Diary in America, Series One
by Frederick Marryat (AKA Captain Marryat)
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


Prairie du Chiens is a beautiful meadow, about eight miles long by two broad, situated at the confluence of the Wisconsin and the Mississippi; it is backed with high bluffs, such as I have before described, verdant two-thirds of the way up, and crowned with rocky summits. The bluffs, as I must call them, for I know not what other name to give them, rise very abruptly, often in a sugar-loaf form, from the flat lands, and have a very striking appearance; as you look up to them, their peculiar formation and vivid green sides, contrasting with their blue and grey summits, give them the appearance of a succession of ramparts investing the prairie. The fort at the prairie, which is named Fort Crawford, is, like most other American outposts, a mere inclosure, intended to repel the attacks of Indians; but it is large and commodious, and the quarters of the officers are excellent; it is, moreover, built of stone, which is not the case with Fort Winnebago, or Fort Howard at Green Bay. The Upper Mississippi is here a beautiful clear blue stream, intersected with verdant islands, and very different in appearance from the Lower Mississippi, after it has been joined by the Missouri. The opposite shore is composed of high cliffs, covered with timber, which, not only in form, but in tint and colour, remind you very much of Glover's landscapes of the mountainous parts of Scotland and Wales.

I made one or two excursions to examine the ancient mounds which are scattered all over this district, and which have excited much speculation as to their origin; some supposing them to have been fortifications, others the burial-places of the Indians. That they have lately been used by the Indians as burial-places there is no doubt; but I suspect they were not originally raised for that purpose. A Mr Taylor has written an article in one of the periodicals, stating his opinion that they were the burial-places of chiefs; and to prove it, he asserts that some of them are thrown up in imitation of the figure of the animal which was the heraldic distinction of the chief whose remains they contain, such as the beaver, elk, etcetera. He has given drawings of some of them. That the Indians have their heraldic distinctions, their totems, as they call them, I know to be a fact; as I have seen the fur trader's books, containing the receipts of the chiefs, with their crests drawn by themselves, and very correctly too; but it required more imagination than I possess to make out the form of any animal in the mounds. I should rather suppose the mounds to be the remains of tenements, sometimes fortified, sometimes not, which were formerly built of mud or earth, as is still the custom in the northern portion of the Sioux country. Desertion and time have crumbled them into these mounds, which are generally to be found in a commanding situation, or in a string, as if constructed for mutual defence. On Rock River there is a long line of wall, now below the surface, which extends for a considerable distance, and is supposed to be the remains of a city built by a former race, probably the Mexican, who long since retreated before the northern race of Indians. I cannot recollect the name which has been given to it. I had not time to visit this spot; but an officer showed me some pieces of what they called the brick which composes the wall. Brick it is not—no right angles have been discovered, so far as I could learn; it appears rather as if a wall had been raised of clay, and then exposed to the action of fire, as portions of it are strongly vitrified, and others are merely hard clay. But admitting my surmises to be correct, still there is evident proof that this country was formerly peopled by a nation whose habits were very different, and in all appearance more civilised, than those of the races which were found here: and this is all that can be satisfactorily sustained. As, however, it is well substantiated that a race similar to the Mexican formerly existed on these prairie lands, the whole question may perhaps be solved by the following extract from Irving's Conquest of Florida:—

"The village of Onachili resembles most of the Indian villages of Florida. The natives always endeavoured to build upon high ground, not least to erect the house of their cacique, or chief, upon an eminence. As the country was very level and high places seldom to be found, they constructed artificial mounds of earth, capable of containing from ten to twenty houses; there resided the chief, his family, and attendants. At the foot of the hill was a square, according to the size of the village, round which were the houses of the leaders and most distinguished inhabitants."

I consider the Wisconsin territory as the finest portion of North America, not only from its soil, but its climate. The air is pure, and the winters, although severe, are dry and bracing; very different from, and more healthy than, those of the Eastern States. At Prairie du Chien every one dwelt upon the beauty of the winter, indeed they appeared to prefer it to the other seasons. The country is, as I have described it in my route from Green Bay, alternate prairie, oak openings, and forest; and the same may be said of the other side of the Mississippi, now distinguished as the district of Ioway. Limestone quarries abound; indeed, the whole of this beautiful and fertile region appears as if nature had so arranged it that man should have all difficulties cleared from before him, and have but little to do but to take possession and enjoy. There is no clearing of timber requisite; on the contrary, you have just as much as you can desire, whether for use or ornament. Prairies of fine rich grass, upon which cattle fatten in three or four months, lay spread in every direction. The soil is so fertile that you have but to turn it up to make it yield grain to any extent; and the climate is healthy, at the same time that there is more than sufficient sun in the summer and autumn to bring every crop to perfection. Land carriage is hardly required from the numerous rivers and streams which pour their waters from every direction into the Upper Mississippi. Add to all this, that the Western lands possess an inexhaustible supply of minerals, only a few feet under the surface of their rich soil—a singular and wonderful provision, as, in general, where minerals are found below, the soil above is usually arid and ungrateful. The mineral country is to the south of the Wisconsin river—at least nothing has at present been discovered north of it; but the northern part is still in the possession of the Winnebago Indians, who are waiting for the fulfilment of the treaty before they surrender it, and at present will permit no white settler to enter it. It is said that the other portions of the Wisconsin territory will come into the market this year; at present, with the exception of the Fox river and Winnebago Lake settlements, and that of Prairie du Chien, at the confluence of the two rivers Wisconsin and Mississippi, there is hardly a log-house in the whole district. The greatest annoyance at present in this western country is the quantity and variety of snakes; it is hardly safe to land upon some parts of the Wisconsin river banks, and they certainly offer a great impediment to the excursions of geologist and botanist; you are obliged to look right and left as you walk, and as for putting your hand into a hole, you would be almost certain to receive a very unwished-for and unpleasant shake to welcome you.

I ought here to explain an American law relative to what is termed squatting, that is, taking possession of land belonging to government and cultivating it: such was the custom of the back-woodsmen, and, for want of this law, it often happened that after they had cultivated a farm, the land would be applied for and purchased by some speculator, who would forcibly eject the occupant, and take possession of the improved property. A back-woodsman was not to be trifled with, and the consequences very commonly were that the new proprietor was found some fine morning with a rifle-bullet through his head. To prevent this unjust spoliation on the one part, and summary revenge on the other, a law has been passed, by which any person having taken possession of land belonging to the States Government shall, as soon as the lands have been surveyed and come into the market, have the right of purchasing the quarter section, or one hundred and sixty acres round him. Many thousands are settled in this way all over the new Western States, and this pre-emption right is one of the few laws in Western America strictly adhered to. A singular proof of this occurred the other day at Galena. The government had made regulations with the diggers and smelters on the government lands for a percentage on the lead raised, as a government tax; and they erected a large stone building to warehouse their portion, which was paid in lead. As soon as the government had finished it, a man stepped forward and proved his right of pre-emption on the land upon which the building was erected, and it was decided against the government, although the land was actually government land!


(This chapter incomplete at end) I remained a week at Prairie du Chien, and left my kind entertainers with regret; but an opportunity offering of going up to St Peters in a steam-boat, with General Atkinson, who was on a tour of inspection, I could not neglect so favourable a chance. St Peters is situated at the confluence of the St Peters River with the Upper Mississippi, about seven miles below the Falls of St Anthony, where the River Mississippi becomes no longer navigable; and here, removed many hundred miles from civilisation, the Americans have an outpost called fort Snelling, and the American Fur Company an establishment. The country to the north is occupied by the Chippeway tribe of Indians; that to the east by the Winnebagos, and that to the west by the powerful tribe of Sioux or Dacotahs, who range over the whole prairie territory between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

The river here is so constantly divided by numerous islands, that its great width is not discernible: it seldom has less than two or three channels, often more: it courses through a succession of bold bluffs, rising sometimes perpendicularly, and always abruptly from the banks or flat land, occasionally diversified by the prairies, which descend to the edge of the stream. These bluffs are similar to those I have described in the Wisconsin river and Prairie do Chien, but are on a grander scale, and are surmounted by horizontal layers of limestone rock. The islands are all covered with small timber and brushwood, and in the spring, before the leaves have burst out, and the freshets come down, the river rises so as to cover the whole of them, and then you behold the width and magnificence of this vast stream. On the second day we arrived at Lake Pepin, which is little more than an expansion of the river, or rather a portion of it, without islands. On the third, we made fast to the wharf, abreast of the American Fur Company's Factory, a short distance below the mouth of the River St Peters. Fort Snelling is about a mile from the factory, and is situated on a steep promontory, in a commanding position; it is built of stone, and may be considered as impregnable to any attempt which the Indians might make, provided that it has a sufficient garrison. Behind it is a splendid prairie, running back for many miles.

The Falls of St Anthony are not very imposing, although not devoid of beauty. You cannot see the whole of the falls at one view, as they are divided, like those of Niagara, by a large island, about one third of the distance from the eastern shore. The river which, as we ascended, poured through a bed below the strata of calcareous rock, now rises above the limestone formation; and the large masses of this rock, which at the falls have been thrown down in wild confusion over a width of from two hundred to two hundred and fifty yards, have a very picturesque effect. The falls themselves, I do not think, are more than from thirty to thirty-five feet high; but, with rapids above and below them, the descent of the river is said to be more than one hundred feet. Like those of Niagara, these falls have constantly receded, and are still receding.

Here for the first time, I consider that I have seen the Indians in their primitive state; for till now all that I had fallen in with have been debased by intercourse with the whites, and the use of spirituous liquors. The Winnebagos at Prairie du Chien were almost always in a state of intoxication, as were the other tribes at Mackinaw, and on the Lakes. The Winnebagos are considered the dirtiest race of Indians, and with the worst qualities: they were formerly designated by the French, Puans, a term sufficiently explanatory. When I was at Prairie du Chien, a circumstance which had occurred there in the previous winter was narrated to me. In many points of manners and customs the red men have a strong analogy with the Jewish tribes: among others, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, is most strictly adhered to. If an Indian of one tribe is killed by an Indian of another, the murderer is demanded, and must either be given up, or his life must be taken by his own tribe: if not, a feud between the two nations would be the inevitable result. It appeared that a young Menonnomie, in a drunken fray, had killed a Winnebago, and the culprit was demanded by the head men of the Winnebago tribe. A council was held; and instead of the Menonnomie, the chiefs of the tribe offered them whisky. The Winnebagos could not resist the temptation; and it was agreed that ten gallons of whisky should be produced by the Menonnomies, to be drunk by all parties over the grave of the deceased. The squaws of the Menonnomie tribe had to dig the grave, as is the custom,—a task of no little labour, as the ground was frozen hard several feet below the surface.

The body was laid in the grave; the mother of the deceased, with the rest of the Winnebago squaws, howling over it, and denouncing vengeance against the murderer; but in a short time the whisky made its appearance, and they all set to, to drink. In an hour they were all the best friends in the world, and all very drunk. The old squaw mother was hugging the murderer of her son; and it was a scene of intoxication which, in the end, left the majority of the parties assembled, for a time, quite as dead as the man in the grave. Such are the effects of whisky upon these people, who have been destroyed much more rapidly by spirituous liquors than by all the wars which they have engaged in against the whites.

The Sioux are a large band, and are divided into six or seven different tribes; they are said to amount to from 27,000 to 30,000. They are, or have been, constantly at war with the Chippeways to the north of them, and with Saucs and Foxes, a small but very warlike band, residing to the south of them, abreast of Des Moines River. The Sioux have fixed habitations as well as tents; their tents are large and commodious, made of buffalo skins dressed without the hair, and very often handsomely painted on the outside. I went out about nine miles to visit a Sioux village on the borders of a small lake. Their lodges were built cottage-fashion, of small fir-poles, erected stockade-wise, and covered inside and out with bark; the roof also of bark with a hole in the centre for the smoke to escape through. I entered one of these lodges: the interior was surrounded by a continued bed-place round three of the sides, about three feet from the floor, and on the platform was a quantity of buffalo skins and pillows; the fire was in the centre, and their luggage was stowed away under the bed-places. It was very neat and clean; the Sioux generally are, indeed, particularly so, compared with the other tribes of Indians. A missionary resides at this village and has paid great attention to the small band under his care. Their patches of Indian corn were clean and well tilled; and although, from demi-civilisation, the people have lost much of their native grandeur, still they are a fine race, and well disposed. But the majority of the Sioux tribe remain in their native state: they are Horse Indians, as those who live on the prairies are termed; and although many of them have rifles, the majority still adhere to the use of the bow and arrows, both in their war parties and in the chase of the buffalo.

During the time that I passed here, there were several games of ball played between different bands, and for considerable stakes; one was played, on the prairie close to the house of the Indian agent. The Indian game of ball is somewhat similar to the game of golf in Scotland, with this difference, that the sticks used by the Indians have a small network racket at the end, in which they catch the ball and run away with it, as far as they are permitted, towards the goal, before they throw it in that direction. It is one of the most exciting games in the world, and requires the greatest activity and address. It is, moreover, rendered celebrated in American History from the circumstance that it was used as a stratagem by the renowned leader of the northern tribes, Pontiac, to surprise in one day all the English forts on and near to the lakes, a short time after the Canadas had been surrendered to the British. At Mackinaw they succeeded, and put the whole garrison to the sword, as they did at one or two smaller posts; but at Detroit they were foiled by the plan having been revealed by one of the squaws.

Pontiac's plan was as follows. Pretending the greatest good-will and friendship, a game of ball was proposed to be played, on the same day, at all the different outposts, for the amusement of the garrisons. The interest taken in the game would, of course, call out a proportion of the officers and men to witness it. The squaws were stationed close to the gates of the fort, with the rifles of the Indians cut short, concealed under their blankets. The ball was, as if by accident, thrown into the fort; the Indians, as usual, were to rush in crowds after it; by this means they were to enter the fort, receiving their rifles from their squaws as they hurried in, and then slaughter the weakened and unprepared garrisons. Fortunately, Detroit, the most important post, and against which Pontiac headed the stratagem in person, was saved by the previous information given by the squaw; not that she had any intention to betray him, but the commanding officer having employed her to make him several pairs of moccasins out of an elk skin, desiring her to take the remainder of the skin for the same purpose; this she refused, saying it was of no use, as he would never see it again. This remark excited his suspicions, and led to the discovery.

The game played before the fort when I was present lasted nearly two hours, during which I had a good opportunity of estimating the agility of the Indians, who displayed a great deal of mirth and humour at the same time. But the most curious effect produced was by the circumstance, that having divested themselves of all their garments except their middle clothing, they had all of them fastened behind them a horse's tail; and as they swept by, in their chase of the ball, with their tails streaming to the wind, I really almost made up my mind that such an appendage was rather an improvement to a man's figure than otherwise.

While I was there a band of Sioux from the Lac qui parle, (so named from a remarkable echo there,) distant about two hundred and thirty miles from Port Snelling, headed by Monsieur Rainville, came down on a visit to the American Fur Company's factory. Monsieur Rainville, (or de Rainville, as he told me was his real name,) is, he asserts, descended from one of the best families is France, which formerly settled in Canada. He is a half-breed, his father being a Frenchman, and his mother a Sioux; his wife is also a Sioux, so that his family are three-quarters red. He had been residing many years with the Sioux tribes, trafficking with them for peltry, and has been very judicious in his treatment of them, not interfering with their pursuits of hunting; he has, moreover, to a certain degree civilised them, and ob

(This chapter is 2 or 3 pages incomplete.)


(This chapter is 2 or 3 pages incomplete) my wrist that he might not escape during the night, and tried to go to sleep. I rose before daylight on Monday morning, and found that my father had discovered that I had employed the Sabbath in looking for a dog; and in consequence, as he was a very strict man, I received a severe caning. On these memorable occasions, he always used to hold me by the wrist with one hand, while he chastised me with the other. I found the best plan was to run round him as fast as I could, which obliged my father to turn round after me with the stick, and then in a short time he left off; not because he thought I had enough, but because he became so giddy that he could not stand. A greater punishment, however, was threatened—that of not being permitted to go to the bear-hunt, which was to take place on that day; but I pleaded hard, and asked my father how he would have liked it, if he had been prevented from going to the battle of B—-(where he had very much distinguished himself). This was taking the old man on his weak side, and I was, at last, permitted to be present. Then there arose another difficulty. I was thought too little to carry a gun, which I had provided; but a neighbour, who had witnessed my anxiety, took my part, said that he would be answerable for me, and that I should not quit his side; so at last all was settled to my satisfaction. As for the caning, I thought nothing at all of that.

"We set off and before we reached the mill, we passed a hollow; the dog barked furiously, and I let him go. After a time I heard a noise in a bush. 'Did you not hear?' said I to my neighbour.—'Yes,' replied he; 'but I also heard a rustling on the bank this way. Do you look out sharp in that direction, whilst I look out in this.' He had hardly said so, and I had not turned my head, when out came the old she-bear, in the direction where my neighbour had been watching, and sat upon her hind legs in a clear place. My friend levelled his gun; to my delight he had forgotten to cock it. While he was cocking it, the bear dropped down on her fore legs, and I fired; the ball passed through her chest into her shoulder. She was at that time on the brink of a shelving quarry of sharp stone, down which she retreated. I halloo'd for the dog, and followed, slipping and tumbling after her, for I was mad at the idea of her escaping me. Down we went together, the dog following; when we arrived at the bottom, the dog seized her. She was so weak that she supported herself against a rock; at last she rolled on her back, hogging the dog in her fore paws. This was a terrible source of alarm to me. I caught the dog by the tail, pulling at it as hard as I could to release him, crying out, although no one was near me, 'Save the dog— save the dog—or I'll have to pay ten dollars.' But, fortunately, the bear, although she held the dog fast, had not sufficient strength left to kill it. Other people now came up; my own musket was down the bear's throat, where, in my anxiety, I had thrust it; one of them handed me his, and I shot the bear through the head. Even then, so fearful was I of losing my prey, that I seized a large stone and beat the animal on the head till I was exhausted. Then I had my triumph. The Pratts had only killed bear-cubs; I had killed a full-grown bear. I was, as you may suppose, also carried home upon the animal's back; and from that day, was pointed out as a bear-hunter."

Secondly. "I was once buffalo hunting in Arkansas. I was on a strong well-trained horse, pursuing a bull, when we arrived at a rent or crack in the prairie, so wide, that it was necessary for the animals to leap it. The bull went over first, and I, on the horse, following it close, rose on my stirrups, craning a little, that I might perceive the width of the rent. At that moment the bull turned round to charge; the horse, perceiving it, and knowing his work, immediately wheeled also. This sudden change of motion threw me off my saddle, and I remained hanging by the side of the horse, with my leg over his neck: there I was, hanging on only by my leg, with my head downwards below the horse's belly. The bull rushed on to the charge, ranging up to the flank of the horse on the side where I was dangling, and the horse was so encumbered by my weight in that awkward position, that each moment the bull gained upon him. At last my strength failed me; I felt that I could hold on but a few seconds longer; the head of the bull was close to me, and the steam from his nostrils blew into my face. I gave myself up for lost; all the prayer I could possibly call to mind at the time was, the first two lines of a hymn I used to repeat as a child:—'Lord now I lay me down to sleep,' and that I repeated two or three times, when, fortunately, the horse wheeled short round, evaded the bull, and leaped the gap. The bull was at fault; the jolt of the leap, after nearly dropping me into the gap, threw me up so high, that I gained the neck of my horse, and eventually my saddle. I then thought of my rifle, and found that I had held it grasped in my hand during the whole time. I wheeled my horse and resumed the chase, and in a minute the bull was dead at my horse's feet."

Thirdly. "I was riding out one day in Arkansas, and it so happened I had not my rifle with me, nor indeed a weapon of any description, not even my jack-knife. As I came upon the skirts of a prairie, near a small copse, a buck started out, and dashed away as if much alarmed. I thought it was my sudden appearance which had alarmed him; I stopped my horse to look after him, and turning my eyes afterwards in the direction from whence it had started, I perceived, as I thought, on a small mound of earth raised by an animal called a gopher, just the head of the doe, her body concealed by the high grass. I had no arms, but it occurred to me, that if I could contrive to crawl up very softly, the high grass might conceal my approach, and I should be able to spring upon her and secure her by main strength. 'If I can manage this,' said I to myself, 'it will be something to talk about.' I tied my horse to a tree, and commenced crawling very softly on my hands and knees towards the gopher hill; I arrived close to it, and the doe had not started; I rose gently with both hands ready for a grab, and prepared to spring, slowly raising my head that I might get a sight of the animal. It appeared that the animal was equally inquisitive, and wished to gain a sight of me, and it slowly raised its head from the grass as I did mine. Imagine what was my surprise and consternation, to find that, instead of a doe, I was face to face with a large male panther. It was this brute which had so scared the buck, and now equally scared me. There I was, at hardly one yard's distance from him, without arms of any description, and almost in the paws of the panther. I knew that my only chance was keeping my eyes fixed steadfastly on his, and not moving hand or foot; the least motion to retreat would have been his signal to spring: so there I was, as white as a sheet, with my eyes fixed on him. Luckily he did not know what was passing within me. For some seconds the animal met my gaze, and I began to give myself up for lost. 'Tis time for you to go, thought I, or I am gone: will you never go? At last, the animal blinked, and then his eyes opened like balls of fire; I remained fascinated as it were; he blinked again, turned his head a very little, then turned round and went away at a light canter. Imagine the relief. I hastened back to my horse, and away also went I at a light canter, and with a lighter heart, grateful to Heaven for having preserved me."


The band of warriors attached to Monsieur Rainville have set up their war-tent close to the factory, and have entertained us with a variety of dances. Their dresses are very beautiful, and the people, who have been accustomed to witness these exhibitions for years, say that they have never seen any thing equal to them before, I was very anxious to obtain one of them, and applied to Mr Rainville to effect my purpose; but it required all his influence to induce them to part with it, and they had many arguments and debates among themselves before they could make up their minds to consent to do so. I was the more anxious about it, as I had seen Mr Catlin's splendid exhibition, and I knew that he had not one in his possession. The dress in question consisted of a sort of kilt of fine skins, ornamented with beautiful porcupine quill-work, and eagle's feathers; garters of animals' tails, worn at their ankles, head-dress of eagle's feathers and ermine's tails, etcetera. They made little objection to part with any portions of the dress except the kilt; at last they had a meeting of the whole band, as the dress was not the property of any one individual; and I was informed that the warriors would come and have a talk with me.

I received them at the factory's new house, in my room, which was large, and held them all. One came and presented me with a pair of garters; another with a portion of the head-dress; another with moccasins; at last, the kilt or girdle was handed to me. M. Rainville sat by as interpreter. He who had presented me with the kilt or girdle spoke for half a minute, and then stopped while what he said was being interpreted.

"You are an Englishman, and a warrior in your own country. You cross the great waters as fast as we can our prairies. We recollect the English, and we like them; they used us well. The rifles and blankets which they gave us, according to promise, were of good quality: not like the American goods; their rifles are bad, and their blankets are thin. The English keep their word, and they live in our memory."

"Ho!" replied I; which is as much as to say, I understand what you have said, and you may proceed.

"You have asked for the dress which we wear when we dance; we have never parted with one as yet; they belong to the band of warriors; when one who has worn a dress goes to the land of spirits, we hold a council, to see who is most worthy to put it on in his place. We value them highly; and we tell you so not to enhance their value, but to prove what we will do for an English warrior."

"Ho!" says I.

"An American, in the fort, has tried hard to obtain this dress from us; he offered us two barrels of flour, and other things. You know that we have no game, and we are hungry; but if he had offered twelve barrels of flour, we would not have parted with them. (This was true.) But our father, Rainville, has spoken; and we have pleasure in giving them to an English warrior. I have spoken."

"Ho!" says I; upon which the Indian took his seat with the other; and it was my turn to speak. I was very near beginning, "Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking;" but I knew that such an acknowledgment would in their estimation, have very much lessened my value as a warrior; for, like the Duke of Wellington, one must be as valuable in the council as in the field, to come up to their notions of excellence. So I rose, and said—

"I receive with great pleasure the dress which you have given me.—I know that you do not like to part with it, and that you have refused the American at the fort, and I therefore value it the more. I shall never look upon it, when I am on the other side of the great waters, without thinking of my friends the Sioux; and I will tell my nation that you gave them to me because I was an English warrior, and because you liked the English."

"Ho!" grunted the whole conclave, after this was interpreted.

"I am very glad that you do not forget the English, and that you say they kept their word, and that their rifles and blankets were good. I know that the blankets of the Americans are thin and cold. (I did not think it worth while to say that they were all made in England.) We have buried the hatchet now; but should the tomahawk be raised again between the Americans and the English, you must not take part with the Americans."

"Ho!" said they.

"In the Fur Company's store you will find many things acceptable to you. I leave Mr Rainville to select for you what you wish; and beg you will receive them in return for the present which you have made me."

"Ho!" said they; and thus ended my first Indian council.

It is remarkable that the Sioux have no expression to signify, "I thank you," although other Indians have. When they receive a present, they always say, Wash tay: it is good.

Of all the tribes I believe the Sioux to be the most inimical to the Americans. They have no hesitation in openly declaring so; and it must be acknowledged that it is not without just grounds. During the time that I was at St Peters, a council was held at the Indian agent's. It appears that the American Government, in its paternal care for the Indians, had decided that at any strike taking place between tribes of Indians near to the confines, no war should take place in consequence: that is to say, that should any Indians of one tribe attack or kill any Indians belonging to another, that instead of the tribes going to war, they should apply for and receive redress from the American Government. Some time back, a party of Chippeways came down to a trader's house, about half a mile from Port Snelling. Being almost hereditary enemies of the Sioux, they were fired at, at night, by some of the young men of the Sioux village close by, and two of the Chippeways were wounded. In conformity with the intimation received, and the law laid down by the American Government, and promulgated by the Indian agent, the Chippeways applied for redress. It was granted—four Sioux were taken and shot. This summary justice was expected to produce the best effects, and, had it been followed up, it might have prevented bloodshed: but, since the above occurrence, some Chippeways came down, and meeting a party of Sioux, were received kindly into their lodges; they returned this hospitality by treacherously murdering eleven of the Sioux, while they were asleep. This time the Sioux brought forward their complaint. "You tell us not to go to war; we will not; you shot four of our people for wounding two Chippeways; now do us justice against the Chippeways, who have murdered eleven of our Sioux." As yet no justice has been done to the Sioux. The fact is, that the Chippeways live a long way off; and there are not sufficient men to garrison the fort, still less to send a party out to capture the Chippeways; and the Sioux are, as may well be supposed, indignant at this partial proceeding.

I was at the council, and heard all the speeches made by the Sioux chiefs on the occasion. They were some of them very eloquent, and occasionally very severe; and the reply of the Indian agent must have rendered the American Government very contemptible in the eyes of the Indians—not that the agent was so much in fault as was the American Government, which, by not taking proper measures to put their promises and agreements into force, had left their officer in such a position. First, the Indian agent said, that the wounding of the two Chippeways took place close to the fort, and that it was on account of the insult offered to the American flag that it was so promptly punished—a very different explanation, and quite at variance with the principle laid down by the American Government. The Indians replied; and the agent then said, that they had not sufficient troops to defend the fort, and, therefore, could not send out a party; an admission very unwise to make, although strictly true. The Indians again replied; and then the agent said wait a little till we hear from Washington, and then, if you have no redress, you are brave men, you have arms in your hands, and your enemies are before you. This was worse than all, for it implied the inability or the indifference of the American Government to do them justice, and told them, after that government had distinctly declared that they should fight no longer, but receive redress from it, that they now might do what the government had forbidden them to do, and that they had no other chance of redress. The result of this council was very unsatisfactory. The Indian chiefs declared that they were ashamed to look their people in the lace, and walked solemnly away.

To make this matter still worse, after I left St Peters, I read in the St Louis Gazette a report of some Chippeways having come down, and that, in consequence of the advice given by the Indian agent, the Sioux had taken the law into their own hands and murdered some of the Chippeways; and that although they had never received redress for the murder of their own people, some of the Sioux were again taken and executed.

The arms of the Sioux are the rifle, tomahawk, and bow; they carry spears more for parade than use. Their bows are not more than three feet long, but their execution with them is surprising. A Sioux, when on horseback chasing the buffalo, will drive his arrow which is about eighteen inches long, with such force that the barb shall appear on the opposite side of the animal. And one of their greatest chiefs, Wanataw, has been known to kill two buffaloes with one arrow, it having passed through the first of the animals, and mortally wounded the second on the other side of it. I was about two hundred yards from the fort, and asked a Sioux if he could send his arrow into one of the apertures for air, which were near the foundation, and about three inches wide. It appeared more like a thread from where we stood. He took his bow, and apparently with a most careless aim he threw the arrow right into it.

The men are tall and straight, and very finely made, with the exception of their arms, which are too small. The arms of the squaws, who do all the labour, are much more muscular. One day, as I was on the prairie, I witnessed the effect of custom upon these people. A Sioux was coming up without perceiving me; his squaw followed very heavily laden, and to assist her he had himself a large package on his shoulder. As soon as they perceived me, he dropped his burden, and it was taken up by the squaw and added to what she had already. If a woman wishes to upbraid another, the severest thing she can say is, "You let your husband carry burthens."


Left St Peters. Taking the two varieties in the mass, the Indians must be acknowledged the most perfect gentlemen in America, particularly in their deportment. It was with regret that I parted with my friends in the fort, my kind host, Mr Sibley, and my noble-minded warrior Sioux. I could have remained at St Peters for a year with pleasure, and could only regret that life was so short, and the Mississippi so long.

There is, however, one serious drawback in all America to life in the woods, or life in cities, or every other kind of life; which is the manner, go where you will, in which you are pestered by the mosquitoes. Strangers are not the only sufferers; those who are born and die in the country are equally tormented, and it is slap, slap, slap, all day and all night long, for these animals bite through everything less thick than a buffalo's skin. As we ascended the river they attacked us on the crown of the head—a very unusual thing,—and raised swellings as large as pigeons' eggs. I must have immolated at least five hundred of them upon my bump of benevolence. Whatever people may think, I feel that no one can be very imaginative where these animals are so eternally tormenting them. You meditate under the shady boughs of some forest-king (slap knee, slap cheek), and farewell to anything like concentration of thought; you ponder on the sailing moon (clap again, right and left, above, below), always unpleasantly interrupted. It won't do at all: you are teased and phlebotomised out of all poetry and patience.

It is midnight, the darkness is intense, not even a star in the heavens above, and the steamboat appears as if it were gliding through a current of ink, with black masses rising just perceptible on either side of it; no sound except the reiterated note of the "Whip poor Will," answered by the loud coughing of the high-pressure engine. Who, of those in existence fifty years ago, would have contemplated that these vast and still untenanted solitudes would have had their silence invaded by such an unearthly sound? a sound which ever gives you the idea of vitality. It is this appearance of breathing which makes the high-pressure engine the nearest approach to creation which was ever attained by the ingenuity of man. It appears to have respiration, and that short, quick respiration occasioned by exertion; its internal operations are performed as correctly and as mechanically as are our own; it is as easily put out of order and rendered useless as we are; and like us, it can only continue its powers of motion by being well supplied with aliment.

Ran up Fever River to Galena, the present emporium of the Mineral Country. There is an unpleasant feeling connected with the name of this river; it is, in fact, one of the American translations. It was originally called Feve, or Bean River, by the French, and this they have construed into Fever. The Mineral district comprehends a tract of country running about one hundred miles North and South, and fifty miles East and West, from the River Wisconsin to about twenty miles south of Galena. It was purchased by the American Government about fifteen years ago, the northern portion from the Winnebagos, and the southern from the Sioux and Fox Indians. The Indians used to work the diggings to a small extent, bringing the lead which they obtained to exchange with the traders. As may be supposed, they raised but little, the whole work of digging and smelting being carried on by the squaws. After the land was surveyed a portion of it was sold, but when the minerals made their appearance the fact was notified by the surveyors to the government, and the remaining portions were withdrawn from the market. A licence was granted to speculators to dig the ore and smelt it, upon condition of their paying to the government a percentage on the mineral obtained. Those who found a good vein had permission to work it for forty yards square on condition that they carried the ore to a licensed smelter. This occasioned a new class of people to spring up in this speculative country, namely, finders, who would search all over the country for what they called a good prospect, that is, every appearance on the surface of a good vein of metal. This when found they would sell to others, who would turn diggers; and as soon as these finders had spent their money, they would range over the whole country to find another prospect which they might dispose of. But although it was at first supposed that the government had retained all the mineral portion of the district in its own hands, it was soon discovered that nearly the whole country was one continued lead mine, and that there was an equal supply of mineral to be obtained from those portions which had been disposed of. Lead was found not only in the mountains and ravines, but under the surface of the wide prairies. As the lands sold by government had not to pay a percentage for the lead raised from them, those who worked upon the government lands refused to pay any longer, asserting that it was not legal. The superintendent of government soon found that his office was a sinecure, as all attempt at coercion in that half-civilised country would have been not only useless but dangerous. The government have gone to law with their tenants, but that is of no avail, for a verdict against the latter would not induce them to pay. The cause was not attempted to be tried at Galena, for the government knew what the decision of the jury would have been, but it is contested at Vandalia. It is three years since the mines have paid any percentage, and the government are now advised to sell all their reserved lands, and thus get rid of the business. How weak must that government be when it is compelled to submit to such a gross violation of all justice. The quantity of mineral found does not appear to affect the quality of the soil, which is as fine here, if not finer, than in those portions of Wisconsin where the mineral is not so plentiful. The quantity of lead annually smelted is said to amount to from 18,000,000 to 20,000,000 lbs. Galena is a small town, picturesquely situated on the banks of the river, but very dirty.

Ioway, the new district opposite to Wisconsin, on the western banks of the Mississippi, has, in all probability, a large proportion of metal under its surface. When it was in the possession of the Sioux Indians, they used to obtain from it a considerable portion of lead, which they brought down to barter; and I am inclined to think, that to the north of the Wisconsin river, they will find no want of minerals, even as high up as Lake Superior, where they have already discovered masses of native copper weighing many tons: and on the west side of the river, as you proceed south, you arrive at the iron mines, or rather mountains of iron, in the Missouri.

After you proceed south of Prairie du Chien, the features of the Mississippi river gradually change; the bluffs decrease in number and in height, until you descend to Rock Island, below which point they are rarely to be met with. The country on each side now is chiefly composed of variegated rolling prairies, with a less proportion of timber. To describe these prairies would be difficult; that is, to describe the effect of them upon a stranger: I have found myself lost, as it were; and indeed sometimes, although on horseback, have lost myself, having only the sun for my guide. Look round in every quarter of the compass, and there you are as if on the ocean—not a landmark, not a vestige of any thing human but yourself. Instead of sky and water, it is one vast field, bounded only by the horizon, its surface gently undulating like the waves of the ocean; and as the wind (which always blows fresh on the prairies) bows down the heads of the high grass, it gives you the idea of a running swell. Every three or four weeks there is a succession of beautiful flowers, giving a variety of tints to the whole map, which die away and are succeeded by others equally beautiful; and in the spring, the strawberries are in such profusion, that you have but to sit down wherever you may happen to be, and eat as long as you please.

We stopped at Alton, in the State of Missouri, to put on shore three thousand pigs of lead. This town has been rendered notorious by the murder—for murder it was, although it was brought on by his own intemperate conduct—of Mr Lovejoy, who is now raised to the dignity of a martyr by the abolitionists. Alton is a well-built town, of stone, and, from its locality, must increase; it is, however, spoilt by the erection of a penitentiary with huge walls, on a most central and commanding situation. I read a sign put out by a small eating-house, and which was very characteristic of the country—

"Stranger, here's your chicken fixings."

Four miles below Alton, the Missouri joins its waters with the Mississippi; and the change which takes place at the mingling of the two streams is very remarkable—the clear pellucid current of the upper Mississippi being completely extinguished by the foul mud of the other turbid and impetuous river. It was a great mistake of the first explorers, when they called the western branch, at the meeting of the two rivers, the Missouri, and the eastern the Mississippi: the western branch, or the Missouri, is really the Mississippi, and should have been so designated: it is the longest and farthest navigable of the two branches, and therefore is the main river.

The Falls of St Anthony put an end to the navigation of the eastern branch, or present upper Missouri, about nine hundred miles above St Louis; while the western branch, or present Missouri, is navigable above St Louis for more than one thousand two hundred miles.

The waters of the present upper Mississippi are clear and beautiful; it is a swift, but not an angry stream, full of beauty and freshness, and fertilising as it sweeps along; while the Missouri is the same impetuous, discoloured, devastating current as the Mississippi continues to be after its junction—like it, constantly sweeping down forests of trees in its wild course, overflowing, inundating, and destroying, and exciting awe and fear.

As soon as you arrive at St Louis, you feel that you are on the great waters of Mississippi. St Louis is a well-built town, now containing about twenty thousand inhabitants, and situated on a hill shelving down to the river. The population increases daily; the river a-breast of the town is crowded with steamboats, lying in two or three tiers, and ready to start up or down, or to the many tributary navigable rivers which pour their waters into the Mississippi.

In point of heat, St Louis certainly approaches the nearest to the Black Hole of Calcutta of any city that I have sojourned in. The lower part of the town is badly drained, and very filthy. The flies, on a moderate calculation, are in many parts fifty to the square inch. I wonder that they have not a contagious disease here during the whole summer; it is, however, indebted to heavy rains for its occasional purification. They have not the yellow-fever here; but during the autumn they have one which, under another name, is almost as fatal—the bilious congestive fever. I found sleep almost impossible from the sultriness of the air, and used to remain at the open window for the greater part of the night. I did not expect that the muddy Mississippi would be able to reflect the silver light of the moon; yet it did, and the effect was very beautiful. Truly it may be said of this river, as it is of many ladies, that it is a candle-light beauty. There is another serious evil to which strangers who sojourn here are subject— the violent effects of the waters of the Mississippi upon those who are not used to them. The suburbs of the town are very pretty; and a few miles behind it you are again in a charming prairie country, full of game, large and small. Large and small are only so by comparison. An American was asked what game they had in his district? and his reply was, "Why, we've plenty of baar (bear) and deer, but no large game to count on."

There is one great luxury in America, which is the quantity of clear pure ice which is to be obtained wherever you are, even in the hottest seasons, and ice-creams are universal and very cheap. I went into an establishment where they vended this and other articles of refreshment, when about a dozen black swarthy fellows, employed at the iron-foundry close at hand, with their dirty shirt-sleeves tucked up, and without their coats and waistcoats, came in, and sitting down, called for ice-creams. Miss Martineau says in her work, "Happy is the country where factory-girls can carry parasols, and pig-drivers wear spectacles." She might have added, and the sons of Vulcan eat ice-creams. I thought at the time what the ladies, who stop in their carriages at Gunter's, would have said, had they behold these Cyclops with their bare sinewy arms, blackened with heat and smoke, refreshing themselves with such luxuries; but it must be remembered that porter is much the dearer article. Still the working classes all over America can command not only all necessary comforts, but many luxuries; for labour is dear and they are very well paid. The Americans will point this out and say, behold the effects of our institutions; and they fully believe that such is the case. Government has, however, nothing to do with it; it is the result of circumstances. When two years' exertion will procure a clever mechanic an independence, the effects will be the same, whether they labour under a democratic or a monarchical form of government.

Bear cubs (I mean the black bear) are caught and brought down to the cities on this side of the river, to be fattened for the table. I saw one at Alton about a year old, which the owner told me was to be killed the next day, having been bespoken for the feast of the 4th of July. I have eaten old bear, which I dislike; but they say that the cub is very good. I also saw here a very fine specimen of the grizzly bear (Ursus Horridus of Linnaeus). It was about two years old, and although not so tall, it must have weighed quite as much as a good-sized bullock. Its width of shoulder and apparent strength were enormous, and they have never yet been tamed: Mr Van Amburgh would be puzzled to handle one of them. The Indians reckon the slaying of one of these animals as a much greater feat than killing a man, and the proudest ornament they can wear is a necklace of the grizzly bear's claws.

I for myself, must confess, that I had rather be attacked by, and take my chance with, three men than by one of these animals, as they are seldom killed by the first or even the second bullet. It requires numbers to overcome them. The largest lion, or Bengal tiger, would stand but a poor chance, if opposed to one of these animals full grown. One of the gentlemen employed by the Fur Company told me, that he once saw a grizzly bear attack a bull buffalo, and that, at the first seizure, he tore one of the ribs of the buffalo out of his side, and eventually carried away the whole carcass, without much apparent effort. They are only to be found in the rocky mountains, and valleys between them, when the game is plentiful.

Visited the museum. There were once five large alligators to be seen alive in this museum; but they are now all dead. One demands our sympathy, as there was something Roman in his fate. Unable to support such a life of confinement, and preferring death to the loss of liberty, he committed suicide by throwing himself out of a three-storey-high window. He was taken up from the pavement the next morning; the vital spark had fled, as the papers say, and, I believe, his remains were decently interred.

The other four, never having been taught in their youth the hymn, "Birds in their little nests agree," fought so desperately, that one by one they all died of their wounds. They were very large, being from seventeen to twenty-one feet long. One, as a memorial, remains preserved in the museum, and to make him look more poetical, he has a stuffed negro in his mouth.


Thank Heaven I have escaped from St Louis; during the time that I remained in that city, I was, day and night, so melting away, that I expected, like some of the immortal half-breeds of Jupiter, to become a tributary stream to the Mississippi.

As you descend the river the land through which it flows becomes more level and flat, while the size of the forest trees increases; the log houses of the squatters, erected on the banks under their trunks, appear, in contrast with their size, more like dog-kennels than the habitations of men. The lianes, or creeping plants, now become plentiful, and embrace almost every tree, rising often to the height of fifty or sixty feet, and encircling them with the apparent force of the boa-constrictor. Most of them are poisonous; indeed, it is from these creeping parasites that the Indians, both in North and South America, obtain the most deadly venom. Strange that these plants, in their appearances and their habits so similar to the serpent tribe, should be endowed with the same peculiar attributes, and thus become their parallels in the vegetable kingdom—each carrying sudden death in their respective juices. I hate the Mississippi, and as I look down upon its wild and filthy waters, boiling and eddying, and reflect how uncertain is travelling in this region of high-pressure, and disregard of social rights, I cannot help feeling a disgust at the idea of perishing in such a vile sewer, to be buried in mud, and perhaps to be rooted out again by some pig-nosed alligator.

Right glad was I when we turned into the stream of the Ohio, and I found myself on its purer waters. The Ohio is a splendid river, running westward from the chain of Alleghany mountains into the Mississippi, dividing the States of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio on its northern bank from Kentucky, and Virginia on its south; the northern being free, and the southern slave States. We stopped at the month of the Cumberland river, where we took in passengers. Among others were a slave-dealer and a runaway negro whom he had captured. He was secured by a heavy chain, and followed his master, who, as soon as he arrived on the upper deck, made him fast with a large padlock to one of the stancheons.

Here he remained looking wistfully at the northern shore, where every one was free, but occasionally glancing his eye on the southern, which had condemned him to toil for others, I had never seen a slave-dealer, and scrutinised this one severely. His most remarkable feature was his eye; it was large but not projecting, clear as crystal, and eternally in motion. I could not help imagining, as he turned it right and left from one to the other of the passengers, that he was calculating what price he could obtain for them in the market. The negro had run away about seven months before, and not having a pass, he had been secured in goal until the return of his master, who had been on a journey with a string of slaves, to the State of Arkansas: he was about to be sold to pay expenses, when his master saw the advertisement and claimed him. As may be supposed, a strong feeling exists on the opposite shores of the river as to slavery and freedom. The Abolitionists used to assist the slaves to escape, and send them off to Canada; even now many do escape; but this has been rendered more difficult by a system which has latterly been put in practice by a set of miscreants living on the free side of the river. These would go to the slave states opposite, and persuade the negroes to run away, promising to conceal them until they could send them off to Canada; for a free state is bound to give up a slave when claimed. Instead of sending them away, they would wait until the reward was offered by the masters for the apprehension of the slaves, and then return them, receiving their infamous guerdon. The slaves, aware of this practice, now seldom attempt to escape.

Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky; the country about is very rich, and every thing vegetable springs up with a luxuriance which is surprising. It is situated at the falls of the Ohio, which are only navigable during the freshets; there is no river in America which has such a rise and fall as the Ohio, sometimes rising to sixty feet in the spring; but this is very rare, the general average being about forty feet. The French named it La Belle Riviere: it is a very grand stream, running through hills covered with fine timber and underwood; but a very small portion is as yet cleared by the settlers. At the time that I was at Louisville the water was lower than it had been remembered for years, and you could walk for miles over the bed of the river, a calcareous deposite full of interesting fossils; but the mineralogist and geologist have as much to perform in America as the agriculturist.

Arrived at Cincinnati. How rapid has been the advance of this western country. In 1803, deer-skin at the value of forty cents per pound, were a legal tender; and if offered instead of money could not be refused— even by a lawyer. Not fifty years ago, the woods which towered where Cincinnati is now built, resounded only to the cry of the wild animals of the forest, or the rifle of the Shawnee Indian; now Cincinnati contains a population of 40,000 inhabitants. It is a beautiful, well built, clean town, reminding you more of Philadelphia than any other city in the Union. Situated on a hill on the banks of the Ohio, it is surrounded by a circular phalanx of other hills; so that look up and down the streets, whichever way you will, your eye reposes upon verdure and forest trees in the distance. The streets have a row of trees on each side, near the curb-stone; and most of the houses have a small frontage, filled with luxuriant flowering shrubs, of which the Althea Frutex is the most abundant. It is, properly speaking, a Yankee city, the majority of its inhabitants coming from the East; but they have intermarried, and blended with the Kentuckians of the opposite shore, a circumstance which is advantageous to the character of both.

There are, however, a large number of Dutch and German settlers here; they say 10,000. They are not much liked by the Americans but have great influence, as may be conceived when it is stated that, when a motion was brought forward, in the Municipal Court, for the city regulations to be printed in German as well as English, it was lost by one vote only.

I was told a singular fact, which will prove how rapidly the value of land rises in this country as it becomes peopled. Fifty-six years ago, the major part of the land upon which the city of Cincinnati stands, and which is now worth many millions of dollars, was swapped away by the owner of it for a pony!! The man who made this unfortunate bargain is now alive, and living in or near Cincinnati.

Cincinnati is the pork-shop of the Union; and in the autumnal, and early winter months, the way they kill pigs here is, to use a Yankee phrase, quite a caution. Almost all the hogs fed in the oak forests of Ohio, Kentucky, and Western Virginia, are driven into this city, and some establishments kill as many as fifteen hundred a day; at least so I am told. They are despatched in a way quite surprising; and a pig is killed upon the same principle as a pin is made,—by division, or, more properly speaking, by combination of labour. The hogs confined in a large pen are driven into a smaller one; one man knocks them on the head with a sledge hammer, and then cuts their throats; two more pull away the carcase, when it is raised by two others, who tumble it into a tub of scalding water. His bristles are removed in about a minute and a half by another party; when the next duty is to fix a stretcher between his legs. It is then hoisted up by two other people, cut open, and disembowelled; and in three minutes and a half from the time that the hog was grunting in his obesity, he has only to get cold before he is again packed up, and reunited in a barrel to travel all over the world. By the by, we laugh at the notion of pork and molasses. In the first place, the American pork is far superior to any that we ever have salted down; and, in the next, it eats uncommonly well with molasses. I have tasted it, and "it is a fact." After all, why should we eat currant jelly with venison, and not allow the Americans the humble imitation of pork and molasses?

Mrs Trollope's bazaar raises its head in a very imposing manner: it is composed of many varieties of architecture; but I think the order under which it must be classed is the preposterous. They call it Trollope's folly; and it is remarkable how a shrewd woman like Mrs Trollope should have committed such an error. A bazaar like an English bazaar is only to be supported in a city which has arrived at the acme of luxury; where there are hundreds of people willing to be employed for a trifle; hundreds who will work at trifles, for want of better employment; and thousands who will spend money on trifles, merely to pass away their time. Now, in America, in the first place, there is no one who makes trifles; no one who will devote their time, as sellers of the articles unless well compensated; and no one who will be induced, either by fashion or idleness, to give a halfpenny more for a thing than it is worth. In consequence, nothing was sent to Mrs Trollope's bazaar. She had to furnish it from the shops, and had to pay very high salaries to the young women who attended; and the people of Cincinnati, aware that the same articles were to be purchased at the stores for less money, preferred going to the stores. No wonder then that it was a failure. It is now used as a dancing academy, and occasionally as an assembly-room.

Whatever the society of Cincinnati may have been at the time that Mrs Trollope resided there, I cannot pretend to say; probably some change may have taken place in it; but at present it is as good as any in the Union, and infinitely more agreeable than in some other cities, as in it there is a mixture of the southern frankness of character. A lady, who had long resided at Cincinnati, told me that they were not angry with Mrs Trollope for having described the society which she saw, but for having asserted that that was the best society; and she further remarked,—"It is fair to us that it should be understood that when Mrs Trollope came here, she was quite unknown, except inasmuch as that she was a married woman, travelling without her husband. In a small society, as ours was, it was not surprising, therefore, that we should be cautious about receiving a lady who, in our opinion was offending against les bienseances. Observe, we do not accuse Mrs Trollope of any impropriety; but you must be aware how necessary it is, in this country, to be regardful of appearances, and how afraid every one is of their neighbour. Mrs Trollope then took a cottage on the hill, and used to come down to the city to market, and attend to the erection of her bazaar. I have now told you all that we know about her, and the reason why she did not receive those attentions, the omission of which caused her indignation." I think it but fair that the lady's explanation should be given, as Mrs Trollope is considered to have been very severe and very unjust by the inhabitants of Cincinnati.

The fact is, that Mrs Trollope's representation of the manners and custom of Cincinnati, at the period when she wrote, was probably more correct than the present inhabitants of the city will allow: that it would be a libel upon the Cincinnatians of the present day is certain; whether it was one at the time she wrote, and the city was, comparatively speaking, in its infancy, is quite another affair. However, one thing is certain, which is, that the Americans have quite forgiven Mrs Trollope, and if she were again to cross the water, I think she would be well received. Her book made them laugh, though at their own expense; and the Americans, although appearances are certainly very much against it, are really, at the bottom, a very good tempered people.

The heat has been this year very remarkable all over the Western country, and the drought equally uncommon, the thermometer standing from 100 degrees to 106 degrees, in the shade, every where from St Peters to New Orleans. It is very dangerous to drink iced water, and many have died from yielding to the temptation. One young man came into the bar of the hotel where I resided, drank a glass of water, and fell down dead at the porch. This reminds me of an ingenious plan put in practice by a fellow who had drunk every cent out of his pocket, and was as thirsty as ever. The best remedy, in case of a person being taken ill from drinking cold water, is to pour brandy down his throat immediately. Aware of this, the fellow used to go to one of the pumps, pump away, and pretend to drink water in large quantities; he would then fall down by the pump, as if he had been taken suddenly ill; out would run people from every house, with brandy, and pour it down his throat till even he had had enough; he would then pretend gradually to recover, thank them for their kindness, and walk away. When he required another dose, he would perform the same farce at another pump; and this he continued to do for some time, before his trick was discovered.

I had two good specimens of democracy during my stay in this city. I sent for a tailor to take my measure for a coat, and he returned for answer, that such a proceeding was not republican, and that I must go to him.

A young lady, with whom I was acquainted, was married during the time I was there, and the marriage-party went a short tour. On their return, when but a few miles from the city, they ordered the driver of the carriage to put his horses to, that they might proceed; he replied that he would take them no further. On inquiring the cause of his refusal, he said that he had not been treated as a gentleman; that they had had private meals every day, and had not asked him to the table; that they had used him very ill, and that he would drive no more. Things appear to be fast verging to the year 1920, or thereabouts, as described by Theodore Hook. A duchess wishing for a drive, the old mare sends an answer from the stable, that "She'll be d—-d if she'll go out today."

Left Cincinnati, in a very small steam-boat, for Guyandotte, on my way to the Virginia Springs. I have often heard the expression of "Hell afloat" applied to very uncomfortable ships in the service, but this metaphor ought to have been reserved for a small high-pressure steamboat in the summer months in America; the sun darting his fierce rays down upon the roof above you, which is only half-inch plank, and rendering it so hot that you quickly remove your hand if, by chance, you put it there; the deck beneath your feet so heated by the furnaces below that you cannot walk with slippers; you are panting and exhausted between these two fires, without a breath of air to cool your forehead. Go forward, and the chimneys radiate a heat which is even more intolerable. Go—but there is no where to go, except overboard, and then you lose your passage. It is, really, a fiery furnace, and, day or night, it is in vain to seek a cool retreat. As we proceeded up the river, things became worse. We had not proceeded more than twenty miles, when a larger steamboat, which had started an hour before us, was discovered aground on a bar, which, from the low state of the river, she could not pass. After a parley between the captains, we went alongside and took out all her passengers, amounting to upward of a hundred, being more than we were on board of our own vessel. But they behaved like pirates, and treated us just as if we had been a captured vessel. Dinner was just ready; they sat down and took possession of it, leaving us to wait till the table was replenished. A young Englishman had just taken his seat by me, when a very queer-looking man came up to him and begged that he would give up his place to a lady. Aware of the custom of the country, he immediately resigned his seat, and went to look for another. When the lady took her seat by me I involuntarily drew my chair to a more respectful distance, there being something so particularly uninviting in her ladyship's appearance. On our arrival at Maysville, this lady, with her gentleman, told the captain that they were sorry they had not a cent wherewith to defray the expenses of their passage. Their luggage had been landed before this declaration was made, but it was immediately ordered on board again by the captain; and as, of course, they would not part with their goods and chattels, they remained on board of the boat. The captain took them to the river about twenty miles further, and then landed them on the bank, with their luggage, to find their way back to Maysville how they could. This is the usual punishment for such trial-practices; but, after all, it is only the punishment of delay, as they would hail the first boat which came down the river, make out a piteous tale of ill-treatment, be received on board, and landed at their destination.

This reminds me of a clever trick played by a Yankee pedlar upon one of the captains of the steamboats running from New York to Albany on the Hudson river. The Yankee was fully aware of this custom of putting people on shore who attempted to gain a passage for nothing, and his destination was to a place called Poughkeepsie, about halfway between New York and Albany. He, therefore, waited very quietly until he was within a mile or two of Poughkeepsie, and then went up to the captain.—"Well, now, Captain, I like to do things on the square, that's a fact;—I might have said nothing to you, and run up all the way to Albany—and to Albany I must go on most particular business—that's a fact; but I thought it more honourable-like to tell you at once—I hav'nt got a cent in my pocket; I've been unfortunate; but, by the 'tarnal I'll pay you my passage-money as soon as I get it. You see I tell you now, that you may'nt say that I cheat you; for pay you I will as soon as I can, that's a fact." The captain, indignant, as usual, at being tricked, called him certain names, swore a small quantity, and as soon as he arrived at Poughkeepsie, as a punishment put him ashore at the very place the keen Yankee wished to be landed at.

The Ohio river becomes much more rapid as you ascend. Abreast of Guyandotte, where we landed, the current was so strong that it was very difficult for men to wade across it, and the steamboats running against the stream could not gain more than a mile in the course of half an hour.

On board of this steamboat was a negro woman, very neatly dressed, with a very good-looking negro child, about nine months old, in her arms. It was of the darkest ebony in colour, and its dress rather surprised me. It was a chali frock, of a neat fawn coloured pattern, with fine muslin trousers edged with Valenciennes lace at the bottom; and very pretty did its little tiny black feet look, relieved by these expensive unnecessaries. I did not inquire who the young gentleman was; but I thought what pleasure the sight of him would have given Miss Martineau, who, as I have before observed, exclaims, "Happy is the country where factory-girls carry parasols, and pig-drivers wear spectacles." How much more happy must be that country where a little black boy, of nine months old, wears Valenciennes lace at the bottom of his trousers! It is, however a question of figures, and may be solved, not by the rule of three, but by the rule of five, which follows it in the arithmetic-book.

======================================== YIf a pig-driverYproduces so muchYa little black boyY ———————-————————————————— Ywith spectaclesYhappiness, YValenciennes lace.Y ============================================

I leave Miss Martineau to make the calculation.


There is extreme beauty in the Ohio river. As may be supposed, where the rise and fall are so great the banks are very steep; and, now that the water is low, it appears deeply embedded in the wild forest scenery through which it flows. The whole stream is alive with small fresh-water turtle, who play on the surface of its clear water; while the more beautiful varieties of the butterfly tribe cross over from one side to the other, from the slave States to the free—their liberty, at all events, not being interfered with as, on the free side, it would be thought absurd to catch what would not produce a cent; while, on the slaves', their idleness and their indifference to them are their security.

Set off, one of nine, in a stage-coach, for the Blue Sulphur springs. The country, which is very picturesque, has been already described. It is one continuation of rising ground, through mountains covered with trees and verdure. Nature is excessively fond of drapery in America. I have never yet fallen in with a naked rock. She clothes every thing; and although you may occasionally meet with a slight nudity, it is no more than the exposure of the neck or the bare feet of the mountain-nymph. This ridge of the Alleghanies is very steep; but you have no distinct view as you climb up, not even at the Hawk's Nest, where you merely peep down into the ravine below. You are jammed up in the forests through which you pass nearly the whole of the way; and it was delightful to arrive at any level, and fall in with the houses and well-tilled fields of the Virginian farmers, exhibiting every proof of prosperity and ease. The heat was dreadful; two horses fell dead, and I thought that many others would have died, for two of the wheels were defective, and the labour of the poor animals, in dragging us constantly up hill, was most severe.

The indifference of the proprietors of public conveyances in America as to the safety of their passengers, can only be accounted for by the extreme indifference of the passengers themselves, and the independent feeling shewn by every class, who, whatever may be their profession, will never acknowledge themselves to be what we term the servants of the public. Here was an instance. The coach we were put into was defective in two of its wheels, and could only be repaired at Louisburg, about a hundred miles distant. Instead of sending it on to that town empty, as would have been done by our coach proprietors, and providing another (as they had plenty), for the passengers; instead of this, in order to save the extra trouble and expense, they risked the lives of the passengers on a road with a precipice on one side of it for at least four-fifths of the way. One of the wheels would not hold the grease, and creaked most ominously during the whole journey; and we were obliged to stop and pour water on it continually. The box and irons of the other were loose, and before we were half way it came off, and we were obliged to stop and get out. But the Americans are never at a loss when they are in a fix. The passengers borrowed an axe; in a short time wedges were cut from one of the trees at the road-side, and the wheel was so well repaired that it lasted us the remainder of our journey.

Our road for some time lay through the valley of Kenawha, through which runs the river of that name—a strong, clear stream. It is hemmed in by mountains on each side of it; and here, perhaps, is presented the most curious varieties of mineral produce that ever were combined in one locality. The river runs over a bed of horizontal calcareous strata, and by perforating this strata about forty or fifty feet below the level of the river, you arrive at salt-springs, the waters of which are pumped up by small steam-engines, and boiled down into salt in buildings erected on the river's banks. The mountains which hem in the river are one mass of coal; a gallery is opened at that part of the foot of the mountain most convenient to the buildings, and the coal is thrown down by shoots or small railways. Here you have coal for your fuel; salt water under fresh; and as soon as the salt is put into the barrels (which are also made from the mountain timber), the river is all ready to transplant them down to Ohio. But there is another great curiosity in this valley: these beds of coal have produced springs, as they are termed, of carburetted hydrogen gas, which run along the banks of the river close to the water's-edge. The negroes take advantage of these springs when they come down at night to wash clothes; they set fire to the springs, which yield them sufficient light for their work. The one which I examined was dry, and the gas bubbled up through the sand. By kicking the sand about, so as to make communications after I had lighted the gas, I obtained a very large flame, which I left burning.

The heat, as we ascended, was excessive, and the passengers availed themselves of every spring, with the exception of those just described, that they fell in with on the route. We drank of every variety of water excepting pure water—sometimes iron, sometimes sulphur; and, indeed, every kind of chalybeate, for every rill was impregnated in some way or another. At last, it occurred to me that there were such things as chemical affinities, and that there was no saying what changes might take place by the admixture of such a variety of metals and gases, so drank no more. I did not like, however, to interfere with the happiness of others, so I did not communicate my ideas to my fellow-passengers, who continued drinking during the whole day; and as I afterwards found out, did not sleep very well that night; they were, moreover, very sparing in the use of them the next day.

There are a great variety of springs already discovered on these mountains, and probably there will be a great many more. Already they have the blue, the white, and the red sulphur springs; the sweet and the salt; the warm and the hot, all of which have their several virtues; but the greatest virtue of all these mineral springs is, as in England and every where else, that they occasion people to live regularly, to be moderate in the use of wine, and to dwell in a pure and wholesome air. They always remind me of the eastern story of the Dervish, who, being sent for by a king who had injured his health by continual indulgence, gave him a racket-ball, which he informed the king possessed wonderful medicinal virtues; with this ball his majesty was to play at racket two or three hours every day with his courtiers. The exercise it induced, which was the only medicinal virtue the ball possessed, restored the king to health. So it is with all watering places; it is not so much the use of the water, as the abstinence from what is pernicious, together with exercise and early hours, which effect the majority of cures.

We arrived first at the blue sulphur springs, and I remained there for one day to get rid of the dust of travelling. They have a very excellent hotel there, with a ball room, which is open till eleven o'clock every night; the scenery is very pretty, and the company was good—as indeed is the company at all these springs, for they are too distant, and the travelling too expensive for every body to get there. But the blue sulphur are not fashionable, and the consequence was, we were not crowded, and were very comfortable. People who cannot get accommodated at the white sulphur, remain here until they can, the distance between those being only twenty-two miles.

The only springs which are fashionable are the white sulphur, and as these springs are a feature in American society, I shall describe them more particularly.

They are situated in a small valley, many hundred feet above the level of the sea, and are of about fifteen or twenty acres in area, surrounded by small hills, covered with foliage to their summits: at one end of the Valley is the hotel, with the large dining-room for all the visitors. Close to the hotel, but in another building, in the ballroom, and a little below the hotel on the other side, is the spring itself; but beautiful as is the whole scenery, the great charm of this watering place is, the way in which those live who visit it. The rises of the hills which surround the valley are covered with little cottages, log-houses, and other picturesque buildings, sometimes in rows, and ornamented with verandahs, without a second storey above; or kitchen below. Some are very elegant and more commodious than the rest, having been built by gentlemen who have the right given to them by the company to whom the springs belong, of occupying themselves when there, but not of preventing others from taking possession of them in their absence. The dinners and other meals are, generally speaking, bad; not that there is not a plentiful supply, but that it is so difficult to supply seven hundred people sitting down in one room. In the morning, they all turn out from their little burrows, meet in the public walks, and go down to the spring before breakfast; during the forenoon, when it is too warm, they remain at home; after dinner, they ride out or pay visits, and then end the day, either at the ball-room or in little societies among one another. There is no want of handsome equipages, many four in hand (Virginny long tails) and every accommodation for these equipages. The crowd is very great, and it is astonishing what inconvenience people will submit to, rather than not be accommodated somehow or another. Every cabin is like a rabbit burrow. In the one next to where I was lodged, in a room about fourteen feet square, and partitioned off as well as it could be, there slept a gentleman and his wife, his sister and brother, and a female servant. I am not sure that the nigger was not under the bed—at all events, the young sister told me that it was not at all pleasant.

There is a sort of major-domo here who regulates every department: his word is law, and his fiat immoveable, and he presumes not a little upon his power; a circumstance not to be surprised at, as he is as much courted and is as despotic as all the lady patronesses of Almacks rolled into one. He is called the Metternich of the mountains. No one is allowed accommodation at these springs who is not known, and generally speaking, only those favourites who travel in their private carriages. It is at this place that you feel how excessively aristocratical and exclusive the Americans would be, and indeed will be, in spite of their institutions. Spa, in its palmiest days, when princes had to sleep in their carriages at the doors of the hotels, was not more in vogue than are these white sulphur springs with the elite of the United States. And it is here, and here only, in the States, that you do meet with what may be fairly considered as select society, for at Washington there is a great mixture. Of course, all the celebrated belles of the different States are to be met with here, as well as all the large fortunes, nor is there a scarcity of pretty and wealthy widows. The president, Mrs Caton, the mother of Lady Wellesley, Lady Strafford, and Lady Caermarthen, the daughter of Carrol, of Carroltown, one of the real aristocracy of America, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and all the first old Virginian and Carolina families, many of them descendants of the old cavaliers, were at the springs when I arrived there; and I certainly must say that I never was at any watering-place in England where the company was so good and so select as at the Virginia springs in America.

I passed many pleasant days at this beautiful spot, and was almost as unwilling to leave it as I was to part with the Sioux Indians at St Peters. Refinement and simplicity are equally charming. I was introduced to a very beautiful girl here, whom I should not have mentioned so particularly, had it not been that she was the first and only lady in America that I observed to whittle. She was sitting one fine morning on a wooden bench, surrounded by admirers, and as she carved away her seat with her pen-knife, so did she cut deep into the hearts of those who listened to her lively conversation.

There are, as may be supposed, a large number of negro servants here attending their masters and mistresses. I have often been amused, not only here, but during my residence in Kentucky, at the high-sounding Christian names which have been given to them. "Byron, tell Ada to come here directly." "Now, Telemachus, if you don't leave Calypso alone, you'll get a taste of the cow-hide."

Among others, attracted to the springs professionally, was a very clever German painter, who, like all Germans, had a very correct ear for music. He had painted a kitchen-dance in Old Virginia, and in the picture he had introduced all the well-known coloured people in the place; among the rest were the band of musicians, but I observed that one man was missing. "Why did you not put him in?" inquired I. "Why, Sir, I could not put him in; it was impossible; he never plays in tune. Why, if I put him in, Sir, he would spoil the harmony of my whole picture!"

I asked this artist how he got on in America. He replied, "But so-so: the Americans in general do not estimate genius. They come to me and ask what I want for my pictures, and I tell them. Then they say, 'How long did it take you to paint it?' I answer, 'So many days.' Well, then they calculate and say, 'If it took you only so many days, you ask so many dollars a day for your work; you ask a great deal too much; you ought to be content with so much per day, and I will give you that.' So that, thought I, invention and years of study go for nothing with these people. There is only one way to dispose of a picture in America, and that is, to raffle it; the Americans will then run the chance of getting it. If you do not like to part with your pictures in that way, you must paint portraits; people will purchase their own faces all over the world: the worst of it is, that in this country, they will purchase nothing else."

During my stay here, I was told of one of the most remarkable instances that perhaps ever occurred, of the discovery of a fact by the party from whom it was of the utmost importance to conceal it—a very pretty interesting young widow. She had married a promising young man, to whom she was tenderly attached, and who, a few months after the marriage, unfortunately fell in a duel. Aware that the knowledge of the cause of her husband's death would render the blow still more severe to her, (the ball having passed through the eye into his brain, and there being no evident gun-shot wound,) her relations informed her that he had been thrown from his horse, and killed by the fall. She believed them. She was living in the country, when, about nine months after her widowhood, her brother rode down to see her, and as soon as he arrived went into his room to shave and dress. The window of his room, which was on the ground-floor, looked out upon the garden, and it being summer time, it was open. He tore off a portion of an old newspaper to wipe his razor. The breeze caught it, and carried it away into the garden until it stopped at the feet of his sister, who happened to be walking. Mechanically she took up the fragment, and perceiving her husband's name upon it, she read it. It contained a full account of the duel in which he lost his life! The shock she received was so great that it unsettled her mind for nearly two years. She had but just recovered, and for the first time re-appeared in public, when she was pointed out to me.

Returning to Guyandotte, one of the travellers wished to see the view from the Hawk's Nest, or rather wished to be able to say that he had seen it. We passed the spot when it was quite dark, but he persisted in going there, and, to help his vision, borrowed one of the coach-lamps from the driver. He returned, and declared that with the assistance of the lamp he had had a very excellent view, down a precipice of several hundred feet. His bird's-eye view by candle-light must have been very extensive. After all, it is but to be able to say that they had been, to such a place, or have seen such a thing, that, more than any real taste for it, induces the majority of the world to incur the trouble and fatigue of travelling.


I was informed that a camp-meeting was to be held about seven miles from Cincinnati, and, anxious to verify the accounts I had heard of them, I availed myself of this opportunity of deciding for myself. We proceeded about five miles on the high road, and then diverged by a cross-road until we arrived at a steep conical hill, crowned with splendid forest trees without underwood; the trees being sufficiently apart to admit of wagons and other vehicles to pass in every direction. The camp was raised upon the summit of this hill, a piece of table-land comprising many acres. About an acre and a half was surrounded on the four sides by cabins built up of rough boards; the whole area in the centre was fitted up with planks, laid about a foot from the ground, as seats. At one end, but not close to the cabins, was a raised stand, which served as a pulpit for the preachers, one of them praying, while five or six others sat down behind him on benches. There was ingress to the area by the four corners; the whole of it was shaded by vast forest trees, which ran up to the height of fifty or sixty feet without throwing out a branch; and to the trunks of these trees were fixed lamps in every direction, for the continuance of service by night. Outside the area, which may be designated as the church, were hundreds of tents pitched in every quarter, their snowy whiteness contrasting beautifully with the deep verdure and gloom of the forest. These were the temporary habitations of those who had come many miles to attend the meeting, and who remained there from the commencement until it concluded—usually, a period of from ten to twelve days, but often much longer. The tents were furnished with every article necessary for cooking; mattresses to sleep upon, etcetera; some of them even had bedsteads and chests of drawers, which had been brought in the wagons in which the people in this country usually travel. At a farther distance were all the wagons and other vehicles which had conveyed the people to the meeting, whilst hundreds of horses were tethered under the trees, and plentifully provided with forage. Such were the general outlines of a most interesting and beautiful scene.

Where, indeed, could so magnificent a temple to the Lord be raised as on this lofty hill, crowned as it was with such majestic verdure. Compared with these giants of the forest, the cabins and tents of the multitude appeared as insignificant and contemptible as almost would man himself in the presence of the Deity. Many generations of men must have been mowed down before the arrival of these enormous trees to their present state of maturity; and at the time they sent forth their first shoots, probably were not on the whole of this continent, now teeming with millions, as many white men as are now assembled on this field. I walked about for some time surveying the panorama, when I returned to the area, and took my seat upon a bench. In one quarter the coloured population had collected themselves; their tents appeared to be better furnished and better supplied with comforts than most of those belonging to the whites. I put my head into one of the tents, and discovered a sable damsel lying on a bed and singing hymns in a loud voice.

The major portion of those not in the area were cooking the dinners. Fires were burning in every direction, pots boiling, chickens roasting, hams seething; indeed there appeared to be no want of creature comforts.

But the trumpet sounded, as in days of yore, as a signal that the service was about to recommence and I went into the area and took my seat. One of the preachers rose and gave out a hymn, which was sung by the congregation, amounting to about seven or eight hundred. After the singing of the hymn was concluded he commenced an extempore sermon: it was good, sound doctrine, and, although Methodism of the mildest tone, and divested of its bitterness of denunciation, as indeed is generally the case with Methodism in America. I heard nothing which could be offensive to any other sect, or which could be considered objectionable by the most orthodox, and I began to doubt whether such scenes as had been described to me did really take place at these meetings. A prayer followed, and after about two hours the congregation were dismissed to their dinners, being first informed that the service would recommence at two o'clock at the sound of the trumpet. In front of the pulpit there was a space railed off; and strewed with straw, which I was told was the Anxious seat, and on which sat those who were touched by their consciences or the discourse of the preacher; but, although there were several sitting on it, I did not perceive any emotion on the part of the occupants: they were attentive, but nothing more.

When I first examined the area, I saw a very large tent at one corner of it, probably fifty feet long, by twenty wide. It was open at the end, and, being full of straw, I concluded it was used as a sleeping-place for those who had not provided themselves with separate accommodation. About an hour after the service was over, perceiving many people directing their steps toward it, I followed them. On one side of the tent were about twenty females, mostly young, squatted down on the straw; on the other a few men; in the centre was a long form, against which were some other men kneeling, with their faces covered with their hands, as if occupied in prayer. Gradually the numbers increased, girl after girl dropped down upon the straw on the one side, and men on the other. At last an elderly man gave out a hymn, which was sung with peculiar energy; then another knelt down in the centre, and commenced a prayer, shutting his eyes (as I observed most clergymen in the United States do when they pray) and raising his hands above his head; then another burst out into a prayer, and another followed him; then their voices became all confused together; and then were heard the more silvery tones of woman's supplication. As the din increased so did their enthusiasm; handkerchiefs were raised to bright eyes, and sobs were intermingled with prayers and ejaculations. It became a scene of Babel; more than twenty men and women were crying out at the highest pitch of their voices, and trying apparently to be heard above the others. Every minute the excitement increased; some wrung their hands and called for mercy; some tore their hair; boys laid down crying bitterly, with their heads buried in the straw; there was sobbing almost to suffocation, and hysterics and deep agony. One young man clung to the form, crying, "Satan tears at me, but I would hold fast. Help— help, he drags me down!" It was a scene of horrible agony and despair; and, when it was at its height, one of the preachers came in, and raising his voice high above the tumult, intreated the Lord to receive into his fold those who now repented and would fain return. Another of the ministers knelt down by some young men, whose faces were covered up, and who appeared to be almost in a state of frenzy; and putting his hands upon them, poured forth an energetic prayer, well calculated to work upon their over excited feelings. Groans, ejaculations, broken sobs, frantic motions, and convulsions succeeded; some fell on their backs with their eyes closed, waving their hands with a slow motion, and crying out—"Glory, glory, glory!" I quitted the spot, and hastened away into the forest, for the sight was too painful, too melancholy. Its sincerity could not be doubted, but it was the effect of over-excitement, not of sober reasoning. Could such violence of feeling have been produced had each party retired to commune alone? most surely not. It was a fever created by collision and contact, of the same nature as that which stimulates a mob to deeds of blood and horror.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse