"In the northern marshes of Wisconsin," said one of our party, "I have seen the Indian women gathering this grain. Two of them take their places in a canoe; one of them seated in the stern pushes it with her paddle through the shallows of standing water, while the other, sitting forward, bends the heads of the rice-plant over the sides of the canoe, strikes them with a little stick and causes the grain to fall within it. In this way are collected large quantities, which serve as the winter food of the Menomonies, and some other tribes." The grain of the wild rice, I was told, is of a dark color, but palatable as food. The gentleman who gave me this account had made several attempts to procure it in a fit state to be sown, for Judge Buel, of Albany, who was desirous of trying its cultivation on the grassy shallows of our eastern rivers. He was not successfull at first, because, as soon as the grain is collected, it is kiln-dried by the Indians, which destroys the vegetative principle. At length, however, he obtained and sent on a small quantity of the fresh rice, but it reached Judge Buel only a short time before his death, and the experiment probably has not been made.
On one side of the creek was a sloping bank of some height, where tall old forest trees were growing. Among these stood three houses, just built, and the space between them and the water was formed into gardens with regular terraces faced with turf. Another turn of our vehicle brought us into a public square, where the oaks of the original forest were left standing, a miniature of the Champs Elysees, surrounding which, among the trees, stand many neat houses, some of them built of a drab-colored brick. Back of the town, we had a glimpse of a prairie approaching within half a mile of the river. We were next driven through a street of shops, and thence to our steamer. The streets of Southport are beds of sand, and one of the passengers who professed to speak from some experience, described the place as haunted by myriads of fleas.
It was not till about one o'clock of the second night after leaving Chicago, that we landed at Mackinaw, and after an infinite deal of trouble in getting our baggage together, and keeping it together, we were driven to the Mission House, a plain, comfortable old wooden house, built thirty or forty years since, by a missionary society, and now turned into an hotel. Beside the road, close to the water's edge, stood several wigwams of the Potawottamies, pyramids of poles wrapped around with rush matting, each containing a family asleep. The place was crowded with people on their way to the mining region of Lake Superior, or returning from it, and we were obliged to content ourselves with narrow accommodations for the night.
At half-past seven the next morning we were on our way to the Sault Ste. Marie, in the little steamer General Scott. The wind was blowing fresh, and a score of persons who had intended to visit the Sault were withheld by the fear of seasickness, so that half a dozen of us had the steamer to ourselves. In three or four hours we found ourselves gliding out of the lake, through smooth water, between two low points of land covered with firs and pines into the west strait. We passed Drummond's Island, and then coasted St. Joseph's Island, on the woody shore of which I was shown a solitary house. There I was told lives a long-nosed Englishman, a half-pay officer, with two wives, sisters, each the mother of a numerous offspring. This English polygamist has been more successful in seeking solitude than in avoiding notoriety. The very loneliness of his habitation on the shore causes it to be remarked, and there is not a passenger who makes the voyage to the Sault, to whom his house is not pointed out, and his story related. It was hinted to me that he had a third wife in Toronto, but I have my private doubts of this part of the story, and suspect that it was thrown in to increase my wonder.
Beyond the island of St. Joseph we passed several islets of rock with fir-trees growing from the clefts. Here, in summer, I was told, the Indians often set up their wigwams, and subsist by fishing. There were none in sight as we passed, but we frequently saw on either shore the skeletons of the Chippewa habitations. These consist, not like those of the Potawottamies, of a circle of sticks placed in the form of a cone, but of slender poles bent into circles, so as to make an almost regular hemisphere, over which, while it serves as a dwelling, birch-bark and mats of bulrushes are thrown.
On the western side of the passage, opposite to St. Joseph's Island, stretches the long coast of Sugar Island, luxuriant with an extensive forest of the sugar-maple. Here the Indians manufacture maple-sugar in the spring. I inquired concerning their agriculture.
"They plant no corn nor squashes," said a passenger, who had resided for some time at the Sault; "they will not ripen in this climate; but they plant potatoes in the sugar-bush, and dig them when the spring opens. They have no other agriculture; they plant no beans as I believe the Indians do elsewhere."
A violent squall of wind and rain fell upon the water just as we entered that broad part of the passage which bears the name of Muddy Lake. In ordinary weather the waters are here perfectly pure and translucent, but now their agitation brought up the loose earth from the shallow bottom, and made them as turbid as the Missouri, with the exception of a narrow channel in the midst where the current runs deep. Rocky hills now began to show themselves to the east of us; we passed the sheet of water known by the name of Lake George, and came to a little river which appeared to have its source at the foot of a precipitous ridge on the British side. It is called Garden River, and a little beyond it, on the same side, lies Garden Village, inhabited by the Indians. It was now deserted, the Indians having gone to attend a great assemblage of their race, held on one of the Manitoulin Islands, where they are to receive their annual payments from the British government. Here were log-houses, and skeletons of wigwams, from which the coverings had been taken. An Indian, when he travels, takes with him his family and his furniture, the matting for his wigwam, his implements for hunting and fishing, his dogs and cats, and finds a home wherever he finds poles for a dwelling. A tornado had recently passed over the Garden Village. The numerous girdled-trees which stood on its little clearing, had been twisted off midway or near the ground by the wind, and the roofs had, in some instances, been lifted from the cabins.
At length, after a winding voyage of sixty miles, between wild banks of forest, in some places smoking with fires, in some looking as if never violated either by fire or steel, with huge carcasses of trees mouldering on the ground, and venerable trees standing over them, bearded with streaming moss, we came in sight of the white rapids of the Sault Sainte Marie. We passed the humble cabins of the half-breeds on either shore, with here and there a round wigwam near the water; we glided by a white chimney standing behind a screen of fir-trees, which, we were told, had belonged to the dwelling of Tanner, who himself set fire to his house the other day, before murdering Mr. Schoolcraft, and in a few minutes were at the wharf of this remotest settlement of the northwest.
Falls of the St. Mary.
Sault Ste. Marie, August 15, 1846.
A crowd had assembled on the wharf of the American village at the Sault Sainte Marie, popularly called the Soo, to witness our landing; men of all ages and complexions, in hats and caps of every form and fashion, with beards of every length and color, among which I discovered two or three pairs of mustaches. It was a party of copper-mine speculators, just flitting from Copper Harbor and Eagle River, mixed with a few Indian and half-breed inhabitants of the place. Among them I saw a face or two quite familiar in Wall-street.
I had a conversation with an intelligent geologist, who had just returned from an examination of the copper mines of Lake Superior. He had pitched his tent in the fields near the village, choosing to pass the night in this manner, as he had done for several weeks past, rather than in a crowded inn. In regard to the mines, he told me that the external tokens, the surface indications, as he called them, were more favorable than those of any copper mines in the world. They are still, however, mere surface indications; the veins had not been worked to that depth which was necessary to determine their value with any certainty. The mixture of silver with the copper he regarded as not giving any additional value to the mines, inasmuch as it is only occasional and rare. Sometimes, he told me, a mass of metal would be discovered of the size of a man's fist, or smaller, composed of copper and silver, both metals closely united, yet both perfectly pure and unalloyed with each other. The masses of virgin copper found in beds of gravel are, however, the most remarkable feature of these mines. One of them which has been discovered this summer, but which has not been raised, is estimated to weigh twenty tons. I saw in the propeller Independence, by which this party from the copper mines was brought down to the Sault, one of these masses, weighing seventeen hundred and fifty pounds, with the appearance of having once been fluid with heat. It was so pure that it might have been cut in pieces by cold steel and stamped at once into coin.
Two or three years ago this settlement of the Sault de Ste. Marie, was but a military post of the United States, in the midst of a village of Indians and half-breeds. There were, perhaps, a dozen white residents in the place, including the family of the Baptist Missionary and the agent of the American Fur Company, which had removed its station hither from Mackinaw, and built its warehouse on this river. But since the world has begun to talk of the copper mines of Lake Superior, settlers flock into the place; carpenters are busy in knocking up houses with all haste on the government lands, and large warehouses have been built upon piles driven into the shallows of the St. Mary. Five years hence, the primitive character of the place will be altogether lost, and it will have become a bustling Yankee town, resembling the other new settlements of the West.
Here the navigation from lake to lake is interrupted by the falls or rapids of the river St. Mary, from which the place receives its name. The crystalline waters of Lake Superior on their way through the channel of this river to Lake Huron, here rush, and foam, and roar, for about three quarters of a mile, over rocks and large stones.
Close to the rapids, with birchen-canoes moored in little inlets, is a village of the Indians, consisting of log-cabins and round wigwams, on a shrubby level, reserved to them by the government. The morning after our arrival, we went through this village in search of a canoe and a couple of Indians, to make the descent of the rapids, which is one of the first things that a visitor to the Sault must think of. In the first wigwam that we entered were three men and two women as drunk as men and women could well be. The squaws were speechless and motionless, too far gone, as it seemed, to raise either hand or foot; the men though apparently unable to rise were noisy, and one of them, who called himself a half-breed and spoke a few words of English, seemed disposed to quarrel. Before the next door was a woman busy in washing, who spoke a little English. "The old man out there," she said, in answer to our questions, "can paddle canoe, but he is very drunk, he can not do it to-day."
"Is there nobody else," we asked, "who will take us down the falls?"
"I don't know; the Indians all drunk to-day."
"Why is that? why are they all drunk to-day?"
"Oh, the whisky," answered the woman, giving us to understand, that when an Indian could get whisky, he got drunk as a matter of course.
By this time the man had come up, and after addressing us with the customary "bon jour" manifested a curiosity to know the nature of our errand. The woman explained it to him in English.
"Oh, messieurs, je vous servirai," said he, for he spoke Canadian French; "I go, I go."
We told him that we doubted whether he was quite sober enough.
"Oh, messieurs, je suis parfaitement capable—first rate, first rate."
We shook him off as soon as we could, but not till after he had time to propose that we should wait till the next day, and to utter the maxim, "Whisky, good—too much whisky, no good."
In a log-cabin, which some half-breeds were engaged in building, we found two men who were easily persuaded to leave their work and pilot us over the rapids. They took one of the canoes which lay in a little inlet close at hand, and entering it, pushed it with their long poles up the stream in the edge of the rapids. Arriving at the head of the rapids, they took in our party, which consisted of five, and we began the descent. At each end of the canoe sat a half-breed, with a paddle, to guide it while the current drew us rapidly down among the agitated waters. It was surprising with what dexterity they kept us in the smoothest part of the water, seeming to know the way down as well as if it had been a beaten path in the fields.
At one time we would seem to be directly approaching a rock against which the waves were dashing, at another to be descending into a hollow of the waters in which our canoe would be inevitably filled, but a single stroke of the paddle given by the man at the prow put us safely by the seeming danger. So rapid was the descent, that almost as soon as we descried the apparent peril, it was passed. In less than ten minutes, as it seemed to me, we had left the roar of the rapids behind us, and were gliding over the smooth water at their foot.
In the afternoon we engaged a half-breed and his brother to take us over to the Canadian shore. His wife, a slender young woman with a lively physiognomy, not easily to be distinguished from a French woman of her class, accompanied us in the canoe with her little boy. The birch-bark canoe of the savage seems to me one of the most beautiful and perfect things of the kind constructed by human art. We were in one of the finest that float on St. Mary's river, and when I looked at its delicate ribs, mere shavings of white cedar, yet firm enough for the purpose—the thin broad laths of the same wood with which these are inclosed, and the broad sheets of birch-bark, impervious to water, which sheathed the outside, all firmly sewed together by the tough slender roots of the fir-tree, and when I considered its extreme lightness and the grace of its form, I could not but wonder at the ingenuity of those who had invented so beautiful a combination of ship-building and basket-work. "It cost me twenty dollars," said the half-breed, "and I would not take thirty for it."
We were ferried over the waves where they dance at the foot of the rapids. At this place large quantities of white-fish, one of the most delicate kinds known on our continent, are caught by the Indians, in their season, with scoop-nets. The whites are about to interfere with this occupation of the Indians, and I saw the other day a seine of prodigious length constructing, with which it is intended to sweep nearly half the river at once. "They will take a hundred barrels a day," said an inhabitant of the place.
On the British side, the rapids divide themselves into half a dozen noisy brooks, which roar round little islands, and in the boiling pools of which the speckled trout is caught with the rod and line. We landed at the warehouses of the Hudson Bay Company, where the goods intended for the Indian trade are deposited, and the furs brought from the northwest are collected. They are surrounded by a massive stockade, within which lives the agent of the Company, the walks are graveled and well-kept, and the whole bears the marks of British solidity and precision. A quantity of furs had been brought in the day before, but they were locked up in the warehouse, and all was now quiet and silent. The agent was absent; a half-breed nurse stood at the door with his child, and a Scotch servant, apparently with nothing to do, was lounging in the court inclosed by the stockade; in short, there was less bustle about this centre of one of the most powerful trading-companies in the world, than about one of our farm-houses.
Crossing the bay, at the bottom of which these buildings stand, we landed at a Canadian village of half-breeds. Here were one or two wigwams and a score of log-cabins, some of which we entered. In one of them we were received with great appearance of deference by a woman of decidedly Indian features, but light-complexioned, barefoot, with blue embroidered leggings falling over her ankles and sweeping the floor, the only peculiarity of Indian costume about her. The house was as clean as scouring could make it, and her two little children, with little French physiognomies, were fairer than many children of the European race. These people are descended from the French voyageurs and settlers on one side; they speak Canadian French more or less, but generally employ the Chippewa language in their intercourse with each other.
Near at hand was a burial ground, with graves of the Indians and half-breeds, which we entered. Some of the graves were covered with a low roof of cedar-bark, others with a wooden box; over others was placed a little house like a dog-kennel, except that it had no door, others were covered with little log-cabins. One of these was of such a size that a small Indian family would have found it amply large for their accommodation. It is a practice among the savages to protect the graves of the dead from the wolves, by stakes driven into the ground and meeting at the top like the rafters of a roof; and perhaps when the Indian or half-breed exchanged his wigwam for a log-cabin, his respect for the dead led him to make the same improvement in the architecture of their narrow houses. At the head of most of these monuments stood wooden crosses, for the population here is principally Roman Catholic, some of them inscribed with the names of the dead, not always accurately spelled.
Not far from the church stands a building, regarded by the half-breeds as a wonder of architecture, the stone house, la maison de pierre, as they call it, a large mansion built of stone by a former agent of the Northwest or Hudson Bay Company, who lived here in a kind of grand manorial style, with his servants and horses and hounds, and gave hospitable dinners in those days when it was the fashion for the host to do his best to drink his guests under the table. The old splendor of the place has departed, its gardens are overgrown with grass, the barn has been blown down, the kitchen in which so many grand dinners were cooked consumed by fire, and the mansion, with its broken and patched windows, is now occupied by a Scotch farmer of the name of Wilson.
We climbed a ridge of hills back of the house to the church of the Episcopal Mission, built a few years ago as a place of worship for the Chippewas, who have since been removed by the government. It stands remote from any habitation, with three or four Indian graves near it, and we found it filled with hay. The view from its door is uncommonly beautiful; the broad St. Mary lying below, with its bordering villages and woody valley, its white rapids and its rocky islands, picturesque with the pointed summits of the fir-tree. To the northwest the sight followed the river to the horizon, where it issued from Lake Superior, and I was told that in clear weather one might discover, from the spot on which I stood, the promontory of Gros Cap, which guards the outlet of that mighty lake.
The country around was smoking in a dozen places with fires in the woods. When I returned I asked who kindled them. "It is old Tanner," said one, "the man who murdered Schoolcraft." There is great fear here of Tanner, who is thought to be lurking yet in the neighborhood. I was going the other day to look at a view of the place from an eminence, reached by a road passing through a swamp, full of larches and firs. "Are you not afraid of Tanner?" I was asked. Mrs. Schoolcraft, since the assassination of her husband, has come to live in the fort, which consists of barracks protected by a high stockade. It is rumored that Tanner has been seen skulking about within a day or two, and yesterday a place was discovered which is supposed to have served for his retreat. It was a hollow, thickly surrounded by shrubs, which some person had evidently made his habitation for a considerable time. There is a dispute whether this man is insane or not, but there is no dispute as to his malignity. He has threatened to take the life of Mr. Bingham, the venerable Baptist missionary at this place, and as long as it is not certain that he has left the neighborhood a feeling of insecurity prevails. Nevertheless, as I know no reason why this man should take it into his head to shoot me, I go whither I list, without the fear of Tanner before my eyes.
Indians at the Sault.
Mackinaw, August 19, 1846.
We were detained two days longer than we expected at the Sault de Ste. Marie, by the failure of the steamer General Scott to depart at the proper time. If we could have found a steamer going up Lake Superior, we should most certainly have quieted our impatience at this delay, by embarking on board of her. But the only steamer in the river St. Mary, above the falls, which is a sort of arm or harbor of Lake Superior, was the Julia Palmer, and she was lying aground in the pebbles and sand of the shore. She had just been dragged over the portage which passes round the falls, where a broad path, with hillocks flattened, and trunks hewn off close to the surface, gave tokens of the vast bulk that had been moved over it. The moment she touched the water, she stuck fast, and the engineer was obliged to go to Cleveland for additional machinery to move her forward. He had just arrived with the proper apparatus, and the steamer had begun to work its way slowly into the deep water; but some days must yet elapse before she can float, and after that the engine must be put together.
Had the Julia Palmer been ready to proceed up the lake, I should certainly have seized the occasion to be present at an immense assemblage of Indians on Madeleine Island. This island lies far in the lake, near its remoter extremity. On one of its capes, called La Pointe, is a missionary station and an Indian village, and here the savages are gathering in vast numbers to receive their annual payments from the United States.
"There were already two thousand of them at La Pointe when I left the place," said an intelligent gentleman who had just returned from the lake, "and they were starving. If an Indian family has a stock of provisions on hand sufficient for a month, it is sure to eat it up in a week, and the Indians at La Pointe had already consumed all they had provided, and were living on what they could shoot in the woods, or get by fishing in the lake."
I inquired of him the probable number of Indians the occasion would bring together.
"Seven thousand," he answered. "Among them are some of the wildest tribes on the continent, whose habits have been least changed by the neighborhood of the white man. A new tribe will come in who never before would have any transactions with the government. They are called the Pillagers, a fierce and warlike race, proud of their independence, and, next to the Blackfeet and the Camanches, the most ferocious and formidable tribe within the territory of the United States. They inhabit the country about Red River and the head-waters of the Mississippi."
I was further told that some of the Indian traders had expressed their determination to disregard the law, set up their tents at La Pointe, and sell spirits to the savages. "If they do, knives will be drawn," was the common saying at the Sault; and at the Fort, I learned that a requisition had arrived from La Pointe for twenty men to enforce the law and prevent disorder. "We can not send half the number," said the officer who commanded at the Fort, "we have but twelve men in all; the rest of the garrison have been ordered to the Mexican frontier, and it is necessary that somebody should remain to guard the public property." The call for troops has since been transferred to the garrison at Mackinaw, from which they will be sent.
I learned afterward from an intelligent lady of the half-caste at the Sault, that letters had arrived, from which it appeared that more than four thousand Indians were already assembled at La Pointe, and that their stock of provisions was exhausted.
"They expected," said the lady, "to be paid off on the 15th of August, but the government has changed the time to nearly a month later. This is unfortunate for the Indians, for now is the time of their harvest, the season for gathering wild rice in the marshes, and they must, in consequence, not only suffer with hunger now, but in the winter also."
In a stroll which we made through the Indian village, situated close to the rapids, we fell in with a half-breed, a sensible-looking man, living in a log cabin, whose boys, the offspring of a squaw of the pure Indian race, were practicing with their bows and arrows. "You do not go to La Pointe?" we asked. "It is too far to go for a blanket," was his answer—he spoke tolerable English. This man seemed to have inherited from the white side of his ancestry somewhat of the love of a constant habitation, for a genuine Indian has no particular dislike to a distant journey. He takes his habitation with him, and is at home wherever there is game and fish, and poles with which to construct his lodge. In a further conversation with the half-breed, he spoke of the Sault as a delightful abode, and expatiated on the pleasures of the place.
"It is the greatest place in the world for fun," said he; "we dance all winter; our women are all good dancers; our little girls can dance single and double jigs as good as any body in the States. That little girl there," pointing to a long-haired girl at the door, "will dance as good as any body."
The fusion of the two races in this neighborhood is remarkable; the mixed breed running by gradual shades into the aboriginal on the one hand, and into the white on the other; children with a tinge of the copper hue in the families of white men, and children scarcely less fair sometimes seen in the wigwams. Some of the half-caste ladies at the Falls of St. Mary, who have been educated in the Atlantic states, are persons of graceful and dignified manners and agreeable conversation.
I attended worship at the Fort, at the Sault, on Sunday. The services were conducted by the chaplain, who is of the Methodist persuasion and a missionary at the place, assisted by the Baptist missionary. I looked about me for some evidence of the success of their labors, but among the worshipers I saw not one male of Indian descent. Of the females, half a dozen, perhaps, were of the half-caste; and as two of these walked away from the church, I perceived that they wore a fringed clothing for the ankles, as if they took a certain pride in this badge of their Indian extraction.
In the afternoon we drove down the west bank of the river to attend religious service at an Indian village, called the Little Rapids, about two miles and a half from the Sault. Here the Methodists have built a mission-house, maintain a missionary, and instruct a fragment of the Chippewa tribe. We found the missionary, Mr. Speight, a Kentuckian, who has wandered to this northern region, quite ill, and there was consequently no service.
We walked through the village, which is prettily situated on a swift and deep channel of the St. Mary, where the green waters rush between the main-land and a wooded island. It stands on rich meadows of the river, with a path running before it, parallel with the bank, along the velvet sward, and backed at no great distance by the thick original forest, which not far below closes upon the river on both sides. The inhabitants at the doors and windows of their log-cabins had a demure and subdued aspect; they were dressed in their clean Sunday clothes, and the peace and quiet of the place formed a strong contrast to the debaucheries we had witnessed at the village by the Falls. We fell in with an Indian, a quiet little man, of very decent appearance, who answered our questions with great civility. We asked to whom belonged the meadows lying back of the cabins, on which we saw patches of rye, oats, and potatoes.
"Oh, they belong to the mission; the Indians work them."
"Are they good people, these Indians?"
"Oh yes, good people."
"Do they never drink too much whisky?"
"Well, I guess they drink too much whisky sometimes."
There was a single wigwam in the village, apparently a supplement to one of the log-cabins. We looked in and saw two Indian looms, from which two unfinished mats were depending. Mrs. Speight, the wife of the missionary, told us that, a few days before, the village had been full of these lodges; that the Indians delighted in them greatly, and always put them up during the mosquito season; "for a mosquito," said the good lady, "will never enter a wigwam;" and that lately, the mosquitoes having disappeared, and the nights having grown cooler, they had taken down all but the one we saw.
We passed a few minutes in the house of the missionary, to which Mrs. Speight kindly invited us. She gave a rather favorable account of the Indians under her husband's charge, but manifestly an honest one, and without any wish to extenuate the defects of their character.
"There are many excellent persons among them," she said; "they are a kind, simple, honest people, and some of them are eminently pious."
"Do they follow any regular industry?"
"Many of them are as regularly industrious as the whites, rising early and continuing at their work in the fields all day. They are not so attentive as we could wish to the education of their children. It is difficult to make them send their children regularly to school; they think they confer a favor in allowing us to instruct them, and if they happen to take a little offense their children are kept at home. The great evil against which we have to guard is the love of strong drink. When this is offered to an Indian, it seems as if it was not in his nature to resist the temptation. I have known whole congregations of Indians, good Indians, ruined and brought to nothing by the opportunity of obtaining whisky as often as they pleased."
We inquired whether the numbers of the people at the mission were diminishing. She could not speak with much certainty as to this point, having been only a year and a half at the mission, but she thought there was a gradual decrease.
"The families of the Indians," she said, in answer to one of my questions, "are small. In one family at the village are six children, and it is the talk of all the Indians, far and near, as something extraordinary. Generally the number is much smaller, and more than half the children die in infancy. Their means would not allow them to rear many children, even if the number of births was greater."
Such appears to be the destiny of the red race while in the presence of the white—decay and gradual extinction, even under circumstances apparently the most favorable to its preservation.
On Monday we left the Falls of St. Mary, in the steamer General Scott, on our return to Mackinaw. There were about forty passengers on board, men in search of copper-mines, and men in search of health, and travellers from curiosity, Virginians, New Yorkers, wanderers from Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, and I believe several other states. On reaching Mackinaw in the evening, our party took quarters in the Mansion House, the obliging host of which stretched his means to the utmost for our accommodation. Mackinaw is at the present moment crowded with strangers; attracted by the cool healthful climate and the extreme beauty of the place. We were packed for the night almost as closely as the Potawottamies, whose lodges were on the beach before us. Parlors and garrets were turned into sleeping-rooms; beds were made on the floors and in the passages, and double-bedded rooms were made to receive four beds. It is no difficult feat to sleep at Mackinaw, even in an August night, and we soon forgot, in a refreshing slumber, the narrowness of our quarters.
The Island of Mackinaw.
Steamer St. Louis, Lake Huron, August 20, 1846.
Yesterday evening we left the beautiful island of Mackinaw, after a visit of two days delightfully passed. We had climbed its cliffs, rambled on its shores, threaded the walks among its thickets, driven out in the roads that wind through its woods—roads paved by nature with limestone pebbles, a sort of natural macadamization, and the time of our departure seemed to arrive several days too soon.
The fort which crowns the heights near the shore commands an extensive prospect, but a still wider one is to be seen from the old fort, Fort Holmes, as it is called, among whose ruined intrenchments the half-breed boys and girls now gather gooseberries. It stands on the very crest of the island, overlooking all the rest. The air, when we ascended it, was loaded with the smoke of burning forests, but from this spot, in clear weather, I was told a magnificent view might be had of the Straits of Mackinaw, the wooded islands, and the shores and capes of the great mainland, places known to history for the past two centuries. For when you are at Mackinaw you are at no new settlement.
In looking for samples of Indian embroidery with porcupine quills, we found ourselves one day in the warehouse of the American Fur Company, at Mackinaw. Here, on the shelves, were piles of blankets, white and blue, red scarfs, and white boots; snow-shoes were hanging on the walls, and wolf-traps, rifles, and hatchets, were slung to the ceiling—an assortment of goods destined for the Indians and half-breeds of the northwest. The person who attended at the counter spoke English with a foreign accent. I asked him how long he had been in the northwestern country.
"To say the truth," he answered, "I have been here sixty years and some days."
"You were born here, then."
"I am a native of Mackinaw, French by the mother's side; my father was an Englishman."
"Was the place as considerable sixty years ago as it now is?"
"More so. There was more trade here, and quite as many inhabitants. All the houses, or nearly all, were then built; two or three only have been put up since."
I could easily imagine that Mackinaw must have been a place of consequence when here was the centre of the fur trade, now removed further up the country. I was shown the large house in which the heads of the companies of voyageurs engaged in the trade were lodged, and the barracks, a long low building, in which the voyageurs themselves, seven hundred in number, made their quarters from the end of June till the beginning of October, when they went out again on their journeys. This interval of three months was a merry time with those light-hearted Frenchmen. When a boat made its appearance approaching Mackinaw, they fell to conjecturing to what company of voyageurs it belonged; as the dispute grew warm the conjectures became bets, till finally, unable to restrain their impatience, the boldest of them dashed into the waters, swam out to the boat, and climbing on board, shook hands with their brethren, amidst the shouts of those who stood on the beach.
They talk, on the New England coast, of Chebacco boats, built after a peculiar pattern, and called after Chebacco, an ancient settlement of sea-faring men, who have foolishly changed the old Indian name of their place to Ipswich. The Mackinaw navigators have also given their name to a boat of peculiar form, sharp at both ends, swelled at the sides, and flat-bottomed, an excellent sea-boat, it is said, as it must be to live in the wild storms that surprise the mariner on Lake Superior.
We took yesterday a drive to the western shore. The road twined through a wood of over-arching beeches and maples, interspersed with the white-cedar and fir. The driver stopped before a cliff sprouting with beeches and cedars, with a small cavity at the foot. This he told us was the Skull Cave. It is only remarkable on account of human bones having been found in it. Further on a white paling gleamed through the trees; it inclosed the solitary burial ground of the garrison, with half a dozen graves. "There are few buried here," said a gentleman of our party; "the soldiers who come to Mackinaw sick get well soon."
The road we travelled was cut through the woods by Captain Scott, who commanded at the fort a few years since. He is the marksman whose aim was so sure that the western people say of him, that a raccoon on a tree once offered to come down and surrender without giving him the trouble to fire.
We passed a farm surrounded with beautiful groves. In one of its meadows was fought the battle between Colonel Croghan and the British officer Holmes in the war of 1813. Three luxuriant beeches stand in the edge of the wood, north of the meadow; one of them is the monument of Holmes; he lies buried at its root. Another quarter of a mile led us to a little bay on the solitary shore of the lake looking to the northwest. It is called the British Landing, because the British troops landed here in the late war to take possession of the island.
We wandered about awhile, and then sat down upon the embankment of pebbles which the waves of the lake, heaving for centuries, have heaped around the shore of the island—pebbles so clean that they would no more soil a lady's white muslin gown than if they had been of newly polished alabaster. The water at our feet was as transparent as the air around us. On the main-land opposite stood a church with its spire, and several roofs were visible, with a background of woods behind them.
"There," said one of our party, "is the old Mission Church. It was built by the Catholics in 1680, and has been a place of worship ever since. The name of the spot is Point St. Ignace, and there lives an Indian of the full caste, who was sent to Rome and educated to be a priest, but he preferred the life of a layman, and there he lives on that wild shore, with a library in his lodge, a learned savage, occupied with reading and study."
You may well suppose that I felt a strong desire to see Point St. Ignace, its venerable Mission Church, its Indian village, so long under the care of Catholic pastors, and its learned savage who talks Italian, but the time of my departure was already fixed. My companions were pointing out on that shore, the mouth of Carp River, which comes down through the forest roaring over rocks, and in any of the pools of which you have only to throw a line, with any sort of bait, to be sure of a trout, when the driver of our vehicle called out, "Your boat is coming." We looked and saw the St. Louis steamer, not one of the largest, but one of the finest boats in the line between Buffalo and Chicago, making rapidly for the island, with a train of black smoke hanging in the air behind her. We hastened to return through the woods, and in an hour and a half we were in our clean and comfortable quarters in this well-ordered little steamer.
But I should mention that before leaving Mackinaw, we did not fail to visit the principal curiosities of the place, the Sugar Loaf Rock, a remarkable rock in the middle of the island, of a sharp conical form, rising above the trees by which it is surrounded, and lifting the stunted birches on its shoulders higher than they, like a tall fellow holding up a little boy to overlook a crowd of men—and the Arched Rock on the shore. The atmosphere was thick with smoke, and through the opening spanned by the arch of the rock I saw the long waves, rolled up by a fresh wind, come one after another out of the obscurity, and break with roaring on the beach.
The path along the brow of the precipice and among the evergreens, by which this rock is reached, is singularly wild, but another which leads to it along the shore is no less picturesque—passing under impending cliffs and overshadowing cedars, and between huge blocks and pinnacles of rock.
I spoke in one of my former letters of the manifest fate of Mackinaw, which is to be a watering-place. I can not see how it is to escape this destiny. People already begin to repair to it for health and refreshment from the southern borders of Lake Michigan. Its climate during the summer months is delightful; there is no air more pure and elastic, and the winds of the south and southwest, which are so hot on the prairies, arrive here tempered to a grateful coolness by the waters over which they have swept. The nights are always, in the hottest season, agreeably cool, and the health of the place is proverbial. The world has not many islands so beautiful as Mackinaw, as you may judge from the description I have already given of parts of it. The surface is singularly irregular, with summits of rock and pleasant hollows, open glades of pasturage and shady nooks. To some, the savage visitors, who occasionally set up their lodges on its beach, as well as on that of the surrounding islands, and paddle their canoes in its waters, will be an additional attraction. I can not but think with a kind of regret on the time which, I suppose is near at hand, when its wild and lonely woods will be intersected with highways, and filled with cottages and boarding-houses.
An Excursion to the Water Gap.
Stroudsberg, Monroe Co., Penn. October 23, 1846.
I reached this place last evening, having taken Easton in my way. Did it ever occur to you, in passing through New Jersey, how much the northern part of the state is, in some respects, like New York, and how much the southern part resembles Pennsylvania? For twenty miles before reaching Easton, you see spacious dwelling-houses, often of stone, substantially built, and barns of the size of churches, and large farms with extensive woods of tall trees, as in Pennsylvania, where the right of soil has not undergone so many subdivisions as with us. I was shown in Warren county, in a region apparently of great fertility, a farm which was said to be two miles square. It belonged to a farmer of German origin, whose comfortable mansion stood by the way, and who came into the state many years ago, a young man.
"I have heard him say," said a passenger, "that when his father brought him out with his young wife into Warren county, and set him down upon what then appeared a barren little farm, now a part of his large and productive estate, his heart failed him. However he went to work industriously, practicing the strictest economy, and by applying lime copiously to the soil made it highly fertile. It is lime which makes this region the richest land in New Jersey; the farmers find limestone close at hand, burn it in their kilns, and scatter it on the surface. The person of whom I speak took off large crops from his little farm, and as soon as he had any money beforehand, he added a few acres more, so that it gradually grew to its present size. Rich as he is, he is a worthy man; his sons, who are numerous, are all fine fellows, not a scape-grace among them, and he has settled them all on farms around him."
Easton, which we entered soon after dark, is a pretty little town of seven thousand inhabitants, much more substantially built than towns of the same size in this country. Many of the houses are of stone, and to the sides of some of them you see the ivy clinging and hiding the masonry with a veil of evergreen foliage. The middle of the streets is unpaved and very dusty, but the broad flagging on the sides, under the windows of the houses, is sedulously swept. The situation of the place is uncommonly picturesque. If ever the little borough of Easton shall grow into a great town, it will stand on one of the most commanding sites in the world, unless its inhabitants shall have spoiled it by improvements. The Delaware, which forms the eastern bound of the borough, approaches it from the north through high wooded banks, and flows away to join the Susquehanna between craggy precipices. On the south side, the Lehigh comes down through a deep, verdant hollow, and on the north the Bushkill winds through a glen shaded with trees, on the rocky banks of which is one of the finest drives in the world. In the midst of the borough rises a crag as lofty as that on which Stirling Castle is built—in Europe, it would most certainly have been crowned with its castle; steep and grassy on one side, and precipitous and rocky on the other, where it overhangs the Bushkill. The college stands on a lofty eminence, overlooking the dwellings and streets, but it is an ugly building, and has not a tree to conceal even in part its ugliness. Besides these, are various other eminences in the immediate vicinity of this compact little town, which add greatly to its beauty.
We set out the next morning for the Delaware Water Gap, following the road along the Delaware, which is here uncommonly beautiful. The steep bank is mostly covered with trees sprouting from the rocky shelves, and below is a fringe of trees between the road and the river. A little way from the town, the driver pointed out, in the midst of the stream, a long island of loose stones and pebbles, without a leaf or stem of herbage.
"It was there," said he, "that Gaetter, six years ago, was hanged for the murder of his wife."
The high and steep bank of the river, the rocks and the trees, he proceeded to tell us, were covered on that day with eager spectators from all the surrounding country, every one of whom, looking immediately down on the island, could enjoy a perfect view of the process by which the poor wretch in the hands of the hangman was turned off.
About five miles from Easton we stopped to water our horses at an inn, a large handsome stone house, with a chatty landlord, who spoke with a strong German accent, complaining pathetically of the potato disease, which had got into the fields of the neighborhood, but glorying in the abundant crops of maize and wheat which had been gathered. Two miles further on, we turned away from the river and ascended to the table-land above, which we found green with extensive fields of wheat, just springing under the autumnal sun. In one of the little villages nestling in the hollows of that region, we stopped for a few moments, and fell into conversation with a tolerably intelligent man, though speaking English with some peculiarities that indicated the race to which he belonged. A sample of his dialect may amuse you. We asked him what the people in that part of the country thought of the new tariff.
"Oh," said he, "there are different obinions, some likes it and some not."
"How do the democrats take it?"
"The democratic in brinciple likes it."
"Did it have any effect on the election?"
"It brevented a goot many democrats from voting for their candidate for Congress, Mr. Brodhead, because he is for the old tariff. This is a very strong democratic district, and Mr. Brodhead's majority is only about a sousand."
A little beyond this village we came in sight of the Water Gap, where the Blue Ridge has been cloven down to its base to form a passage for the Delaware. Two lofty summits, black with precipices of rock, form the gates through which the river issues into the open country. Here it runs noisily over the shallows, as if boasting aloud of the victory it had achieved in breaking its way through such mighty barriers; but within the Gap it sleeps in quiet pools, or flows in deep glassy currents. By the side of these you see large rafts composed of enormous trunks of trees that have floated down with the spring floods from the New York forests, and here wait for their turn in the saw-mills along the shore. It was a bright morning, with a keen autumnal air, and we dismounted from our vehicle and walked through the Gap.
It will give your readers an idea of the Water Gap, to say that it consists of a succession of lofty peaks, like the Highlands of the Hudson, with a winding and irregular space between them a few rods wide, to give passage to the river. They are unlike the Highlands, however, in one respect, that their sides are covered with large loose blocks detached from the main precipices. Among these grows the original forest, which descends to their foot, fringes the river, and embowers the road.
The present autumn is, I must say, in regard to the coloring of the forests, one of the shabbiest and least brilliant I remember to have seen in this country, almost as sallow and dingy in its hues as an autumn in Europe. But here in the Water Gap it was not without some of its accustomed brightness of tints—the sugar-maple with its golden leaves, and the water-maple with its foliage of scarlet, contrasted with the intense green of the hemlock-fir, the pine, the rosebay-laurel, and the mountain-laurel, which here grow in the same thicket, while the ground below was carpeted with humbler evergreens, the aromatic wintergreen, and the trailing arbutus. The Water Gap is about a mile in length, and near its northern entrance an excellent hotel, the resort of summer visitors, stands on a cliff which rises more than a hundred feet almost perpendicularly from the river. From this place the eye follows the Water Gap to where mountains shut in one behind another, like the teeth of a saw, and between them the Delaware twines out of sight.
Before the hotel a fine little boy of about two years of age was at play. The landlord showed us on the calf of the child's leg two small lurid spots, about a quarter of an inch apart. "That," said he, "is the bite of a copper-head snake."
We asked when this happened.
"It was last summer," answered he; "the child was playing on the side of the road, when he was heard to cry, and seen to make for the house. As soon as he came, my wife called my attention to what she called a scratch on his leg. I examined it, the spot was already purple and hard, and the child was crying violently. I knew it to be the bite of a copper-head, and immediately cut it open with a sharp knife, making the blood to flow freely and washing the part with water. At the same time we got a yerb" (such was his pronunciation) "on the hills, which some call lion-heart, and others snake-head. We steeped this yerb in milk which we made him drink. The doctor had been sent for, and when he came applied hartshorn; but I believe that opening the wound and letting the blood flow was the most effectual remedy. The leg was terribly swollen, and for ten days we thought the little fellow in great danger, but after that he became better and finally recovered."
"How do you know that it was a copper-head that bit him?"
"We sent to the place where he was at play, found the snake, and killed it. A violent rain had fallen just before, and it had probably washed him down from the mountain-side."
"The boy appears very healthy now."
"Much better than before; he was formerly delicate, and troubled with an eruption, but that has disappeared, and he has become hardy and fond of the open air."
We dined at the hotel and left the Water Gap. As we passed out of its jaws we met a man in a little wagon, carrying behind him the carcass of a deer he had just killed. They are hunted, at this time of the year, and killed in considerable numbers in the extensive forests to the north of this place. A drive of four miles over hill and valley brought us to Stroudsburg, on the banks of the Pocano—a place of which I shall speak in my next letter.
An Excursion to the Water Gap.
Easton, Penn., October 24, 1846.
My yesterday's letter left me at Stroudsburg, about four miles west of the Delaware. It is a pleasant village, situated on the banks of the Pocano. From this stream the inhabitants have diverted a considerable portion of the water, bringing the current through this village in a canal, making it to dive under the road and rise again on the opposite side, after which it hastens to turn a cluster of mills. To the north is seen the summit of the Pocano mountain, where this stream has its springs, with woods stretching down its sides and covering the adjacent country. Here, about nine miles to the north of the village, deer haunt and are hunted. I heard of one man who had already killed nine of these animals within two or three weeks. A traveller from Wyoming county, whom I met at our inn, gave me some account of the winter life of the deer.
"They inhabit," he said, "the swamps of mountain-laurel thickets, through which a man would find it almost impossible to make his way. The laurel-bushes, and the hemlocks scattered among them, intercept the snow as it falls, and form a thick roof, under the shelter of which, near some pool or rivulet, the animals remain until spring opens, as snugly protected from the severity of the weather as sheep under the sheds of a farm-yard. Here they feed upon the leaves of the laurel and other evergreens. It is contrary to the law to kill them after the Christmas holidays, but sometimes their retreat is invaded, and a deer or two killed; their flesh, however, is not wholesome, on account of the laurel leaves on which they feed, and their skin is nearly worthless."
I expressed my surprise that the leaves of the mountain laurel, the kalmia latifolia, which are so deadly to sheep, should be the winter food of the deer.
"It is because the deer has no gall," answered the man, "that the pison don't take effect. But their meat will not do to eat, except in a small quantity, and cooked with pork, which I think helps take the pison out of it."
"The deer," he went on to say, "are now passing out of the blue into the gray. After the holidays, when their hair becomes long, and their winter coat is quite grown, their hide is soft and tender, and tears easily when dressed, and it would be folly to kill them, even if there were no law against it." He went on to find a parallel to the case of the deer-skins in the hides of neat-cattle, which, when brought from a hot country, like South America, are firmer and tougher than when obtained in a colder climate like ours.
The Wyoming traveller gave a bad account of the health, just at present, of the beautiful valley in which he lived. "We have never before," said he, "known what it was to have the fever and ague among us, but now it is very common, as well as other fevers. The season has neither been uncommonly wet nor uncommonly dry, but it has been uncommonly hot." I heard the same account of various other districts in Pennsylvania. Mifflin county, for example, was sickly this season, as well as other parts of the state which, hitherto have been almost uniformly healthy. Here, however, in Stroudsburg and its neighborhood, they boasted that the fever and ague had never yet made its appearance.
I was glad to hear a good account of the pecuniary circumstances of the Pennsylvania farmers. They got in debt like every body else during the prosperous years of 1835 and 1836, and have been ever since working themselves gradually out of it. "I have never," said an intelligent gentleman of Stroudsburg, "known the owners of the farms so free from debt, and so generally easy and prosperous in their condition, as at this moment." It is to be hoped that having been so successful in paying their private debts, they will now try what can be done with the debt of the state.
We left Stroudsburg this morning—one of the finest mornings of this autumnal season—and soon climbed an eminence which looked down upon Cherry Hollow. This place reminded me, with the exception of its forests, of the valleys in the Peak of Derbyshire, the same rounded summits, the same green, basin-like hollows. But here, on the hill-sides, were tall groves of oak and chestnut, instead of the brown heath; and the large stone houses of the German householders were very unlike the Derbyshire cottages. The valley is four miles in length, and its eastern extremity is washed by the Delaware. Climbing out of this valley and passing for some miles through yellow woods and fields of springing corn, not Indian corn, we found ourselves at length travelling on the side of another long valley, which terminates at its southern extremity in the Wind Gap.
The Wind Gap is an opening in the same mountain ridge which is cloven by the Water Gap, but, unlike that, it extends only about half-way down to the base. Through this opening, bordered on each side by large loose blocks of stone, the road passes. After you have reached the open country beyond, you look back and see the ridge stretching away eastward towards the Water Gap, and in the other direction towards the southwest till it sinks out of sight, a rocky wall of uniform height, with this opening in the midst, which looks as if part of the mountain had here fallen into an abyss below. Beyond the Wind Gap we came to the village of Windham, lying in the shelter of this mountain barrier, and here, about twelve o'clock, our driver stopped a moment at an inn to give water to his horses. The bar-room was full of fresh-colored young men in military uniforms, talking Pennsylvania German rather rapidly and vociferously. They surrounded a thick-set man, in a cap and shirt-sleeves, whom they called Tscho, or Joe, and insisted that he should give them a tune on his fiddle.
"Spiel, Tscho, spiel, spiel," was shouted on every side, and at last Tscho took the floor with a fiddle and began to play. About a dozen of the young men stood up on the floor, in couples, facing each other, and hammered out the tune with their feet, giving a tread or tap on the floor to correspond with every note of the instrument, and occasionally crossing from side to side. I have never seen dancing more diligently performed.
When the player had drawn the final squeak from his violin, we got into our vehicle, and in somewhat more than an hour were entering the little village of Nazareth, pleasantly situated among fields the autumnal verdure of which indicated their fertility. Nazareth is a Moravian village, of four or five hundred inhabitants, looking prodigiously like a little town of the old world, except that it is more neatly kept. The houses are square and solid, of stone or brick, built immediately on the street; a pavement of broad flags runs under their windows, and between the flags and the carriage-way is a row of trees. In the centre of the village is a square with an arcade for a market, and a little aside from the main street, in a hollow covered with bright green grass, is another square, in the midst of which stands a large white church. Near it is an avenue, with two immense lime-trees growing at the gate, leading to the field in which they bury their dead. Looking upon this square is a large building, three or four stories high, where a school for boys is kept, to which pupils are sent from various parts of the country, and which enjoys a very good reputation. We entered the garden of this school, an inclosure thickly overshadowed with tall forest and exotic trees of various kinds, with shrubs below, and winding walks and summer-houses and benches. The boys of the school were amusing themselves under the trees, and the arched walks were ringing with their shrill voices.
We visited also the burying place, which is situated on a little eminence, backed with a wood, and commands a view of the village. The Moravian grave is simple in its decorations; a small flat stone, of a square shape, lying in the midst, between the head and foot, is inscribed with the name of the dead, the time and place of his birth, and the time when, to use their own language, he "departed," and this is the sole epitaph. But innovations have been recently made on this simplicity; a rhyming couplet or quatrain is now sometimes added, or a word in praise of the dead One recent grave was loaded with a thick tablet of white marble, which covered it entirely, and bore an inscription as voluminous as those in the burial places of other denominations. The graves, as in all Moravian burying grounds, are arranged in regular rows, with paths at right angles between them, and sometimes a rose-tree is planted at the head of the sleeper.
As we were leaving Nazareth, the innkeeper came to us, and asked if we would allow a man who was travelling to Easton to take a seat in our carriage with the driver. We consented, and a respectable-looking, well-clad, middle-aged person, made his appearance. When we had proceeded a little way, we asked him some questions, to which he made no other reply than to shake his head, and we soon found that he understood no English. I tried him with German, which brought a ready reply in the same language. He was a native of Pennsylvania, he told me, born at Snow Hill, in Lehigh county, not very many miles from Nazareth. In turn, he asked me where I came from, and when I bid him guess, he assigned my birthplace to Germany, which showed at least that he was not very accurately instructed in the diversities with which his mother tongue is spoken.
As we entered Easton, the yellow woods on the hills and peaks that surround the place, were lit up with a glowing autumnal sunset. Soon afterward we crossed the Lehigh, and took a walk along its bank in South Easton, where a little town has recently grown up; the sidewalks along its dusty streets were freshly swept for Saturday night. As it began to grow dark, we found ourselves strolling in front of a row of iron mills, with the canal on one side and the Lehigh on the other. One of these was a rolling mill, into which we could look from the bank where we stood, and observe the whole process of the manufacture, which is very striking.
The whole interior of the building is lighted at night only by the mouths of several furnaces, which are kindled to a white heat. Out of one of these a thick bar of iron, about six feet in length and heated to a perfect whiteness, is drawn, and one end of it presented to the cylinders of the mill, which seize it and draw it through between them, rolled out to three or four times its original size. A sooty workman grasps the opposite end of the bar with pincers as soon as it is fairly through, and returns it again to the cylinders, which deliver it again on the opposite side. In this way it passes backward and forward till it is rolled into an enormous length, and shoots across the black floor with a twining motion like a serpent of fire. At last, when pressed to the proper thinness and length, it is coiled up into a circle by the help of a machine contrived for the purpose, which rolls it up as a shopkeeper rolls up a ribbon.
We found a man near where we stood, begrimed by the soot of the furnaces, handling the clumsy masses of iron which bear the name of bloom. The rolling mill, he said, belonged to Rodenbough, Stewart & Co., who had very extensive contracts for furnishing iron to the nailmakers and wire manufacturers.
"Will they stop the mill for the new tariff?" said I.
"They will stop for nothing," replied the man. "The new tariff is a good tariff, if people would but think so. It costs the iron-masters fifteen dollars a ton to make their iron, and they sell it for forty dollars a ton. If the new tariff obliges them to sell it for considerable less they will still make money."
So revolves the cycle of opinion. Twenty years ago a Pennsylvanian who questioned the policy of the protective system would have been looked upon as a sort of curiosity. Now the bloomers and stable-boys begin to talk free trade. What will they talk twenty years hence?
Portland, July 31, 1847.
I left Boston for this place, a few days since, by one of the railways. I never come to Boston or go out of it without being agreeably struck with the civility and respectable appearance of the hackney-coachmen, the porters, and others for whose services the traveller has occasion. You feel, generally, in your intercourse with these persons that you are dealing with men who have a character to maintain.
There is a sober substantial look about the dwellings of Boston, which pleases me more than the gayer aspect of our own city. In New York we are careful to keep the outside of our houses fresh with paint, a practice which does not exist here, and which I suppose we inherited from the Hollanders, who learned it I know not where—could it have been from the Chinese? The country houses of Holland, along the canals, are bright with paint, often of several different colors, and are as gay as pagodas. In their moist climate, where mould and moss so speedily gather, the practice may be founded in better reasons than it is with us.
"Boston," said a friend to whom I spoke of the appearance of comfort and thrift in that city, "is a much more crowded place than you imagine, and where people are crowded there can not be comfort. In many of the neighborhoods, back of those houses which present so respectable an aspect, are buildings rising close to each other, inhabited by the poorer class, whose families are huddled together without sufficient space and air, and here it is that Boston poverty hides itself. You are more fortunate on your island, that your population can extend itself horizontally, instead of heaping itself up, as we have begun to do here."
The first place which we could call pleasant after leaving Boston was Andover, where Stuart and Woods, now venerable with years, instruct the young orthodox ministers and missionaries of New England. It is prettily situated among green declivities. A little beyond, at North Andover, we came in sight of the roofs and spires of the new city of Lawrence, which already begin to show proudly on the sandy and sterile banks of the Merrimac, a rapid and shallow river. A year ago last February, the building of the city was begun; it has now five or six thousand inhabitants, and new colonists are daily thronging in. Brick kilns are smoking all over the country to supply materials for the walls of the dwellings. The place, I was told, astonishes visitors with its bustle and confusion. The streets are encumbered with heaps of fresh earth, and piles of stone, brick, beams, and boards, and people can with difficulty hear each other speak, for the constant thundering of hammers, and the shouts of cartmen and wagoners urging their oxen and horses with their loads through the deep sand of the ways. "Before the last shower," said a passenger, "you could hardly see the city from this spot, on account of the cloud of dust that hung perpetually over it."
"Rome," says the old adage, "was not built in a day," but here is a city which, in respect of its growth, puts Rome to shame. The Romulus of this new city, who like the Latian of old, gives his name to the community of which he is the founder, is Mr. Abbot Lawrence, of Boston, a rich manufacturer, money-making and munificent, and more fortunate in building cities and endowing schools, than in foretelling political events. He is the modern Amphion, to the sound of whose music, the pleasant chink of dollars gathered in many a goodly dividend, all the stones which form the foundation of this Thebes dance into their places,
"And half the mountain rolls into a wall."
Beyond Lawrence, in the state of New Hampshire, the train stopped a moment at Exeter, which those who delight in such comparisons might call the Eton of New England. It is celebrated for its academy, where Bancroft, Everett, and I know not how many more of the New England scholars and men of letters, received the first rudiments of their education. It lies in a gentle depression of the surface of the country, not deep enough to be called a valley, on the banks of a little stream, and has a pleasant retired aspect. At Durham, some ten miles further on, we found a long train of freight-cars crowded with the children of a Sunday-school, just ready to set out on a pic-nic party, the boys shouting, and the girls, of whom the number was prodigious, showing us their smiling faces. A few middle-aged men, and a still greater number of matrons, were dispersed among them to keep them in order. At Dover, where are several cotton mills, we saw a similar train, with a still larger crowd, and when we crossed the boundary of New Hampshire and entered South Berwick in Maine, we passed through a solitary forest of oaks, where long tables and benches had been erected for their reception, and the birds were twittering in the branches over them.
At length the sight of numerous groups gathering blue-berries, in an extensive tract of shrubby pasture, indicated that we were approaching a town, and in a few minutes we had arrived at Portland. The conductor, whom we found intelligent and communicative, recommended that we should take quarters, during our stay, at a place called the Veranda, or Oak Grove, on the water, about two miles from the town, and we followed his advice. We drove through Portland, which is nobly situated on an eminence overlooking Casco Bay, its maze of channels, and almost innumerable islands, with their green slopes, cultivated fields, and rocky shores. We passed one arm of the sea after another on bridges, and at length found ourselves on a fine bold promontory, between Presumpscot river and the waters of Casco Bay. Here a house of entertainment has just been opened—the beginning of a new watering-place, which I am sure will become a favorite one in the hot months of our summers. The surrounding country is so intersected with straits, that, let the wind come from what quarter it may, it breathes cool over the waters; and the tide, rising twelve feet, can not ebb and flow without pushing forward the air and drawing it back again, and thus causing a motion of the atmosphere in the stillest weather.
We passed twenty-four hours in this pleasant retreat, among the oaks of its grove, and along its rocky shores, enjoying the agreeable coolness of the fresh and bracing atmosphere. To tell the truth we have found it quite cool enough ever since we reached Boston, five days ago; sometimes, in fact, a little too cool for the thin garments we are accustomed to wear at this season. Returning to Portland, we took passage in the steamer Huntress, for Augusta, up the Kennebeck. I thought to give you, in this letter, an amount of this part of my journey, but I find I must reserve it for my next.
Keene, New Hampshire, August 11, 1847.
We left Portland early in the afternoon, on board the steamer Huntress, and swept out of the harbor, among the numerous green islands which here break the swell of the Atlantic, and keep the water almost as smooth as that of the Hudson. "It is said," remarked a passenger, "that there are as many of these islands as there are days in the year, but I do not know that any body has ever counted them." Two of the loftiest, rock-bound, with verdant summits, and standing out beyond the rest, overlooking the main ocean, bore light-houses, and near these we entered the mouth of the Kennebeck, which here comes into the sea between banks of massive rock.
At the mouth of the river were forests of stakes, for the support of the nets in which salmon, shad, and alewives are taken. The shad fishery, they told me, was not yet over, though the month of August was already come. We passed some small villages where we saw the keels of large unfinished vessels lying high upon the stocks; at Bath, one of the most considerable of these places, but a small village still, were five or six, on which the ship-builders were busy. These, I was told, when once launched would never be seen again in the place where they were built, but would convey merchandise between the great ports of the world.
"The activity of ship-building in the state of Maine," said a gentleman whom I afterward met, "is at this moment far greater than you can form any idea of, without travelling along our coast. In solitary places where a stream or creek large enough to float a ship is found, our builders lay the keels of their vessels. It is not necessary that the channel should be wide enough for the ship to turn round; it is enough if it will contain her lengthwise. They choose a bend in the river from which they can launch her with her head down stream, and, aided by the tide, float her out to sea, after which she proceeds to Boston or New York, or some other of our large seaports to do her part in carrying on the commerce of the world."
I learned that the ship-builders of Maine purchase large tracts of forest in Virginia and other states of the south, for their supply of timber. They obtain their oaks from the Virginia shore, their hard pine from North Carolina; the coverings of the deck and the smaller timbers of the large vessels are furnished by Maine. They take to the south cargoes of lime and other products of Maine, and bring back the huge trunks produced in that region. The larger trees on the banks of the navigable rivers of Maine were long ago wrought into the keels of vessels.
It was not far from Bath, and a considerable distance from the open sea, that we saw a large seal on a rock in the river. He turned his head slowly from side to side as we passed, without allowing himself to be disturbed by the noise we made, and kept his place as long as the eye could distinguish him. The presence of an animal always associated in the imagination with uninhabited coasts of the ocean, made us feel that we were advancing into a thinly or at least a newly peopled country.
Above Bath, the channel of the Kennebeck widens into what is called Merrymeeting Bay. Here the great Androscoggin brings in its waters from the southwest, and various other small streams from different quarters enter the bay, making it a kind of Congress of Rivers. It is full of wooded islands and rocky promontories projecting into the water and overshading it with their trees. As we passed up we saw, from time to time, farms pleasantly situated on the islands or the borders of the river, where a soil more genial or more easily tilled had tempted the settler to fix himself. At length we approached Gardiner, a flourishing village, beautifully situated among the hills on the right bank of the Kennebeck. All traces of sterility had already disappeared from the country; the shores of the river were no longer rock-bound, but disposed in green terraces, with woody eminences behind them. Leaving Gardiner behind us, we went on to Hallowell, a village bearing similar marks of prosperity, where we landed, and were taken in carriages to Augusta, the seat of government, three or four miles beyond.
Augusta is a pretty village, seated on green and apparently fertile eminences that overlook the Kennebeck, and itself overlooked by still higher summits, covered with woods, The houses are neat, and shaded with trees, as is the case with all New England villages in the agricultural districts. I found the Legislature in session; the Senate, a small quiet body, deliberating for aught I could see, with as much grave and tranquil dignity as the Senate of the United States. The House of Representatives was just at the moment occupied by some railway question, which I was told excited more feeling than any subject that had been debated in the whole session, but even this occasioned no unseemly agitation; the surface was gently rippled, nothing more.
While at Augusta, we crossed the river and visited the Insane Asylum, a state institution, lying on the pleasant declivities of the opposite shore. It is a handsome stone building. One of the medical attendants accompanied us over a part of the building, and showed us some of the wards in which there were then scarcely any patients, and which appeared to be in excellent order, with the best arrangements for the comfort of the inmates, and a scrupulous attention to cleanliness. When we expressed a desire to see the patients, and to learn something of the manner in which they were treated, he replied, "We do not make a show of our patients; we only show the building." Our visit was, of course, soon dispatched. We learned afterward that this was either insolence or laziness on the part of the officer in question, whose business it properly was to satisfy any reasonable curiosity expressed by visitors.
It had been our intention to cross the country from Augusta directly to the White Hills in New Hampshire, and we took seats in the stage-coach with that view. Back of Augusta the country swells into hills of considerable height with deep hollows between, in which lie a multitude of lakes. We passed several of these, beautifully embosomed among woods, meadows, and pastures, and were told that if we continued on the course we had taken we should scarcely ever find ourselves without some sheet of water in sight till we arrived at Fryeburg on the boundary between Maine and New Hampshire. One of them, in the township of Winthrop, struck us as particularly beautiful. Its shores are clean and bold, with little promontories running far into the water, and several small islands.
At Winthrop we found that the coach in which we set out would proceed to Portland, and that if we intended to go on to Fryeburg, we must take seats in a shabby wagon, without the least protection for our baggage. It was already beginning to rain, and this circumstance decided us; we remained in the coach and proceeded on our return to Portland. I have scarcely ever travelled in a country which presented a finer appearance of agricultural thrift and prosperity than the portions of the counties of Kennebeck and Cumberland, through which our road carried us. The dwellings are large, neatly painted, surrounded with fruit-trees and shrubs, and the farms in excellent order, and apparently productive. We descended at length into the low country, crossed the Androscoggin to the county of York, where, as we proceeded, the country became more sandy and sterile, and the houses had a neglected aspect. At length, after a journey of fifty or sixty miles in the rain, we were again set down in the pleasant town of Portland.
The White Mountains.
Springfield, Mass., August 13, 1847.
I had not space in my last letter, which was written from Keene, in New Hampshire, to speak of a visit I had just made to the White Mountains. Do not think I am going to bore you with a set description of my journey and ascent of Mount Washington; a few notes of the excursion may possibly amuse you.
From Conway, where the stage-coach sets you down for the night, in sight of the summits of the mountains, the road to the Old Notch is a very picturesque one. You follow the path of the Saco along a wide valley, sometimes in the woods that overhang its bank, and sometimes on the edge of rich grassy meadows, till at length, as you leave behind you one summit after another, you find yourself in a little plain, apparently inclosed on every side by mountains.
Further on you enter the deep gorge which leads gradually upward to the Notch. In the midst of it is situated the Willey House, near which the Willey family were overtaken by an avalanche and perished as they were making their escape. It is now enlarged into a house of accommodation for visitors to the mountains. Nothing can exceed the aspect of desolation presented by the lofty mountain-ridges which rise on each side. They are streaked with the paths of landslides, occurring at different periods, which have left the rocky ribs of the mountains bare from their bald tops to the forests at their feet, and have filled the sides of the valley with heaps of earth, gravel, stones, and trunks of trees.
From the Willey house you ascend, for about two miles, a declivity, by no means steep, with these dark ridges frowning over you, your path here and there crossed by streams which have made for themselves passages in the granite sides of the mountains like narrow staircases, down which they come tumbling from one vast block to another. I afterward made acquaintance with two of these, and followed them upward from one clear pool and one white cascade to another till I was tired. The road at length passes through what may be compared to a natural gateway, a narrow chasm between tall cliffs, and through which the Saco, now a mere brook, finds its way. You find yourself in a green opening, looking like the bottom of a drained lake with mountain summits around you. Here is one of the houses of accommodation from which you ascend Mount Washington.
If you should ever think of ascending Mount Washington, do not allow any of the hotel-keepers to cheat you in regard to the distance. It is about ten miles from either the hotels to the summit, and very little less from any of them. They keep a set of worn-out horses, which they hire for the season, and which are trained to climb the mountain, in a walk, by the worst bridle-paths in the world. The poor hacks are generally tolerably sure-footed, but there are exceptions to this. Guides are sent with the visitors, who generally go on foot, strong-legged men, carrying long staves, and watching the ladies lest any accident should occur; some of these, especially those from the house in the Notch, commonly called Tom Crawford's, are unmannerly fellows enough.
The scenery of these mountains has not been sufficiently praised. But for the glaciers, but for the peaks white with perpetual snow, it would be scarcely worth while to see Switzerland after seeing the White Mountains. The depth of the valleys, the steepness of the mountain-sides, the variety of aspect shown by their summits, the deep gulfs of forest below, seamed with the open courses of rivers, the vast extent of the mountain region seen north and south of us, gleaming with many lakes, took me with surprise and astonishment. Imagine the forests to be shorn from half the broad declivities—imagine scattered habitations on the thick green turf and footpaths leading from one to the other, and herds and flocks browzing, and you have Switzerland before you. I admit, however, that these accessories add to the variety and interest of the landscape, and perhaps heighten the idea of its vastness.
I have been told, however, that the White Mountains in autumn present an aspect more glorious than even the splendors of the perpetual ice of the Alps. All this mighty multitude of mountains, rising from valleys filled with dense forests, have then put on their hues of gold and scarlet, and, seen more distinctly on account of their brightness of color, seem to tower higher in the clear blue of the sky. At that season of the year they are little visited, and only awaken the wonder of the occasional traveller.
It is not necessary to ascend Mount Washington, to enjoy the finest views. Some of the lower peaks offer grander though not so extensive ones; the height of the main summit seems to diminish the size of the objects beheld from it. The sense of solitude and immensity is however most strongly felt on that great cone, overlooking all the rest, and formed of loose rocks, which seem as if broken into fragments by the power which upheaved these ridges from the depths of the earth below. At some distance on the northern side of one of the summits, I saw a large snow-drift lying in the August sunshine.
The Franconia Notch, which we afterwards visited, is almost as remarkable for the two beautiful little lakes within it, as for the savage grandeur of the mountain-walls between which it passes. At this place I was shown a hen clucking over a brood of young puppies. They were littered near the nest where she was sitting, when she immediately abandoned her eggs and adopted them as her offspring. She had a battle with the mother, and proved victorious; after which, however, a compromise took place, the slut nursing the puppies and the hen covering them as well as she could with her wings. She was strutting among them when I saw her, with an appearance of pride at having produced so gigantic a brood.
From Franconia we proceeded to Bath, on or near the Connecticut, and entered the lovely valley of that river, which is as beautiful in New Hampshire, as in any part of its course. Hanover, the seat of Dartmouth College, is a pleasant spot, but the traveller will find there the worst hotels on the river. Windsor, on the Vermont side, is a still finer village, with trim gardens and streets shaded by old trees; Bellows Falls is one of the most striking places for its scenery in all New England. The coach brought us to the railway station in the pleasant village of Greenfield. We took seats in the train, and leaving on our left the quiet old streets of Deerfield under their ancient trees, and passing a dozen or more of the villages on the meadows of the Connecticut, found ourselves in less than two hours in this flourishing place, which is rapidly rising to be one of the most important towns in New England.
A Passage to Savannah.
Augusta, Georgia, March 29, 1849.
A quiet passage by sea from New York to Savannah would seem to afford little matter for a letter, yet those who take the trouble to read what I am about to write, will, I hope, admit that there are some things to be observed, even on such a voyage. It was indeed a remarkably quiet one, and worthy of note on that account, if on no other. We had a quiet vessel, quiet weather, a quiet, good-natured captain, a quiet crew, and remarkably quiet passengers.
When we left the wharf at New York last week, in the good steamship Tennessee, we were not conscious, at first, as we sat in the cabin, that she was in motion and proceeding down the harbor. There was no beating or churning of the sea, no struggling to get forward; her paddles played in the water as smoothly as those of a terrapin, without jar or noise. The Tennessee is one of the tightest and strongest boats that navigate our coast; the very flooring of her deck is composed of timbers instead of planks, and helps to keep her massive frame more compactly and solidly together. It was her first voyage; her fifty-one passengers lolled on sofas fresh from the upholsterer's, and slept on mattresses which had never been pressed by the human form before, in state-rooms where foul air had never collected. Nor is it possible that the air should become impure in them to any great degree, for the Tennessee is the best-ventilated ship I ever was in; the main cabin and the state-rooms are connected with each other and with the deck, by numerous openings and pipes which keep up a constant circulation of air in every part.
I have spoken of the passengers as remarkably quiet persons. Several of them, I believe, never spoke during the passage, at least so it seemed to me. The silence would have been almost irksome, but for two lively little girls who amused us by their prattle, and two young women, apparently just married, too happy to do any thing but laugh, even when suffering from seasickness, and whom we now and then heard shouting and squealing from their state-rooms. There were two dark-haired, long-limbed gentlemen, who lay the greater part of the first and second day at full length on the sofas in the after-cabin, each with a spittoon before him, chewing tobacco with great rapidity and industry, and apparently absorbed in the endeavor to fill it within a given time. There was another, with that atrabilious complexion peculiar to marshy countries, and circles of a still deeper hue about his eyes, who sat on deck, speechless and motionless, wholly indifferent to the sound of the dinner-bell, his countenance fixed in an expression which seemed to indicate an utter disgust of life.
Yet we had some snatches of good talk on the voyage. A robust old gentleman, a native of Norwalk, in Connecticut, told us that he had been reading a history of that place by the Rev. Mr. Hall.
"I find," said he, "that in his account of the remarkable people of Norwalk, he has omitted to speak of two of the most remarkable, two spinsters, Sarah and Phebe Comstock, relatives of mine and friends of my youth, of whom I retain a vivid recollection. They were in opulent circumstances for the neighborhood in which they lived, possessing a farm of about two hundred acres; they were industrious, frugal, and extremely charitable; but they never relieved a poor family without visiting it, and inquiring carefully into its circumstances. Sarah was the housekeeper, and Phebe the farmer. Phebe knew nothing of kitchen matters, but she knew at what time of the year greensward should be broken up, and corn planted, and potatoes dug. She dropped Indian corn and sowed English grain with her own hands. In the time of planting or of harvest, it was Sarah who visited and relieved the poor.
"I remember that they had various ways of employing the young people who called upon them. If it was late in the autumn, there was a chopping-board and chopping-knife ready, with the feet of neat-cattle, from which the oily parts had been extracted by boiling. 'You do not want to be idle,' they would say, 'chop this meat, and you shall have your share of the mince-pies that we are going to make.' At other times a supply of old woollen stockings were ready for unraveling. 'We know you do not care to be idle' they would say, 'here are some stockings which you would oblige us by unraveling.' If you asked what use they made of the spools of woollen thread obtained by this process, they would answer: 'We use it as the weft of the linsey-woolsey with which we clothe our negroes.' They had negro slaves in those times, and old Tone, a faithful black servant of theirs, who has seen more than a hundred years, is alive yet.
"They practiced one very peculiar piece of economy. The white hickory you know, yields the purest and sweetest of saccharine juices. They had their hickory fuel cut into short billets, which before placing on the fire they laid on the andirons, a little in front of the blaze, so as to subject it to a pretty strong heat. This caused the syrup in the wood to drop from each end of the billet, where it was caught in a cup, and in this way a gallon or two was collected in the course of a fortnight. With this they flavored their finest cakes.
"They died about thirty years since, one at the age of eighty-nine, and the other at the age of ninety. On the tomb-stone of one of them, it was recorded that she had been a member of the church for seventy years. Their father was a remarkable man in his way. He was a rich man in his time, and kept a park of deer, one of the last known in Connecticut, for the purpose of supplying his table with venison. He prided himself on the strict and literal fulfillment of his word. On one occasion he had a law-suit with one of his neighbors, before a justice of the peace, in which he was cast and ordered to pay ten shillings damages, and a shilling as the fees of court. He paid the ten shillings, and asked the justice whether he would allow him to pay the remaining shilling when he next passed his door. The magistrate readily consented, but from that time old Comstock never went by his house. Whenever he had occasion to go to church, or to any other place, the direct road to which led by the justice's door, he was careful to take a lane which passed behind the dwelling, and at some distance from it. The shilling remained unpaid up to the day of his death, and it was found that in his last will he had directed that his corpse should be carried by that lane to the place of interment."
When we left the quarantine ground on Thursday morning, after lying moored all night with a heavy rain beating on the deck, the sky was beginning to clear with a strong northwest wind and the decks were slippery with ice. When the sun rose it threw a cold white light upon the waters, and the passengers who appeared on deck were muffled to the eyes. As we proceeded southwardly, the temperature grew milder, and the day closed with a calm and pleasant sunset. The next day the weather was still milder, until about noon, when we arrived off Cape Hatteras a strong wind set in from the northeast, clouds gathered with a showery aspect, and every thing seemed to betoken an impending storm. At this moment the captain shifted the direction of the voyage, from south to southwest; we ran before the wind leaving the storm, if there was any, behind us, and the day closed with another quiet and brilliant sunset.
The next day, the third of our voyage, broke upon us like a day in summer, with amber-colored sunshine and the blandest breezes that ever blew. An awning was stretched over the deck to protect us from the beams of the sun, and all the passengers gathered under it; the two dark-complexioned gentlemen left the task of filling the spittoons below, and came up to chew their tobacco on deck; the atrabilious passenger was seen to interest himself in the direction of the compass, and once was thought to smile, and the hale old gentleman repeated the history of his Norwalk relatives. On the fourth morning we landed at Savannah. It was delightful to eyes which had seen only russet fields and leafless trees for months, to gaze on the new and delicate green of the trees and the herbage. The weeping willows drooped in full leaf, the later oaks were putting forth their new foliage, the locust-trees had hung out their tender sprays and their clusters of blossoms not yet unfolded, the Chinese wistaria covered the sides of houses with its festoons of blue blossoms, and roses were nodding at us in the wind, from the tops of the brick walls which surround the gardens.
Yet winter had been here, I saw. The orange-trees which, since the great frost seven or eight years ago, had sprung from the ground and grown to the height of fifteen or twenty feet, had a few days before my arrival felt another severe frost, and stood covered with sere dry leaves in the gardens, some of them yet covered with fruit. The trees were not killed, however, as formerly, though they will produce no fruit this season, and new leaf-buds were beginning to sprout on their boughs. The dwarf-orange, a hardier tree, had escaped entirely, and its blossoms were beginning to open.
I visited Bonaventure, which I formerly described in one of my letters. It has lost the interest of utter solitude and desertion which it then had. A Gothic cottage has been built on the place, and the avenues of live-oaks have been surrounded with an inclosure, for the purpose of making a cemetery on the spot. Yet there they stand, as solemn as ever, lifting and stretching their long irregular branches overhead, hung with masses and festoons of gray moss. It almost seemed, when I looked up to them, as if the clouds had come nearer to the earth than is their wont, and formed themselves into the shadowy ribs of the vault above me. The drive to Bonaventure at this season of the year is very beautiful, though the roads are sandy; it is partly along an avenue of tall trees, and partly through the woods, where the dog-wood and azalea and thorn-trees are in blossom, and the ground is sprinkled with flowers. Here and there are dwellings beside the road. "They are unsafe the greater part of the year," said the gentleman who drove me out, and who spoke from professional knowledge, "a summer residence in them is sure to bring dangerous fevers." Savannah is a healthy city, but it is like Rome, imprisoned by malaria.
The city of Savannah, since I saw it six years ago, has enlarged considerably, and the additions made to it increase its beauty. The streets have been extended on the south side, on the same plan as those of the rest of the city, with small parks at short distances from each other, planted with trees; and the new houses are handsome and well-built. The communications opened with the interior by long lines of railway have, no doubt, been the principal occasion of this prosperity. These and the Savannah river send enormous quantities of cotton to the Savannah market. One should see, with the bodily eye, the multitude of bales of this commodity accumulating in the warehouses and elsewhere, in order to form an idea of the extent to which it is produced in the southern states—long trains of cars heaped with bales, steamer after steamer loaded high with bales coming down the rivers, acres of bales on the wharves, acres of bales at the railway stations—one should see all this, and then carry his thoughts to the millions of the civilized world who are clothed by this great staple of our country.
I came to this place by steamer to Charleston and then by railway. The line of the railway, one hundred and thirty-seven miles in length, passes through the most unproductive district of South Carolina. It is in fact nothing but a waste of forest, with here and there an open field, half a dozen glimpses of plantations, and about as many villages, none of which are considerable, and some of which consist of not more than half a dozen houses. Aiken, however, sixteen miles before you reach the Savannah river, has a pleasant aspect. It is situated on a comparatively high tract of country, sandy and barren, but healthy, and hither the planters resort in the hot months from their homes in the less salubrious districts. Pretty cottages stand dispersed among the oaks and pines, and immediately west of the place the country descends in pleasant undulations towards the valley of the Savannah.