During the sitting of congress, the president, or rather his lady, holds a drawing-room weekly. He takes by the hand all those persons who are presented to him; shaking of hands being here considered more rational and more manly than kissing them.
George Town may be described as a suburb of Washington. It is finely situated, on the north-east side of the Potomac river, and is divided, from Washington, by the Rock Creek, over which are two bridges. The houses are chiefly of brick, and have a neat appearance. Several of them were built before the streets were formed, which gave rise to an observation by a French lady, that "George Town had houses without streets; Washington, streets without houses."
Alexandria, formerly called Belhaven, is a small, but peculiarly neat town, on the western side of the Potomac, and about six miles south of Washington. Its streets, like those of Philadelphia, run in straight lines, and intersect each other at right angles. The houses are of neat construction. The public buildings are an episcopal church, an academy, a court-house, a bank, and gaol. This place carries on a considerable trade; and the warehouses and wharfs are very commodious. The distance from Alexandria to George Town is about ten miles; and there is a daily communication between the two places, by means of a packet-boat.
Nine miles below Alexandria, and also on the bank of the Potomac, stands Mount Vernon, formerly the country-seat of general Washington. The house is of wood, but cut and painted so as to resemble stone. It has a lawn in front; and, when Mr. Weld was here, the garden had the appearance of a nursery-ground.
Narrative of Mr. WELD'S Journey from Washington to Richmond in Virginia.
In proceeding from Washington southward, Mr. Weld passed through a part of the country which was flat, sandy, and had a most dreary aspect. For many successive miles nothing was to be seen but extensive plains, that had been worn out by the culture of tobacco, and were overgrown with yellow sedge, and interspersed with groves of pine and cedar-trees, the dark green colour of which formed a singular contrast with the yellow of the sedge. In the midst of these plains there were, however, the remains of several good houses, which showed that the country had once been in a flourishing state.
Mr. Weld crossed the Potomac at a place called Hoe's Ferry, The ferry-man told him that, in the river, was a bank of oysters, and that, if he wished it, the men should take up some. The singularity of obtaining oysters from fresh water induced Mr. Weld to stop at the bank; and the men, in a few minutes, collected as many as would have filled a bushel. The oysters were extremely good when cooked, but were disagreeable when eaten raw. The Potomac, as well as the other rivers in Virginia, abounds with excellent fish of various kinds. At the ferry it is about three miles wide.
Mr. Weld prevailed with the ferry-man to take him about ten miles down the river, and land him on the Virginian shore, in a part of the country which appeared to be a perfect wilderness. No traces of a road or pathway were visible on the loose white sand; and the cedar and pine-trees grew so closely together, on all sides, that it was scarcely possible to see further forward, in any direction, than a hundred yards. Taking a course, as nearly as he could guess, in a direct line from the river, at the end of about an hour, he found a narrow road, which led to a large and ancient brick house. The master of it was from home, and Mr. Weld was obliged to proceed onward, several miles further, to a wretched hovel which had the name of a tavern. On the ensuing morning he proceeded to the residence of a gentleman, which was between the rivers Potomac and Rappahannoc, and where he had been invited to pass a few weeks.
The principal planters in Virginia possess large estates, and have, on them, nearly every thing they can want. Among their slaves are found tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, smiths, turners, wheelwrights, weavers, and tanners. Woollen cloths and cotton goods, of several kinds, are manufactured at this province. Cotton grows here in great luxuriance: the plants, indeed, are often killed by the frost in winter, but they always produce abundantly, the first year in which they are sown.
The large estates in Virginia are managed by stewards and overseers; and the work is done wholly by slaves. The cottages of the slaves are usually at the distance of a few hundred yards from the dwelling-house, and give the appearance of a village, to the residence of every planter. Adjoining to these cottages the slaves usually have small gardens, and yards for poultry. They have ample time to attend to their own concerns: their gardens are generally well stocked, and their flocks of poultry numerous. Many of their little huts are comfortably furnished, and they are themselves, in general, well clad. But Mr. Weld remarked, that this class of persons is much more kindly treated in Virginia, than in the other states of America.
The part of Virginia in which Mr. Weld was now passing his time, was, in general, flat and sandy, and abounded in pine and cedar-trees: some districts, however, were well cultivated, and afforded good crops of corn; but these were intermixed with extensive tracts of waste land, worn out by the culture of tobacco, and almost destitute of verdure.
The common people, in the lower parts of Virginia, have very sallow complexions, owing to the burning rays of the sun in summer, and the bilious complaints to which they are subject during the fall of the year; but those in the upper parts of the country, towards the mountains, have a healthy and comely appearance.
After Mr. Weld had left the house of his friend, he crossed the Rappahannoc River, to a small town called Tappahannoc, or Hob's Hole, containing about one hundred houses. The river is here about three quarters of a mile wide, and, though the distance from its mouth is seventy miles, sharks are very often seen.
From Tappahannoc to Urbanna, another small town on the Rappahannoc, and about twenty-five miles lower down, the country wears but a poor aspect. The road, which is level and sandy, runs, for many successive miles, through woods. The habitations that are seen from it are but few, and these of the poorest description. The woods chiefly consist of black oak, pine, and cedar-trees, which only grow on land of the worst quality.
Mr. Weld observed many traces of fires in the woods. Such fires, he was informed, were frequent in the spring of the year; and they were usually occasioned by the negligence of people who burnt the underwood, for the purpose of clearing the lands. He was himself witness to one of them. The day had been remarkably serene, and the underwood had been fired in several places. During the afternoon, the weather was sultry, and, about five o'clock, the horizon, towards the north, became dark, and a terrible whirlwind arose. Mr. Weld was standing, with some gentlemen, on an eminence, and perceived it gradually advancing. It carried along with it a cloud of dust, dried leaves, and pieces of rotten wood; and, in many places, as it passed along, it levelled the fence-rails, and unroofed the cattle-sheds. Mr. Weld and his friends endeavoured, but in vain, to reach a place of shelter. In the course of two minutes the whirlwind overtook them: the shock was violent; it was hardly possible to stand, and was difficult to breathe. It passed over in about three minutes; but a storm, accompanied by heavy thunder and lightning, succeeded: this lasted more than half an hour. On looking round, immediately after the whirlwind had passed, a prodigious column of fire appeared in a part of the wood where some underwood had been burning. In many places the flames rose considerably above the summit of the trees, which were of large growth. It was a tremendous, and, at the same time, a sublime sight. The Negroes, on the surrounding plantations, were all assembled with their hoes; and guards were stationed, at every corner, to give alarm, if the fire appeared elsewhere, lest the conflagration should become general. To one plantation a spark was carried by the wind more than half a mile; happily, however, a torrent of rain, shortly afterwards, came pouring down, and enabled the people to extinguish the flames in every quarter.
The country between Urbanna and Gloucester is neither so sandy nor so flat as that bordering upon the Rappahannoc. The trees, chiefly pines, are of large size, and afford abundance of turpentine, which is extracted from them, in great quantities, by the inhabitants.
Gloucester contained, at this time, only ten or twelve houses. It is situated on a neck of land nearly opposite to the town of York, and on the bank of the York River, here about a mile and half wide. York consisted of about seventy houses, an episcopalian church, and a gaol. It is remarkable for having been the place where lord Cornwallis surrendered his army to the combined forces of the Americans and French. The banks of the river are, for the most part, high and inaccessible; and the principal part of the town is built upon them; only a few fishing-huts and store-houses standing at the bottom.
Twelve miles from York is Williamsburgh, formerly the seat of government in Virginia. At this time it consisted of one principal street, and two others, which ran parallel to it. At one end of the main street stands the college, and, at the other end, the old capitol or State-house, a capacious building of brick, which was crumbling to pieces, from neglect. The houses around it were mostly uninhabited, and presented a melancholy appearance.
The college of William and Mary, as it is still called, is at the opposite end of the main street: it is a heavy pile of building, somewhat resembling a large brick-kiln. The students were, at this time, about thirty in number; but, from their boyish appearance, the seminary ought rather to be termed a grammar-school than a college.
Mr. Weld dined with the president of the college. Half a dozen, or more, of the students, the eldest about twelve years old, were at table; some without shoes and stockings, and others without coats. A couple of dishes of salted meat, and some oyster-soup, formed the whole of the repast.
The town of Williamsburgh contained, at this time, about twelve hundred inhabitants; and the society in it was thought to be more extensive, and at the same time more genteel, than in any other place of its size in America. No manufactures were carried on here, and there was scarcely any trade.
From Williamsburgh to Hampton the country is flat and uninteresting. Hampton is a small town, situated at the head of a bay, near the mouth of James River. It contained about thirty houses and an episcopal church; and was a dirty, disagreeable place.
From this town there is a regular ferry to Norfolk, across Hampton Roads, eighteen miles over. Norfolk stands nearly at the mouth of the eastern branch of Elizabeth River, the most southern of the rivers which fall into Chesapeak Bay. This is the largest commercial town in Virginia, and carries on a flourishing trade to the West Indies. Its exports consist principally of tobacco, flour, and corn, and various kinds of timber. Of the latter it derives an inexhaustible supply, from the great "Dismal Swamp," which is immediately in its neighbourhood.
The houses in Norfolk were about five hundred in number; but most of them were of wood, and meanly built. These had all been erected since the year 1776; when the place had been totally burnt, by order of lord Dunmore, then the British governor of Virginia. The losses sustained, on this occasion, were estimated at three hundred thousand pounds sterling. Near the harbour the streets are narrow and irregular: in the other parts of the town they are tolerably wide. None of them, however, are paved, and all are filthy. During the hot months of summer, the stench that proceeds from some of them is horrid.
There were, at this time, two churches, one for episcopalians, and the other for methodists; but, in the former, service was not performed more than once in two or three weeks. Indeed, throughout all the lower parts of Virginia, that is, between the mountains, and the sea, the people seemed to have scarcely any sense of religion; and, in the country districts, all the churches were falling into decay.
From Norfolk Mr. Weld went to the Dismal Swamp. This commences at the distance of nine miles from the town, extends into North Carolina, and occupies, in the whole, about one hundred and fifty thousand acres. The entire tract is covered with trees, some of which are of enormous size; and between them, the underwood springs up so thick, that the swamp is, in many parts, absolutely impervious. It abounds also with cane-reeds, and with long rich grass, on which cattle feed with great avidity, and become fat in a short time. In the interior of the swamp, large herds of wild cattle are found; the offspring, probably, of animals which have at different times been lost, or turned out to feed. Bears, wolves, deer, and other wild indigenous animals, are also found here.
As the Dismal Swamp lies so very near to Norfolk, where there is a constant demand for timber, staves, and other similar articles, for exportation; and, as the best of these are made from trees grown upon the swamp, it of course becomes a valuable species of property. A canal, which the inhabitants of Norfolk were, at this time, cutting through it, would also tend to enhance its value.
From the Dismal Swamp to Richmond, a distance of about one hundred and forty miles, along the south side of James River, the country is flat and sandy, and, for many successive miles, is covered with pine-trees. In some parts there are peach-orchards, which are very profitable. From the peaches, the inhabitants make brandy, which, when properly matured, is an excellent liquor, and much esteemed: they give it a delicious flavour by infusing dried pears in it.
The accommodation at the taverns along this road, was most wretched; nothing was to be had but rancid fish, fat salt pork, and bread made of Indian corn. Mr. Weld's horses were almost starved. Hay is scarcely ever used in this part of the country, but, in place of it, the inhabitants feed their cattle with what they call fodder, the leaves of the Indian corn-plant. Not a bit of fodder, however, was to be had on the whole road from Norfolk to Richmond, except at two places.
Petersburgh stands at the head of the navigable part of Appommattox River, and is the only place of importance between Norfolk and Richmond. The houses in Petersburgh were about three hundred in number, and built without regularity. A flourishing trade was carried on in this place. About two thousand four hundred hogsheads of tobacco were inspected annually at the warehouses; and, at the falls of the Appamatox, near the upper end of the town, were some of the best flour-mills in Virginia.
Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is situated immediately below the Falls of James River, which is here about four hundred yards wide, and was at this time crossed by two bridges, separated from each other by an island. The houses in Richmond were not more than seven hundred in number, yet they extended nearly a mile and a half along the banks of the river. The lower part of the town is built close to the water; and opposite to it, lies the shipping. It is connected with the upper town by a long street, which runs parallel to the course of the river, and about fifty yards from the banks. The situation of the upper town is very pleasing: it is on an elevated spot, and commands a fine prospect of the falls of the river, and of the adjacent country. The best houses stand here, and also the capitol or state-house, which is a clumsy, ill-shaped edifice. Richmond, at this time, contained about four thousand inhabitants, one half of whom were slaves.
The Falls in the river, or the Rapids, as they ought to be called, extend six miles above the city. Here the river is full of large rocks; and the water rushes along in some places with great impetuosity. At the north side of the falls is a canal, which renders the navigation complete from Richmond to the Blue Mountains.
There is, perhaps, no place in the world of equal size, in which more gambling is carried on, than in Richmond. Mr. Weld had scarcely alighted from his horse, when the landlord of the tavern at which he stopped, inquired what game he was most partial to, as in such a room there was a faro-table, in another a hazard-table, in a third a billiard-table; to any of which he was ready to conduct him. Not the slightest secrecy is employed in keeping these tables. They are always crowded with people, and the doors of the apartments are only closed to prevent the rabble from entering. Cock-fighting is another favourite diversion. The lower classes of people, however, are those chiefly who partake of such amusements; but the circumstance of having the taverns thus infested, renders travelling extremely unpleasant.
The common people of Virginia are usually represented to be more quarrelsome than those of any other American state; and, when they come to blows, they fight like wild beasts. They bite and kick each other with indescribable fury; and endeavour to tear each other's eyes out with their nails.
Eighth Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
Narrative of MR. WELD'S return from Richmond to Philadelphia, through the central parts of Virginia.
Having continued at Richmond somewhat more than a week, Mr. Weld mounted his horse, and, accompanied by his servant, proceeded towards the South-west or Green Mountains.
The country around Richmond is sandy; but it is not so much so, nor so flat, as on the south side of James River, towards the sea. When Mr. Weld was here it wore a most pleasing aspect. The first week in May had arrived; the trees had acquired a considerable part of their foliage; and the air, in the woods, was perfumed with the fragrant smell of numberless flowers and flowering shrubs. The music of the birds also was delightful: the notes of the mocking-bird or Virginia nightingale, in particular, were extremely melodious.
In this part of America there is a singular bird, called whipper-will, or whip-poor-will, which has obtained its name from the plaintive noise that it makes. This it commences every evening about dusk, and continues through the greatest part of the night. The frogs in America make a most singular noise. Some of them absolutely whistle; and others croak so loudly, that it is difficult, at times, to tell whether the sound proceeds from a calf or a frog. Mr. Weld, whilst walking in the meadows, was more than once deceived by it. The largest kinds are called bull-frogs: they chiefly live in pairs, and are never found but where there is good water; their bodies measure from four to seven inches, and their legs are of proportionate length. These animals are extremely active, and take prodigious leaps.
In one part of his journey, the road extended almost wholly through pine-forests, and was very lonely. Night came on before he reached the end of it; and, as commonly happens with travellers in this part of the world, he soon lost his way. A light, however, seen through the trees, seemed to indicate that a house was not far distant. His servant eagerly rode up to it, but the poor fellow's consternation was great indeed when he observed it moving from him, presently coming back, and then, with swiftness, departing into the woods. Mr. Weld was himself at a loss to account for this singular appearance, till, after having proceeded a little further, he observed the same sort of light in many other places; and, dismounting from his horse to examine a bush, where one of these sparks appeared to have fallen, he found that it proceeded from a fire-fly. In the present instance Mr. Weld was much surprised; but, as the summer advanced, these flies appeared every night. After a light shower in the afternoon, this gentleman says he has seen the woods sparkling with them in every direction. The light is emitted from the tail, and the animal has the power of emitting it or not at pleasure.
After wandering about till near eleven o'clock, he came at last to a house, where he obtained information respecting the road: and, about midnight, he arrived at a miserable tavern. During the next day's ride he observed a great number of snakes, which were now beginning to come forth from their holes.
The South-west Mountains run nearly parallel to the Blue Ridge, and are the first that are seen in Virginia, on going up the country, from the sea-coast. They are not lofty, and ought indeed rather to be called hills than mountains. These mountains are not seen till the traveller comes within a few miles of them; and the ascent is so gradual, that he reaches their top almost without perceiving it.
The soil is here a deep clay, particularly well suited to the culture of grain and clover, and it produces abundant crops.
The salubrity of the climate, in this part of Virginia, is equal also to that of any part of the United States; and the inhabitants have, in consequence, a healthy and ruddy appearance, totally different from that of the residents in the low country.
In these mountains live several gentlemen of large property, who farm their own land. Among the number was Mr. Jefferson, the vice-president of the United States. His house was about three miles from Charlottesville, and was most singularly situated, being built on the top of a small mountain, the apex of which had been cut off. At this time it was in an unfinished state; but, if carried on, according to a plan which had been laid down, it promised to be one of the most elegant private habitations in America. Several attempts have been made in this neighbourhood, to bring the manufacture of wine to perfection; none of them, however, have succeeded to the wish of the parties concerned in it.
The country between the South-west Mountains and the Blue Ridge is very fertile, and is much more closely inhabited than that in the lower parts of Virginia. The climate is good, and the people have a healthy and robust appearance. Several valuable mines of iron and copper have been discovered here.
Having crossed the South-west Mountains, Mr. Weld proceeded to Lynchburgh, a town on the south side of Fluvanna River, and one hundred and fifty miles beyond Richmond. This town contained about one hundred houses; and a warehouse for the inspection of tobacco, where about two thousand hogsheads were annually inspected. It had been built within the last fifteen years, and, in consequence of its advantageous situation for trade, was rapidly increasing.
Between Lynchburgh and the Blue Mountains, the country is rough and hilly, and but thinly inhabited. The few inhabitants, however, who are seen here, are uncommonly robust and tall: it is rare to observe a man amongst them who is not six feet high. The Blue Ridge is thickly covered with large trees, to the very summit. Some of the mountains are rugged and stony; others are not so; and on the latter the soil is rich and fertile. It is only in particular places that this ridge can be crossed; and at some of the gaps the ascent is steep and difficult.
The Peaks of Otter, near which Mr. Weld crossed it, are the highest mountains in the Blue Ridge, and, measured from their bases, they are supposed to be more lofty than any others in North America. The principal peak is said to be about four thousand feet in perpendicular height.
Beyond the Blue Ridge, Mr. Weld observed very few settlements, till he approached Fincastle. This town is about twenty miles from the mountains, and fifteen south of Fluvanna River. It was only begun about the year 1790; yet, when Mr. Weld was there, it contained sixty houses, and was rapidly increasing. The inhabitants consisted principally of Germans.
On the eastern side of the Blue Mountains, cotton grows extremely well; and, in winter, the snow scarcely ever remains more than a day or two upon the ground. On the opposite side, cotton never comes to perfection; the winters are severe, and the fields are covered with snow for many successive weeks. In every farm-yard are seen sleighs or sledges, a kind of carriages that are used for travelling upon the snow.
In this part of America, the soil consists chiefly of a rich brown mould, in which white clover grows spontaneously. To have a fertile meadow, it is only necessary to leave a piece of ground to the hand of nature for one year. A bed of limestone also runs entirely through the country.
It appeared to Mr. Weld that there was no part of America where the climate would be more congenial to the constitution of a native of Great Britain or Ireland than this. The frost in winter is more regular, but is not more severe than what commonly takes place in those islands. During summer the heat is somewhat greater; but there is not a night in the year in which a blanket is not found comfortable. Fever and ague are disorders here unknown; and the air is so salubrious, that persons who come from the low country, afflicted with those disorders; get rid of them in a short time.
In the western part of the country there are several medicinal springs, to which, about the end of summer, great numbers of people resort, as much for the sake of escaping the heat in the low country, as for drinking the waters. Those that are most frequented are called the Sweet Springs; but there are others in Jackson's Mountains, a ridge that runs between the Blue Mountains and the Alleghany. One of these is warm, and another quite hot. There is also a sulphur spring near them, into which, if the leaves of trees fall, they become thickly incrusted with sulphur, in a very short time; and silver, if put into them, will be turned black almost immediately.
Mr. Weld, now bending his course in a northerly direction, again crossed the Fluvanna River. About ten miles from this stream, there is, among the mountains, a deep cleft or chasm, about two miles long, and, in some places, three hundred feet deep. Over one part of this is a natural arch, called Rockbridge, which consists of a solid mass of stone, or of several stones so strongly cemented together that they appear but as one. The road extends over this natural bridge. On one side of it is a parapet or wall of fixed rocks, but on the other there is a gradual slope, to the very brink of the chasm. The slope is thickly covered with large trees, principally cedars and pines. The whole width of the bridge is about eighty feet: the road runs nearly along the middle of it, and is passed daily by waggons.
At the distance of a few yards from the bridge there is a narrow path, which winds, along the sides of the fissure, and amidst immense rocks and trees, down to the bottom of the chasm. Here the stupendous arch appears in all its glory, and seems even to touch the skies. The height, to the top of the parapet, is two hundred and thirteen feet. The rocks are of limestone, and nearly perpendicular; and the sides of the chasm are thickly clad with trees, wherever there is space sufficient to admit of their growth. A small stream runs at the bottom of the fissure, over beds of rock, and adds much to the beauty of the scene.
About fifty miles beyond Rockbridge, there is another remarkable natural curiosity: a large cavern, known by the name of Maddison's Cave. It is in the heart of a mountain, and about two hundred feet high. Persons who reside in a house, not far distant from this cave, act as guides, and use, as lights, splinters from the wood of the pitch pine-tree, a bundle of which they carry with them for this purpose. This cave is of great extent, and is divided into many large, and singularly-shaped apartments, covered with stalactites, or petrifactions, at the top and sides. Before these were blackened by the smoke of the torches, they are said to have been extremely beautiful. The floor is of a deep sandy earth, which has been repeatedly dug up, for the purpose of obtaining saltpetre, with which it is strongly impregnated.
The country immediately behind the Blue Mountains, is agreeably diversified with hill and dale, and abounds in extensive tracts of rich land. Clover grows here in great luxuriance. Wheat also is raised, and in crops as abundant as in any part of the United States. Tobacco is not grown, except for private use. The climate is not here so warm as in the lower parts of the country, on the eastern side of the mountains.
As Mr. Weld passed along, he met great numbers of people who were proceeding from Kentucky, and from the state of Tenessee, towards Philadelphia and Baltimore. He also saw many others, who were going in a contrary direction, to "explore," as they called it; that is, to search for, lands in the western country, conveniently situated for new settlements. These all travelled on horseback, armed with pistols and swords; and each had a large blanket, folded up under his saddle, for sleeping in, whenever they were obliged to pass the night in the woods.
Of all the uncouth human beings that Mr. Weld met with in America, the people from the western country were the most so. Their curiosity was boundless. Often has he been stopped abruptly by them, even in solitary parts of the road; and, without any further preface, has been asked where he came from? if he was acquainted with any news? where bound to? and what was his name?
The first town that Mr. Weld reached was Lexington, a neat little place, which had contained about one hundred dwelling-houses, a court-house, and a gaol; but most of these had been destroyed by fire, just before he was there. Great numbers of Irish are settled in this place. Thirty miles further on is Staunton. This town carries on a considerable trade with the back country, and contains nearly two hundred dwellings, mostly built of stone.
Winchester stands one hundred miles north of Staunton, and is the largest town in the United States, on the western side of the Blue Mountains. The houses were, at this time, estimated at three hundred and fifty, and the inhabitants at two thousand. There were four churches, which, as well as the houses, were plainly built. The streets were regular, but very narrow. There was nothing particularly deserving of attention, either in this place, or in any of the small towns that have been mentioned.
Mr. Weld reached the Potomac, at the place where that river passes through the Blue Ridge; and where a scene is exhibited which has been represented as one of the most "stupendous in nature, and even worth a voyage across the Atlantic." The approach towards it is wild and romantic. After crossing a number of small hills, which rise in succession, one above another, the traveller at last perceives a break in the Blue Ridge; at the same time, the road, suddenly turning, winds down a long and steep hill, shaded with lofty trees, whose branches unite above. On one side of the road are large heaps of rocks, overhead, which threaten destruction to any one who passes beneath them; on the other, a deep precipice presents itself, at the bottom of which is heard the roaring of the waters, that are concealed from the eye, by the thickness of the foliage. Towards the end of this hill, about sixty feet above the level of the water, stand a tavern and a few houses; and from some fields in the rear of them, the passage of the river, through the mountain, is seen to great advantage.
The Potomac, on the left, winds through a fertile country, towards the mountain. On the right flows the Shenandoah. Uniting together, they roll on, in conjunction, through the gap; then, suddenly expanding to the breadth of about four hundred yards, they pass on towards the sea, and are finally lost to the view, amidst surrounding hills.
After crossing the Potomac, Mr. Weld passed on to Frederic, in Maryland, which has already been mentioned, and thence to Baltimore. The country between Frederic and Baltimore is by no means so rich as that west of the Blue Ridge, but it is tolerably well cultivated. Iron and copper are found here in many places.
From Baltimore Mr. Weld returned to Philadelphia, where he arrived on the fourteenth of June, after an absence of about three months.
* * * * *
We must now return to Pittsburgh, for the purpose of proceeding, from that place, with M. Michaux a French naturalist of considerable eminence, in a journey through Kentucky, Tenessee, North and South Carolina.
Ninth Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
Narrative of a Journey from Pittsburgh to Lexington in Kentucky. From Travels in North America, by F. A. MICHAUX.
This gentleman, in company with a Mr. Craft, set out from Pittsburgh, on the 14th of July, 1802; and, two days afterwards, arrived at Wheeling, a small town on the bank of the Ohio, and about eighty miles distant from Pittsburgh. Wheeling had not been more than twelve years in existence, yet it contained, at this time, about seventy houses, built of wood. It is bounded by a long hill, nearly two hundred fathoms high, and the base of which is not more than four hundred yards from the river. In this space the houses are built: they form but one street, along which runs the main road. From fifteen to twenty large shops supply the inhabitants, twenty miles, round, with provisions. This little town shares largely in the export trade that is carried on with the western country at Pittsburgh.
At Wheeling the travellers purchased a canoe, twenty-four feet long, eighteen inches wide, and about as many in depth. Canoes of this description are made from the single trunk of a tree: they are too narrow for the use of oars, and, in shallow water, they are generally forced along either with a paddle or a staff. As a shelter from the sun, M. Michaux and his friend covered their canoe, a quarter of its length, with a piece of cloth thrown upon two hoops; and, having placed on board of it a sufficient stock of provisions, they embarked about five o'clock in the afternoon of the ensuing day. They floated twelve miles down the stream that evening, and slept on the right bank of the Ohio. Both M. Michaux and his friend were excessively fatigued with their first day's voyage; but not so much by paddling their canoe along, as by remaining constantly seated in one position. For, the canoe being very narrow at the bottom, they were obliged to keep their legs extended; as the least motion of the vessel would have exposed them to the danger of being overset. In the course, however, of a few days, they became accustomed to these inconveniences, and attained the art of travelling comfortably.
They were three days and a half in proceeding to Marietta, about a hundred miles from Wheeling. This town is situated on the right bank of the Great Muskingum, and near the place of its junction with the Ohio. Although fifteen years before M. Michaux was here, it was not in existence, Marietta now contained more than two hundred houses, some of which were built of brick; but the greatest number were of wood. Several of them were from two to three stories high, and somewhat elegantly constructed. The mountains which, from Pittsburgh, extend along the side of the river, are, at Marietta, distant from its banks, and leave a considerable space of level ground, which will facilitate, in every respect, the enlarging of the town.
The inhabitants of Marietta were the first, in the interior of America, who entertained an idea of exporting, directly to the Caribbee Islands, the produce of their country. This they did in a vessel, built in their own town. The vessel was sent to Jamaica, and the success which crowned this first attempt, excited great emulation among the inhabitants of the western country. The ship-yard at Marietta is near the town, on the great Muskingum. When M. Michaux was there, the inhabitants were building three brigs, one of which was of two hundred and twenty tons burden.
On the 21st of July the voyagers set out from Marietta, for Gallipoli, distant about a hundred miles. On the 23rd, at ten in the morning, they discovered Point Pleasant, situated a little above the mouth of the Great Kenaway, and on a promontory which is formed by the right bank of that river. Its situation is peculiarly beautiful. The Ohio, into which the Kenaway falls, is here four hundred fathoms wide, and continues of the same width for four or five miles. Its borders, sloping and elevated from twenty-five to forty feet, are, in the whole of its windings, overgrown, at their base, with willow, from fifteen to eighteen feet in height, the drooping branches and foliage of which form a pleasing contrast to the sugar-maples, red-maples, and ash-trees, which are seen immediately above. The latter are overhung by palms, poplars, beeches, and magnolias, of the highest elevation; the enormous branches of which, attracted by a more splendid light and an easier expansion, extend towards the borders, overshadowing the river, at the same time that they completely cover the trees that are beneath them. This natural display, which reigns upon the two banks, forms, from each side, a regular arch, the shadow of which, reflected by the stream, embellishes, in an extraordinary degree, the magnificent coup d'oeil.
Gallipoli is on the right bank of the Ohio, four miles below Point Pleasant. It was, at this time, composed of about sixty log-houses, most of which, being uninhabited, were falling into ruins; the rest were occupied by Frenchmen, two only of whom appeared to enjoy the smallest comfort.
On the 25th of July, M. Michaux and his friend set out, in their canoe, for Alexandria, about a hundred and four miles distant; and they arrived there in three days and a half. The ground designed for this town is at the mouth of the Great Scioto, and in the angle which the right bank of this river forms with the north-west border of the Ohio. Although the plan of Alexandria had long been laid out, few people had settled there: the number of its edifices was not, at this time, more than twenty, and the major part of these were constructed of wood. The inhabitants are subject, every autumn, to intermittent fevers, which seldom abate till the approach of winter.
On the 1st of April the voyagers arrived at Limestone in Kentucky, fifty miles lower than Alexandria; and, at this place, their voyage on the Ohio terminated. They had floated, in their canoe, three hundred and forty miles from Wheeling; and, during the ten days which their voyage had occupied, they had been obliged, almost incessantly, to paddle their vessel along. This labour, although in itself painful to persons who are unaccustomed to it, was, in the present instance, still more so, on account of the intense heat which prevailed. They also suffered much inconvenience from thirst, not being able to procure any thing to drink, but by stopping at the plantations on the banks of the river; for, during summer, the water of the Ohio acquires such a degree of heat, that it is not fit to be drunk till it has been kept twenty-four hours. At Limestone M. Michaux relinquished an intention which he had formed of proceeding further down the Ohio; and here he took leave of Mr. Craft, who prosecuted the remaining part of the voyage alone.
The banks of the Ohio, though elevated from twenty to sixty feet, scarcely afford any hard substances, betwixt Pittsburgh and Limestone; except large detached stones, of a greyish colour, which M. Michaux observed, in an extent of ten or twelve miles, below Wheeling: the remainder of the country seems wholly covered with vegetable earth. A few miles before this gentleman reached Limestone, he observed a chalky bank, the thickness of which, being very considerable, left no room to doubt that it must be of great extent. The Ohio abounds in fish, some of which are of great size and weight.
Till the years 1796 and 1797, the banks of the Ohio were so little populated, that there were scarcely thirty families in the space of four hundred miles; but, since that time, a great number of emigrants had settled here, from the mountainous parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia; consequently the plantations had, at this time, so much increased, that they were not further than two or three miles asunder; and, when M. Michaux was on the river, he always had some of them in view.
The inhabitants of the banks of the Ohio employ the greatest part of their time in stag and bear-hunting, for the sake of the skins, which are important articles of traffic. The dwellings of this people are, for the most part, in pleasant situations; but they are only log-houses, without windows, and so small that they hold no more than two beds each. A couple of men, in less than ten days, could erect and finish one of them. No attention is here paid to any other culture than that of Indian corn.
The favourable situation of the Ohio entitles this river to be considered as the centre of commercial activity, between the eastern and western states; and it is the only open communication with the ocean, for the exportation of provisions, from that part of the United States, which is comprised between the Alleghany Mountains, the lakes, and the left bank of the Mississippi.
All these advantages, blended with the salubrity of the climate and the general beauty of the country, induced M. Michaux to imagine that, in the course of twenty years, the banks of the Ohio, from Pittsburgh to Louisville, would become the most populous and the most commercial part of the United States. Limestone consisted only of thirty or forty houses, constructed with wood. This little town had been built upwards of fifteen years. It was for some time the place where such emigrants landed as came from the northern states, by way of Pittsburgh: it was also the mart for merchandise, sent from Philadelphia and Baltimore to Kentucky.
M. Michaux resolved to travel on foot, from this place to Lexington. The distance is sixty-five miles, and he performed the journey in two days and a half. In his journey he passed through Mays Lick, where there is a salt-work. The wells that supply the salt-water are about twenty feet in depth, and not more than fifty or sixty fathoms from the River Salt Lick; the waters of which, during the summer, are somewhat brackish. In this part of the country salt-springs are usually found in places which are described by the name of Licks; and where, before the arrival of Europeans, the bisons, elks, and stags, that existed in Kentucky, went, by hundreds, to lick the saline particles; with which the soil is impregnated.
In the country around Mays Lick the soil is dry and sandy; and the road is covered with large, flat, chalky stones, of a bluish colour within, and the edges of which are round. The only trees that M. Michaux observed here, were white oaks and hickory; and the stinted growth and wretched appearance of these, clearly indicated the sterility of the soil.
In the year 1796, Lexington consisted of only eighteen houses; but it now contained more than a hundred and fifty, half of which were of brick. This town is situated on a delightful plain, and is watered by a small river, near which were several corn-mills. Every thing seemed to announce the comfort of its inhabitants. It is built on a regular plan. The streets are broad, and cross each other at right angles. The want of pavement, however, renders it very muddy in winter. There were, at this time, in Lexington, two printing-offices, at each of which a newspaper was published twice a week. Two extensive rope-walks, constantly in employ, supplied, with rigging, the ships that were built upon the Ohio. Independently of other manufactories which had been established in this town, there were several common potteries, and one or two gunpowder-mills. The sulphur for the latter was obtained from Philadelphia, and the saltpetre was manufactured from substances dug out of grottos, or caverns, that are found on the declivity of lofty hills, in the mountainous parts of the state. The soil of these is extremely rich in nitrous particles.
[About fifty miles west of Lexington, on the bank of the Ohio, and near the falls of that river, is the town of Louisville. This place forms a connecting link between New Orleans and the whole western parts of the United States. Mechanics can here obtain full employment, and they are able to earn from forty to fifty-four shillings a week. Every article of clothing is excessively expensive; and the rents of houses are very high. This place was formerly very unhealthy, the inhabitants being subject to fevers, agues, and other complaints; but it is said to be improving in healthiness. Mr. Fearon, who visited this place in the year 1817, does not speak favourably of the character of the Kentuckians. He says they drink a great deal, swear a great deal, and gamble a great deal; and that even their amusements are sometimes conducted with excessive barbarity. The expence of sending goods, by water, from New Orleans to Louisville, is about twenty shillings per hundred weight; and down the stream, to New Orleans, about four shillings. The boats usually make the voyage upward in about ninety days; and downward in twenty-eight days. Steam-vessels accomplish the former voyage in thirty-six, and the latter in twenty-eight days.
There are in Louisville, two great hotels, one of which has, on an average, one hundred and forty, and the other eighty boarders. A person, on going to either of them, applies to the bar-keeper for admittance: and the accommodations are very different from those in an English hotel. The place for washing is not, as with us, in the bed-rooms; but in the court-yard, where there are a large cistern, several towels and a negro in attendance. The sleeping-room usually contains from four to eight bedsteads, having mattresses and not feather-beds; sheets of calico, two blankets, and a quilt: the bedsteads have no curtains. The public rooms are, a news-room, a boot-room, (in which the bar is situated,) and a dining-room. The fires are generally surrounded by parties of about six persons. The usual custom with Americans is to pace up and down the news-room, in a manner similar to walking the deck of a ship at sea. Smoking segars is practised by all, and at every hour of the day. Argument or discussion, in this part of the world, is of very rare occurrence; social intercourse seems still more unusual; conversation on general topics, or taking enlarged and enlightened views of things, rarely occurs: each man is in pursuit of his own individual interest. At half past seven, the first bell rings for the purpose of collecting all the boarders, and, at eight, the second bell rings; breakfast is then set, the dining-room is unlocked, a general rush commences, and some activity, as well as dexterity, is necessary to obtain a seat at the table. The breakfast consists of a profuse supply of fish, flesh, and fowl, which is consumed with a rapidity truly extraordinary. At half-past one, the first bell rings, announcing the approach of dinner; the avenues to the dining-room become thronged. At two o'clock the second bell rings, the doors are thrown open, and a repetition of the breakfast-scene succeeds. At six, tea, or what is here called supper, is announced, and partaken of in the same manner. This is the last meal, and it usually affords the same fare as breakfast. At table there is neither conversation nor drinking: the latter is effected by individuals taking their liquor at the bar, the keeper of which is in full employ from sunrise to bed-time. A large tub of water, with a ladle, is placed at the bar; and to this the customers go and help themselves. When spirits are called for, the decanter is handed; the person calling for them takes what quantity he pleases, and the charge is sixpence-halfpenny. The life of boarders at an American tavern, presents a senseless and comfortless mode of killing time. Most houses of this description are thronged to excess; and few of the persons who frequent them, appear to have any other object in view than spitting and smoking.
In the state of Kentucky there are several subterraneous caverns, which have attracted much attention, and which are described as among the most extraordinary natural curiosities in the world. They are also of considerable importance in a commercial view, from the quantity of nitre they afford. The great cave, near Crooked Creek, is supposed to contain a million pounds of nitre. This cave has two mouths or entrances, about six hundred and fifty yards from each other, and one hundred and fifty yards from the creek.]
Tenth Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
Narrative of the Journey of M. Michaux, from Lexington to Charleston in South Carolina.
On the tenth of August, M. Michaux set out from Lexington to Nasheville, in the state of Tenessee; and, as an establishment for the purpose of naturalizing the vine in Kentucky, was not very far out of his road, he resolved to visit it. Consequently, about fourteen miles from Lexington, he quitted the road, turned to the left, strolled through some woods, and reached the vineyard in the evening. It was, at this time, under the superintendance of a M. Dufoux, the principal person of a small Swiss colony, which had settled in Kentucky some years before. The vines had been selected chiefly from the vicinity of New York and Philadelphia. Many of them had failed; but those of the kinds which produce the Madeira wines, appeared to give considerable hopes of success. The whole of the vines occupied a space of about six acres; and they were planted and fixed with props similar to those in the environs of Paris.
From this place M. Michaux was conducted, through the woods, to a ferry over the Kentucky River. The borders of the river at this ferry are formed by an enormous mass of chalky stones, remarkably peaked, and about a hundred and fifty feet high.
Near Harrodsburgh M. Michaux visited the plantation and residence of General Adair. A spacious and commodious house, a great number of black servants, equipages: every thing announced the opulence of the general. Magnificent peach-orchards, and immense fields of Indian wheat, surrounded the house. The soil was extremely fertile, as was evident from the largeness of the blades of corn, their extraordinary height, and the abundance of the crops.
About forty miles beyond the general's plantation, M. Michaux passed over Mulder Hill, a steep and lofty mountain, that forms a kind of amphitheatre. From its summit the neighbouring country presents the aspect of an immense valley, covered with forests of imperceptible extent. As far as the eye can reach, nothing but a gloomy verdant space is seen, formed by the tops of the close-connected trees, and, through which, not even the vestige of a plantation can be discerned. The profound silence that reigns in these woods, uninhabited by savage beasts, and the security of the place, forms an ensemble rarely to be seen in other countries.
About ten miles beyond Green River commence what are called the Barrens, or Kentucky Meadows. On the first day of his journey over them, M. Michaux travelled fifteen miles; and, on the ensuing morning, having wandered to some distance out of the road, in search of a spring, at which to water his horse, he discovered a plantation in a low and narrow valley. The mistress of the house told him that she had resided there upwards of three years, and that, for eighteen months, she had not seen any individual except of her own family: that, weary of living thus isolated, her husband had been more than two months from home in quest of another spot, towards the mouth of the Ohio. A daughter, about fourteen years of age, and two children, considerably younger, were all the company she had: her house was abundantly stocked with vegetables and corn.
This part of the Barrens was precisely similar to that which M. Michaux had traversed the day before; and the same kind of country extends as far as the line which separates the state of Tenessee from that of Kentucky. Here, to the great satisfaction of M. Michaux, he once more entered the woods. Nothing, he says, can be more tiresome than the doleful uniformity of these immense meadows, where there is no human creature to be met with; and where, except a great number of partridges, no species of living beings are to be seen.
The Barrens comprise a portion of country from sixty to seventy miles in length, by sixty miles in breadth. According to the signification of the name, M. Michaux had imagined that he should have to cross a naked space, scattered here and there with a few plants; but he was agreeably surprised to find a beautiful meadow, where the grass was from two to three feet high. He here discovered a great variety of interesting plants. In some parts he observed several species of wild vines, and, in particular, one which is called by the inhabitants "summer grapes:" the bunches of fruit were as large, and the grapes as good in quality, as those in the vineyards round Paris. And it appeared to M. Michaux that the attempts which had been made in Kentucky, to establish the culture of the vine, would have been more successful in the Barrens, the soil of which appeared to him better adapted for this kind of culture, than that on the banks of the Kentucky. The Barrens are very thinly populated; for, on the road where the plantations are closest together, M. Michaux counted but eighteen in a space of sixty or seventy miles.
Nasheville, the principal and the oldest town in this part of Tenessee, is situated on the river Cumberland, the borders of which are here formed by a mass of chalky stone, upwards of sixty feet in height. Except seven or eight houses, built of brick, the rest, to the number of about a hundred and twenty, were constructed of wood, and were distributed over a surface of twenty-five or thirty acres, where the rock appeared almost naked in every part.
This little town, although it had been built more than fifteen years, contained no kind of manufactory or public establishment; but there was a printing-office, at which a newspaper was published once a week. A college had also been founded here; but it was yet in its infancy, having not more than seven or eight students, and only one professor.
The price of labour in the vicinity of Nasheville was higher than at Lexington. There appeared to be from fifteen to twenty shops, which were supplied from Philadelphia and Baltimore; but they did not seem so well stocked as those of Lexington, and the articles, though dearer, were of inferior quality.
All the inhabitants of the western country, who go by the river to New Orleans, return by land and pass through Nasheville, which is the first town beyond Natchez. The interval which separates these towns is about six hundred miles, and was, at this time, entirely uninhabited. Several persons who had travelled this road, assured M. Michaux that, for a space of four or five hundred miles beyond Natchez, the country was very irregular; that the soil was sandy, in some parts covered with pines, and not much adapted for culture; but that, on the contrary, the borders of the river Tenessee were fertile, and superior even to the richest parts of Kentucky.
On the fifth of September, M. Michaux set out from Nasheville for Knoxville. He was accompanied by a Mr. Fisk, one of the commissioners who had been appointed to determine the boundaries between the states of Tenessee and Kentucky. They stopped on the road, with different friends of Mr. Fisk; among others, with General Smith, one of the oldest inhabitants of the country. M. Michaux saw, en passant, General Winchester. He was at a stone house which was building for him on the road. This mansion, the state of the country considered, bore the external marks of grandeur: it consisted of four large rooms on the ground-floor, one story, and a garret. The workmen employed to finish the inside had come from Baltimore, a distance of near seven hundred miles.
A few miles from the residence of General Winchester, and at a short distance from the road, is a small town which had been founded but a few years, and to which the inhabitants had given the name of Cairo, in memory of the taking of Cairo by the French.
Between Nasheville and Fort Blount the plantations, though always isolated in the woods, were, nevertheless, by the side of the road, and within two or three miles of each other: the inhabitants resided in log-houses, and most of them kept negroes, and appeared to live happily and in abundance. Through the whole of this space the soil was but slightly undulated: in some places it was level, and in general it was excellent.
Fort Blount had been constructed about eighteen years before M. Michaux was in America. It had been built for the purpose of protecting, against the attacks of the Indians, such emigrants as came, at that time, to settle in its vicinity. But peace having been concluded with the Indians, and the population having much increased, the fortifications now no longer existed.
On the eleventh of September M. Michaux and Mr. Fisk left Fort Blount; and, at the house of Major Russel, some miles distant, they were obligingly furnished with provisions for two days' journey through the territory of the Cherokees.
The country became now so mountainous, that they could not proceed more than forty-five miles the first day, though they travelled till midnight. They encamped near a small river, where there was an abundance of grass; and, after having lighted a fire, they slept in their rugs, keeping watch alternately, in order to guard their horses. During this day's journey they had seen no animals, except some flocks of wild turkeys.
The second day after their departure, they met a party of eight or ten Indians, who were searching for grapes and chinquapins, a small species of chesnuts, superior in taste to those of Europe. As M. Michaux and his friend had only twenty miles to go before they reached West Point, they gave to these men the remainder of their provisions. With the American Indians bread is a great treat; for their usual food consists only of venison and wild-fowl.
The road, which crosses this part of the Indian territory, cuts through the mountains of Cumberland; and, in consequence of the great number of emigrants who travel through it, to settle in the western country, it was, at this time, as broad and commodious as the roads were near Philadelphia. In some places, however, it was very rugged. Little boards painted black and nailed against the trees, every three miles, indicated to travellers the distance they had to go.
In this part of Tenessee the mass of the forests is composed of all the species of trees which belong more particularly to the mountainous regions of North America; such as oaks, maples, hickory-nut trees, and pines.
At West Point there was a fort palisadoed round with trees, and built upon a lofty eminence, at the conflux of the rivers Clinch and Holstein. A company of soldiers was kept here, for the purpose of holding the Indians in check, and also of protecting them against the inhabitants on the frontiers, whose cruelty and illiberal proceedings had frequently excited them to war.
These Indians are above the middle size, are well-proportioned, and healthy in appearance, notwithstanding the long fasting they are frequently obliged to endure, whilst in pursuit of animals, the flesh of which forms their chief subsistence. The carbine is the only weapon they use: they are very dexterous with it, and are able to kill animals at a great distance. The usual dress of the men consists of a shirt, which hangs loose, and of a slip of blue cloth, about half a yard in length, which serves them for breeches; they put it between their thighs, and fasten the two ends, before and behind, to a sort of girdle. They wear long gaiters, and shoes made of prepared goat-skins. When full dressed they wear a coat, waistcoat, and hat; but they never have breeches. On the top of their heads they have a tuft of hair, which they form into several tresses, that hang down the sides of their face; and they frequently attach quills or little silver tubes to the extremities. Many of them pierce their noses, in order to put rings through. They also cut holes in their ears, which are made to hang down two or three inches, by pieces of lead, which are fastened to them. They paint their faces red, blue, or black.
A shirt and a short petticoat constitute the chief dress of the women, who also wear gaiters like the men. Their hair, which is of jet-black colour, they suffer to grow to its natural length; but they do not pierce their noses, nor disfigure their ears. In winter both the men and women, in order to guard against cold, wrap themselves in blue rugs, which they always carry with them, and which form an essential part of their luggage.
M. Michaux was informed, at West Point, that the Cherokees had lately begun to cultivate their possessions, and that they had made a rapid progress in agriculture. Some of them had good plantations, and even negro slaves. Several of the women spin cotton and manufacture cotton-stuffs.
The distance from West Point to Knoxville is thirty-five miles. About a mile from West Point the travellers passed through Kingstown, a place consisting of thirty or forty log-houses. After that the road extended, upwards of eighteen miles, through a rugged and flinty soil, covered with a kind of grass. The trees that occupied this space, grew within twenty or thirty yards of each other.
Knoxville, the seat of government for the state of Tenessee, is situated on the river Holstein, here a hundred and fifty fathoms broad. The houses were, at this time, about two hundred in number, and were built chiefly of wood. Although it had been founded eighteen or twenty years, Knoxville did not yet possess any kind of commercial establishment, or manufactory, except two or three tan-yards. Baltimore and Richmond are the towns with which this part of the country transacts most business. The distance from Knoxville to Baltimore is seven hundred miles, and to Richmond four hundred and twenty. The inhabitants of Knoxville send flour, cotton, and lime, to New Orleans, by the river Tenessee; but the navigation of this river is much interrupted, in two places, by shallows interspersed with rocks.
In the tavern at Knoxville travellers and their horses are accommodated at the rate of about five shillings per day; but this is considered dear for a country where the situation is by no means favourable to the sale of provisions. A newspaper is published at Knoxville twice a week.
On the 17th of September, M. Michaux took leave of Mr. Fisk, and proceeded alone towards Jonesborough, a town about a hundred miles distant; and situated at the foot of the lofty mountains which separate North Carolina from Tenessee. On leaving Knoxville the soil was uneven, stony, and bad; and the forests contained a great number of pine-trees. Before he reached Macby, M. Michaux observed, for the space of two miles, a copse extremely full of young trees, the loftiest of which was not more than twenty feet high. The inhabitants of the country informed him that this place had formerly been part of a barren, or meadow, which had clothed itself again with trees, after its timber, about fifteen years before, had been totally destroyed by fire. This appears to prove, that the spacious meadows in Kentucky and Tenessee owe their origin to some great conflagration which has consumed the forests and that they continue as meadows, by the practice, still continued, of annually setting them on fire, for the purpose of clearing the land.
M. Michaux stopped, the first day, at a place where most of the inhabitants were Quakers. One of these, with whom he lodged, had an excellent plantation, and his log-house was divided into two rooms. Around the house were growing some magnificent apple-trees: these, although produced from pips, bore fruit of extraordinary size and excellent flavour, a circumstance which proves how well this country is adapted for the culture of fruit-trees. At this house there were two emigrant families, consisting of ten or twelve persons, who were going to settle in Tenessee. Their clothes were ragged, and their children were barefooted and in their shirts.
Beyond this place the road divided into two branches, both of which led to Jonesborough; and, as M. Michaux was desirous of surveying the banks of the river Nolachuky, renowned for their fertility, he took the branch which led him in that direction. As he proceeded he found many small rock crystals, two or three inches long, and beautifully transparent. They were loose, and disseminated upon the road, in a reddish kind of earth.
On the twenty-first he arrived at Greenville, a town which contained scarcely forty houses, constructed with square beams, and somewhat in the manner of log-houses. The distance between this place and Jonesborough, is about twenty-five miles: the country was slightly mountainous, the soil was more adapted to the culture of corn than that of Indian wheat; and the plantations were situated near the road, two or three miles distant from each other.
Jonesborough, the last town in Tenessee, consisted, at this time, of about a hundred and fifty houses, built of wood, and disposed on both sides of the road. Four or five respectable shops were established there, and the tradespeople, who kept them, received their goods from Richmond and Baltimore.
On the twenty-first of September, M. Michaux set out from Jonesborough to cross the Alleghany Mountains, for North Carolina. In some places the road, or rather the path, was scarcely distinguishable, in consequence of the plants of various kinds that covered its surface. It was also encumbered by forests of rhododendron: shrubs, from eighteen to twenty feet in height, the branches of which, twisted and interwoven with each other, greatly impeded his progress. He had also to cross numerous streams; particularly a large torrent, called Rocky Creek, the winding course of which cut the path in twelve or fifteen directions.
On the twenty-third this gentleman proceeded twenty-two miles, through a hilly country; and, in the evening, arrived at the house of a person named Davenport, the owner of a charming plantation upon Doe River. M. Michaux staid here a week, in order to rest himself and recruit his strength, after a journey of six hundred miles which he had just made. On the second of October, he again set out, and proceeded towards Morganton. About four miles from Doe River he passed the chain of the Blue Ridges, and afterwards that of the Linneville Mountains. From the summit of the latter he observed an immense extent of mountainous country, covered with forests. Only three small places appeared to be cleared, which formed as many plantations, three or four miles distant from each other.
From the Linneville Mountains to Morganton, the distance is about twenty-five miles: in this interval the country was slightly mountainous, and the soil extremely bad.
Morganton, the principal town of the county of Burke, contained about fifty houses built of wood, almost all of which were inhabited by tradesmen. There was only one warehouse, and this was supported by a commercial establishment at Charleston. To it the inhabitants of the country, for twenty miles round, came to purchase English manufactured goods and jewellery; or to exchange, for these, a portion of their own produce, consisting of dried hams, butter, tallow, bear-skins and stag-skins.
From Morganton to Charleston the distance is two hundred and eighty-five miles. There are several roads; but M. Michaux took that which led through Lincolnton, Chester, and Columbia. The distance from Morganton to Lincolnton, is forty-five miles. Through the whole of this space the soil is extremely barren; and the plantations, straggling five or six miles from each other, have an unfavourable appearance. The woods are chiefly composed of different kinds of oaks; and the surface of the ground is covered with grass, intermixed with other plants.
Lincolnton, at this time, consisted of forty houses, and, like all the small towns in the interior of the United States, was surrounded by woods. There were, at Lincolnton, two or three large shops, which transacted the same kind of business as that at Morganton. The tradesmen who kept them sent the produce of the adjacent country to Charleston, but they sometimes stocked themselves with goods from Philadelphia.
At Lincolnton a newspaper was published twice a week. The price of subscription was two dollars per annum, but the printer, who was his own editor, took, by way of payment, flour, rye, wax, or other traffic, at the market-price. As in England, the advertisements were the most important source of profit. The foreign news was almost wholly extracted from papers published at the sea-ports.
The district around Lincolnton was peopled, in a great measure, by Germans from Pennsylvania. Their plantations were kept in excellent order, and their lands were well cultivated. Almost all had negro slaves, and there reigned among them a greater independence than in the families of English origin.
From Lincolnton to Chester, in the state of South Carolina, the distance is about seventy miles. Through the whole of this space the earth is light, and of a quality inferior to that between Morganton and Lincolnton, although the mass of the forests is composed of various species of oaks. In some places, however, pine-trees are in such abundance that, for several miles, the ground is covered with nothing else.
Chester contained about thirty houses, built of wood; and among the number were two inns and two respectable shops.
From Chester the country becomes worse in every respect than before; and the traveller is obliged to put up at inns, where he is badly accommodated both in board and lodging, and at which he pays dearer than in any other part of the United States. The reputation of these inns is esteemed according to the quantity and different kinds of spirits which they sell.
From Chester to Columbia the distance is fifty-five miles. M. Michaux passed through Winesborough, containing about a hundred and fifty houses. This place is one of the oldest inhabited towns in Carolina, and several planters of the low country go thither every year to spend the summer and autumn.
[Columbia, now the seat of government for the state of South Carolina, is situated below the confluence of the Broad and Saluda Rivers. It is laid out on a regular plan, the streets intersecting each other at right angles. The buildings are erected at the distance of about three quarters of a mile from the Cangaree River, on a ridge of high land, three hundred feet above the level of the water. In 1808, Columbia contained about one hundred and fifty houses. Vineyards, cotton, and hemp-plantations are successfully cultivated in its vicinity; and oil-mills, rope walks, and some other manufactories have been established here.]
The distance from Columbia to Charleston is about a hundred and twenty miles; and, through the whole of this space, the road crosses an even country, sandy and dry during the summer, whilst in the autumn and winter, it is so covered with water that, in several places, for the space of eight or ten miles, the horses are up to their middle. Every two or three miles there were, by the side of the road, miserable log-houses, surrounded by little fields of Indian corn.
The extreme unwholesomeness of the climate is shown by the pale and livid countenances of the inhabitants, who, during the months of September and October, are almost all affected with tertian fevers. Very few persons take any remedy for this complaint: they merely wait the approach of the first frosts, which, if they live so long, generally effect a cure.
M. Michaux arrived at Charleston on the eighteenth of October, 1802, three months and a half after his departure from Philadelphia, having, in that time, travelled over a space of nearly eighteen hundred miles.
Eleventh Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
A Description of Charleston, and of some places in the adjacent parts of Carolina and Georgia.
Charleston is situated at the conflux of the rivers Ashley and Cooper. The ground that it occupies is about a mile in length. From the middle of the principal street the two rivers might be clearly seen, were it not for a public edifice, built upon the banks of the Cooper, which intercepts the view. The most populous and commercial part of the town is situated along the Ashley. Several ill-constructed quays project into the river, to facilitate the trading-vessels taking in their cargoes. These quays are formed of the trunks of palm-trees, fixed together, and laid out in squares, one above another. The streets of Charleston are wide, but not paved; consequently, every time the foot slips, from a kind of brick pavement before the doors, it is immersed, nearly ancle deep, in sand. The rapid and almost incessant motion of carriages grinds this moving sand, and pulverizes it in such a manner, that the most gentle wind fills the shops with it, and renders it very disagreeable to foot-passengers. The principal streets extend east and west between the two rivers, and others intersect these nearly at right angles.
From its exposure to the ocean, this place is subject to storms and inundations, which affect the security of its harbour. The town also has suffered much by fires. The last, in 1796, destroyed upwards of five hundred houses, and occasioned damage to the amount of L.300,000 sterling.
The houses, in the streets near the water-side, are, for the most part, lofty, and built close together. The bricks are of a peculiar nature, being porous, and capable of resisting weather better than the firm, close, and red bricks of the northern states. They are of a dark brown colour, which gives to the buildings a gloomy appearance. The roofs are tiled or slated. In this part of the town the principal shopkeepers and merchants have their stores and warehouses. Houses here bear a very high rent: those in Broad and Church-streets, which are valuable for shops, let for more than L.300 per annum; and those along the bay, with warehouses, let for L.700 and upwards, according to the size and situation of the buildings. The houses in Meeting-street and the back part of the town, are in general lofty and extensive, and are separated from each other by small gardens or yards, in which are the kitchens and out-offices. Almost every house is furnished with balconies and verandas, some of which occupy the whole side of the building, from top to bottom, having a gallery for each floor. The houses are sometimes shaded with Venetian blinds, and afford to the inhabitants a cool and pleasant retreat, from the scorching rays of the sun. Most of the modern houses are constructed with taste and elegance; but the chief design seems to be, to render them as cool as possible. The town is also crowded with wooden buildings, of an inferior description.
Three of the public buildings in Charleston, and the episcopal church of St. Michael, are situated at the corners, formed by the intersection of Broad and Meeting-streets. St. Michael's is a large and substantial edifice, with a lofty steeple and spire. The Branch Bank of the United States occupies one of the corners: this is a substantial, and, compared with others in the town, is a handsome building; but, from an injudicious intermixture of brick, stone, and marble, it has a very motley appearance. Another corner of the street is occupied by the gaol and armory: the fourth corner has a large and substantial brick building, cased with plaster. The ground-floor of this building is appropriated to the courts of law: in the first story are most of the public offices; and the upper story contains the public library and the museum.
A kind of tree, called the "pride of India," (melia azedarach,) is planted, in rows, along the foot-paths and the streets of Charleston. It does not grow very high; but its umbrageous leaves and branches afford, to the inhabitants, an excellent shelter from the sun. It has the advantage also of not engendering insects; for, in consequence of its poisonous qualities, no insect can live upon it. When in blossom, the large clusters of its flowers resemble those of the lilac; these are succeeded by bunches of yellow berries, each about the size of a small cherry. It is a deciduous tree; but the berries remain during the winter, and drop off in the following spring.
The health of the inhabitants is very much injured, in consequence of their general neglect of cleanliness. The drains that are formed for carrying off the filth and putrid matter, which collect from all parts of the town, are too small for the purpose. This circumstance, added to the effluvia of the numerous swamps and stagnant pools in the neighbourhood, are known to be extremely injurious. Another neglect of health and comfort arises from a filthy practice, which prevails, of dragging dying horses, or the carcasses of dead ones, to a field in the outskirts of the town, near the high road, and there leaving them, to be devoured by troops of ravenous dogs and vultures. The latter, in appearance, are not much unlike turkeys, and thence have obtained the name of turkey buzzards; but, from their carnivorous habits, they have a most offensive smell. These birds hover over Charleston in great numbers; and are useful in destroying putrid substances, which lie in different parts of the city.
At Charleston there is a garden dignified by the name of Vauxhall. It is situated in Broad-street, at a short distance from the theatre; but it possesses no decoration worthy of notice. It cannot even be compared with the common tea-gardens in the vicinity of London. On one side of it are warm and cold baths, for the accommodation of the inhabitants. During summer, vocal and instrumental concerts are performed here, and some of the singers from the theatre are engaged for the season. The situation and climate of Charleston are, however, by no means adapted for entertainments of this description.
There are, in this town, four or five hotels and coffee-houses; but, except the Planters' Hotel, in Meeting-street, not one of them is superior to an English public-house.
Charleston contains a handsome and commodious market-place, which extends from Meeting-street to the water-side, and is as well supplied with provisions as the country will permit. Compared, however, with the markets in the towns of the northern states, the supply is very inferior, both in quality and quantity. The beef, mutton, veal, and pork, of South Carolina, are seldom in perfection; and the hot weather renders it impossible to keep meat many hours after it is killed. Though the rivers abound in a great variety of fish, yet very few are brought to market. Oysters, however, are abundant, and are cried about the streets by negroes. They are generally shelled, put into small pails, which the negroes carry on their heads, and are sold, by measure, at the rate of about eight-pence per quart. Vegetables have been cultivated, of late years, with great success; and, of these, there is generally a tolerable supply in the market.
In winter, the markets of Charleston are well supplied with fish, which are brought from the northern parts of the United States, in vessels so constructed as to keep them in a continual supply of water, and alive. The ships, engaged in this traffic, load, in return, with rice and cotton.
At Charleston, wood is extravagantly dear: it costs from forty to fifty shillings a cord, notwithstanding forests of almost boundless extent, commence at six miles, and even at a less distance, from the town. Hence a great portion of the inhabitants burn coals that are brought from England.
The pestilential marshes around Charleston yield a great abundance of rice. It is true that no European frame could support the labour of its cultivation; but Africa can produce slaves, and, amid contagion and suffering, both of oppressors and oppressed, Charleston has become a wealthy city.
* * * * *
The road from Charleston towards North Carolina, extends, for some distance, through the districts adjacent to the sea-coast; and much of the country is clad with bright evergreens, whence, in many places, it appears like the shrubbery of a park. In this part of America the trees are covered with a curious kind of vegetable drapery, which hangs from them in long curling tendrils, of gray or pale green colour. It bears a small blue flower, which is succeeded by a plumed seed, that adheres to the bark of the trees. Though the bark of the oak seems to afford the most favourite soil, it suspends itself to trees of every description; and, as it has no tenacity, but hangs like loose drapery, it probably does them no injury.
In the interior of the country the road traverses a desolate tract of swamps and sandy pine-forests, and afterwards a series of granite rocks.
The capital of North Carolina is Raleigh, a clean little country town. At one end of the only street stands the governor's brick house; and, at the other, the senate or court-house, surrounded by a grass-plot, neatly laid out. The houses are, in general, small, and built of wood; but some of them have foundations of granite, which is the only kind of stone in the country. The total want of limestone, and the scarcity of brick-earth, render it here extremely difficult and expensive to give to buildings any degree of stability.
Although Raleigh is considered the capital of North Carolina, Newbern is the largest town in the state. So long ago as the year 1790, it contained four hundred houses; but these were chiefly built of wood. In September, 1791, about one-third of this town was consumed by fire; but, since that period, more of the houses have been built of brick than before. Newbern is situated on a flat, sandy point of land, near the junction of the two rivers Neus and Trent, and about thirty miles from the sea. It carries on a trade with the West Indies and the interior of Carolina, chiefly in tar, pitch, turpentine, lumber, and corn.
* * * * *
About a hundred miles south-west of Charleston is the town of Savannah, situated upon an open, sandy plain, which forms a bluff or cliff, about fifty feet above the level of the river of the same name. It is laid out, in the form of a parallelogram, about a mile and a quarter long, and half a mile wide. The streets are broad, and open into spacious squares, each of which has in the middle a pump, surrounded by trees. There are neither foot-paths nor pavement in this place; and, consequently, every one walking in the streets, sinks, at each step, up to the ancles in sand; and, in windy weather, the eyes, mouth, and nostrils, are filled with sand.
The houses in Savannah are, for the most part, built of wood, and stand at a little distance from each other. In two or three of the streets, however, they are close together, and many of them are built with brick: these contain the shops and stores. The principal street is that called the Bay; and in this there are several good houses, of brick and wood. It extends nearly three quarters of a mile in length; and opposite to it is a beautiful walk, planted with a double row of trees. Similar trees are planted in other parts of the town. This agreeable promenade is near the margin of the height, upon which the town stands; and the merchants' stores, warehouses, and wharfs, for the landing, housing, and shipping of goods, are immediately below. From the height there is a fine view of the Savannah river, as far as the sea; and, in a contrary direction, to the distance of several miles above the town.
About the centre of the walk, and just on the verge of the cliff, stands the Exchange, a large brick building, which contains some public offices; and an assembly-room, where a concert and ball are held every fortnight, during the winter.
The situation of Savannah, and the plan upon which it is laid out, if the town contained better houses, would render it far more agreeable, as a place of residence, than Charleston. Its greater elevation must also be more conducive to the health of the inhabitants, than the low and flat site of the other city. Both, however, are in the neighbourhood of swamps, marshes, and thick woods, which engender diseases, injurious to the constitution of white people. On the swamps, around Savannah, great quantities of rice are grown.
Twelfth Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
Narrative of an excursion from Charleston into Georgia and West Florida. From Travels in North America, by WILLIAM BARTRAM.
At the request of Dr. Fothergill, an eminent physician in London, Mr. Bartram went to North America, for the purpose, chiefly, of collecting, in Florida, Carolina, and Georgia, some of the rare and useful productions which had been described, by preceding travellers, to abound in those states. He left England in the month of April, 1773, and continued abroad several years.
In 1776, he was at Charleston; and on the 22d of April, in that year, he set off on horseback, intending to make an excursion into the country of the Cherokee Indians. He directed his course towards Augusta, a town on the Savannah river.
During his first day's journey he observed a large orchard of mulberry-trees, which were cultivated for the feeding of silkworms. The notes of the mocking-bird enlivened all the woods. He crossed into Georgia, by a ferry over the Savannah; and he thence passed through a range of pine-forests and swamps, about twelve miles in extent. Beyond these, in a forest, on the border of a swamp, and near the river, he reached a cow-pen, the proprietor of which possessed about fifteen hundred head of cattle. He was a man of amiable manners, and treated Mr. Bartram with great hospitality. The chief profits made by this person were obtained from beef, which he sent, by the river, for the supply of distant markets.
About one hundred miles beyond this place is Augusta, in one of the most delightful and most eligible situations imaginable. It stands on an extensive plain, near the banks of the river Savannah, which is here navigable for vessels of twenty or thirty tons burden. Augusta, thus seated near the head of an important navigation, commands the trade and commerce of the vast and fertile regions above it; and, from every side, to a great distance. [Since Mr. Bartram was here, this place has become the metropolis of Georgia.]
Below Augusta, and on the Georgia side of the river, the road crosses a ridge of high swelling hills, of uncommon elevation, and sixty or seventy feet higher than the surface of the river. These hills, from three feet below the common vegetative surface, to the depth of twenty or thirty feet, are entirely composed of fossil oyster-shells, which, internally, are of the colour and consistency of white marble. The shells are of immense magnitude; generally fifteen or twenty inches in length, from six to eight wide, and from two to four inches in thickness; and their hollows are sufficiently deep to receive a man's foot.
From Augusta, Mr. Bartram proceeded to Fort James. For thirty miles the road led him near the banks of the Savannah. The surface of the land was uneven, in ridges or chains of swelling hills, and corresponding vales, with level downs. The latter afforded grass and various herbage; and the vales and hills produced forest-trees and shrubs of several kinds. In the rich and humid lands, which bordered the creeks and bases of the hills, Mr. Bartram discovered many species of plants which were entirely new to him.
Fort James enclosed about an acre of ground, and contained barracks for soldiers, and a house for the governor or commandant. It was situated at the extreme point of a promontory, formed by the junction of the Broad and Savannah rivers; and, at the distance of two miles, there was a place laid out for the construction of a town, which was to have the name of Dartmouth.
The surgeon of the garrison conducted Mr. Bartram, about five miles from the fort, to a spot where he showed him some remarkable Indian monuments. These were on a plain, about thirty yards from the river, and they consisted of conical mounds of earth, with square terraces. The principal mount was in the form of a cone, forty or fifty feet high, and two or three hundred yards in circumference at the base. It was flat at the top; a spiral track, leading from the ground to the summit, was still visible; and it was surmounted by a large and spreading cedar-tree. On the sides of the hill, facing the four cardinal points, were niches or centry-boxes, all entered from the winding path. The design of these structures Mr. Bartram was unable to ascertain. The adjacent grounds had been cleared, and were at this time planted with Indian corn.
On the 10th of May, Mr. Bartram set out from Fort James. He rode six or eight miles along the bank of the river, and then crossed it into South Carolina. The road led him over a country, the surface of which was undulated by ridges or chains of hills, and sometimes rough with rocks and stones; yet generally productive of forests, and of a great variety of curious and interesting plants.
The season was unusually wet: showers of rain fell almost daily, and were frequently attended with thunder. Hence travelling was rendered disagreeable, toilsome, and hazardous; particularly in the country through which he had to pass; an uninhabited wilderness, abounding in rivers and brooks.
During his progress, Mr. Bartram was kindly received into the houses of such planters as lived near the road. In his journey betwixt Fort James and the Cherokee town of Sinica, he observed an abundance of grape-vines, which ramble and spread themselves over the shrubs and low trees. The grapes, when ripe, are of various colours, and yield excellent juice.
Sinica is a respectable Cherokee settlement, on the east bank of the Keowe river; but the greatest number of Indian habitations are on the opposite shore, where also stands the council-house, in a plain, betwixt the river and a range of lofty hills, which rise magnificently, and seem to bend over the green plains and the river. Sinica had not, at this time, been long built. The number of inhabitants was estimated at about five hundred, among whom about a hundred warriors could be mustered.
From Sinica Mr. Bartram went to another Indian town, about sixteen miles distant, called Keowe. It stood in a fertile vale, which was now enamelled with scarlet strawberries and blooming plants, of innumerable kinds, through the midst of which the river meandered, in a most pleasing manner. The adjacent heights were so formed and disposed, that, with little, expence of military architecture, they might have been rendered almost unassailable. In the vicinity of Keowe, Mr. Bartram saw several ancient Indian mounts or tumuli, and terraces.