There is a ladder about half a mile below the Table Rock; and, by this, Mr. Hall descended the cliff, to reach the foot of the fall. There was formerly much difficulty in the descent, but a few years have made a great change: the present dangers and difficulties may easily be enumerated. The first is, the ordinary hazard that every one runs who goes up or down a ladder: this ladder is a very good one, of thirty steps, or about forty feet; and, from it, the path is a rough one, over the fragments and masses of rock which have gradually crumbled, or have been forcibly riven, from the cliff, and which cover a broad declining space, from its foot to the brink of the river. The only risk, in this part of the pilgrimage, is that of a broken shin from a false step. The path gradually becomes smooth as it advances towards the cataract. Mr. Hall, as he drew near, says that he felt a sensation of awe, like that caused by the first cannon, on the morning of a battle. He passed, from sunshine, into gloom and tempest. The spray beat down in a heavy rain; a violent wind rushed from behind the sheet of water: it was difficult to respire, and, for a moment, it seemed temerity to encounter the convulsive workings of the elements, and to intrude into the dark dwellings of their power. But the danger is in appearance only: it is possible to penetrate only a few yards beyond the curtain, and, in these few, there is no hazard; the footing is good, and the space is sufficiently broad and free. There is even no necessity for a guide: the eyes amply suffice to point out all that is to be seen or avoided. During Mr. Hall's first visit, there were two young American ladies on the same errand; and they, as well as himself, were drenched in the cloud of spray.
The larger fall was formerly called the "Horse-shoe," but this name is no longer applicable; for its shape has become that of an acute angle. An officer, who had been stationed in the neighbourhood thirty years, pointed out to Mr. Hall the alteration which had taken place in the centre of the fall, and which he estimated at about eighteen feet in that time.
The lesser fall, on the American side, had the appearance of a considerable elevation, above the bed of the greater: on enquiry, Mr. Hall found that there was a difference between them, of about fifteen feet, caused, probably, by the greater weight of water descending down one than the other.
The island which divides the falls has, of late years, been frequently visited; nor is the visit to it an adventure of much hazard. At the point where the rapids commence, the current separates, and is drawn, on either side, towards the centre of the two falls, while the centre of the stream, being in the straight line of the island, descends towards it, without any violent attraction; and, down this still water, American boats, well manned, and furnished with poles to secure them from the action of the two currents, have frequently dropt to the island.
There is a whirlpool about half way betwixt Niagara and Queenston. The river, boiling and eddying from the falls, enters a circular basin, round which the lofty cliff sweeps, like an antique wall, overgrown with trees at its base, and amid its clefts and crevices. The cause of the whirlpool is perceptible to the spectator, who looks down, and observes that the stream, being compelled into this basin, by the direction of its channel, and unable to escape with celerity, is forced to gain time by revolving within its own circumference.
[Mr. Weld, who visited Niagara, about the year 1797, observes that, although the spray, and the noise of the cataract, are sometimes not observable so far as half a mile, yet, at other times, the noise has been heard at the distance of forty miles; and that he has himself seen the spray, like a cloud, at the distance of fifty-four miles. The river, as it approaches the falls, runs with astonishing impetuosity. Just at the precipice, down which it tumbles, it takes a considerable bend towards the right; and the line of the falls, instead of extending from bank to bank, in the shortest direction, runs obliquely across. The whole width of the fall is estimated to be about three quarters of a mile, including a rocky island, a quarter of a mile wide, by which the stream is divided. This cataract is divided, by islands, into three distinct falls, the loftiest of which is one hundred and sixty feet in perpendicular height.
Mr. Weld observes that it is possible not merely to pass to the very foot of the great fall; but even to proceed behind the tremendous sheet of water which comes pouring down from the top of the precipice; for the water falls from the edge of a projecting rock, and, by its violent ebullition, caverns of considerable size have been hollowed out of the rocks at the bottom, and extend some way beneath the bed of the upper part of the river. Mr. Weld advanced within about six yards of the edge of the sheet of water, just far enough for him to peep into the caverns behind it. But here his breath was nearly taken away by the violent whirlwind, that always rages at the bottom of the cataract, occasioned by the concussion of such a vast body of water against the rocks. Indeed Mr. Weld had no inclination either to go further, or to explore the dreary confines of these caverns, where death seemed to await any one who should be daring enough to enter their threatening jaws. No words, he says, can convey an adequate idea of the awful grandeur of the scene, at this place. The senses are appalled by the sight of the immense body of water that comes pouring from the top of the precipice; and by the thundering sound of the billows dashing against the rocky sides of the cavern below. He trembled with reverential fear, when he considered that a blast of the whirlwind might have swept him from off the slippery rocks on which he stood, and have precipitated him into the dreadful gulph beneath; whence all the power of man could not have extricated him. He here felt what an insignificant being man is in the creation; and his mind was forcibly impressed with an awful idea of the power of that mighty Existence, who commanded the waters to flow.]
Fourth Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
Narrative of Lieutenant HALL'S Journey from Niagara to Philadelphia.
Mr. Hall crossed the river from Fort Erie, and proceeded to Buffalo, one of the frontier villages which had been burnt during the great American war. Not a house had been left standing; yet, when Mr. Hall was there, it was not merely a flourishing village, but a considerable town, with good shops and hotels. The celerity with which Buffalo had risen from its ashes, indicates the juvenile spirit of life and increase, which so eminently distinguishes the American population.
As Mr. Hall proceeded on his journey, he found the country thickly settled, but dull and uniform in feature; being an entire flat. The autumn had been dry, and water was, in many places, extremely scarce. This is an evil not uncommon in newly-settled districts. Draining follows clearing; the creeks, no longer fed by the swamps, disencumbered also of fallen trunks of trees, and other substances, by which their waters were, in a great degree, stayed, easily run dry in summer, and soon fail altogether.
The principal inn at Batavia is large, and yet constructed upon an economical principle; for one roof covers hotel, prison, court-house, and assembly-room. The inhabitants were, at this time, building, by subscription, an episcopal church, the cost of which was to be twenty thousand dollars.
Caledonia is a small, but flourishing village, which has a handsome inn, with very comfortable accommodations; and, close to the road, is a large sheet of water, from which a clear and rapid stream descends, through a pleasing valley, into Allen's Creek, before the latter unites with the Genesee River. The banks of this creek are adorned with natural groves and copses, in which Mr. Hall observed the candleberry myrtle in great abundance: but a more interesting sight was afforded by numerous organic remains, with which the blocks of limestone, scattered through the low ground around it, are encrusted, as if with rude sculpture. These blocks are mixed with nodules of granite, and present innumerable forms, both of shells and aquatic plants. This district had been settled fifteen years; and, when Mr. Hall was here, cleared land was worth fifty dollars, and uncleared land about fifteen dollars per acre. At Avon Mr. Hall quitted the main road, and followed the right bank of the Genesee. The scenery, in the vicinity of this place, began to improve, but the roads were proportionally deteriorated. Wild even to savageness, mountain heights branched thickly across the country, with no seeming order or direction. The only level ground was in the narrow valleys, along the course of the streams.
The woods in the vicinity of the Genesee abound in large black squirrels, some of which are as big as a small cat. They are destructive to grain, and are, therefore, keenly pursued by sportsmen, who frequently make parties to kill them, and who destroy several thousands at one chase: their flesh is considered a great delicacy. These animals migrate, at different seasons; and have the credit of ingeniously ferrying themselves over rivers, by using a piece of bark for a raft, and their tails for sails.
Bath is embosomed in wild mountains. The principal houses are constructed round the three sides of a square, or green; and, as most of them were at this time new, white, and tastefully finished, they had a lively appearance, and were agreeably contrasted with the dark adjacent mountain scenery.
The road from Bath to Painted Post, though stony, is tolerably level. The adjacent mountains have a slaty appearance, with horizontal strata. Mr. Hall was disappointed at Painted Post, to find the post gone, broken down or rotted, within the last few years. It had been an Indian memorial, either of triumph or death, or of both.
When he was at Ancaster, this gentleman had been shown the grave of an Indian, among the woods, near the head of the stream: it was covered with boards, and a pole was erected at each end, on which a kind of dance was rudely painted with vermilion. The relatives of the deceased brought offerings to it daily, during their stay in the neighbourhood.
After passing through some other villages, Mr. Hall reached the banks of the Susquehanna: these have no great variety of scenery, though they frequently present grand features. The space betwixt the mountains and the river is often so narrow, that it barely suffices for one carriage to pass; and, in many places, the road, for a mile or two, seems to have been hewn from the rock. Near the creeks there is tolerable land, and two or three pleasant villages. The face of the landscape is no where naked: mountain and vale are alike clothed with pine and dwarf oak-trees; the swamp lands are covered with hemlock-trees, and the bottoms of the woods with rhododendrons.
Wilksbarre is a neat town, regularly laid out, on the left bank of the Susquehanna. Its locality is determined by the direction of one of the Alleghany ridges, which recedes from the course of the river, a few miles above the town, and, curving south-west, encloses a semicircular plot of land, towards the centre of which the town is built. Its neighbourhood abounds in coal. The pits are about a mile distant. They lie under a stratum of soft clay slate, which contains impressions of ferns, oak-leaves, and other vegetables, usually found in such situations. The town itself, in consequence of the frequent separation of its streets and houses, by grass-fields and gardens, has a quiet and rural aspect. It contains a neat church, appropriated to the alternate use of episcopalians and presbyterians. Wilkesbarre is built on the site of Wyoming: a small mound, near the river, is pointed out, as that on which the fort stood; and the incursion of the Indians, when most of the inhabitants fell, in an unsuccessful battle, is still remembered. Some few escaped, by swimming across the stream, and fled, naked, through the woods, for several days, till they reached the nearest settlement; and this is all the record that exists of Albert and Gertrude, the foundation of Campbell's poem of Gertrude of Wyoming.
At Wilkesbarre the road quits the Susquehanna, and, ascending a ridge of the Alleghany Mountains, crosses through deep forests and hemlock swamps, sparingly interspersed with settlements. The Pokono Mountain, over which Mr. Hall passed, is famous with the sportsmen and epicures of Philadelphia, for its grouse. Mr. Hall crossed the Blue Ridge, at the stupendous fissure of the Wind Gap, where the mountain seems forcibly broken through, and is strewed with the ruin of rocks. There is a similar aperture, some miles north-east, called the Water Gap. This affords a passage to the Delaware; and all the principal rivers of the states, that rise in the Alleghanys, pass through similar apertures.
Betwixt the Blue Ridge and the Lehigh River, are two Moravian settlements, called Bethlehem and Nazareth. [The inhabitants of the former constitute a large society, and occupy several farms. They have a spacious apartment, in which they all daily assemble, for the purpose of public worship. The single men and women have each a separate dwelling. The women are occupied in various domestic employments; in fancy and ornamental works; and, occasionally, in musical practice, under the direction of a superintendant. The walls of the large hall, where the society dine, are adorned with paintings, chiefly Scripture pieces, executed by members. Various branches of trade and manufacture are carried on, the profits of which go to the general stock; and, from this, all are supplied with the necessaries of life. Their whole time is spent in labour, and in prayer; except an hour in the evening, which is allotted for a concert. Among the Moravians marriage is contracted in a singular manner. If a young man has an inclination to marry, he makes application to the priest, who presents a young woman, designated by the superintendant as the next in rotation for marriage. Having left the parties together for an hour, the priest returns, and, if they consent to live together, they are married the next day; if otherwise, each is put at the bottom of the list, containing perhaps sixty or seventy names; and, on the part of the girl, there is no chance of marriage, unless the same young man should again feel disposed for matrimony. When united, a neat habitation, with a pleasant garden, is provided; and their children, at the age of six years, are placed in the seminary. If either of the parties die, the other returns to the apartment of the single people. In the Moravian establishment at Bethlehem, there is a tavern, with extensive and excellent accommodations.]
Madame de Stael, in describing the Moravians, says, "Their houses and streets are peculiarly neat. The women all dress in the same manner, conceal their hair, and surround their heads with a ribbon, the colour of which indicates whether they are single, married, or widows. The men dress in brown, somewhat like quakers. A mercantile industry occupies nearly the whole community; and all their labours are performed with peculiar regularity and tranquillity." Mr. Hall attended one of the meetings which the inhabitants of Bethlehem commonly hold every evening, for the joint purposes of amusement and devotion. The women were ranged at one end of the room, and the men at the other. Their bishop presided: he was an old man, dressed in the plainest manner, and possessed a countenance singularly mild and placid. He gave out a psalm, and led the choir; and the singing was alternately in German and English.
There is another Moravian settlement about a mile and a half from Nazareth. This, though small, exceeds both the others, in the calm and pensive beauty of its appearance. The houses are built of limestone: they are all on a similar plan, and have their window-frames, doors, and other wood-work, painted fawn-colour: before each house are planted weeping willows, whose luxuriant shade seems to shut out worldly glare, and throws an air of monastic repose over the whole village.
The Lehigh Mountain is the last of the Allegheny Ridges; the country is thenceforth level, fertile, and thickly inhabited, by steady Germans, who wear broad hats, and purple breeches; and whose houses and villages have the antique fashion of Flemish landscape. German is so generally spoken here, that the newspapers and public notices are all printed in that language.
The approach to Philadelphia is announced by a good turnpike road. German Town is a large suburb to the city, and the traveller here feels himself within the precincts of a populous and long-established capital.
A Description of Philadelphia.
The first impressions, on entering this city, are decidedly favourable. It possesses a character essentially different from that of New York. It has not so much business, nor so much animation; but there is, in Philadelphia, a freedom from mere display; an evidence of solidity, of which its more commercial rival is nearly destitute.
All the streets are spacious; the names of many of them, as Sassafras, Chesnut, and Locust, record their sylvan origin: rows of Lombardy poplars are planted in them. The private houses are characterized by elegant neatness; the steps and window-sills of many of them are of grey marble, and they have large mats placed before the doors. The streets are carefully swept, as well as the foot-paths, which are paved with brick. The shops do not yield, in display, to those of London. The principal street is one hundred feet wide; and the others vary from eighty to fifty. In the foot-paths a great inconvenience is experienced by the injudicious mode in which cellars are constructed, the openings of which project into the street; and also by the slovenly practice of the store or shopkeepers placing great quantities of loose goods on the outside of their doors.
Philadelphia stands on the bank of the river Delaware; and, in 1795, when Mr. Weld was there, its appearance, as approached from the water, was not very prepossessing. Nothing was visible but confused heaps of wooden store-houses, crowded upon each other, and wharfs, which projected a considerable way into the river. The wharfs were built of wood; they jutted out, in every direction, and were well adapted for the accommodation of shipping; the largest merchant vessels being able to lie close alongside of them. Behind the wharfs, and parallel to the river, runs a street called Water-street. This is the first street which the stranger in America usually enters, after landing; and (says Mr. Weld) it will not give him a very favourable opinion either of the neatness or commodiousness of the public ways of Philadelphia. Such stenches, at times, prevail in it, owing in part to the quantity of filth and dirt that is suffered to remain on the pavement, and in part to what is deposited in waste-houses, of which there are several in the street, that it is really dreadful to pass through it. It was here, in the year 1793, that the malignant yellow fever broke out, which made such terrible ravages among the inhabitants; and, in the summer season, in general, this street is extremely unhealthy.
Few of the public buildings in Philadelphia pretend to great architectural merit. The churches are neat, but plain. The Masonic Hall is an unsightly combination of brick and marble, in the Gothic style. The Philadelphia bank is in a similar style. The United States and Pennsylvania banks are the finest edifices in the city: the first has a handsome portico, with Corinthian columns of white marble, and the latter is a miniature representation of the temple of Minerva at Athens, and is the purest specimen of architecture in the states: the whole building is of marble.
The State House is a plain brick building, which was finished in 1735, at the cost of L.6000. The most interesting recollections of America are attached to this edifice. The Congress sat in it during the greatest part of the war; and the Declaration of Independence was read, from its steps, on the 4th of July, 1776. The Federal Convention also sat in it, in 1787. It is now occupied by the supreme and district courts below, and by Peale's Museum above. This museum, among other articles, contains an immense fossil skeleton of the great Mastodon, or American Mammoth, which, some years ago, was publicly exhibited in London.
The University of Pennsylvania was instituted several years ago, by some of the citizens of Philadelphia; among whom was Dr. Franklin, who drew up the original plan. It is governed by a provost and vice-provost. In 1811, the number of students amounted to five hundred. The lectures commence the first Monday in November, and end on the first day of March. Among others, are professors of anatomy, surgery, midwifery, chemistry, moral philosophy, mathematics, and natural philosophy, belles lettres, and languages.
The Philadelphia prison is a more interesting object to humanity than the most gorgeous palaces. Its exterior is simple, and has rather the air of an hospital than a gaol: a single grated door separates the interior from the street. On entering the court, Mr. Hall found it full of stone-cutters, employed in sawing and preparing large blocks of stone and marble; smiths' forges were at work on one side, and the whole court was surrounded by a gallery and a double tier of work-shops, in which were brush-makers, tailors, shoemakers, weavers, all at their several occupations, labouring, not only to defray, to the public, the expenses of their confinement, but to provide the means of their own honest subsistence for the future. It had none of the usual features of a prison; neither the hardened profligacy which scoffs down its own sense of guilt, nor the hollow-eyed sorrow which wastes away in a living death of unavailing expiation: there was neither the clank of chains, nor the yell of execration; but a hardworking body of men were seen, who, though separated by justice from society, were not supposed to have lost the distinctive attribute of human nature: they were treated as rational beings, were operated upon by rational motives; and they repaid this treatment by improved habits, by industry, and submission. They had been profligate, they were now sober and decent in their behaviour; they had been idle, they were now actively and usefully employed; they had disobeyed the laws, they now submitted (armed as they were with all kinds of utensils) to the government of a single turnkey, and the barrier of a single grating.
The markets of Philadelphia are well supplied; and the price of provisions is considerably lower than in London. No butchers are permitted to slaughter cattle within the city, nor are live cattle permitted to be driven to the city markets.
The inhabitants of this city are estimated at one hundred and twenty thousand, and many of them live in houses which would adorn any city in the world. They have, universally, a pallid and sallow countenance, except the younger females; and many of these, even quakers, adopt the disgusting practice of ornamenting their faces with rouge. In their dress, the gentlemen follow the fashions of England, and the ladies those of France. Mr. Fearon perceived here, what, he says, pervades the whole of the new world, an affectation of splendour, or, what may be called style, in those things that are intended to meet the public eye; with a lamentable want, even of cleanliness, in such matters as are removed from that ordeal. To this may be added an appearance of uncomfortable extravagance, and an ignorance of that kind of order and neatness, which, in the eyes of those who have once enjoyed it, constitute the principal charm of domestic life. The Philadelphians consist of English, Irish, Scotch, Germans, and French; and of American-born citizens, descended from people of those different nations. It is a remark very generally made, not only by foreigners, but also by persons from distant parts of the United States, that they are extremely deficient in hospitality and politeness towards strangers. Among the uppermost circles in Philadelphia, pride, haughtiness, and ostentation, are conspicuous; and, in the manners of the people in general, there is much coldness and reserve.
Philadelphia is the grand residence of the quakers in America, but their number does not now bear the same proportion to that of the other citizens, which it formerly did. This, however, is not occasioned by a diminution of quakers, so much as by the great influx, into the city, of persons of a different persuasion.
In this city funerals are uniformly attended by large walking processions. The newspapers frequently contain advertisements, stating the deaths of individuals, and inviting all friends to attend the burial. The dead are seldom kept more than two days. At the time appointed, intimate friends enter the house; others assemble on the outside, and fall into the procession when the body is brought out.
With regard to the climate of Philadelphia, it is observed that the heats of summer are excessive; and that the cold of winter is equally extreme. During the few days which Mr. Weld spent at Philadelphia, in the month of June, 1795, the heat was almost intolerable. For two or three days the thermometer stood at 93 deg., and, during these days, no one stirred out of doors who was not compelled to do so. Light white hats were universally worn, and the young men appeared dressed in cotton or linen jackets and trowsers. The window-shutters of the houses were closed early in the mornings, so as to admit no more light than what was absolutely necessary for domestic business. Indeed, many of the houses were kept so dark, that, on going into them from the street, it was impossible, at first entrance, to perceive who was present. The best houses in the city are furnished with Venetian blinds, at the outside, to the windows and hall doors, which are made to fold together like common window-shutters. A very different scene was presented after sunset. Every house was then thrown open, and all the inhabitants crowded into the streets, to take their evening walks, and to visit their acquaintance. This usually lasted till about ten o'clock: at eleven all was quiet; and a person might have passed over half the town without seeing a single human being, except the watchmen. Heavy dews sometimes fall after the sun is down, and the nights are then very cold: at other times there are no dews, and the air continues hot all the night through. At this season of the year meat cannot be kept sweet, even for a single day, except in an icehouse or a remarkably cold cellar. Milk generally turns sour in an hour or two; and fish is never brought to market without being covered with lumps of ice. Poultry, intended for dinner, is never killed till about four hours before it is wanted, and even then it is kept immersed in water.
The carriages used in Philadelphia consist of coaches, chariots, chaises, coachees, and light waggons. The equipages of a few individuals are extremely ostentatious; but there does not appear, in any, that neatness and elegance which might be expected among people who are desirous of imitating the fashions of England, and who are continually procuring models from that country. The coachee is a carriage peculiar to America; the body of it is somewhat longer than that of a coach, but of the same shape. In front it is left quite open, down to the bottom, and the driver sits on a bench under the roof. It has two seats for the passengers, who sit with their faces towards the horses. The roof is supported by small props, which are placed at the corners. On each side of the doors, above the pannels, it is quite open; and, to guard against bad weather, there are curtains, which are made to let down from the roof, and which fasten to buttons, placed for the purpose, on the outside. There is also a leathern curtain, to hang occasionally between the driver and passengers.
The light waggons are on the same construction, but are calculated to accommodate from four to twelve people. The only difference between a small waggon and a coachee, is, that the latter is better finished, has varnished pannels, and doors at the side. The former has no doors; but the passengers scramble in, the best way they can, over the seat of the driver. These waggons are universally used for stage-carriages.
The accommodations at the taverns, in Philadelphia, are very indifferent; as, indeed, with very few exceptions, they are throughout the country. The mode of conducting them is nearly the same every where. The traveller, on his arrival, is shown into a room, which is common to every person in the house, and which is generally the one set apart for breakfast, dinner, and supper. All the strangers that are in the house sit down, to these meals, promiscuously; and, excepting in the large towns, the family of the house also forms a part of the company. It is seldom that a private parlour or drawing-room can be procured at taverns, even in the towns; and it is always with reluctance that breakfast or dinner is served up separately to any individual. If a separate bed-room can be procured, more ought not to be expected; and it is not always that even this is to be had; and persons who travel through the country must often submit to be crammed into rooms where there is scarcely sufficient space to walk between the beds.
The Delaware, on the banks of which this city is built, rises in the state of New York. At Philadelphia it is thirteen hundred and sixty yards wide, and is navigable for vessels of any burden. It is frozen in the winter months; a circumstance which materially affects the commercial interests of Philadelphia, and gives a great advantage to New York. The tide reaches as high as the falls of Trenton, thirty-five miles above Philadelphia, and one hundred and fifty-five miles from the sea. Six or seven steam-boats, of large size, ply on the Delaware, and form a communication with New York, by Trenton and Bordentown; and with Baltimore, by Wilmington and Newcastle. These vessels are all fitted up in an elegant manner.
Over the river Schuylkil, near Philadelphia, there is a singular bridge of iron wire. It is four hundred feet in length, and extends, from the window of a wire factory, to a tree on the opposite shore. The wires which form the curve are six in number; three on each side, and each three-eighths of an inch in diameter. The floor of the bridge is elevated sixteen feet above the water; and the whole weight of the wires is about four thousand seven hundred pounds. It is possible to construct a bridge of this kind in the space of a fortnight; and the whole expense would not exceed three hundred dollars.
* * * * *
About thirty miles north-east of Philadelphia, and betwixt that city and New York, is Trenton, the capital of New Jersey. Mr. Weld visited this place in the year 1796; and he says that it then contained only about eighty dwellings, in one long street. It had a college, which was in considerable repute. The number of students was about seventy; but, from their appearance, and the course of their studies, it more correctly deserved the appellation of a grammar-school, than a college. The library was a miserable one; and, for the most part, contained only old theological books. There were an orrery out of repair, and a few detached parts of philosophical apparatus. At the opposite end of the room were two small cupboards, which were shown as the museum. These contained two small alligators, stuffed, and a few fishes, in a wretched state of preservation.
Not far from Trenton, and on the bank of the Delaware, is the residence of Joseph Buonaparte, who, since the re-establishment of the ancient families on the thrones of Europe, has retired to America. The estate on which he lives he purchased for ten thousand dollars; and he is said to have expended, twenty thousand more in finishing the buildings, and laying out the grounds in a splendid style. At present it has much the appearance of the villa of a country gentleman in England.
Fifth Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
Narrative of Mr. FEARON'S Journey from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.
In the month of October, 1817, Mr. Fearon left Philadelphia for Pittsburgh. He passed through an extensive, fertile, well-cultivated, and beautiful tract of land called the Great Valley. Farms in this district are chiefly owned by Dutch and Germans, and their descendants. They consist of from fifty to two hundred acres each; and are purchasable at the rate of about L.46 sterling per acre, the buildings included; and, in well-improved land, the average produce of wheat may be estimated at twenty-five bushels.
At the distance of about twenty miles from Philadelphia there is a copper and zinc mine. Iron ore abounds throughout the state of Pennsylvania; and many of the rocks are of limestone. A coarse kind of grey marble is found in great quantity, and is used for steps and chimney-pieces.
The towns of Lancaster, Harrisburgh, and Carlisle, through which Mr. Fearon passed, are all considerable, both in extent and population. [Lancaster is nearly the largest inland town of North America. It contains upwards of nine hundred houses, built chiefly of brick and stone, and, in general, two stories high. It has also six churches, a market-house, and a gaol. The streets are laid out regularly, and cross each other at right angles. Several different kinds of wares are manufactured here, and chiefly by German mechanics. The rifled barrel guns made at this place are considered to have great excellence. In 1787, a college was founded at Lancaster, and named Franklin College, in honour of Dr. Franklin. The founders were an association of Germans, who were desirous of establishing a seminary for the education of their sons, in their own language and habits. But it has not flourished; and, in 1815, the number of students did not exceed fifty.]
Lancaster, Harrisburgh, and Carlisle, each contain many excellent brick buildings, and the usual erections of market-houses, gaols, and churches, all evincing an extent of national property, and an advancement to European establishments, truly extraordinary, when we recollect that this is a country which may be said to be but of yesterday. The German character is very prevalent throughout this state; and even the original language is preserved.
[At Carlisle there are many excellent shops and warehouses. This place has a college, which was founded in 1783, by Mr. John Dickenson of Pennsylvania. The number of students is about one hundred and forty; and there are professors of logic, metaphysics, languages, natural philosophy, and chemistry.]
Mr. Fearon next arrived at Chambersburgh, a town which contains about two hundred and forty houses, and two or three churches. He here secured a place, in the stage, to Pittsburgh, and set off the next morning at three o'clock. About eight he arrived at Loudon, a small town at the foot of the north mountain, one of the Alleghany ridges, and at this time containing seventeen log and twenty frame or brick houses. The tavern was cheerless and dirty.
On the road Mr. Fearon counted thirty regular stage-waggons, which were employed in conveying goods to and from Pittsburgh. Each of these was drawn by four horses; and the articles carried in them, were chiefly hardware, and silk, linen, cotton, and woollen goods. The waggons, in return, conveyed from Pittsburgh farming produce, and chiefly flour. It is, however, necessary to observe that this is the only trading waggon route to the whole western country; and that there is no water-carriage through this part of America.
The road, for a considerable distance, was excellent, and was part of a new national turnpike, which had been projected to extend from the head of the river Potomac to Wheeling. This road, when completed, will be of great advantage to the whole western country. The stage passed over the North Mountain, whence there was a most extensive view, of a wide and beautiful valley, containing several thousand acres, which have not yet been cultivated. The prospect combined some grand mountain-scenery, and was the most magnificent that Mr. Fearon had ever beheld. The travellers passed through a little town situated in the midst of this apparently trackless wild.
They afterwards overtook twenty small family waggons, those chiefly of emigrants from one part of the state to another. These persons were travelling in company, and thus formed an unity of interest, for the purpose of securing, when necessary, an interchange of assistance. The difficulties they experienced, in passing through this mountainous district, were very great.
Mr. Fearon and the other stage-passengers supped and slept at a place called Bloody Run, having, for several miles, proceeded over roads that were almost impassable. Early the next morning they again set out; and they arrived at Bedford about nine o'clock. [This little town, like most others on the great western road, trades in all kinds of corn, flour, and provisions.] They were not, however, permitted to stop here, as the stage-proprietor had a house further on, where they breakfasted. In passing over a range of mountains called the Dry Ridge, the view was peculiarly magnificent. The eye, at one glance, took in a varied and most interesting view of mountain scenery, intermingled with wooded vales, and much fertile land. The travellers continued to overtake many waggons of emigrants from different states.
About five o'clock in the afternoon they reached the top of the Alleghany Mountains. The road had of late been so bad, that they had walked more than sixteen miles, leaving the stage far behind. The character of the mountain inhabitants appeared to be cold, friendless, unfeeling, callous, and selfish. All the emigrants with whom Mr. Fearon conversed, complained of the enormous charges at taverns. Log-houses are the only habitations for many miles. These are formed of the trunks of trees, about twenty feet in length, and six inches in diameter, cut at the ends, and placed on each other. The roof is framed in a similar manner. In some houses there are windows; in others the door performs the double office of window and entrance. The chimney is erected on the outside, and in a similar manner to the body of the house. The hinges of the doors are generally of wood; and locks are not used. In some of the houses there are two apartments; in others but one, for all the various operations of cooking, eating, and sleeping; and even the pigs come in for their due share of the log residence. About eleven o'clock at night, the travellers safely arrived at Somerset, a small town distant two hundred and thirty-seven miles from Philadelphia.
In the morning of their third day's journey, they crossed Laurel Hill. The vegetation on this ridge appears superior to that of the Allegheny. The mountain called Little Chesnut Ridge succeeds Laurel Hill. The difficulties of the road were here extremely great. These arose not only from the height of the mountains, but from the enormous stones and deep mud-holes with which the road abounded. The trees on Chesnut Ridge are chiefly oak and chesnut; and the soil appeared to be chalky. At half past ten at night they arrived at Greensburg, [a town built upon the summit of a hill. The land, in its vicinity is, in general, very fertile; and the inhabitants, who are of German origin, cultivate wheat, rye, and oats, with great success.]
The party started, on the fourth day, at four in the morning, and with the high treat of a turnpike-road; but the advantages, arising from this, were but of short continuance. They had to descend Turtle Creek Hill, the road over which, in consequence of late rains, had become, if possible, even worse than those across Laurel Hill. The passengers all got out; and, up to their knees in mud, they took their turns, in holding up the stage. This tract bore decided evidence of being embedded with coal. About two o'clock they reached Pittsburg.
From Chambersburgh to Greensburgh the condition of the people is that of an absence of wealth and of the conveniences of life, with, however, the means of obtaining a sufficient quantity of food. The blacksmith and the tavern-keeper are almost the only occupations. The former earns from twenty shillings and sixpence to twenty-seven shillings per week; and the profits of the latter must be very great, if we may judge from the high charges and bad quality of the accommodations. From Greensburgh to Pittsburgh the improvement, in size and quality, of the houses, is evident, and the cultivation and condition of the land is much superior to those of the country through which the travellers had before past.
Pittsburg is, in several points of view, a most interesting town. Its situation, which is truly picturesque, is at the termination of two rivers, and at the commencement of a third river, that has a direct communication with the ocean, though at the immense distance of two thousand five hundred miles. This place possesses an exhaustless store of coal.
During the great American war, Pittsburg was an important military post called Du Quesne, and was remarkable for two signal defeats of the British troops. It is, at present, a place of great importance: the connecting link between new and old America; and though it is not a "Birmingham," as the natives bombastically style it, yet it certainly contains the seeds of numerous important and valuable manufactories.
Agricultural produce finds here a ready and advantageous market. Farming in this neighbourhood is not, indeed, the most profitable mode of employing capital; but here, as in other parts of the union, it is an independent mode of life. The farmer, however, must labour hard with his own hands. The labourers, or "helps," as they style themselves, are paid high wages, and are not to be relied on. In many instances they expect to sit down at table with their master, to live as well as he, and to be on terms of equality with every branch of the family.
Mr. Fearon remained at Pittsburgh several days, during which time the rain never ceased. The smoke, also, from the different manufactories, is extreme, giving, to the town and its inhabitants, a very sombre aspect. The articles manufactured here are various, and chiefly of copper, iron, and glass. In one of the glass-warehouses, Mr. Fearon saw chandeliers and numerous other articles, of a very splendid description, in cut glass. Among the latter was a pair of decanters, cut from a London pattern, the price of which was to be eight guineas. And it is remarkable that the demand for these articles of elegant luxury lies in the western states; the inhabitants of eastern America being still importers from the "old country." Not thirty years ago, the whole right bank of the Ohio was termed the "Indian side." Spots in Tenessee, in Ohio and Kentucky, which, within the lifetime of even young men, witnessed only the arrow and the scalping knife, now present, to the traveller, articles of elegance, and modes of luxury, which might rival the displays of London and of Paris: within the last half century, the beasts of the forest, and men more savage than the beasts, were the only inhabitants of the whole of that immense tract, which is peculiarly denominated the western country. This tract is now partially inhabited; and promises soon to be generally so, by civilized man, possessed of the arts and pursuits of civilized life.
On the whole, Pittsburgh is a very important town. When Mr. Fearon was here, it was supposed to contain about ten thousand inhabitants.
The face of the country, beyond this town, is an uninterrupted level, and many parts of it are occupied by agriculturists. Mr. Fearon, however, was informed that there were still for sale one million of acres of United States' land, at the rate of two dollars per acre, or one dollar and sixty-four cents for prompt payment. The principal towns are situated on the banks of the river. There are no canals, nor, indeed is there much occasion for them, as the whole state abounds with rivers and creeks, which fall into the Ohio.
The trees produced by the best kind of land are honey-locust, black walnut, and beech; by land of second quality, the sugar maple tree, sycamore, or butter-wood, and what is called white wood, which is used for building and joiner's work; and land of the third quality produces oak. There is but little underwood; for the great height and the spreading tops of the trees, prevent the sun from penetrating to the ground, and nourishing inferior articles of vegetation.
The winters are severe, and of from three to four months continuance, with a keen and dry air, and cloudless sky. During summer excessive heat prevails, with heavy dews at night. In the spring there are cold and heavy rains. The autumns are fine, and are followed by what is called "Indian summer," which is truly delightful. Along the route that Mr. Fearon had travelled in this state, there was scarcely an elevation which could be called a hill, with exception of rising grounds on the margins of rivers. The dreary monotony of limited views, of such endless uniformity, produces sensations of the most depressing melancholy. The atmosphere, after a hot day, causes headaches, which frequently terminate in intermittent fevers.
Judging from the beds of the rivers, and the quality of the water, Mr. Fearon presumes that coal must be abundant. Salt is found in several situations, particularly on the Kenaway. There is much limestone. The wild animals, in this part of America, are neither numerous, nor troublesome.
The interior population of the United States, Mr. Fearon considers, may be divided into three classes: first, the "squatter," or man, who "sets himself down," upon land which is not his own, and for which he pays nothing; cultivates a sufficient extent of ground to supply himself and his family with the necessaries of life, remains until he is dissatisfied with his choice, has realized a sufficiency to become a land-owner, or is expelled by the real proprietor. Second, the small farmer, who has recently emigrated, and has had barely sufficient to pay the first instalment for his eighty or one hundred and sixty acres, of two-dollar land; cultivates, or, what he calls, improves, from ten to thirty acres; raises a sufficient "feed" for his family; is in a condition, which, if compelled by legislative acts, or by external force to endure, would be considered truly wretched; but, from being his own master, and having made his own choice, joined with the consciousness, that, though slowly, he is regularly advancing towards wealth, the breath of complaint is seldom heard to escape from his lips. Third, the wealthy, or "strong-handed" farmer, who owns from five to twelve hundred acres, has from one-fourth to one-third under cultivation, of a kind much superior to the former; raises live stock for the home, and Atlantic city markets; sends beef, pork, cheese, lard, and butter, to New Orleans: is a man of plain, business-like sense, though not in possession, nor desirous, of a very cultivated intellect; understands his own interest, and that of his country; and lives in sufficient affluence, and is possessed of comfort, according to the American acceptation of the term, but to which, an Englishman must feel inclined to take an exception.
The management of farms is here full a century behind that in England: there being a want of improved machinery for the promotion of economy in time and labour; and no regular attention being paid to the condition of live stock; while the mode of culture, in general, appears slovenly and unsystematic.
* * * * *
On the subject of emigration to America, Mr. Fearon remarks, that the capitalist will here receive legal interest of six or seven per cent. for his money; and perhaps eight per cent. might be made upon good security, as capital is wanted throughout the country. A London shopkeeper, with a capital of three thousand pounds or upwards, and who is well acquainted with the principles of business, might succeed. Lawyers, doctors, clerks, shopmen, literary men, artists, and schoolmasters, to use an American phrase, would "come to a bad market." Mechanics are able to obtain employment, but many who have emigrated have been lamentably deceived in their expectations. The person of small property, who is desirous to live on the interest of his money, and wants to remove to a cheaper country than England, should pause before the object of his choice is America. From what Mr. Fearon had hitherto seen of large towns, living is not, on the whole, cheaper than in the English cities. In the interior it may be less expensive than in the country parts of England; but such a man must, of necessity, have his ideas of happiness associated with many sources of comfort and gratification, which he would seek for in vain within the United States. With regard to certain Yorkshire and Leicestershire manufacturers, in whose welfare he was particularly interested, Mr. Fearon says, he was convinced that they could not profitably succeed here.
Sixth Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
Narrative of an Expedition from Pittsburg into the Illinois territory. From Notes on a Journey in America, by MORRIS BIRKBECK.
Leaving Mr. Fearon at Pittsburgh, we will thence accompany Mr. Birkbeck on his tour into the western settlements of the United States. About the end of May, 1817, this gentleman and his family, consisting of nine persons, five male and four female, arrived at Pittsburgh; and, on the 5th of June, well mounted, and well furnished with saddle-bags and blankets, they set out on their journey westward, in search of a place where they might form an advantageous settlement. Each person had a blanket under his saddle, another upon it, and a pair of saddle-bags, with a great coat and an umbrella strapped behind.
In this manner, says Mr. Birkbeck, even women, and those of advanced age, often take long journeys without inconvenience. The day before he left Pittsburgh, he was told of a lady who was coming from Tenessee to Pittsburgh, twelve hundred miles; and, although she had with her an infant, she preferred travelling on horseback to boating up the river.
Seventeen miles of the ride from Pittsburgh on to Cannonsburg, was chiefly over clayey hills, well adapted for grass; but, in the present circumstances of the country, too stiff for profitable cultivation under the plough. From Cannonsburg to Washington, in Pennsylvania, eight miles, is a very desirable tract, containing much excellent land, with fine meadows.
Washington is a pretty, thriving town, which contains about two thousand five hundred inhabitants. It has a college, with about a hundred students; but, from the dirty condition of the schools, and the loitering habits of the young men, Mr. Birkbeck suspected it to be an ill-regulated institution.
From Washington, Mr. Birkbeck and his family proceeded still westward, and, on entering the State of Ohio, they found themselves in a country beautiful and fertile, and affording, to a plain, industrious, and thriving population, all that nature has decreed for the comfort of man. It contains rich land, good water, wholesome air; limestone, coal, mills, and navigation. It is also fully appropriated, and thickly settled; and land is worth from twenty to thirty dollars per acre: an advance of a thousand per cent. in about ten years!
A heavy fall of wet had rendered the roads muddy and unpleasant. On the 10th of June, the party arrived at Wheeling, a considerable but mean-looking town, of inns and stores, on the banks of the Ohio. Here they baited their horses, and took a repast of bread and milk. At this place the Ohio is divided into two channels, of five hundred yards each, by an island of three hundred acres.
Between Wheeling and St. Clairsville, they had sundry foaming creeks to ford; and sundry log-bridges to pass, which are a sort of commutation of danger. They had also a very muddy road, over hills of clay; and thunder and rain during nearly the whole of this their first stage: such thunder, and such rain, as they had heard of, but had seldom witnessed in England.
They were detained some days at St. Clairsville. This place consists of about one hundred and fifty houses; stores, taverns, doctors'-shops, and lawyers' offices, with the dwellings of sundry artisans; such as tailors, shoemakers, hatters, and smiths. Its chief street runs over one of the beautiful, round, and fertile hills which form this country. The court-house, a handsome brick edifice, on the summit, has a cheerful and a rather striking appearance. If the streets were paved, St. Clairsville would be a pleasant town, but, from the continued rains, they were, at this time, deep in mud.
The rich clay of this country is very favourable to grass, and the pastures are extremely fine. When the timber is destroyed, a beautiful turf takes immediate possession of the surface.
As they proceeded westward, towards Zanesville, the soil did not improve. It is here a yellow clay, well adapted for grass; but, when exhausted by repeated cropping, it will be unprofitable for tillage. In some places, the clay is over limestone, and exhibits marks of great and durable fertility.
During their journey, on the 13th of June, they met a group of nymphs, with their attendant swains, ten in number, on horseback: for no American walks who can obtain a horse; and there are few indeed who cannot. The young men were carrying umbrellas over the heads of their partners; and the appearance of the whole was very decent and respectable.
At the distance of eighteen miles east of Zanesville, whilst taking shelter from a thunder-storm, they were joined by four industrious pedestrians, who were returning eastward from a tour of observation through this state. These all agreed in one sentiment, that there is no part of the Union, either in the new settlements or in the old, where an industrious man need be at a loss for the comforts of a good livelihood.
The land continued of the same character as before, a weak yellow clay, under a thin covering of vegetable mould, profitable for cultivation merely because it is new. The timber is chiefly oak. Little farms, of from eight to one hundred and sixty acres, with simple erections, a cabin and a stable, may be purchased, at the rate of from five to twenty dollars per acre. This is a hilly and romantic country; and affords many pleasant situations. Sand-stone is common; limestone more rare; but clay-slate appears to be the common basis.
The inhabitants are friendly and homely, not to say coarse; but they are well informed. This day the travellers passed various groups of emigrants, proceeding westward: one waggon, in particular, was the moving habitation of twenty souls.
Zanesville is a thriving town, on the beautiful river Muskingum, which is, at all times, navigable downward. The country around it is hilly and pleasant; not rich, but dry, and tolerably fertile. It abounds in coal and lime, and may, at some future period, become a grand station for manufactures.
At Rushville Mr. Birkbeck, another gentleman, and three children, sat down to a breakfast, consisting of the following articles: coffee, rolls, biscuits, dry toast, waffles, (a kind of soft hot cake, of German extraction, covered with butter,) salted pickerell, (a fish from Lake Huron,) veal-cutlets, broiled ham, gooseberry-pie, stewed currants, preserved cranberries, butter, and cheese: and Mr. Birkbeck, for himself and three children, and four gallons of oats, and a sufficient quantity of hay for four horses, was charged only six shillings and ninepence sterling.
South-west of Zanesville, instead of steep hills of yellow clay, the country assumes a more gently undulating surface; but it is sufficiently varied both for health and ornament, and has an absorbent, gravelly, or sandy soil, of moderate fertility.
Lancaster is on the edge of a marsh, or fen, which, at present, should seem to be a source of disease; though its bad effects, on the inhabitants of that town, are not by any means obvious.
The three towns, Zanesville, Lancaster, and Chillicothe, were founded by a sagacious man of the name of Zane, one of the earliest of the settlers. They are admirably placed, geographically, but with little regard to the health of their future inhabitants. The local advantages of Zanesville might have been equally secured, had the site of the town been on the higher, rather than the lower bank of the Muskingum: and the Sciota might have afforded equal facilities to the commerce of the inhabitants of Chillicothe, had they viewed it flowing beneath them, from those lovely eminences which adorn its opposite banks. Chillicothe is surrounded by the most charming elevations, but is itself in a bottom; and Lancaster is on the brink of an extensive marsh.
Seven miles north-west of Chillicothe the traveller enters on a tract of river bottom, the first rich land, for which this state, and indeed the whole western country, is so justly famous. It is agreeably varied in surface, occasionally rises into hills, and is never flat.
At Chillicothe there is an office for the several transactions regarding the disposal of the public lands of this district; and, on Mr. Birkbeck's arrival, he repaired to this office, for the purpose of inspecting a map of the district; and he found a great quantity of unentered lands, comprehending many entire townships, of eight miles square, lying about twenty miles south of Chillicothe; and, in several parts, abutting on the Sciota. Though it appeared certain that substantial objections had deterred purchasers from this extensive tract, in a country so much settled, yet Mr. Birkbeck, accompanied by his son, determined to visit it. They rode over twenty miles of fertile country, on the bank of the Sciota, and crossed that river to Pike Town; not far from which place was the land they were seeking.
Near Pike Town was a small cultivated prairie, the first Mr. Birkbeck had seen. It contained about two hundred acres of rich land, and was divided by a road, which ran through the middle; and nearly the whole of it was covered by fine Indian corn, neatly cultivated. The surrounding hills were crowned with woods. Nothing that Mr. Birkbeck had before seen in America at all resembled this delightful spot; but, from its low situation near the Sciota, it was unhealthy.
Pike Town was laid out, and received its name, about the year 1815. When Mr. Birkbeck was here, it contained a tavern, a store, and about twenty other dwellings.
The land of which Mr. Birkbeck came in quest was, as he supposed, of inferior quality. But though he found it unfit for his purpose, he had been repaid his trouble by the pleasure of his ride, through a fine portion of country. In leaving Chillicothe, to proceed towards Cincinnati, he and his party travelled through about seven miles of rich alluvial land, and over fertile uplands. But, as they proceeded, the country became level, with a cold heavy soil, better adapted to grass than tillage. Much of this tract remained in an unimproved state. They had passed some hills which were covered with the grandest white oak-timber imaginable. Within view from the road there were thousands of these magnificent trees, each of which measured fourteen or fifteen feet in circumference: their straight stems rising, without a branch, to the height of seventy or eighty feet, not tapering and slender, but surmounted by full, luxuriant heads.
For the space of a mile in breadth, a hurricane, which had traversed the entire western country in a north-east direction, about seven years before Mr. Birkbeck was here, had opened itself a passage through the forests, and had left a scene of extraordinary desolation. The trees lay tumbled over each other, like scattered stubble; some torn up by the roots, others broken off at different heights, or splintered only, and their tops bent over, and touching the ground. These hurricane tracts afford strong holes for game, and for all animals of savage kind.
As Mr. Birkbeck approached the Little Miami River, the country became more broken, much more fertile, and better settled than before. After crossing this rapid and clear stream, he had a pleasant ride to Lebanon, which is not a mountain of cedars, but a valley, so beautiful and fertile that, at its first opening on the view, it seemed rather a region of fancy than a real back-settlement scene.
Lebanon is itself one of those wonders which are the natural growth of these back woods. In fourteen years, from two or three cabins of half-savage hunters, it has grown to be the residence of a thousand persons, with habits and looks in no respect differing from their brethren of the east. Before Mr. Birkbeck and his party entered the town, they heard the supper-bells of the taverns; and they arrived just in time to take their seats at one of the tables, together with travellers like themselves, and several store-keepers, lawyers, and doctors; men who regularly board at taverns, and make up a standing company for the daily public table.
Mr. Birkbeck and his family next passed through Cincinnati, [a town which presents a scene of great life and activity. The market-house is an excellent building; and the market is under judicious regulations. Provisions are here plentiful and cheap; but articles of clothing, house-rent, and journeymen's wages are all very high.
This interesting town is situated on the banks of the Ohio, and contains from eight to ten thousand inhabitants, including blacks, who are numerous. It is built on the same plan as Philadelphia. There is a school, in which children are educated on the Lancasterian plan; and which, in 1817, contained one hundred and fifty children. Owing, however, to the "untamable insubordination of the scholars, it was found impossible to put in practice most of the punishments that are directed by the founder of the system. Two weekly newspapers are published at Cincinnati; one called "The Western Spy," and the other, "Liberty Hall."
There are, at this place, a woollen manufactory, a steam corn-mill, and a glass-house, on a tolerably large scale; and, in the main street, English goods abound in as great profusion as in Cheapside. The tradesmen import some of their goods direct from England, but they usually purchase them at Philadelphia; the journey to and from which place occupies three months; and goods are generally about fifty days in arriving.
There are, in Cincinnati, three banks; and paper-money is here so abundant, that specie, even of the smallest amount, is rarely to be seen. The little that does exist, consists chiefly of cut Spanish dollars. Notes of two shillings and two-pence, thirteen pence, sixpence halfpenny, and even of three-pence farthing, are very common: indeed, they constitute the chief part of the circulating medium.
Cincinnati is a very handsome town; a town, in fact, which must astonish every traveller, when he considers how recently it has been formed. Some of the houses are on a large scale; and the number of moderate-sized and well-built brick buildings is considerable. The churches are neat; and the post-office, in arrangement and management, would bear comparison with that of London.]
After having passed through Cincinnati, Mr. Birkbeck and his family entered the state of Indiana, and proceeded towards Vincennes. Indiana was, evidently, newer than the state of Ohio; and the character of the settlers appeared superior to that of the settlers in Ohio, who, in general, were a very indigent people. Those who fix themselves in Indiana, bring with them habits of comfort and the means of procuring the conveniences of life. These are observable in the construction of their cabins, and the neatness surrounding them; and, especially, in their well-stocked gardens, so frequent here, and so rare in the state of Ohio.
The country, from the town of Madison to the Camp Tavern, is not interesting, and a great part of the land is but of medium quality. At the latter place commences a broken country, approaching to mountainous, which, if well watered, would form a fine grazing district. In their progress, Mr. Birkbeck, one of the ladies, and a servant boy, were benighted at the foot of one of these rugged hills; and, without being well provided, they were compelled to make their first experiment of "camping out," as it is called.
A traveller, in the woods, says this gentleman, should always carry with him a flint, steel, tinder, and matches; a few biscuits, a half-pint vial of spirits, a tin cup, and a large knife or tomahawk; then, with his two blankets, and his great coat and umbrella, he need not be uneasy, should any unforeseen delay require his sleeping under a tree.
In the present instance, the important articles of tinder and matches were in the baggage of the division that had proceeded; and, as the night was rainy and excessively dark, the benighted party were, for some time, under considerable apprehension, lest they should be deprived of the comfort and security of a fire. Fortunately, Mr. Birkbeck's powder-flask was in his saddle-bags, and he succeeded in supplying the place of tinder, by moistening a piece of paper, and rubbing it with gunpowder. He then placed the touchpaper on an old cambric handkerchief. On this he scattered gunpowder pretty copiously, and with a flint and steel he soon succeeded in raising a flame: then, collecting together a quantity of dry wood, he made a noble fire. There was a mattress for the lady, a bear-skin for Mr. Birkbeck, and the load of the pack-horse served as a pallet for the boy. Thus, by means of great coats and blankets, and their umbrellas spread over their heads, they made their quarters tolerably comfortable; and, placing themselves to the leeward of the fire, with their feet towards it, they lay more at ease than they could have done in the generality of taverns. They had a few biscuits, a small bottle of spirits, and a phial of oil. By twisting some cord very hard, and dipping it in the oil, they contrived to make torches; and, after several fruitless attempts, they succeeded in finding water. "Camping out," when the tents are pitched by day-light, and the party are furnished with the articles, which Mr. Birkbeck was obliged to supply by expedients, is pleasant in fine weather. The lady was exceedingly ill, which had in fact occasioned their being benighted; and never was the night's charge of a sick friend undertaken with more dismal forebodings. The rain, however, having ceased, the invalid passed the night in safety; so that the morning found them more comfortable than they could have anticipated.
The town of Vincennes is scattered over a plain, lying some feet lower than the banks of the Wabash: a situation seemingly unfavourable to health; and, in fact, agues and bilious fevers are frequent here during the autumn.
The road from Sholt's Tavern to this place, thirty-six miles distant, lies partly across "barrens," that is, land of middling quality, thinly set with timber, or covered with long grass and shrubby underwood; generally level and dry, and gaudy with marigolds, sunflowers, martagon lilies, and many other beautiful flowers. On the whole, the country is tame, poorly watered, and not desirable as a place of settlement; but, from its varied character, it is pleasant to travel over. Vincennes exhibits a motley assemblage of inhabitants as well as visitors. The inhabitants are Americans, French Canadians, and Negroes. The visitors are chiefly Americans from various states; and Indians from various nations: Shawnees, Delawares, and Miamies, who live about a hundred miles northward, and who come here to trade for skins. The Indians were encamped, in considerable numbers, round the town, and were continually riding into the place, to the stores and the whiskey-shops. Their horses and accoutrements were generally mean, and their persons disagreeable. Their faces were painted in various ways, which gave an appearance of ferocity to their countenances.
One of them, a Shawnee, had his eyes, or rather his eyelids and the surrounding parts, daubed with vermilion. He thus looked hideous enough at a distance; but, on a nearer view, he had good features, and was a fine, stout, and fierce-looking man. Some of the Indians were well dressed. One young man, in particular, of the Miami nation, wore a clear, light blue cotton vest, with sleeves; and had his head ornamented with black feathers.
They all wear pantaloons, or rather long moccasins of buck-skin, covering the foot and leg, and reaching half way up the thigh, which is bare: a covering of cloth, a foot square, passes between the thighs, and hangs behind like an apron. Their complexion was various: some were dark, and others were not so swarthy as even Mr. Birkbeck; but he saw none of the copper-colour, which he had imagined to be their distinguishing characteristic. These Indians are addicted to drinking spirits, and are often intoxicated. They use much action in their discourse, and laugh immoderately. Their hair is straight and black, and their eyes are dark. Many of the women are decently dressed and good-looking.
Mr. Birkbeck remarks that, in Great Britain, the people are so circumscribed in their movements, that, with them, miles seem equal to tens of miles in America. He says that, in America, travellers will start on an expedition of three thousand miles, by boats, on horseback, or on foot, with as little deliberation or anxiety, as an Englishman would set out on a journey of three hundred.
At Vincennes, the foundation had just been laid of a large establishment of mills to be worked by steam. Water-mills of great power were building on the Wabash, near Harmony; and undertakings of similar kind will, no doubt, be called for and executed, along the banks of this river, and of its various tributary streams.
On entering Vincennes there is nothing which tends to make a favourable impression on a stranger; but it improves on acquaintance, for it contains agreeable people: and there is a spirit of cleanliness, and even of neatness, in the houses and manner of living. There is also a strain of politeness in the inhabitants, which marks the origin of this settlement to be French.
At Princeton, a place scarcely three years old, Mr. Birkbeck and his family went to a log-tavern, where neatness was as well observed as at many taverns in the cities of England. The people of this town belong to America in dress and manners; but they would not disgrace old England in the general decorum of their deportment.
Mr. Birkbeck lamented here, as in other parts of America, the small account that is had of time. Subsistence is easily secured, and liberal pursuits are yet too rare to operate as a general stimulus to exertion: the consequence is, that life is whiled away in a painful state of yawning lassitude.
Twenty or thirty miles west of this place, in the Illinois territory, is a large country where settlements were beginning; and where, Mr. Birkbeck says, there was an abundant choice of unentered lands, of a description, which, if the statements of travellers and surveyors, even after great abatements, can be relied on, he imagined would satisfy his wishes.
Princeton affords a very encouraging situation for a temporary abode. It stands on an elevated spot, in an uneven country, ten miles from the river Wabash, and two from the navigable stream of the Patok; but the country is rich, and the timber is vast in bulk and height.
The small-pox is likely soon to be excluded from this state; for vaccination is very generally adopted, and inoculation for the small-pox is prohibited altogether; not by law, but by common consent. If it should be known that an individual had undergone this operation, the inhabitants would compel him to withdraw from society. If he lived in a town, he must absent himself, or he would be driven away.
On the 25th of July, Mr. Birkbeck explored the country as far as Harmony and the banks of the Ohio. He lodged in a cabin, at a very new town, on the banks of the Ohio, called Mount Vernon. Here he found the people of a character which confirmed the aversion he had previously entertained to a settlement in the immediate vicinity of a large navigable river. Every hamlet was demoralized, and every plantation was liable to outrage, within a short distance of such a thoroughfare.
Yet, to persons who had been long buried in deep forests, the view of that noble expanse was like the opening of a bright day upon the gloom of night. To travel, day after day, among trees a hundred feet high, without a glimpse of the surrounding country, is oppressive to a degree which those cannot conceive who have not experienced it.
Mr. Birkbeck left Harmony after breakfast, on the ensuing day, and, crossing the Wabash, at a ferry, he proceeded to the Big Prairie, where, to his astonishment, he beheld a fertile plain of grass and arable; and some thousand acres of land covered with corn, more luxuriant than any he had before seen. The scene reminded him of some open well-cultivated vale in Europe, surrounded by wooded uplands. But the illusion vanished on his arrival at the habitation of Mr. Williams, the owner of an estate, on which, at this time, there were nearly three hundred acres of beautiful corn in one field; for this man lived in a way apparently as remote from comfort, as the settler of one year, who thinks only of the means of supporting existence.
The inhabitants of the Prairie are healthy, and the females and children are better complexioned than their neighbours of the timber country. It is evident that they breathe better air: but they are in a low state of civilization, being about half Indian in their mode of life. They are hunters by profession, and would have the whole range of the forests for themselves and their cattle. Strangers appear, to them, invaders of their privileges; as they have intruded on the better founded and exclusive privileges of their Indian predecessors.
After viewing several Prairies, which, with their surrounding woods, were so beautiful as to seem like the creation of fancy; (gardens of delight in a dreary wilderness;) and after losing their horses, and spending two days in recovering them, Mr. Birkbeck and his party took a hunter, as their guide, and proceeded across the little Wabash, to explore the country between that river and the Skillet Fork.
The lonely settlers, in the districts north of Big Prairie, are in a miserable state: their bread-corn must be ground thirty miles off; and it occupied three days to carry to the mill, and bring back, the small horse-load of three bushels. To struggle with privations has now become the habit of their lives, most of them having made several successive plunges into the wilderness.
Mr. Birkbeck's journey across the little Wabash was a complete departure from all mark of civilization. Wandering without track, where even the sagacity of the hunter-guide had nearly failed, they at length arrived at the cabin of another hunter, in which they lodged. This man, his wife, his eldest son, a tall, half-naked youth, just initiated in the hunter's arts; his three daughters, growing up into great rude girls, and a squalling tribe of dirty brats, of both sexes, were of one pale yellow colour, without the slightest tint of healthful bloom. They were remarkable instances of the effect, on the complexion, produced by living perpetually in the midst of woods.
Their cabin, which may serve as a specimen of these rudiments of houses, was formed of round logs, with apertures of three or four inches: there was no chimney, but large intervals were left between the "clapboards," for the escape of the smoke. The roof, however, was a more effectual covering, than Mr. Birkbeck had generally experienced, as it protected him and his party very tolerably from a drenching night. Two bedsteads, formed of unhewn logs, and cleft boards laid across; two chairs, (one of them without a bottom,) and a low stool, were all the furniture possessed by this numerous family. A string of buffalo-hide, stretched across the hovel, was a wardrobe for their rags; and their utensils, consisting of a large iron-pot, some baskets, one good rifle, and two that were useless, stood about in corners; and a fiddle, which was seldom silent, except when the inhabitants were asleep, hung by them.
These hunters, in the back-settlements of America, are as persevering as savages, and as indolent. They cultivate indolence as a privilege: "You English (they say) are industrious, but we have freedom." And thus they exist, in yawning indifference, surrounded by nuisances and petty wants; the former of which might be removed, and the latter supplied, by the application of one tenth part of the time that is loitered away in their innumerable idle days.
The Little Wabash, which Mr. Birkbeck crossed in search of some Prairies, that had been described to him in glowing colours, was, at this season, a sluggish and scanty stream; but, for three months of the latter part of winter and the beginning of spring, it covers a great space of ground, by the overflow of waters collected in its long course. The Skillet Fork is a river of similar character; and the country that lies between them must labour under the inconvenience of absolute seclusion, for many months every year, until bridges and ferries are established. Having made his way through this wildest of wildernesses to the Skillet Fork, Mr. Birkbeck crossed that river at a shoal. The country, on each side of it, is flat and swampy; so that the water, in many places, even at this season, rendered travelling disagreeable; yet here and there, at ten miles' distance, perhaps, the very solitude tempts persons to pitch their tents for a season.
At one of these lone dwellings Mr. Birkbeck found a neat, respectable looking female, spinning under the little piazza at one side of the cabin, which shaded her from the sun. Her husband was absent on business, which would detain him some weeks: she had no family, and no companion except her husband's dog, which usually attended him during his bear-hunting, in the winter. She said she was quite overcome with "lone," and hoped the party would tie their horses in the wood, and sit awhile with her, during the heat of the day. They did so, and she rewarded them with a basin of coffee. She said her husband was kind and good, and never left her without necessity. He was a true lover of bear-hunting; and, in the preceding winter, had killed a great number of bears.
On the second of August the party lodged at another cabin, where similar neatness prevailed, both within and without. The woman was neat, and the children were clean in skin, and whole in their clothes. The man possessed good sense and sound notions, and was ingenious and industrious. He lived on the edge of the Seven Miles' Prairie, a spot charming to the eye, but deficient in water.
Mr. Birkbeck considers Shawnee Town as a phaenomenon, evincing the pertinacious adherence of man to the spot where he has once established himself. Once a year, for many successive springs, the Ohio, in its annual overflowings, has carried away the fences from the cleared lands of the inhabitants, till at length they have given them up, and ceased to cultivate them. Once a year the inhabitants of Shawnee Town either make their escape to higher lands, or take refuge in the upper stories of their houses, until the waters subside, when they recover their position on this desolate sand-bank.
At Shawnee Town there is an office for the south-east district of Illinois. Here Mr. Birkbeck constituted himself a land-owner, by paying seven hundred and twenty dollars, as one-fourth part of the purchase-money of fourteen hundred and forty acres. This land, with a similar purchase made by a Mr. Flower, constituted part of a beautiful and rich Prairie, about six miles distant from the Big Wabash, and the same distance from the Little Wabash.
The land was rich, natural meadow, bounded by timbered ground: it was within reach of two navigable rivers; and, at a small expence, was capable of being rendered immediately productive.
The geographical position of this portion of territory appeared to be extremely favourable. The Big Wabash, a noble stream, which forms its eastern boundary, runs four hundred miles, through one of the most fertile portions of this most fertile region. By means of a portage of eight miles to the Miami of the lakes, it has a communication, well known to the Indian traders, with Lake Huron, and with all the navigation of the north.
Mr. Birkbeck left Shawnee town on the third of August. He had found here something of river-barbarism, the genuine Ohio character; but he had met with a greater number, than he had expected, of agreeable individuals: and the kind and hospitable treatment he experienced at the tavern, formed a good contrast to the rude society and wretched fare he had left at the Skillet Fork.
On his return to Harmony, the day being Sunday, he had an opportunity of seeing, grouped and in their best attire, a large part of the members of this wonderful community. It was evening when he arrived, and he observed no human creature about the streets: soon the entire body of the people, about seven hundred in number, poured out of the church, and exhibited the appearance of health, neatness, and peace.
This colony is useful to the neighbourhood. It furnishes, from its store, many articles of great value, not so well supplied elsewhere; and it is a market for all spare produce. Many kinds of culinary plants, and many fruit-trees are cultivated here; and the Harmonites set a good example of neatness and industry. When we contrast their neatness and order, with the slovenly habits of their neighbours, we see (says Mr. Birkbeck) the good that arises from association, which advances these poor people a century, at least, on the social scale, beyond the solitary beings who build their huts in the wilderness.
At Harmony Mr. Birkbeck and his family lived at the tavern, and their board there cost two dollars per week, each person: for these they received twenty-one meals. Excellent coffee and tea, with broiled chickens, bacon, &c. for breakfast and supper, and a variety of good, but simple fare at dinner. Except coffee, tea, or milk, no liquor but water is thought of at meals in this country.
Mr. Birkbeck observes that, when the back country of America is mentioned in England, musquitoes by night, and rattlesnakes by day, never fail to alarm the imagination: to say nothing of wolves and bears, and panthers, and Indians still more ferocious than these. His course of travelling, from the mouth of James River, and over the mountains, up to Pittsburg, about five hundred miles; then three hundred miles through the woods of the state of Ohio, down to Cincinnati; next, across the entire wilderness of Indiana, and to the extreme south of the Illinois:—this long and deliberate journey, (he says,) one would suppose, might have introduced his party to an intimate acquaintance with some of these pests of America. It is true that they killed several of the serpent tribe; black snakes, garter-snakes, &c. and that they saw one rattlesnake of extraordinary size. They experienced inconvenience from musquitoes in a few damp spots, just as they would have done from gnats in England. In their late expeditions in the Illinois, where they led the lives of thorough backwoods-men, if they were so unfortunate as to pitch their tent on the edge of a creek, or near a swamp, and mismanaged their fire, they were teased with musquitoes, as they would have been in the fens of Cambridgeshire: but this was the sum total of their experience of these reported plagues.
Wolves and bears are extremely numerous, and commit much injury in the newly-settled districts. Hogs, which are a main dependance for food as well as profit, are the constant prey of the bears; and the holds of these animals are so strong, that the hunters are unable to keep down their numbers.
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[In the autumn of the year 1817, Mr. Birkbeck removed, with his family, to the property he had purchased, between the Great and Little Wabash, and to which he has given the name of "English Prairie." In his "Notes on America," and in his "Letters from the Illinois," he has described, in an interesting manner, the face of the country, its soil, productions, mode of culture, and capacities of improvement; and has pointed out the great advantages which it offers to settlers, especially to labourers and to farmers with small capital. The confidence that is reposed in his judgment and agricultural skill, has already induced several persons to emigrate into the same neighbourhood, both from England and the United States; but the singularity of his religious opinions, and his objection to the admission of religious instructors of any description into his settlement, had prevented many conscientious persons from joining him, who might have proved useful members of his little community.]
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From this place we must return to Philadelphia, for the purpose of accompanying Mr. Weld on a journey to Washington, the federal city or metropolis of the United States.
Seventh Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
Narrative of MR. WELD'S Excursion from Philadelphia to Washington.
On the 16th of November, 1795, Mr. Weld left Philadelphia in one of the public stage-waggons. The country around this city was well cultivated, and abounded with neat villas and farm-houses; but it had a naked appearance, for all the trees had been cut down, either for fuel or to make way for the plough.
The road to Baltimore passed over the lowest of three floating bridges, which had been thrown across the river Schuylkill. The view, on crossing this river, which is about two hundred and fifty yards wide, is peculiarly beautiful. The banks on each side are high, and, for many miles, afford extremely delightful situations for villas.
The country, after passing the Schuylkill, is pleasingly diversified with rising grounds and woods; and appears to be in a good state of cultivation. The first town of any note at which Mr. Weld arrived, was Chester; which at this time contained about sixty dwellings, and was remarkable for being the place where the first colonial assembly sat. From the vicinity of Chester, there is a grand view of the river Delaware.
About half a mile from Wilmington is Brandywine River, remarkable for its mills: no fewer than thirteen having been built, almost close to each other, upon it.
Wilmington is the capital of the state of Delaware, and contained, at this time, about six hundred houses, which were chiefly of brick. The streets are laid out in a manner somewhat similar to those of Philadelphia. There is, however, nothing very interesting in this town, and the country around it is flat and unpleasant. Elkton, twenty-one miles from Wilmington, and the first town in Maryland, is a dirty and disagreeable place; which contains about ninety indifferent houses, that are built without any regularity.
Every ten or twelve miles upon this road there are taverns. These are all built of wood, and much in the same style; with a porch in front, which extends the entire length of the house. Few of them have any signs, and they are only to be distinguished from other houses, by a number of handbills pasted upon the walls near the door. Each of them is named, not from the sign, but from the person who keeps it; as Jones's, Brown's, &c. and all are kept nearly in the same manner. At each house there are regular hours for breakfast, dinner, and supper: and, if a traveller arrive somewhat before the time appointed for any one of these meals, it is in vain to desire a separate repast for himself: he must patiently wait till the regulated hour; and must then sit down with such other guests as happen to be in the house.
The Susquehannah river is crossed, on the way to Baltimore, at a ferry five miles above its entrance into the Chesapeak. The river is here about a mile and a quarter wide, and deep enough for vessels of any burden. The banks are high and thickly wooded, and the scenery is grand and picturesque. A small town, called Havre de Grace, which contains about forty houses, stands on this river at the ferry. From Havre to Baltimore the country is extremely poor; the soil is of a yellow gravel mixed with clay, and the road is execrable.
Baltimore is supposed to have, at this time, contained about sixteen thousand inhabitants. Though not the capital of the state, it is the largest town in Maryland; and, after Philadelphia and New York, is the most considerable place of trade in North America. [It is built round the head of a bay or inlet of the river Patuxent, and about eight miles above its junction with the Chesapeak.] The plan of the town is somewhat similar to that of Philadelphia. Most of the streets cross each other at right angles. The main street, which runs nearly east and west, is about eighty feet wide, and the others measure from forty to sixty feet. The streets are not all paved, so that, in wet weather, they are almost impassable; the soil being a stiff yellow clay, which retains the water a long time. On the south of the town is the harbour, which affords about nine feet water, and is large enough to contain two thousand sail of merchant-vessels.
The greatest number of private houses in Baltimore, are of brick; but many, particularly in the skirts of the town, are of wood. In some of the new streets, a few appeared to be well built; but, in general, they are small, heavy, and inconvenient. [The public buildings have very little architectural beauty.
In the year 1817, Baltimore contained fifty thousand inhabitants; and was still rapidly increasing.] Among the inhabitants are to be found English, Irish, Scotch, and French; but the Irish appear to be most numerous. With a few exceptions, they are all engaged in trade; and they are, for the most part, a plain people, sociable among themselves, and friendly and hospitable towards strangers. Cards and dancing are here favourite amusements. During the autumn, Baltimore is unhealthy, and such persons as can afford it, retire to country-seats in the neighbourhood, some of which are delightfully situated.
From Baltimore to Washington, a distance of forty miles, the country has but a poor appearance. The soil, in some parts, consists of yellow clay mixed with gravel: in other parts it is sandy. In the neighbourhood of the creeks, and between the hills, there are patches of rich black earth, called bottoms, the trees upon which grow to a large size.
A description of the City of Washington.
This city was laid out in the year 1792; and was expressly designed for the seat of government, and the metropolis of the United States. Accordingly, in the month of November, 1800, the congress assembled here for the first time. It stands on a neck of land, between the forks formed by the eastern and western branches of the river Potomac. This neck of land, together with an adjacent territory, ten miles square, was ceded to the American congress by the states of Maryland and Virginia. The ground on which the city has been built, was the property of private individuals, who readily relinquished their claim to one half of it in favour of congress, conscious that the value of what was left to them would increase, and amply compensate them for their loss.
The plan of the buildings was drawn by a Frenchman, whose name was L'Enfant; and the ground, marked out for them, was fourteen miles in circumference. The streets run north and south, east and west; but, to prevent that sameness which would result from their all crossing each other at right angles, several avenues have been laid out, in different parts of the city, which run transversely. The streets are, in general, from ninety to a hundred feet, and the avenues one hundred and sixty feet wide. There is also an arrangement for several squares.
Including the suburb of George Town, this city contains about twenty thousand inhabitants, who are scattered over a vast space, in detached masses of buildings, which appear like petty hamlets in a populous country. The intended streets are, for the most part, only distinguishable from the rugged waste, by a slight trace, like that of a newly-formed road; or, in some instances, by rows of poplar trees, which afford neither ornament nor shade.
The Capitol, and the house appropriated to the president of the United States, are situated on opposite hills, and are the chief public buildings in Washington. During the late war, they were both nearly destroyed by the British forces; but they are now rising into increased splendour. The capitol, in which are the houses of the legislature, and several public offices, stands on a bank of the Potomac, seventy feet above the level of that river. It as yet consists of only two wings; but these are intended to be connected by a centre, surmounted by a dome.
The president's house is at the opposite end of "Pennsylvania Avenue," and commands a most beautiful prospect. On each side of it stands a large brick building: one of which is the treasury, and the other is appropriated to the war and navy offices. These are hereafter to be connected with the palace.
The post office is a large brick edifice, situated at about an equal distance from the president's house and the capitol. Under the same roof is the patent-office, and the national library, for the use of members of the congress. In 1817 there were, in Washington, many brick buildings, two and three stories high. There were also some small wooden houses; though, according to the original plan, no houses were to be built less than three stories high, and all were to have marble steps.
The river Potomac, at Washington, is navigable only for small craft; but, besides this, there is a river, about the width of the Paddington canal, which is dignified by the name of Tiber. The ridiculous, though characteristic vanity displayed in changing its original appellation from "Goose-creek" to that of "Tiber," has been happily exposed by the English poet Moore. Speaking of this city, he says,
In fancy now, beneath the twilight gloom, Come, let me lead thee o'er this modern Rome, Where tribunes rule, where dusky Davi bow, And what was Goose-creek once is Tiber now. This fam'd metropolis, where fancy sees Squares in morasses, obelisks in trees.
There are, at Washington, four market-days in the week, and negroes are the chief sellers of provisions; but the supplies are neither good nor various. In this city rents are very high; and mechanics are fully employed and well paid. Shopkeepers too are numerous; but its increase cannot be rapid, for it has no decidedly great natural advantages. It has little external commerce, a barren soil, and a scanty population; is enfeebled by the deadly weight of absolute slavery, and has no direct communication with the western country.
With regard to the manners of the inhabitants, it is remarked that both sexes, whether on horseback or on foot, carry umbrellas at all seasons: in summer, to keep off the sunbeams; in winter, as a shelter from the rain and snow; and in spring and autumn, to intercept the dews of the evening. At dinner and at tea parties, the ladies sit together, and seldom mix with the gentlemen, whose conversation usually turns upon political subjects. In almost all houses toddy, or spirits and water, is offered to guests a few minutes before dinner. Boarders in boarding-houses, or in taverns, sometimes throw off their coats during the heat of summer; and, in winter, their shoes, for the purpose of warming their feet at the fire; customs which the climate only can excuse. The barber always arrives on horseback, to perform the operation of shaving; and here, as in some towns of Europe, he is the organ of all the news and scandal of the place.
In the year 1817, when Mr. Fearon was in Washington, the congress was sitting, and that gentleman several times attended the debates. The place of meeting was a temporary one: it had been designed for an hotel, and was in the immediate vicinity of the capitol. The congress assembled at eleven o'clock in the morning, and adjourned at four in the afternoon. Mr. Fearon's first visit was to the senate. This body is composed of forty members, the states having increased their original number of thirteen to that of twenty; and each state, regardless of its population, sends two. The gallery of the senate-house is open to all; and the only form observed, is that of taking off the hat. When Mr. Fearon was at Washington, the chairman's seat was central, under a handsome canopy; and the members were seated, on rich scarlet cushions, some at double, and some at single desks. There were two large fires; and the room was carpeted, as was also the gallery. In the congress, the forms of business, with a few minor exceptions, are taken from those of the British parliament. There is, however, one point of variation: every speech is apparently listened to; and all the speeches, whether good or bad, seem regarded with equal apathy, and with a complete lifeless endurance, neither applause nor censure being allowed.
The Representative Chamber was in the same building, and about twice the extent. A gallery was here also open to the public of both sexes. This assembly consists of nearly two hundred members. These want, in appearance, the age, experience, dignity, and respectability, which an Englishman associates with the idea of legislators, and which are possessed by the superior branch of the congress. The members sat on very common chairs, and at unpainted desks, which were placed in rows. A few of the speakers commanded attention; but others talked on as long they pleased, while the rest were occupied in writing letters or reading newspapers. A spitting-box was placed at the feet of each member, and, contrary to the practice of the upper house, both the members and visitors wore their hats.