. I do not remember hearing any senator (always excepting Colonel Benton) speak for more than an hour. I was seldom present in the other house, where probably the most diffuse oratory is heard; but I was daily informed of the proceedings there by the representative who was of our party, and I did not find that there was much annoyance or delay from this cause. Perhaps the practice may be connected with the amount of business to be done. It is well known that the business of Congress is so moderate in quantity, from the functions of the general government being few and simple, that it would be considered a mere trifle by any parliament in the Old World; and long speeches, which would be a great annoyance elsewhere, may be an innocent pastime in an assembly which may have leisure upon its hands.

The gallery of the splendid Hall of Representatives is not well contrived for hearing, and I rarely went into it for more than a passing view of what was going on; a view which might be taken without disturbance to anybody, as the gallery was generally empty, and too high raised above the area of the hall to fix the eye of the members. My chief interest was watching Mr. Adams, of whose speaking, however, I can give no account. The circumstance of this gentleman being now a member of the representative body after having been president, fixes the attention of all Europeans upon him with as much admiration as interest. He is one of the most remarkable men in America. He is an imbodiment of the pure, simple morals which are assumed to prevail in the thriving young republic. His term of office was marked by nothing so much as by the subordination of [Pg 183] glory to goodness, of showy objects to moral ones. The eccentricity of thought and action in Mr. Adams, of which his admirers bitterly or sorrowfully complain, and which renders him an impracticable member of a party, arises from the same honest simplicity which crowns his virtues, mingled with a faulty taste and an imperfect temper. His hastiness of assertion has sometimes placed him in predicaments so undignified as almost to be a set-off against the honours he wins by pertinacious and bold adherence to a principle which he considers sound. His occasional starts out of the ranks of his party, without notice and without apparent cause, have been in vain attempted to be explained on suppositions of interest or vanity; they may be more easily accounted for in other ways. Between one day and another, some new idea of justice and impartiality may strike his brain, and send him to the house warm with invective against his party and sympathy with their foes. He rises, and speaks out all his new mind, to the perplexity of the whole assembly, every man of whom bends to hear every syllable he says; perplexity which gives way to dismay on the one hand and triumph on the other. The triumphant party begins to coax and honour him; but, before the process is well begun, he is off again, finding that he had gone too far; and the probability is, that he finishes by placing himself between two fires. I now describe what I actually saw of his conduct in one instance; conduct which left no more doubt of his integrity than of his eccentricity. He was well described to me before I saw him. "Study Mr. Adams," was the exhortation. "You will find him well worth it. He runs in veins; if you light upon one, you will find him marvellously rich; if not, you may chance to meet rubbish. In action he is very peculiar. He will do ninety-nine things nobly, excellently; but the hundredth will be so bad in taste and temper, that it will drive all the rest out of your head, if you don't take care." His countrymen will "take care." Whatever the heats of party may be, however the tone of disappointment against Mr. Adams may sometimes rise to something too like hatred, there is undoubtedly a deep reverence and affection for the man in the nation's heart; and any one may safely prophesy that his reputation, half a century after his death, will be of a very honourable kind. He fought a stout and noble battle in Congress last session in favour of discussion of the slavery [Pg 184] question, and in defence of the right of petition upon it; on behalf of women as well as of men. While hunted, held at bay, almost torn to pieces by an outrageous majority—leaving him, I believe, in absolute unity—he preserved a boldness and coolness as amusing as they were admirable. Though he now and then vents his spleen with violence when disappointed in a favourite object, he seems able to bear perfectly well that which it is the great fault of Americans to shrink from, singularity and blame. He seems, at times, reckless of opinion; and this is the point of his character which his countrymen seem, naturally, least to comprehend.

Such is the result of the observations I was able to make on this gentleman when at Washington. I was prevented seeing so much of him as I earnestly desired by his family circumstances. He had just lost a son, and did not appear in society. It is well known in America that Mr. Adams will leave behind him papers of inestimable value. For forty years (I was told) he has kept a diary, full and exact. In this diary he every morning sets down not only the events of the preceding day, but the conversations he has had with foreigners, and on all subjects of interest. This immense accumulation of papers will afford such materials for history as the country has never yet been blessed with. Perhaps no country has ever possessed a public man, of great powers, and involved in all the remarkable events of its most remarkable period, who has had industry enough to leave behind him a similar record of his times. This will probably turn out to be (whether he thinks so or not) the greatest and most useful of his deeds, and his most honourable monument.

Those whose taste is the contemplation of great and original men may always have it gratified by going to Washington. Whatever may be thought of the form and administration of government there; however certain it may be that the greatest men are not, in this age of the world, to be found in political life, it cannot be but that, among the real representatives of a composite and self-governing nation, there must be many men of power; power of intellect, of goodness, or, at least, of will.

[Pg 185]


"He might have been a king
But that he understood
How much it was a meaner thing
To be unjustly great than honourably good."

Duke of Buckingham on Lord Fairfax.

On the 2d of February I visited Mount Vernon, in company with a large party of gentlemen and ladies. Of all places in America, the family seat and burial-place of Washington is that which strangers are most eager to visit. I was introduced by Judge Story to the resident family, and was received by them, with all my companions, with great civility and kindness.

The estate of Mount Vernon was inherited by General Washington from his brother. For fifteen years prior to the assembling of the first general Congress in Philadelphia, Washington spent his time chiefly on this property, repairing to the provincial legislature when duty called him there, but gladly returning to the improvement of his lands. The house was, in those days, a very modest building, consisting of only four rooms on a floor, which form the centre of the present mansion. Mrs. Washington resided there during the ten years' absence of her husband in the wars of the Revolution; repairing to headquarters at the close of each campaign, and remaining there till the opening of the next. The departure of an aiddecamp from the camp to escort the general's lady was watched for with much anxiety as the echoes of the last shot of the campaign died away; for the arrival of "Lady Washington" (as the soldiers called her) was the signal for the wives of all the general officers to repair to their husbands in camp. A sudden cheerfulness diffused itself through the army when the plain chariot, with the postillions in their scarlet and white liveries, was seen to stop before the general's door. Mrs. Washington was wont to say, in her latter years, that she had heard the first cannon at the opening and the last at the close of every campaign of the revolutionary war. She was a strong-minded, [Pg 186] even-tempered woman; and the cheerfulness of her demeanour, under the heavy and various anxieties of such a lot as hers, was no mean support to her husband's spirits, and to the bravery and hopefulness of the whole army, whose eyes were fixed upon her. She retired from amid the homage of the camp with serene composure when the fatigues and perils of warfare had to be resumed, and hid her fears and cares in her retired home. There she occupied herself industriously in the superintendence of her slaves, and in striving to stop the ravages which her husband's public service was making in his private fortunes.

After the peace of 1783 she was joined by her husband, who made a serious pursuit of laying out gardens and grounds round his dwelling, and building large additions to it. He then enjoyed only four years of quiet, being called in 1787 to preside in the convention which framed the Constitution, and in 1789 to fill the presidential chair. Mrs. Washington was now obliged to leave the estate with him, and it was eight years before they could take possession of it again. In 1797 Washington refused to be made president for a third term, and retired into as private a life as it was possible for him to secure. Trains of visiters sought him in his retreat, and Mrs. Washington's accomplishments as a Virginia housewife were found useful every day; but Washington was at home, and he was happy. In a little while he was once more applied to to serve the state at the head of her armies. He did not refuse, but requested to be left in peace till there should be actual want of his presence. Before that time arrived he was no more. Two years after his retirement, while the sense of enjoyment of repose was still fresh, and his mind was full of such schemes as delight the imaginations of country gentlemen, death overtook him, and found him, though the call was somewhat sudden, ready and willing to go. In a little more than two years he was followed by his wife. From the appearance of the estate, it would seem to have been going to decay ever since.

Our party, in three carriages, and five or six on horseback, left Washington about nine o'clock, and reached Alexandria in about an hour and a half, though our passage over the long bridge which crosses the Potomac was very slow, from its being in a sad state of dilapidation. Having ordered a late dinner at Alexandria, we proceeded on our way, [Pg 187] occasionally looking behind us at the great dome of the Capitol, still visible above the low hills which border the gray, still Potomac, now stretching cold amid the wintry landscape. It was one of the coldest days I ever felt, the bitter wind seeming to eat into one's very life. The last five miles of the eight which lie between Alexandria and Mount Vernon wound through the shelter of the woods, so that we recovered a little from the extreme cold before we reached the house. The land appears to be quite impoverished; the fences and gates are in bad order; much of the road was swampy, and the poor young lambs, shivering in the biting wind, seemed to look round in vain for shelter and care. The conservatories were almost in ruins, scarcely a single pane of glass being unbroken; and the house looked as if it had not been painted on the outside for years. Little negroes peeped at us from behind the pillars of the piazza as we drove up. We alighted in silence, most of us being probably occupied with the thought of who had been there before us; what crowds of the noble, the wise, the good, had come hither to hear the yet living voice of the most unimpeachable of patriots. As I looked up I almost expected to see him standing in the doorway. My eyes had rested on the image of his remarkable countenance in almost every house I had entered; and here, in his own dwelling, one could not but look for the living face with something more than the eye of the imagination. I cared far less for any of the things that were shown me within the house than to stay in the piazza next the garden, and fancy how he here walked in meditation, or stood looking abroad over the beautiful river, and pleasing his eye with a far different spectacle from that of camps and conventions.

Many prints of British landscapes, residences, and events are hung up in the apartments. The ponderous key of the Bastile still figures in the hall, in extraordinary contrast with everything else in this republican residence. The Bible in the library is the only book of Washington's now left. The best likeness of the great man, known to all travellers from the oddness of the material on which it is preserved, is to be seen here, sanctioned thus by the testimony of the family. The best likeness of Washington happens to be on a common pitcher. As soon as this was discovered, the whole edition of pitchers was bought up. Once or twice I saw the entire vessel locked up in a cabinet, or in [Pg 188] some such way secured from accident; but most of its possessors have, like the family, cut out the portrait and had it framed.

The walk, planned and partly finished during Washington's life, the winding path on the verge of the green slope above the river, must be very sweet in summer. The beauty of the situation of the place surprised me. The river was nobler, the terrace finer, and the swelling hills around more varied than I had imagined; but there is a painful air of desolation over the whole. I wonder how it struck the British officers in 1814, when, in passing up the river on their bandit expedition to burn libraries and bridges, and raze senate chambers, they assembled on deck, and uncovered their heads as they passed the silent dwelling of the great man who was not there to testify his disgust at the service they were upon. If they knew what it was that they were under orders to do, it would have been creditable to them as men to have mutinied in front of Mount Vernon.

The old tomb from which the body of Washington has been removed ought to be obliterated or restored. It is too painful to see it as it is now, the brickwork mouldering, and the paling broken and scattered. The red cedars still overshadow it, and it is a noble resting-place. Every one would mourn to see the low house destroyed, and the great man's chamber of dreamless sleep made no longer sacred from the common tread; but anything is better than the air of neglect which now wounds the spirit of the pilgrim. The body lies, with that of Judge Washington, in a vault near, in a more secluded but far less beautiful situation than that on the verge of the Potomac. The river is not seen from the new vault, and the erection is very sordid. It is of red brick, with an iron door, and looks more like an oven than anything else, except for the stone slab, bearing a funeral text, which is inserted over the door. The bank which rises on one side is planted with cedars, pines, and a sprinkling of beech and birch, so that the vault is overshadowed in summer, as the places of the dead should be. The president told me that the desolation about the tomb was a cause of uneasiness to himself and many others; and that he had urged the family, as the body had been already removed from its original bed, to permit it to be interred in the centre of the Capitol. They very naturally clung to the precious possession; and there is certainly something [Pg 189] much more accordant with the spirit of the man in a grave under the tiles of his own home than in a magnificent shrine; but, however modest the tomb may be—were it only such a green hillock as every rustic lies under—it should bear tokens of reverent care. The grass and shade which he so much loved are the only ornaments needed; the absence of all that can offend the eye and hurt the spirit of reverence is all that the patriot and the pilgrim require.

Before we reached the crazy bridge, which it had been difficult enough to pass in the morning, the sweet Potomac lay in clear moonshine, and the lights round the Capitol twinkled from afar. On arriving at our fireside, we found how delightful a total change of mood sometimes is. Tea, letters, and English newspapers awaited us; and they were a surprising solace, chilled or feverish as we were with the intense cold and strong mental excitement of the day.


"For neither by reason nor by her experience is it impossible that a commonwealth should be immortal; seeing the people, being the materials, never die; and the form, which is motion, must, without opposition, be endless. The bowl which is thrown from your hand, if there be no rub, no impediment, shall never cease; for which cause the glorious luminaries, that are the bowls of God, were once thrown for ever."—Harrington's Oceana.

While I was at Washington I received a kind invitation from Mr. and Mrs. Madison to visit them at their seat, Montpelier, Virginia. I was happy to avail myself of it, and paid the visit on my way down to Richmond. At six o'clock in the morning of the 18th of February my party arrived at Orange Courthouse, five miles from Montpelier; and while two proceeded to Charlottesville, where we were to join them in three or four days, a friend and I stopped, first to rest for a few hours, and then to proceed to Mr. Madison's. After some sleep, and breakfast at noon, we took a carriage for the five miles of extremely bad road we had to travel. The people of the inn overcharged us for this carriage, and did not mention that Mr. Madison had [Pg 190] desired that a messenger should be sent over for his carriage as soon as we should arrive. This was the only occasion but one, in our journey of ten thousand miles in the United States, that we were overcharged; while, I suspect, the undercharges, where any literary reputation is in the case, are more numerous than can be reckoned.

It was a sweet day of early spring. The patches of snow that were left under the fences and on the rising grounds were melting fast. The road was one continued slough up to the very portico of the house. The dwelling stands on a gentle eminence, and is neat and even handsome in its exterior, with a flight of steps leading up to the portico. A lawn and wood, which must be pleasant in summer, stretch behind; and from the front there is a noble object on the horizon, the mountain-chain which traverses the state, and makes it eminent for its scenery. The shifting lights upon these blue mountains were a delightful refreshment to the eye after so many weeks of city life as we had passed.

We were warmly welcomed by Mrs. Madison and a niece, a young lady who was on a visit to her; and when I left my room I was conducted to the apartment of Mr. Madison. He had, the preceding season, suffered so severely from rheumatism, that, during this winter, he confined himself to one room, rising after breakfast, before nine o'clock, and sitting in his easy-chair till ten at night. He appeared perfectly well during my visit, and was a wonderful man of eighty-three. He complained of one ear being deaf, and that his sight, which had never been perfect, prevented his reading much, so that his studies "lay in a nutshell;" but he could hear Mrs. Madison read, and I did not perceive that he lost any part of the conversation. He was in his chair, with a pillow behind him, when I first saw him; his little person wrapped in a black silk gown; a warm gray and white cap upon his head, which his lady took care should always sit becomingly; and gray worsted gloves, his hands having been rheumatic. His voice was clear and strong, and his manner of speaking particularly lively, often playful. Except that the face was smaller, and, of course, older, the likeness to the common engraving of him was perfect. He seemed not to have lost any teeth, and the form of the face was therefore preserved, without any striking marks of age. It was an uncommonly pleasant countenance.

His relish for conversation could never have been keener. [Pg 191] I was in perpetual fear of his being exhausted; and at the end of every few hours I left my seat by the arm of his chair, and went to the sofa by Mrs. Madison on the other side of the room; but he was sure to follow and sit down between us; so that, when I found the only effect of my moving was to deprive him of the comfort of his chair, I returned to my station, and never left it but for food and sleep, glad enough to make the most of my means of intercourse with one whose political philosophy I deeply venerated. There is no need to add another to the many eulogies of Madison; I will only mention that the finest of his characteristics appeared to me to be his inexhaustible faith; faith that a well-founded commonwealth may, as our motto declares, be immortal; not only because the people, its constituency, never die, but because the principles of justice in which such a commonwealth originates never die out of the people's heart and mind. This faith shone brightly through the whole of Mr. Madison's conversation except on one subject. With regard to slavery he owned himself almost to be in despair. He had been quite so till the institution of the Colonization Society. How such a mind as his could derive any alleviation to its anxiety from that source is surprising. I think it must have been from his overflowing faith; for the facts were before him that in eighteen years the Colonization Society had removed only between two and three thousand persons, while the annual increase of the slave population in the United States was upward of sixty thousand.

He talked more on the subject of slavery than on any other, acknowledging, without limitation or hesitation, all the evils with which it has ever been charged. He told me that the black population in Virginia increases far faster than the white; and that the licentiousness only stops short of the destruction of the race; every slave girl being expected to be a mother by the time she is fifteen. He assumed from this, I could not make out why, that the negroes must go somewhere, and pointed out how the free states discourage the settlement of blacks; how Canada disagrees with them; how Hayti shuts them out; so that Africa is their only refuge. He did not assign any reason why they should not remain where they are when freed. He found, by the last returns from his estates, that one third of his own slaves were under five years of age. He had parted with some of his best land to feed the increasing numbers, and had yet been [Pg 192] obliged to sell a dozen of his slaves the preceding week. He observed that the whole Bible is against negro slavery; but that the clergy do not preach this, and the people do not see it. He became animated in describing what I have elsewhere related [12] of the eagerness of the clergy of the four denominations to catch converts among the slaves, and the effect of religious teaching of this kind upon those who, having no rights, can have no duties. He thought the condition of slaves much improved in his time, and, of course, their intellects. This remark was, I think, intended to apply to Virginia alone, for it is certainly not applicable to the southwestern states. He accounted for his selling his slaves by mentioning their horror of going to Liberia, a horror which he admitted to be prevalent among the blacks, and which appears to me decisive as to the unnaturalness of the scheme. The willing mind is the first requisite to the emigrant's success. Mr. Madison complained of the difficulty and risk of throwing an additional population into the colony, at the rate of two or three cargoes a year; complained of it because he believed it was the fault of the residents, who were bent upon trading with the interior for luxuries, instead of raising food for the new comers. This again seems fatal to the scheme, since the compulsory direction of industry, if it could be enforced, would be almost as bad as slavery at home; and there are no means of preventing the emigrants being wholly idle, if they are not allowed to work in their own way for their own objects. Mr. Madison admitted the great and various difficulties attending the scheme, and recurred to the expression that he was only "less in despair than formerly about slavery." He spoke with deep feeling of the sufferings of ladies under the system, declaring that he pitied them even more than their negroes, and that the saddest slavery of all was that of conscientious Southern women. They cannot trust their slaves in the smallest particulars, and have to superintend the execution of all their own orders; and they know that their estates are surrounded by vicious free blacks, who induce thievery among the negroes, and keep the minds of the owners in a state of perpetual suspicion, fear, and anger.

Mr. Madison spoke strongly of the helplessness of all countries cursed with a servile population in a conflict with [Pg 193] a people wholly free; ridiculed the idea of the Southern States being able to maintain a rising against the North; and wondered that all thinkers were not agreed in a thing so plain. He believed that Congress has power to prohibit the internal slavetrade. He mentioned the astonishment of some strangers, who had an idea that slaves were always whipped all day long, at seeing his negroes go to church one Sunday. They were gayly dressed, the women in bright-coloured calicoes; and, when a sprinkling of rain came, up went a dozen umbrellas. The astonished strangers veered round to the conclusion that slaves were very happy; but were told of the degradation of their minds; of their carelessness of each other in their nearest relations, and their cruelty to brutes.

Mrs. Madison's son by a former marriage joined us before dinner. We dined in the next room to Mr. Madison, and found him eager for conversation again as soon as we had risen from table. Mrs. M. is celebrated throughout the country for the grace and dignity with which she discharged the arduous duties which devolve upon the president's lady. For a term of eight years she administered the hospitalities of the White House with such discretion, impartiality, and kindliness, that it is believed she gratified every one and offended nobody. She is a strong-minded woman, fully capable of entering into her husband's occupations and cares; and there is little doubt that he owed much to her intellectual companionship, as well as to her ability in sustaining the outward dignity of his office. When I was her guest she was in excellent health and lively spirits; and I trust that though she has since lost the great object of her life, she may yet find interests enough to occupy and cheer many years of an honoured old age.

Mr. Madison expressed his regret at the death of Mr. Malthus, whose works he had studied with close attention. He mentioned that Franklin and two others had anticipated Malthus in comparing the rates of increase of population and food; but that Malthus had been the first to draw out the doctrine, with an attempt at too much precision, however, in determining the ratio of the increase of food. He laughed at Godwin's methods of accounting for the enormous increase of population in America by referring it to emigration, and having recourse to any supposition rather than the obvious one of an abundance of food. He declared himself very [Pg 194] curious on the subject of the size of the Roman farms, and that he had asked many friends where the mistake lies in the accounts which have come down to us. Some Roman farms are represented as consisting of an acre and a quarter, the produce of which would be eaten up by a pair of oxen. The estate of Cincinnatus being three times this size, he could scarcely plough after having lost half of it by being surety. Either there must be some great mistake about our notion of the measurement of Roman farms, or there must have been commons for grazing and woods for fuel, the importation of grain from Sicily and other places not having taken place till long after. He asked by what influence our corn-laws, so injurious to all, and so obviously so to the many, were kept up, and whether it was possible that they should continue long. He declared himself in favour of free trade, though believing that the freedom cannot be complete in any one country till universal peace shall afford opportunity for universal agreement.

He expressed himself strongly in favour of arrangements for the security of literary property all over the world, and wished that English authors should be protected from piracy in the United States without delay. He believed that the utterance of the national mind in America would be through small literature rather than large, enduring works. After the schools and pulpits of the Union are all supplied, there will remain an immense number of educated sons of men of small property who will have things to say; and all who can write, will. He thought it of the utmost importance to the country, and to human beings everywhere, that the brain and the hands should be trained together; and that no distinction in this respect should be made between men and women. He remembered an interesting conversation on this subject with Mr. Owen, from whom he learned with satisfaction that well-educated women in his settlement turned with ease and pleasure from playing the harp to milking the cows.

The active old man, who declared himself crippled with rheumatism, had breakfasted, risen, and was dressed before we sat down to breakfast. He talked a good deal about the American presidents and some living politicians for two hours, when his letters and newspapers were brought in. He gayly threw them aside, saying he could read the newspapers every day, and must make the most of his time with us, if we would go away as soon as we talked of. He asked me, smiling, [Pg 195] if I thought it too vast and anti-republican a privilege for the ex-presidents to have their letters and newspapers free, considering that this was the only earthly benefit they carried away from their office.

I will not repeat his luminous history of the nullification struggle; nor yet his exposition, simple and full, of the intricate questions involved in the anomalous institution of the American Senate, about its power of sanctioning appointments to office, and whether its weight should be increased by making its sanction necessary to removal from office; to which increase of power he was decidedly opposed. This part of his conversation, though very instructive to me at the time, would be uninteresting to the English reader in this connexion.

He declared himself perfectly satisfied that there is in the United States a far more ample and equal provision for pastors, and of religious instruction for the people, than could have been secured by a religious establishment of any kind; and that one of the greatest services which his country will be hereafter perceived to have rendered to the world, will be the having proved that religion is the more cared for the more unreservedly it is committed to the affections of the people. He quoted the remark of Voltaire, that if there were only one religion in a country, it would be a pure despotism; if two, they would be deadly enemies; but half a hundred subsist in fine harmony. He observed that this was the case in America, and that so true and pregnant a remark as this ought to be accepted as an atonement for many that would die of untruth. He went on to notice the remarkable fact that creeds which oppose each other, and which, in concatenation, would seem to be most demoralizing, do, by virtue of some one common principle, agree in causing the moral elevation of those who hold them. He instanced Philosophical Necessity, as held by Hume, Kaimes, Edwards, and Priestley. He told me how he had once been prejudiced against Priestley, and how surprised he was, when he first met the philosopher at Philadelphia, to find him absolutely mild and candid.

The whole of this day was spent like the last, except that we went over the house looking at the busts and prints, which gave an English air to the dwelling, otherwise wholly Virginian. During all our conversations, one or another slave was perpetually coming to Mrs. Madison for the great [Pg 196] bunch of keys; two or three more lounged about in the room, leaning against the doorposts or the corner of the sofa; and the attendance of others was no less indefatigable in my own apartment.

The next morning we found our host in fine spirits. He described, with much vivacity, the variety of visits from strangers that he was subject to, saying that some were taxes and others bounties. He laughed about the ludicrous effect sometimes produced by an utter failure of sympathy in matters of grave pursuit; and told us of a ride he took with a young English geologist who was on a visit to him, and who spurred up to him in a fit of transport, holding a stone almost into his eyes, and exclaiming, "Graywacke, sir! graywacke, graywacke!" the host all the time being quite unable to understand or sympathize with this vehement rapture.

I glanced at the newspapers when they came in, and found them full of the subject of the quarrel with France, the great topic of the day. Mr. Madison gave me an account of the relations of the two countries, and of the grounds of his apprehensions that this quarrel might, in spite of its absurdity, issue in a war. This is all over now, but some of his observations remain. He said it would be an afflicting sight if the two representative governments which are in the van of the world should go to war; it would squint towards a confirmation of what is said of the restlessness of popular governments. If the people, who pay for war, are eager for it, it is quite a different thing from potentates being so who are at no cost. He mentioned that George the Fourth, as prince regent, was a large gainer in the last war, from his share of the Droits of the Admiralty, amounting to 1,000,000l. per annum; a pretty premium, Mr. Madison observed, to pay a king for going to war. He told me about the formation of the philosophical and humane agreement between Franklin and Frederic of Prussia, that merchant ships, unarmed, should go about their business as freely in the war as in peace. The Salem merchants, who were formerly in favour of war, and who suffered from captures in the course of it, were, on the present occasion, petitioning against war and for reprisals.

Franklin was near seventy when Mr. Madison first knew him. He went to the Hall of Congress in a sedan, and sat all the time, writing what he had to say, and getting it read, [Pg 197] because he could not stand. He was soon afterward bedridden, when Madison was his frequent visiter. He had much self-command; and, when seized by severe pain, soon roused himself to converse almost as if it did not exist. One of the most striking points about him was his dislike of argument. He would listen to his adversary, and then overthrow him with an anecdote.

After avowing a very unfashionable admiration of Darwin's poetry, and declaring that the splendour of the diction put his imagination into a very gay state, Mr. Madison went into a speculation about what would eventually become of all existing languages and their literature; declaring that he had little hope of the stability of languages when terms of even classical derivation are perpetually changing their meanings with time. Then, by some channel, now forgotten, we got round to the less agreeable subject of national debts and taxation, when, as might be expected, Mr. Madison expressed his horror of the machinery necessary under a system of indirect levy, and his attachment to a plan of moderate expenditure, provided for by direct taxation. He remarked upon Pitt's success in obtaining revenue when every other man would rather have surrendered his plans than used the means he employed. He observed that king, lords, and commons might constitute a government which would work a long while in a kingdom no bigger than Great Britain, but that it would soon become an absolute government in a country as large as Russia, from the magnitude of its executive power; and that it was a common but serious mistake to suppose that a country must be small to be a republic, since a republican form, with a federal head, can be extended almost without limits, without losing its proportions, becoming all the while less, instead of more, subject to change. In a small republic there is much noise from the fury of parties; while in a spreading but simply working republic, like that of the Union, the silent influence of the federal head keeps down more quarrels than ever appear.

We were compelled to leave Montpelier while our intercourse was thus in full flow. Mr. Madison would not say farewell seriously, he was so confident that we should visit him again on our return from the South and West. I need not say that we earnestly wished to do so; but we never saw him again, not having an opportunity in the summer [Pg 198] to diverge from our route so as to approach his residence. We heard excellent reports of him from time to time; of his vigour and cheerfulness, and of his application to political and literary pursuits. In the spring of the following year, however, he declined, and died on the 28th of June, 1836.

I have written of him under a strong desire to say nothing that he would have objected to have repeated, suppressing whatever he dropped relating to private persons or to public men yet living, while attempting to afford what gratification I could to the strong interest felt in England about this virtuous statesman. It is something that, living under institutions framed by the few for the subordination of the many, the English feel the interest they do about such men as Jefferson and Madison; men inspired by the true religion of statemanship, faith in men, and in the principles on which they combine in an agreement to do as they would be done by. This political religion resembles personal piety in its effect of sustaining the spirit through difficulty and change, and leaving no cause for repentance, or even solicitude, when, at the close of life, all things reveal their values to the meditative sage. Madison reposed cheerfully, gayly, to the last, on his faith in the people's power of wise self-government. As for Jefferson, he has left, in his last letter to Madison, a few sentences which we may be thankful for, as golden links added to the chain by which the glorious memories of these two good men are indissolubly connected:—

"The friendship which has subsisted between us, now half a century, and the harmony of our political principles and pursuits, have been sources of constant happiness to me through that long period. It has been a great solace to me to believe that you are engaged in vindicating to posterity the course we have pursued for preserving to them, in all their purity, the blessings of self-government, which we had assisted, too, in acquiring for them. If ever the earth has beheld a system of administration conducted with a single and steadfast eye to the general interest and happiness of those committed to it; one which, protected by truth, can never know reproach, it is that to which our lives have been devoted. To myself, you have been a pillar of support through life. Take care of me when I am dead, and be assured that I shall leave with you my last affections." [13]
[Pg 199]


"That the legislator should especially occupy himself with the education of youth, no one can dispute; for when this is not done in states, it is a cause of damage to the polity. For a state must be administered with reference to its polity; and that which is the peculiar characteristic of each polity is that which preserves and originally constitutes it; as, for instance, the democratical principle in a democracy, and the oligarchical in an oligarchy; and that which is the best principle always constitutes the best polity."—Aristotle, Politik., book viii.

The existence of the University of Virginia is scarcely recognised by British travellers. I was welcomed there as the first who had ever visited it. Charlottesville lies out of the ordinary route of tourists; but Monticello, the seat of Jefferson, is within sight of his favourite institution, and Mr. Madison's residence is only about thirty-five miles off; and it seems surprising that such a combination of interesting objects should not have drawn more pilgrim feet that way.

It was between five and six in the morning when we entered the stage at Orange Courthouse, which was to deposite us at Charlottesville before an early dinner. The snow had wholly disappeared, and I looked out eagerly to see what aspect the far-famed Virginia wore. For the greater part of the way all looked very desolate; the few dwellings were dingy; large mansions, with slave-dwellings clustered near. The trees were bare, the soil one dull red, the fences shabby. The eye found a welcome relief in the woods of stone-pine, and in an occasional apparition of the beautiful bluebird, perching upon a stump or flitting over the fallows. We breakfasted at a farm a little way off the road, whither we had to pick our way by a fieldpath, which was a perfect slough. The hostess was friendly, and served an excellent breakfast to the stage-passengers in a bedchamber.

From this point the road improved. The mountains were before us; and, as we approached them, the undulating surface of the country presented many beauties. It was Sunday. We mounted an eminence all grown over with stone-pine, and on the top we found, in the heart of the [Pg 200] grove, a small church where worship was going on, while seventeen horses, two of them with sidesaddles, were fastened to the trees around. This church was free to all sects, but at present used by the Presbyterians, they being the most numerous sect in the neighbourhood.

We arrived at Charlottesville, at the foot of the mountains, by one o'clock, and joined the friends whom we found awaiting us at dinner at the hotel. A Unitarian clergyman was to preach in the courthouse in the afternoon: a rare event, I imagine; for we heard afterward that one of the professor's ladies could not sleep the night before from the idea of a Unitarian being so near. We attended the service, which was very spiritless. The whole burden fell upon the minister, there being no preparation for singing, and apparently no interest beyond mere curiosity. Two long rows of students from the University were there, and I thought I never saw so fine a set of youths. Their demeanour was gentlemanly to the last degree, except in the one particular of spitting, and the seriousness of their manner must have been gratifying to the preacher.

After the service we walked to the University, at the distance, I think, of a little more than a mile from the town. The singular ranges of college buildings are visible from a considerable distance, as they advantageously crown an eminence, presenting the appearance of a piazza surrounding an oblong square, with the professors' houses rising at regular intervals. We found that the low buildings connecting these larger dwellings were the dormitories of the students; ground-floor apartments opening into the piazza, and designed to serve as places of study as well as sleep. The professors' houses are inconveniently small. Jefferson wished, in the first instance, that the professors should be young men; and this fact and the smallness of the dwellings have given rise to the ridiculous belief, entertained by some people, that Jefferson made celibacy a condition of holding professorships in his university. Instead of this, ladies' faces may be seen at many windows, and plenty of children tripping along in the piazzas. At one end of the quadrangle is the Rotunda, containing the lecture-rooms, library, and other apartments; and outside the other end a Gothic chapel was about to be erected. Well-kept grass-plats and gravel-walks fill up the quadrangle.

The number of students at the time of my visit was 206. [Pg 201] They are not admitted under the age of sixteen, except in the case of a younger brother accompanying one above that age. Each dormitory is designed to accommodate two students; but, when there is room, any student may rent a whole one if he chooses. The ordinary expenses are so moderate as to be worth specifying:—

Board, including furniture, washing, and attendance $100
Fuel and candles 15
Rent of half a dormitory 8
Use of the library and public room 75
Total $213

exclusive of books and stationary, clothing and pocket-money. The students wear a uniform which is very becoming and not at all conspicuous, being merely a coat of particularly simple fashion and dark colour.

Of the two hundred and six students whom I had the pleasure of seeing, one hundred and fifty-one belonged to the state, five came from the Northern States, and the rest from the South and West; six from South Carolina, though there are colleges both at Charleston and Columbia. Professor Patterson spoke of the youths among whom he was living as being as steady and promising a set of young men as could be met with. We heard afterward a somewhat different account in a stagecoach; but, of course, the testimony of a professor is worth much more than that of two chance travellers; and all that I saw of the appearance and manners of the students was very creditable to the institution. Every student visits each professor's house twice in the session, once to dinner and once to a ball; and, I suppose, as much oftener as he may be asked. The session lasts ten months, the vacation being in the hot months of July and August.

The distinctive principle of this University is that each student is free to attend the schools of his choice, and no others; provided that, being under twenty-one years of age, he shall attend at least three professors. The professors highly approve of this arrangement, finding that it enables young men to qualify themselves rapidly and effectually for particular callings, in cases where time is valuable; and [Pg 202] that the youths put vigour into their pursuits, in proportion as they are free, within a reasonable limit, to gratify their tastes and fulfil their own purposes in the choice of their studies.

There are nine professorships, and in each school there are three regular lectures a week, besides the instructions suited to the several classes into which the school is divided. The professors when I was there were—

Professor Harrison, Ancient Languages and History. This gentleman must find himself fully occupied. He was the sole instructer that session of seventy-five young men in Latin and Greek, and, of such as desired it, in Hebrew. His qualifications are understood to be of a very high order.

Professor Blœttermann had sixty-four pupils in Modern Languages, viz., French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Anglo-Saxon; and was ready to teach, moreover, the Danish, Swedish, Dutch, and Portuguese languages.

Professor Bonnycastle (Mathematics) had a large attendance, consisting of one hundred and nine, divided into five classes, beginning with the theory of Arithmetic, and concluding the course of Pure Mathematics with the Integral Calculus. There is, moreover, a class of Mixed Mathematics for such of the more advanced students as choose to pursue it, and another of Civil Engineering.

Professor Patterson undertakes the Natural Philosophy, having an attendance of seventy-three pupils. The apparatus provided for the use of this school is very extensive and complete; and an observatory, with the necessary astronomical instruments, is open to the students.

Professor Emmet, Chymistry and Materia Medica, eighty-nine pupils.

Professor Magill, Medicine, forty-one pupils.

Professor Warner, Anatomy and Surgery, forty-four pupils. An extensive museum is attached to the Medical Department, and the anatomical school is regularly supplied with subjects, from which the lectures are delivered. The advantage claimed for this, above all other medical schools in the country, is that its session lasts ten months instead of four.

Professor Tucker, Moral Philosophy, sixty-seven pupils, who are divided into two classes; the examinations of the junior class being in Rhetoric, Belles Lettres, Logic, and Ethics, from the professor's lectures, Blair's and Campbell's [Pg 203] Rhetoric, and Stewart's "Active and Moral Powers." The senior class studies Mental Philosophy and Political Economy; and the examinations are from the professor's lectures, Brown's Lectures, Say's and Adam Smith's Political Economy.

Professor Davis, Law, forty-eight pupils. The students of this school have instituted a Law Society, at whose meetings the professor presides, and where the business of every branch of the profession is rehearsed.

Three honorary distinctions are conferred in this University; a certificate of proficiency, conferred by the faculty on any proficient in a particular branch of study; that of graduate in any school, for proficiency in the general studies of any school; and the third, of Master of Arts of the University of Virginia, is obtained by graduation in the schools of Ancient and Modern Languages, Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Chymistry, and Moral Philosophy. All these are obtained when deserved, and not in consequence of any prescribed term of study having been gone through. The title of Doctor of Medicine is conferred on the graduate in the Medical Department. The certificates and diplomas are delivered in the presence of all the members of the University and of the public on the last day of the session, in the Rotunda, amid many observances and rites.

It will be observed that there is no Theological Professorship. It was noticed by the religious North at the time of the foundation of the University, that this was probably the first instance in the world of such an establishment exhibiting this kind of deficiency, and the experiment was denounced as a very hazardous one. The result seems to have been, that while theological instruction has been obtainable elsewhere, a greater number and variety of young men, of different religious persuasions, have been educated at this institution than would have been likely to resort to it if it had, by the choice of a theological professor, identified itself with any single denomination. The reasons for the omission of a Professorship of Divinity are stated in the first Report of the Commissioners who met in August, 1818, at Rockfish Gap, on the Blue Ridge, for the purpose of organizing the plans of this institution. Jefferson was understood to be the author of the report, which contains the following passage:

"In conformity with the principles of our constitution, which places all sects of religion on an equal footing; with [Pg 204] the jealousy of the different sects, in guarding that equality from encroachment and surprise; and with the sentiments of the legislature, in favour of freedom of religion, manifested on former occasions, we have proposed no Professor of Divinity; and the rather, as the proofs of the being of a God, the Creator, Preserver, and Supreme Ruler of the universe, the Author of all the relations of morality, and of the laws and obligations these infer, will be within the province of the Professor of Ethics; to which, adding the developments of those moral obligations, of those in which all sects agree, with a knowledge of the languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, a basis will be formed common to all sects. Proceeding thus far without offence to the constitution, we have thought it proper at this point to leave every sect to provide, as they think fittest, the means of further instruction in their own peculiar tenets."

There are no daily public prayers at this institution, but there are regular services on Sundays, administered by clergymen of the four denominations, in turns of a year each. These clergymen officiate on the invitation of the professors, officers, and students. The attendance upon public worship is purely voluntary; and, as might be expected as a consequence, it is regular and complete.

This institution may well be called Jefferson's University. The first conception was his; the whole impulse and direction; the scheme of its studies, and the organization of its government. His letters to his intimate friends during the last five years of his life breathe a rational ardour about this enterprise which is very animating to those connected with the university, and which affords a fine stimulus to the students, who are daily reminded of what they owe to him, and what were his expectations from them. "I fear not to say," he writes, "that within twelve or fifteen years from this time (1825), a majority of the rulers of our state will have been educated here. They shall carry hence the correct principles of our day; and you may count assuredly that they will exhibit their country in a degree of sound respectability it has never known, either in our days or those of our forefathers. I cannot live to see it. My joy must only be that of anticipation." In his last letter to Madison, a few months later, he says, "And if I remove beyond the reach of attentions to the university, or beyond the bourne of life itself, as I soon must, it is a comfort to [Pg 205] leave that institution under your care, and an assurance that it will not be wanting."

The following passage in the same letter renders strangers curious to learn the politics of the university. "In the selection of our Law Professor, we must be rigorously attentive to his political principles. You will recollect that, before the Revolution, Coke-Littleton was the universal elementary book of law students; and a sounder whig never wrote, nor of profounder learning in the orthodox doctrines of the British constitution, or in what were called English liberties. You remember, also, that our lawyers were then all whigs. But when his black-letter text, and uncouth but cunning learning got out of fashion, and the honeyed Mansfieldism of Blackstone became the student's hornbook, from that moment that profession (the nursery of our Congress) began to slide into toryism, and nearly all the young brood of lawyers are now of that hue. They suppose themselves, indeed, to be whigs, because they no longer know what whigism or republicanism means. It is in our seminary that that vestal flame is to be kept alive; it is thence to spread anew over our own and the sister states." On inquiry I found that, out of the 206 students, seven held the principles of the democratic party. There seemed to be little or none of the federalism of the North, but a strong attachment to Calhoun on the part of the majority in the establishment. The evil influences of slavery have entered in to taint the work of the great champion of freedom. The political attachments of this once democratic institution are to the leader who, in order to uphold slavery, would, to judge him by himself, establish a Lacedæmonian government throughout the South; making every white man a soldier, in order to preserve a false idea of honour, and to obviate danger from the oppressed servile class. To observing eyes it appears plain that the hour is approaching when these young men must, like all other American men, choose their part, and enter decisively into struggle to maintain or overthrow the first principles of freedom. It will then be seen whether "the vestal flame" has been kept alive, or whether the name of him who cherished it has been honoured with mere lip-worship, while the labours of his latter years have been despised and undone. The eyes of the world will be fixed on Jefferson's University during the impending conflict between slaveholders and freemen. [Pg 206]

To return to our Sunday afternoon. It was known that we should soon arrive at the University with our letters of introduction, and a truly hospitable welcome was prepared for us. We called first at Professor Patterson's, where we found ourselves, in half an hour, as much at home as if we had been acquainted for months. We were obliged to decline taking up our abode there at once, but promised to return the next morning, and remain for as long a time as we could spare. Professor Tucker, long known in England, and at present more extensively so through his very acceptable Life of Jefferson, was recovering from an illness which confined him to his room, and sent to ask me to visit him there. I was glad that he was well enough to see me, and that I had thus the benefit of a good deal of his lively, sensible, and earnest conversation.

A great disappointment awaited our rising on the Monday morning. On the Sunday afternoon the sun had been so hot that we threw off our shawls. The next morning we looked out upon a snowstorm. There was, from the beginning, no hope of our getting to Monticello. Jefferson's house upon the mountain was actually in sight, and there was no possibility of our reaching it, and we were obliged to satisfy ourselves with the traces we found of him about the University. Professor Patterson's carriage came for us early, and we passed a morning of the liveliest gossip with the ladies and children of the family, while the professors were engaged in their duties. The frankness of the whole society was particularly winning, and so was the cordiality among themselves; a degree of mutual good understanding which is seldom found in the small society of a college, village-like in its seclusion and leisure, with added temptations to jealousy and censoriousness. The ladies of Professor Patterson's family gave me a spirited and amiable description of their arrival as strangers at the University, and of the zeal and kind consideration with which they were welcomed and aided on every hand. Two facts struck me in the course of our feminine talk on the subject of housekeeping; that chickens are there to be had for a dollar a dozen, plump fowls ready for the fire; and that Mrs. Patterson's coachman, a slave, could read. These ladies, seeing apparently only domestic slaves kindly treated like their own, spoke lightly on the great subject, asking me if I did not think the slaves were happy; but their husbands used a [Pg 207] very different tone, observing, with gloom, that it was a dark question every way.

Four of the professors and two or three students, fine, well-mannered young men, joined us at dinner, and many ladies and others of the professors in the evening. I was amused and gratified by the interest shown in the living authors of England, especially the ladies. Every particular that I could tell about Mrs. Somerville and Mrs. Marcet was eagerly listened to. The Herschel family, Mr. Malthus, and many more, were fully and affectionately discussed. The great treat of the evening to me was a long conversation with Professor Hamilton on the German language and literature, and on the mutual criticism of the Germans and the English. He offered a comparison of the genius of the Greek and German languages, which, for want of sufficient learning, I do not pretend to appreciate, but which impressed me strongly with admiration of his powers of conversation.

One of the ladies took an opportunity of asking me privately to request leave to attend a lecture with the Natural Philosophy class in the morning. Ladies are excluded by rule; but she thought that the rule might for once be infringed without injury in the case of foreign ladies. The professor kindly made no difficulty, and my prompter highly enjoyed her single opportunity.

We breakfasted before eight, and went immediately to survey the large building, the Rotunda. First we saw the library, a well-chosen collection of books, the list of which was made out by Jefferson. The students read in the Rotunda, and take out books by order. In the gallery above the books, the mineralogical collection, belonging to Professor Patterson, is arranged, and open to observation. Higher up still is a whispering gallery. The lecture to which we were admitted was on Heat. It was clear, fluent, and entertaining. The young men appeared to be good listeners; some wrote down almost all they heard, and many asked questions of the professor at the conclusion of the lecture.

Mr. Tucker begged us to go to his chamber to luncheon, as he was still unable to venture out of it. We had a delightful hour there. The sick gentleman's room was crowded with guests, all busy with question and remark, our time being short, and the quantity we had to say, like old friends in a brief meeting, being inexhaustible. A serious request [Pg 208] was made to us that we would stay a month, giving up a portion of our southern journey in exchange for the good offices of the University. We could not possibly do this; but there can be no doubt of what our enjoyment would have been during a whole month of intimate intercourse with such stirring people as this graceful, kindly little society is composed of. Having said all that so many tongues could, in an hour's time, about the Theory of Rent, Colonel Thompson, and Mr. Malthus; the value of public censure and eulogy; Mrs. Somerville again, Philadelphia ale, American politics, and a hundred other things, we were obliged to go. Keepsakes of the ladies' work were put into our hands, and packets of sandwiches into the carriage; and a party escorted us to our inn, bad as the weather was. Letters of introduction were hastily prepared and sent after us, and during our whole visit nothing was omitted which could concern our comfort or enhance our pleasure. As I cast my last look from the window of the stage towards the University, it was with less regret than pleasurable astonishment at my own experience of the speed with which it is possible for foreign minds to communicate, and lasting regard to be established.


"For Nature here
Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will
Her virgin fancies."


"These views of the degradation of the Southern States receive a melancholy and impressive confirmation from the general aspect and condition of the country, viewed in contrast with its former prosperity. With natural advantages more bountiful than were ever dispensed by a kind Providence to any other people upon the surface of the globe, there is, from the mountains to the seacoast, one unbroken scene of cheerless stagnation and premature decay."—Southern Review, vol. ii., p. 513.

There was no end to the kind cautions given me against travelling through the Southern States, not only on account of my opinions on slavery, but because of the badness of [Pg 209] the roads and the poverty of the wayside accommodations. There was so much of this, that my companion and I held a consultation one day, in our room at Washington, spreading out the map, and surveying the vast extent of country we proposed to traverse before meeting my relatives at New-Orleans. We found that neither was afraid, and afterward that there was no cause for fear, except to persons who are annoyed by irregularity and the absence of comfort. The evil prognostications went on multiplying as we advanced; but we learned to consider them as mere voices on the mountain of our enterprise, which must not deter us from accomplishing it. We had friends to visit at Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; Montgomery, Alabama; and Mobile. At Richmond we were cautioned about the journey into South Carolina; at Charleston we were met with dreadful reports of travelling in Georgia; in Georgia people spoke of the horrors of Alabama, and so on; and, after all, nothing could well be easier than the whole undertaking. I do not remember a single difficulty that occurred all the way. There was much fatigue, of course. In going down from Richmond to Charleston with a party of friends, we were nine days on the road, and had only three nights' rest. Throughout the journey we were obliged to accommodate ourselves to the stage hours, setting off sometimes in the evening, sometimes at midnight; or, of all uncomfortable seasons, at two or three in the morning. On a journey of many days, we had to inform ourselves of the longest time that the stage would stop at a supping or breakfasting place, so that we might manage to snatch an hour's sleep. While the meal was preparing, it was my wont to lie down and doze, in spite of hunger; if I could find a bed or sofa, it was well; if not, I could wrap myself in my cloak, and make a pillow on the floor of my carpet-bag. I found that a sleep somewhat longer than this, when I could go to bed for two hours, was more fatiguing than refreshing. The being waked up at two, when I had lain down at midnight, was the greatest discomfort I experienced. But little sleep can be obtained in the stage from the badness of the roads. It was only when quite wearied out that I could forget myself for an hour or two amid the joltings and rollings of the vehicle. In Alabama, some of the passengers in the stage were Southern gentlemen coming from New-York, in comparison with [Pg 210] whose fatigues ours were nothing. I think they had then travelled eleven days and nights with very short intervals of rest, and the badness of the roads at the end of a severe winter had obliged them to walk a good deal. They looked dreadfully haggard and nervous, and we heard afterward that one of them had become incessantly convulsed in the face after we had left them. It is not necessary, of course, to proceed without stopping in such a way as this; but it is necessary to be patient of fatigue to travel in the South at all.

Yet I was very fond of these long journeys. The traveller (if he be not an abolitionist) is perfectly secure of good treatment, and fatigue and indifferent fare are the only evils which need be anticipated. The toils of society in the cities were so great to me that I generally felt my spirits rise when our packing began; and, the sorrow of parting with kind hosts once over, the prospect of a journey of many days was a very cheerful one. The novelty and the beauty of the scenery seemed inexhaustible; and the delightful American stages, open or closed all round at the will of the traveller, allow of everything being seen.

The American can conceive of nothing more dismal than a pine-barren on a rainy day; but the profound tranquillity made it beautiful to me, whose rainy days have been almost all spent in cities, amid the rumbling of hackney-coaches, the clink of pattens, the gurgle of spouts, and the flitting by of umbrellas. It is very different in the pine-barrens. The sandy soil absorbs the rain, so that there is no mud; the pines stand meekly drooping, as if waiting to be fed; the drip is noiseless; and the brooks and pools are seen bubbling clear, or quietly filling, while not a wing cleaves the air, each bird nestling in the covert of its domestic tree. When the rain ceases towards evening, the whole region undergoes a change. If a parting ray from the west pierces the woods, the stems look lilach in the moist light; the vines glitter before they shake off their last drops; the redbird startles the eye; the butterflies come abroad in clouds; the frogs grow noisy, and all nature wakens up fresh as from her siesta. The planter may be seen on his pacing white horse in a glade of the wood, or superintending the negroes who are repairing the fence of his estate. One black holds the large dibble, with which the holes for the stakes are made; others are warming their [Pg 211] hands at the fire which blazes on the ground; many hands to do slovenly work. While any light is left, the driver is apt to shorten his road by cutting across a knoll instead of winding round it; and then the wheels are noiseless on the turf; the branches crash as the vehicle is forced between the trees; and the wood-pigeons, frightened from their roost, flutter abroad.

When the sun has gone down all is still within the stage; the passengers grow drowsy unless hunger keeps them awake. Each one nods upon his neighbour's shoulder, till a red light, gradually illuminating all the faces, and every moment growing brighter, rouses the dullest. Each tells somebody else that we are coming to a fire in the woods. First there are lines of little yellow flames on each side the path; the blazing up of twigs too dry to have been made incombustible by the morning's rain. Then there is a pond of red fire on either hand, and pillars of light rising from it; tall burning stems, throwing out jets of flame on all sides, or emitting a flood of sparks when touched by the night breeze. The succeeding darkness is intense. The horses seem to feel it, for they slacken to a footpace, and the grazing of a wheel against a pinestem, or the zigzag motion of the vehicle, intimates that the driver's eyes have been dazzled. Presently the horses set off again, and the passengers sink once more into silence. They are next roused by the discordant horn of the driver, sending out as many distinct blasts as there are passengers, each blast more of a screech than the last, and the final flourish causing a shout of laughter in the coach; laughter animated a little, perhaps, by the prospect of supper. Right or left soon appears the loghouse, its open shutters and door giving token that a large fire is blazing within. The gentlemen hand out the ladies at the door, and then stand yawning and stretching, or draw to the fire while they can, before the ladies take possession of the best places. The hostess, who is busy cooking, points to a lamp, with which the ladies light themselves to her chamber, to put up their hair under their bonnets for the night. Little impish blacks peep and grin from behind the stove or shine in the heat of the chimney-corner. If any one of them has ever received a compliment on his dexterity, he serves with most ostentatious bustle, his eyes wide open, his row of white teeth all in sight, and his little body twisting about with every affectation of activity. An observer [Pg 212] may see some fun going on behind the mistress's back; a whisk of a carving-knife across a companion's throat, or a flourish of two plates like cymbals over the head.

At last supper is ready; the broiled venison, the ham collops and eggs, and apple-sauce; the infusion which is called tea or coffee; and the reeking corn-bread. Before the clatter of knives has ceased, the stage, with its fresh horses, is at the door; the ladies snatch a final warming while the driver finishes his protracted meal, their eyes being now at liberty to study the apartment, looking round for some other object than the old story, the six presidents who smile from the walls of almost every loghouse in America, and the great map of the United States, with a thumbmark, amounting to an erasure, on the spot of the very territory where this particular loghouse happens to be. If we wanted to consult a map in a hurry in such places as these, we never had to hunt out our present situation. There was always the worn spot to serve as the centre to our investigations. The passengers, however wearily they might have descended from the stage, are pretty sure to enter it again with a spring; warm and satisfied, with a joke on their tongues, and a good supper to sleep or muse upon.

The sleep seldom lasts long, however. You are sure to come to a creek, where nobody has ever erected a bridge, or where a freshet has carried one away, and no measures have been taken to rebuild it. With drowsy groans, the passengers rouse themselves, and get out at the driver's bidding under the cold stars or the drifting clouds. The ladies slip on their India-rubber shoes, for their first step may be into soft mud. They stand upon a bank if there be one, in order not to be run over in the dark; while the scow shows by the reflection of the light at her bow where the river is. When she touches the bank the driver calls to everybody to keep out of the way, cracks his whip, and drives his lumbering carriage down the bank and into the scow; the passengers follow; the scow is unchained, and the whole load is pushed across the stream, or pulled, if it happens to be a rope-ferry. When the expected shock tells you that you have arrived at the other side, the driver again cracks his whip, and the horses scramble. If they should refuse to mount the steep bank, and back a step upon the passengers instead, every one would infallibly be driven into the river. A delicate coaxing is therefore employed; and I imagine the [Pg 213] animals must be aware what a ticklish thing any freak of theirs would be in such a situation, for I never knew them decline mounting the bank without a single back step.

If the teambolt or other fastening of equal consequence should happen to break, there is a chance of two hours' rest or so. Something snaps; the vehicle stops, the gentlemen get out; the ladies gaze from the windows, while somebody half-dressed comes out with a lantern from any dwelling that may be in sight, and goes back again for hammer and nail, or, at worst, a piece of cord, and you proceed at a slow footpace to the nearest hotel. There the slaves, roused from the floor, where they are lying like dogs, go winking about, putting fresh logs on the smouldering fire, and lighting a lamp or two. After repeated inquiries on the part of the ladies, who feel the first minutes of their two hours slipping away without any promise of rest, a female slave at last appears, staring as if she had never seen anybody before. The ladies have already taken out nightcap, soap, and towel from their carpet-bags. They motion the woman up stairs, and follow her. They find the water-jug, if there be one, empty, of course. With infinite coaxing they get the attendant to fill it. Long after they are undressed it comes, clear or "sort o' muddy," as may be. If there are no sheets or yellow ones, the ladies spread their dressing-gowns over the bed, and use their cloaks for a covering. As soon as they have lain down, a draught begins to blow in the strangest way on the top of their heads. They examine, and find a broken window behind the bed. They wrap up their heads and lie down again. As soon as they are fairly dreaming that they are at home, and need not get up till they please, the horn startles them; they raise their heads, see a light under the door, and the black woman looks in to drawl out that they must please to make haste. It seems like a week since they lay down; but they are not rested, and turn away sick and dizzy from the flickering light.

In the morning you wonder where your fatigue is gone. As the day steals through the forest, kindling up beauty as it goes, the traveller's whole being is refreshed. The young aloes under the fallen trunks glitter with dew; the gray moss, dangling from the trees, waves in the breath of the morning. The busy little chameleons run along the fences, and the squirrel erects his brush as you pass. While the [Pg 214] crescent moon and the morning star glittered low down in the sky, you had longed to stay the sun beneath the horizon; but, now that he is come, fresh vigour and enjoyment seem to be shed down with his rays.

At such an hour you often come up with a family departing from the spot where they had "camped out" for the night. I never had the pleasure of camping out, but I know exactly what it must be like, for I have seen establishments of this sort in every stage of the process, from the searching out a spot blessed with a running stream, a shelter to windward, a dry soil, and plenty of fuel, to the piling the wagon with the pots, pans, and children previous to starting at dawn. There is a striking air of cheer about the family when beginning their new day; leaving behind the desolation they have made; the scorched turf, the scattered brushwood, chips, and meat-bones, and setting forth in renewed strength in the fresh morning. I owe to these people many a picture such as will never meet my eye in the galleries of art.

Our stationary rural life in the South was various and pleasant enough; all shaded with the presence of slavery, but without any other drawback. There is something in the make-shift, irregular mode of life which exists where there are slaves, that is amusing when the cause is forgotten.

The waking in the morning is accomplished by two or three black women staring at you from the bedposts. Then it is five minutes' work to get them out of the room. Perhaps, before you are half dressed, you are summoned to breakfast. You look at your watch, and listen whether it has stopped, for it seems not to be seven o'clock yet. You hasten, however, and find your hostess making the coffee. The young people drop in when the meal is half done, and then it is discovered that breakfast has been served an hour too early, because the clock has stopped, and the cook has ordered affairs according to her own conjectures. Everybody laughs, and nothing ensues. After breakfast a farmer in homespun—blue trousers and an orange-brown coat, or all over gray—comes to speak with your host. A drunken white has shot one of his negroes, and he fears no punishment can be obtained, because there were no witnesses of the deed but blacks. A consultation is held whether the [Pg 215] affair shall go into court; and, before the farmer departs, he is offered cake and liqueur.

Your hostess, meantime, has given her orders, and is now engaged in a back room, or out in the piazza behind the house, cutting out clothes for her slaves; very laborious work in warm weather. There may be a pretence of lessons among the young people, and something more than pretence if they happen to have a tutor or governess; but the probability is that their occupations are as various as their tempers. Rosa cannot be found; she is lying on the bed in her own room reading a novel; Clara is weeping for her canary, which has flown away while she was playing with it; Alfred is trying to ascertain how soon we may all go out to ride; and the little ones are lounging about the court, with their arms round the necks of blacks of their own size. You sit down to the piano or to read, and one slave or another enters every half hour to ask what is o'clock. Your hostess comes in at length, and you sit down to work with her; she gratifies your curiosity about her "people," telling you how soon they burn out their shoes at the toes, and wear out their winter woollens, and tear up their summer cottons; and how impossible it is to get black women to learn to cut out clothes without waste; and how she never inquires when and where the whipping is done, as it is the overseer's business, and not hers. She has not been seated many minutes when she is called away, and returns saying how babyish these people are, that they will not take medicine unless she gives it to them; and how careless of each other, so that she has been obliged to stand by and see Diana put clean linen upon her infant, and to compel Bet to get her sick husband some breakfast.

Morning visiters next arrive. It may be the clergyman, with some new book that you want to look at; and inquiries whether your host sees any prospect of getting the requisite number of professors for the new college, or whether the present head of the institution is to continue to fill all the chairs. It may be a lank judge from some raw district, with a quid in his cheek, a swordcane in his hand, and a legal doubt in his mind which he wants your host to resolve. It may be a sensible woman, with courtesy in her countenance and decision in her air, who is accustomed really to rule her household, and to make the most of such human material and such a human lot as are pressing around and upon [Pg 216] her. If so, the conversation between her and your hostess becomes rapid and interesting; full of tales of perplexity and trouble, of droll anecdotes, and serious and benevolent plans. Or it may be a lady of a different cast, who is delighted at the prospect of seeing you soon again. You look perplexed, and mention that you fear you shall be unable to return this way. Oh, but you will come and live here. You plead family, friends, and occupation in England, to say nothing of England being your home. Oh, but you can bring your family and friends with you. You laughingly ask why. She draws up and replies, "for the honour and glory of living in a republic."

Meantime Clara has dried her tears, for some one has recovered her canary, and the door of the cage is shut. The carriage and saddle-horses are scrambling on the gravel before the door, and the children run in to know if they may ride with you. Cake, fruit, and liqueurs, or perhaps tea, are brought in, and then the ladies depart. The clergyman thinks he will ride round with your party, hearing that you are going to inspect Mr. A.'s plantation. He warns you that it will not be "pleasant to see even the best plantations," and your trembling heart fully agrees.

You admire the horsemanship of your host on his white horse, and the boys on their black ponies. The carriage goes at good speed, and yet the fast pace of the saddle-horses enables the party to keep together. While you are looking out upon a picturesque loghouse, peeping forth from a blossomy thicket, or admiring a splendid hedge of the Cherokee rose in straggling bloom, Rosa rouses herself from a revery, and asks you to tell her all about Victoria.

"What shall I tell you?"

"What religion is she? A Unitarian, I suppose, like you."

Church of Englandism and dissent being explained, Rosa resumes, in a plaintive voice, "Is she betrothed yet."

"Not that I know of."

"Oh, I hope she is! I wish I knew! When will she be queen? When she is eighteen, won't she? Oh! I thought she was to be of age, and be made queen at eighteen. How long will she be a queen?"

"As long as she lives."

"As long as she lives! Why I thought—"

Rosa has no idea of rulers not being changed every four [Pg 217] or eight years. Even her imagination is almost overpowered at the idea of being set above everybody else for life.

The carriage stops, and you are invited to step out, and view the ravages of a tornado a season or two ago; you see how clear a path it made for itself in the forest, and how it swept across the river, tearing down an answering gap through the tall canebrake on the opposite bank. The prostrated trees lie sunk in swamp, half hidden by flowering reeds and bright mosses, while their stumps, twice as tall as yourself, are all cropped off, whatever may be their thickness, precisely at the same height, and so wrenched and twisted as to convince you that you never before conceived of the power of the winds. The boys show you a dry path down to the river side, that you may see the fishtraps that are laid in the stream, and watch the couples of shad-fishers—dark figures amid the flashing waters—who are pursuing their occupation in the glare of noon. The girls tell you how father remembers the time when there were bears in that canebrake, and there was great trouble in getting them to come out of their thick covert to be killed. When father first came here, this side of the river was all canebrake too. Is not a canebrake very ugly? It may not have any picturesque beauty; but your eye rests upon it with satisfaction, as a tropical feature in the scene.

You proceed, and point out with admiration a beautifully-situated dwelling, which you declare takes your fancy more than any you have seen. The children are amused that you should suppose any one lives there, overshadowed with trees as it is, so that its inhabitants would be devoured by moschetoes. Your hostess tells you that it is called Mr. B.'s Folly. He spent a good deal of money and much taste upon it, but it is uninhabitable from being rather too near the river. The fever appeared so immediately and decisively that the family had to leave it in three months, and there it stands, to be called B.'s Folly.

Your host paces up to the carriage window to tell you that you are now on A.'s plantation. You are overtaking a long train of negroes going to their work from dinner. They look all over the colour of the soil they are walking on: dusky in clothing, dusky in complexion. An old man, blacker than the rest, is indicated to you as a native African; and you point out a child so light as to make you doubt whether he be a slave. A glance at the long heel settles the [Pg 218] matter. You feel that it would be a relief to be assured that this was a troop of monkeys dressed up for sport, rather than that these dull, shuffling animals should be human.

There is something inexpressibly disgusting in the sight of a slave woman in the field. I do not share in the horror of the Americans at the idea of women being employed in outdoor labour. It did not particularly gratify me to see the cows always milked by men (where there were no slaves); and the hay and harvest fields would have looked brighter in my eyes if women had been there to share the wholesome and cheerful toil. But a negro woman behind the plough presents a very different object from the English mother with her children in the turnip-field, or the Scotch lassie among the reapers. In her pre-eminently ugly costume, the long, scanty, dirty woollen garment, with the shabby large bonnet at the back of her head, the perspiration streaming down her dull face, the heavy tread of the splay foot, the slovenly air with which she guides her plough, a more hideous object cannot well be conceived, unless it be the same woman at home, in the negro quarter, as the cluster of slave dwellings is called.

You are now taken to the cotton-gin, the building to your left, where you are shown how the cotton, as picked from the pods, is drawn between cylinders so as to leave the seeds behind; and how it is afterward packed, by hard pressure, into bales. The neighbouring creek is dammed up to supply the water-wheel by which this gin is worked. You afterward see the cotton-seed laid in handfuls round the stalks of the young springing corn, and used in the cotton field as manure.

Meantime you attempt to talk with the slaves. You ask how old that very aged man is, or that boy; they will give you no intelligible answer. Slaves never know, or never will tell their ages, and this is the reason why the census presents such extraordinary reports on this point, declaring a great number to be above a hundred years old. If they have a kind master, they will boast to you of how much he gave for each of them, and what sums he has refused for them. If they have a hard master, they will tell you that they would have more to eat and be less flogged, but that massa is busy, and has no time to come down and see that they have enough to eat. Your hostess is well known on this plantation, and her kind face has been recognised from a distance; and already a negro woman has [Pg 219] come to her with seven or eight eggs, for which she knows she shall receive a quarter dollar. You follow her to the negro quarter, where you see a tidy woman knitting, while the little children who are left in her charge are basking in the sun, or playing all kinds of antics in the road; little shining, plump, cleareyed children, whose mirth makes you sad when you look round upon their parents, and see what these bright creatures are to come to. You enter one of the dwellings, where everything seems to be of the same dusky hue: the crib against the wall, the walls themselves, and the floor, all look one yellow. More children are crouched round the wood fire, lying almost in the embers. You see a woman pressing up against the wall like an idiot, with her shoulder turned towards you, and her apron held up to her face. You ask what is the matter with her, and are told that she is shy. You see a woman rolling herself about in a crib, with her head tied up. You ask if she is ill, and are told that she has not a good temper; that she struck at a girl she was jealous of with an axe, and the weapon being taken from her, she threw herself into the well, and was nearly drowned before she was taken out, with her head much hurt.

The overseer has, meantime, been telling your host about the fever having been more or less severe last season, and how well off he shall think himself if he has no more than so many days' illness this summer: how the vegetation has suffered from the late frosts, pointing out how many of the oranges have been cut off, but that the great magnolia in the centre of the court is safe. You are then invited to see the house, learning by the way the extent and value of the estate you are visiting, and of the "force" upon it. You admire the lofty, cool rooms, with their green blinds, and the width of the piazzas on both sides the house, built to compensate for the want of shade from trees, which cannot be allowed near the dwelling for fear of moschetoes. You visit the icehouse, and find it pretty full, the last winter having been a severe one. You learn that, for three or four seasons after this icehouse was built, there was not a spike of ice in the state, and a cargo had to be imported from Massachusetts.

When you have walked in the field as long as the heat will allow, you step into the overseer's bare dwelling, within its bare enclosure, where fowls are strutting about, and [Pg 220] refresh yourself with a small tumbler of milk; a great luxury, which has been ordered for the party. The overseer's fishing-tackle and rifle are on the wall, and there is a medicine chest and a shelf of books. He is tall, sallow, and nonchalant, dropping nothing more about himself and his situation than that he does not know that he has had more than his share of sickness and trouble in his vocation, and so he is pretty well satisfied.

Your hostess reminds the party that they are going out to dinner, and that it is quite time to be returning to dress. So you go straight home by a shorter road, stopping no more, but looking out, now at a glorious trumpet honeysuckle dangling from a branch, now at a lofty, spreading green tree, red hot close to the ground, while a sheet of flame is spreading all about its roots, the flames looking orange and blue in the bright sunshine.

You are glad to find, on arriving at home, that you have half an hour to lie down before you dress, and are surprised, on rising, to feel how you are refreshed. You have not very far to go to dinner; only to Mr. E.'s cottage on the Sand Hills. The E.'s have just come for the summer, the distant city being their winter residence. If you find the accommodations poor, you must excuse it in consideration of their recent removal. The E.'s live in very good style in the city. The cottage is half way up a gentle ascent, with a deep, sandy road leading to the wooden steps of the front piazza, and pine forests in the rear. The entertainment to-day is not solely on your account; it is a parting dinner to young Mr. and Mrs. F., who are going to reside farther West. They are leaving their parents and friends, and the family estate, and are to live in a loghouse till a proper dwelling can be built. Mrs. F. is rather low in spirits, but her mother means to send the old family nurse with her, so that she will have one comfort, at any rate, and will be able to trust her infant out of her sight now and then. As for Mrs. E., she informs you that she has come out to the cottage sooner than she usually does, as she is expecting her confinement. She has all her five children in her presence always; and as she cannot trust them for an hour with her "people," their noise and the heat would be intolerable in town; but here, where her room opens upon the piazza, she can have the children always in her sight or hearing with less fatigue than in the city. You ask whether such a [Pg 221] charge be not too much for her. Certainly; but there is no use in complaining, for it cannot be helped. She never had a nurse that was not more plague than use. It is not only that the servants tell the children improper things, and teach them falsehood, but it is impossible to get the little boys' faces washed without seeing it done; and the infant may, as likely as not, be dropped into the fire or out of the window. Ladies must make the best of their lot, for they cannot help themselves.

The dinner is plentiful, including, of course, turkey, ham, and sweet potatoes; excellent claret, and large blocks of icecream. A slave makes gentle war against the flies with the enormous bunch of peacocks' feathers; and the agitation of the air is pleasant while the ladies are engaged in eating, so that they cannot use their own fans, which are hung by loops on the backs of their chairs. The afternoon is spent in the piazza, where coffee is served. There the ladies sit, whisking their feather fans, jesting with the children, and talking over the last English poem or American novel, or complaining bitterly of the dreadful incendiary publications which Mr. E. heard from Mr. H., who had heard it from Mr. M., that Judge R. had said that somebody had seen circulated among the negroes by some vile agent of the horrid abolitionists of the North.

You go in to tea, and find the table strewed with prints, and the piano open, and Mrs. F. plays and sings. The gentlemen have done discussing the French war and the currency, and are praising the conduct of the Committee of Vigilance; frankly informing you, as a stranger, of the reasons of its formation, and the modes of its operation in deterring abolitionists from coming into the neighbourhood, in arresting them on any suspicion of tampering with the negroes, and in punishing them summarily if any facts are established against them. While you are endeavouring to learn the nature of the crime and its evidence, you are summoned. There is going to be a storm, and your party must get home, if possible, before it comes on. In such a case Mrs. E. will say nothing in opposition to your leaving her so early. She would not be the means of exposing you to the storm. You hasten away, and reach home during the first explosion of thunder.

You find there a bouquet, sent to you with Miss G.'s compliments; a splendid bunch of quince, yellow jessamine, [Pg 222] arbor vitæ, hyacinths, cherry, and other blossoms. It is not nearly bedtime yet; and you sit on the sofa, fanning yourself, with the table-lamp dimmed by the momentary glare of blue lightning. Your hostess learns from the servants that poor Miss Clara went to bed in great grief, the cat having killed her canary in the afternoon. It has been a sad day for poor Clara, from the adventures of her bird; but she is now fast asleep.

Your host amuses you with anecdotes of South country life. He asks you how you were struck with Mrs. L., whose call you returned yesterday. You reply that she seems a cheerful, hearty personage, who makes the best of a poor lot; and you relate how pleased you were at the frankness with which she owned, pointing to the stocking she was darning, that she knew little of books nowadays, or of music, as she was making shirts and darning stockings for her sons all the year round. You were sorry to see such evidences of poverty; chairs with broken backs, and a piano with three legs, and a cracked flute; but glad that Mrs. L. seemed able to look on the bright side of things. Your host throws himself back, and laughs for three minutes; and, when he recovers, informs you that Mrs. L. is the wealthiest widow in the state. You protest that you looked upon her with respect as a meritorious widow, doing her best for a large family. Your host repeats that she is the richest widow in the state, and that she and all her family are odd about money. She has a sister in a neighbouring state, Mrs. M., who is even more bent upon economy. Last year Mrs. L. visited this sister, who lives in a country town. The sisters went out in Mrs. M.'s carriage, to make calls and do shopping. Mrs. L. observed that her sister's carriage was attended by a little mulatto girl, who let down the steps, and put them up, and mounted behind very dexterously. "The child is clever enough," said Mrs. L.; "but, sister, your carriage should have a proper footman. You should not be seen in town with a girl behind your carriage." Mrs. M. promised to consider the matter. The next day a spruce mulatto lad was in waiting, of whom Mrs. L. fully approved. When she looked in his face, however, as he was letting down the steps at the entrance of a store, she was struck by his remarkable likeness to the girl of yesterday, and observed upon it. Mrs. M. laughed, and owned she had got a suit of boy's clothes [Pg 223] made since yesterday for the girl to wear during morning drives, and she thought this an excellent plan. Many such a story does your host amuse you with; observing that, though America has fewer humourists than England, they may be met with in abundance in rare settlements and retired districts, where they can indulge their fancies without much suffering from public opinion.

The storm abates. You are the oracle as to what o'clock it is; and, as you are confident that it is near eleven, the chamber lights are brought. You dismiss your dusky attendants, and throw yourself on your ample sofa for half an hour, to recall what you have seen and heard this day, and meditate on the scope and tendencies of Country Life in the Southern States.


"Ye thus hospitably live,
And strangers with good cheer receive."

"Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness."


The disasters of our railroad journey to Charleston have been described elsewhere. [14] We were to have arrived at the city about six P.M. of the 10th of March, when every object would have looked bright in the sunshine of a spring evening. As it was, we reached the railroad station at ten minutes past four the next morning. There was much delay in obtaining our luggage and getting away from the station. We could not think of disturbing the slumbers of the friends whose hospitality we were about to enjoy, and we therefore proceeded in the omnibus which was in waiting to the Planter's Hotel. We were all hungry, having scarcely tasted food since noon the day before; and very weary, having travelled the whole of two nights, and enjoyed no sufficient rest since we left Richmond, nine days before. Every little [Pg 224] event became a great one to persons so exhausted. The omnibus jolted and stopped, and we were told that an accident had happened. The gentlemen got out, but the darkness was total. A light was brought from a private house, and it appeared that a wheel had touched the kerbstone! It seemed as if horses were never backed in Charleston, so long were we in proceeding. When I afterward saw what the streets of Charleston are like, I do not wonder at any extreme of caution in a driver. The soil is a fine sand, which, after rain, turns into a most deceptive mud; and there is very little pavement yet. The deficiency of stone is, however, becoming supplied by importation, and the inhabitants hope soon to be able to walk about the city in all weathers, without danger of being lost in crossing the streets. They told me, as an on dit, that a horse was drowned last winter in a mudhole in a principal street.

At the hotel all was dark and comfortless. We made a stir among the servants; the gentlemen got two men to light a fire, and fetch us wine and biscuits; and we persuaded two women to make up beds and warm some water. We were foolish enough to be tempted to take wine and water, as we could have neither tea or coffee; and when we rose from our unrefreshing sleep an hour after noon, we formed such a dismal group of aching heads as could hardly be matched out of a hospital.

Two of us proceeded, in a light pretty hack-carriage, to the friend's house where we were expected. Nothing could be more considerate than our reception. A pile of English and American letters and newspapers awaited us, and our hostess knew that we must be fatigued; a fire was therefore immediately lighted in my chamber, and we were told that the day was our own; that our dinner would be sent up to us, and that we should not be expected in the drawing-room till we chose to join the family. I shall not soon forget the refreshment of lingering over family letters and London newspapers; of feeling that we were not liable to be called up in the dark for a fortnight at least; and of seeing my clothes laid in drawers, for the first time, I think, since I landed. A chest of drawers is seldom to be seen in the chambers, or, at least, in the guest-chambers of American houses. We were favoured in the article of closets with rows of pegs, but I believe I had the use of a chest of drawers only two or three times during my travels. [Pg 225]

A circumstance happened this day which, as being illustrative of manners, may be worth relating. The day before I left Richmond, Virginia, two companions and myself had employed a hack-carriage, driven by a black, for some hours; and, on dismissing it, had paid the fare, which we thought reasonable, two dollars and a half. The proprietor of the carriage and master of the driver had by some means heard who it was that had been his customer. Finding that I had left Richmond, he took the trouble to send the two dollars and a half down to Charleston, five hundred miles, with a message that it was not for the honour of Virginia that I should pay carriage hire! and the money was awaiting me on my arrival.

I had soon reason to perceive that Charleston deserves its renown for hospitality. A lecturer on phrenology sent us tickets for his course; six carriages were immediately placed at my disposal, and the servants came every morning for orders for the day. The difficulty was to use them all and equally; but, by employing one for the morning drive and another for the evening visiting, we contrived to show our friends that we were willing to avail ourselves of their kindnesses. I believe there was scarcely a morning during our stay when some pretty present did not arrive before I rose; sometimes it was a bouquet of hyacinths, which were extremely rare that year, from the lateness and severity of the frosts; sometimes it was a dish of preserve or marmalade; sometimes a feather fan, when the day promised to be hot; sometimes a piece of Indian work; sometimes of indigenous literary production. One morning I found on my window-seat a copy of the Southern Review, and a bouquet of hyacinths from General Hayne; and the next a basket of wafers from Mrs. P.; and the third a set of cambric handkerchiefs, inimitably marked with complimentary devices, from Mrs. W.

In the midst of all this there was no little watchfulness, among a totally different set of persons, about my proceedings with regard to the negroes. I had not been in the city twenty-four hours before we were amused with ridiculous reports of my championship on behalf of the blacks; and, long after I had left the place, reported speeches of mine were in circulation which were remarkably striking to me when I at length heard them. This circumstance shows how irritable the minds of the people are upon this topic. [Pg 226] I met with no difficulty, however, among my associates. I made it a rule to allow others to introduce the subject of slavery, knowing that they would not fail to do so, and that I might learn as much from their method of approaching the topic as from anything they could say upon it. Before half an hour had passed, every man, woman, or child I might be conversing with had entered upon the question. As it was likewise a rule with me never to conceal or soften my own opinions, and never to allow myself to be irritated by what I heard (for it is too serious a subject to indulge frailties with), the best understanding existed between slaveholders and myself. We never quarrelled, while, I believe, we never failed to perceive the extent of the difference of opinion and feeling between us. I met with much more cause for admiration in their frankness than reason to complain of illiberality. The following may serve as a specimen of this part of our intercourse:—

The first time I met an eminent Southern gentleman, a defender of slavery, he said to me (within the half hour),

"I wish you would not be in such a hurry away. I wish you would stay a year in this city. I wish you would stay ten years, and then you would change your opinions."

"What opinions?"

"Your opinions on slavery."

"What do you know of my opinions on slavery?"

"Oh, we know them well enough: we have all read 'Demerara.'"

"Very well: now we shall understand each other; for I must tell you that I think about slavery exactly as I did when I wrote that story. Nothing that I have seen shows me that I have anything to qualify of what is said there. So now you do know my opinions."

"Oh yes. I don't want to know anything more of your opinions. I want you to know mine."

"That is exactly what I want. When will you let me have them?"

We had engaged to dine with this gentleman the next week; it was now arranged that our party should go two hours earlier than the other guests, in order to hear this gentleman's exposition of slavery. He was well prepared, and his statement of facts and reasons was clear, ready, and entertaining. The fault was in the narrowness of his premises, for his whole argument was grounded on the supposition [Pg 227] that human rights consist in sufficient subsistence in return for labour. Before he began I told him that I fully understood his wish not to argue the question, and that I came to hear his statement, not to controvert it; but that I must warn him not to take my silence for assent. Upon this understanding we proceeded, with some little irritability on his part when I asked questions, but with no danger of any quarrel. I never found the slightest difficulty in establishing a similar clear understanding with every slaveholder I met. In the drawing-room of the boarding-house at Richmond, Virginia, three gentlemen, two of whom were entire strangers, attacked me in the presence of a pretty large company one afternoon. This was a direct challenge, which I did not think fit to decline, and we had it all out. They were irritable at first, but softened as they went on; and when, at the end of three hours, we had exhausted the subject, we were better friends than when we began.

Some of the reports of my championship of the negroes arose from a circumstance which occurred the day after my arrival at Charleston. Our host proposed to take us up a church steeple, to obtain a view of the city and its environs. The key of the church was at the Guardhouse opposite, and our host said we might as well go for it ourselves, and thus get a sight of the Guardhouse. One of the city authorities showed us over it, and we stayed a few moments in a room where a lady was preferring a complaint against two negro boys for robbing a henroost. They were proved guilty, and sentenced to be flogged at the place of punishment at the other end of the city.

The view from the church steeple was very fine; and the whole, steeped in spring sunshine, had an oriental air which took me by surprise. The city was spread out beneath us in a fanlike form, in streets converging towards the harbour. The heat and moisture of the climate give to the buildings the hue of age, so as to leave nothing of the American air of spruceness in the aspect of the place. The sandy streets, the groups of mulattoes, the women with turbaned heads, surmounted with water-pots and baskets of fruit; the small panes of the house windows; the yucca bristling in the gardens below us, and the hot haze through which we saw the blue main and its islands, all looked so oriental as to strike us with wonder. We saw Ashley and Cooper rivers, bringing down produce to the main, and were taught the principal [Pg 228] buildings—the churches and the Custom-house, built just before the Revolution—and the leading streets, Broad and Meeting streets intersecting, and affording access to all that we were to see. It would be wise in travellers to make it their first business in a foreign city to climb the loftiest point they can reach, so as to have the scene they are to explore laid out as in a living map beneath them. It is scarcely credible how much time is saved and confusion of ideas obviated by these means. I gained much by mounting the State House at Boston, Pennsylvania Hospital at Philadelphia, the new hotel at Baltimore, the Capitol at Washington, the high hills about Cincinnati, the college at Lexington, the hill where the Statehouse is to be at Nashville, the Cotton-press at New Orleans, and this church steeple at Charleston.

Another care of the traveller should be to glance at the local newspapers. This first morning I found a short newspaper article which told volumes. It was an ordinance for raising ways and means for the city. Charitable and religious institutions were left free from taxation, as were the salaries of the clergy and schoolmasters. There was a direct levy on real property, on slaves, and on carriages, and a special tax on free people of colour; a class who, being precluded from obtaining taxable property and luxuries, were yet made to pay by means of a polltax.

Our mornings were divided between receiving callers and drives about the city and in the country. The country is flat and sandy, and the only objects are planters' mansions, surrounded with evergreen woods, the gardens exhibiting the tropical yucca, and fenced with hedges of the Cherokee rose. From the lower part of the city glimpses of the main may be had; but the intervening space is very ugly, except at high tide; an expanse of reeking slime over which large flocks of buzzards are incessantly hovering. On the top of each of the long row of stakes discovered at low water sits a buzzard. A fine is imposed for killing one of these birds, the unsalaried scavengers of the moister districts of the city.

The houses which we visited in returning calls were generally handsome, with capacious piazzas, rich plants and bouquets, and good furniture. The political bias of the inhabitant was often discoverable from the books on the table, or the prints and casts on the walls. In no society in the world [Pg 229] could the division of parties be more distinct, and their alienation more threatening than in Charleston at the time I was there. [15] The Union gentlemen and ladies were dispirited and timid. They asked one another's opinion whether there was not some mysterious stir among the nullifiers; whether they were not concerting measures for a new defiance of the general government. This anxious watchfulness contrasted strangely with the arrogant bearing of the leading nullifiers. During my stay Mr. Calhoun and his family arrived from Congress; and there was something very striking in the welcome he received, like that of a chief returned to the bosom of his clan. He stalked about like a monarch of the little domain; and there was certainly an air of mysterious understanding between him and his followers, whether there was really any great secret under it or not. One lady, who had contributed ample amounts of money to the nullification funds, and a catechism to nullification lore, amused while she grieved me by the strength of her political feelings. While calling on her one morning, the conversation turned on prints, and I asked an explanation of a strange-looking one which hung opposite my eye; the portrait of a gentleman, the top of the head and the dress visible, but the face obliterated or covered over. She was only too ready to explain. It was a portrait of President Jackson, which she had hung up in days when he enjoyed her favour. Since nullification she had covered over the face, to show how she hated him. A stranger hardly knows what to think of a cause whose leaders will flatter and cherish the perpetrators of a piece of petty spite like this; yet this lady is treated as if she were a main pillar of the nullification party.

Some of our mornings were spent in going with the Hayne and Calhoun families to the public library, to a panorama, and to the arsenal. The library is supported by private subscriptions, and is very creditable to the city, whose zeal about its books might well have been exhausted by the repeated destruction of the library by fire and in the war. We amused ourselves with files of newspapers which have survived all disasters; old London Gazettes and colonial papers extending as far back as 1678.

We visited the arsenal twice; the second time with Mr. [Pg 230] Calhoun and Governor Hayne, when we saw the arms and ammunition, which were not visible the first time, because "the key was not on the premises;" a token that no invasion was immediately expected. There were two bombs brought in by Governor Hayne, and all the warlike apparatus which was made ready during the nullification struggle. It is difficult to believe that Mr. Calhoun seriously meant to go to war with such means as his impoverished state could furnish; but there is no doubt that he did intend it. The ladies were very animated in their accounts of their State Rights Ball, held in the area of the arsenal, and of their subscriptions of jewels to the war fund. They were certainly in earnest.

The soldiers were paraded in our presence, some eleven or twelve recruits, I believe; and then Mr. Calhoun first, and Governor Hayne afterward, uncovered and addressed them with as much gravity and effusion of patriotic sentiment as if we had been standing on the verge of a battle-field. Some of our party were of Union politics, and they looked exceedingly arch during the speechifying. It will be too sad if this child's play should be turned into bloodshed after all, for the gratification of any man's restless ambition, or in the guilty hope of protracting slavery under the reprobation of the whole of society except a small band of mercenaries.

My chief interest in these expeditions was in the personages who accompanied me. Governor Hayne's name is well known in England from his having furnished the provocation to Webster's renowned speech, exhibiting the constitutional argument against nullification; and from his being afterward the leader of the struggle in South Carolina, while Mr. Calhoun fulfilled the same function in Congress. He is descended from the Haynes whose cruel sufferings in the Revolutionary War are notorious, to the disgrace of the British; one of the two brothers having perished through the miseries of a British prison-ship, and the other having been hanged by Lord Rawdon and Colonel Balfour, under circumstances which, I believe, justify the horror and reprobation with which the act is viewed by all who have heard the story. It is one of the most dreadful tales of the Revolutionary War, and the English have not been behind the Americans in their feeling with regard to the case. The circumstances are briefly these: [Pg 231]

Colonel Isaac Hayne was a peaceful planter at the time of the breaking out of the war. He lived upon his estate all the year round, and was remarkably quiet and domestic in his temper and habits. He served in the American army during the siege of Charleston; and, on the fall of the city, returned to his plantation, under the guarantee of security to person and property shared by all who had capitulated at Charleston. The smallpox broke out in his family; all his children had it; one was dead, and his wife dying, when Colonel Hayne received peremptory orders to repair to the British standard, to take up arms as a British subject, or to surrender himself prisoner at Charleston. He declared that no force should separate him from his dying wife and children, and asserted his inviolability under the capitulation of Charleston. The British officer, Colonel Bellingall, who brought the order, assured him of his immediate return home if he would repair to Charleston, to give an assurance that he would "demean himself as a British subject while the country should be covered with a British army." Colonel Hayne went, with the written agreement of Colonel Bellingall in his hand. He was, however, detained, and offered the alternative of lasting imprisonment or of signing an unconditional promise to obey orders as a British subject. He declared that he never would bear arms against his country, and was assured that this act would never be required of him. There were several witnesses to his having signed under this protest and assurance. He returned to his family, finding another of his children dead, and his wife just expiring.

He observed the strictest neutrality while the promise under which he signed was kept. His house was alternately occupied by English and American troops, when the prospects of the republicans began to improve; and he is known to have refused to let his horses be used by friends in the American force; in short, to have kept his engagement like a man of honour. His position was, however, considered too perilous a one, and he was summoned to join the British standard. He considered that this was such a violation of a promise on the part of the British officers as set him free. He joined his countrymen, fought, and was captured. He was imprisoned at Charleston for some weeks till Lord Rawdon came to town, and then, after two days' notice, brought before a court of inquiry, consisting of four general [Pg 232] officers and five captains. Having no idea that this was anything more than a preliminary measure, and finding that the members of the court were not sworn, nor the witnesses examined on oath, Colonel Hayne called no witnesses, and the proceedings closed without his being aware that he had gone through an affair of life or death. He was wholly taken by surprise, therefore, at the news conveyed to him by letter that he was to die on the gibbet the next day but one. He was respited for forty-eight hours, in order that he might see his children, and in consideration of the "humane treatment shown by him to the British prisoners who fell into his hands," and he spent the interval in the discharge of business and affectionate intercourse with his friends. His chief regret was, that this act would probably provoke retaliation, and so lead to the shedding of much innocent blood. He required his eldest son, a boy of thirteen, to be present at his execution, in order to receive his body, and see that it was laid in the family burial-place. The boy, frantic with grief, declared that he should not long survive him; and it is not surprising that he shortly became insane and died. Colonel Hayne met his fate with a tranquillity which convinced his enemies that (to use their own words), "though he did not die in a good cause, he must, at least, have acted from a persuasion of its being so."

Such stories are very painful, but they ought not to be forgotten. The horrors of colonial war may not be over; and it is well that the conflicts of duty and affection which can take place only in wars of this character should be remembered, while Great Britain has colonies which she may oppress, and noble subjects, like Colonel Hayne, whom she may be even now alienating, and whose contrariety of affections she may be yet again driven or tempted to solve in blood.

The present representative of the family was made speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives at the age of twenty-seven. He was afterward attorney-general of the state, a senator in Congress, and governor of the state. During the preparations for war in 1832, he was the soul of every movement. He is now considered to be deeply involved in the Southern transactions relating to the acquisition of Texas, whatever these may in reality be, and to have linked his fortunes with the slavery question. When I saw him he was forty-four years of age, with a robust, active [Pg 233] frame, a lively, pleasant countenance, and very engaging manners, with much of the eagerness of the schoolboy mixed with the ease of the gentleman. He can do everything better than reason, as appeared in the senatorial conflict, in which he was ground to powder by the tremendous weight and force of Webster's constitutional argument and sound declamation. Governor Hayne can state clearly, enforce ardently, illustrate gracefully, and boast magnificently, but he cannot reason. His best friends are probably the most anxious to admit this; for there is such want of reason in his present course of opposition to the first principles on which society is founded, and in his attachment to wornout feudal institutions, that the observer, however friendly, finds himself reduced to the alternative of supposing this busy mind perverted by unholy passions or by an unbalanced imagination.

Governor Hamilton is less known at a distance, but he is, perhaps, a yet more perfect representative of the Southern gentleman. He is handsome, and his manners have all the grace without much of the arrogance of the bearing of his class. I was much struck, too, with his generous appreciation of the powers and virtues of the great men of every party at Washington; a moral grace which I should have been glad to see shared in a greater degree by some of his neighbours. Governor Hamilton has done what he could to impair the favourable impressions he makes upon all who know him by the atrocious report he issued in 1835, as chairman of a committee of the South Carolina Legislature appointed to consider what steps should be taken in defence of "the peculiar domestic institutions of the South." This report is unconstitutional in its requisitions, and savage in its spirit towards the abolitionists.

With these gentlemen, their friends, and the ladies of their families, we saw many sights and passed many pleasant hours; and with gentlemen and ladies of the opposite party we spent other portions of our leisure. I was told much of the Poorhouse, rather in a tone of boasting; and I was anxious to see what a poorhouse could be in a region where all labourers were private property, and where pauperism would therefore seem to be obviated. Infirmity, vice, and orphanhood keep up a small amount of pauperism even here, reducing capitalists to a state of dependance. There were about one hundred and twenty inmates when I visited the [Pg 234] institution, and the number was soon to be reduced by the periodical clearance made by sending the children to the Orphan-house, and the insane to the State asylum at Columbia. The intemperate and vagrants were employed in coffin-making and stone-breaking. By a slight stretch of the law, persons found drunk are sent here and locked up for a month. We saw two respectable-looking men who had been brought in intoxicated the day before, and who looked duly ashamed of their situation.

The Orphan-house has been established about forty years, and it contained, at the time of my visit, two hundred children. As none but whites are admitted, it is found to be no encouragement to vice to admit all destitute children, whether orphans or not; for the licentiousness of the South takes the women of colour for its victims. The children in this establishment are taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the girls sewing; but the prejudice against work appears as much here as anywhere. No active labour goes on; the boys do not even garden. No employment is attempted which bears any resemblance to what is done by slaves. The boys are apprenticed out to trades at fourteen, and the girls to mantuamaking, almost the only employment in which a white Southern woman can earn a subsistence. The children are taken in from the age of two years, but they generally enter at the ages of four, five, or six. I was rather surprised to see them badged, an anti-republican practice which had better be abolished; but I wondered the less when I observed the statue of Pitt still standing in the courtyard, with the right arm shot off in the war, however. There is a good-sized church connected with this establishment, which was well filled on the afternoon when I went with the family of a friend, who was taking his turn with his brother clergy to preach.

Charleston is the place in which to see those contrasting scenes of human life brought under the eye which moralists gather together for the purpose of impressing the imagination. The stranger has but to pass from street to street, to live from hour to hour in this city, to see in conjunction the extremes between which there is everywhere else a wide interval. The sights of one morning I should remember if every other particular of my travels were forgotten. I was driven round the city by a friend whose conversation was delightful all the way. Though I did not agree in all his [Pg 235] views of society, the thoughtfulness of his mind and the benevolence of his exertions betokened a healthy state of feeling, and gave value to all he said. He had been a friend of the lamented Grimké; and he showed me the house where Grimké lived and died, and told me much of him; of the nobleness of his character, the extent of his attainments, and how, dying at fifty-four, he had lived by industry a long life. My mind was full of the contemplation of the heights which human beings are destined to reach, when I was plunged into a new scene; one which it was my own conscientious choice to visit, but for which the preceding conversation had ill-prepared me. I went into the slave market, a place which the traveller ought not to avoid to spare his feelings. There was a table on which stood two auctioneers, one with a hammer, the other to exhibit "the article" and count the bids. The slaves for sale were some of them in groups below, and some in a long row behind the auctioneers. The sale of a man was just concluding when we entered the market. A woman, with two children, one at the breast, and another holding by her apron, composed the next lot. The restless, jocose zeal of the auctioneer who counted the bids was the most infernal sight I ever beheld. The woman was a mulatto; she was neatly dressed, with a clean apron and a yellow head-handkerchief. The elder child clung to her. She hung her head low, lower, and still lower on her breast, yet turning her eyes incessantly from side to side, with an intensity of expectation which showed that she had not reached the last stage of despair. I should have thought that her agony of shame and dread would have silenced the tongue of every spectator; but it was not so. A lady chose this moment to turn to me and say, with a cheerful air of complacency, "You know my theory, that one race must be subservient to the other. I do not care which; and if the blacks should ever have the upper hand, I should not mind standing on that table, and being sold with two of my children." Who could help saying within himself, "Would you were! so that that mother were released!" Who could help seeing in vision the blacks driving the whites into the field, and preaching from the pulpits of Christian churches the doctrines now given out there, that God has respect of persons; that men are to hold each other as property, instead of regarding each other as brethren; and that the right interpretation of the golden rule by the slaveholder is, [Pg 236] "Do unto your slaves as you would wish your master to do unto you if you were a slave!" A little boy of eight or nine years old, apparently, was next put up alone. There was no bearing the child's look of helplessness and shame. It seemed like an outrage to be among the starers from whom he shrunk, and we went away before he was disposed of.

We next entered a number of fine houses, where we were presented with flowers, and entertained with lively talk about the small affairs of gay society, which to little minds are great. To me every laugh had lost its gayety, every courtesy had lost its grace, all intercourse had lost its innocence. It was a relief to think of Grimké in his grave, escaped from the hell in which we were pent. If there be a scene which might stagger the faith of the spirit of Christianity itself; if there be an experience which might overthrow its serenity, it is the transition from the slavemarket to the abodes of the slavemasters, bright with sunshine, and gay with flowers, with courtesies, and mirth.

If the moral gloom which oppresses the spirit of the stranger were felt by the residents, of course this condition of society would not endure another day. Much trouble is experienced, and there are many sighs over the system; but the anxiety is not to any great number what it was to the sisters of Grimké; such a poisoner of life as to induce them to sacrifice property, home, friends, and repose, in order to obtain ease of mind for themselves, and to do something towards destroying the curse by which their native region is blighted. Every day shows how many mansions there are in this hell; how variously the universally allowed evil visits minds of different strength and discernment. All suffer, from the frivolous and sophisticated child to the far-seeing and disciplined saint. The difficulty is to have patience with the diversity, and to wait, as God waits, till the moral gloom strikes upon every heart, and causes every eye to turn for light where some already see it. At the same hour when the customary sins of the slavemarket were being perpetrated, hundreds of the little people of Charleston were preparing for their childish pleasures—their merry dancing-schools, their juvenile fancy balls—ordering their little slaves about, and allowing themselves to be fanned by black attendants while reposing in preparation for the fatigues of the evening; ministers of the Gospel were agreeing to [Pg 237] deprive persons of colour of all religious education; a distant Lynch mob was outraging the person of a free and innocent citizen; elegant ladies were administering hospitality, and exchanging gossip and sentiment; and Angelina Grimké was penning the letter which contains the following passages, a private letter to a friend who was shortly to undergo the strengthening process of being mobbed:—

"I can hardly express to thee the deep and solemn interest with which I have viewed the violent proceedings of the last few weeks. Although I expected opposition, yet I was not prepared for it so soon; it took me by surprise, and I greatly feared abolitionists would be driven back in the first onset, and thrown into confusion. So fearful was I, that, though I clung with unflinching firmness to our principles, yet I was afraid of even opening one of thy papers, lest I should see some indications of compromise, some surrender, some palliation. Under these feelings I was urged to read thy appeal to the citizens of Boston. Judge, then, what were my feelings on finding that my fears were utterly groundless, and that thou stoodst firm in the midst of the storm, determined to suffer and to die rather than yield one inch.

"Religious persecution always begins with mobs. It is always unprecedented in the age or country in which it commences, and, therefore, there are no laws by which reformers can be punished; consequently, a lawless band of unprincipled men determine to take the matter into their own hands, and act out in mobs what they know are the principles of a large majority of those who are too high in church and state to condescend to mingle with them, though they secretly approve and rejoice over their violent measures. The first Christian martyr was stoned by a lawless mob; and if we look at the rise of various sects, Methodists, Friends, &c., we shall find that mobs began the persecution against them, and that it was not until after the people had spoken out their wishes that laws were framed to fine, imprison, or destroy them. Let us, then, be prepared for the enactment of laws, even in our free states, against abolitionists. And how ardently has the prayer been breathed, that God would prepare us for all that he is preparing for us!

"My mind has been especially turned towards those who are standing in the forefront of the battle, and the prayer has gone up for their preservation; not the preservation of [Pg 238] their lives, but the preservation of their minds in humility and patience, faith, hope, and charity. If persecution is the means which God has ordained for the accomplishment of this great end, emancipation, then, in dependance upon him for strength to bear it, I feel as if I could say, 'Let it come;' for it is my deep, solemn, deliberate conviction, that this is a cause worth dying for.

"At one time I thought this system would be overthrown in blood, with the confused noise of the warrior; but a hope gleams across my mind that our blood will be spilt instead of the slaveholders'; our lives will be taken, and theirs spared. I say 'a hope,' for, of all things, I desire to be spared the anguish of seeing our beloved country desolated with the horrors of a servile war."

The writer of this letter was born into the system, under the same circumstances with the ladies who repeatedly asked me if I did not find that the slaves were very happy. So widely different are the influences of the same circumstances upon different minds!

Our evening engagements were as strangely contrasted as those of the morning. We were at parties where we heard loud talk of justice and oppression; appeals to the eternal principles of the one, when the tariff was the subject, and expressions of the most passionate detestation of the other, which might, but for the presence of black faces in the rooms, lead a stranger to suppose that he was in the very sanctuary of human rights. We were at a young heiress's first ball, where every guest was presented with a bouquet on entering; where the young ladies waltzed, and the young gentlemen gave a loose to their spirits, and all who were present had kindly greetings for the stranger. Nothing could be gayer than the external aspect of these entertainments; but it is impossible for the stranger to avoid being struck with the anxiety which shows itself through it all. I think I never was in society in any of the Southern cities without being asked what I would do if I had a legacy of slaves, or told, in vindictiveness or sorrow, that the prosperity of the North was obtained at the expense of the South. I was never in Southern society without perceiving that its characteristic is a want of repose. It is restlessly gay or restlessly sorrowful. It is angry or exulting; it is hopeful or apprehensive. It is never content; never in such a state of calm satisfaction as to forget itself. This [Pg 239] peculiarity poisons the satisfaction of the stranger in the midst of the free and joyous hospitality to which he would otherwise surrender himself with inconsiderate delight. While everything is done that can be conceived of to make you happy, there is a weight pulling at your heartstrings, because you see that other hearts are heavy, and the nobler the heavier. While the host's little child comes to you at first sight, and holds up her mouth for a kiss, and offers to tell you a story, and pours out all her mirth and all her generosity upon you, the child's father tells you that there is a dark prospect before these young creatures, and Heaven knows what lot is in store for them. Your vigilance is kept active by continual suggestions that society is composed of two classes, which entertain a mortal dread of each other. If ever you forget this for an hour, it is recalled by the sight of a soldier at the corner of a street, of a decaying mansion or deserted estate, or of some anti-republican arrangement for social or domestic defence. You reproach yourself because you are anxious and cannot be deceived; and feel as if it were ingratitude to your entertainers not to think them the secure and happy people which, in alternation with their complaints of all the external world, they assure you they are.

Our evenings were diversified with attendance upon phrenological lectures—which, however, soon ceases to be a variety, from the absolute sameness of all courses of lectures on that subject—with readings at home, and with a visit to a scene which I was strongly urged not to omit, the Saturday night's market held by the slaves.

I should have been sorry to miss this spectacle. The slaves enjoy the amusement and profit yielded by this market. They sit in rows, by lamplight, some with heaps of fruit and vegetables before them, or surrounded by articles of their own manufacture: boxes, bedsteads, baskets, and other handiworks, very cheap, and of good workmanship. The bananas, pines, imported apples, and oranges, which are seen in great abundance, are usually the property of the master; while the manufactured articles, made at spare hours, are nominally the slave's own. Some are allowed to make use of their leisure in preparing for the market, on condition of bringing their masters six dollars each per week, retaining whatever surplus they may gain. I could not learn the consequence of failing to bring in the six dollars [Pg 240] per week. They enjoy the fun and bustle of the market, and look with complacency on any white customers who will attend it. Their activity and merriment at market were pointed out to me as an assurance of their satisfaction with their condition, their conviction that their present position is the one they were made for, and in which their true happiness is to be found.

At the very same moment I was shown the ruins of the church of St. Philip, destroyed by fire, as they frowned in the rear of the lamplight; and I was informed that the church had once before been on fire, but had been saved by the exertions of a slave, who "had his liberty given him for a reward."

"A reward!" said I. "What! when the slaves are convinced that their true happiness lies in slavery?"

The conversation had come to an awkward pass. A lady advanced to the rescue, saying that some few, too many, were haunted by a pernicious fancy, put into their heads by others, about liberty; a mere fancy, which, however, made them like the idea of freedom.

"So the benefactor of the city was rewarded by being indulged, to his own hurt, in a pernicious fancy?"

"Why ... yes."

My impressions of Charleston may easily be gathered from what I have said. It seems to me a place of great activity, without much intellectual result; of great gayety, without much ease and pleasure. I am confident that, whatever might be the reason, the general mind was full of mystery and anxiety at the time of my visit; and that some hearts were glowing with ambitious hopes, and others sinking in fears, more or less clearly defined, of the political crisis which seems to be now at hand. These are the influences which are educating the youth of Charleston, more powerfully than all schools and colleges, and all books; inducing a reliance on physical rather than moral force, and strengthening attachment to feudal notions of honour and of every kind of good; notions which have no affinity with true republican morals. The prospects of the citizens are "dark every way," as some declared; for the rising generation must either ascend, through a severe discipline and prodigious sacrifices, to a conformity with republican principles, or descend into a condition of solitary feudalism, neither sanctioned by the example nor cheered by the [Pg 241] sympathy of the world; but, on the contrary, regarded with that compassion which is precisely the last species of regard which the feudal spirit is able to endure.

We left Charleston in company with Mr. Calhoun and his family. The great nullifier told me many and long stories of his early days. Not being aware of my strong impressions respecting his present views and purposes, he could have no idea of the intense interest with which I listened to his accounts of the first kindling of his burning mind. He was five years old, standing between his father's knees, when his first political emotions stirred within him, awakened by his parent's talk of the colony and of free times just after the Revolution. If some good angel had at that moment whispered the parent, inspiring him to direct that young ambition to the ultimate grandeur of meek service, to animate that high spirit to a moral conflict with all human wrongs, we might already have owed to a mind so energetic the redemption of the negro race from the affliction, and of the republic from the disgrace of slavery, instead of mourning over the dedication of such powers to the propagation and exasperation of the curse. I feared how it would be; what part he would take in the present struggle between the two principles of greatness, physical force with territorial conquest, and moral power shown in self-conquest. I feared that Mr. Calhoun would organize and head the feudal party, as he has done; but I never had any fears that that party would prevail. When we parted at Branchville he little knew—he might have been offended if he had known—with what affectionate solicitude those whom he left behind looked on into his perilous political path. I am glad we could not foresee how soon our fears would be justified. Mr. Calhoun is at present insisting that the pirate colony of Texas shall be admitted into the honourable American Union; that a new impulse shall thereby be given to the slavetrade, and a new extension to slavery; and that his country shall thereby surrender her moral supremacy among the nations for a gross and antiquated feudal ambition. He vows, taking the whole Union to witness, that these things shall be. The words have publicly passed his pen and his lips, "Texas shall be annexed to the United States." His best friends must hope that the whole world will say, "It shall not."

[Pg 242]


"O! das Leben, Vater,
Hat Reize, die wir nie gekannt. Wir haben
Des schönen Lebens öde Kütse nur
Wie ein umirrend Räubervolk befahren.
Was in den innern Thälern Köstliches
Das land verbirgt, O! davon—davon ist
Auf unsrer wilden Fahrt uns nichts erschienen."


"We ask
But to put forth our strength, our human strength,
All starting fairly, all equipped alike,
Gifted alike, and eagle-eyed, true-hearted."


The traveller in America hears on every hand of the fondness of slaves for slavery. If he points to the little picture of a runaway prefixed to advertisements of fugitives, and repeated down whole columns of the first newspaper that comes to hand, he is met with anecdotes of slaves who have been offered their freedom, and prefer remaining in bondage. Both aspects of the question are true, and yet more may be said on both sides. The traveller finds, as he proceeds, that suicides are very frequent among slaves; and that there is a race of Africans who will not endure bondage at all, and who, when smuggled from Africa into Louisiana, are avoided in the market by purchasers, though they have great bodily strength and comeliness. When one of this race is accidentally purchased and taken home, he is generally missed before twenty-four hours are over, and found hanging behind a door or drowned in the nearest pond. The Cuba slaveholders have volumes of stories to tell of this race, proving their incapacity for slavery. On the other hand, the traveller may meet with a few negroes who have returned into slaveland from a state of freedom, and besought their masters to take them back.

These seeming contradictions admit of an easy explanation. Slaves are more or less degraded by slavery in proportion to their original strength of character or educational discipline of mind. The most degraded are satisfied, the [Pg 243] least degraded are dissatisfied with slavery. The lowest order prefer release from duties and cares to the enjoyment of rights and the possession of themselves; and the highest order have a directly opposite taste. The mistake lies in not perceiving that slavery is emphatically condemned by the conduct of both.

The stories on the one side of the question are all alike. The master offers freedom—of course, to the worst of his slaves—to those who are more plague than profit. Perhaps he sends the fellow he wants to get rid of on some errand into a free state, hoping that he will not return. The man comes back; and, if questioned as to why he did not stay where he might have been free, he replies that he knows better than to work hard for a precarious living when he can be fed by his master without anxiety of his own as long as he lives. As for those who return after having been free, they are usually the weak-minded, who have been persuaded into remaining in a free state, where they have been carried in attendance on their masters' families, and who want courage to sustain their unprotected freedom. I do not remember ever hearing of the return of a slave who, having long nourished the idea and purpose of liberty, had absconded with danger and difficulty. The prosecution of such a purpose argues a strength of mind worthy of freedom.

The stories on this side of the question are as various as the characters and fortunes of the heroes of them. Many facts of this nature became known to me during my travels, most of which cannot be published, for fear of involving in difficulty either the escaped heroes or those who assisted them in regaining their liberty. But a few may be safely related, which will show, as well as any greater number, the kind of restlessness which is the torment of the lives of "persons held to labour," the constitutional description of the slave-class of the constituents of government.

Slavery is nowhere more hopeless and helpless than in Alabama. The richness of the soil and the paucity of inhabitants make the labourer a most valuable possession; while his distance from any free state—the extent of country overspread with enemies which the fugitive has to traverse—makes the attempt to escape desperate. All coloured persons travelling in the slave states without a pass—a certificate of freedom or of leave—are liable to be arrested and advertised, and, if unclaimed at the end of a certain time, [Pg 244] sold in the market. Yet slaves do continue to escape from the farthest corners of Alabama or Mississippi. Two slaves in Alabama, who had from their early manhood cherished the idea of freedom, planned their escape in concert, and laboured for many years at their scheme. They were allowed the profits of their labour at over-hours; and, by strenuous toil and self-denial, saved and hid a large sum of money. Last year they found they had enough, and that the time was come for the execution of their purpose. They engaged the services of "a mean white;" one of the extremely degraded class who are driven by loss of character to labour in the slave states, where, labour by whites being disgraceful, they are looked down upon by the slaves no less than the slaves are by the superior whites. These two slaves hired a "mean white man" to personate a gentleman; bought him a suit of good clothes, a portmanteau, a carriage and horses, and proper costume for themselves. One night the three set off in style, as master, coachman, and footman, and travelled rapidly through the whole country, without the slightest hinderance, to Buffalo. There the slaves sold their carriage, horses, and finery, paid off their white man, and escaped into Canada, where they now are in safety.

They found in Canada a society of their own colour prepared to welcome and aid them. In Upper Canada there are upward of ten thousand people of colour, chiefly fugitive slaves, who prosper in the country which they have chosen for a refuge. Scarcely an instance is known of any of them having received alms, and they are as respectable for their intelligence as for their morals. One peculiarity in them is the extravagance of their loyalty. They exert themselves vehemently in defence of all the acts of the executive, whatever they may be. The reason for this is obvious: they exceedingly dread the barest mention of the annexation of Canada to the United States.

It is astonishing that, in the face of facts of daily occurrence like that of the escape of these men, it can be pleaded in behalf of slavery that negroes cannot take care of themselves, and that they prefer being held as property. A lady of New-York favoured me with some of her recollections of slavery in that state. She told me of a favourite servant who had been her father's property for five-and-twenty years. I believe the woman was the family nurse. She was treated with all possible indulgence, and was the object of the [Pg 245] attachment of the whole household. The woman was never happy. During all these dreary years she was haunted with the longing for freedom, and at last fell ill, apparently from anxiety of mind. From her sickbed she implored her master so movingly to make her free, and her medical attendant was so convinced that her life depended on her request being granted, that her master made the desired promise, but very unwillingly, as he thought freedom would be more of a care than a blessing to her. She immediately recovered, and in spite of all entreaty, pecuniary inducement, and appeals to her gratitude, left the family. She shed many tears, mourned over parting with the children, and thanked the family for all the favour with which she had been treated, but declared that she could not remain. Everything savoured too strongly of the bondage she had been unable to endure. She took a service not far off, deposited her earnings with her old master, and frequently visited the family, but, to the last, shrank from all mention of returning to them.

While I was in the United States, a New-York friend of mine was counsel for a native African who sued his mistress for his earnings of many years. This man had been landed in the South after the year 1808, the date fixed by the Constitution for the cessation of the importation of negroes. He was purchased by a lady to whom he proved very profitable, his services being of a superior kind. She let him out, and he paid over to her all the money he earned. After many years she visited New-York, bringing this man with her, not anticipating that, in that free city, he would gain new lights as to his relation to her. He refused to return, and brought his mistress into court to answer his demand for the repayment of all the money he had earned abroad, with interest, and compensation for his services at home during his illegal bondage. As a knowledge of the law was necessarily supposed on both sides, the counsel for the slave made compulsion his plea. This was not allowed. The slave's maintenance was decided to be a sufficient compensation for his services at home, and he was decreed to receive only the earnings of his hired labour, without interest. His counsel had, however, the pleasure of seeing him, in the strength of his manhood, free, and in possession of a large sum of money to begin life with on his own account.

A woman once lived in Massachusetts whose name ought to be preserved in all histories of the State as one of its [Pg 246] honours, though she was a slave. Some anecdotes of her were related in a Lyceum lecture delivered at Stockbridge in 1831. Others were told me by the Sedgwicks, who had the honour of knowing her best, by means of rendering her the greatest services. Mum Bett, whose real name was Elizabeth Freeman, was born, it is supposed, about 1742. Her parents were native Africans, and she was a slave for about thirty years. At an early age she was purchased, with her sister, from the family into which she was born, in the State of New-York, by Colonel Ashley, of Sheffield, Massachusetts. The lady of the mansion, in a fit of passion, one day struck at Mum Bett's sister with a heated kitchen shovel. Mum Bett interposed her arm and received the blow, the scar of which she bore to the day of her death. "She resented the insult and outrage as a white person would have done," leaving the house, and refusing to return. Colonel Ashley appealed to the law for the recovery of his slave. Mum Bett called on Mr. Sedgwick, and asked him if she could not claim her liberty under the law. He inquired what could put such an idea into her head. She replied that the "Bill o' Rights" said that all were born free and equal, and that, as she was not a dumb beast, she was certainly one of the nation. When afterward asked how she learned the doctrine and facts on which she proceeded, she replied, "By keepin' still and mindin' things." It was a favourite doctrine of hers, that people might learn by keeping still and minding things. But what did she mean, she was asked, by keeping still and minding things? Why, for instance, when she was waiting at table, she heard gentlemen talking over the Bill of Rights and the new constitution of Massachusetts; and in all they said she never heard but that all people were born free and equal, and she thought long about it, and resolved she would try whether she did not come in among them.

Mr. Sedgwick undertook her cause, which was tried at Great Barrington. Mum Bett obtained her freedom, and compensation for her services from twenty-one years of age. "What shall I do with all this money of yours?" said Mr. Sedgwick. "Fee the lawyers handsomely; pay 'em well," said she, "and keep the rest till I want it." She was offered every inducement to return to Colonel Ashley's, but she recoiled from all that reminded her of slavery. She begged the Sedgwicks to take her into their family, which they did; [Pg 247] and with them she spent twenty years of great comfort. Her example was followed by many slaves; and from the day of her emancipation in 1772, more and more claimants were decreed free under the Bill of Rights, till slavery was abolished in Massachusetts.

Her services to the Sedgwick family are gratefully remembered by them. She is believed to have saved her master's life by following her own judgment in his treatment when she was nursing him in a dangerous fever. When her master was in Boston, and the rural districts were liable to nightly visitations from marauders after Shay's war (as an insurrection in Massachusetts was called), the village of Stockbridge, in the absence of the gentlemen, depended on Mum Bett for its safety, so general was the confidence in her wisdom and courage. The practice of the marauders was to enter and plunder gentlemen's houses in the night, on pretence of searching for ammunition and prisoners. Mum Bett declared that she could have no cowards in the village; as many as were afraid had better go up the hills to sleep. Several children and a few women went up the hills in the evening to farmhouses which were safe from intrusion. All brought their valuables of small bulk to Mum Bett for security. Everybody's watches, gold chains, rings, and other trinkets were deposited in an iron chest in the garret where Mum Bett slept.

The marauders arrived one night when Mrs. Sedgwick was very ill, and Mum Bett was unwilling to admit them. She quietly told her mistress that her pistols were loaded, and that a few shots from the windows would probably send the wretches away, as they could not be sure but that there were gentlemen in the house. Her mistress, however, positively ordered her to let the people in without delay. Mum Bett obeyed the order with much unwillingness. She appeared at the door with a large kitchen shovel in one hand and a light in the other, and assured the strangers that they would find nothing of what they asked for; neither Judge Sedgwick, nor ammunition and prisoners. They chose to search the house, however, as she had expected. Her great fear was that they would drink themselves intoxicated in the cellar, and become unmanageable; and she had prepared for this by putting rows of porter bottles in front of the wine and spirits, having drawn the corks to let the porter get flat, and put them in again. The intruders offered to take the [Pg 248] light from her hand, but she held it back, saying that no one should carry the light but herself. Here was the way to the cellars, and there was the way to the chambers: she would light the gentlemen wherever they chose to go, but she would not let the house be set on fire over her sick mistress's head. "The gentlemen" went down to the cellar first. One of the party broke the neck of a bottle of porter, for which she rebuked him, saying, that if they wished to drink, she would fetch the corkscrew, and draw the cork, and they might drink like gentlemen; but that, if any one broke the neck of another bottle, she would lay him low with her shovel. The flat porter was not to the taste of the visiters, who made wry faces, and said, if gentlemen liked such cursed bitter stuff, they might keep it, and praised spirits in comparison; upon which Mum Bett coolly observed that they were "sort o' gentlemen that lived here that did not drink spirits."

At the foot of the cellar stairs stood a barrel of pickled pork, out of which the intruders began helping themselves. In a tone of utter scorn Mum Bett exclaimed, "Ammunition and prisoners, indeed! You come for ammunition and prisoners, and take up with pickled pork!" They were fairly ashamed, and threw back the pork into the barrel. They went through all the chambers, poking with their bayonets under the beds, lest Judge Sedgwick should be there. At last, to Mum Bett's sorrow, they decided to search the garrets. In hers the iron chest came into view. She hoped in vain that they would pass it over. One of the party observed that it looked as if it held something. Mum Bett put down the light, kneeled on the chest, and brandished her weapon, saying, "This is my chist, and let any man touch it at his peril." The men considered the matter not worth contesting, and went down stairs. They were actually departing without having met with a single article of value enough to carry away, when a young lady, a niece of Judge Sedgwick's, wishing to be civil to the wretches, asked them, at the hall door, whether they would like to see the stables. They were glad of the hint, and stole one horse (if I remember right), and ruined another with hard riding. Mum Bett's expression of wrath was, "If I had thought the pesky fools would have done such a thing, I would have turned the horses loose over night in the meadow; they would have come back at my call in the morning." [Pg 249]

She was considered as connected with Judge Sedgwick's family after she had left their house for a home of her own. By her great industry and frugality she supported a large family of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There was nothing remarkable about her husband, and her descendants do not appear to have inherited her genius. Mum Bett lies in the Stockbridge graveyard, in the corner where the people of colour lie apart. Her epitaph, written by a son of Judge Sedgwick, is as follows:—


Known by the name of
Mum Bett,

Died December 28, 1829. Her supposed age was 85 years.
She was born a slave, and remained a slave for nearly thirty years:
she could neither read nor write, yet in her own sphere she
had no superior nor equal: she neither wasted time nor
property: she never violated a trust, nor failed to
perform a duty. In every situation of domestic
trial, she was the most efficient helper
and the tenderest friend.

Good Mother Farewell.

As far as energy and talent are concerned, I should not hesitate to say that in her own sphere Mum Bett "had no superior nor equal;" and the same may be said about the quality of fidelity. I know of a slave in Louisiana who picked up a parcel containing 10,000 dollars, and returned it, with much trouble, to its owner. I know of a slave in South Carolina, belonging to a physician, who drives his master's gig, and has made a wonderful use of what he sees in the course of his morning's duty. While waiting for his master at the doors of patients, this slave occupied himself with copying in the sandy soil the letters he saw on signs. When he believed he had caught the method, he begged a slate, or paper and pencil, and brought home his copies, coaxing the boys of the family to tell him the names of the letters. He then put them together, and thus learned to read and write, without any further help whatever. Having once discovered his own power of doing and learning, he went on in the only direction which seemed open to him. He turned his attention to mechanism, and makes miniature violins and pianos of surprising completeness, but no use. Here he will most likely stop; for there is no probability of his ever ceasing to be a slave, or having opportunity to [Pg 250] turn to practical account a degree of energy, patience, and skill which, in happier circumstances, might have been the instruments of great deeds.

The energies of slaves sometimes take a direction which their masters contrive to render profitable, when they take to religion as a pursuit. The universal, unquenchable reverence for religion in the human mind is taken advantage of when the imagination of the slave has been turned into the channel of superstition. It is a fact, that in the newspapers of New-Orleans may be seen an advertisement now and then of a lot of "pious negroes." Such "pious negroes" are convenient on a plantation where the treatment is not particularly mild; as they consider nonresistance a Christian duty, and are able to inspire a wonderful degree of patience into their fellow-sufferers.

The vigour which negroes show when their destiny is fairly placed in their own hands, is an answer to all arguments about their helplessness drawn from their dulness in a state of bondage. A highly satisfactory experiment upon the will, judgment, and talents of a large body of slaves was made a few years ago by a relative of Chief-justice Marshall. This gentleman and his family had attached their negroes to them by a long course of judicious kindness. At length an estate at some distance was left to the gentleman, and he saw, with much regret, that it was his duty to leave the plantation on which he was living. He could not bear the idea of turning over his people to the tender mercies or unproved judgment of a stranger overseer. He called his negroes together, told them the case, and asked whether they thought they could manage the estate themselves. If they were willing to undertake the task, they must choose an overseer from among themselves, provide comfortably for their own wants, and remit him the surplus of the profits. The negroes were full of grief at losing the family, but willing to try what they could do. They had an election for overseer, and chose the man their master would have pointed out; decidedly the strongest head on the estate. All being arranged, the master left them, with a parting charge to keep their festivals, and take their appointed holydays as if he were present. After some time he rode over to see how all went on, choosing a festival day, that he might meet them in their holyday gayety. He was surprised, on approaching, to hear no merriment; and, on [Pg 251] entering his fields, he found his "force" all hard at work. As they flocked round him, he inquired why they were not making holyday. They told him that the crop would suffer in its present state by the loss of a day, and that they had therefore put off their holyday, which, however, they meant to take by-and-by. Not many days after an express arrived to inform the proprietor that there was an insurrection on his estate. He would not believe it; declared it impossible, as there was nobody to rise against; but the messenger, who had been sent by the neighbouring gentlemen, was so confident of the facts, that the master galloped, with the utmost speed, to his plantation, arriving as night was coming on. As he rode in a cry of joy arose from his negroes, who pressed round to shake hands with him. They were in their holyday clothes, and had been singing and dancing. They were only enjoying the deferred festival. The neighbours, hearing the noise on a quiet working day, had jumped to the conclusion that it was an insurrection.

There is no catastrophe yet to this story. When the proprietor related it, he said that no trouble had arisen; and that for some seasons, ever since this estate had been wholly in the hands of his negroes, it had been more productive than it ever was while he managed it himself.

The finest harvest-field of romance perhaps in the world is the frontier between the United States and Canada. The vowed student of human nature could not do better than take up his abode there, and hear what fugitives and their friends have to tell. There have been no exhibitions of the forces of human character in any political revolution or religious reformation more wonderful and more interesting than may almost daily be seen there. The impression on even careless minds on the spot is very strong. I remember observing to a friend in the ferryboat, when we were crossing the Niagara from Lewistown to Queenstown, that it seemed very absurd, on looking at the opposite banks of the river, to think that, while the one belonged to the people who lived on it, the other was called the property of a nation three thousand miles off, the shores looking so much alike as they do. My friend replied with a smile, "Runaway slaves see a great difference." "That they do!" cried the ferryman, in a tone of the deepest earnestness. He said that the leap ashore of an escaped slave is a sight unlike any other that can be seen.[Pg 252]

On other parts of the frontier I heard tales which I grieve that it is not in my power to tell, so honourable are they to individuals of both races, friends of the slaves. The time may come when no one will be injured by their being made public. Meantime, I will give one which happened many years ago, and which relates to a different part of the country.

A., now an elderly man, was accustomed in his youth to go up and down the Mississippi on trading expeditions; and both in these and in subsequent wanderings of many years—to Hayti among other places—he has had opportunity to study the character of the negro race; and he is decidedly of opinion that there is in them only a superinduced inferiority to the whites. In relating his experiences among the coloured people, he told the following story:—

When he was a young man, he was going down the Mississippi in a boat with a cargo of salt, when he stopped at a small place on the Kentucky shore called Unity, opposite to a part of Arkansas. While he was there a slavetrader came up with his company of upward of two hundred slaves, whom he was conveying to the New-Orleans market. Among these A. remarked a gigantic mulatto—handsome in countenance and proud in bearing—who was nearly naked, and fettered. He had an iron band round his waist and round each wrist, and these bands were connected by chains. The trader observed to A. that this man was the most valuable slave he had ever had on sale. I think he said that he would not take two thousand dollars for him; he added that he was obliged to chain him, as he was bent on getting away. When the trader's back was turned, the mulatto looked at A. as if wishing to talk with him.

"Why are you chained in this way?" asked A.

"Because my master is afraid of losing me. He knows that I am the most valuable slave he has, and that I mean to get away."

"Have you told him so?"


"And how do you mean to get away?"

"I don't know; but I mean it."

After a pause, he said in a low voice to A.,

"Could not you give me a file?"

"No," said A., decidedly. "Do you think I don't know the law? Do you think I am going to help you away, and get punished for it? No; I can't give you a file." [Pg 253]

As A. went back to his boat he saw the slave looking wistfully after him, and his heart smote him for what he had said. He bethought himself that if he could manage to put an instrument of deliverance in the man's way without touching it, he might keep within the letter of the law, and he acted upon this notion. He looked about his boat, and found a strong three-sided file, which he put between his coat and waistcoat, so that it would be sure to drop out when the coat was unbuttoned. He sauntered back on shore, and the mulatto, who watched all his movements, came up to him, eagerly whispering,

"Have you got a file? Are you going to give me a file?"

"No," said A. "I told you that I knew better than to give you a file."

The slave's countenance fell.

"However," continued A., "I should not wonder if I can tell you where to get one. If you look about by yonder woodpile, I think, perhaps, you may find a file. No, not now. Go back to your company now, and don't look at me; and, when I am gone on board my boat, you can wander off to the woodpile."

A. unbuttoned his coat as he appeared to be picking up the scattered wood round the pile, and presently returned to his boat, whence he saw the mulatto presently walk to the woodpile, and stoop down just at the right spot. A. watched all day and late into the night, but he saw and heard nothing more.

In the morning the slavetrader came on board the boat, exclaiming angrily that A. had a slave of his concealed there. A. desired him to search the boat, which he did, looking behind every bag of salt. He was confident that A. must have helped the man away; chained as he was, he could not have got off without help. As for himself, he had rather have lost thousands of dollars than this man; but he always knew it would be so; the fellow always said he would get away.

Thus grumbling, the trader departed to make search in another direction. In an hour he returned, saying that the slave must either be drowned or have got over into Arkansas. His irons and a strong file were lying on a point of land projecting into the river about a mile off, and the marks were visible where the fugitive had taken the water. A. [Pg 254] went, and long did he stay, questioning and meditating; and during all the years that have since elapsed, it has been his frequent daily and nightly speculation whether the mulatto escaped or perished. Sometimes, when he remembers the gigantic frame of the man, and the force of the impulse which urged him, A. hopes that it may have been possible for him to reach the opposite shore. At other times, when he thinks of the width of the Mississippi at that part, and of the tremendous force of the current, which would warrant the assertion that it is impossible for a swimmer to cross, he believes himself convinced that the fugitive has perished. Yet still the hope returns that the strong man may be living in wild freedom in some place where the sense of safety and peace may have taught him to forgive and pity his oppressors.


"Though everybody cried 'Shame!' and 'Shocking!' yet everybody visited them."—Miss Edgeworth.

When arrived at the extreme southwest point of our journey, it was amusing to refer to the warnings of our kind friends about its inconveniences and dangers. We had brought away tokens of the hospitality of Charleston in the shape of a large basket of provision which had been prepared, on the supposition that we should find little that we could eat on the road. There was wine, tea, and cocoa; cases of French preserved meat, crackers (biscuits), and gingerbread. All these good things, except the wine and crackers, we found it expedient to leave behind, from place to place. There was no use in determining beforehand to eat them at any particular meal; when it came to the point, we always found hunger or disgust so much more bearable than the shame of being ungracious to entertainers who were doing their best for us, that we could never bring ourselves to produce our stores. We took what was set before us, and found ourselves, at length, alive and well at New-Orleans. [Pg 255]

At Mobile I met some relatives, who kindly urged my taking possession of their house at New-Orleans during my stay of ten days. I was thankful for the arrangement, as the weather was becoming hot, and we could secure more leisure and repose in a house of our own than in a boarding-house or as the guests of a family. With the house we were, of course, to have the services of my friend's slaves. He told me something of their history. He had tried all ways to obtain good service, and could not succeed. He had attempted wages, treating his people like free servants, &c., and all in vain. His present plan was promising them freedom and an establishment in a free state after a short term of years in case of good desert. He offered to take care of the money they earned during their leisure hours, and to pay them interest upon it, but they preferred keeping it in their own hands. One of them sewed up 150 dollars in her bed; she fell ill, and the person who nursed her is supposed to have got the money; for, when the poor slave recovered, her earnings were gone.

We left Mobile for New-Orleans on the 24th of April. The portion of forest which we crossed in going down from Mobile to the coast was the most beautiful I had seen. There was fresh grass under foot, and the woods were splendid with myrtles, magnolias, and many shrubs whose blossoms were new to me and their names unknown. We had plenty of time to look about us; for the hack which carried the four passengers whom the stage would not contain broke down every half hour, and the stage company had to stop till it could proceed. We had an excellent dinner in the gallery of a loghouse in the midst of the forest, where we were plentifully supplied with excellent claret. There had been showers all day, with intervals of sunshine, but towards sunset the settled gloom of the sky foreboded a night of storm. I was on the watch for the first sight of the Gulf of Mexico. I traced the line where the forest retires to give place to the marsh, and the whole scene assumes a sudden air of desolation. At this moment the thunder burst, sheets of lightning glared over the boiling sea, and the rain poured down in floods. Our umbrellas were found to be broken, of course; and we had to run along the pier to the steamboat in such a rain as I was never before exposed to; but it was well worth while getting wet for such a first sight of the Gulf of Mexico. It soon grew [Pg 256] dark; and, before morning, we were in Lake Pontchartrain, so that this stormy view of the gulf was the only one we had.

We amused ourselves in the morning with tracing the dim shores of the State of Mississippi to the north, and of Louisiana to the west. About nine o'clock we arrived in sight of the long piers which stretch out from the swamp into the lake, the mudcraft, the canoes, with blacks fishing for crabs; the baths, and the large Washington hotel, with its galleries and green blinds, built for coolness, where gentlemen from New-Orleans go to eat fish and bathe. Next we saw the train of railroad cars waiting for us; and, without the loss of a moment's time, we were whirled away to the city, five miles in a quarter of an hour. I have expressed elsewhere[16] my admiration of the swamp through which our road lay; an admiration which faded as we traversed the lower faubourg, and died away in the Champs Elysées. Before ten o'clock we were breaking the seals of our English letters in the drawing-room of our temporary home.

When we had satisfied ourselves with home news, unpacked, dressed, and lunched, we took our seats by the window in the intervals of visits from callers. All was very new, very foreign in its aspect. Many of the ladies in the streets wore caps or veils instead of bonnets; the negroes who passed shouted their very peculiar kind of French; and everything seemed to tell us that we had plunged into the dogdays. I never knew before how impressions of heat can be conveyed through the eye. The intensity of glare and shadow in the streets, and the many evidences that the fear of heat is the prevailing idea of the place, affect the imagination even more than the scorching power of the sun does the bodily frame.

I was presented with a pamphlet written by a physician, which denies the unhealthiness of New-Orleans as strenuously as some of its inhabitants deny its immorality. To me it appears that everything depends on what is understood by Morals and Health. As to the morals of the city, I have elsewhere stated the principal facts on which my unfavourable judgment is founded.[17] In regard to another department of morals, the honourable fact of the generous charity of New-Orleans to strangers should be stated. Great numbers [Pg 257] of sick and destitute foreigners are perpetually thrown upon the mercy of the inhabitants, and that mercy is unbounded. I have reason to believe that the sick are not merely nursed and cured, but provided with funds before departing. When I visited the hospital, it contained two hundred and fifty patients, not above fifty of whom were Americans. As to the health of the place, I believe the average is good among that portion of the population which can afford to remove northward for the hot months; but very low if the total white population be included. The pamphlet which I read argues that, though the fever is very destructive during a portion of the year, mortality from other diseases is much below the common average; that the variations of temperature are slight, though frequent; and that the average of children and old persons is high. All this may be true; but a place must be called peculiarly unhealthy whose inhabitants are compelled, on pain of death, to remove for three or four months of every year. Instead of arguing against such a fact as this, many citizens are hoping and striving to put an end to the necessity of such a removal. They hope, by means of draining and paving, to render their city habitable all the year round. Plans of drainage are under consideration, and I saw some importations of paving-stones. The friends of the New-Orleans people can hardly wish them a greater good than the success of such attempts; for the perpetual shifting about which they are subjected to by the dread of the fever is a serious evil to sober families of an industrious, domestic turn. It is very injurious to the minds of children and to the habits of young people, and a great hardship to the aged. I was struck with a remark which fell from a lady about her children's exercise in the open air. She said that she always took them out when the wind blew from over the lake, and kept them at home in warm weather when it blew from any other quarter, as it then only made them "more languid" to go out. This did not tend to confirm the doctrine of the pamphlet; but I was not surprised at the remark when I looked abroad over the neighbouring country from the top of the hospital. Thence I saw the marsh which was given to Lafayette, and which he sold, not long before his death, to a London firm, who sold it again. On this marsh, most of which was under water, the city of New-Orleans was begun. A strip of buildings was carried to the river bank, where the city spread.

[Pg 258]

In the midst of the flooded lots of ground stood the gas-works; surrounded by stagnant ponds lay the Catholic cemetery. The very churches of the city seemed to spring up out of the water. The blossomy beauties of the swamp could not be seen at this height, and all looked hideously desolate in the glaring sun. The view from the turret of the Cotton-press is much more advantageous. It commands many windings of the majestic river, and the point where it seems to lose itself in the distant forest; while below appears everything that is dry in all the landscape: the shipping, the Levée, the busy streets of the city, and the shady avenues of the suburbs.

The ladies of New-Orleans walk more than their countrywomen of other cities, from the streets being in such bad order as to make walking the safest means of locomotion. The streets are not very numerous; they are well distinguished, and lie at right angles, and their names are clearly printed up; so that strangers find no difficulty in going about, except when a fall of rain has made the crossings impassable. The heat is far less oppressive in the streets than in the open country, as there is generally a shady side. We were never kept within doors by the heat, though summer weather had fairly set in before our arrival. We made calls, and went shopping and sight-seeing, much as we do in London; and, moreover, walked to dinner visits, to the theatre, and to church, while the sun was blazing as if he had drawn that part of the world some millions of miles nearer to himself than that in which we had been accustomed to live. It is in vain to attempt describing what the moonlight is like. We walked under the long rows of Pride-of-India trees on the Ramparts, amid the picturesque low dwellings of the Quadroons, and almost felt the glow of the moonlight, so warm, so golden, so soft as I never saw it elsewhere. We were never tired of watching the lightning from our balcony, flashing through the first shades of twilight, and keeping the whole heaven in night-long conflagration. The moschetoes were a great and perpetual plague, except while we were asleep. We found our moscheto-curtains a sufficient protection at night; but we had to be on the watch against these malicious insects all day, and to wage war against them during the whole evening. Many ladies are accustomed, during the summer months, to get after breakfast into a large sack of muslin tied round the throat, with smaller sacks for the arms, and [Pg 259] to sit thus at work or book, fanning themselves to protect their faces. Others sit all the morning on the bed, within their moscheto-curtains. I wore gloves and prunella boots all day long, but hands and feet were stung through all the defences I could devise. After a while the sting of the moscheto ceases to irritate more than the English gnat-sting; but, to strangers, the suffering is serious; to those of feverish habit, sometimes dangerous.

Sunday is the busiest day of the week to the stranger in New-Orleans. There is first the negro market to be seen at five o'clock. We missed this sight, as the mornings were foggy, and it was accounted unsafe to go out in the early damp. Then there is the Cathedral to be attended, a place which the European gladly visits, as the only one in the United States where all men meet together as brethren. As he goes, the streets are noisy with traffic. Some of those who keep the Sunday sit at their doors or windows reading the newspapers or chatting with their acquaintance. Merchants are seen hastening to the counting-house or the wharf, or busy in the stores. Others are streaming into the church doors. There are groups about the cathedral gates, the blacks and the whites parting company as if they had not been worshipping side by side. Within the edifice there is no separation. Some few persons may be in pews; but kneeling on the pavement may be seen a multitude, of every shade of complexion, from the fair Scotchwoman or German to the jet-black pure African. The Spanish eye flashes from beneath the veil; the French Creole countenance, painted high, is surmounted by the neat cap or the showy bonnet; while between them may be thrust a gray-headed mulatto, following with his stupid eyes the evolutions of the priest; or the devout negro woman telling her beads—a string of berries—as if her life depended on her task. During the preaching, the multitude of anxious faces, thus various in tint and expression, turned up towards the pulpit, afforded one of those few spectacles which are apt to haunt the whole future life of the observer like a dream. Several Protestants spoke to me of the Catholic religion as being a great blessing to the ignorant negro, viewing a ritual religion as a safe resting-place between barbarism and truth. Nothing that I saw disposed me to agree with them. I saw among Catholics of this class only the most abject worship of things without meaning, and no comprehension whatever [Pg 260] of symbols. I was persuaded that, if a ritual religion be ever a good, it is so in the case of the most, not the least, enlightened; of those who accept the ritual as symbolical, and not of those who pay it literal worship. I could not but think that, if the undisguised story of Jesus were presented to these last as it was to the fishermen of Galilee and the peasants on the reedy banks of Jordan, they would embrace a Christianity, in comparison with which their present religion is an unintelligible and effectual mythology. But such a primitive Christianity they, as slaves, never will and never can have, as its whole spirit is destructive of slavery.

Half a year before my visit to New-Orleans, a great commotion had been raised in the city against a Presbyterian clergyman, the Rev. Joel Parker, on account of some expressions which he had been reported to have used, while on a visit in New-England, respecting the morals of New-Orleans, and especially the desecration of the Sunday. Some meddlesome person had called a public meeting, to consider what should be done with the Rev. Joel Parker for having employed his constitutional freedom of speech in declaring what almost everybody knew or believed to be true. Many gentlemen of the city were vexed at this encroachment upon the liberty of the citizen, and at the ridicule which such apparent sensitiveness about reputation would bring upon their society; and they determined to be present at the meeting, and support the pastor's rights. Matters were proceeding fast towards a condemnation of the accused and a sentence of banishment, when these gentlemen demanded that he should be heard in his own defence, a guarantee for his personal safety being first passed by the meeting. This was agreed to, and Mr. Parker appeared on the hustings. Unfortunately, he missed the opportunity—a particularly favourable one—of making a moral impression which would never have been lost. A full declaration of what he had said, the grounds of it, and his right to say it, would have turned the emotions of the assemblage, already softened in his favour, towards himself and the right. As it was, he did nothing wrong, except in as far as that he did nothing very right; but there was a want of judgment and taste in his address which was much to be regretted. He was allowed to go free for the time; but the newspapers reported all the charges against him, suppressed his replies, and lauded the citizens for not having pulled the offender to pieces; and [Pg 261] Mr. Parker's congregation were called upon, on the ground of the resolutions passed at the public meeting, to banish their pastor. They refused, and appealed to all the citizens to protect them from such oppression as was threatened. No further steps were taken, I believe, against the pastor and his people; his church flourished under this little gust of persecution; and, when I was there, a handsome new edifice was rising up to accommodate the increased number of his congregation. I wished to hear this gentleman, and was glad to find that his flock met, while the building was going on, in the vestry of the new church; a spacious crypt, which was crowded when he preached. I had not expected much from his preaching, and was therefore taken by surprise by the exceeding beauty of his discourse; beauty, not of style, but spirit. The lofty and tender earnestness of both his sentiments and manner put the observer off his watch about the composition of the sermon. I was surprised to perceive in conversation afterward tokens that Mr. Parker was not a highly-educated man. I was raised by the lofty tone of his preaching far above all critical vigilance.

I had much opportunity of seeing in the United States what is the operation of persecution on strong and virtuous minds, and I trust the lesson of encouragement will never be lost. As it is certain that the progression of the race must be carried on through persecution of some kind and degree; as it is clear that the superior spirits to whom the race owes its advancement must, by their very act of anticipation, get out of the circle of general intelligence and sympathy, and be thus subject to the trials of spiritual solitude and social enmity—since thus it has ever been, and thus, by the laws of human nature, it must ever be—it is heart-cheering and soul-staying to perceive that the effects of persecution may be, and often are, more blessed than those of other kinds of discipline. Many quail under the apprehension of persecution; some are soured by it; but some pass through the suffering, the bitter suffering of popular hatred, with a strength which intermits less and less, and come out of it with new capacities for enjoyment, with affections which can no longer be checked by want of sympathy, and with an object in life which can never be overthrown. Mr. Parker's case was not one of any high or permanent character; though, as far as his trial went, it seemed to have given [Pg 262] calmness and vigour to his mind. (I judge from his manner of speaking of the affair to me.) The abolitionists are the persons I have had, and always shall have, chiefly in view in speaking of the effects of persecution. They often reminded me of the remark, that you may know a philanthropist in the streets by his face. The life, light, and gentleness of their countenances, the cheerful earnestness of their speech, and the gayety of their manners, were enough to assure the unprejudiced foreign observer of the integrity of their cause and the blessedness of their pilgrim lives.

The afternoon or evening Sunday walk in New Orleans cannot fail to convince the stranger of the truth of the sayings of Mr. Parker, for which he afterward was subjected to so fierce a retribution. Whatever may be thought of the duty or expediency of a strict observance of the Sunday, no one can contend that in this city the observance is strict. In the market there is traffic in meat and vegetables, and the groups of foreigners make a Babel of the place with their loud talk in many tongues. The men are smoking outside their houses; the girls, with broad coloured ribands streaming from the ends of their long braids of hair, are walking or flirting; while veiled ladies are stealing through the streets, or the graceful Quadroon women are taking their evening airing on the Levée. The river is crowded with shipping, to the hulls of which the walkers look up from a distance, the river being above the level of the neighbouring streets. It rushes along through the busy region, seeming to be touched with mercy, or to disdain its power of mischief. It might overwhelm in an instant the swarming inhabitants of the boundless level; it looks as if it could scarcely avoid doing so; yet it rolls on within its banks so steadily, that the citizens forget their insecurity. Its breadth is not striking to the eye; yet, when one begins to calculate, the magnitude of the stream becomes apparent. A steamboat carries down six vessels at once, two on each side and two behind; and this cluster of seven vessels looks somewhat in the proportion of a constellation in the sky. From the Levée the Cathedral looks well, fronting the river, standing in the middle of a square, and presenting an appearance of great antiquity, hastened, no doubt, by the moisture of the atmosphere in which it stands.

The Levée continues to be crowded long after the sun has set. The quivering summer lightning plays over the heads [Pg 263] of the merry multitude, who are conversing in all the tongues, and gay in all the costumes of the world.

Another bright scene is on the road to the lake on a fine afternoon. This road winds for five miles through the swamp, and is bordered by cypress, flowering reeds, fleurs-de-lis of every colour, palmetto, and a hundred aquatic shrubs new to the eye of the stranger. The gray moss common in damp situations floats in streamers from the branches. Snakes abound, and coil about the negroes who are seen pushing their canoes through the rank vegetation, or towing their rafts laden with wood along the sluggish bayou. There is a small settlement, wholly French in its character, where the ancient dwellings, painted red, and with broad eaves, look highly picturesque in the green landscape. The winding white road is thronged with carriages, driven at a very rapid rate, and full of families of children, or gay parties of young people, or a company of smoking merchants, going to the lake to drink or to bathe. Many go merely as we did, for the sake of the drive, and of breathing the cool air of the lake, while enjoying a glass of iced lemonade or sangaree.

It was along this road that Madame Lalaurie escaped from the hands of her exasperated countrymen about five years ago. The remembrance or tradition of that day will always be fresh in New-Orleans. In England the story is little, if at all, known. I was requested on the spot not to publish it as exhibiting a fair specimen of slaveholding in New-Orleans, and no one could suppose it to be so; but it is a revelation of what may happen in a slaveholding country, and can happen nowhere else. Even on the mildest supposition that the case admits of, that Madame Lalaurie was insane, there remains the fact that the insanity could have taken such a direction, and perpetrated such deeds nowhere but in a slave country.

There is, as every one knows, a mutual jealousy between the French and American creoles[18] in Louisiana. Till lately, the French creoles have carried everything their own way, from their superior numbers. I believe that even yet no American expects to get a verdict, on any evidence, from a jury of French creoles. Madame Lalaurie enjoyed a long impunity from this circumstance. She was a French creole, and her third husband, M. Lalaurie, was, I believe, a Frenchman. [Pg 264] He was many years younger than his lady, and had nothing to do with the management of her property, so that he has been in no degree mixed up with her affairs and disgraces. It had been long observed that Madame Lalaurie's slaves looked singularly haggard and wretched, except the coachman, whose appearance was sleek and comfortable enough. Two daughters by a former marriage, who lived with her, were also thought to be spiritless and unhappy-looking. But the lady was so graceful and accomplished, so charming in her manners and so hospitable, that no one ventured openly to question her perfect goodness. If a murmur of doubt began among the Americans, the French resented it. If the French had occasional suspicions, they concealed them for the credit of their faction. "She was very pleasant to whites," I was told, and sometimes to blacks, but so broadly so as to excite suspicions of hypocrisy. When she had a dinner-party at home, she would hand the remains of her glass of wine to the emaciated negro behind her chair, with a smooth audible whisper, "Here, my friend, take this; it will do you good." At length rumours spread which induced a friend of mine, an eminent lawyer, to send her a hint about the law which ordains that slaves who can be proved to have been cruelly treated shall be taken from the owner, and sold in the market for the benefit of the State. My friend, being of the American party, did not appear in the matter himself, but sent a young French creole, who was studying law with him. The young man returned full of indignation against all who could suspect this amiable woman of doing anything wrong. He was confident that she could not harm a fly, or give pain to any human being.

Soon after this a lady, living in a house which joined the premises of Madame Lalaurie, was going up stairs, when she heard a piercing shriek from the next courtyard. She looked out, and saw a little negro girl, apparently about eight years old, flying across the yard towards the house, and Madame Lalaurie pursuing her, cowhide in hand. The lady saw the poor child run from story to story, her mistress following, till both came out upon the top of the house. Seeing the child about to spring over, the witness put her hands before her eyes; but she heard the fall, and saw the child taken up, her body bending and limbs hanging as if every bone was broken. The lady watched for many hours, and at night she saw the body brought out, a shallow hole [Pg 265] dug by torchlight in the corner of the yard, and the corpse covered over. No secret was made of what had been seen. Inquiry was instituted, and illegal cruelty proved in the case of nine slaves, who were forfeited according to law. It afterward came out that this woman induced some family connexions of her own to purchase these slaves, and sell them again to her, conveying them back to her premises in the night. She must have desired to have them for purposes of torture, for she could not let them be seen in a neighbourhood where they were known.

During all this time she does not appear to have lost caste, though it appears that she beat her daughters as often as they attempted in her absence to convey food to her miserable victims. She always knew of such attempts by means of the sleek coachman, who was her spy. It was necessary to have a spy, to preserve her life from the vengeance of her household; so she pampered this obsequious negro, and at length owed her escape to him.

She kept her cook chained within eight yards of the fireplace, where sumptuous dinners were cooked in the most sultry season. It is a pity that some of the admiring guests whom she assembled round her hospitable table could not see through the floor, and be made aware at what a cost they were entertained. One morning the cook declared that they had better all be burned together than lead such a life, and she set the house on fire. The alarm spread over the city; the gallant French creoles all ran to the aid of their accomplished friend, and the fire was presently extinguished. Many, whose curiosity had been roused about the domestic proceedings of the lady, seized the opportunity of entering those parts of the premises from which the whole world had been hitherto carefully excluded. They perceived that, as often as they approached a particular outhouse, the lady became excessively uneasy lest some property in an opposite direction should be burned. When the fire was extinguished, they made bold to break open this outhouse. A horrible sight met their eyes. Of the nine slaves, the skeletons of two were afterward found poked into the ground; the other seven could scarcely be recognised as human. Their faces had the wildness of famine, and their bones were coming through the skin. They were chained and tied in constrained postures, some on their knees, some with their hands above their heads. They had [Pg 266] iron collars with spikes which kept their heads in one position. The cowhide, stiff with blood, hung against the wall; and there was a stepladder on which this fiend stood while flogging her victims, in order to lay on the lashes with more effect. Every morning, it was her first employment after breakfast to lock herself in with her captives, and flog them till her strength failed.

Amid shouts and groans, the sufferers were brought out into the air and light. Food was given them with too much haste, for two of them died in the course of the day. The rest, maimed and helpless, are pensioners of the city.

The rage of the crowd, especially of the French creoles, was excessive. The lady shut herself up in the house with her trembling daughters, while the street was filled from end to end with a yelling crowd of gentlemen. She consulted her coachman as to what she had best do. He advised that she should have her coach to the door after dinner, and appear to go forth for her afternoon drive, as usual; escaping or returning, according to the aspect of affairs. It is not told whether she ate her dinner that day, or prevailed on her remaining slaves to wait upon her. The carriage appeared at the door; she was ready, and stepped into it. Her assurance seems to have paralyzed the crowd. The moment the door was shut they appeared to repent having allowed her to enter, and they tried to upset the carriage, to hold the horses, to make a snatch at the lady. But the coachman laid about him with his whip, made the horses plunge, and drove off. He took the road to the lake, where he could not be intercepted, as it winds through the swamp. He outstripped the crowd, galloped to the lake, bribed the master of a schooner which was lying there to put off instantly with the lady to Mobile. She escaped to France, and took up her abode in Paris under a feigned name, but not for long. Late one evening a party of gentlemen called on her, and told her she was Madame Lalaurie, and that she had better be off. She fled that night, and is supposed to be now skulking about in some French province under a false name.

The New-Orleans mob met the carriage returning from the lake. What became of the coachman I do not know. The carriage was broken to pieces and thrown into the swamp, and the horses stabbed and left dead upon the road. The house was gutted, the two poor girls having just time [Pg 267] to escape from a window. They are now living, in great poverty, in one of the faubourgs. The piano, tables, and chairs were burned before the house. The feather-beds were ripped up, and the feathers emptied into the street, where they afforded a delicate footing for some days. The house stands, and is meant to stand, in its ruined state. It was the strange sight of its gaping windows and empty walls, in the midst of a busy street, which excited my wonder, and was the cause of my being told the story the first time. I gathered other particulars afterward from eyewitnesses.

The crowd at first intended to proceed to the examination of other premises, whose proprietors were under suspicion of cruelty to their slaves; but the shouts of triumph which went up from the whole negro population of the city showed that this would not be safe. Fearing a general rising, the gentlemen organized themselves into a patrol, to watch the city night and day till the commotion should have subsided. They sent circulars to all proprietors suspected of cruelty, warning them that the eyes of the city were upon them. This is the only benefit the negroes have derived from the exposure. In reply to inquiries, I was told that it was very possible that cruelties like those of Madame Lalaurie might be incessantly in course of perpetration. It may be doubted whether any more such people exist; but if they do, there is nothing to prevent their following her example with impunity as long as they can manage to preserve that secrecy which was put an end to by accident in her case.

I could never get out of the way of the horrors of slavery in this region. Under one form or another, they met me in every house, in every street; everywhere but in the intelligence pages of newspapers, where I might read on in perfect security of exemption from the subject. In the advertising columns there were offers of reward for runaways, restored dead or alive; and notices of the capture of a fugitive with so many brands on his limbs and shoulders, and so many scars on his back. But from the other half of the newspaper, the existence of slavery could be discovered only by inference. What I saw elsewhere was, however, dreadful enough. In one house, the girl who waited on me with singular officiousness was so white, with blue eyes and light hair, that it never occurred to me that she could be a [Pg 268] slave. Her mistress told me afterward that this girl of fourteen was such a depraved hussy that she must be sold. I exclaimed involuntarily, but was referred to the long heel in proof of the child's being of negro extraction. She had the long heel, sure enough. Her mistress told me that it is very wrong to plead in behalf of slavery that families are rarely separated; and gave me, as no unfair example of the dealings of masters, this girl's domestic history.

The family had consisted of father, mother, and four children, this girl being the eldest, and the youngest an infant at the breast. The father was first sold separately, and then the rest of the family were purchased in the market by the husband of my friend, the mother being represented to be a good cook and house servant. She proved to be both; but of so violent a temper that it was necessary to keep her own children out of her way when she had a knife in her hand, lest she should murder them. The anxiety of watching such a temper was not to be borne, and the woman was sold with her infant. Here was the second division of this family. The behaviour of the eldest girl was so outrageously profligate, that she was about to be disposed of also. And yet she was only a fair illustration of the results of the education by circumstance that slaves receive. When detected in some infamous practices, this young creature put on air of prudery, and declared that it gave her great pain to be thought immodest; that, so far from her being what she was thought, she had no wish to have any other lover than her master. Her master was so enraged at this—being a domestic Northern man, and not a planter—that he tied her to the whipping-post and flogged her severely with his own hands. The story of this dispersed and wretched family has nothing singular in it. With slight variations, it may be found repeated in every Southern settlement the traveller visits.

Just about the time that this was happening, a family in the neighbourhood was poisoned by a slave. I think one died, and the others had a narrow escape. The poisoner was sold in the market, as the proprietor could not afford to lose his human property by the law taking its course.

About the same time the cashier of a bank in New-Orleans sent one of his slaves out of the way, in order to be undisturbed in the violence which he meditated against the negro's attached wife. The negro understood the case, but [Pg 269] dared not refuse to go where he was bid. He returned unexpectedly soon, however; found his home occupied, and stabbed the defiler of it. The cashier was the stronger man, and, in spite of his wound, he so maltreated the negro that he expired on the barrow on which he was being conveyed to jail. Nothing ensued on account of this affair; though, when the cashier was some time after found to be a defaulter, he absconded.

I would fain know what has become of a mulatto child in whom I became much interested at New-Orleans. Ailsie was eight years old, perfectly beautiful, and one of the most promising children I ever saw. She was quick, obedient, and affectionate to a touching degree. She had a kind master and mistress. Her mistress's health was delicate, and the child would watch her countenance wistfully, in the constant hope of saving her trouble. She would look very grave if the lady went up stairs with a languid step, take hold of her gown, and timidly ask, "What, an't ye well?" I used to observe her helping to dress her mistress's hair, her little hands trembling with eagerness, her eye following every glance of the eye which ever looked tenderly upon her. Her master declared he did not know what to make of the child, she looked so scared, and trembled so if she was spoken to; and she was, indeed, the most sensitive of children. As she stood at the corner of the dinner-table to fan away the flies, she was a picture from which it was difficult to turn away. Her little yellow headdress suited well with her clear brown complexion and large soft black eyes; nothing that she could at all understand of the conversation escaped her, while she never intermitted her waving of the huge brush of peacock's feathers. Her face was then composed in its intelligence, for she stood by her mistress's elbow; a station where she seemed to think no harm could befall her. Alas! she has lost her kind mistress. Amid the many sad thoughts which thronged into my mind when I heard of the death of this lady, one of the wisest and best of American women, I own that some of my earliest regrets were for little Ailsie; and when I think of her sensibility, her beauty, and the dreadful circumstances of her parentage, as told me by her mistress, I am almost in despair about her future lot; for what can her master, with all his goodness, do for the forlorn little creature's protection? [Pg 270] None but a virtuous mistress can fully protect a female slave, and that too seldom.

Ailsie was born on an estate in Tennessee. Her father is a white gentleman not belonging to the family, her mother the family cook. The cook's black husband cherished such a deadly hatred against this poor child as to be for ever threatening her life, and she was thought to be in such danger from his axe that she was sent down the river to be taken into the family where I saw her. What a cruel world, what a hard human life must Ailsie find that she is born into!

Such facts, occurring at every step, put the stranger on the watch for every revelation of the feelings of the masters about the relation of the two races. Some minute circumstances surprised me in this connexion. At the American Theatre in New-Orleans, one of the characters in the play which my party attended was a slave, one of whose speeches was, "I have no business to think and feel."

At a dinner-party where three negroes were waiting, and where Ailsie stood fanning, a gentleman of very high official rank told a facetious story, at which everybody laughed heartily (being, indeed, quite unable to help it, the manner of the narrator was so droll) except a gentleman next me who had once been a slavetrader. The senator told us of a couple from the Green Island, Pat and Nancy, who had settled on the Mississippi, and, in course of time (to use the language of the region), "acquired six children and nine negroes." Pat had a mind to better his fortunes, and to go unencumbered higher up the river; and he therefore explained his plans to Nancy, finishing with, "and so, my darlin', I'll lave you; but I'll do my best by you; I'll lave you the six dear, nate, pretty little childer, and I'll take the nine nasty dirty negroes." While every other American at the table laughed without control, I saw my neighbour, the former slavetrader, glance up at the negroes who were in attendance, and use a strong effort not to laugh.

The stranger has great difficulty in satisfying himself as to the bounds of the unconsciousness of oppression which he finds urged as the exculpatory plea of the slaveholder, while he mourns over it as the great hinderance in the way of social reformation. It has been seen that an audience at the theatre will quietly receive a hit which would subject [Pg 271] the author to punishment if he were an abolitionist. When I listened to the stories told by ladies to each other in their morning calls, showing the cleverness of their slaves, I often saw that they could not but be as fully convinced as I was that their slaves were as altogether human as themselves. I heard so many anecdotes—somewhat of the character of the following—that I began to suspect that one use of slaves is to furnish topics for the amusement of their owners.

Sam was sadly apt to get drunk, and had been often reproved by his master on that account. One day his master found him intoxicated, and cried out, "What, drunk again, Sam? I scolded you for being drunk last night, and here you are drunk again." "No, massa, same drunk, massa; same drunk."

But enough of this dark side of the social picture. I find myself dwelling long upon it, and frequently recurring to it, because all other subjects shrink into insignificance beside it; but these others must not be forgotten.

The gay visiting season at New-Orleans was over before we arrived, but we were in several parties. The division between the American and French factions is visible even in the drawing-room. The French complain that the Americans will not speak French; will not meet their neighbours even half way in accommodation of speech. The Americans ridicule the toilet practices of the French ladies; their liberal use of rouge and pearl powder. If the French ladies do thus beautify themselves, they do it with great art. I could not be quite sure of the fact in any one instance, while I am disposed to believe it from the clumsy imitation of the art which I saw in the countenance of an American rival or two. I beheld with strong disgust the efforts of a young lady from Philadelphia to make herself as French as possible by these disagreeable means. She was under twenty, and would have been rather pretty if she had given herself a fair chance; but her coarsely-painted eyebrows, daubed cheeks, and powdered throat inspired a disgust which she must be singularly unwise not to have anticipated. If this were a single case it would not be worth mentioning; but I was told by a resident that it is a common practice for young ladies to paint both white and red, under the idea of accommodating themselves to the French manners of the place. They had better do it by practising the French language than by copying the French toilet. New-Orleans is [Pg 272] the only place in the United States where I am aware of having seen a particle of rouge.

Large parties are much alike everywhere, and they leave no very distinct impression. Except for the mixture of languages, and the ample provision of ices, fans, and ventilators, the drawing-room assemblages of New-Orleans bear a strong resemblance to the routs and dinner-parties of a country town in England. Our pleasantest days in the great Southern city were those which we spent quietly in the homes of intimate acquaintances. I vividly remember one which I was told was a true Louisiana day. We ladies carried our workbags, and issued forth by eleven o'clock, calling by the way for a friend, Ailsie's mistress. The house we were to visit was a small shaded dwelling, with glass doors opening into a pretty garden. In a cool parlour we sat at work, talking of things solemn and trivial, of affairs native and foreign, till dinner, which was at two. We were then joined by the gentlemen. We left the dinner-table early, and the gentlemen trundled rocking-chairs and low stools into the garden, where we sat in the shade all the afternoon, the ladies working, the gentlemen singing Irish melodies, telling good native stories, and throwing us all into such a merry mood, that we positively refused the siesta which we were urged to take, and forgot what a retribution we might expect from the moschetoes for sitting so long under the trees. After tea we got to the piano, and were reminded at last by the darkness of the number of hours which this delightful Louisiana visit had consumed. We all walked home together through the quiet streets, the summer lightning quivering through the thick trees in singular contrast with the steady moonlight.

We should have liked to spend every day thus, with friends who always made us forget that we were far from home; but a traveller's duty is to see every variety of society which comes within his reach. I was sought by some, and met accidentally with other persons who were on the eve of departure for Texas. Attempts were made to induce me to go myself, and also to convince me of the eligibility of the country as a place of settlement for British emigrants, in the hope that the arrival of a cargo of settlers from England might afford to the Texans a plea of countenance from the British government. The subject of Texas is now so well understood, that there is no occasion to enlarge upon the [Pg 273] state of the question as it was two years and a half ago; and besides, if I were to give a precise account of the conversations between myself and the friends of the Texan aggression, my story would not be believed. The folly and romance of some of the agents employed, and the villany which peeped out of every admission extorted from the advocates of the scheme, would make my readers as astonished as I was myself, that any attempts should be made in the neighbourhood of the scene to gain the sympathy of strangers who were at all above the rank of knaves and fools. Suffice it that one class of advocates told me that I should be perfectly safe there, as the inhabitants were chiefly persons who could fight bravely against the Mexicans, from having nothing to lose, and from their having been compelled to leave the United States by their too free use of arms: while the opposite species of agent enlarged, not only on the beauty of the sunsets and the greenness of the savannahs, but on the delightful security of living under the same laws as the people of the United States, and amid a condition of morals kept perfectly pure by Colonel Austin's practice of having every person whom he conceived to have offended whipped at the cart's tail; the fact being carefully concealed that Colonel Austin was at that time, and had been for two years, in jail in the Mexican capital.

Our friends indulged us in what they knew to be our favourite pleasure, in country drives. There can be no great choice of drives in the neighbourhood of a city which stands in a swamp; but such places as were attainable we reached. One was a ropewalk, 1200 feet long, under a roof. It looked picturesque, like every other ropewalk that I ever saw; but what struck me most about it was the sudden and profound repose we plunged into from the bustle of the city. The cottages of the negroes were imbowered in green, and the whole place had a tropical air, with its thickets of fig and catalpa, and its rows of Pride-of-India trees. This last tree looks to my eye like a shrub which has received mistaken orders to grow into a tree. Its fragrance is its great charm. The mixture of its lilach flowers with its green leaves impairs the effect of the foliage, as far as colour is concerned; and the foliage is, besides, not massy enough. A single sprig of it is beautiful; and, probably, its fragrance propitiates the eyes of those who plant it, for I found it considered a beautiful tree. The dark shades of these thickets are [Pg 274] enlivened by a profusion of roses, and the air is fanned by myriads of insects' wings. How the negroes make friendship with the tribes of insects which drive the white man to forego the blessing of natural shade, I could never understand; but the black never looks more contented than when he shrouds himself in rank vegetation, and lives in a concert of insect chirping, droning, and trumpeting.

We were taken to the Battle-ground, the native soil of General Jackson's political growth. Seeing the Battle-ground was all very well; but my delight was in the drive to it, with the Mississippi on the right hand, and on the left gardens of roses which bewildered the imagination. I really believed at the time that I saw more roses that morning than during the whole course of my life before. Gardens are so rare in America, from want of leisure and deficiency of labour, that, when they do occur, they are a precious luxury to the traveller, especially when they are in their spring beauty. In the neighbourhood of Mobile, my relative, who has a true English love of gardening, had introduced the practice; and I there saw villas and cottages surrounded with a luxuriant growth of Cherokee roses, honeysuckles, and myrtles, while groves of orange-trees appeared in the background; but not even these equalled what I saw, this warm 4th of May, on our way to the Battle-ground. One villa, built by an Englishman, was obstinately inappropriate to the scene and climate; red brick, without gallery, or even eaves or porch; the mere sight of it was scorching. All the rest were an entertainment to the eye as they stood, white and cool, amid their flowering magnolias, and their blossoming alleys, hedges, and thickets of roses. In returning, we alighted at one of these delicious retreats, and wandered about, losing each other among the thorns, the ceringas, and the wilderness of shrubs. We met in a grotto, under the summer-house, cool with a greenish light, and veiled at its entrance with a tracery of creepers. There we lingered, amid singing or silent dreaming. There seemed to be too little that was real about the place for ordinary voices to be heard speaking about ordinary things.

The river was rising, as we were told in a tone of congratulation. The eddies would be filled, and our voyage expedited. The canes in the sugar-grounds were showing themselves above the soil; young sprouts that one might almost see grow. A negro was feed to gather flowers for [Pg 275] us, and he filled the carriage with magnolia, honeysuckle, and roses, grinning the while at our pleasure, and at his own good luck in falling in with us.

The Battle-ground is rather more than four miles from the city. We were shown the ditch and the swamp by which the field of action was bounded on two sides, and some remains of the breastwork of earth which was thrown up. There has been great exaggeration about the cotton-bags, of which there were only a few in a line with the earthen defence, instead of an entire breastwork, as has been supposed in all the jokes and all the admiration which have been expended on the expedient. It was a deadly battle-field. It makes the spectator shudder to see the wide open space, the unsheltered level, over which the British soldiers were compelled to march to certain destruction. Never was greater bravery shown by soldiers; and never, perhaps, was bravery more abused by the unskilfulness of leaders. The result proves this. The British killed were nearly 3000: the Americans had six killed and seven wounded. By all accounts, General Jackson showed consummate ability throughout the whole brief campaign, and the British leaders an imbecility no less remarkable.

I was shown a house on a plantation where, twelve days before the battle, the son of the proprietor was quietly dining at one o'clock, when a slave ran in and told him that some men in red coats were in the yard. The young man instantly comprehended that the British had captured the American scouts. He bolted through the window, and into a canoe, and crossed the river amid a shower of balls, seized a horse, and galloped to the city. The troops, dispersed on different points, were collected by drum and bell; and, between two o'clock and eleven at night, the city was made ready to abide the enemy's approach. It is still incomprehensible to the Americans why the British, who actually did throw a party over the river, did not all step ashore on the opposite side of the Mississippi, and quietly march the four miles up to the city, and into it. It could have offered no defence, nor was there any impediment by the way.

The headquarters of both generals are very conspicuous on the plain. Sir Edward Pakenham and a party of his officers were spied by the Americans standing in the balcony of the house they inhabited. A gunner was ordered to take aim at them. Seeing the importance of the shot, he [Pg 276] was flurried, and struck the river a mile off. He was ordered to retire. He knew that this was the crisis of his professional fate, and implored that he might be granted one more chance. He then hit the pillar which supported the balcony, immediately under the feet of the group of officers, who hurried pellmell into the house.

After eleven days of housekeeping in New-Orleans we were obliged to depart, having been fortunate enough to secure berths in a capital boat which started northward on the 6th of May. The slaves in our temporary abode had served us intelligently and well. Wishing to see what they could do, we did not give any orders about our table. We were rarely at home at dinner, but our breakfasts and occasional dinners were more luxurious than if we had provided for ourselves. Excellent coffee, French bread, radishes, and strawberries at breakfast; and at dinner, broth, fowls, beefsteak, with peas, young asparagus, salad, new potatoes, and spinach, all well cooked; claret at dinner, and coffee worthy of Paris after it; this was the kind of provision with which we were favoured. Everything was done to make us cool. The beds were literally as hard as the floor. We had a bath of the coldest water prepared morning and night; all the doors and windows were kept open, and the curtains drawn, to establish draughts and keep out the sun. There was ice in the water-jug, ice on the lump of butter, ice in the wineglass, and icecream for dessert.

Abroad, all was, as in every other American city, hospitality and gayety. I had rather dreaded the visit to New-Orleans, and went more from a sense of duty than from inclination. A friendship that I formed there, though already eclipsed by death, left me no feeling but rejoicing that I had gone; and I also learned much that was useful in helping me to interpret some things which met my observation both previously and subsequently. But my strongest impression of New-Orleans is, that while it affords an instructive study, and yields some enjoyment to a stranger, it is the last place in which men are gathered together where one who prizes his humanity would wish to live.



[1] Society in America, vol. i., p. 10.

[2] Society in America, vol. i., p. 91.

[3] "Society in America," vol. ii., p. 188.

[4] "Society in America," vol. iii., p. 87.

[5] It is familiar to all that the cataract of Niagara is supposed to have worn its way back from the point of the narrowing of its channel (the spot where we now sat), and that there is an anticipation of its continuing to retire the remaining twelve miles to Lake Erie. Unless counteracting agencies should in the mean time be at work, the inundation of the level country which must then take place will be almost boundless. The period is, however, too remote for calculation. An American told me, smiling, that the apprehension has not yet affected the title to land. And no one knows what secret barriers may be building up or drains opening.

[6] A rope has since been stretched along the rock to serve for a handrail. This must render the expedition far less formidable than before.

[7] "Monthly Repository," New Series, vol. vii., p. 235.

[8] Rutt's Life, Correspondence, and Works of Priestley, vol. i., part ii., p. 327.

[9] In the "Christian Disciple."

[10] "Society in America," part iii., chap. iv.

[11] "Society in America," vol i., p. 60.

[12] "Society in America," vol. ii., p. 160.

[13] Jefferson's Memoir and Correspondence, vol. iv., p. 428. Date, February 17, 1826.

[14] Society in America, vol. ii., p. 183.

[15] For an explanation of nullification, and a short history of the struggle of the nullifiers, see "Society in America," vol. i., p. 92-109.

[16] "Society in America," vol. ii., p. 179.

[17] Ibid, p. 326.

[18] Creole means native. French and American creoles are natives of French and American extraction.

Transcriber's notes

Spelling has been made consistent throughout but kept to author's original format except where noted below.

Page 17 our births that changed to our berths that

Page 22 crimsom changed to crimson

Page 24 heaving birth; changed to heaving berth;

Page 40 New-York replaces New York

Page 66 ever attained replaces every attained

Page 88 house-top, changed to housetop,

Page 89 . replaces, - miles an hour, becomes miles an hour.

Page 93 their strength replaces their strengh

Page 96 extremely had changed to extremely hard


Page 139 DANTE . added

Page 155 postmaster replaces portmaster

Page 164 Napolean changed to Napoleon

Page 199 eagerly replaces eargerly

Page 217 B.'s Folly.. - . removed

Page 223 CITY LIFE IN THE SOUTH . added

Page 241 slave-trade, changed to slavetrade,

Page 251 in the ferry-boat, changed to in the ferryboat,

Page 252 when he slopped changed to when he stopped

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