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Title: Western Characters - or Types of Border Life in the Western States
Author: McConnel, J. L.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Western Characters - or Types of Border Life in the Western States" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Illustration: THE PEDDLER.]

[Illustration: WESTERN CHARACTERS Redfield.]











Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853,


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and
for the Southern District of New York.

13 Chambers Street, N. Y.


Attempts to delineate local character are always liable to
misconstruction; for, the more truthful the sketch, the greater is the
number of persons, to whom resemblance may be discovered; and thus,
while in fact only describing the characteristics of a class, authors
are frequently subjected, very unjustly, to the imputation of having
invaded the privacy of individuals. Particularly is this so, when the
class is idealized, and an imaginary type is taken, as the
representative of the species.

I deem it proper, therefore, to say in advance, that no attempt has been
made in the following pages, to portray any individual; and
that--although I hope I have not been so unsuccessful, as to paint
pictures which have no originals--if there be a portrait in any sketch,
it consists, not in the likeness of the picture to the person, but of
both to the type.

As originally projected, the book would have borne this explanation upon
its face; but the circumstances which have reduced its dimensions, and
changed its plan, have also rendered necessary a disclaimer, which
would, otherwise, have been superfluous.

       *       *       *       *       *

One or two of the sketches might have been made more complete had I been
fortunate enough to meet with certain late publications, in time to use
them. Such is the elaborate work of Mr. Schoolcraft upon Indian History
and Character; and such, also, is that of Mr. Shea, upon the voyages and
labors of Marquette--a book whose careful accuracy, clear style, and
lucid statement, might have been of much service in writing the sketch
entitled "_The Voyageur_." Unfortunately, however, I saw neither of
these admirable publications, until my work had assumed its present
shape--a fact which I regret as much for my reader's sake as my own.

J. L. McC.
_July 15, 1853._



INTRODUCTORY                         7

THE INDIAN                          19

THE VOYAGEUR                        62

THE PIONEER                        106

THE RANGER                         157

THE REGULATOR                      171


THE PEDDLER                        268

THE SCHOOLMASTER                   288

THE SCHOOLMISTRESS                 319

THE POLITICIAN                     340


        --"Our Mississippi, rolling proudly on,
    Would sweep them from its path, or swallow up,
      Like Aaron's rod, those streams of fame and song."

    MRS. HALE.

The valley of a river like the channel of a man's career, does not
always bear proportion to the magnitude or volume of the current, which
flows through it. Mountains, forests, deserts, physical barriers to the
former--and the obstacles of prejudice, and accidents of birth and
education, moral barriers to the latter--limit, modify, and impair the
usefulness of each. A river thus confined, an intellect thus hampered,
may be noisy, fretful, turbulent, but, in the contemplation, there is
ever a feeling of the incongruity between the purpose and the power; and
it is only when the valley is extended, the field of effort open, that
we can avoid the impression of energy wasted, and strength frittered
away. The great intellect, whose scope is not confined by ancient
landmarks, or old prejudices, is thus typified by the broad, deep river,
whose branches penetrate the Earth on every hand, and add to the current
the tributaries of all climes. In this view, how noble an object is the

In extent, fertility, variety of scenery, and diversity of climate, its
valley surpasses any other in the world. It is the great aorta of the
continent, and receives a score of tributary rivers, the least of which
is larger than the vaunted streams of mighty empires. It might furnish
natural boundaries to all Europe, and yet leave, for every country, a
river greater than the Seine. It discharges, in one year, more water
than has issued from the Tiber in five centuries; it swallows up near
fifty nameless rivers longer than the Thames; the addition of the waters
of the Danube would not swell it half a fathom; and in a single bend,
the navies of the world might safely ride at anchor, five hundred miles
from sea.

It washes the shores of twelve powerful states, and between its arms
lies space enough for twenty more. The rains which fall upon the
Alleghenies, and the snows that shroud the slopes and cap the summits of
the Rocky mountains, are borne upon its bosom, to the regions of
perpetual summer, and poured into the sea, more than fifteen hundred
leagues from their sources. It has formed a larger tract of land, by the
deposits of its inundations, than is contained in Great Britain and
Ireland; and every year it roots up and bears away more trees, than
there are in the Black Forest. At a speed unknown to any other great
river, it rolls a volume, in whose depths the cathedral of St. Paul's
might be sunk out of sight; and five hundred leagues from its mouth, it
is wider than at thirty.

It annually bears away more acres than it would require to make a German
principality, engulfing more than the revenues of many a petty kingdom.
Beneath its turbid waters lie argosies of wealth, and floating palaces,
among whose gilded halls and rich saloons are sporting slimy creatures;
below your very feet, as you sail along its current, are resting in its
bed, half buried in the sand, the bodies of bold men and tender maidens;
and their imploring hands are raised toward Heaven, and the world which
floats, unheeding, on the surface. There lies, entombed, the son whose
mother knows not of his death; and there the husband, for whose
footstep, even yet, the wife is listening--here, the mother with her
infant still clasped fondly to her breast; and here, united in their
lives, not separated in their death, lie, side by side, the bride and
bridegroom of a day;--and, hiding the dread secrets from all human ken,
the mighty and remorseless river passes onward, like the stream of human
life, toward "the land of dreams and shadows!"

To the contemplative mind, there is, perhaps, no part of the creation,
in which may not be found the seed of much reflection; but of all the
grand features of the earth's surface, next to a lofty mountain, that
which impresses us most deeply is a great river. Its pauseless flow, the
stern momentum of its current--its remorseless coldness to all human
hopes and fears--the secrets which lie buried underneath its waters, and
the myriad purposes of those it bears upon its bosom--are all so clearly
typical of Time. The waters will not pause, though dreadful battles may
be fought upon their shores--as Time will steadily march forward, though
the fate of nations hang upon the conflict. The moments fly as swiftly,
while a mighty king is breathing out his life, as if he were a lowly
peasant; and the current flows as coldly on, while men are struggling in
the eddies, as if each drowning wretch were but a floating weed. Time
gives no warning of the hidden dangers on which haughty conquerors are
rushing, as the perils of the waters are revealed but in the crashing
of the wreck.

But the parallel does not stop here. The sources of the
Mississippi--were it even possible that they should ever be
otherwise--are still unknown to man. Like the stream of history, its
head-springs are in the regions of fable--in the twilight of remote
latitudes; and it is only after it has approached us, and assumed a
definite channel, that we are able to determine which is the authentic
stream. It flows from the country of the savage, toward that of
civilization; and like the gradations of improvement among men, are the
thickening fields and growing cultivation, which define the periods of
its course. Near its mouth, it has reached the culmination of
refinement--its last ripe fruit, a crowded city; and, beyond this, there
lies nothing but a brief journey, and a plunge into the gulf of

Thus, an emblem of the stream of history, it is still more like a march
along the highway of a single human life. As the sinless thoughts of
smiling childhood are the little rivulets, which afterward become the
mighty river; like the infant, airy, volatile, and beautiful--sparkling
as the dimpled face of innocence--a faithful reflex of the lights and
shadows of existence; and revealing, through the limpid wave, the
golden sands which lie beneath. Anon, the errant channels are united in
one current--life assumes a purpose, a direction--but the waters are yet
pure, and mirror on their face the thousand forms and flashing colors of
Creation's beauty--as happy boyhood, rapidly perceptive of all
loveliness, gives forth, in radiant smiles, the glad impressions of
unfaded youth.

Yet sorrow cometh even to the happiest. Misfortune is as stern a
leveller as Death; and early youth, with all its noble aspirations,
gorgeous visions, never to be realized, must often plunge, like the
placid river over a foaming cataract, down the precipice of
affliction--even while its current, though nearing the abyss, flow
softly as "the waters of Shiloah." It may be the death of a mother, whom
the bereaved half deemed immortal--some disappointment, like the
falsehood of one dearly loved--some rude shock, as the discovery of a
day-dream's hollowness; happy, thrice happy! if it be but one of these,
and not the descent from innocence to sin!

But life rolls on, as does the river, though its wave no longer flows in
placid beauty, nor reveals the hidden things beneath. The ripples are
now whirling eddies, and a hundred angry currents chafe along the rocks,
as thought and feeling fret against the world, and waste their strength
in vain repining or impatient irritation. Tranquillity returns no more;
and though the waters seem not turbid, there is a shadow in their
depths--their transparency is lost.

Tributaries, great and small, flow in--accessions of experience to the
man, of weight and volume to the river; and, with force augmented, each
rolls on its current toward the ocean. A character, a purpose, is
imparted to the life, as to the stream, and usefulness becomes an
element of being. The river is a chain which links remotest latitudes,
as through the social man relations are established, binding alien
hearts: the spark of thought and feeling, like the fluid of the magnet,
brings together distant moral zones.

On it rushes--through the rapids, where the life receives an
impulse--driven forward--haply downward--among rocks and dangerous
channels, by the motives of ambition, by the fierce desire of wealth, or
by the goad of want! But soon the mad career abates, for the first
effect of haste is agitation, and the master-spell of power is calmness.
Happy are they, who learn this lesson early--for, thence, the current
onward flows, a tranquil, noiseless, but resistless, tide. Manhood,
steady and mature, with its resolute but quiet thoughts, its deep,
unwavering purposes, and, more than all, its firm, profound affections,
is passing thus, between the shores of Time--not only working for itself
a channel broad and clear, but bearing on its bosom, toward Eternity,
uncounted wealth of hopes.

But in the middle of its course, its character is wholly changed; a
flood pours in, whose waters hold, suspended, all impurities. A
struggle, brief but turbulent, ensues: the limpid wave of youth is
swallowed up. Some great success has been achieved; unholy passions are
evoked, and will not be allayed; thenceforward there is no relenting;
and, though the world--nay! Heaven itself!--pour in, along its course,
broad tributaries of reclaiming purity, the cloud upon the waters can
never be dispelled. The marl and dross of Earth, impalpable, but visibly
corrupting, pervade the very nature; and only when the current ceases,
will its primitive transparency return.

Still it hurries onward, with velocity augmented, as it nears its term.
Yet its breadth is not increased; the earth suspended in its waters,
like the turbid passions of the human soul, prevents expansion;[1] for,
in man's career through time, the heart grows wider only in the pure.

Along the base of cliffs and highlands--through the deep alluvions of
countless ages--among stately forests and across extended plains, it
flows without cessation. Beyond full manhood, character may change no
more--as, below its mighty tributaries, the river is unaltered. Its full
development is reached among rich plantations, waving fields, and
swarming cities; while, but the journey of a day beyond, it rushes into
Eternity, leaving a melancholy record, as it mingles with the waters of
the great gulf, even upon the face of Oblivion.

--Within the valley of this river, time will see a population of two
hundred millions; and here will be the seat of the most colossal power
Earth has yet contained. The heterogeneous character of the people is of
no consequence: still less, the storms of dissension, which now and then
arise, to affright the timid and faithless. The waters of all latitudes
could not be blended in one element, and purified, without the tempests
and cross-currents, which lash the ocean into fury. Nor would a stagnant
calmness, blind attachment to the limited horizon of a homestead, or the
absence of all irritation or attrition, ever make one people of the
emigrants from every clime.

And, when this nation shall have become thoroughly homogeneous--when the
world shall recognise _the race_, and, above this, _the power_ of the
race--will there be no interest in tracing through the mists of many
generations, the outlines of that foundation on which is built the
mighty fabric? Even the infirmities and vices of the men who piled the
first stones of great empires, are chronicled in history as facts
deserving record. The portrait of an ancient hero is a treasure beyond
value, even though the features be but conjectural. How much more
precious would be a faithful portrait of _his character_, in which the
features should be his salient traits--the expression, outline, and
complexion of his nature!

To furnish a series of such portraits--embracing a few of the earlier
characters, whose "mark" is traceable in the growing civilization of the
West and South--is the design of the present work. The reader will
observe that its logic is not the selection of actual, but of ideal,
individuals, each representing a class; and that, although it is
arranged chronologically, the periods are not historical, but
characteristic. The design, then, is double; _first_, to select a
_class_, which indicates a certain stage of social or political
advancement; and, _second_, to present a picture of an imaginary
individual, who combines the prominent traits, belonging to the class
thus chosen.

The series halts, beyond the Rubicon of contemporaneous portraiture, for
very obvious reasons; but there are still in existence abundant means of
verifying, or correcting, every sketch. I have endeavored to give the
consciousness of this fact its full weight--to resist the temptation
(which, I must admit, was sometimes strong) to touch the borders of
satire; and, in conclusion, I can only hope that these wishes, with an
earnest effort at fidelity, have enabled me to present truthful


[1] "Were it a clear stream, it would soon scoop itself out a channel
from bluff to bluff."--_Flint's Geography_, p. 103.



    "In the same beaten channel still have run
      The blessed streams of human sympathy;
    And, though I know this ever hath been done,
      The why and wherefore, I could never see!"


In a work which professes to trace, even indistinctly, the reclamation
of a country from a state of barbarism, some notice of that from which
it was reclaimed is, of course, necessary; and an attempt to distinguish
the successive periods, each by its representative character, determines
the logic of such notice. Were we as well acquainted with the gradations
of Indian advancement--for such unquestionably, there were--as we are
with those of the civilized man, we should be able to distinguish eras
and periods, so as to represent them, each by its separate _ideal_. But
civilization and barbarism are comparative terms; and, though it is
difficult, perhaps impossible, precisely to fix the point at which one
ceases and the other begins, yet, within that limit, we must consider
barbarism as _one_ period. Of this period, in our plan, the Indian,
without reference to distinction of tribe, or variation in degree of
advancement, is the representative. As all triangles agree in certain
properties, though widely different in others, so all Indians are alike
in certain characteristics, though differing, almost radically, each
from every other: But, as the points of coincidence in triangles are
those which determine the class, and the differences only indicate
subspecies, so the similar characteristics in the Indian, are those
which distinguish the species, and the variations of character are, at
most, only tribal limits. An Indian who should combine all the
equivalent traits, without any of the inequalities, would, therefore, be
the pure ideal of his race. And his composition should include the evil
as well as the good; for a portrait of the savage, which should
represent him as only generous and brave, would be as far from a
complete ideal, as one which should display only his cruelty and

My object in this article is, therefore, to combine as many as
possible--or as many as are necessary--of the general characteristics of
the Indian, both good and bad--so as to give a fair view of the
character, according to the principle intimated above. And I may,
perhaps without impropriety, here state, that this may be taken as the
key to all the sketches which are to follow. It is quite probable that
many examples of each class treated, might be found, who are exceptions
to the rules stated, in almost every particular; and it is possible,
that no _one_, of _any_ class treated, combined _all_ the
characteristics elaborated. Excepting when historical facts are related,
or well-authenticated legends worked in, my object is not to give
portraits of individuals, however prominent. As was hinted above--the
logic of the book points only to the ideal of each class.

And this view of the subject excludes all those discussions, which have
so long puzzled philosophers, about the origin of the race--our business
is with the question _What is he?_ rather than with the inquiry, _Whence
did he come?_ The shortest argument, however--and, if the assumption be
admitted, the most conclusive--is that, which assumes the literal truth
of the Mosaic account of the creation of man; for from this it directly
follows, that the aboriginal races are descendants of Asiatic
emigrants; and the minor questions, as to the route they
followed--whether across the Pacific, or by Behring's strait--are merely
subjects of curious speculation, or still more curious research. And
this hypothesis is quite consistent with the evidence drawn from Indian
languages, customs, and physical developments. Even the arguments
against the theory, drawn from differences in these particulars among
the tribes, lose their force, when we come to consider that the same, if
not wider differences, are found among other races, indisputably of a
single stock. These things may be satisfactorily accounted for, by the
same circumstances in the one case, as in the other--by political and
local situation, by climate, and unequal progress. Thus, the Indian
languages, says Prescott, in his "Conquest of Mexico," "present the
strange anomaly of differing as widely in etymology, as they agree in
organization;" but a key to the solution of the problem, is found in the
latter part of the same sentence: "and, on the other hand," he
continues,[2] "while they bear some slight affinity to the languages of
the Old World, in the former particular, they have no resemblance to
them whatever, in the latter." This is as much as if he had said, that
the incidents to the lives of American Indians, are totally different to
those of the nations of the Old World: and these incidents are precisely
the circumstances, which are likely to affect organization, more than
etymology. And the difficulty growing out of their differences among
themselves, in the latter, is surmounted by the fact, that there is a
sufficient general resemblance among them all, to found a comparison
with "the languages of the Old World." I believe, a parallel course of
argument would clear away all other objections to the theory.[3]

But, as has been said, the scope of our work includes none of these
discussions; and we shall, therefore, pass to the Indian character,
abstracted from all antecedents. That this has been, and is, much
misunderstood, is the first thought which occurs to one who has an
opportunity personally to observe the savage. Nor is it justly a matter
of surprise. The native of this continent has been the subject of
curious and unsatisfactory speculation, since the discovery of the
country by Columbus: by the very _want_ of those things, which
constitute the attraction of other nations, he became at once, and has
continued, the object of a mysterious interest. The absence of dates and
facts, to mark the course of his migration, remits us to conjecture, or
the scarcely more reliable resource of tradition--the want of history
has made him a character of romance. The mere name of Indian gives the
impression of a shadowy image, looming, dim but gigantic, through a
darkness which nothing else can penetrate. This mystery not only
interests, but also disarms, the mind; and we are apt to see, in the
character, around which it hovers, only those qualities which give depth
to the attraction. The creations of poetry and romance are usually
extremes; and they are, perhaps, necessarily so, when the nature of the
subject furnishes no standard, by which to temper the conception.

"The efforts of a poet's imagination are, more or less, under the
control of his opinions:" but opinions of men are founded upon their
history; and there is, properly, _no_ historical Indian character. The
consequence has been, that poets and novelists have constructed their
savage personages according to a hypothetical standard, of either the
virtues or vices, belonging, potentially, to the savage state. The same
rule, applied to portraiture of civilized men, would at once be declared
false and pernicious; and the only reason why it is not equally so, in
its application to the Indian, is, because the separation between him
and us is so broad, that our conceptions of his character can exert
little or no influence upon our intercourse with mankind.

Sympathy for what are called the Indian's misfortunes, has, also,
induced the class of writers, from whom, almost exclusively, our notions
of his character are derived, to represent him in his most genial
phases, and even to palliate his most ferocious acts, by reference to
the injustice and oppression, of which he has been the victim. If we
were to receive the authority of these writers, we should conclude that
the native was not a savage, at all, until the landing of the whites;
and, instead of ascribing his atrocities to the state of barbarism in
which he lived--thus indicating their only valid apology--we should
degrade both the white and the red men, by attributing to the former
all imaginable vices, and, to the latter, a peculiar aptitude in
acquiring them. These mistakes are natural and excusable--as the man who
kills another in self-defence is justifiable; but the Indian character
is not the less misconceived, just as the man slain is not less dead,
than if malice had existed in both cases. To praise one above his
merits, is as fatal to his consideration, as decidedly to disparage him.
In either case, however, there is a chance that a just opinion may be
formed; but, when both extremes are asserted with equal confidence, the
mind is confused, and can settle upon nothing. The latter is precisely
the condition of the Indian; and it is with a view of correcting such
impressions, that this article is written.

The American Indian, then, is the ideal of a savage--no more, no less:
and I call him the ideal, because he displays _all_ those qualities,
which the history of the human race authorizes us to infer, as the
characteristics of an unenlightened people, for many ages isolated from
the rest of mankind.[4] He differs, in many particulars, from the other
barbarians of the world; but the broadest distinction lies in this
_completeness_ of his savage character. The peculiarities of the country
in which their lives assume their direction, its climate, isolation; or
connection with the world--all these things contribute to modify the
aspects presented by native races. In such points as are liable to
modification by these causes, the American differs from every other
savage; and without entering into an elaborate comparison of
circumstances--for which we have neither the material, the inclination,
nor the space--it may be proper briefly to consider _one_ of these
causes, and endeavor to trace its effects in the Indian's moral

The state of this continent, when the first Asiatic wanderers landed
upon its shores, was, of course, that of a vast, unbroken solitude; and
the contemplation of its almost boundless extent and profound
loneliness, was certainly the first, and probably the most powerful
agency, at work in modifying their original character. What the primary
effects of this cause were likely to be, we may observe in the white
emigrants, who have sought a home among the forests and upon the plains
of the west: whatever they may have been before their migration, they
soon become meditative, abstracted, and taciturn. These, and especially
the last, are the peculiar characteristics of the Indian; his
taciturnity, indeed, amounts to austerity, sometimes impressing the
observer with the idea of affectation. The dispersion, which must have
been the effect of unlimited choice in lands--the mode of life pursued
by those who depended upon the chase for subsistence--the gradual
estrangement produced among the separate tribes, by the necessity of
wide hunting-grounds--the vast expanse of territory at command--causes
operating so long, as to produce a fixed and corresponding nature--are
the sources, to which we may trace almost all the Indian's distinctive

"Isolation," Carlyle says, "is the sum total of wretchedness to man;"
and, doubtless, the idea which he means to convey is just. "But," in the
words of De Quincey, "no man can be truly _great_, without at least
chequering his life with solitude." Separation from his kind, of course,
deprives a man of the humanizing influences, which are the consequences
of association; but it may, at the same time, strengthen some of the
noblest qualities of human nature. Thus, we are authorized to ascribe to
this agency, a portion of the Indian's fortitude under hardships and
suffering, his contempt for mere meanness, and above all, the proud
elevation of his character. The standards of comparison, which were
furnished by his experience, were few, and, of course, derived from the
ideas of barbarians; but all such as were in any way modified by the
solitude of his existence, were rendered impressive, solemn, and

In the vast solitudes of Asia, whence the Indian races migrated to this
continent, so far as the loneliness of savage deserts and endless plains
might exert an influence, we should expect to find the same general
character. But the Asians are almost universally pastoral--the Americans
never; the wildest tribes of Tartary possess numerous useful
domesticated animals--the Americans, even in Mexico,[5] had none; the
Tartars are acquainted with the use of milk, and have been so from time
immemorial--the Indian, even at this day, has adopted it only in a few
localities, among the more enlightened tribes. The migration of the
latter either took place at a period before even his Asiatic father had
discovered its use, or the accidents which brought him to this
continent, were such as to preclude importing domesticated animals; and
the lapse of a few generations was sufficient to obliterate even the
recollection of such knowledge. "And," says Prescott,[6] "he might well
doubt, whether the wild, uncouth monsters, whom he occasionally saw
bounding with such fury over the distant plains, were capable of
domestication, like the meek animals which he had left grazing in the
green pastures of Asia." To this leading distinction--the adoption and
neglect of pastoral habits--may be referred most of the diversities
among races, unquestionably of one stock.

Reasoning from the effects upon human character, produced by the face of
different countries, we might expect to find, in the Indian, among other
things, a strong tendency toward poetical thought, embodied, not in the
mode of expression usually denominated poetry, but in the style of his
addresses, the peculiarities of his theories, or the construction of his
mythology, language, and laws. This expectation is totally disappointed;
but when we examine the _degree_ and _character_ of his advancement,
and recollect a few of the circumstances, among which the poetry looked
for would be obliged to grow, our disappointment loses its element of
surprise. The contemplation of Nature in her primitive, terrible, and
beautiful forms--the habit of meditation, almost the necessary
consequence of solitude--the strange, wild enchantment of an adventurous
life--have failed to develop in the Indian, any but selfish and sensual
ideas. Written poetry was, of course, not to be expected, even from the
indigenous civilization of Mexico and Peru; yet we might, with some
ground for hope, seek occasional traces of poetical thought and feeling.
We look in vain for any such thing.

"Extremes meet," says one of the wisest of adages; and the saying was
never more singularly and profoundly vindicated, than in its application
to civilization and barbarism. The savage rejects all that does not
directly gratify his selfish wants--the highly-civilized man is, in like
manner, governed by the principle of _utility_; and, by both, the merely
fanciful and imaginative is undervalued. Thus, as Mr. Macaulay[7]
ingeniously says, "A great poem, in a highly-polished state of society,
is the most wonderful and splendid proof of genius." But, for the same
reasons, the savage, who should display any remarkably poetical feeling
or tone of thought, would be quite as great a prodigy. Poetry flourishes
most luxuriantly midway between the two extremes. Its essence is the
contemplation of great passions and actions--of love, revenge, ambition.
Imagination is then vivified by the means of expression or articulation;
and, in the half-civilized state, neither a refined public sentiment,
nor the other extreme of barbarous isolation, restrains the exhibition
of great (and poetical) emotions.

The best of Hazlitt's numerous definitions of poetry, determines it to
be "the excess of imagination, beyond the actual or ordinary impression
of any object or feeling."[8] But the Indian was destitute of all
imagination; apparently, the composition of his nature included no such
element; and, certainly, the rude exigencies of his life did not admit
its action. Even the purity of his mythology, compared to that of the
Greeks and Romans,[9] has been (by Lord Lindsay) attributed to this
want--though, if such were its only effects, it might very well be

The Indian has no humor, no romance--how could he possess poetical
feeling? The gratification of sensual wants is the end of his life--too
often, _literally_ the end! "He considers everything beneath his notice,
which is not necessary to his advantage or enjoyment."[10] To him a jest
is as unmeaning as the babbling of a brook; his wife is a beast of
burden; and even his courting is carried on by gifts of good things _to
eat_, sent to the parents.[11] Heaven is merely a hunting-ground; his
language has no words to express abstract qualities, virtues, vices, or
sentiments.[12] His idea of the Great Spirit, and the word which
expresses it, may be applied with equal propriety to a formidable
(though not beneficent) _animal_; indeed, the Indian words which we
translate "spirit," mean only superior power, without the qualification
of good or evil. He has not even the ordinary inhabitive instinct of the
human race; his attachment to any region of country depends upon its
capacity to furnish game, and the fading of the former keeps pace with
the disappearance of the latter. "Attachment to the graves of his
fathers," is an agreeable fiction--unfortunately, only a fiction.[13]
He has always been nomadic, without the pastoral habits which the word
supposes: a mere wandering savage, without purpose or motive, beyond the
gratification of the temporary want, whim, or passion, and void of
_everything_ deserving the name of sentiment.

An extravagant, and, I am sorry to say, groundless, notion has obtained
currency, among almost all writers upon the Indian character, that he is
distinguished for his _eloquence_. But the same authors tell us, that
his language, the vehicle of the supposed eloquence, can express only
material ideas.[14] Now, if we knew no more of his character than this,
we should be authorized to infer (what is, indeed, true), that he
possesses no standard for the distinction of good and evil, and that his
imagination is bounded by the lines of his sensible experience. How any
degree of eloquence can be compatible with this state of things, passes
comprehension. And what reflection would conclude, a little examination
will confirm. The mistake has, doubtless, grown out of a misconception
of the nature of eloquence itself.[15] If eloquence were all
_figure_--even if it were, in any considerable degree, _mere_
figure--then the tawdriest rhetorician would be the greatest orator. But
it is not so. On the contrary, the use of many words (or figures) to
express an idea, denotes not command of language, but the absence of
that power--just as the employment of numerous tools, to effect a
physical object, indicates, not skill in the branch of physics, to which
the object belongs, but rather awkwardness. Of course, much must be
placed, in both cases, to the account of clumsy instruments; but the
instrument of speech differs from others in this: it is fashioned _by_,
as well as _for_, its use; and a rude, unpolished language is,
therefore, an index, in two ways, of the want of eloquence among the
people who employ it.

In this view, the figurative elocution of the Indian, so far from
affording evidence of oratorical power, if it proves anything, proves
the opposite. It is the barrenness of his language, and not the
luxuriance of his imagination, which enforces that mode of speech.[16]
Imagination is the first element of oratory, simplicity its first
condition. We have seen that the Indian is wholly destitute of the
former; and the stilted, meretricious, and ornate style, of even his
ordinary communications, entirely excludes the latter from our
conception of his character.[17]

For example: take the expressions "bury the hatchet," for "make peace,"
and "a cloudless sky," for "prosperity"--the latter being the nearest
approximation to an abstract idea observed in Indian oratory. Upon
examining these, and kindred forms of speech, we shall at once perceive
that they are not the result of imagination, but are suggested by
_material_ analogies. Peace, to the savage, is, at best, but a negative
idea; and the _state_ of peacefulness, abstracted from the absence of
war, finds no corresponding word in his language. Even friendship only
means that relation, in which friends may be of _use_ to each other. As
his dialects are all synthetic,[18] his ideas are all concrete. To say,
"_I love_" without expressing _what_ or _whom_ I love, would be, so to
speak, very bad Indian grammar. He can not even say "two" correctly,
without applying the numeral to some object. The notion of absolute
being, number, emotion, feeling, posture, or relation, is utterly
foreign to his mode of thought and speech.

So, also, of the "cloudless sky," used to express a state of prosperity.
He does not mean, by the phrase, the serenity of mind which prosperity
produces, nor any other abstract inflexion or suggestion of the figure.
He is constantly exposed to the storms of heaven, in the chase, and on
the war path; and, even in his best "lodge," he finds but little shelter
from their fury. Clear weather is, therefore, grateful to him--bright
sunshine associates itself, in his mind, with comfort, or (that
supremest of Indian pleasures) undisturbed indolence. And the
transition, though, as we have said, an approach to an abstract
conception, is easy, even to the mind of a savage. His employment of
such illustrations is rather an evidence of rudeness, than of
eloquence--of barrenness, than of luxuriance of idea.[19]

From these considerations, it results, that even the very best specimens
of Indian oratory, deserve the name of _picturesque_, rather than of
_eloquent_--two characteristics which bear no greater affinity to each
other, than do the picture-writing of the Aztec and the alphabetical
system of the Greek. The speech of Logan--the most celebrated of Indian
harangues--even if genuine,[20] is but a feeble support to the theory of
savage eloquence. It is a mixture of the lament and the song of triumph,
which may be found in equal perfection among all barbarous people; but,
so far as we are aware, was never elsewhere dignified with that sounding
name. The slander of a brave and honorable man,[21] which it contains,
might be the result of a mistake easily made; the wrongs of which this
chief was the victim, might render even a savage eloquent; and the
mixture of bloody vaunting with profound grief, is scarcely to be
expected in any _but_ a savage. "Logan never knew fear," he says; "he
would not turn on his heel to save his life." This species of boasting
is perfectly in keeping with the Indian character; but the pathetic
reason for this carelessness, which follows--"There is no one to mourn
for Logan"--is one not likely to have occurred to an Indian, even in his
circumstances. And, granting that the expression _was_ used by the
orator, and not (as it seems probable it was) added by Jefferson, it is,
I believe, the only example on record of poetical feeling in any Indian

The _religion_ of the Indian has given as much troublesome material to
the builders of systems, as has been furnished by all his other
characteristics combined. The first explorers of America supposed that
they had found a people, quite destitute of any religious belief. But
faith in a higher power than that of man, is a necessity of the human
mind; and its organization, more or less enlightened, is as natural,
even to the most degraded savage, as the formation of his language. Both
depend upon general laws, common to the intellect of all races of men;
both are affected by the external circumstances of climate, situation,
and mode of life; and the state of one may always be determined by that
of the other. "No savage horde has been caught with its language in a
state of chaos, or as if just emerging from the rudeness of
indistinguishable sounds. Each appears, not as a slow formation by
painful processes of invention, but as a perfect whole, springing
directly from the powers of man."[22] And though this rigor of
expression is not equally applicable to the Indian's religion, the fact
is attributable solely to the difference in nature of the subjects. As
the "primary sounds of a language are essentially the same everywhere,"
the impulses and instincts of piety are common to all minds. But, as the
written language of the Indian was but the pictorial representation of
visible objects, having no metaphysical signification, so the symbols of
his religion, the objects of his adoration, were drawn from external
nature.[23] Even his faith in the Great Spirit is a graft upon his
system, derived from the first missionaries;[24] and, eagerly as he
adopted it, it is probable that its meaning, to him, is little more
exalted, than that of the "Great Beaver," which he believes to be the
first progenitor, if not the actual creator, of that useful animal.

We often see the fact, that the Indian believes in his _manitou_, cited
as an evidence, that he has the conception of a spiritual divinity. But
the word never conveyed such a meaning; it is applicable more properly
to material objects, and answers, with, if possible, a more intense and
superstitious significance, to the term _amulet_. The Indian's _manitou_
might be, indeed always was, some wild animal, or some part of a beast
or bird--such as a bear's claw, a buffalo's hoof, or a dog's tooth.[25]
And, though he ascribed exalted powers to this primitive guardian, it
must be remembered that these powers were only physical--such, for
example, as would enable it to protect its devotee from the knife of his
enemy, or give him success in hunting.

Materialism, then, reigns in the religion, as in the language, of the
Indian; and its effects are what might be expected. His whole system is
a degraded and degrading superstition; and, though it has been praised
for its superior purity, over that of the ancients, it seems to have
been forgotten, that this purity is only the absence of _one kind_ of
_im_purity: and that its cruel and corrupting influences, of another
sort, are ten-fold greater than those of the Greek mythology. The
faith of the Greek embodied itself in forms, ceremonies, and
observances--regularly appointed religious rites kept his piety alive;
the erection of grand temples, in honor of his deity, whatever might be
his conception of that deity's character, attested his genuine devotion,
and held constantly before his mind the abstract idea of a higher power.
The Indian, before the coming of the white man, erected no temples[26]
in honor of his divinities; for he venerated them only so long as they
conferred physical benefits[27] upon him; and his idea of beneficence
was wholly concrete. He had no established form of worship; the
ceremonies, which partook of a religious character, were grotesque in
their conception, variable in their conduct, and inhuman in their
details. Such, for example, are the torturing of prisoners, and the
ceremonies observed on the occasion of a young Indian's placing himself
under his guardian power.

The dogmas of the Indian religion, until varied by the teaching of
missionaries, were few and simple--being circumscribed, like everything
else belonging to him, by the material world. He believed in a good
spirit, and an evil spirit; but his conception was limited by the ideas
of benefit or injury, _to himself_; indeed, it may safely be doubted,
whether the word "spirit," in its legitimate sense, is at all applicable
to his belief. "Power in a state of exertion," is the more accurate
description of his imperfect notion: abstract existence he never
conceived; the verb "_to be_" except as relating to time, place, and
action, had no meaning in his language.[28] He believed, also, in
subordinate powers of good and evil; but, since his life was occupied
more in averting danger and calamity, than in seeking safety or
happiness, he paid far more respect to the latter than to the former--he
prayed oftener and more fervently to the devils, than to the angels. His
clearest notion of divinity, was that of a being able to injure him;
and, in this sense, his devotion might be given to man, bird, or beast.

There seems to be no doubt, that he believed in a sort of immortality,
even before the missionaries visited his country. But it was not so much
a new state of existence, as a continuation of present life.[29] He
killed horses upon the grave of the departed warrior, that he might be
mounted for his long journey; and buffalo meat and roasted maize were
buried with him, that he might not suffer from hunger.[30] On arriving
in the land of the blest, he believed, that the dead pursued the game of
that country, as he had done in this; and the highest felicity of which
he conceived, was the liberty to hunt unmolested by the war-parties of
his enemies. Heaven was, therefore, in his conception, only a more
genial earth, and its inheritors but keener sportsmen.

That this idea of immortality involved that of accountability, in some
form, seems to admit of no doubt; but this doctrine, like almost all
others belonging to the primitive savage, has been moulded to its
present definite shape, by the long-continued labors of Christian
missionaries.[31] He believed, indeed, that the bad Indians never
reached the happy hunting-grounds, but the distinction between the good
and the bad, in his mind, was not at all clear; and, since the idea of
the passage across the gulf of death most prevalent among all tribes,
is that of a narrow bridge, over which only steady nerves and sure feet
may carry the wanderer, it seems probable that the line was drawn
between the brave warrior and the successful hunter, on the one hand,
and the coward and the unskilful, on the other. If these views be
correct, the inferences to be drawn from the Indian's belief in
immortality and accountability, are of but slender significance.

Corrupt manners and degrading customs never exist, in conjunction with a
pure religious system. The outlines of social institutions are
metaphysically coincident with the limits of piety; and the refinement
of morals depends upon the purity of faith. We may thus determine the
prevailing spirit of a national religion, by observation of domestic
manners and habits; and, among all the relations of life, that of parent
and child is the best index to degree of advancement. Filial piety is
but the secondary manifestation of a devotional heart; and attachment
and obedience to a father on earth, are only imperfect demonstrations of
love to our Father in heaven. What, then--to apply the principle--is the
state of this sentiment in the Indian? By the answer to that question,
we shall be able to estimate the value of his religious notions, and to
determine the amount of hope, for his conversion, justified by their
possession. The answer may be given in a few words: There is no such
sentiment in the Indian character. Children leave their infirm parents
to die alone, and be eaten by the wolves;[32] or treat them with violent
indignity,[33] when the necessity of migration gives no occasion for
this barbarous desertion. Young savages have been known to beat their
parents, and even to kill them; but the display of attachment or
reverence for them, is quite unknown. Like the beast of the forest, they
are no sooner old enough to care for themselves, than they cease even to
remember, by whose care they have become so; and the slightest
provocation will produce a quarrel with a father, as readily as with a
stranger. The unwritten law of the Indian, about which so many writers
have dreamed, enacts no higher penalty for parricide, than for any other
homicide; and a command to honor his father and mother because they
_are_ his father and mother, would strike the mind of an Indian as
simply absurd.

If the possession of a religion, whose fruits are no better than these,
can, of itself, give ground for hope to the Christian philanthropist,
let him cherish it fondly. But it is much to be feared, that the
existence of such a system indefinitely postpones, if it does not
entirely preclude, the Indian's conversion. Even a bird which has never
known the forest, will eventually escape to the wilds which God has made
its home; and the young Indian, who has been reared in the city, will
fly to the woods and prairies, and return to the faith of his fathers,
because these, and only these, will satisfy his nature.[34]

A theme of praise, in itself more just, has been the Indian's courage;
but the same circumstances of poetical interest, which have magnified
men's views of his other qualities, have contributed to exaggerate this
also. If calm steadiness of nerve, in the moment of action, be an
element in true courage, that of the primitive savage was scarcely
genuine. In all his battles, there were but two possible aspects--the
furious onset, and the panic retreat: the firmness which plants itself
in line or square, and stubbornly contends for victory, was no part of
his character. A check, to him, always resulted in a defeat; and, though
this might, in some measure, be the consequence of that want of
discipline, which is incident to the savage state, the remark applies
with equal justice, whether he fought singly or in a body. He was easily
panic-struck, because the impulse of the forward movement was necessary
to keep him strung to effort; and the retrograde immediately became a
rout, because daring, without constancy, collapses with the first

Notwithstanding the enervating influences attributed to refinement and
luxury, genuine, steady courage is one of the fruits borne by a high
civilization. It is the result of combination, thought, and the divinity
which attaches to the cultivated man. And, though it may seem rather
unfair to judge a savage by the rules of civilization, it has long been
received as a canon, that true valor bears an inverse ratio to
ferocious cruelty. Of all people yet discovered upon earth, the Indian
is the most ferocious. We must, therefore, either vary the meaning of
the word, when applied to different people, or deny the savage the
possession of any higher bravery, than that which lives only through the

Cunning supplied the place of the nobler quality; the object of his
warfare was to overcome by wily stratagem, rather than by open combat.
"Skill consisted in surprising the enemy. They followed his trail, to
kill him when he slept; or they lay in ambush near a village, and
watched for an opportunity of suddenly surprising an individual, or, it
might be, a woman and her children; and, with three strokes to each, the
scalps of the victims being suddenly taken off, the brave flew back with
his companions, to hang the trophies in his cabin."[35] If they
succeeded in taking prisoners, it was only that they might be reserved
for the most infernal torments, and the gratification of a brutal
ferocity, not the trial and admiration of the victim's courage, was the
purpose of their infliction.[36]

The fortitude of the Indian under suffering, has often been referred to,
in evidence of moral courage. And it is certainly true, that the display
so frequently made of triumph in the hour of death by torture,
indicates,[37] in part, an elevation of character, seldom found among
more civilized men. It is, however, the elevation of a barbarian; and
its manifestations are as much the fruit of impotent rage, as of a noble
fortitude. The prisoner at the stake knows that there is no escape; and
his intense hatred of his enemies takes the form of a wish, to deprive
them of a triumph. While his flesh is crisping and crackling in the
flames, therefore, he sings of the scalps he has taken, and heaps
opprobrious epithets upon the heads of his tormentors. But his song is
as much a cry of agony, as of exultation--his pain only adopts this mode
of expression. It is quite certain, also, that he does not suffer so
deeply, as would a white man in the same circumstances. By long
exposure, and the endurance of hardships incident to his savage life,
his body acquires an insensibility akin to that of wild animals.[38] His
nerves do not shrink or betray a tendency to spasm, even when a limb is
amputated. Transmitted from one generation to another, this physical
nature has become a peculiarity of the race. And when assisted by the
fierce hatred above referred to, it is not at all strange that it should
enable him to bear with fortitude, tortures which would conquer the
firmness of the most resolute white man.[39]

The Indian's dignified stoicism has been as much exaggerated, as his
courage and fortitude. It is not quite true that he never expresses
surprise, or becomes loquacious. But he has a certain stern
impassibility of feature--a coldness of manner--which have been mistaken
for dignity. His immobility of countenance, however, may be the effect
of sluggish sensibilities, or even of dull perceptions;[40] and the
same savage vanity, which leads him to make a display of strength or
agility before friend or enemy, prevents his acknowledging ignorance, by
betraying surprise.[41] We have been in company with Indians from the
Far West, while they saw a railroad for the first time. When they
thought themselves unnoticed, they were as curious about the singular
machinery of the locomotive, and as much excited by the decorations and
appointments of the cars, as the most ignorant white man. But the moment
they discovered that their movements were observed, they resumed their
dignified composure; and, if you had judged of the Indian country by
their subsequent deportment, you might have believed that the vast
prairies of the Missouri were everywhere intersected by railroads--that
the Indian had, in fact, never known any other mode of travelling. "On
first seeing a steamboat, however," says Flint, who well understands his
character, "he never represses his customary '_Ugh_!'"

Generally, among white men, he who is fondest of inflicting pain, is
least able to endure it. But the Indian reverses almost all the
principles, which apply to civilized life; and, accordingly, we find
that, with all his so-called fortitude, he is the most intensely cruel
of all living men. Before possession of the continent was taken by
Europeans, war was more constantly the occupation of his life, than it
has been since; but even now his only object in taking his enemies
alive, is to subject them to the most inhuman tortures.[42] And in these
brutal orgies, the women are most active, even taking the lead, in
applying the cord and the brand.[43] Nor is this cruelty confined to
enemies, as the practice of leaving the aged and infirm to die of
starvation sufficiently proves.

And his treachery is equal to his cruelty. No treaty can bind him longer
than superior force compels him to observe it. The discovery that his
enemy is unprepared for an attack, is sufficient reason to him for
making it; his only object in concluding peace, is to secure an
advantage in war; and before the prospect of a bloody inroad, his faith
melts away, like snow before the sun. The claims of gratitude he seldom
acknowledges; he cherishes the memory of a benefit, only until he finds
an opportunity of repaying it with an injury; and forbearance to avenge
the latter, only encourages its repetition.[44] The numerous pretty
stories published of Indian gratitude, are either exceptional cases, or
unmixed romances.

There have been some tribes of Indians in a measure reclaimed from their
state of barbarism; the Cherokees, I believe, (and perhaps one or two
other nations,) have even increased in numbers, under the influence of
civilization. But this is the result of numerous favorable causes
combined, and proves nothing, from which to infer the Indian's docility.
Other savages, on coming in contact with civilized men, have discovered
a disposition to acquire some of the useful arts--their comforts have
been increased, their sufferings diminished, and their condition
ameliorated, by the grafting of new ideas upon the old. But, between
the red man and the white, contiguity has brought about little more than
an exchange of vices.

Almost the only things coveted by the "redskin" from the "paleface,"
were his arms, his trinkets, and his "firewater." He could appreciate
whatsoever gave him superiority in war, gratified his childish vanity,
or ministered to his brutal appetite. But the greater comfort of the
white man's house--the higher excellence of his boat--his improved
agricultural implements or extended learning--none of these things
appealed to the Indian's passions or desires. The arts of peace were
nothing to him--refinement was worse than nothing. He would spend hours
in _decorating_ his person, but not a moment in _cleansing_ it: I
believe no tradition exists of an Indian ever having used soap or bought
a fine-tooth comb! He is, indeed, a "pattern of filthiness;" but even in
civilized life, we find that this is not at all incompatible with an
extravagant love of ornament; and, in this respect, the savage is not
behind his more enlightened brethren and sisters. Beads, ribands, and
scarlet cloth--with powder and lead, guns, tomahawks, and knives--are
the acquisitions which he prizes most highly.

Pre-eminent, however, above all these in his estimation, is the greatest
curse which has yet reached him--the liquid fire called whiskey! He is,
by nature, a drunkard, and the fury of his intoxication equals the
ferocity of his warfare. "All words would be thrown away," says Mr.
Flint,[45] "in attempting to portray, in just colors, the effects of
whiskey upon such a race." Fire should be kept away from
combustibles--whiskey from the Indian, and for the same reason. With
drunkenness, he possesses, also, its inseparable companion, the vice of
gambling.[46] He is the most inveterate gamester: Before the demon of
avarice everything gives way. He even forgets his taciturnity, in the
excitement of the game, and becomes loquacious and eager. He will stake
all his most valuable possessions, and, losing these, will even risk his
own liberty, or life, on the turn of a card. We were once witness to a
game in San Antonio (in Western Texas), among a party of Lipans,[47] a
race of fine-looking men, who range the table-lands north of the
sources of the Nueces. Two of them, one the handsomest warrior among
them, lost, first, the money, which they had just received as the price
of skins, brought to the city for sale. They then staked, successively,
their horses, their arms, their moccasins, and their blankets. The
"luck" was against them--everything was lost; and we supposed the game
was over. But--as a last resource, like drawing blood from their beating
hearts--each produced a _little leathern bottle_, containing whiskey!
And, as if these possessed a higher value than all the articles yet
lost, the game went on with increased interest! Even the potent "spirit"
thus evoked, could not prevail upon Fortune to change her face: the
whiskey was lost with the rest! Each rose to his feet, with the usual
guttural exclamation, and, afoot, and unarmed as he was, silently took
his way to the prairies; while the winners collected in a group, and
with much glee, proceeded to consume the liquid poison so cheaply

We come, finally to the question of the Indian's fate: What is to become
of the race? The answer presents no difficulties, save such as grow out
of men's unwillingness to look unpleasant truths in the face. There has
been, of late years, much lamentation, among our own people, over the
gradual extinction of these interesting savages; and in Europe we have
been made the subject of indignant eloquence, for (what those, who know
nothing about it, are pleased to call) "our oppression of the Indian."
But, in the first place, the decay of the American races is neither so
rapid nor so universal, as is generally supposed;[48] and, in the second
place, if the fact were otherwise, we could, at the worst, be charged
only with accelerating a depopulation already begun. "The ten thousand
mounds in the Mississippi Valley, the rude memorials of an immensely
numerous former population, but, to our view, no more civilized than the
present races, are proofs that the country _was depopulated_, when the
white man first became acquainted with it. If we can infer nothing else
from these mounds, we can clearly infer, that this country once had its
millions."[49] What had become of this immense population? The
successive invasions of new hordes of barbarians from the north,
intestine wars, and the law, that men shall advance toward civilization,
or decay from the earth--these are the only causes to which we may
ascribe their disappearance.

The extinction of the Indian race is decreed, by a law of Providence
which we can not gainsay. Barbarism _must_ give way to civilization. It
is not only inevitable, but _right_, that it should be so. The tide of
empire, which has been flowing since the earliest times, has set
steadily toward the West. The Indian emigrated in the wrong direction:
and now, after the lapse of many centuries, the descendants of the first
Asians, having girdled the globe, meet on the banks of the Mississippi!
On the one side, are enlightenment, civilization, Christianity: on the
other, darkness, degradation, barbarism: and the question arises, which
shall give way? The Indian recedes: at the rate of seventeen miles a
year,[50] the flood rolls on! Already it has reached the shores of the
Pacific: One century will reduce the whole continent to the possession
of the white man; and, then, the lesson which all history teaches, will
be again taught--that two distinct races cannot exist in the same
country on equal terms. The weaker must be incorporated with the
stronger--or exterminated.[51]


[2] Vol. III., page 394.

[3] There is, however, little necessity for any argument on the subject:
For, leaving out of the question the highest and most sacred of
authorities, almost all respectable writers upon ethnology, including
Buffon, Volney, Humboldt, &c., agree in assigning a common origin to all
nations,--though the last deduces from many particulars, the conclusion
that the American Indian was "isolated in the infancy of the world, from
the rest of mankind."--_Ancient Inhabitants of America_, vol. i., p.

[4] It will be observed, that I assume the _unity_ of the Indian race;
and I am not sufficiently acquainted with the recent discussions on the
subject, to be certain whether the question is still considered open.
But the striking analogies between the customs, physical formation, and
languages of all the various divisions, (except the Esquimaux, who are
excluded), I think, authorize the assumption.

[5] _Conquest of Mexico_, vol. iii., p. 416.

[6] _Conquest of Mexico_, vol. iii., p. 417.

[7] _Essays_--Art. 'Milton.'

[8] _Lectures on English Poets_, p. 4.

[9] No very high compliment, but as high as it deserves. We shall see

[10] Warburton's _Conquest of Canada_, vol. i., p. 177.

[11] Bancroft's _United States_, vol. iii., p. 256.

[12] Hunter's _Memoirs_, p. 236. _Western Annals_, p. 712.

[13] _Flint's Geography_, p. 108.

[14] "All ideas are expressed by figures addressed to the senses."
_Warburton_, vol. i., p. 175. Bancroft, ut supra.

[15] See Bancroft, Hunter, Catlin, Flint, Jefferson, &c.--passim--all
supporters of Indian eloquence, but all informing us, that "combinations
of material objects were his _only_ means of expressing abstract ideas."

[16] Vide Bancroft's _United States_, vol. iii., pp. 257, 266, etc.

[17] _E. G._ "They style themselves the 'beloved of the Great
Spirit.'"--_Warburton_, vol. i., p. 186. "In the Iroquois language, the
Indians gave themselves the appellation of 'Angoueonoue', or 'Men of
Always.'"--_Chateaubriand's Travels in America_, vol. ii., p. 92. Note,
also, their exaggerated boastfulness, even in their best speeches:
"Logan never knew fear," &c.

[18] "The absence of all reflective consciousness, and of all logical
analysis of ideas, is the great peculiarity of American
speech."--_Bancroft_, vol. iii., p. 257.

[19] Warburton's _Conquest of Canada_, vol. i., p. 180.

[20] I have seen it hinted, though I have forgotten where, that
Jefferson, and not Logan, was the author of this speech; but the
extravagant manner in which Jefferson himself praises it, seems to
exclude the suspicion. "I may challenge the whole orations of
Demosthenes and Cicero," he says, "and of any other more eminent orator,
if Europe has furnished more eminent, to produce a single passage
superior to the speech of Logan!" Praise certainly quite high enough,
for a mixture of lamentation and boastfulness.

[21] The evidence in this matter has long ago been thoroughly sifted;
and it is now certain that, so far from being present aiding at the
massacre of Logan's family, Colonel Cresap earnestly endeavored to
dissuade the party from its purpose. And yet the falsehood is
perpetuated even in the common school-books of the country, while its
object has been mouldering in his grave for a quarter of a
century.--_Western Annals_, p. 147. _American Pioneer_, vol. i., p. 7,
_et seq._

[22] Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 254.

[23] Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 285.--"The God of the savage was what the
metaphysician endeavors to express by the word _substance_." But the
Indian's idea of substance was altogether _concrete_.

[24] The best authority upon this subject is found in the _Jesuit_
"_Relaciones:_" but it is at least probable, that the preconceptions of
the good Fathers colored, and, perhaps, shaped, many of the religious
wonders there related.

[25] "Lettres Edifiantes," vol. vi., p. 200, _et seq._ Warburton, vol.
i., p. 187.

[26] The extravagant stories told of the Natchez Indians (among whom
there was said to be a remarkable temple for worship) are quite
incredible, even if they had not been disproved.

[27] When the _manitou_ of the Indian has failed to give him success in
the chase, or protection from danger, "he upbraids it with bitterness
and contempt, and threatens to seek a more effectual protector. If the
_manitou_ continues useless, this threat is fulfilled." Warb. _ut
supra_. _Vide_, also, Catlin's "American Indians," vol. i., p. 36, _et

[28] Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 258.

[29] "He calls it [the soul] the shadow or image of his body, but its
acts and enjoyments are all the same as those of its earthly existence.
He only pictures to himself a continuation of present pleasures." Warb.
vol. i., p. 190. _Vide_, also, Catlin's "_American Indians_," vol. i.,
p. 158, _et seq._

[30] The Indian never believed in the resurrection of the body; but even
corn and venison were supposed to possess a spirit, which the spirit of
the dead warrior might eat.--_Jesuit_ "_Relacion_," 1633, p. 54.

[31] "The idea of retribution," says Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 299, "as
far as it has found its way among them, was derived from Europeans." And
the same remark may be made, of most of the other wonders, in which
enthusiastic travellers have discovered coincidences with Christianity.

[32] James's "_Expedition_," vol. i., p. 237.--Catlin's "_American
Indians_," vol. i., pp. 216-'18. The latter is a zealous apologist for
Indian cruelties and barbarisms.

[33] "_Conquest of Canada_," vol. i., pp. 194-'5.

[34] The following may serve to indicate the sort of impression of
Christianity which even the most earnest and enlightened preaching has
been able to make upon the Indian mind: "Here I saw a most singular
union; one of the [Indian] graves was surmounted by a cross, while close
to it a trunk of a tree was raised, covered with hieroglyphics,
recording the number of enemies slain by the tenant of the tomb. Here
presenting a hint to those who are fond of system-making on the religion
of these people," &c.--_Beltrami's Pilgrimage, &c._, vol. ii., p. 307.
Bancroft's _United States_, vol. iii., pp. 303-'4. Flint's _Geography_,
pp. 109, 126.

[35] Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 281.

[36] "To inflict blows that can not be returned," says this historian
(Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 282), "is a proof of full success, and the
entire humiliation of the enemy. It is, moreover, an experiment of
courage and patience." But we think such things as much mere brutality,
as triumph.

[37] The frequent change of tense in this article, refers to those
circumstances in which the _present_ differs from the _past_ character
of the Indian.

[38] "It is to be doubted, whether some part of this vaunted stoicism be
not the result of a more than ordinary degree of physical
insensibility."--_Flint's Geography_, vol. i., p. 114.

[39] Many white men, however, have endured the utmost extremities of
Indian cruelty. See cases of Brebeuf, and Lallemand, in _Bancroft_, vol.
iii., p. 140.

[40] "It is intellectual culture which contributes most to diversify the
features."--_Humboldt's Personal Narrative_, vol. iii., p. 228.

[41] "They have probably as much curiosity [as the white], but a more
stern perseverance in repressing it."--_Flint's Geography_, vol. i., p.

[42] "The enemy is assailed with treachery, and, if conquered, treated
with revolting cruelty." * * "A fiendish ferocity assumes full
sway."--_Conquest of Canada_, vol. i., p. 206.

[43] It is perhaps not very remarkable, however, that the women are most
cruel to the aged and infirm--the young and vigorous being sometimes
adopted by them, to console them for the loss of those who have
fallen.--_Idem_, p. 210.

[44] "We consider them a treacherous people, easily swayed from their
purpose, paying their court to the divinity of good fortune, and always
ready to side with the strongest. We should not rely upon their feelings
of to-day, as any pledge for what they will be to-morrow."--_Flint's
Geography_, vol. i., p. 120.

[45] "_Geography of the Mississippi Valley_," vol. i., p. 121.

[46] "The Indians are immoderately fond of play."--_Warburton_, vol. i.,
p. 218.

[47] These used cards; but they have, among themselves, numerous games
of chance, older than the discovery of the continent.

[48] "The Cherokee and Mobilian families of nations are more numerous
now than ever."--_Bancroft_, vol. iii., p. 253. In speaking of this
declamation about the extinction of the race, Mr. Flint very pertinently
remarks: "One would think it had been discovered, that the population,
the improvements, and the social happiness of our great political
edifice, ought never to have been erected in the place of these
habitations of cruelty."--_Geography_, vol. i., p. 107.

[49] Idem.

[50] This is De Tocqueville's estimate.--_Democracy in America_, vol.
ii., chap. 10.

[51] "We may as well endeavor to make the setting sun stand still on the
summit of the Rocky Mountains, as attempt to arrest the final extermination
of the Indian race!"--_Merivale on Colonization_--_Lecture_ 19.

The principle stated in the text will apply with equal force to the
negro-race; and those who will look the facts firmly in the face, can
not avoid seeing, that the ultimate solution of the problem of American
Slavery, can be nothing but _the sword_.



    "Spread out earth's holiest records here,
    Of days and deeds to reverence dear:
    A zeal like this, what pious legends tell?"

The shapeless knight-errantry of the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries, rich as it was in romance and adventure, is not to be
compared, in any valuable characteristic, to the noiseless self-devotion
of the men who first explored the Western country. The courage of the
knight was a part of his savage nature; his confidence was in the
strength of his own right arm; and if his ruggedness was ever softened
down by gentler thoughts, it was only when he asked forgiveness for his
crimes, or melted in sensual idolatry of female beauty.

It would be a curious and instructive inquiry, could we institute it
with success, how much of the contempt of danger manifested by the
wandering knight was referable to genuine valor, and what proportion to
the strength of a Milan coat, and the temper of a Toledo or Ferrara
blade. And it would be still more curious, although perhaps not so
instructive, to estimate the purity and fidelity of the heroines of
chivalry; to ascertain the amount of true devotion given them by their
admirers, "without hope of reward."

But without abating its interest by invidious and ungrateful inquiries,
we can see quite enough--in its turbulence, its cruelty, arrogance, and
oppression--to make us thank Heaven that "the days of chivalry are
gone." And from that chaotic scene of rapine, raid, and murder, we can
turn with pleasure to contemplate the truer, nobler chivalry--the
chivalry of love and peace, whose weapons were the kindness of their
hearts, the purity of their motives, and the self-denial of their lives.

The term "_voyageur_"[52] literally signifies "traveller;" and by this
modest name are indicated some of the bravest adventurers the world has
ever seen. But it is not in its usual, common-place signification that I
employ the word, nor yet in that which is given it by most writers on
the subject of early French settlements and explorations. Men are often
affected by the names given them, either of opprobrium or commendation;
but words are quite as frequently changed, restricted, or enlarged in
meaning, by their application to men. For example: you apply the word
soldier to a class of men; and if robbery be one of the characteristics
of that class, "soldier" will soon come to mean "robber" too. And thus,
though the parallel is only logical, has it been with the term
"_voyageur_." The class of men to whom it is applied were
travellers--_voyageurs_; but they were _more_; and as the habits and
qualities of men came in time to be better understood than the meaning
of French words, the term, used in reference to Western history, took
much of its significance from the history and character of the men it
assumed to describe. Thus, _un voyageur_ means not only a traveller, but
a traveller with a purpose; an adventurer among the Western wilds; a
chivalrous missionary, either in the cause of science or religion. It
includes high courage, burning zeal for church and country, and the most
generous self-devotion. It describes such men as Marquette, La Salle,
Joliet, Gravier, and hundreds of others equally illustrious, who lived
and died among the dangers and privations of the wilderness; who opened
the way for civilization and Christianity among the savages, and won,
many of them, crowns of martyrdom.

They were almost all Frenchmen. The Spaniards who came to this continent
were mere gold-seekers, thirsting only for wealth; and if they sought to
propagate Christianity, or rather the Christian _name_, it was only a
sanguinary bigotry that prompted them. On the other hand, the English
emigrants came to take possession of the country for themselves. The
conversion of the natives, or territorial acquisition for the
mother-country, were to them objects of barely secondary importance.
They believed themselves persecuted--some of them _were_ persecuted--and
they fled: it was only safety for themselves, and the rich lands of the
Indian, that they sought. Providence reserved for the French chevaliers
and missionaries the glory of leaving their homes without compulsion,
real or imaginary, to penetrate an inhospitable wilderness; to undergo
fatigues; to encounter dangers, and endure privations of a thousand
kinds; enticed by no golden glitter, covetous of no riches, save such as
are "laid up in heaven!" They came not as conquerors, but as ministers
of peace, demanding only hospitality. They never attacked the savages
with sword or fagot; but extending hands not stained by blood, they
justified their profession by relief and love and kindly offices.
Sometimes, indeed, they received little tracts of land; not seized by
the hand of power, nor grasped by superior cunning, but possessed as the
free gift of simple gratitude; and upon these they lived in peace,
surrounded by savages, but protected by the respect inspired by
blameless and beneficent lives. Many of those whose vows permitted it,
intermarried among the converted natives, and left the seeds of many
meliorations in a stony soil; and many of them, when they died, were as
sincerely mourned by the simple children of the forest, as if they had
been chiefs and braves.

Such were the men of peace who penetrated the wilderness through the
French settlements in Canada, and preached the gospel to the heathen,
where no white man had ever before been seen; and it is particularly to
this class that I apply the word at the head of this article. But the
same gentle spirit pervaded other orders of adventurers--men of the
sword and buckler, as well as of the stole and surplice. These came to
establish the dominion of _La Belle France_; but it was not to oppress
the simple native, or to drive him from his lands. Kindness marked even
the conduct of the rough soldier; and such men as La Salle, and
Iberville, who were stern enough in war, and rigid enough in discipline,
manifested always an anxious solicitude for the _rights_, as well as for
the spiritual welfare of the Indian. They gave a generous confidence
where they were conscious of no wish to injure; they treated frankly and
on equal terms, with those whom their religion and their native kindness
alike taught them to consider brethren and friends. Take, for example,
that significant anecdote of La Salle, related by the faithful
chronicler[53] of his unfortunate expeditions. He was building the fort
of _Crevecoeur_, near the spot where now stands the city of Peoria, on
the Illinois river; and even the name of his little fortress
(_Crevecoeur_, Broken Heart) was a mournful record of his shattered
fortunes. The means of carrying out his noble enterprise (the colonizing
of the Mississippi valley) were lost; the labor of years had been
rendered ineffectual by one shipwreck; his men were discontented, even
mutinous, "attempting," says Hennepin, "first to poison, and then desert
him;" his mind was distracted, his heart almost broken, by accumulated
disasters. Surrounded thus by circumstances which might well have
rendered him careless of the feelings of the savages around him, he
observed that they had become cold and distant--that in effect they no
longer viewed him as their friend. The Iroquois,[54] drifting from the
shores of Lake Ontario, where they had always been the bitterest foes of
the French, had instilled fear and hatred into their minds; it was even
said that some of his own men had encouraged the growing discontent. In
this juncture, what measures does he take? Strengthen his
fortifications, and prepare for war, as the men of other nations had
done? Far from it. Soldier and adventurer as he was, he had no wish to
shed innocent blood; though with his force he might have defied all the
nations about him. He went as a friend, frankly and generously, among
them, and demanded the reasons of their discontent. He touched their
hearts by his confidence, convinced them of his friendship, and attached
them to himself more devotedly than ever. A whole history in one brief

But it is more especially to the _voyageurs_ of the church--the men of
faith and love--that I wish to direct my readers' attention: To such men
as Le Caron, a Franciscan, with all the zeal and courage and
self-abnegation of his order, who wandered and preached among the bloody
Iroquois, and upon the waters of Huron, as early as 1616: to Mesnard, a
devoted missionary of the same order, who, in 1660, founded a mission at
the Sault de Ste. Marie, and then went into the forest to induce the
savages to listen to the glad tidings he had brought, and never came
back: to Father Allouez, who rebuilt the mission five years afterward
(the first of these houses of God which was not destroyed or abandoned),
who subsequently crossed the lakes, and preached to the Indians on Fox
river, where, in one of the villages of the Miamis and Mascoutens,
Marquette found a cross still standing, after the lapse of years, where
Allouez had raised it, covered with the offerings of the simple natives
to an unknown God. He is the same, too, who founded Kaskaskia, probably
the earliest settlement in the great valley, and whose history ends
(significant fact!) with the record of his usefulness. To Father Pinet,
who founded Cahokia, and was so successful in the conversion of the
natives, that his little chapel could not contain the numbers who
resorted to his ministrations: to Father Marest, the first preacher
against intemperance; and, finally, to Marquette, the best and bravest
of them all, the most single-hearted and unpretending!

Enthusiasm is a characteristic of the French nation; a trait in some
individuals elevated to a sublime self-devotion, and in others degraded
to mere excitability. The vivacity, gesticulation, and grimace, which
characterize most of them, are the external signs of this nature; the
calm heroism of the seventeenth century, and the insane devotion of the
nineteenth, were alike its fruits. The _voyageur_ possessed it, in
common with all his countrymen. But in him it was not noisy, turbulent,
or egotistical; military glory had "neither part nor lot" in his
schemes; the conquests he desired to make were the conquests of faith;
the dominion he wished to establish was the dominion of Jesus.

In the pursuit of these objects, or rather of this single object, I have
said he manifested the enthusiasm of his race; but it was the noblest
form of that characteristic. The fire that burned in his bosom was fed
by no selfish purpose. To have thought of himself, or of his own
comforts, or glory, to the detriment of any Christian enterprise,
however dangerous or unpromising, would, in his eyes, have been a deadly

At Sault de Ste. Marie, Father Marquette heard of many savages (whom he
calls "God's children") living in barbarism, far to the west. With five
boatmen and one companion, he at once set out for an unexplored, even
unvisited wilderness. He had what they had not--the gospel; and his
heart yearned toward them, as the heart of a mother toward an afflicted
child. He went to them, and bound them to him "in the bond of peace." If
they received him kindly--as they usually did, for even a savage
recognises and respects genuine devotion--he preached to them, mediated
among them, softened their hearts, and gathered them into the fold of
God. If they met him with arms in their hands--as they sometimes did,
for savages, like civilized men, do not always know their friends--he
resolutely offered peace; and, in his own simple and pious language,
"God touched their hearts," and they cast aside their weapons and
received him kindly.

But the _voyageur_ had higher qualities than enthusiasm. He was capable
of being so absorbed in a cause as to lose sight of his own identity; to
forget that he was more than an instrument in the hands of God, to do
God's work: and the distinction between these traits is broad indeed!
Enthusiasm is noisy, obtrusive--self-abnegation is silent, retiring;
enthusiasm is officious, troublesome, careless of time and
place--self-abnegation is prudent, gentle, considerate. The one is
active and fragmentary--the other passive, but constant.

Thus, when the untaught and simple native was to be converted, the
missionary took note of the spiritual capacity as well as of the
spiritual wants; he did not force him to receive, at once, the whole
creed of the church, as a mere enthusiast would have done; for _that_
wisdom would feed an infant with strong meats, even before it had drawn
its mother's milk. Neither did he preach the gospel with the sword, like
the Spaniard, nor with fire and fagot, like the puritan. He was wise as
the serpent, but gentle as the dove. He took the wondering Indian by
the hand; received him as a brother; won him over to listen patiently;
and then taught him first that which he could most easily comprehend: he
led him to address the throne of grace, or, in the language of the time,
"to embrace the prayer;" because even the savage believed in Deity. As
his understanding was expanded, and his heart purified--as every heart
must be which truly lifts itself to God--he gradually taught him the
more abstruse and wonderful doctrines of the Church of Christ. Gently
and imperceptibly he led him on, until the whole tremendous work was
done. The untutored savage, if he knew nothing else, yet knew the name
of his Redeemer. The bloody warfare, the feuds and jealousies of his
tribe, if not completely overcome, at least were softened and
ameliorated. When he could not convert, he endeavored to humanize; and
among the tribes of the Illinois,[55] though they were never thoroughly
Christianized, the influence of the good fathers soon prevailed to
abolish the barbarous practice of torturing captives.[56] For though
they might not embrace the religion, the savages venerated its
teachers, and loved them for their gentleness.

And this gentleness was not want of courage; for never in the history of
the world has truer valor been exhibited than that shown by the early
missionary and his compeers, the first military adventurers! Read
Joutel's account of the melancholy life and death of La Salle; read the
simple, unpretending "Journal" of Marquette;[57] and compare their
constancy and heroism with that displayed at any time in any cause! But
the _voyageur_ possessed higher qualities than courage, also; and here
again we recur to his perfect abnegation of himself; his renunciation of
all personal considerations.

Courage takes note of danger, but defies it: the _voyageur_ was careless
of danger, because he counted it as nothing; he gave it no thought,
because it only affected _himself_; and he valued not his own safety and
comfort, so long as he could serve the cause by forgetting them. Mere
courage is combative, even pugnacious; but the _voyageur_ fought only
"the good fight;" he had no pride of conquest, save in the victories of
Faith, and rather would suffer, himself, than inflict suffering upon
others. Mere courage is restless, impatient, purposeless: but the
_voyageur_ was content to remain wherever he could do good, tentative
only in the cause of Christ, and distracted by no objects from his
mission. His religion was his inspiration; his conscience his reward.
His system may have been perverted, his zeal mistaken, his church a
sham; we are not arguing that question. But the purity of his
intentions, the sincerity of his heart, can not be doubted; and the most
intolerant protestant against "the corruptions of Rome" will, at least,
admit that even catholicism was better than the paganism of the savage.

"There is not," says Macaulay,[58] "and there never was on this earth, a
work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman
Catholic Church." And certainly all other systems combined have never
produced one tithe of the astounding results brought about by this
alone. Whether she has taught truth or falsehood; whether, on the whole,
it had been better or worse for the cause of Christianity, had no such
organization ever existed; whether her claims be groundless or
well-founded, are questions foreign to our purpose. But that her polity
is the most powerful--the best adapted to the ends she has in view--of
all that man has hitherto invented, there can be no doubt. Her
missionaries have been more numerous and more successful, ay, and more
devoted, than those of any other church. They have gone where even the
sword of the conqueror could not cleave his way. They have built
churches in the wilderness, which were time-worn and crumbling when the
first emigrant penetrated the forests. They have preached to youthful
savages who never saw the face of another white man, though they lived
to three-score years and ten. They have prayed upon the shores of lonely
lakes and rivers, which were not mapped by geographers for centuries
after their deaths. They have travelled on foot, unarmed and alone,
where an army could not march. And everywhere their zeal and usefulness
have ended only with their lives; and always with their latest breath
they have mingled prayers for the salvation of their flocks, with
aspirations for the welfare of their church. For though countless miles
of sea and land were between her and them, their loyalty and affection
to the great spiritual Mother were never forgotten. "In spite of oceans
and deserts; of hunger and pestilence; of spies and penal laws; of
dungeons and racks, of gibbets and quartering-blocks," they have been
found in every country, at all times, ever active and zealous. And
everywhere, in palace, or hovel, or wilderness, they have been true sons
of the church, loyal and obedient.

An organization capable of producing such results is certainly well
worth examination. For the influence she has wielded in ages past gives
promise of her future power; and it becomes those who think her
permanence pernicious to the world, to avoid her errors and yet imitate
her wisdom. If the system be a falsehood and a sham, it is a most
gigantic and successful one, and it is of strange longevity. It has
lived now more than fifteen hundred years, and one hundred and fifty
millions of people yet believe it. If it be a counterfeit, it is high
time the cheat were detected and exposed. Let those who have the truth
give forth its light, that the falsehood may wither and die. Unless they
do so, the life which has already extended over so many centuries may
gain fresh vigor, and renew its youth. Even yet the vision of the
essayist may be realized: "She may still exist in undiminished vigor,
when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast
solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch
the ruins of St. Paul's!"

It was to this church that the early _voyageurs_ belonged. And I do not
use that word "belonged" as it is employed in modern times among
protestants: I mean _more_ than that convenient, loosely-fitting
profession, which, like a garment, is thrown on and off, as the
exigencies of hypocrisy or cupidity may require. These men actually _did
belong_ to the church. They were hers, soul and body; hers, in life and
in death; hers to go whithersoever she might direct, to do whatsoever
she might appoint. They believed the doctrines they taught with an
abiding, _active_ faith; and they were willing to be spent in preaching
them to the heathen.

It has always been a leading principle in the policy of the Roman
church, to preserve her unity, and she has been enabled to do so,
principally by the ramified and elastic polity for which she has been
distinguished, to which she owes much of her extent and power, as well
as no small part of the reproach so liberally bestowed upon her in the
pages of history. There are many "arms" in her service: a man must be
impracticable indeed, when she can find no place in which to make him
useful, or to prevent his being mischievous. She never drives one from
the pale of the church who can benefit it as a communicant, or injure it
as a dissenter. If he became troublesome at home, she has, in all ages,
had enterprises on foot in which she might clothe him with authority,
and send him to the uttermost parts of the earth; thus ridding herself
of a dangerous member, and, by the same act, enlarging the sphere of her
own dominion. Does an enthusiast become noisy, or troublesome upon
unimportant points, the creed is flexible, and the mother will not
quarrel with her child, for his earnestness may convince and lead astray
more valuable sons and daughters. She will establish a new order, of
which the stubborn fanatic shall be founder; the new order is built into
the old church organization, and its founder becomes a dignitary of the
ecclesiastical establishment. Instead of becoming a dangerous heretic
and schismatic, he is attached to orthodoxy by cords stronger than
steel; henceforth all his earnest enthusiasm shall be directed to the
advancement of his order, and consequently of his church. Does one
exhibit inflexibility in some matter of conscience upon which the church
insists, there are many of God's children in the wilderness starving in
spirit for the bread of life; and to these, with that bread, shall the
refractory son be sent. He receives the commission; departs upon his
journey, glad to forget a difference with his spiritual superiors;
preaches to the heathen; remembers only that the church is his mother;
wins a crown of martyrdom, and is canonized for the encouragement of

Thus she finds a place for all, and work enough for each; and thus are
thrown off the elements of schism and rebellion. Those who had most
courage in the cause of right; all who were likely to be guided in
matters of conscience by their own convictions; the most sincere and
single-hearted, the firmest and purest and bravest, were, in matters of
controversy, the most dangerous champions, should they range themselves
against the teaching of the church. They were consequently, at the
period of which I am writing, the men whom it was most desirable to send
away; and they were eminently well fitted for the arduous and wasting
duties of the missionary.

To this class belonged the large majority of the _voyageur_ priests: men
who might be inconvenient and obtrusive monitors, or formidable
adversaries in controversy, if they remained at home; but who could only
be useful--who of all men could be _most_ useful--in gathering the
heathen into the fold of the church. There were, doubtless, a few of
another class; the restless, intriguing, and disobedient, who, though
not formidable, were troublesome. But even when these joined the
missionary expeditions, they did but little to forward the work, and are
entitled to none of the honor so abundantly due to their more sincere
brethren. To this class, for example, belonged the false and egotistical
Hennepin, who only signalized himself by endeavoring to appropriate the
reputation so hardly won by the brave and unfortunate La Salle.[59]

It does not appear upon the record that any of these men--of either the
restless and ambitious, or of the better class--were literally _sent
away_. But such has been the politic practice of this church for many
ages; and we may safely believe, that when she was engaged in an
unscrupulous and desperate contest for the recovery, by fair means or
foul, of her immense losses, there might be many in the ranks of her
pious priesthood whom it would be inconvenient to retain at home. And
during that conflict especially, with the most formidable enemies she
ever had, she could not afford to be encumbered.

But whatever may have been the motives of their spiritual superiors, the
missionaries themselves were moved only by the considerations of which
we have spoken--the truest piety and the most burning zeal. Of these
influences they were conscious; but we shall perhaps not do the
character injustice if we add another spur to action, of which they were
_not_ conscious. There is a vein of romance in the French composition; a
love of adventure for the sake of the adventure itself, which, when not
tamed or directed, makes a Frenchman fitful, erratic, and unreliable.
When it is toned by personal ambition, it becomes a sort of Paladin
contempt for danger; sometimes a crazy furor. When accompanied by
powerful intellect, and strengthened by concentration on a purpose, it
makes a great commander--great for the quickness of his comprehension,
the suddenness of his resolutions, the rapidity of their execution. When
humanized by love, and quickened by religious zeal, it is purified of
every selfish thought, and produces the chivalrous missionary, whom
neither fire nor flood, neither desert nor pathless wilderness, shall
deter from obeying the command of Him who sent his gospel "unto every
creature." And thus are even those traits, which so often curse the
world with insane ambition and sanguinary war, turned by the power of a
true benevolence to be blessings of incalculable value.

Such were the purposes, such the motives, of this band of noble men; and
whatever may have been their errors, we must at least accord them the
virtues of _sincerity_, _courage_, _and self-denial_. But let us look a
little more closely at the means by which they accomplished undertakings
which, to any other race of men, would have been not only impracticable,
but utterly desperate. Take again, as the representative of his class,
the case of Father Marquette, than whom, obscure as his name is in the
wastes of history, no man ever lived a more instructive and exemplary

From the year 1668 to 1671,[60] Marquette had been preaching at the
Sault de Sainte Marie, a little below the foot of Lake Superior. He was
associated with others in that mission; but the largest type, though it
thrust itself no higher than the smallest, will make the broadest
impress on the page of history; and even in the meager record of that
time, we may trace the influence of his gentle but firm spirit--those by
whom he was accompanied evidently took their tone from him. But he was
one of the Church's pioneers; that class whose eager, single-hearted
zeal is always pushing forward to new conquests of the faith; and when
he had put aside the weapons that opposed their way, to let his
followers in, his thoughts at once went on to more remote and suffering
regions. During his residence at the Sault, rumors and legends were
continually floating in of the unknown country lying to the west--"the
Land of the Great River," the Indians called it--until the mind of the
good father became fully possessed with the idea of going to convert the
nations who dwelt upon its shores. In the year 1671, he took the first
step in that direction, moving on to Point St. Ignatius, on the main
land, north of the island of Mackinac. Here, surrounded by his little
flock of wondering listeners, he preached until the spring of 1673; but
all the time his wish to carry the gospel where its sound had never been
heard was growing stronger. He felt in his heart the impulse of his
calling, to lead the way and open a path for the advance of light. At
the period mentioned, he received an order from the wise intendant in
New France, M. Talon, to explore the pathless wilderness to the

Then was seen the true spirit of the man, and of his order. He gathered
together no armament; asked the protection of no soldiers; no part of
the cargo of his little boat consisted of gunpowder, or of swords or
guns; his only arms were the spirit of love and peace; his trust was in
God for protection. Five boatmen, and one companion, the Sieur Joliet,
composed his party. Two light bark canoes were his only means of
travelling; and in these he carried a small quantity of Indian corn and
some jerked meat, his only means of subsistence.

Thus equipped, he set out through Green Bay and up Fox river, in search
of a country never yet visited by any European. The Indians endeavored
to dissuade him, wondering at his hardihood, and still more at the
motives which could induce him thus to brave so many dangers. They told
him of the savage Indians, to whom it would be only pastime to torture
and murder him; of the terrible monsters which would swallow him and his
companions, "canoes and all;" of the great bird called the _Piasau_,[61]
which devoured men, after carrying them in its horrible talons to
inaccessible cliffs and mountains; and of the scorching heat, which
would wither him like a dry leaf. "I thanked them kindly," says the
resolute but gentle father, "for their good counsel; but I told them
that I could not profit by it, since the salvation of souls was at
stake, for which object I would be overjoyed to give my life." Shaking
them by the hand, one by one, as they approached to bid him farewell, as
they thought, for the last time, he turned his back upon safety and
peace, and departed upon his self-denying pilgrimage.

Let him who sits at ease in his cushioned pew at home--let him who
lounges on his velvet-covered sofa in the pulpit, while his well-taught
choir are singing; who rises as the strains are dying, and kneels upon a
cushioned stool to pray; who treads upon soft carpets while he preaches,
in a white cravat, to congregations clad in broadcloth, silk, and
satin--let him pause and ponder on the difference between his works, his
trials, his zeal--ay, and his glory, both of earth and heaven!--and
those of Father James Marquette!

The little party went upon their way; the persuasions of their
simple-hearted friends could not prevail, for the path of duty was
before them, and the eye of God above. Having passed through Green Bay,
and painfully dragged their canoes over the rapids of Fox river, they
reached a considerable village, inhabited by the united tribes of
Kickapoos, Miamis, and Mascoutimes. Here they halted for a time, as the
mariner, about to prove the dangers of a long voyage, lingers for a day
in the last port he is likely to enter for many months. Beyond this
point no white man had ever gone; and here, if anywhere, the impulses of
a natural fear should have made themselves felt. But we hear of no
hesitation, no shrinking from the perilous task; and we know from the
unpretending "Journal" of the good father, that a retreat, nay, even a
halt--longer than was necessary to recruit exhausted strength, and renew
the memory of former lessons among the natives--was never thought of.
"My companion," said Marquette, referring to Joliet, "is an envoy from
the king of France, and I am an humble minister of God. I have no fear,
_because I shall consider it the highest happiness to die in the service
of my master!_" There was no bravado in this, for, unlike many from
whom you may, any day, hear the same declaration, he set forth
immediately to encounter the perils of his embassy.

The Indians, unable to prevail with him to abandon the enterprise, made
all their simple provision for his comfort; and, furnishing him with
guides and carriers across the portage to the Wisconsin river, parted
with him as one bound for eternity. Having brought them safely to the
river, the guides left them "alone in that unknown country, in the hand
of God;" and, trusting to the protection of that hand, they set out upon
their journey down the stream.[62] Seven days after, "with inexpressible
joy," they emerged upon the bosom of the great river. During all this
time they had seen no human being, though, probably, many a wandering
savage had watched them from the covert of the bank, as they floated
silently between the forests. It was an unbroken solitude, where the
ripple of their paddles sounded loudly on the ear, and their voices,
subdued by the stillness, were sent back in lonely echoes from the

They were the first white men who ever floated on the bosom of that
mighty river[63]--"the envoy from the king of France, and the
embassador of the King of kings." What were their thoughts we know not,
but from Marquette's simple "Journal;" for, in returning to Quebec,
Joliet's boat was wrecked in sight of the city, and all his papers
lost.[64] Of the Sieur himself, we know nothing, save as the companion
of Marquette on this voyage; but from this alone his fame is

They sailed slowly down the river, keeping a constant outlook upon the
banks for signs of those for whose spiritual welfare the good father had
undertaken his perilous journey. But for more than sixty leagues not a
human form or habitation could be seen. They had leisure, more than they
desired, to admire the grand and beautiful scenery of that picturesque
region. In some places the cliffs rose perpendicularly for hundreds of
feet from the water's edge; and nodding over their brows, and towering
against the sky, were stately pines and cedars of the growth of
centuries. Here, there lay between the river and the cliffs, a level
prairie, waving in all the luxuriance of "the leafy month of June;"
while beyond, the bluffs, enclosing the natural garden, softened by the
distance, and clothed in evergreen, seemed but an extension of the
primitive savanna. Here, a dense, primeval forest grew quite down to the
margin of the water; and, hanging from the topmost branches of the giant
oaks, festoons of gray and graceful moss lay floating on the rippled
surface, or dipped within the tide. Here, the large, smooth roots of
trees half undermined, presented seats and footholds, where the pleasant
shade invited them to rest, and shelter from the sultry summer sun.
Anon, an open prairie, with no cliff or bluff beyond, extended
undulating from the river, until the eye, in straining to measure its
extent, was wearied by the effort, and the plain became a waving sea of
rainbow colors; of green and yellow, gold and purple. Again, they passed
a gravelly beach, on which the yellow sand was studded with a thousand
sets of brilliant shells, and little rivulets flowed in from level
prairies, or stealthily crept out from under roots of trees or tangled
vines, and hastened to be hidden in the bosom of the great father of

They floated on, through the dewy morning hours, when the leaves were
shining in the sunlight, and the birds were singing joyously; before the
summer heat had dried the moisture, or had forced the feathered
songsters to the shade. At noon, when the silence made the solitude
oppressive; when the leaves hung wilting down, nor fluttered in the
fainting wind: when the prairies were no longer waving like the sea, but
trembling like the atmosphere around a heated furnace: when the _mirage_
hung upon the plain: tall trees were seen growing in the air, and among
them stalked the deer, and elk, and buffalo: while between them and the
ground, the brazen sky was glowing with the sun of June: when nothing
living could be seen, save when the _voyageur's_ approach would startle
some wild beast slaking his thirst in the cool river, or a flock of
waterfowl were driven from their covert, where the willow branches,
drooping, dipped their leaves of silvery gray within the water. They
floated on till evening, when the sun approached the prairie, and his
broad, round disc, now shorn of its dazzling beams, defined itself
against the sky and grew florid in the gathering haze: when the birds
began to reappear, and flitted noiselessly among the trees, in busy
preparation for the night: when beasts of prey crept out from
lurking-places, where they had dozed and panted through the hours of
noon: when the wilderness grew vocal with the mingled sounds of lowing
buffalo, and screaming panther, and howling wolf; until the shadows rose
from earth, and travelled from the east; until the dew began to fall,
the stars came out, and night brought rest and dreams of home!

Thus they floated on, "from morn till dewy eve," and still no sign of
human life, neither habitation nor footprint, until one day--it was the
twenty-fifth of June, more than two weeks since they had entered the
wilderness--in gliding past a sandy beach, they recognised the impress
of a naked foot! Following it for some distance, it grew into a trail,
and then a path, once more a place where human beings habitually walked.

Whose feet had trodden down the grass, what strange people lived on the
prairies, they knew not, what dangers might await them, they cared not.
These were the people whom the good father had come so far to convert
and save! And now, again, one might expect some natural hesitation; some
doubt in venturing among those who were certainly barbarians, and who
might, for aught they knew, be brutal cannibals. We could forgive a
little wavering, indeed, especially when we think of the frightful
stories told them by the Northern Indians of this very people. But fear
was not a part of these men's nature; or if it existed, it lay so deep,
buried beneath religious zeal and pious trust, that its voice never
reached the upper air. Leaving the boatmen with the canoes, near the
mouth of the river now called Des Moines, Marquette and Joliet set out
alone, to follow up the trail, and seek the people who had made it. It
led them to an open prairie, one of the most beautiful in the present
state of Iowa, and crossing this, a distance of six miles, they at last
found themselves in the vicinity of three Indian villages. The very
spot[65] where the chief of these stood might now be easily found, so
clear, though brief, is the description of the simple priest. It stood
at the foot of a long slope, on the bank of the river Moingona (or Des
Moines), about six miles due west of the Mississippi; and at the top of
the rise, at the distance of half a league, were built the two others.
"We commended ourselves unto God," writes the gentle father; for they
knew not at what moment they might need his intervention; and crying out
with a loud voice, to announce their approach, they calmly advanced
toward the group of lodges. At a short distance from the entrance to the
village, they were met by a deputation of four old men, who, to their
great joy, they perceived bore a richly-ornamented pipe of peace, the
emblem of friendship and hospitality. Tendering the mysterious calumet,
they informed the Frenchmen that they belonged to one of the tribes
called "Illinois" (or "Men"), and invited them to enter their lodges in
peace: an invitation which the weary _voyageurs_ were but too glad to

A great council was held, with all the rude but imposing ceremonies of
the grave and dignified Indian; and before the assembled chiefs and
braves, Marquette published his mission from his heavenly Master.
Passing, then, from spiritual to temporal things--for we do not hear of
any address from Joliet, who probably was no orator--he spoke of his
earthly king, and of his viceroy in New France; of his victories over
the Iroquois, the dreaded enemies of the peaceful Western tribes; and
then made many inquiries about the Mississippi, its tributaries, and
the nations who dwelt upon their banks. His advances were kindly
received, his questions frankly answered, and the council broke up with
mutual assurances of good-will. Then ensued the customary festival.
Hominy, fish, buffalo, and _dog-meat_, were successively served up, like
the courses of a more modern table; but of _the last_ "we declined to
partake," writes the good father, no doubt much to the astonishment and
somewhat to the chagrin of their hospitable friends; for even yet, among
the western Indians, dog-meat is a dish of honor.

Six days of friendly intercourse passed pleasantly away, diversified by
many efforts on the part of Marquette to instruct and convert the docile
savages. Nor were these entirely without result; they excited, at least,
the wish to hear more; and on his departure they crowded round him, and
urgently requested him to come again among them. He promised to do so, a
pledge which he afterward redeemed. But now he could not tarry; he was
bent upon his hazardous voyage down the Great River, and he knew that he
was only on the threshold of his grand discoveries. Six hundred
warriors, commanded by their most distinguished chief, accompanied him
back to his boats; and, after hanging around his neck the great calumet,
to protect him among the hostile nations of the south, they parted with
him, praying that the Great Spirit, of whom he had told them, might give
him a prosperous voyage, and a speedy and safe return.

These were the first of the nations of the Mississippi Valley visited by
the French, and it is from them that the state of Illinois takes its
name. They were a singularly gentle people; and a nature originally
peaceful had been rendered almost timid by the cruel inroads of the
murderous Iroquois.[66] These, by their traffic with the Dutch and
English of New-York, and by their long warfare with the French of
Canada, had acquired the use of fire-arms, and, of course, possessed an
immense advantage over those who were armed only with the primitive bow
and arrow. The restless and ambitious spirit of the singular
confederacy, usually called the Five Nations, and known among their
neighbors by the collective name of Iroquois, had carried their
incursions even as far as the hunting-grounds of the Shawanese, about
the mouth of the Ohio; and their successes had made them a terror to all
the western tribes. The Illinois, therefore, knowing the French to be at
war with these formidable enemies, were the more anxious to form an
alliance with them; and the native gentleness of their manners was,
perhaps, increased by the hope of assistance and protection. But,
whatever motives may have influenced them, besides their natural
character, their forethought was of vital service to the wanderers in
the countries of the south, whither they proceeded.

The little party of seven resumed their voyage on the last day of June,
and floating with the rapid current, a few days afterward passed the
rocks, above the site of Alton, where was painted the image of the
ravenous _Piasau_, of which they had been told by the Northern Indians,
and on the same day reached the mouth of the Pekitanoni, the Indian name
for the rapid and turbulent Missouri. Inwardly resolving, at some future
time, to ascend its muddy current, to cross the ridge beyond, and,
descending some river which falls into the Great South sea (as the
Pacific was then called), to publish the gospel to all the people of the
continent, the zealous father passed onward toward the south. Coasting
slowly along the wasting shore, lingering in the mouths of rivers, or
exploring dense forests in the hope of meeting the natives, they
continued on their course until they reached the mouth of a river which
they called the _Ouabache_, or Wabash, none other than the beautiful
Ohio.[67] Here they found the advanced settlement of Shawanese, who had
been pushed toward the southwest by the incessant attacks of the
Iroquois. But by this time, fired with the hope of ascertaining the
outlet of the Mississippi, they postponed their visit to these people
until their return, and floated on.

It is amusing, as well as instructive, to observe how little importance
the travellers gave to the river Ohio, in their geographical
assumptions. In the map published by Marquette with his "Journal," the
"_Ouabisquigou_" as he denominates it, in euphonious French-Indian,
compared to the Illinois or even to the Wisconsin, is but an
inconsiderable rivulet! The lonely wanderers were much farther from the
English settlements than they supposed; a mistake into which they must
have been led, by hearing of the incursions of the Iroquois; for even at
that early day they could not but know that the head-waters of the Ohio
were not distant from the hunting-grounds of that warlike confederacy.
Even this explanation, however, scarcely lessens our wonder that they
should have known so little of courses and distances; for had this river
been as short as it is here delineated, they would have been within four
hundred miles of Montreal.

After leaving the Ohio, they suffered much from the climate and its
incidents; for they were now approaching, in the middle of July, a
region of perpetual summer. Mosquitoes and other venomous insects (in
that region we might even call them _ravenous_ insects) became
intolerably annoying; and the _voyageurs_ began to think they had
reached the country of the terrible heats, which, as they had been
warned in the north, "would wither them up like a dry leaf." But the
prospect of death by torture and savage cruelty had not daunted them,
and they were not now disposed to be turned back by any excess of
climate. Arranging their sails in the form of awnings to protect them
from the sun by day and the dews by night, they resolutely pursued
their way.

Following the course of the river, they soon entered the region of
cane-brakes, so thick that no animal larger than a cat could penetrate
them; and of cotton-wood forests of immense size and of unparalleled
density. They were far beyond the limits of every Indian dialect with
which they had become acquainted--were, in fact, approaching the region
visited by De Soto, on his famous expedition in search of Juan Ponce de
Leon's fountain of youth.[68] The country was possessed by the Sioux and
Chickasaws, to whom the _voyageurs_ were total strangers; but they went
on without fear. In the neighborhood of the southern boundary of the
present state of Arkansas, they were met in hostile array by great
numbers of the natives, who approached them in large canoes made from
the trunks of hollow trees. But Marquette held aloft the symbol of
peace, the ornamented calumet, and the hearts of the savages were
melted, as the pious father believed, by the touch of God. They threw
aside their weapons, and received the strangers with rude but hearty
hospitality. They escorted them, with many demonstrations of welcome, to
the village of Michigamia; and, on the following day, having feasted
their strange guests plentifully, though not with the unsavory meats of
the Illinois, they marched in triumphal procession to the metropolis of
Akansea, about ten leagues distant, down the river.

This was the limit of their voyage. Here they ascertained, beyond a
doubt, that the Mississippi flowed into the gulf of Mexico, and not, as
had been conjectured, into the great South sea. Here they found the
natives armed with axes of steel, a proof of their traffic with the
Spaniards; and thus was the circle of discovery complete, connecting the
explorations of the French with those of the Spanish, and entirely
enclosing the possessions of the English. No voyage so important has
since been undertaken--no results so great have ever been produced by so
feeble an expedition. The discoveries of Marquette, followed by the
enterprises of La Salle and his successors, have influenced the
destinies of nations; and passing over all political speculations, this
exploration first threw open a valley of greater extent, fertility, and
commercial advantages, than any other in the world. Had either the
French or the Spanish possessed the stubborn qualities which _hold_, as
they had the useful which _discover_, the aspect of this continent
would, at this day, have been far different.

On the seventeenth of July, having preached to the Indians the glory of
God and the Catholic faith, and proclaimed the power of the _Grand
Monarque_--for still we hear nothing of speech-making or delivering
credentials on the part of Joliet--he set out on his return. After
severe and wasting toil for many days, they reached a point, as
Marquette supposed, some leagues below the mouth of the Moingona, or Des
Moines. Here they left the Mississippi, and crossed the country between
that river and the Illinois, probably passing through the very country
which now bears the good father's name, entering the latter stream at a
point not far from the present town of Peoria. Proceeding slowly up that
calm river, preaching to the tribes along its banks, and partaking of
their hospitality, he was at last conducted to Lake Michigan, at
Chicago, and by the end of September was safe again in Green Bay, having
travelled, since the tenth of June, more than three thousand miles.

It might have been expected that one who had made so magnificent a
discovery--who had braved so much and endured so much--would wish to
announce in person, to the authorities in Canada, or in France, the
results of his expedition. Nay, it would not have been unpardonable had
he desired to enjoy, after his labors, something of the consideration to
which their success entitled him. And, certainly, no man could ever have
approached his rulers with a better claim upon their notice than could
the unpretending _voyageur_. But vainglory was no more a part of his
nature, than was fear. The unaspiring priest remained at Green Bay, to
continue, or rather to resume, as a task laid aside only for a time, his
ministrations to the savages. Joliet hastened on to Quebec to report the
expedition, and Marquette returned to Chicago, for the purpose of
preaching the gospel to the Miami confederacy; several allied tribes who
occupied the country between Lake Michigan and the Des Moines river.
Here again he visited the Illinois, speaking to them of God, and of the
religion of Jesus; thus redeeming a promise which he had made them, when
on his expedition to the South.

But his useful, unambitious life was drawing to a close. Let us
describe its last scene in the words of our accomplished historian:--

"Two years afterward, sailing from Chicago to Mackinac, he entered a
little river in Michigan. Erecting an altar, he said mass, after the
rites of the Catholic church; then, begging the men who conducted his
canoe to leave him alone for a half hour,

            "----'In the darkling wood,
    Amid the cool and silence, he knelt down,
    And offered to the mightiest solemn thanks
    And supplication.'

"At the end of the half hour they went to seek him, _and he was no
more_. The good missionary, discoverer of a world, had fallen asleep on
the margin of the stream that bears his name. Near its mouth, the
canoe-men dug his grave in the sand. Ever after, the forest rangers, in
their danger on Lake Michigan, would invoke his name. The people of the
West will build his monument."[69]

The monument is not yet built; though the name of new counties in
several of our western states testifies that the noble missionary is not
altogether forgotten, in the land where he spent so many self-denying

Such was the _voyageur_ priest; the first, in chronological order, of
the succession of singular men who have explored and peopled the great
West. And though many who have followed him have been his equals in
courage and endurance, none have ever possessed the same combination of
heroic and unselfish qualities. It ought not to be true that this brief
and cursory sketch is the first distinct tribute yet paid to his
virtues; for no worthier subject ever employed the pen of the poet or

     NOTE.--Struck with the fact that the history of this class of men,
     and of their enterprises and sufferings, has never been written,
     except by themselves in their simple "Journals" and
     "Relations"--for the _résumé_ given of these by Sparks, Bancroft,
     and others, is of necessity a mere unsatisfactory abstract--the
     writer has for some time been engaged in collecting and arranging
     materials, with the intention of supplying the want. The
     authorities are numerous and widely scattered; and such a work
     ought to be thoroughly and carefully written, so that much time and
     labor lies between the author and his day of publication. Should he
     be spared, however, to finish the work, he hopes to present a
     picture of a class of men, displaying as much of true devotion,
     genuine courage, and self-denial, in the humble walk of the
     missionary, as the pages of history show in any other department of
     human enterprise.


[52] In common use, this word was restricted so as to indicate only the
boatmen, the carriers of that time; but I am writing of a period
anterior, by many years, to the existence of the Trade which made their

[53] Joutel, who was one of La Salle's party, and afterward wrote an
account of the enterprise, entitled _Journal Historique_, published in
Paris, 1713. Its fidelity is as evident upon its face, as is the
simplicity of the historian.

[54] This was in the winter of 1679-'80; and the Five Nations, included
in the general term Iroquois, had not then made the conquest upon which
the English afterward founded their claim to the country. They were,
however, generally regarded as enemies by all the Illinois tribes.

[55] A collective name, including a number, variously stated, of
different tribes confederated.

[56] _Annals of the West_, by J. H. Perkins and J. M. Peck, p. 679. St.
Louis. 1850.

[57] The substance of the Journal may be found, republished by Dr.
Sparks, in the second edition of _Butler's Kentucky_, p. 493, _et seq._,
and in vol. x. of his _American Biography_.

[58] _Miscellanies_, "Review of Ranke's History of the Popes."

[59] In a book which he published at Utrecht, in 1697, entitled _A New
Discovery of a Vast Country_, he claims to have gone down the
Mississippi to its mouth before La Salle. The whole book is a mere
plagiarism. See Sparks's _Life of La Salle_, where the vain father is
summarily and justly disposed of.

[60] Most of these dates may be found in Bancroft's _United States_, vol

[61] The legend of the Piasau is well known. Within the recollection of
men now living, rude paintings of the monster were visible on the cliffs
above Alton, Illinois. To these images, when passing in their canoes,
the Indians were accustomed to make offerings of maize, tobacco, and
gunpowder. They are now quite obliterated.

[62] June 10, 1673.

[63] I mean, of course, the upper Mississippi; for De Soto had reached
it lower down one hundred and thirty-two years before.

[64] It was announced, some months since, that our minister at Rome, Mr.
Cass, had made discoveries in that city which threw more light upon this
expedition. But how this can be, consistently with the fact stated in
the text (about which there is no doubt), I am at a loss to divine.

[65] The place of Marquette's landing--which should be classic
ground--from his description of the country, and the distance he
specifies, could not have been far from the spot where the city of
Keokuk now stands, a short distance above the mouth of the Des Moines.
The locality should, if possible, be determined.

[66] It was by virtue of a treaty of purchase--signed at Fort Stanwix on
the 5th of November, 1768--with the Six Nations, who claimed the country
as their conquest, that the British asserted a title to the country west
of the Alleghenies, Western Virginia, Kentucky, etc.

[67] The geographical mistakes of the early French explorers have led to
some singular discussions about Western history--have even been used by
diplomatists to support or weaken territorial claims. Such, for example,
is the question concerning the antiquity of Vincennes, a controversy
founded on the mistake noticed in the text. Vide _Western Annals_. 2d
Ed. Revised by J. M. Peck.

[68] In 1541, De Soto crossed the Mississippi about the thirty-fifth
parallel of latitude, or near the northern boundary of the state of that
name. It is not certain how far below this Marquette went, though we are
safe in saying that he did not turn back north of that limit.

[69] Bancroft's _History of the United States_, vol. iii., p. 161, _et
seq._, where the reader may look for most of these dates.



    "I hear the tread of pioneers,
       Of nations yet to be--
    The first low wash of waves where soon
       Shall roll a human sea."


    "The axe rang sharply 'mid those forest shades
    Which, from creation, toward the sky had towered
    In unshorn beauty."


[Illustration: THE PIONEER.]

Next, in chronological order, after the missionary, came the military
adventurer--of which class La Salle was the best representative. But the
expeditions led by these men, were, for the most part, wild and
visionary enterprises, in pursuit of unattainable ends. They were,
moreover, unskilfully managed and unfortunately terminated--generally
ending in the defeat, disappointment, and death of those who had set
them on foot. They left no permanent impress upon the country; the most
acute moral or political vision can not now detect a trace of their
influence, in the aspect of the lands they penetrated; and, so far from
hastening the settlement of the Great Valley, it is more probable that
their disastrous failures rather retarded it--by deterring others from
the undertaking. Their history reads like a romance; and their
characters would better grace the pages of fiction, than the annals of
civilization. Further than this brief reference, therefore, I find no
place for them, in a work which aims only to notice those who either
aided to produce, or indicated, the characteristics of the society in
which they lived.

Soon after them, came the Indian-traders--to whose generosity so many of
the captives, taken by the natives in those early times, were indebted
for their ransom. But--notwithstanding occasional acts of charity--their
unscrupulous rapacity, and, particularly, their introduction of
spirituous liquors among the savages, furnish good reason to doubt,
whether, on the whole, they did anything to advance the civilization of
the lands and people they visited. And, as we shall have occasion to
refer again, though briefly, to the character in a subsequent article,
we will pass over it for the present, and hasten on to the _Pioneer_.

Of this class, there are two sub-divisions: the floating, transitory,
and erratic frontierman--including the hunter, the trapper, the scout
and Indian-fighter: men who can not be considered _citizens_ of any
country, but keep always a little in advance of permanent emigration.
With this division of the class, we have little to do: first, because
they are already well understood, by most readers in this country,
through the earlier novels of Cooper, their great delineator; and,
second, because, as we have intimated, our business is chiefly with
those, whose footprints have been stamped upon the country, and whose
influence is traceable in its civilization. We, therefore, now desire to
direct attention to the other sub-division--the genuine "settler;" the
firm, unflinching, permanent emigrant, who entered the country to till
the land and to possess it, for himself and his descendants.

And, in the first place, let us inquire what motives could induce men to
leave regions, where the axe had been at work for many years--where the
land was reduced to cultivation, and the forest reclaimed from the wild
beast and the wilder savage--where civilization had begun to exert its
power, and society had assumed a legal and determined shape--to depart
from all these things, seeking a new home in an inhospitable
wilderness, where they could only gain a footing by severe labor,
constant strife, and sleepless vigilance? To be capable of doing all
this, from _any_ motive, a man must be a strange compound of qualities;
but that compound, strange as it is, has done, and is doing, more to
reclaim the west, and change the wilderness into a garden, than all
other causes combined.

A prominent trait in the character of the genuine American, is the
desire "to better his condition"--a peculiarity which sometimes embodies
itself in the disposition to forget the good old maxim, "Let well-enough
alone," and not unfrequently leads to disaster and suffering. A thorough
Yankee--using that word as the English do, to indicate national, not
sectional, character--is never satisfied with doing well; he always
underrates his gains and his successes; and, though to others he may be
boastful enough, and may, even truly, rate the profits of his enterprise
by long strings of "naught," he is always whispering to himself, "I
ought to do better." If he sees any one accumulating property faster
than himself, he becomes emulous and discontented--he is apt to think,
unless he goes more rapidly than any one else, that he is not moving at
all. If he can find no one of his neighbors advancing toward fortune,
with longer strides than he, he will imagine some successful
"speculator," to whom he will compare himself, and chafe at his
inferiority to a figment of his own fancy. If he possessed "a million a
minute," he would cast about for some profitable employment, in which he
might engage, "to pay expenses." He will abandon a silver-mine, of slow,
but certain gains, for the gambling chances of a gold "placer;" and if
any one within his knowledge dig out more wealth than he, he will leave
the "diggings," though his success be quite encouraging, and go
quixoting among the islands of the sea, in search of pearls and
diamonds. With the prospect of improvement in his fortunes--whether that
prospect be founded upon reason, be a naked fancy, or the offspring of
mere discontent--he regards no danger, cares for no hardship, counts no
suffering. Everything must bend before the ruling passion, "to better
his condition."

His spirit is eminently encroaching. Rather than give up any of his own
"rights," he will take a part of what belongs to others. Whatever he
thinks necessary to his welfare, to that he believes himself entitled.
To whatever point he desires to reach, he takes the straightest course,
even though the way lie across the corner of his neighbor's field. Yet
he is intensely jealous of his own possessions, and warns off all
trespassers with an imperial menace of "the utmost penalty of the law."
He has, of course, an excellent opinion of himself--and justly: for when
not blinded by cupidity or vexed by opposition, no man can hold the
scales of justice with a more even hand.

He is seldom conscious of having done a wrong: for he rarely moves until
he has ascertained "both the propriety and expediency of the motion." He
has, therefore, an instinctive aversion to all retractions and
apologies. He has such a proclivity to the forward movement, that its
opposite, even when truth and justice demand it, is stigmatized, in his
vocabulary, by odious and ridiculous comparisons. He is very stubborn,
and, it is feared, sometimes mistakes his obstinacy for firmness. He
thinks a safe retreat worse than a defeat with slaughter. Yet he never
rests under a reverse, and, though manifestly prostrate, will never
acknowledge that he is beaten. A check enrages him more than a decided
failure: for so long as his end is not accomplished, nor defeated, he
can see no reason why he should not succeed. If his forces are driven
back, shattered and destroyed, he is not cast down, but angry--he
forthwith swears vengeance and another trial. He is quite insatiable--as
a failure does not dampen him, success can never satisfy him. His plans
are always on a great scale; and, if they sometimes exceed his means of
execution, at least, "he who aims at the sun," though he may lose his
arrow, "will not strike the ground." He is a great projector--but he is
eminently practical, as well as theoretical; and if _he_ cannot realize
his visions, no other man need try.

He is restless and migratory. He is fond of change, for the sake of the
change; and he will have it, though it bring him only new labors and new
hardships. He is, withal, a little selfish--as might be supposed. He
begins to lose his attachment to the advantages of his home, so soon as
they are shared by others. He does not like near neighbors--has no
affection for the soil; he will leave a place on which he has expended
much time and labor, as soon as the region grows to be a "settlement."
Even in a town, he is dissatisfied if his next neighbor lives so near
that the women can gossip across the division-fence. He likes to be at
least one day's journey from the nearest plantation.

I once heard an old pioneer assign as a reason why he must emigrate from
western Illinois, the fact that "people were settling right under his
nose"--and the farm of his nearest neighbor was twelve miles distant, by
the section lines! He moved on to Missouri, but there the same
"impertinence" of emigrants soon followed him; and, abandoning his
half-finished "clearing," he packed his family and household goods in a
little wagon, and retreated, across the plains to Oregon. He is--or was,
two years ago--living in the valley of the Willamette, where, doubtless,
he is now chafing under the affliction of having neighbors in the same
region, and nothing but an ocean beyond.

His character seems to be hard-featured.

But he is neither unsocial, nor morose. He welcomes the stranger as
heartily as the most hospitable patriarch. He receives the sojourner at
his fireside without question. He regales him with the best the house
affords: is always anxious to have him "stay another day." He cares for
his horse, renews his harness, laughs at his stories, and exchanges
romances with him. He hunts with him; fishes, rides, walks, talks, eats,
and drinks with him. His wife washes and mends the stranger's shirts,
and lends him a needle and thread to sew a button on his only pair of
pantaloons. The children sit on his knee, the dog lies at his feet, and
accompanies him into the woods. The whole family are his friends, and
only grow cold and distant when they learn that he is looking for land,
and thinks of "settling" within a few leagues. If nothing of the sort
occurs--and this only "leaks out" by accident, for the pioneer never
pries inquisitively into the business of his guest, he keeps him as long
as he can; and when he can stay no longer, fills his saddle-bags with
flitches of bacon and "pones" of corn-bread, shakes him heartily by the
hand, exacts a promise to stop again on his return, and bids him
"God-speed" on his journey.

Such is American character, in the manifestations which have most
affected the settlement and development of the West; a compound of many
noble qualities, with a few--and no nation is without such--that are not
quite so respectable. All these, both good and bad, were possessed by
the early pioneer in an eminent, sometimes in an extravagant degree; and
the circumstances, by which he found himself surrounded after his
emigration to the West, tended forcibly to their exaggeration.

But the qualities--positive and negative--above enumerated, were, many
of them, at least, peculiarities belonging to the early emigrant, as
much before as after his removal. And there were others, quite as
distinctly marked, called into activity, if not actually created by his
life in the wilderness. Such, for example, was his self-reliance--his
confidence in his own strength, sagacity, and courage. It was but little
assistance that he ever required from his neighbors, though no man was
ever more willing to render it to others, in the hour of need. He was
the swift avenger of his own wrongs, and he never appealed to another to
ascertain his rights. Legal tribunals were an abomination to him.
Government functionaries he hated, almost as the Irish hate excisemen.
Assessments and taxes he could not endure, for, since he was his own
protector, he had no interest in sustaining the civil authorities.

Military organizations he despised, for subordination was no part of his
nature. He stood up in the native dignity of manhood, and called no
mortal his superior. When he joined his neighbors, to avenge a foray of
the savages, he joined on the most equal terms--each man was, for the
time, his own captain; and when the leader was chosen--for the
pioneers, with all their personal independence, were far too rational to
underrate the advantages of a head in the hour of danger--each voice was
counted in the choice, and the election might fall on any one. But, even
after such organization, every man was fully at liberty to abandon the
expedition, whenever he became dissatisfied, or thought proper to return
home. And if this want of discipline sometimes impaired the strength,
and rendered unavailing the efforts, of communities, it at least
fostered the manly spirit of personal independence; and, to keep that
alive in the breasts of a people, it is worth while to pay a yearly
tribute, even though that tribute be rendered unto the King of Terrors!

This self-reliance was not an arrogant and vulgar egotism, as it has
been so often represented in western stories, and the tours of
superficial travellers. It was a calm, just estimate of his own
capabilities--a well-grounded confidence in his own talents--a clear,
manly understanding of his own individual rights, dignity, and
relations. Such is the western definition of independence; and if there
be anything of it in the western character at the present day, it is due
to the stubborn and intense individuality of the first pioneer. He it
was who laid the foundation of our social fabric, and it is his spirit
which yet pervades our people.

The quality which next appears, in analyzing this character, is his

It was not mere physical courage, nor was it stolid carelessness of
danger. The pioneer knew, perfectly well, the full extent of the peril
that surrounded him; indeed, he could not be ignorant of it; for almost
every day brought some new memento, either of his savage foe, or of the
prowling beast of prey. He ploughed, and sowed, and reaped, and
gathered, with the rifle slung over his shoulders; and, at every turn,
he halted, listening, with his ear turned toward his home; for well he
knew that, any moment, the scream of his wife, or the wail of his
children, might tell of the up-lifted tomahawk, or the murderous

His courage, then, was not ignorance of danger--not that of the child,
which thrusts its hand within the lion's jaws, and knows naught of the
penalty it braves. His ear was ever listening, his eye was always
watching, his nerves were ever strung, for battle. He was stout of
heart, and strong of hand--he was calm, sagacious, unterrified. He was
never disconcerted--excitement seldom moved him--his mind was always at
its own command. His heart never lost its firmness--no suffering could
overcome him--he was as stoical as the savage, whose greatest glory is
to triumph amidst the most cruel tortures. His pride sustained him when
his flesh was pierced with burning brands--when his muscles crisped and
crackled in the flames. To the force of character, belonging to the
white, he added the savage virtues of the red man; and many a captive
has been rescued from the flames, through his stern contempt for
torture, and his sneering triumph over his tormentors. The highest
virtue of the savage was his fortitude; and he respected and admired
even a "pale face," who emulated his endurance.

But fortitude is only passive courage--and the bravery of the pioneer
was eminently active. His vengeance was as rapid as it was sometimes
cruel. No odds against him could deter him, no time was ever wasted in
deliberation. If a depredation was committed in the night, the dawn of
morning found the sufferer on the trail of the marauder. He would follow
it for days, and even weeks, with the sagacity of the blood-hound, with
the patience of the savage: and, perhaps, in the very midst of the
Indian country, in some moment of security, the blow descended, and the
injury was fearfully avenged! The debt was never suffered to accumulate,
when it could be discharged by prompt payment--and it was never
forgotten! If the account could not be balanced now, the obligation was
treasured up for a time to come--and, when least expected, the debtor
came, and paid with usury!

It has been said, perhaps truly, that a fierce, bloody spirit ruled the
settlers in those early days. And it is unquestionable, that much of
that contempt for the slow vengeance of a legal proceeding, which now
distinguishes the people of the frontier west, originated then. It was,
doubtless, an unforgiving--eminently an unchristian--spirit: but
vengeance, sure and swift, was the only thing which could impress the
hostile savage. And, if example, in a matter of this sort, could be
availing, for their severity to the Indians, they had the highest!

The eastern colonists--good men and true--"willing to exterminate the
savages," says Bancroft,[70] who is certainly not their enemy, offered a
bounty for every Indian scalp--as we, in the west, do for the scalps of
wolves! "To regular forces under pay, the grant was _ten_ pounds--to
volunteers, in actual service, _twice that sum_; but if men would, of
themselves, without pay, make up parties and patrol the forests in
search of Indians, _as of old the woods were scoured for wild beasts_,
the chase was invigorated by the promised 'encouragement of _fifty_
pounds per scalp!'" The "fruitless cruelties" of the Indian allies of
the French in Canada, says the historian, gave birth to these humane and
nicely-graduated enactments! Nor is our admiration of their Christian
spirit in the least diminished, when we reflect that nothing is recorded
in history of "bounties on scalps" or "encouragement" to murder, offered
by Frontenac, or any other French-Canadian governor, as a revenge for
the horrible massacre at Montreal, or the many "fruitless cruelties" of
the bloody Iroquois![71]

The descendants of the men who gave these "bounties" and
"encouragements," have, in our own day, caressed, and wept and lamented
over the tawny murderer, Black-Hawk, and his "wrongs" and "misfortunes;"
but the theatre of Indian warfare was then removed a little farther
west; and the atrocities of Haverhill and Deerfield were perpetrated on
the western prairies, and not amid the forests of the east! Yet I do not
mean, by referring to this passage of history--or to the rivers of
wasted sentiment poured out a few years ago--so much to condemn our
forefathers, or to draw invidious comparisons between them and others,
as to show, that the war of extermination, sometimes waged by western
rangers, was not without example--that the cruelty and hatred of the
pioneer to the barbarous Indian, might originate in exasperation, which
even moved the puritans; and that the lamentations, over the fictitious
"wrongs" of a turbulent and bloody savage, might have run in a channel
nearer home.

Hatred of the Indian, among the pioneers, was hereditary; there was
scarcely a man on the frontier, who had not lost a father, a mother, or
a brother, by the tomahawk; and not a few of them had suffered in their
own persons. The child, who learned the rudiments of his scanty
education at his mother's knee, must decipher the strange characters by
the straggling light which penetrated the crevices between the logs;
for, while the father was absent, in the field or on the war-path, the
mother was obliged to bar the doors and barricade the windows against
the savages. Thus, if he did not literally imbibe it with his mother's
milk, one of the first things the pioneer learned, was dread, and
consequently hatred, of the Indian. That feeling grew with his growth,
strengthened with his strength--for a life upon the western border left
but few days free from sights of blood or mementoes of the savage. The
pioneer might go to the field in the morning, unsuspecting; and, at
noon, returning, find his wife murdered and scalped, and the brains of
his little ones dashed out against his own doorpost! And if a deadly
hatred of the Indian took possession of his heart, who shall blame him?
It may be said, the pioneer was an intruder, seeking to take forcible
possession of the Indian's lands--and that it was natural that the
Indian should resent the wrong after the manner of his race. Granted:
and it was quite as natural that the pioneer should return the enmity,
after the manner of _his_ race!

But the pioneer was _not_ an intruder.

For all the purposes, for which reason and the order of Providence
authorize us to say, God made the earth, this continent was
vacant--uninhabited. And--granting that the savage was in
possession--for this is his only ground of title, as, indeed, it is the
foundation of all primary title--there were at the period of the first
landing of white men on the continent, between Lake Superior and the
Gulf of Mexico, east of the Mississippi, about one hundred and eighty
thousand Indians.[72] That region now supports at least twenty millions
of civilized people, and is capable of containing quite ten times that
number, without crowding! Now, if God made the earth for any purpose, it
certainly was _not_ that it should be monopolized by a horde of nomad

But an argument on this subject, would not be worth ink and paper; and I
am, moreover, aware, that this reasoning may be abused. _Any_ attempt to
construe the purposes of Deity must be liable to the same
misapplication. And, besides, it is not my design to go so far back; I
seek not so much to excuse as to account for--less to justify than to
analyze--the characteristics of the class before me. I wish to establish
that the pioneer hatred of the Indian was not an unprovoked or
groundless hatred, that the severity of his warfare was not a mere
gratuitous and bloody-minded cruelty. There are a thousand actions, of
which we are hearing every day, that are indefensible in morals: and yet
we are conscious while we condemn the actors, that, in like
circumstances, we could not have acted differently. So is it with the
fierce and violent reprisals, sometimes made by frontier rangers. Their
best defence lies in the statement that they were men, and that their
manhood prompted them to vengeance. When they deemed themselves injured,
they demanded reparation, in such sort as that demand could then be
made--at the muzzle of a rifle or the point of a knife. They were equal
to the times in which they lived.--Had they not been so, how many
steamboats would now be floating on the Mississippi?

There was no romance in the composition of the pioneer--whatever there
may have been in his environment. His life was altogether too serious a
matter for poetry, and the only music he took pleasure in, was the sound
of a violin, sending forth notes remarkable only for their liveliness.
Even this, he could enjoy but at rare periods, when his cares were
forcibly dismissed. He was, in truth, a very matter-of-fact sort of
person. It was principally with facts that he had to deal--and
most of them were very "stubborn facts." Indeed, it may be
doubted--notwithstanding much good poetry has been written (in cities
chiefly), on solitude and the wilderness--whether a life in the woods
is, after all, very suggestive of poetical thoughts. The perils of the
frontier must borrow most of their "enchantment" from the "distance;"
and its sufferings and hardships are certainly more likely to evoke
pleasant fancies to him who sits beside a good coal fire, than to one
whose lot it is to bear them. Even the (so-called) "varied imagery" of
the Indian's eloquence--about which so much nonsense has been
written--is, in a far greater measure, the result of the poverty and
crude materialism of his language, than of any poetical bias,
temperament, or tone of thought. An Indian, as we have said before, has
no humor--he never understands a jest--his wife is a beast of
burthen--heaven is a hunting-ground--his language has no words to
express abstract qualities, virtues, or sentiments. And yet he lives in
the wilderness all the days of his life! The only trait he has, in
common with the poetical character, is his laziness.

But the pioneer was not indolent, in any sense. He had no
dreaminess--meditation was no part of his mental habit--a poetical
fancy would, in him, have been an indication of insanity. If he reclined
at the foot of a tree, on a still summer day, it was to sleep: if he
gazed out over the waving prairie, it was to search for the column of
smoke which told of his enemy's approach: if he turned his eyes toward
the blue heaven, it was to prognosticate to-morrow's storm or sunshine:
if he bent his gaze upon the green earth, it was to look for "Indian
sign" or buffalo trail. His wife was only a help-mate--he never thought
of making a divinity of her--she cooked his dinner, made and washed his
clothes, bore his children, and took care of his household. His children
were never "little cherubs,"--"angels sent from heaven"--but generally
"tow-headed" and very earthly responsibilities. He looked forward
anxiously, to the day when the boys should be able to assist him in the
field, or fight the Indian, and the girls to help their mother make and
mend. When one of the latter took it into her head to be married--as
they usually did quite early in life; for beaux were plenty and belles
were "scarce"--he only made one condition, that the man of her choice
should be brave and healthy. He never made a "parade" about
anything--marriage, least of all. He usually gave the bride--not the
"blushing" bride--a bed, a lean horse, and some good advice: and, having
thus discharged his duty in the premises, returned to his work, and the
business was done.

The marriage ceremony, in those days, was a very unceremonious affair.
The parade and drill which now attend it, would then have been as
ridiculous as a Chinese dance; and the finery and ornament, at present
understood to be indispensable on such occasions, then bore no sway in
fashion. Bridal wreaths and dresses were not known; and white kid gloves
and satin slippers never heard of. Orange blossoms--natural and
artificial--were as pretty then as now; but the people were more
occupied with substance, than with emblem.

The ancients decked _their_ victims for the sacrifice with gaudy colors,
flags, and streamers; the moderns do the same, and the offerings are
sometimes made to quite as barbarous deities.

But the bride of the pioneer was clothed in linsey-wolsey, with hose of
woollen yarn; and moccasins of deer-skin--or as an extra piece of
finery, high-quartered shoes of calf-skin--preceded satin slippers. The
bridegroom came in copperas-colored jeans--domestic manufacture--as a
holiday suit; or, perhaps, a hunting-shirt of buckskin, all fringed
around the skirt and cape, and a "coon-skin" cap, with moccasins.
Instead of a dainty walking-stick, with an opera-dancer's leg, in ivory,
for head, he always brought his rifle, with a solid maple stock; and
never, during the whole ceremony, did he divest himself of powder-horn
and bullet-pouch.

Protestant ministers of the gospel were few in those days; and the words
of form were usually spoken by a Jesuit missionary. Or, if the Pioneer
had objections to Catholicism--as many had--his place was supplied by
some justice of the peace, of doubtful powers and mythical appointment.
If neither of these could be procured, the father of the bride, himself,
sometimes assumed the functions, _pro hâc vice_, or _pro tempore_, of
minister or justice. It was always understood, however, that such
left-handed marriages were to be confirmed by the first minister who
wandered to the frontier: and, even when the opportunity did not offer
for many months, no scandal ever arose--the marriage vow was never
broken. The pioneers were simple people--the refinements of high
cultivation had not yet penetrated the forests or crossed the
prairies--and good faith and virtue were as common as courage and

When the brief, but all-sufficient ceremony was over, the bridegroom
resumed his rifle, helped the bride into the saddle--or more frequently
to the pillion behind him--and they calmly rode away together.

On some pleasant spot--surrounded by a shady grove, or point of
timber--a new log-cabin has been built: its rough logs notched across
each other at the corners, a roof of oaken clapboards, held firmly down
by long poles along each course, its floor of heavy "puncheons," its
broad, cheerful fireplace, large as a modern bed-room--all are in the
highest style of frontier architecture. Within--excepting some
anomalies, such as putting the skillet and tea-kettle in the little
cupboard, along with the blue-edged plates and yellow-figured
tea-cups--for the whole has been arranged by the hands of the bridegroom
himself--everything is neatly and properly disposed. The oaken bedstead,
with low square posts, stands in one corner, and the bed is covered by a
pure white counterpane, with fringe--an heirloom in the family of the
bride. At the foot of this is seen a large, heavy chest--like a
camp-chest--to serve for bureau, safe, and dressing-case.

In the middle of the floor--directly above a trap-door which leads to a
"potato-hole" beneath--stands a ponderous walnut table, and on it sits a
nest of wooden trays; while, flanking these, on one side, is a
nicely-folded tablecloth, and, on the other, a wooden-handled
butcher-knife and a well-worn Bible. Around the room are ranged a few
"split-bottomed" chairs, exclusively for use, not ornament. In the
chimney-corners, or under the table, are several three-legged stools,
made for the children, who--as the bridegroom laughingly insinuates
while he points to the uncouth specimens of his handiwork--"will be
coming in due time." The wife laughs in her turn--replies, "no
doubt"--and, taking one of the graceful tripods in her hand, carries it
forth to sit upon while she milks the cow--for she understands what she
is expected to do, and does it without delay. In one corner--near the
fireplace--the aforesaid cupboard is erected--being a few oaken shelves
neatly pinned to the logs with hickory forks--and in this are arranged
the plates and cups;--not as the honest pride of the housewife would
arrange them, to display them to the best advantage--but piled away,
one within another, without reference to show. As yet there is no sign
of female taste or presence.

But now the house receives its mistress. The "happy couple" ride up to
the low rail-fence in front--the bride springs off without assistance,
affectation, or delay. The husband leads away the horse or horses, and
the wife enters the dominion, where, thenceforward, she is queen. There
is no coyness, no blushing, no pretence of fright or nervousness--if you
will, no romance--for which the husband has reason to be thankful! The
wife knows what her duties are and resolutely goes about performing
them. She never dreamed, nor twaddled, about "love in a cottage," or
"the sweet communion of congenial souls" (who never eat anything): and
she is, therefore, not disappointed on discovering that life is actually
a serious thing. She never whines about "making her husband happy"--but
sets firmly and sensibly about making him _comfortable_. She cooks his
dinner, nurses his children, shares his hardships, and encourages his
industry. She never complains of having too much work to do, she does
not desert her home to make endless visits--she borrows no misfortunes,
has no imaginary ailings. Milliners and mantua-makers she
ignores--"shopping" she never heard of--scandal she never invents or
listens to. She never wishes for fine carriages, professes no inability
to walk five hundred yards, and does not think it a "vulgar
accomplishment," to know how to make butter. She has no groundless
anxieties, she is not nervous about her children taking cold: a doctor
is a visionary potentate to her--a drug-shop is a dépôt of abominations.
She never forgets whose wife she is,--there is no "sweet confidante"
without whom she "can not live"--she never writes endless letters about
nothing. She is, in short, a faithful, honest wife: and, "in due time,"
the husband must make _more_ "three-legged stools"--for the "tow-heads"
have now covered them all!

Such is the wife and mother of the pioneer, and, with such influences
about him, how could he be otherwise than honest, straightforward, and

But, though a life in the woods was an enemy to every sort of
sentimentalism--though a more unromantic being than the pioneer can
hardly be imagined--yet his character unquestionably took its hue, from
the primitive scenes and events of his solitary existence. He was, in
many things, as simple as a child: as credulous, as unsophisticated. Yet
the utmost cunning of the wily savage--all the strategy of Indian
warfare--was not sufficient to deceive or overreach him! Though one
might have expected that his life of ceaseless watchfulness would make
him skeptical and suspicious, his confidence was given heartily, without
reservation, and often most imprudently. If he gave his trust at all,
you might ply him, by the hour, with the most improbable and outrageous
fictions, without fear of contradiction or of unbelief. He never
questioned the superior knowledge or pretensions of any one who claimed
acquaintance with subjects of which _he_ was ignorant.

The character of his intellect, like that of the Indian, was thoroughly
synthetical: he had nothing of the faculty which enables us to detect
falsehood, even in matters of which we know nothing by comparison and
analogy. He never analyzed any story told him, he took it as a unit;
and, unless it violated some known principle of his experience, or
conflicted with some fact of his own observation, never doubted its
truth. At this moment, there are men in every western settlement who
have only vague, crude notions of what a city is--who would feel
nervous if they stepped upon the deck of a steamboat--and are utterly at
a loss to conjecture the nature of a railroad. Upon either of these
mystical subjects they will swallow, without straining, the most absurd
and impossible fictions. And this is not because of their ignorance
alone, for many of them are, for their sphere in life, educated,
intelligent, and, what is better, sensible men. Nor is it by any means a
national trait: for a genuine Yankee will scarcely believe the truth;
and, though he may sometimes trust in very wild things, his faith is
usually an active "craze," and not mere passive credulity. The pioneer,
then, has not derived it from his eastern fathers: it is the growth of
the woods and prairies--an embellishment to a character which might
otherwise appear naked and severe.

Another characteristic, traceable to the same source, the stern reality
of his life, is the pioneer's gravity.

The agricultural population of this country are, at the best, not a
cheerful race. Though they sometimes join in festivities, it is but
seldom; and the wildness of their dissipation is too often in proportion
to its infrequency. There is none of the serene contentment--none of
that smiling enjoyment--which, according to travellers like Howitt,
distinguishes the tillers of the ground in other lands. _Sedateness_ is
a national characteristic, but the gravity of the pioneer is quite
another thing; it includes pride and personal dignity, and indicates a
stern, unyielding temper. There is, however, nothing morose in it: it is
its aspect alone, which forbids approach; and that only makes more
conspicuous the heartiness of your reception, when once the shell is
broken. Acquainted with the character, you do not expect him to _smile_
much; but now and then he _laughs_: and that laugh is round, free, and
hearty. You know at once that he enjoys it, you are convinced that he is
a firm friend and "a good hater."

It is not surprising, with a character such as I have described, that
the pioneer is not gregarious, that he is, indeed, rather solitary.
Accordingly, we never find a genuine specimen of the class, among the
emigrants, who come in shoals and flocks, and pitch their tents in
"colonies;" who lay out towns and cities, projected upon paper, and call
them New Boston, New Albany, or New Hartford, before one log is placed
upon another; nor are there many of the unadulterated stock among that
other class, who come from regions further south, and christen their
towns, classically, Carthage, Rome, or Athens: or, patriotically, in
commemoration of some Virginian worthy, some Maryland sharpshooter, or
"Jersey blue."

The real pioneer never emigrates gregariously; he does not wish to be
within "halloo" of his nearest neighbor; he is no city-builder; and, if
he does project a town, he christens it by some such name as Boonville
or Clarksville, in memory of a noted pioneer: or Jacksonville or
Waynesville, to commemorate some "old hero" who was celebrated for good
fighting.[73] And the reason why the outlandish and _outré_ so much
predominate in the names of western towns and cities, must be sought in
the fact referred to above, that the western man is not essentially a
town-projector, and that, consequently, comparatively few of the towns
were "laid out" by the legitimate pioneer. We shall have more to say of
town-building under another head; and, in the meantime, having said that
the pioneer is not gregarious, let us look at the _manner_ of his

Many a time, in the western highways, have I met with the sturdy
"mover," as he is called, in the places where people are stationary--a
family, sometimes by no means small, wandering toward the setting sun,
in search of pleasant places on the lands of "Uncle Sam." Many a time,
in the forest or on the prairie--generally upon some point of timber
which puts a mile or two within the plain--have I passed the "clearing,"
or "pre-emption," where, with nervous arm and sturdy heart, the
"squatter"[74] cleaves out, and renders habitable, a home for himself
and a heritage for his children.

Upon the road, you first meet the pioneer himself, for he almost always
walks a few hundred yards ahead. He is usually above the medium height,
and rather spare. He stoops a little, too; for he has done a deal of
hard work, and expects to do more; but you see at once, that unless his
lungs are weak, his strength is by no means broken, and you are quite
sure that many a stately tree is destined to be humbled by his sinewy
arm. He is attired in frontier fashion: he wears a loose coat, called a
hunting-shirt, of jeans or linsey, and its color is that indescribable
hue compounded of copperas and madder; pantaloons, exceedingly loose,
and not very accurately cut in any part, of like color and material,
defend his lower limbs. His feet are cased in low, fox-colored shoes,
for of boots, he is, yet, quite innocent. Around his throat and wrists,
even in midsummer, you see the collar and wristbands of a heavy,
deep-red, flannel-shirt. Examine him very closely, and you will probably
find no other garment on his person.

His hair is dark, and not very evenly trimmed--for his wife or daughter
has performed the tonsure with a pair of rusty shears; and the longer
locks seem changed in hue, as if his dingy wool hat did not sufficiently
protect them against the wind and rain. Over his shoulder he carries a
heavy rifle, heavier than a "Harper's ferry musket," running about
"fifty to the pound." Around his neck are swung the powder-horn and
bullet-pouch, the former protected by a square of deer-skin, and the
latter ornamented with a squirrel's tail.

You take note of all these things, and then recur to his
melancholy-looking face, with its mild blue eyes and sharpened features.
You think he looks thin, and conjecture that his chest may be weak, or
his lungs affected, by the stoop in his shoulders; but when he lifts his
eyes, and asks the way to Thompson's ferry, or how far it is to water,
you are satisfied: for the glance of his eye is calm and firm, and the
tone of his voice is round and healthy. You answer his question, he nods
quietly by way of thanks, and marches on; and, though you draw your
rein, and seem inclined to further converse, he takes no notice, and
pursues his way.

A few minutes afterward, you meet the family. A small, light wagon,
easily dragged through sloughs and heavy roads, is covered with a white
cotton cloth, and drawn, by either two yokes of oxen, or a pair of lean
horses. A "patch-work" quilt is sometimes stretched across the flimsy
covering, as a guard against the sun and rain. Within this vehicle are
stowed all the emigrant's household goods, and still, it is not

There is usually a large chest, containing the wardrobe of the family,
with such small articles as are liable to loss, and the little store of
money. This is always in silver, for the pioneer is no judge of gold,
and, on the frontier, paper has but little exchangeable value. There are
then two light bedsteads--one "a trundle-bed"--a few plain chairs, most
of them tied on behind and at the sides; three or four stools, domestic
manufacture; a set of tent-poles and a few pots and pans. On these are
piled the "beds and bedding," tied in large bundles, and stowed in such
manner as to make convenient room for the children who are too young to
walk. In the front end of the wagon, sits the mother of the family: and,
peering over her head and shoulders, leaning out at her side, or gazing
under the edge of the cotton-covering, are numerous flaxen heads, which
you find it difficult to count while you ride past.

There are altogether too many of them, you think, for a man no older
than the one you met, a while ago; and you, perhaps, conjecture that the
youthful-looking woman has adopted some of her dead sister's children,
or, perchance, some of her brothers and sisters themselves. But you are
mistaken, they are all her offspring, and the father of every one of
them is the stoop-shouldered man you saw ahead. If you look closely, you
will observe that the mother, who is driving, holds the reins with one
hand, while, on the other arm, she supports an infant not _more_ than
six months old. It was for the advent of this little stranger, that they
delayed their emigration: and they set out while it was very young, for
fear of the approach of its successor. If they waited for their youngest
child to attain a year of age, they would never "move," until they would
be too old to make another "clearing."

You pass on--perhaps ejaculating thanks that your lot has been
differently cast, and thinking you have seen the last of them. But a few
hundred yards further, and you hear the tinkling of a bell; two or three
lean cows--with calves about the age of the baby--come straggling by.
You look for the driver, and see a tall girl with a very young face--the
eldest of the family, though not exceeding twelve or thirteen years in
age. You feel quite sure, that, besides her sun-bonnet and well-worn
shoes, she wears but one article of apparel--and that a loose dress of
linsey, rather narrow in the skirt, of a dirty brown color, with a tinge
of red. It hangs straight down about her limbs, as if it were wet, and
with every step--for she walks stoutly--it flaps and flies about her
ankles, as if shotted in the lower hem. She presents, altogether, rather
a slatternly figure, and her face is freckled and sunburnt.

But you must not judge her too rashly; for her eye is keen and
expressive, and her mouth is quite pretty--especially when she smiles. A
few years hence--if you have the _entrée_--you may meet her in the best
and highest circles of the country. Perhaps, while you are dancing
attendance upon some new administration, asking for a "place," and
asking, probably, in vain, she may come to Washington, a beautiful and
accomplished woman--the wife of some member of Congress, whose
constituency is numbered by the hundred thousand!

You may pass on, now, and forget her; but, if you stop to talk five
minutes, she will not forget _you_--at least, if you say anything
striking or sensible. And when you meet her again, perhaps in a gilded
saloon, among the brightest and highest in the land--if you seek an
introduction, as you probably will--she will remind you of the meeting,
and to your astonishment, will laughingly describe the scene, to some of
her obsequious friends who stand around. And then she will perhaps
introduce you, as an old friend, to one of those flax-haired boys, who
peeped out of the wagon over his mother's shoulder, as you passed them
in the wilderness: and you recognise one of the members from California,
or from Oregon, whose influence in the house, though he is as yet a very
young man, is already quite considerable. If you are successful in your
application for a "place," it may be that the casual meeting in the
forest or on the prairie was the seed which, germinating through long
years of obscurity, finally sprung up _thus_, and bore a crop of high
official honors!

The next time you meet a family of emigrants on the frontier, you will
probably observe them a little more closely.

Not a few of those who bear a prominent part in the government of our
country--more than one of the first men of the nation--men whose names
are now heard in connection with the highest office of the
people--twenty years ago, occupied a place as humble in the scale of
influence, as that flaxen-haired son of the stoop-shouldered emigrant.
Such are the elements of our civilization--such the spirit of our

We have hitherto been speaking only of the American pioneer, and we have
devoted more space to him, than we shall give to his contemporaries,
because he has exerted more influence, both in the settlement of the
country, and in the formation of sectional character and social
peculiarities, than all the rest combined.

The French emigrant was quite a different being. Even at this day, there
are no two classes--not the eastern and western, or the northern and
southern--between whom the distinction is more marked, than it has
always been between the Saxon and the Frank. The advent of the latter
was much earlier than that of the former; and to him, therefore, must be
ascribed the credit of the first settlement of the country. But, for all
purposes of lasting impression, he must yield to his successor. It was,
in fact, the American who penetrated and cleared the forest--who subdued
and drove out the Indian--who, in a word, reclaimed the country.

In nothing was the distinction between the two races broader, than in
the feelings with which they approached the savage. We have seen that
the hatred, borne by the American toward his red enemy, was to be
traced to a long series of mutual hostilities and wrongs. But the
Frenchman had no such injuries to avenge, no hereditary feud to
prosecute. The first of his nation who had entered the country were
non-combatants--they came to convert the savage, not to conquer him,
or deprive him of his lands. Even as early as sixteen hundred and
eight, the Jesuits had established friendly relations with the Indians
of Canada--and before the stern crew of the May Flower had landed on
Plymouth Rock, they had preached the gospel on the shores of Lake
Huron. Their piety and wisdom had acquired an influence over the
untutored Indian, long before the commencement of the hostilities,
which afterward cost so much blood and suffering. They had, thus,
smoothed the way for their countrymen, and opened a safe path through
the wilderness, to the shore of the great western waters. And the
people who followed and accompanied them, were peculiarly adapted to
improve the advantages thus given them.

They were a gentle, peaceful, unambitious people. They came as the
friend, not the hereditary enemy, of the savage. They tendered the
calumet--a symbol well understood by every Indian--and were received as
allies and brethren. They had no national prejudices to overcome: the
copper color of the Indian was not an insuperable objection to
intermarriage, and children of the mixed blood were not, for that
reason, objects of scorn. An Indian maiden was as much a woman to a
Frenchman, as if she had been a _blonde_; and, if her form was graceful
and her features comely, he would woo her with as much ardor as if she
had been one of his own race.

Nor was this peculiarity attributable only to the native gallantry of
the French character, as it has sometimes been asserted; the total want
of prejudice, which grows up in contemplating an inferior race, held in
limited subjection, and a certain easiness of temper and tone of
thought, had far more influence.

The Frenchman has quite enough vanity, but very little pride. Whatever,
therefore, is sanctioned by those who surrounded him, is, in his eyes,
no degradation. He married the Indian woman--first, because there were
but few females among the emigrants, and he could not live without "the
sex;" and, second, because there was nothing in his prejudices, or in
public sentiment, to deter him. The descendants of these
marriages--except where, as in some cases, they are upheld by the
possession of great wealth--have no consideration, and are seldom seen
in the society of the whites. But this is only because French manners
and feelings have long since faded out of our social organization. The
Saxon, with his unconquerable prejudices of race, with his pride and
jealousy, has taken possession of the country; and, as he rules its
political destinies, in most places, likewise, gives tones to its
manners. Had Frenchmen continued to possess the land--had French
dominion not given place to English--mixture of blood would have had but
little influence on one's position; and there would now have been, in
St. Louis or Chicago, as many shades of color in a social assembly, as
may be seen at a ball in Mexico.

The French are a more cheerful people, than the Americans. Social
intercourse--the interchange of hospitalities--the enjoyment of
amusements in crowds--are far more important to them than to any other
race. Solitude and misery are--or ought to be--synonyms in French; and
enjoyment is like glory--it must have witnesses, or it will lose its
attraction. Accordingly, we find the French emigrant seeking
companionship, even in the trials and enterprises of the wilderness. The
American, after the manner of his race, sought places where he could
possess, for himself, enough for his wants, and be "monarch of all he

But the Frenchman had no such pride. He resorted to a town, where the
amusements of dancing, _fêtes_, and social converse, were to be
found--where the narrow streets were scarcely more than a division
fence, "across which the women could carry on their voluble
conversations, without leaving their homes."[75] This must have been a
great advantage, and probably contributed, in no slight degree, to the
singular peace of their villages--since the proximity afforded no
temptation to going abroad, and the distance was yet too great to allow
such whisperings and scandal, as usually break up the harmony of small
circles. Whether the fact is to be attributed to this, or to some other
cause, certain it is that these little communities were eminently
peaceful. From the first settlement of Kaskaskia, for example, down to
the transfer of the western country to the British--almost a century--I
find no record, even in the voluminous epistolary chronicles, of any
personal rencontre, or serious quarrel, among the inhabitants. The same
praise can not be given to any American town ever yet built.

A species of communism seems to be a portion of the French character;
for we discover, that, even at that early day, _paysans_, or _habitans_,
collected together in villages, had their _common fields_, where the
separate portion of each family was still a part of the common
stock--and their tract of pasture-land, where there was no division, or
separate property. One enclosure covered all the fields of the
community, and all submitted to regulations made by the free voice of
the people.

If one was sick, or employed in the service of the colony, or absent
on business of his own at planting or harvest time, his portion was
not therefore neglected: his ground was planted, or his crop was
gathered, by the associated labor of his neighbors, as thoroughly and
carefully as if he had been at home. His family had nothing to fear;
because in the social code of the simple villagers, each was as much
bound to maintain the children of his friend as his own. This state of
things might have its inconveniences and vices--of which, perhaps, the
worst was its tendency to merge the family into the community, and
thus--by obliterating the lines of individuality and personal
independence--benumbing enterprise and checking improvements: but it
was certainly productive of some good results, also. It tended to
make people careful each of the other's rights, kind to the afflicted,
and brotherly in their social intercourse. The attractive simplicity
of manners observable, even at this day, in some of the old French
villages, is traceable to this peculiar form of their early

It would be well if that primitive simplicity of life and manners, could
be combined with rapid, or even moderate improvement. But, in the
present state of the world, this can scarcely be; and, accordingly, we
find the Frenchman of the passing year, differing but little from his
ancestor of sixteen hundred and fifty--still living in the old
patriarchal style, still cultivating his share of the common field, and
still using the antiquated processes of the seventeenth century.

But, though not so active as their neighbors, the Americans, they were
ever much happier. They had no ambition beyond enough for the passing
hour: with that they were perfectly contented. They were very patient
of the deprivation, when they had it not; and seasons of scarcity saw
no cessation of music and dancing, no abridgment of the jest and song.
If the earth yielded enough in one year to sustain them till the
next, the amount of labor expended for that object was never
increased--superfluity they cared nothing for: and commerce, save such
limited trade as was necessary to provide their few luxuries, was
beyond both their capacity and desires. The prolific soil was suffered
to retain its juices; it was reserved for another people to discover
and improve its infinite productiveness.

They were indolent, careless, and improvident. Great enterprises were
above or below them. Political interests, and the questions concerning
national dominion, were too exciting to charm their gentle natures.
Their intelligence was, of course, not of the highest order: but they
had no use for learning--literature was out of place in the
wilderness--the pursuit of letters could have found no sympathy, and for
solitary enjoyment, the Frenchman cultivates nothing. Life was almost
altogether sensuous: and, though their morals were in keeping with their
simplicity, existence to them was chiefly a physical matter. The
fertility of the soil, producing all the necessaries of life with a
small amount of labor, and the amenity of the climate, rendering
defences against winter but too easy, encouraged their indolence, and
soothed their scanty energy.

"They made no attempt," said one[76] who knew them well, "to acquire
land from the Indians, to organize a social system, to introduce
municipal regulations, or to establish military defences; but cheerfully
obeyed the priests and the king's officers, and enjoyed the present
without troubling their heads about the future. They seem to have been
even careless as to the acquisition of property, and its transmission to
their heirs. Finding themselves in a fruitful country, abounding in
game--where the necessaries of life could be procured with little
labor--where no restraints were imposed by government, and neither
tribute nor personal service was exacted, they were content to live in
unambitious peace and comfortable poverty. They took possession of so
much of the vacant land around them, as they were disposed to till, and
no more. Their agriculture was rude: and even to this day, some of the
implements of husbandry and modes of cultivation, brought from France a
century ago, remain unchanged by the march of mind or the hand of
innovation. Their houses were comfortable, and they reared fruits and
flowers, evincing, in this respect, an attention to comfort and luxury,
which has not been practised by the English and American first
settlers. But in the accumulation of property, and in all the essentials
of industry, they were indolent and improvident, rearing only the bare
necessaries of life, and living from generation to generation without
change or improvement."

"They reared fruits and flowers," he says; and this simple fact denotes
a marked distinction between them and the Americans, not only in regard
to the things themselves, as would seem to be the view of the author
quoted, but in mental constitution, modes of thought, and motives to
action. Their tastes were elegant, ornate, and refined. They found
pleasure in pursuits which the American deems trivial, frivolous, and
unworthy of exertion.

If any trees sheltered the house of the American, they were those
planted by the winds; if there were any flowers at his door, they were
only those with which prodigal nature has carpeted the prairies; and you
may see now in the west, many a cabin which has stood for thirty years,
with not a tree, of shade or fruit, within a mile of its door!
Everything is as bare and as cheerless about the door-yard, as it was
the first winter of its enclosure. But, stretching away from it, in
every direction, sometimes for miles, you will see extensive and
productive fields of grain, in the highest state of cultivation. It is
not personal comfort, or an elegant residence, for which the American
cares, but the enduring and solid results of unwearied labor.

A Frenchman's residence is surrounded by flower-beds and orchards; his
windows are covered by creeping-vines and trellis-work; flower-pots and
bird-cages occupy the sills and surround the corridors; everything
presents the aspect of elegant taste, comfort, and indolence. The extent
of his fields, the amount of his produce, the intelligence and industry
of his cultivation, bear an immense disproportion to those of his less
ornamental, though more energetic, neighbor.

The distinction between the two races is as clear in their personal
appearance and bearing, as in the aspect of their plantations. The
Frenchman is generally a spruce, dapper little gentleman, brisk,
obsequious, and insinuating in manner, and usually betraying minute
attention to externals. The American is always plain in dress--evincing
no more taste in costume than in horticulture--steady, calm, and never
lively in manner: blunt, straightforward, and independent in discourse.
The one is amiable and submissive, the other choleric and rebellious.
The Frenchman always recognises and bows before superior rank: the
American acknowledges no superior, and bows to no man save in courtesy.
The former is docile and easily governed: the latter is intractable,
beyond control. The Frenchman accommodates himself to circumstances: the
American forces circumstances to yield to him.

The consequence has been, that while the American has stamped his
character upon the whole country, there are not ten places in the valley
of the Mississippi, where you would infer, from anything you see, that a
Frenchman had ever placed his foot upon the soil. The few localities in
which the French character yet lingers, are fast losing the distinction;
and a score or two of years will witness a total disappearance of the
gentle people and their primitive abodes. Even now--excepting in a few
parishes in Louisiana--the relics of the race bear a faded, antiquated
look: as if they belonged to a past century, as, indeed, they do, and
only lingered now, to witness, for a brief space, the glaring
innovations of the nineteenth, and then, lamenting the follies of modern
civilization, to take their departure for ever!

Let them depart in peace! For they were a gentle and pacific race, and
in their day did many kindly things!

    "The goodness of the heart is shown in deeds
    Of peacefulness and kindness."

Their best monument is an affectionate recollection of their simplicity:
their highest wish

        ----"To sleep in humble life,
    Beneath the storm ambition blows."


[70] _History of the United States_, vol. iii., p. 336. Enacted in

[71] A detailed and somewhat tedious account of these savage inroads,
may be found in Warburton's _Conquest of Canada_, published by Harpers.
New-York. 1850.

[72] This is the estimate of Bancroft--and, I think, at least, thirty
thousand too liberal. If the number were doubled, however, it would not
weaken the position in the text.

[73] On the subject of naming towns, much might have been said in the
preceding article in favor of French taste, and especially that just and
unpretending taste, which led them almost alway to retain the Indian
names. While the American has pretentiously imported from the Old World
such names as Venice, Carthage, Rome, Athens, and even London and Paris,
or has transferred from the eastern states, Boston, Philadelphia,
Baltimore, and New York, the Frenchman, with a better judgment, has
retained such Indian names as Chicago, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Cahokia,
Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Wabash, and Mississippi.

[74] This word is a pregnant memento of the manner in which the vain
words of flippant orators fall, innocuous, to the ground, when they
attempt to stigmatize, with contemptuous terms, the truly noble.
"Squatter" is now, in the west, only another name for "Pioneer," and
that word describes all that is admirable in courage, truth, and

[75] Perkins's _Western Annals_.

[76] "Sketches of the West," by Judge Hall, for many years a resident of

[Illustration: THE RANGER.]



    "When purposed vengeance I forego,
    Term me a wretch, nor deem me foe;
    And when an insult I forgive,
    Then brand me as a slave, and live."


In elaborating the character of the pioneer, we have unavoidably
anticipated, in some measure, that of the Ranger--for the latter was, in
fact, only one of the capacities in which the former sometimes acted.
But--since, in the preceding article, we have endeavored to confine
the inquiry, so as to use the term _Pioneer_ as almost synonymous with
_Immigrant_--we have, of course, ignored, to some extent, the
subordinate characters, in which he frequently figured. We therefore
propose, now, briefly to review one or two of them in their natural

The progress of our country may be traced and measured, by the
representative characters which marked each period. The
missionary-priest came first, when the land was an unbroken wilderness.
The military adventurer, seeking to establish new empires, and acquire
great fortunes, entered by the path thus opened. Next came the hunter,
roaming the woods in search of wild beasts upon which he preyed. Making
himself familiar with the pathless forest and the rolling prairie, he
qualified himself to guide, even while he fled from, the stream of
immigration. At last came the pioneer, to drive away the savage, to
clear out the forests, and reclaim the land.

At first, he was _only_ a pioneer. He had few neighbors, he belonged to
no community--his household was his country, his family were his only
associates or companions. In the course of time others followed him--he
could occasionally meet a white man on the prairies; if he wandered a
few miles from home, he could see the smoke of another chimney in the
distance. If he did not at once abandon his "clearing" and go further
west, he became, in some sort, a member of society--was the
fellow-citizen of his neighbors. The Indians became alarmed for their
hunting grounds, or the nations went to war and drew them into the
contest: the frontier became unsafe: the presence of danger drew the
pioneers together: they adopted a system of defence, and the ranger was
the offspring and representative of a new order of things.

Rough and almost savage as he sometimes was, he was still the index to a
great improvement. Rude as the system was, it gave shape and order to
what had before been mere chaos.

The ranger marks a new era, then; his existence is another chapter in
the history of the west. Previous to his time, each pioneer depended
only on himself for defence--his sole protection, against the wild beast
and the savage, was his rifle--self-dependence was his peculiar
characteristic. The idea of a fighting establishment--the germ of
standing armies--had never occurred to him: even the rudest form of
civil government was strange to him--taxes, salaries, assessments, were
all "unknown quantities."

But, gradually, all this changed; and with his circumstances, his
character was also modified. He lost a little of his sturdy
independence, his jealousy of neighborhood was softened--his solitary
habits became more social--he acknowledged the necessity for concert of
action--he merged a part of his individuality into the community,
and--became a ranger.

In this capacity, his character was but little different to what it had
been before the change; and, though that change was a great improvement,
considered with reference to society, it may safely be doubted whether
it made the individual more respectable. He was a better _citizen_,
because he now contributed to the common defence: but he was not a
better _man_, because new associations brought novel temptations, and
mingling with other men wore away the simplicity, which was the
foundation of his manliness. Before assuming his new character,
moreover, he never wielded a weapon except in his own defence--or, at
most, in avenging his own wrongs. The idea of justice--claiming
reparation for an injury, which he alone could estimate, because by him
alone it was sustained--protected his moral sense. But, when he assumed
the vindication of his neighbor's rights, and the reparation of his
wrongs--however kind it may have been to do so--he was sustained only by
the spirit of hatred to the savage, could feel no such justification as
the consciousness of injury.

Here was the first introduction of the mercenary character, which
actuates the hireling soldier; and, though civilization was not then far
enough advanced, to make it very conspicuous, there were other elements
mingled, which could not but depreciate the simple nobility of the
pioneer's nature. Many of the qualities which, in him, had been merely
passive, in the ranger became fierce and active. We have alluded, for
example, to his hatred of the Indian; and this, habit soon strengthened
and exaggerated. Nothing marks that change so plainly as his adoption of
the barbarous practice of scalping enemies.

For this there might be some little palliation in the fact, that the
savage never considered a warrior overcome, though he were killed,
unless he lost his scalp; and so long as he could bring off the dead
bodies of his comrades, not mutilated by the process, he was but
partially intimidated. Defeat was, in that case, converted to a sort of
triumph; and having gone within one step of victory--for so this
half-success was estimated--was the strongest incentive to a renewal of
the effort. It might be, therefore, that the ranger's adoption of the
custom was a measure of self-defence. But it is to be feared that this
consideration--weak as it is, when stated as an excuse for cruelty so
barbarous--had but little influence in determining the ranger. Adopting
the code of the savage, the practice soon became a part of his warfare;
and the taking of the scalp was a ceremony necessary to the completion
of his victory. It was a bloody and inhuman triumph--a custom, which
tended, more forcibly than any other, to degrade true courage to mere
cruelty; and which, while it only mortified the savage, at the same
time, by rendering his hatred of the white men more implacable,
aggravated the horrors of Indian warfare. But the only measure of
justice in those days, was the _lex talionis_--"An eye for an eye," a
scalp for a scalp; and, even now, you may hear frontiermen justify,
though they do not practise it, by quoting the venerable maxim, "Fight
the devil with fire."

But, though the warfare of the ranger was sometimes distinguished by
cruelty, it was also ennobled by features upon which it is far more
pleasant to dwell.

No paladin, or knight, of the olden times, ever exhibited more wild,
romantic daring, than that which formed a part of the ranger's daily
action. Danger, in a thousand forms, beset him at every step--he defied
mutilation, death by fire and lingering torture. The number of his
enemies, he never counted, until after he had conquered them--the power
of the tribe, or the prowess of the warrior, was no element in his
calculations. Where he could strike first and most effectually, was his
only inquiry. Securing an avenue for retreat was no part of his
strategy--for he had never an intention or thought of returning, except
as a victor. "Keeping open his communications," either with the rear or
the flanks, had no place in his system; "combined movements" he seldom
attempted, for he depended for victory, upon the force he chanced to
have directly at hand. The distance from his "base of operations" he
never measured; for he carried all his supplies about his person, and he
never looked for reinforcements. Bridges and wagon-roads he did not
require, for he could swim all the rivers, and he never lost his way in
the forest. He carried his artillery upon his shoulder, his tactics were
the maxims of Indian warfare, and his only drill was the "ball-practice"
of the woods. He was his own commissary, for he carried his "rations" on
his back, and replenished his havresack with his rifle. He needed no
quartermaster; for he furnished his own "transportation," and selected
his own encampment--his bed was the bosom of mother-earth, and his tent
was the foliage of an oak or the canopy of heaven. In most
cases--especially in battle--he was his own commander, too; for he was
impatient of restraint, and in savage warfare knew his duty as well as
any man could instruct him. Obedience was no part of his
nature--subordination was irksome and oppressive. In a word, he was an
excellent soldier, without drill, discipline or organization.

He was as active as he was brave--as untiring as he was fearless.

A corps of rangers moved so rapidly, as apparently to double its
numbers--dispersing on the Illinois or Missouri, and reassembling on the
Mississippi, on the following day--traversing the Okan timber to-day,
and fording the Ohio to-morrow. One of them, noted among the Indians for
desperate fighting, and personally known for many a bloody meeting,
would appear so nearly simultaneously in different places, as to acquire
the title of a "Great Medicine;" and instances have been known, where as
many as three distinct war-parties have told of obstinate encounters
with the same men in one day! Their apparent ubiquity awed the Indians
more than their prowess.

General Benjamin Howard, who, in eighteen hundred and thirteen resigned
the office of governor of Missouri, and accepted the appointment of
brigadier-general, in command of the militia and rangers of Missouri
and Illinois, at no time, except for a few weeks in eighteen hundred and
fourteen, had more than one thousand men under his orders: And yet, with
this inconsiderable force, he protected a frontier extending from the
waters of the Wabash, westward to the advanced settlements of
Missouri--driving the savages northward beyond Peoria, and intimidating
them by the promptitude and rapidity of his movements.

Our government contributed nothing to the defence of its frontiers,
except an act of Congress, which authorized them to defend themselves!
The Indians, amounting to at least twenty tribes, had been stirred up to
hostility by the British, and, before the establishment of rangers, were
murdering and plundering almost with impunity. But soon after the
organization of these companies, the tide began to turn. The ranger was
at least a match for the savage in his own mode of warfare; and he had,
moreover, the advantages of civilized weapons, and a steadiness and
constancy, unknown to the disorderly war-parties of the red men.

He was persevering beyond all example, and exhibited endurance which
astonished even the stoical savage. Three or four hours' rest, after
weeks of hardship and exposure, prepared him for another expedition. If
the severity of his vengeance, or the success of a daring enterprise,
intimidated the Indian for a time, and gave him a few days' leisure, he
grew impatient of inactivity, and was straightway planning some new
exploit. The moment one suggested itself, he set about accomplishing
it--and its hardihood and peril caused no hesitation. He would march, on
foot, hundreds of miles, through an unbroken wilderness, until he
reached the point where the blow was to be struck; and then, awaiting
the darkness, in the middle of the night, he would fall upon his
unsuspecting enemies and carry all before him.

During the war of independence, the rangers had not yet assumed that
name, nor were they as thoroughly organized, as they became in the
subsequent contest of eighteen hundred and twelve. But the same material
was there--the same elements of character, actuated by the same spirit.
Let the following instance show what that spirit was.

In the year seventeen hundred and seventy-seven, there lived at
Cahokia--on the east side of the Mississippi below Saint Louis--a
Pennsylvanian by the name of Brady--a restless, daring man, just made
for a leader of rangers. In an interval of inactivity, he conceived the
idea of capturing one of the British posts in Michigan, the nearest
point of which was at least three hundred miles distant! He forthwith
set about raising a company--and, at the end of three days, found
himself invested with the command of _sixteen men_! With these, on the
first of October, he started on a journey of more than one hundred
leagues, through the vast solitudes of the prairies and the thousand
perils of the forest, to take a military station, occupied by a
detachment of British soldiers! After a long and toilsome march, they
reached the banks of the St. Joseph's river, on which the object of
their expedition stood. Awaiting the security of midnight, they suddenly
broke from their cover in the neighborhood, and by a _coup de main_,
captured the fort without the loss of a man! Thus far all went well--for
besides the success and safety of the party, they found a large amount
of stores, belonging to traders, in the station, and were richly paid
for their enterprise--but having been detained by the footsore, on their
homeward march, and probably delayed by their plunder, they had only
reached the Calumet, on the borders of Indiana, when they were overtaken
by three hundred British and Indians! They were forced to surrender,
though not without a fight, for men of that stamp were not to be
intimidated by numbers. They lost in the skirmish one fourth of their
number: the survivors were carried away to Canada, whence Brady, the
leader, escaped, and returned to Cahokia the same winter. The twelve
remained prisoners until seventeen hundred and seventy-nine.

Against most men this reverse would have given the little fort
security--at least, until the memory of the disaster had been obscured
by time. But the pioneers of that period were not to be judged by
ordinary rules. The very next spring (1778), another company was raised
for the same object, and to wipe out what they considered the stain of a
failure. It was led by a man named Maize, over the same ground, to the
same place, and was completely successful. The fort was retaken, the
trading-station plundered, the wounded men of Brady's party released,
and, loaded with spoil, the little party marched back in triumph!

There is an episode in the history of their homeward march, which
illustrates another characteristic of the ranger--his ruthlessness. The
same spirit which led him to disregard physical obstacles, prevented his
shrinking from even direful necessities. One of the prisoners whom they
had liberated, became exhausted and unable to proceed. They could not
carry him, and would not have him to die of starvation in the
wilderness. They could not halt with him, lest the same fate should
overtake them, which had defeated the enterprise of Brady. But one
alternative remained, and though, to us, it appears cruel and inhuman,
it was self-preservation to them, and mercy, in a strange guise, to the
unhappy victim--_he was despatched by the hand of the leader_, and
buried upon the prairie! His grave is somewhere near the head-waters of
the Wabash, and has probably been visited by no man from that day to

Mournful reflections cluster round such a narrative as this, and we are
impelled to use the word "atrocious" when we speak of it. It was
certainly a bloody deed, but the men of those days were not nurtured in
drawing-rooms, and never slept upon down-beds. A state of war, moreover,
begets many evils, and none of them are more to be deplored than the
occasional occurrence of such terrible necessities.

The ranger-character, like the pioneer-nature of which it was a phase,
was compounded of various and widely-differing elements. No one of his
evil qualities was more prominent than several of the good; and, I am
sorry to say, none of the good was more prominent than several of the
bad. No class of men did more efficient service in defending the western
settlements from the inroads of the Indians; and though it seems hard
that the war should sometimes have been carried into the country of the
untutored savage by civilized men, with a severity exceeding his own, we
should remember that we can not justly estimate the motives and feelings
of the ranger, without first having been exasperated by his sufferings
and tried by his temptations.



    "Thieves for their robbery have authority,
    When judges steal themselves."--


At the conclusion of peace between England and America, in eighteen
hundred and fifteen, the Indians, who had been instigated and supported
in their hostility by the British, suddenly found themselves deprived of
their allies. If they now made war upon the Americans, they must do so
upon their own responsibility, and, excepting the encouragement of a few
traders and commanders of outposts, whose enmity survived the general
pacification, without assistance from abroad. They, however, refused to
lay down their arms, and hostilities were continued, though languidly,
for some years longer. But the rangers, now disciplined by the
experience of protracted warfare, and vastly increased in numbers, had
grown to be more than a match for them, so that not many years elapsed
before the conclusion of a peace, which has lasted, with but occasional
interruptions, to the present day.

When danger no longer threatened the settlements, there was no further
call for these irregular troops. The companies were disbanded, and those
who had families, as a large proportion of them had, returned to their
plantations, and resumed the pursuits of industry and peace. Those who
had neither farms nor families, and were unfitted by their stirring life
for regular effort, emigrated further west. Peace settled upon our
borders, never, we hope, to be seriously broken.

But as soon as the pressure of outward danger was withdrawn, and our
communities began to expand, the seeds of new evils were
developed--seeds which had germinated unobserved, while all eyes were
averted, and which now began to shoot up into a stately growth of vices
and crimes. The pioneers soon learned that there was among them a class
of unprincipled and abandoned men, whose only motive in emigrating was
to avoid the restraints, or escape the penalties, of law, and to whom
the freedom of the wilderness was a license to commit every sort of
depredation. The arm of the law was not yet strong enough to punish

The territorial governments were too busy in completing their own
organization, to give much attention to details: where states had been
formed, the statute-book was yet a blank: few officers had been
appointed, and even these were strangers to their duties and charge of
responsibility. Between the military rule of the rangers--for they were
for internal police as well as external defence--and the establishment
of regular civil government, there was a sort of interregnum, during
which there was neither law nor power to enforce it. The bands of
villains who infested the country were the only organizations known;
and, in not a few instances, these bands included the very magistrates
whose duty it was to see that the laws were faithfully executed. Even
when this was not the case, it was a fruitless effort to arrest a
malefactor; indeed, it was very often worse than fruitless, for his
confederates were always ready to testify in his favor: and the usual
consequence of an attempt to punish, was the drawing down upon the head
of the complainant or prosecutor, the enmity of a whole confederacy.
Legal proceedings, had provision been made for such, were worse than
useless, for conviction was impossible: and the effort exasperated,
while the failure encouraged, the outlaw spirit.

An _alibi_ was the usual defence, and to those times may be referred the
general prejudice entertained among our people, even at the present day,
against that species of testimony. A jury of western men will hardly
credit an _alibi_, though established by unexceptionable witnesses; and
the announcement that the accused depends upon that for his defence,
will create a strong prejudice against him in advance. Injustice may
sometimes be done in this way, but it is a feeling of which our people
came honestly in possession. They established a habit, in early days, of
never believing an _alibi_, because, at that time, nine _alibis_ in ten
were false, and habits of thought, like legal customs, cling to men long
after their reason has ceased. It is right, too, that it should be so,
on the principle that we should not suspend the use of the remedy until
the disease be thoroughly conquered.

In a state of things, such as we have described, but one of two things
could be done: the citizens must either abandon all effort to assert the
supremacy of order, and give the country over to thieves and robbers,
or they must invent some new and irregular way of forcing men to live
honestly. They wisely chose the latter alternative. They consulted
together, and the institution of _Regulators_ was the result of their

These were small bodies of men, chosen by the people, or voluntarily
assuming the duty--men upon whom the citizens could depend for both
discretion and resolution. Their duties may be explained in a few words:
to ferret out and punish criminals, to drive out "suspicious
characters," and exercise a general supervision over the interests and
police of the settlements, from which they were chosen. Their
statute-book was the "code of Judge Lynch"--their order of trial was
similar to that of a "drum-head court-martial"--the principles of their
punishment was certainty, rapidity, and severity. They were judges,
juries, witnesses, and executioners.

They bound themselves by a regular compact (usually verbal, but
sometimes in writing[77]), to the people and to each other, to rid the
community of all thieves, robbers, plunderers, and villains of every
description. They scoured the country in all directions and in all
seasons, and by the swiftness of their movements, and the certainty of
their vengeance, rivalled their predecessors, the rangers. When a
depredation had been committed, it was marvellous with what rapidity
every regulator knew it; even the telegraph of modern days performs no
greater wonders: and it frequently happened, that the first the quiet
citizens heard of a theft, or a robbery, was the news of its punishment!
Their acts may sometimes have been high-handed and unjustifiable, but on
the whole--and it is only in such a view that social institutions are to
be estimated--they were the preservers of the communities for whom they
acted. In time, it is true, they degenerated, and sometimes the corps
fell into the hands of the very men they were organized to punish.

Every social organization is liable to misdirection, and this, among
others, has been perverted to the furtherance of selfish and
unprincipled purposes; for, like prejudices and habits of thought,
organized institutions frequently survive the necessities which call
them into existence. Abuses grow up under all systems; and, perhaps, the
worst abuse of all, is a measure or expedient, good though temporary,
retained after the passing away of the time for which it was adopted.

But having, in the article "Pioneer," sufficiently elaborated the
_character_--for the regulator was of course a pioneer also--we can best
illustrate the mode of his action by a narrative of facts. From the
hundreds of well-authenticated stories which might be collected, I have
chosen the two following, because they distinguish the successive stages
or periods of the system. The first relates to the time when a band of
regulators was the only reliable legal power, and when, consequently,
the vigilance of the citizens kept it comparatively pure. The second
indicates a later period, when the people no longer felt insecure, and
there was in fact no necessity for the system; and when, not having been
disused, it could not but be abused. We derive both from an old citizen
of the country, who was an actor in each. One of them, the first, has
already been in print, but owing to circumstances to which it is
needless to advert, it was thought better to confine the narrative to
facts already generally known. These circumstances are no longer
operative, and I am now at liberty to publish entire the story of "The
First Grave."


At the commencement of the war of eighteen hundred and twelve, between
Great Britain and the United States, there lived, in the western part of
Virginia, three families, named, respectively, Stone, Cutler, and
Roberts. They were all respectable people, of more than ordinary wealth;
having succeeded, by an early emigration and judicious selection of
lands, in rebuilding fortunes which had been somewhat impaired east of
the Blue Ridge. Between the first and second there was a relationship,
cemented by several matrimonial alliances, and the standing of both had
been elevated by this union of fortunes. In each of these two, there
were six or seven children--the most of them boys--but Captain Roberts,
the head of the third, had but one child, a daughter, who, in the year
named, was approaching womanhood.

She is said to have been beautiful: and, from the extravagant admiration
of those who saw her only when time and suffering must have obscured her
attractions, there can be little doubt that she was so. What her
character was, we can only conjecture from the tenor of our story:
though we have reason to suspect that she was passionate, impulsive,
and somewhat vain of her personal appearance.

At the opening of hostilities between the two countries, she was wooed
by two suitors, young Stone, the eldest of the sons of that family, and
Abram Cutler, who was two or three years his senior. Both had recently
returned home, after a protracted absence of several years, beyond the
mountains, whither they had been sent by their ambitious parents, "to
attend college and see the world." Stone was a quiet, modest, unassuming
young man, rather handsome, but too pale and thin to be decidedly so.
Having made the most of his opportunities at "William and Mary," he had
come home well-educated (for that day and country) and polished by
intercourse with good society.

His cousin, Abram Cutler, was his opposite in almost everything. He had
been wild, reckless, and violent, at college, almost entirely giving up
his studies, after the first term, and always found in evil company. His
manners were as much vitiated as his morals, for he was exceedingly
rough, boisterous, and unpolished: so much so, indeed, as to approach
that limit beyond which wealth will not make society tolerant. But his
freedom of manner bore, to most observers, the appearance of generous
heartiness, and he soon gained the good will of the neighborhood by the
careless prodigality of his life. He was tall, elegantly formed, and
quite well-looking; and though he is said to have borne, a few years
later, a sinister and dishonest look, it is probable that most of this
was attributable to the preconceived notions of those who thus judged

Both these young men were, as we have said, suitors for the hand of
Margaret Roberts, and it is possible that the vain satisfaction of
having at her feet the two most attractive young men in the country, led
her to coquet with them both, but decidedly to prefer neither. It is
almost certain, that at the period indicated, she was sufficiently
well-pleased with either to have become his wife, had the other been
away. If she _loved_ either, however, it was Stone, for she was a little
timid, and Cutler sometimes frightened her with his violence: but the
preference, if it existed at all, was not sufficiently strong to induce
a choice.

About this time, the elder Cutler died, and it became necessary for
Abram, as executor of a large estate, to cross the mountains into the
Old Dominion, and arrange its complicated affairs. It was not without
misgiving that he went away, but his duties were imperative, and his
necessities, produced by his spendthrift habits, were pressing. He
trusted to a more than usually favorable interview with Margaret, and
full of sanguine hopes, departed on his journey.

Whether Stone entertained the idea of taking an unfair advantage of his
rival's absence, we can not say, but he straightway became more
assiduous in his attentions to Margaret. He was also decidedly favored
by Captain Roberts and his wife, both of whom had been alarmed by the
violent character of Cutler. Time soon began to obscure the recollection
of the absent suitor, and Stone's delicate and considerate gallantry
rapidly gained ground in Margaret's affections. It was just one month
after Cutler's departure that his triumph was complete; she consented to
be his wife so soon as the minister who travelled on that circuit should
enter the neighborhood. But the good man had set out on his circuit only
the day before the consent was given, and it would probably be at least
a month before his return. In the meantime, Cutler might recross the
mountains, and Stone had seen quite enough of Margaret's capriciousness
to tremble for the safety of his conquest, should that event occur
before it was thoroughly secured.

This was embarrassing: but when a man is in earnest, expedients are
never wanting.

There was an old gentleman living a few miles from the valley, who had
once held the commission of a justice of the peace, and though he had
not exercised his functions, or even claimed his dignity, for several
years, Stone was advised that he retained his official power "until his
successor was appointed and qualified," and that, consequently, any
official act of his would be legal and valid. He was advised, moreover,
and truly, that even if the person performing the ceremony were not a
magistrate, a marriage would be lawful and binding upon the simple
"consent" of the parties, properly published and declared.

Full-freighted with the happy news, he posted away to Captain Roberts,
and without difficulty obtained his sanction. He then went to Margaret,
and, with the assistance of her mother, who stood in much dread of
Cutler's violence, succeeded in persuading her to consent. Without
delay, the _cidevant_ magistrate was called in, the ceremony was
performed, and Margaret was Stone's wife!

The very day after this event, Cutler returned! What were his thoughts
no one knew, for he spoke to none upon the subject. He went, however,
to see "the bride," and, in the presence of others, bantered her
pleasantly upon her new estate, upon his own pretensions, and upon the
haste with which the ceremony had been performed. He started away with
the rest of the company present; but, on reaching the door--it was
afterward remembered--pretended to have forgotten something, and ran
back into the room where they had left Margaret alone. Here he remained
full ten minutes, and when he came out walked thoughtfully apart and
disappeared. What he said to Margaret no one knew; but, that evening,
when they were alone, she asked anxiously of her husband, "whether he
was quite sure that their marriage had been legal?" Stone reassured her,
and nothing more was said upon the subject.

Cutler had brought with him, over the mountains, the proclamation of the
governor of Virginia, announcing the declaration of war, and calling
upon the state for its quota of troops to repel invasion. He manifested
a warm interest in the enrolling and equipment of volunteers, and, in
order to attest his sincerity, placed his own name first upon the roll.
A day or two afterward, on meeting Stone, in the presence of several
others who had enrolled themselves, he laughingly observed, that the new
bridegroom "was probably too comfortable at home, to desire any
experience in campaigning:" and, turning away, he left the company
laughing at Stone's expense.

This touched the young man's pride--probably the more closely, because
he was conscious that the insinuation was not wholly void of truth--and,
without a moment's hesitation, he called Cutler back, took the paper,
and enrolled his name. Cutler laughed again, said _he_ would not have
done so, had he been in Stone's circumstances, and, after some further
conversation, walked away in the direction of Stone's residence. Whether
he actually entered the house is not known; but when the young husband
returned home, a few hours afterward, his wife's first words indicated
that she knew of his enrolment.

"Is it possible," said she, with some asperity, "that you already care
so little for me as to enrol yourself for an absence of six months?"

Stone would much have preferred to break the news to her himself, for he
had some foreboding as to the view she might take of his conduct. He had
scarcely been married a week, and he was conscious that a severe
construction of the act of enrolment, when there was notoriously not
the least necessity for it, might lead to inferences, than which,
nothing could be more false. If he had said, at once, that he had been
taunted by his old rival, and written his name under the influence of
pride, all would have been well, for his wife would then have
understood, though she might not have approved his action. But this
confession he was ashamed to make, and, by withholding it, laid the
foundation for his own and his wife's destruction. He at once
acknowledged the fact, disclaiming, however, the indifference to her,
which she inferred, and placing the act upon higher ground:--

"The danger of the country," he said, "was very imminent, and it became
every good citizen to do all he could for its defence. He had no idea
that the militia would be called far from home, or detained for a very
long time; but, in any event, he felt that men were bound, in such
circumstances, to cast aside personal considerations, and contribute,
each his share, to the common defence."

His wife gazed incredulously at him while he talked this high
patriotism: and well she might, for he did not speak as one moved by
such feelings. The consciousness of deceit, of concealment, and of
childish rashness, rendered his manner hesitating and embarrassed.
Margaret observed all this, for her jealousy was aroused and her
suspicions sharpened; she made no reply, however, but turned away, with
a toss of the head, and busied herself, quite fiercely, with her
household cares. From that moment, until the day of his departure, she
stubbornly avoided the subject, listening, but refusing to reply, when
her husband attempted to introduce it. When Cutler came--rather
unnecessarily, as Stone thought--to consult him about the organization
of a spy-company, to which both were attached, she paid no attention to
their conversation, but walked away down a road over which she knew
Cutler must pass on his return homeward. Whether this was by appointment
with him is not known: probably, however, it was her own motion.

We need not stay to detail all that took place between her and her
former suitor, when, as she had expected, they met in a wood some
hundreds of yards from her home; its result will sufficiently appear in
the sequel. One circumstance, however, we must not omit. She recurred to
a conversation which had passed sometime before, in relation to the
legality of her marriage; and though Cutler gave no positive opinion,
his parting advice was nearly in the following words:--

"If you think, from your three weeks' experience, that Stone cares
enough for you to make it prudent, I would advise you to have the
marriage ceremony performed by Parson Bowen, immediately upon his
return; and if you care enough for him to wish to retain him, you had
better have it performed _before he goes away_."

With these words, and without awaiting an answer, he passed on, leaving
her alone in the road. When she returned home, she did not mention the
subject; and though Parson Bowen returned to the neighborhood quite a
week before Stone went away, she never suggested a repetition of the
ceremony. When Stone manifested some anxiety on the subject, she turned
suddenly upon him and demanded--

"You do not think our marriage legal, then?"

He assured her that he only made the suggestion for her satisfaction,
entertaining no doubt, himself, that they were regularly and lawfully

"I am content to remain as I am," she said, curtly, and the parson was
not summoned.

Five days afterward the troops took up the line of march for the
frontier. Hull had not yet surrendered Michigan; but Proctor had so
stirred up the Indians (who, until then, had been quiet since the battle
of Tippecanoe), as to cut off all communication with the advanced
settlements, and even to threaten the latter with fire and slaughter.
Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, were then overrun by British and Indians;
for Hopkins had not yet commenced his march from Kentucky, and Congress
was still debating measures for protection. Hull's surrender took place
on the sixteenth of August, eighteen hundred and twelve, and in the
following month, General Harrison, having been appointed to the chief
command in the northwest, proceeded to adopt vigorous measures for the
defence of the country. It was to one of the regiments organized by him,
that our friends from Virginia found themselves attached. They had
raised a company of spies, and in this both Stone and Cutler held

They marched with the regiment, or rather in advance of it, for several
weeks. By that time, they had penetrated many miles beyond the
settlements, and Harrison began to feel anxious to ascertain the
position of General Hopkins, and open communications with him. For this
service Cutler volunteered, and was immediately selected by the
general. On the following morning, he set out with five men to seek the
Kentuckians. He found them without difficulty and delivered his
despatches; but from that day he was not seen, either in the camp of
Hopkins or in that of Harrison! It was supposed that he had started on
his return, and been taken or killed by the Indians, parties of whom
were prowling about between the lines of the two columns.

Stone remained with his company two or three months longer, when, the
enterprise of Hopkins having failed, and operations being suspended for
the time, it was thought inexpedient to retain them for the brief period
which remained of their term of enlistment, and they were discharged.
Stone returned home, and, full of anticipations, the growth of a long
absence, hastened at once to his own house. The door was closed, no
smoke issued from the chimney, there was no one there! After calling in
vain for a long time, he ran away to her father's, endeavoring to feel
certain that he would find her there. But the old man received him with
a mournful shake of the head. Margaret had been gone more than a month,
no one knew whither or with whom!

A report had been in circulation that Cutler was seen in the
neighborhood, a few days before her disappearance; but no news having
been received of his absence from the army, it had not been generally
credited. But now, it was quite clear!

The old man invited Stone to enter, but he declined. Sitting down on a
log, he covered his face with his hands, for a few moments, and seemed
buried in grief. It did not last long, however: he rose almost
immediately, and going a little aside, calmly loaded his rifle. Without
noticing the old man, who stood gazing at him in wonder, he turned away,
and, with his eyes fixed upon the ground, took the path toward his own
house. He was seen to break the door and enter, but he remained within
only a few minutes. On coming out, he threw his rifle over his shoulder,
and walked away through the forest. Half an hour afterward, smoke was
seen issuing from the roof of the house in several places, and on
repairing thither, the neighbors found the whole place in a bright
flame! It was of no use to attempt to save it or any of its contents. An
hour afterward, it was a heap of smouldering ruins, and its owner had
disappeared from the country!

Seven years passed away.

The war was over: the Indians had been driven to the north and west, and
the tide of emigration had again set toward the Mississippi. The
northwestern territory--especially that part of it which is now included
within the limits of Illinois and Indiana--was rapidly filling up with
people from the south and east. The advanced settlements had reached the
site of Springfield, in the "Sangamon country,"[78] now the capital of
Illinois, and a few farms were opened in the north of Madison
county--now Morgan and Scott. The beautiful valley, most inaptly called,
of the _Mauvaisterre_, was then an unbroken wilderness.

The grass was growing as high as the head of a tall man, where now
well-built streets and public squares are traversed by hurrying crowds.
Groves which have since become classic were then impenetrable thickets;
and the only guides the emigrant found, through forest and prairie, were
the points of the compass, and the courses of streams. But in the years
eighteen hundred and seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen, the western
slope of the Sangamon country began rapidly to improve. Reports had gone
abroad of "the fertility of its soil, the beauty of its surface, its
genial climate, and its many advantages of position"--and there is
certainly no country which more richly deserves these praises.

But the first emigrant who made his appearance here, in the autumn of
eighteen hundred and nineteen, was probably moved by other
considerations. It was none other than Abram Cutler! And his family
consisted of a wife and three young children! That wife was Margaret
Roberts--or rather Margaret Stone; for, notwithstanding the
representations of Cutler, her union with Stone had been perfectly
legal. By what arts he had succeeded in inducing her to elope with him,
we can only judge from his previous proceedings; but this is certain,
that resentment toward Stone, who, she probably believed, had unfairly
trapped her, was as likely to move her impulsive and unstable spirit, as
any other motive. Add to this, the wound given to her vanity by the
sudden departure of her young husband upon a long campaign, with the
acuteness given to this feeling by the arts of Cutler, and we shall not
be at a loss to explain her action.

Whether she had not bitterly repented her criminal haste, we know not;
but that hardship and suffering of some sort had preyed upon her spirit,
was evident in her appearance. Her beauty was much faded; she had grown
pale and thin; and though she was scarcely yet in the prime of
womanhood, her step was heavy and spiritless. She was not happy, of
course, but her misery was not only negative: the gnawings of remorse
were but too positive and real!

Cutler was changed almost as much as his victim. The lapse of seven
years had added a score to his apparent age; and, if we are to credit
the representations of persons who were probably looking for signs of
vice, the advance of time had brought out, in well-marked lineaments,
upon his countenance, the evil traits of his character. His cheeks were
sunken, his features attenuated, and his figure exceedingly spare, but
he still exhibited marks of great personal strength and activity. His
glance, always of doubtful meaning, was now unsettled and furtive; and I
have heard one of the actors in this history assert, that it had a
scared, apprehensive expression, as if he were in constant expectation
of meeting a dangerous enemy.

Nor is this at all improbable, for during the seven years which had
elapsed since the consummation of his design upon Margaret, he had
emigrated no less than three times--frightened away, at each removal, by
some intimation, or suspicion, that the avenger was on his track! No
wonder that his look was wary, and his face pale and haggard!

On this, his fourth migration, he had crossed the prairies from the
waters of the Wabash; and having placed the wide expanse of waving plain
between him and the settlements, he at length considered himself safe
from pursuit. Passing by the little trading-station, where Springfield
now stands, he traversed the beautiful country lying between that and
the Mauvaisterre. But the alternation of stately timber and lovely
prairie had no charms for him: he sought not beauty or fertility, but
seclusion; for his pilgrimage had become wearisome, and his step was
growing heavy. Remorse was at his heart, and fear--the appealing face of
his patient victim kept his crime in continual remembrance--and he knew,
that like a blood-hound, his enemy was following behind. It was a weary
load! No wonder that his cheeks were thin or his eyes wild!

He passed on till he came to a quiet, secluded spot, where he thought
himself not likely soon to be disturbed by emigration. It was sixteen
miles west of the place where Jacksonville has since been built, upon
the banks of the lower Mauvaisterre, seven miles from the Illinois
river. The place was long known as Cutler's grove, but a town grew up
around it, and has been christened by the sounding name of Exeter. Those
who visit it now, and have heard the story of Cutler, will commend his
judgment in selecting it for retirement; for, town as it is, a more
secluded, dreamy little place is nowhere to be found. It would seem that
the passage of a carriage through its _street_--for it has but
one--would be an event in its history; and the only things which redeem
it, in the fancy, from the category of visionary existences, are a
blacksmith's shop and a mill!

But Cutler's trail was seen upon the prairies, and the course of many an
emigrant was determined by the direction taken by his predecessor. It
was not long before others came to "settle" in the neighborhood.
Emigration was gradually encroaching, also, from the south; families
began to take possession of the river "bottoms;" the smoke from frontier
cabins ascended in almost every point of timber; and by the summer of
eighteen hundred and twenty, Cutler found himself as far from the
frontier as ever! But he was resolved not to move again: a dogged
spirit--half weariness, half despair--had taken possession of him. "I
have moved often enough," he said to Margaret, "and here I am determined
to remain, come what may!"

Actuated by such feelings--goaded by a fear which he could not conquer,
and yet was resolute not to indulge--the lurking devil in his nature
could not long remain dormant. Nothing develops evil tendencies so
rapidly as the consciousness of wrong and the fear of punishment. His
life soon became reckless and abandoned, and the first sign of his
degradation was his neglect of his household. For days together Margaret
saw nothing of him; his only companions were the worthless and outlawed;
and, when intoxicating liquors could be procured, which was,
fortunately, not often, he indulged in fearful excesses.

Of evil company, there was, unhappily, but too much; for the settlement
was cursed with a band of desperadoes, exiles from organized society,
who had sought the frontier to obtain impunity for their misdeeds. The
leaders of this band were three brothers, whom no law could control, no
obligation restrain; and with these men Cutler soon formed a close and
suspicious intimacy. The eyes of the citizens had been for some time
directed toward the companions, by circumstances attending various
depredations; and, though unknown to themselves, they were constantly
watched by many of their neighbors. It is uncertain whether Cutler was
acquainted with the character of the men when his association with them
first commenced, for in none of the places where he had lived, had he
hitherto been suspected of crime. It is most probable that he sought
their company because they were "dissipated" like himself; and that, in
the inception of their acquaintance, there was no other bond between
them than the habit of intoxication.

Had we time and space, we would fain pause here to reflect upon the
position and feelings of the false wife--deserted, in her turn, by him
for whom she had given up truth and honor--alone in the wilderness with
her children, whose birth she could not but regret, and harassed by
thoughts which could not but be painfully self-condemning. But we must
hasten on.

In the autumn of eighteen hundred and twenty, information was brought to
the settlement, that a store at Springfield (as it is now called), had
been entered and robbed--that the leaders of the desperadoes above
alluded to, were suspected--and that the goods stolen were believed to
be concealed in Cutler's grove, where they lived. Warrants were issued,
and the three were arrested; but the magistrate before whom they were
taken for examination, was a timid and ignorant man; and by the
interference of Cutler, who assumed to be a lawyer, they were examined
separately, and allowed to testify, each for the other! An officer who
knew no more than to permit this, of course could do no less than
discharge them. The arrest and examination, however, crude and informal
as they were, confirmed the suspicions of the citizens, and directed
them, more vehemently than ever, against Cutler, as well as his friends.
It satisfied them, moreover, that they would never be able to reach
these men through the ordinary forms of law, and strengthened the
counsels of those who had already suggested the organization of a
company of regulators.

While these things were fermenting in the minds of the people, the
desperadoes, encouraged by their success, and rendered bold by impunity,
committed their depredations more frequently and openly than ever. It
was remarked, too, that Cutler, having committed himself at the
examination of friends, was now more constantly and avowedly their
associate; and, since he was not a man to play a second part, that they
deferred to him on all occasions, never moving without him, and treating
him at all times as an acknowledged leader. The people observed,
moreover, that from being, like his neighbors, a small farmer of limited
possessions, he rose rapidly to what, on the frontier, was considered
affluence. He soon ceased to labor on his lands, and set up a very
considerable "store," importing his goods from Saint Louis, and, by
means of the whiskey he sold, collecting all the idle and vicious of the
settlement constantly about him. His "store" was in exceedingly bad
repute, and the scanty reputation which he had retained after the public
part he had taken before the magistrate, was speedily lost.

Things were in this state in the spring of eighteen hundred and
twenty-one, when an old gentleman of respectable appearance, who had
emigrated to this country by water, having been pleased with the land in
the neighborhood of the place where the town of Naples now stands,
landed his family and effects, and settled upon the "bottom." It was
soon rumored in the settlement, that he had brought with him a large
amount of money; and it was also remarked that Cutler and his three
companions were constantly with him, either at the "Grove" or on the
"bottom." Whether the rumor was the cause of their attention, or their
assiduity the foundation of the report, the reader must determine for

One evening in May, after a visit to this man, where Cutler had been
alone, he came home in great haste, and suddenly announced to Margaret
his intention to "sell out," and move further westward! His unhappy
victim supposed she knew but too well the meaning of this new movement:
she asked no questions, but, with a sigh of weariness, assented. On the
following day, he commenced hastily disposing of his "store," his stock,
his cabin--everything, in fact, save a few farming utensils, his
furniture, and a pair of horses. It was observed--for there were many
eyes upon him--that he never ventured out after twilight, and, even in
the broad sunshine, would not travel far, alone or unarmed. In such
haste did he seem, that he sold many of his goods at, what his friends
considered, a ruinous sacrifice. The fame of great bargains brought many
people to his counter, so that, within ten days, his arrangements were
complete; and, much to the satisfaction of his neighbors, he set out
toward the river.

Two of his associates accompanied him on his journey--a precaution for
which he would give no reason, except that he wished to converse with
them on the way. He crossed the Illinois near the mouth of the
Mauvaisterre, and, turning northward, in the evening reached a cabin on
the banks of M'Kee's creek, not more than ten miles from his late
residence. This house had been abandoned by its former occupant, on
account of the forays of the Indians; but was now partially refitted, as
for a temporary abode. Here, the people about "the grove" were surprised
to learn, a few days after Cutler's departure, that he had halted with
the apparent intention to remain, at least for some time.

Their surprise was dissipated, however, within a very few weeks. The old
gentleman, spoken of above, had left home upon a visit to Saint Louis;
and during his absence, his house had been entered, and robbed of a
chest containing a large amount of money--while the family were
intimidated by the threats of men disguised as savages.

This was the culmination of villany. The settlement was now thoroughly
aroused; and, when one of these little communities was once in earnest,
it might safely be predicted that _something_ would be _done_!

The first step was to call "a meeting of the friends of law and order;"
but no proclamation was issued, no handbills were circulated, no notices
posted: not the least noise was made about the matter, lest those
against whom it was to act, might hear of and prepare for it. They came
together quietly but speedily--each man, as he heard of the appointment,
going forthwith to his neighbor with the news. They assembled at a
central point, where none need be late in coming, and immediately
proceeded to business. The meeting was not altogether a formal one--for
purposes prescribed by law--but it was a characteristic of those men, to
do everything "decently and in order"--to give all their proceedings
the sanction and solemnity of mature deliberation. They organized the
assemblage regularly--calling one of the oldest and most respectable of
their number "to the chair" (which, on this occasion, happened to be the
root of a large oak), and appointing a younger man secretary (though
they gave him no desk on which to write). There was no man there who did
not fully understand what had brought them together; but one who lived
in the "bottom," and had been the mover of the organization, was still
called upon to "explain the object of the meeting." This he did in a few
pointed sentences, concluding with these significant words: "My friends,
it is time that these rascals were punished, and it is our duty to
punish them."

He sat down, and a silence of some moments ensued, when another arose,
and, without any preliminary remarks, moved that "a company of
regulators be now organized, and that they be charged with the duty of
_seeing the law administered_." The motion was seconded by half a dozen
voices--the question was put in due form by the chairman, and decided
unanimously in the affirmative.

A piece of paper was produced, and the presiding officer called on the
meeting for volunteers. Ten young men stepped forward, and gave their
names as rapidly as the secretary could enrol them. In less than five
minutes, the company was complete--the chairman and four of the meeting,
as a committee, were directed to retire with the volunteers, and see
that they were fully organized--and the meeting adjourned. All, except
the volunteers and the committee, went directly home--satisfied that the
matter needed no further attention. Those who remained entered the house
and proceeded to organize in the usual manner.

A "compact" was drawn up, by the terms of which the regulators bound
themselves to each other, and to their neighbors, to ferret out and
punish the perpetrators of the offences, which had recently disturbed
the peace of the settlement, and to rid the country of such villains as
were obnoxious to the friends of law and order. This was then signed by
the volunteers as principals, and by the committee, as witnesses; and
was placed in the hands of the chairman of the meeting for safekeeping.
It is said to be still in existence, though I have never seen it, and do
not know where it is to be found.

When this arrangement was completed, the committee retired, and the
company repaired to the woods, to choose a leader. They were not long
in selecting a certain Major B----, who had, for some weeks, made
himself conspicuous, by his loud denunciations of Cutler and his
associates, and his zealous advocacy of "strong measures." They had--one
or two of them, at least--some misgivings about this appointment; for
the major was inclined to be a blusterer, and the courage of these men
was eminently silent. But after a few minutes' discussion, the matter
was decided, and the leader was chosen without opposition. They at once
dispersed, to make arrangements for the performance of their
duties--having first appointed an hour and a place of meeting. They were
to assemble at sunset on the same day, at the point where the state road
now crosses the "bluff;" and were to proceed thence, without delay, to
Cutler's house on M'Kee's creek, a distance of little more than eight
miles. There they were to search for the stolen property, and whether
they found it or not, were resolved to notify Cutler to leave the
country. But under no circumstances were they to take his life, unless
it became necessary in self-defence.

The hour came, and with it, to the bluff, came all the regulators--_save
one_. But that one was a very important personage--none other, indeed,
than the redoubtable major, who was to head the party. The nine were
there a considerable time before sunset, and waited patiently for their
captain's arrival; though, already, there were whisperings from those
who had been doubtful of him in the outset, that he would not keep his
appointment. And these were right--for, though they waited long beyond
the time, the absentee did not make his appearance. It was afterward
ascertained that he excused himself upon the plea of sudden illness; but
he was very well again on the following day, and his excuse was not
received. The ridicule growing out of the affair, and his reduction from
the rank of major to that of captain, in derision, finally drove him in
disgrace from the country.

His defection left the little company without a leader; and though they
were determined not to give up the enterprise, an obstacle to its
prosecution arose, in the fact that no one was willing to replace the
absent captain. Each was anxious to play the part of a private, and all
had come prepared to discharge the duties of the expedition, to the
utmost of their ability. But they were all young men, and no one felt
competent to take the responsibility of command.

They were standing in a group, consulting eagerly about their course,
and, as one of them afterward said, "nearly at their wits' end," when
the circle was suddenly entered by another. He had come upon them so
noiselessly, and they had been so much absorbed in their council, that
no one saw him until he stood in their midst. Several of them, however,
at once recognised him, as a hunter who had recently appeared in the
southern part of the county, and had lived a singularly solitary life.
No one knew his name, but, from his mode of life, he was already known
among those who had heard of him, as "the wild hunter." He was but
little above the medium height, and rather slender in figure; but he was
well and firmly built, and immediately impressed them with the idea of
great hardihood and activity. His face, though bronzed by exposure, was
still handsome and expressive; but there was a certain wildness in the
eye, and a compression about the mouth, which gave it the expression of
fierceness, as well as resolution. He was dressed in a hunting-shirt and
"leggings" of deer-skin, fringed or "fingered" on the edges; and his
head and feet were covered, the one by a cap of panther's hide, and the
others by moccasins of dressed buckskin. At his belt hung a long knife,
and in his hand he carried a heavy "Kentucky rifle."

As he entered the circle, he dropped the breech of the latter to the
ground, and, leaning calmly upon the muzzle, quietly surveyed the
countenances of the group, in profound silence. The regulators were too
much surprised to speak while this was going on; and the stranger seemed
to be in no haste to open the conversation. When he had finished his
scrutiny, however, he stepped back a pace or two, and resuming his easy
attitude, addressed them:--

"You must pardon me, my friends," he commenced, "when I tell you, that I
have overheard all you have said in the last half hour. I did not remain
in that thicket, however, for the purpose of eaves-dropping; but having
accidentally heard one of you mention a name, the sound of which touches
a chord whose vibrations you can not understand, I remained, almost
against my own will, to learn more. I thus became acquainted with the
object of your meeting, and the dilemma in which you find yourselves
placed by the absence of your leader. Now, I have but little interest in
this settlement, and none in the preservation of peace, or the
vindication of law, anywhere: but I have been seeking this man, Cutler,
of whom you spoke, nearly nine years. I supposed, a few days ago, that I
had at last found him; but on going to his house, I learned that he had
once more emigrated toward the west. You seem to know where he is to be
found, and are without a leader: I wish to find him, and, if you will
accept my services, will fill the place of your absent captain!"

He turned away as he finished, allowing them an opportunity for
consultation among themselves. The question was soon decided: they
called him back--announced their willingness to accept him as their
leader--and asked his name.

"My name is _Stone_," he replied.

It was after nightfall when the little party set out from the bluff.
They had, then, more than eight miles to travel, over a country entirely
destitute of roads, and cut up by numberless sloughs and ponds. They
had, moreover, a considerable river to cross, and, after that, several
miles of their way lay through a dense and pathless forest. But they
were not the men to shrink from difficulties, at any time; and now they
were carried along even more resolutely, by the stern, unwavering spirit
of their new leader. Having once learned the direction, Stone put
himself at the head of the party, and strode forward, almost "as the
bird flies," directly toward the point indicated, regardless of slough,
and swamp, and thicket. He moved rapidly, too--so rapidly, indeed, as to
tax the powers of some of his followers almost too severely.
Notwithstanding this swiftness, however, they could not avoid a long
delay at the river; and it was consequently near midnight, when, having
at last accomplished a crossing, they reached the bank of M'Kee's creek,
and turned up toward Cutler's house.

This stood in the centre of a "clearing," some two or three acres in
extent; and upon reaching its eastern limit, the little company halted
to reconnoitre. Notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, they
discovered that the people of the house were still awake; and by a
bright light, which streamed through the open door, they could see
several men, sitting and standing about the room.

"We shall make a good haul," said one of the regulators; "the whole gang
is there." And immediately the party were for rushing forward. But Stone
restrained them.

"My friends," said he, "you have taken me for your leader, and must obey
my directions."

He then announced his determination to go forward alone; instructing his
men, however, to follow at a little distance, but in no case to show
themselves until he should give the signal. They agreed, though
reluctantly, to this arrangement, and then--silently, slowly, but
surely--the advance commenced. The hour had at last arrived!

In the meantime, Cutler and his three friends were passing the time
quite pleasantly over a bottle of backwoods nectar--commonly called
whiskey. They seemed well pleased, too, with some recent exploit of
theirs, and were evidently congratulating themselves upon their
dexterity; for, as the "generous liquid" reeked warmly to their brains,
they chuckled over it, and hinted at it, and winked knowingly at each
other, as if they enjoyed both the recollection and the whiskey--as they
probably did, exceedingly. There were four present, as we said--Cutler
and the three worthies so often alluded to. These last sat not far from
the open door; and each in his hand held a kerchief, or something of
that description, of which the contents were apparently very precious;
for, at intervals of a few moments, each raised his bundle between him
and the light, and then were visible many circular prints, as if made
by the coinage of the mint. This idea was strengthened, too, by several
piles of gold and silver, which lay upon the table near the bottle, to
which Cutler directed no infrequent glances.

They had all been indulging pretty freely in their devotions to the
mythological liquid--rewarding themselves, like soldiers after storming
a hostile city, for their hardships and daring. There were a few coals
in the chimney, although it was early in the autumn; and on them were
lying dark and crumpled cinders, as of paper, over which little sparks
were slowly creeping, like fiery insects. Cutler turned them over with
his foot, and there arose a small blue, flickering blaze, throwing a
faint, uncertain light beneath the table, and into the further corners
of the room, and casting shadows of the money-bundles on the open door.

If the betrayer could have known what eyes were strained upon him, as he
thus carelessly thrust his foot among the cinders, how changed his
bearing would have been. Stone had now approached within fifty paces of
the house, and behind him, slowly creeping after, were the regulators. A
broad band of light streamed out across the clearing from the door,
while, on each side of this, all lay in shadow deepened by the contrast.
Through the shadows, cautiously and silently came the footsteps of the
avenger! There was no trepidation, no haste--the strange leader rather
lingered, with a deadly slowness, as if the movement was a pleasant one,
and he disliked to end it. But he never halted--not even for a
moment--he came, like fate, slowly, but surely!

"Come, boys," said Cutler, and his voice penetrated the stillness quite
across the clearing, "let us take another drink, and then lie down; we
shall have a long journey to-morrow."

They all advanced to the table and drained the bottle. Cutler drank
last, and then went back to the fire. He again stirred the smouldering
cinders with his foot, and, turning about, advanced to close the door.
But--he halted suddenly in the middle of the room--his face grew ashy
pale--his limbs trembled with terror! Stone stepped upon the threshold,
and, without speaking, brought his rifle to his shoulder! Cutler saw
that it pointed to his heart, but he had not the power to speak or move!

"Villain!" said Stone, in a low, suppressed voice, "your hour has come,
at last!"

Cutler was by no means a coward; by any one else he would not have been
overcome, even for an instant. As it was, he soon recovered himself and
sprang forward; but it was only to fall heavily to the floor; for at the
same moment Stone fired, and the ball passed directly through his heart!
A groan was the only sound he uttered--his arm moved, as in the act of
striking, and then fell to the ground--he was dead!

The regulators now rushed tumultuously into the house, and at once
seized and pinioned the three desperadoes; while Stone walked slowly to
the hearth, and resting the breech of his gun upon the floor, leaned
calmly upon its muzzle. He had heard a scream from above--a voice which
he knew too well. Margaret had been aroused from sleep by the report of
the gun; and now, in her night-dress, with her hair streaming in masses
over her shoulders, she rushed down the rude stairway. The first object
that met her wild gaze was the body of Cutler, stretched upon the floor
and already stiffening in death. With another loud scream, she threw
herself upon him--mingling lamentations for his death, with curses upon
his murderers.

Stone's features worked convulsively, and once or twice his hand
grasped the hilt of the knife which hung at his belt. At last, with a
start, he drew it from the sheath. But, the next moment, he dashed it
into the chimney, and leaning his gun against the wall, slowly advanced
toward the unhappy woman. Grasping her arm, he lifted her like a child
from the body to which she clung. Averting his head, he drew her,
struggling madly, to the light; and having brought her face full before
the lamp, suddenly threw off his cap, and turned his gaze directly into
her eyes. A scream, louder and more fearful than any before, rang even
to the woods beyond the clearing; she closed her eyes and shuddered, as
if she could not bear to look upon him, whom she had so deeply wronged.
He supported her on his arm, and perused her sunken and careworn
features, for many minutes, in silence. Then slowly relaxing his grasp--

"You have been punished sufficiently," he said; and seating her gently
upon the floor, he quietly replaced his knife in its sheath, resumed his
rifle, and left the house.

He was never again seen by any of the parties, except Margaret. She,
soon after this event, returned to Virginia; and here Stone paid her an
annual visit. He always came without notice, and departed as suddenly,
always bearing his rifle, and habited as a hunter. At such times he
sought to be alone with her but a few moments, and never spoke more than
three words: "Your punishment continues," he would say, after gazing at
her worn and haggard face for some minutes; and, then, throwing his
rifle over his shoulder, he would again disappear for twelve months

And truly her punishment _did_ continue; for though no one accurately
knew her history, she was an object of suspicion to all; and though she
led a most exemplary life, her reputation was evil, and her misery was
but too evident. One after the other, her children died, and she was
left utterly alone! At last _her_ lamp also began to flicker, and when
Stone arrived in the country, upon his twelfth annual visit, it was but
to see her die, and follow her to the grave! He received her last
breath, but no one knew what passed between them in that awful hour. On
the day after her burial he went away and returned no more.

The regulators hastily dug a grave on the bank of the creek, and in the
silence of the night placed Cutler within it. Then, taking possession
of the stolen money, they released their prisoners, notifying them to
leave the country within ten days, and returned to the east side of the
river. A few years ago, a little mound might be seen, where they had
heaped the dirt upon the unhappy victim of his own passions. It was
"_the first grave_" in which a white man was buried in that part of the
Illinois valley.

At the expiration of the ten "days of grace," it became the duty of the
regulators to see that their orders had been obeyed; and, though the
death of Cutler had been more than they had designed or foreseen, they
had no disposition to neglect it. They met, accordingly, on the morning
of the eleventh day, and having chosen a new leader, proceeded to
Cutler's grove. They found the houses of all those to whom they had
given "notice" deserted _excepting one_. This was the cabin of the
youngest of the three brothers; and declaring his intention to remain,
in defiance of regulators and "Lynch law," he put himself upon his
defence. Without ceremony the regulators set fire to the house in which
he had barricaded himself, and ten minutes sufficed to smoke him out.
They then discovered what they had not before known: that his elder
brothers were also within; and when the three rushed from the door,
though taken by surprise, they were not thrown off their guard. The trio
were at once seized, and, after a sharp struggle, securely pinioned. A
short consultation then decided their course.

Leaving the house to burn at leisure, they posted away for the river,
driving their prisoners before them, and a march of three hours brought
them to the mouth of the Mauvaisterre. Here they constructed a "raft",
by tying half-a-dozen drift-logs together, and warning them that death
would be the penalty of a return, they placed their prisoners upon it,
pushed it into the middle of the stream, and set them adrift without oar
or pole! Although this seems quite severe enough, it was a light
punishment compared to that sometimes administered by regulators; and in
this case, had not blood been spilt when they did not intend it, it is
probable that the culprits would have been first tied to a tree, and
thoroughly "lynched."

The involuntary navigators were not rescued from their unpleasant
position until they had nearly reached Saint Louis; and though they all
swore vengeance in a loud voice, not one of them was ever again seen in
the Sangamon country.

Vigorous measures, like those we have detailed, were usually effectual
in restoring good order. Where there was no trial, there was no room for
false witnesses; and where a punishment, not unfrequently
disproportioned to the offence, so rapidly and certainly followed its
commission, there was little prospect of impunity, and therefore slight
inducement to violate the law. In most localities, it required but few
severe lessons to teach desperadoes that prudence dictated their
emigration; and, it must be acknowledged, that the regulators were
prompt and able teachers.

But we should give only a partial and incomplete view of this
institution (for such, in fact, it was), were we to notice its uses and
say nothing of its abuse; because, like everything else partaking so
largely of the mob element, it was liable to most mischievous
perversions. Had the engine been suffered to rest, when it had performed
its legitimate functions, all would have been well; but the great vice
of the system was its obstinate vitality: it refused to die when its
life was no longer useful.

As soon as the danger was past, and the call for his services had
ceased, the good citizen, who alone could confine such a system to its
proper limits, retired from its ranks: it was consequently left, with
all its dangerous authority, in the hands of the reckless and violent.
The selfish and designing soon filled up the places of the sober and
honest, and from being a terror to evil-doers, and a protection to the
peaceful citizen, it became a weapon in the hands of the very men
against whom it should have been directed.

When this came to be the case, the institution was in danger of doing
more harm in its age, than it had accomplished of good in its youth. But
it must not thence be inferred that it should never have been adopted,
or that it was vicious in itself. In seasons of public danger,
extraordinary powers are often intrusted to individuals--powers which
nothing but that danger can justify, and which would constitute the
dictators intolerable despots, if they were retained after the crises
are passed. The Congress of our confederacy, for example, found it
necessary, at one period of our Revolutionary struggle, to invest
Washington with such authority; had he exercised it beyond the pressure
of immediate peril, the same outcry which has been made against others
in similar circumstances, would have been justly raised against him. And
most men, less soberly constituted than Washington, would have
endeavored to retain it; for power is a pleasant thing, which few have
the self-denial to resign without a struggle. The wrong consists not in
the original delegation of the authority--for that is justified by the
highest of all laws, the law of self-preservation--but in its retention
and exercise, when the exigency no longer supports it.

Having parted with the authority to redress grievances, and provide for
protection and defence, the citizen can not at once recover it--it
remains for a time in the hands of the representative, and is always
difficult to regain. But it does not therefore follow, that he should
never intrust it to another, for the inconvenience sometimes resulting
from its delegation, is one of the incidents to human life, teaching,
not obstinacy or jealousy, but circumspection.

The following story, related by one who is well-acquainted with the
early history of this country, will illustrate the manner in which the
regulator system was sometimes made subservient to men's selfish
purposes; and there have, unhappily, been too many instances, in which
such criminal schemes were more successful than they were in this. I
have entitled it "The Stratagem."


Robert Elwood emigrated from Kentucky to Illinois, about the year in
which the latter was erected into a state, and passing to the northwest
of the regions then occupied by the French and Virginians, pitched his
tent upon the very verge of the frontier. He was a man of violent
passions, impatient of the restraints of law--arrogant, overbearing, and
inclined to the use of "the strong-hand." His removal had been caused by
a difficulty with one of his neighbors, in which he had attempted to
right himself without an appeal to the legal tribunals. In this attempt,
he had not only been thwarted, but also made to pay rather roundly for
his temerity; and, vexed and soured, he had at once abandoned his old
name, and marched off across the prairies, seeking a country in which,
as he said, "a man need not meet a cursed constable every time he left
his own door." His family consisted of three sons and one daughter, the
latter being, at the time of his emigration, about sixteen years of age.

In journeying toward the north, he halted one day, at noon, within a
"point" of timber, which extended a mile into the prairie, and was
surrounded by as beautiful a piece of rolling meadow-land, as one need
wish to see. He was already half-a-day's journey beyond the thicker
settlements; and, indulging a reasonable hope that he would not speedily
be annoyed by neighbors, he at once determined here to erect his
dwelling and open a new farm. With this view, he marked off a tract of
about four hundred acres, including the point of timber in which he was
encamped; and before the heats of summer came on, he had a cabin ready
for his reception, and a considerable amount of grain planted.

About a mile to the south, there was a similar strip of timber,
surrounded, like that of which he took possession, by a rich tract of
"rolling prairie;" and this he at once resolved to include in his farm.
But, reflecting that it must probably be some years, before any one else
would enter the neighborhood to take it up--and having only the
assistance of his sons, but two of whom had reached manhood--he turned
his attention, first, to the tract upon which he lived. This was large
enough to engross his efforts for the present; and, for two years, he
neglected to do anything toward establishing his claim to the land he
coveted. It is true, that he told several of his neighbors, who had now
begun to settle around him, that he claimed that piece, and thus
prevented their enclosing it; but he neither "blazed" nor marked the
trees, nor "staked off" the prairie.

In the meantime emigration had come in, so much more rapidly than he had
expected, that he found himself the centre of a populous neighborhood;
and among other signs of advancing civilization, a company of regulators
had been organized, for the protection of life and property. Of this
band, Elwood, always active and forward, had been chosen leader; and the
vigor and severity with which he had exercised his functions, had given
a degree of quiet to the settlements, not usually enjoyed by these
frontier communities. One example had, at the period of the opening of
our story, but recently been made; and its extreme rigor had frightened
away from the neighborhood, those who had hitherto disturbed its peace.
This was all the citizens desired; and, having accomplished their ends,
safety and tranquillity, those whose conservative character had
prevented the regulator system from running into excesses, withdrew from
its ranks--but took no measures to have it broken up. It was thus left,
with recognised authority, in the hands of Elwood, and others of his
violent and unscrupulous character.

Things were in this position, when, on his return from an expedition of
some length, Elwood bethought him of the handsome tract of land, upon
which he had so long ago set his heart. What were his surprise and rage
on learning--a fact, which the absorbing nature of his regulator-duties
had prevented his knowing sooner--that it was already in possession of
another! And his mortification was immeasurably increased, when he was
told, that the man who had thus intruded upon what he considered his own
proper demesne, was none other than young Grayson, the son of his old
Kentucky enemy! Coming into the neighborhood, in the absence of Elwood,
the young man, finding so desirable a tract vacant, had at once taken
possession; and by the return of the regulator had almost finished a
neat and "roomy" cabin. He had "blazed" the trees, too, and "staked off"
the prairie--taking all those steps then deemed necessary, on the
frontier, to complete appropriation.

Elwood's first step was to order him peremptorily, to desist, and give
up his "improvement"--threatening him, at the same time, with certain
and uncertain pains and penalties, if he refused to obey. But Grayson
only laughed at his threats, and went stoutly on with his work. When the
young men, whom he had hired to assist him in building his house, gave
him a friendly warning, that Elwood was the leader of a band of
regulators, and had power to make good his menaces, he only replied that
"he knew how to protect himself, and, when the time came, should not be
found wanting." Elwood retired from the contest, discomfited, but
breathing vengeance; while Grayson finished his house and commenced
operations on his farm. But those who knew the headlong violence of
Elwood's character, predicted that these operations would soon be
interrupted; and they were filled with wonder, when month after month
passed away, and there were still no signs of a collision.

In the meantime, it came to be rumored in the settlement, that there was
some secret connection between Grayson and Elwood's daughter, Hannah.
They had been seen by several persons in close conversation, at times
and places which indicated a desire for concealment; and one person even
went so far as to say, that he had been observed to kiss her, on
parting, late in the evening. Whatever may have been the truth in that
matter, it is, at all events, certain, that Grayson was an unmarried
man; and that the quarrel between the parents of the pair in Kentucky,
had broken up an intimacy, which bade fair to issue in a marriage; and
it is probable, that a subordinate if not a primary, motive, inducing
him to take possession of the disputed land, was a desire to be near
Hannah. Nor was this wish without its appropriate justification; for,
though not strictly beautiful, Hannah was quite pretty, and--what is
better in a frontier girl--active, fresh, and rosy. At the time of
Grayson's arrival in the settlement, she was a few months past eighteen;
and was as fine material for a border wife, as could be found in the new
state. The former intimacy was soon renewed, and before the end of two
months, it was agreed that they should be married, as soon as her
father's consent could be obtained.

But this was not so easily compassed; for, all this time, Elwood had
been brooding over his defeat, and devising ways and means of recovering
the much-coveted land.

At length, after many consultations with a fellow named Driscol, who
acted as his lieutenant in the regulator company, he acceded to a
proposition, made long before by that worthy, but rejected by Elwood on
account of its dishonesty. He only adopted the plan, now, because it was
apparently the only escape from permanent defeat; and long chafing under
what he considered a grievous wrong, had made him reckless of means, and
determined on success, at whatever cost.

One morning, about a week after the taking of this resolution, it was
announced that one of Elwood's horses had been stolen, on the night
before; and the regulators were straightway assembled, to ferret out and
punish so daring an offender. It happened (accidently, _of course_) to
be a horse which had cast one of its shoes, only the day before; and
this circumstance rendered it easy to discover his trail. Driscol,
Elwood's invaluable lieutenant, discovered the track and set off upon
it, almost as easily as if he had been present when it was made. He led
the party away into the prairie toward the east; and though his
companions declared that they could now see nothing of the trail, the
sharp-sighted lieutenant swore that it was "as plain as the nose on his
face"--truly, a somewhat exaggerated expression: for the color, if not
the size, of that feature in his countenance, made it altogether too
apparent to be overlooked! They followed him, however, convinced by the
earnestness of his asseverations, if not by their own eyes, until, after
going a mile toward the east, he began gradually to verge southward,
and, having wound about at random for some time, finally took a direct
course, for the point of timber on which Grayson lived!

On arriving at the point, which terminated, as usual, in a dense
hazel-thicket, Driscol at once pushed his way into the covert, and lo!
there stood the stolen horse! He was tied to a sapling by a halter,
which was clearly recognised as the property of Grayson, and leading off
toward the latter's house, was traced a man's footstep--_his_, of
course! These appearances fully explained the theft, and there was not a
man present, who did not express a decided conviction that Grayson was
the thief.

Some one remarked that his boldness was greater than his shrewdness,
else he would not have kept the horse so near. But Driscol declared,
dogmatically, that this was "the smartest thing in the whole business,"
since, if the trail could be obliterated, no one would think of looking
_there_ for a horse stolen only a mile above! "The calculation" was a
good one, he said, and it only failed of success because he, Driscol,
happened to have a remarkably sharp sight for all tracks, both of horses
and men. To this proposition, supported by ocular evidence, the
regulators assented, and Driscol stock, previously somewhat depressed by
sundry good causes, forthwith rose in the regulator market to a
respectable premium!

Having recovered the stolen property, the next question which presented
itself for their consideration, was in what way they should punish the
thief. To such men as they, this was not a difficult problem: without
much deliberation, it was determined that he must be at once driven from
the country. The "days of grace," usually given on such occasions, were
ten, and in pursuance of this custom, it was resolved that Grayson
should be mercifully allowed that length of time, in which to arrange
his affairs and set out for a new home: or, as the regulators expressed
it, "make himself scarce." Driscol, having already, by his praise-worthy
efforts in the cause of right, made himself the hero of the affair, was
invested with authority to notify Grayson of this decree. The matter
being thus settled, the corps adjourned to meet again ten days
thereafter, in order to see that their judgment was duly carried into

Meantime, Driscol, the official mouthpiece of the self-constituted court
of general jurisdiction, rode away to discharge himself of his onerous
duties. Halting at the low fence which enclosed the scanty door-yard he
gave the customary "Halloo! the house!" and patiently awaited an answer.
It was not long, however, before Grayson issued from the door and
advanced to the fence, when Driscol served the process of the court _in
hæc verba_:--

"Mr. Grayson, the regulators of this settlement have directed me to give
you ten days' notice to leave the country. They will meet again one week
from next Friday, and if you are not gone by that time, it will become
their duty to punish you in the customary way."

"What for?" asked Grayson, quietly.

"For stealing this horse," the functionary replied, laying his hand on
the horse's mane, "and concealing him in the timber with the intention
to run him off."

"It's Elwood's horse, isn't it?"

"Yes," answered Driscol, somewhat surprised at Grayson's coolness.

"When was he stolen?" asked the notified.

"Last night," answered the official; "I suppose you know very well
without being told."

"Do you, indeed?" said Grayson, smiling absently. And then he bent his
eyes upon the ground, and seemed lost in thought for some minutes.

"Well, well," said he at length, raising his eyes again. "I didn't steal
the horse, Driscol, but I suppose you regulators know best who ought to
be allowed to remain in the settlement, so of course I shall have to

"I am glad to find you so reasonable," said Driscol, making a movement
to ride away.

"Stop! stop!" said Grayson: "don't be in a hurry! I shall be gone before
the ten days are up, and you and I may not meet again for a long time,
so get down and come in: let us take a parting drink together. I have
some excellent whiskey, just brought home."

Now, the worthy functionary, as we have intimated, or as the aforesaid
nose bore witness, was "quite partial" to this description of produce:
some of his acquaintances even insinuating that he took sometimes "a
drop too much;" and though he felt some misgiving about remaining in
Grayson's company longer than his official duties required, the
temptation was too strong for him, and, silencing his fears, he sprang
to the ground.

"Tie your horse to the fence, there," said Grayson, "and come in."
Driscol obeyed, and it was not long before he was seated in the cabin
with a tin-cup in his hand, and its generous contents finding their way
rapidly down his capacious throat.

"Whiskey is a pleasant drink, after all, isn't it?" said Grayson,
smiling at the gusto with which Driscol dwelt upon the draught, and at
the same moment he rose to set his cup on the table behind the official.

"Very pleasant indeed," said Driscol, in reply, and to prove his
sincerity, he raised his cup again to his lips. But this time he was not
destined to taste its contents. It was suddenly dashed from his hand--a
saddle-girth was thrown over his arms and body--and before he was aware
of what was being done, he found himself securely pinioned to the chair!
A rope was speedily passed round his legs, and tied, in like manner,
behind, so that he could, literally, move neither hand nor foot! He made
a furious effort to break away, but he would not have been more secure
had he been in the old-fashioned stocks! He was fairly entrapped, and
though he foamed, and swore, and threatened, it all did no manner of
good. Of this he at length became sensible, and grinding his teeth in
impotent rage, he relapsed into dogged silence.

Having thoroughly secured his prisoner, Grayson, who was something of a
wag, poured out a small quantity of the seductive liquor, and coming
round in front of the ill-used official, smiled graciously in his face,
and drank "a health"--

"Success to you, Mr. Driscol," said he, "and long may you continue an
ornament to the distinguished company of which you are an honored

Driscol ground his teeth, but made no reply, and the toast was drunk,
like some of those impressive sentiments given at public dinners, "in
profound silence!"

Having drained the cup, Grayson deposited it upon the table and himself
in a chair; and, drawing the latter up toward his companion, opened the
conference thus:--

"I think I have you pretty safe, Driscol: eh!"

The lieutenant made no reply.

"I see you are not in a very sociable humor," continued Grayson; "and,
to tell you the truth, I am not much that way inclined myself: but I am
determined to get to the bottom of this affair before you shall leave
the house. I am sure you know all about it; and if you don't, why the
worse for you, that's all."

"What do you mean?" demanded Driscol, speaking for the first time.

"I mean this," Grayson answered sternly: "I did not take that horse from
Elwood's--_but you did_: I saw you do it. But since my testimony will
not be received, I am determined that you shall give me a certificate in
writing that such is the fact. You needn't look so obstinate, for by the
God that made us both! you shall not leave that chair alive, unless you
do as I say!"

Grayson was a large, rather fleshy man, with a light complexion and blue
eyes; and, though good-natured and hard to arouse, when once in earnest,
as now, like all men of his stamp, he both looked, and was, fully
capable of carrying his menaces into execution. The imprisoned
functionary did not at all like the expression of his eye, he quailed
before it in fear and shame. He was, however, resolved not to yield,
except upon the greatest extremity.

"Come," said Grayson, producing materials for writing; "here are pen,
ink, and paper: are you willing to write as I dictate?"

"No," said Driscol, doggedly.

"We'll see if I can't make you willing, then," muttered his captor; and,
going to the other end of the cabin, he took down a coil of rope, which
hung upon a peg, and returned to his captive. Forming a noose at one
end, he placed it about Driscol's neck, and threw the other end over a
beam which supported the roof.

"Are you going to murder me?" demanded the official in alarm.

"Yes," answered Grayson, drawing the loose end down, and tightening the
noose about Driscol's throat.

"You'll suffer for this," said the lieutenant furiously.

"That won't help _you_ much," coolly replied Grayson, tugging at the
rope, until one leg of the chair gave signs of rising from the floor,
and Driscol's face exhibited unmistakable symptoms of incipient

"Stop! stop!" he exclaimed, in a voice reduced to a mere wheeze--and
Grayson "eased off" to hear him.

"Won't anything else satisfy you but a written certificate?" he
asked--speaking with difficulty, and making motions as if endeavoring to
swallow something too large to pass the gate of his throat.

"Nothing but that," answered Grayson, decidedly; "and if you don't give
it to me, when your regulator friends arrive, instead of me, they will
find you, swinging from this beam by the neck!" And, seeing his victim
hesitate, he again tugged at the rope, until the same signs were
exhibited as before--only a little more apparently.

"Ho--hold, Grayson!" begged the frightened and strangling lieutenant;
and, as his executioner again relaxed a little, he continued: "Just let
me up, and I'll do anything you want."

"That is to say," laughed Grayson, "you would rather take the chances of
a fight, than be hung up like a sheep-stealing dog! Let you up, indeed!"
And once more he dragged the rope down more vigorously than ever.

"I--didn't--mean that--indeed!" gulped the unhappy official, this time
almost strangled in earnest.

"What _did_ you mean then?" sternly demanded Grayson, relaxing a little
once again.

"I will write the certificate," moaned the unfortunate lieutenant, "if
you will let one arm loose, and won't tell anybody until the ten days
are out--"

"Why do you wish it kept secret!"

"If I give such a certificate as you demand," mournfully answered the
disconsolate officer, "I shall have to leave the country--and I want
time to get away."

"Oh! that's it, is it? Well--very well."

About an hour after this, Driscol issued from the house, and, springing
upon the horse, rode away at a gallop toward Elwood's. Here he left the
animal, but declined to enter; telling Hannah, who happened to be in the
yard, to say to her father that "it was all right," he pushed on toward
home--tenderly rubbing his throat, first with the right hand and then
with the left, all the way. Three days afterward, he disappeared from
the settlement, and was heard of no more.

Grayson waited until near nightfall, and then took his way, as usual, to
a little clump of trees, that stood near Elwood's enclosures, to meet
Hannah. Here he stayed more than an hour, detailing the circumstances of
the accusation against him, and laughing with her, over the ridiculous
figure cut by her father's respectable lieutenant. Before they parted
their plans were all arranged, and Grayson went home in excellent humor.
What these plans were, will be seen in the sequel.

Eight days went by without any event important to our story--Hannah and
Grayson meeting each evening, in the grove, and parting again
undiscovered. On the ninth day, the former went to the house of a
neighbor, where it was understood that she was to remain during the
night, and return home on the following morning. Grayson remained on his
farm until near sunset, when he mounted his horse and rode away. This
was the last of his "days of grace;" and those who saw him passing along
the road, concluded that he had yielded to the dictates of prudence, and
was leaving the field.

On the following morning, the regulators assembled to see that their
orders had been obeyed; and, though Elwood was a little disconcerted by
the absence of Driscol, since it was understood that Grayson had left
the country, the meeting was considered only a formal one, and the
presence of the worthy lieutenant was not indispensable. They proceeded
in high spirits to the premises, expecting to find the house deserted
and waiting for an occupant. Elwood was to take immediate possession,
and, all the way across the prairie, was felicitating himself upon the
ease and rapidity of his triumph. What was their surprise, then, on
approaching the house, to see smoke issuing from the chimney, as
usual--the door thrown wide open, and Grayson standing quietly in front
of it! The party halted and a council was called, but its deliberations
were by no means tedious: it was forthwith determined, that Grayson
stood _in defiance of the law_, and must be punished--that is,
"lynched"--without delay! The object of this fierce decree, all unarmed
as he was, still stood near the door, while the company slowly
approached the fence. He then advanced and addressed them:--

"I think the ten days are not up yet, gentlemen," said he mildly.

"Yes, they are," answered Elwood quickly; "and we are here to know
whether you intend to obey the authorities, and leave the country?"

"I think, Elwood," said the young man, not directly replying, "this
matter can be settled between you and me, without bloodshed, and even
without trouble. If you will come in with George and John [his sons], I
will introduce you to my wife, and we can talk it over, with a glass of

Another consultation ensued, when, in order to prove their dignified
moderation, they agreed that Elwood and his sons should "go in and see
what he had to say."

Elwood, the elder, entered first: directly before him, holding her sides
and shaking with laughter, stood his rosy daughter, Hannah!

"_My wife_, gentlemen," said Grayson, gravely introducing them. Hannah's
laughter exploded.

"O, father, father, father!" she exclaimed, leaning forward and
extending her hands; "ain't you caught, beautifully!"

The laugh was contagious; and though the elder knit his brows, and was
evidently on the point of bursting with very different emotions, his
sons yielded to its influence, and, joining Hannah and her husband,
laughed loudly, peal after peal!

The father could bear it no longer--he seized Hannah by the arm and
shook her violently, till she restrained herself sufficiently to speak;
as for him, he was speechless with rage.

"It's entirely too late to make a 'fuss,' father," she said at length,
"for here is the marriage-certificate, and Grayson is your son!"

"I have not stolen your horse, Elwood," said the bridegroom, taking the
paper which the father rejected, "though I have run away with your
daughter. And," he added, significantly, "since if you had this land,
you would probably give it to Hannah, I think you and I had better be
friends, and I'll take it as her marriage-portion."

"If you can show that you did not take the horse, Grayson," said George,
the elder of the two sons, "I'll answer for that: but----"

"That I can do very easily," interrupted the young husband, "I have the
proof in my pocket."

He caught Elwood's eye as he spoke, and reassured him with a look, for
he could see that the old man began to apprehend an exposure in the
presence of his sons. This forbearance did more to reconcile him to his
discomfiture than aught else, save the influence of George; for, like
all passionate men, he was easily swayed by his cooler children. While
Hannah and her brothers examined the marriage certificate, and laughed
over "the stratagem," Grayson drew Elwood aside and exhibited a paper,
written in a cramped, uneven hand, as follows:--

     "This is to certify, that it was not Josiah Grayson who took Robert
     Elwood's horse from his stable, last night--but I took him myself,
     by arrangement, so as to accuse Grayson of the theft, and drive him
     to leave his new farm.


Elwood blushed as he came to the words "by arrangement," but read on
without speaking. Grayson then related the manner in which he had
entrapped the lieutenant, and the joke soon put him in a good humor. The
regulators were called in, and heard the explanation, and all laughing
heartily over the capture of Driscol, they insisted that Hannah and her
husband should mount, and ride with them to Elwood's. Neither of them
needed much persuasion--the whole party rode away together--the "lads
and lasses" of the neighborhood were summoned, and the day and night
were spent in merriment and dancing.

Grayson and his wife returned on the following morning to their new
home, where a life of steady and honorable industry, was rewarded with
affluence and content. Their descendants still live upon the place, one
of the most beautiful and extensive farms upon that fertile prairie. But
on the spot where the disputed cabin stood, has since been built a
handsome brick-house, and I pay only a just tribute to amiable
character, when I say that a more hospitable mansion is not to be found
in the western country.

This was the last attempt at "regulating" in that region, for emigration
came in so rapidly, that the supremacy of the law was soon asserted and
maintained. Whenever this came to be so, the regulators, of course,
ceased to be types of the state of society, and were succeeded by other
characters and institutions.

To these we must now proceed.

     [NOTE.--The following is a copy of a compact, such as is spoken of
     in the story of the "The First Grave," entered into by a company of
     regulators in somewhat similar circumstances. I am not sure that I
     can vouch for its authenticity, but all who are familiar with the
     history of those times, will recognise, in its peculiarities, the
     characteristics of the people who then inhabited this country. The
     affectation of legal form in such a document as this, would be
     rather amusing, were it not quite too significant; at all events,
     it is entirely "in keeping" with the constitution of a race who had
     some regard for law and its vindication, even in their most
     high-handed acts. The technical phraseology, used so strangely, is
     easily traceable to the little "Justice's Form Book," which was
     then almost the only law document in the country; and though the
     words are rather awkwardly combined, they no doubt gave solemnity
     to the act in the eyes of its sturdy signers:--

     "_Know all men by these presents:_

     "That we [_here follow twelve names_], citizens of ---- settlement,
     in the state of Illinois, have this day, _jointly and severally_,
     bound ourselves together as a company of Rangers and Regulators, to
     protect this settlement against the crimes and misdemeanors of, all
     and singular, every person or persons whomsoever, and especially
     against _all horse-thieves, renegades, and robbers_. And we do by
     these presents, hereby bind ourselves, jointly and severally as
     aforesaid, unto each other, and to the fellow-citizens of this
     settlement, to punish, according to the code of his honor, Judge
     Lynch, all violations of the law, _against the peace and dignity of
     the said people of_ ---- settlement; and to discover and bring to
     speedy punishment, _all illegal combinations_--to rid the country
     of such as are dangerous to the welfare of this settlement--to
     preserve the peace, and _generally to vindicate the law_, within
     the settlement aforesaid. All of which purposes we are to
     accomplish as peaceably as possible: _but we are to accomplish
     them one way or another_.

     "In testimony whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and affixed
     our seals, this twelfth day of October, _Anno Domini_, eighteen
     hundred and twenty.

                         "(Signed by twelve men.)

     "Acknowledged and subscribed in the presence of
                              "C---- T. H----n,
                              "J---- P. D----n,"

     and five others, who seem to have been a portion of "the
     fellow-citizens of this settlement," referred to in the document.]


[77] See note at the close of this article.

[78] The "Sangamon country," as the phrase was then used, included all
the region watered by the river of that name, together with the counties
of Cass, Morgan, and Scott, as far south as Apple creek.



                "I beseech you,
    Wrest once the law to your authority:
    To do a great right, do a little wrong."--


The reign of violence, when an evil at all, is an evil which remedies
itself: the severity of its proceeding hastens the accomplishment of its
end, as the hottest fire soonest consumes its fuel. A nation will
endure oppression more patiently immediately after a spasmodic rebellion
or a bloody revolution, than at any other time; and a community requires
less law to govern it, after a violent and illegal assertion of the
law's supremacy, than was necessary before the outbreak. After having
thrown off the yoke of a knave--and perhaps hung the knave up by the
neck, or chopped his head off with an axe--mankind not unfrequently fall
under the control of a fool; frightened at their temerity in dethroning
an idol of metal, they bow down before a paltry statue of wood.

Men are not easily satiated with power, but when it is irregular, a
pause in its exercise must eventually come. And there is a principle of
human nature, which teaches, that whatsoever partakes of the mob-spirit
is, at best, but temporary, and ought to have a speedy end. This is
especially true of such men as first permanently peopled the western
country; for though they sometimes committed high-handed and
unjustifiable acts, the moment it was discovered that they had
accomplished the purposes of order, they allowed the means of
vindication to fall into disuse. The regulator system, for example, was
directed to the stern and thorough punishment of evil men, but no sooner
was society freed from their depredations, than the well-meaning
citizens withdrew from its ranks; and, though regulator companies still
patrolled the country, and, for a time, assumed as much authority as
ever, they were not supported by the solid approbation of those who
alone could give them lasting strength. They did many outrageous things
for which they were never punished, and for some years, the shield which
the good citizen had raised above his head for protection and defence,
threatened to fall upon and crush him. But the western people are not
the first who have been temporarily enslaved by their liberators,
though, unlike many another race, they waited patiently for the changes
of years, and time brought them a remedy.

As the government waxed stronger, and public opinion assumed a
direction, the regulators, like their predecessors, the rangers, found
their "occupation gone," and gradually faded out from the land.
Proclamations were issued--legislatures met--laws were enacted, and
officers appointed to execute them; and though forcing a legal system
upon a people who had so long been "a law unto themselves," was a slow
and difficult process, it was powerfully assisted by the very disorders
consequent upon their attempts at self-government. They had burnt their
hands by seizing the hot iron-rod of irregular authority, and were,
therefore, better inclined to surrender the baton to those who could
handle it. Like Frankenstein, they had created a power which they could
not immediately control: the regulators, from being their servants, had
come to be their masters: and they willingly admitted any authority
which promised deliverance. They had risen in wrath, and chastised, with
no hesitating hand, the violators of their peace; but the reaction had
taken place, and they were now content to be governed by whatsoever
ruler Providence might send them.

The state governments were established, then, without difficulty, and
the officers of the new law pervaded every settlement. The character
which I have selected as the best representative of this period, is one
of these new officers--_the early justice of the peace_.

So far as history or tradition informs us, there was never yet a country
in which appointments to office were invariably made with reference only
to qualification, and though the west is an exception to more than one
general rule, in this respect we must set it down in the common
category. The lawyer-period had not yet arrived; and, probably, there
was never an equal number of people in any civilized country, of whom a
larger proportion were totally ignorant of legal forms. There were not
three in each hundred who had ever seen the inside of a courthouse, and
they were quite as few who had once looked upon a law-book! Where such
was the case, some principle of appointment was of course necessary,
other than that which required fitness, by training, for the office
conferred; and it is probable that the rule adopted was but little
different to that in force among those who have the appointing power,
where no such circumstances restrict the choice.

Men were appointed conservators of the _peace_, because they had
distinguished themselves in _war_; and he who had assumed the powers of
the law, as a regulator, was thought the better qualified to exercise
them, as a legal officer! Courage and capacity, as an Indian-fighter,
gave one the prominence requisite to his appointment; and zeal for the
preservation of order, exhibited as a self-constituted judge and
executioner, was a guaranty for the faithful performance of new and
regular duties.

Nor was the rule a bad one. A justice of the peace chosen upon this
principle, possessed two qualities indispensable to an efficient
officer, in the times of which we write--he was prompt in the discharge
of his duties, and was not afraid of responsibility. To obviate the
danger, however, which might arise from these, he had also a rigid sense
of justice, which usually guided his determinations according to the
rights of parties in interest. This, the lawyers will say, was a very
questionable trait for a judicial officer; and perhaps it _is_ better
for society, that a judge should know the law, and administer it
without reference to abstract justice, than that his own notions of
right and wrong should be taken, however conscientiously, as the
standard of judgment: for in that case, we shall, at least, have
uniformity of adjudication; whereas, nothing is more uncertain, than a
man's convictions of right.

But, in the times of which we are writing, society was not yet
definitely shaped--its elements were not bound together by the cohesive
power of any legal cement--and no better rule was, therefore, to be
expected, than the spontaneous suggestions of common sense. The minds of
men were, moreover, habituated to a certain course of thought and
action--(such as naturally obtains in a new state of society, where the
absence of organization remits them to their own exertions for
safety)--and it was, therefore, impossible that any artificial system
should be at once adopted. The people had been accustomed to such
primitive associations, as they had entered into "for the common defence
and general welfare" of their infant communities; the rule of action had
been swift, and sometimes very informal punishment, for every
transgression; and this rule, having very well answered its purpose,
though at the expense of occasional severity and injustice, they could
not immediately understand the necessity for any other course of

One of the characteristics of the early justice, then, was a supreme
contempt for all mere form. He called it "nonsense" and could never
comprehend its utility. To him, all ceremony was affectation, and the
refinements of legal proceeding were, in his estimation, anti-republican
innovations upon the original simplicity of mankind. Technicalities he
considered merely the complicated inventions of lawyers, to exhibit
their perverse ingenuity--traps to catch the well-meaning or unwary, or
avenues of escape for the guilty. The rules of evidence he neither
understood nor cared for; he desired "to hear all about" every cause
brought before him; and the idea of excluding testimony, in obedience to
any rule, he would never entertain. He acted upon the principle--though
he probably never heard of the maxim--that "the law furnishes a remedy
for every wrong;" and, if he knew of none in positive enactment, he
would provide one, from the arsenal of his own sense of right. He never
permitted anything to obstruct the punishment of one whom he had
adjudged guilty; and, rather than allow a culprit to escape, he would
order his judgment to be carried at once into effect, in the presence,
and under the direction of the court.

He had a strong prejudice against every man accused of crime; and
sometimes almost reversed the ancient presumption of the law, and held
the prisoner guilty, until he proved himself innocent. He had unbounded
confidence in the honesty of his neighbors and friends, and was
unwilling to believe, that they would accuse a man of crime or
misdemeanor, without very good cause. When it was proven that a crime
_had been committed_, he considered the guilt of the prisoner already
half established: it was, in his judgment, what one, better acquainted
with legal terms, might have called "a _prima facia_ case," devolving
the _onus probandi_ (or burthen of proof) upon the accused. And this may
have been one cause of the frequent resort to _alibis_--a mode of
defence which, as we have already remarked, is even yet in great
disrepute. If a defence, of some sort, was not, then, very clearly and
satisfactorily made out, the justice had no hesitation in entering
judgment, and ordering immediate punishment; for the right of appeal was
not generally recognised, and the justice took original and final
jurisdiction, where now his duties are merely those of preliminary
examination and commitment.

In civil controversies--where such causes were presented for
adjudication, which, however, was not very often--the order of
proceeding was quite as summary. The justice heard the statements of the
parties, and sometimes, not always, would listen to witnesses, also;
then, taking the general "rights, interests, claims, and demands," of
both sides into consideration--and viewing himself, not as a judicial
officer, but as a sort of referee or arbitrator--he would strike a
balance between the disputants, and dismiss them to their homes, with a
significant admonition to "keep the peace." He usually acted upon the
principle--no very erroneous one, either--that, when two respectable men
resort to the law, as arbitrator of their controversies, they are both
about equally blamable; and his judgments were accordingly based upon
the corollary, that neither deserved to have all he claimed. This was
the practice when any decision was made at all; but, in most cases, the
justice acted as a pacificator, and, by his authority and persuasion,
induced the parties to agree upon a compromise. For this purpose, he not
unfrequently remitted both fees and costs--those due to the constables,
as well as his own.

An instance of this pacific practice has been related to me as follows:
Two neighbors had quarrelled about a small amount of debt, and, after
sundry attempts to "settle," finally went to law. The justice took them
aside, on the day of trial, and proposed a basis of settlement, to which
they agreed, _on condition_, that all costs should be remitted, and to
this the magistrate at once pledged himself. But a difficulty arose: the
constable, who had not been consulted in the arrangement, had had a long
ride after the defendant, and having an unquestionable right to demand
his fees, was unwilling to give them up. The justice endeavored to
prevail with him by persuasion, but in vain. Finally, growing impatient
of his obstinacy, he gave him a _peremptory order_ to consent, and, on
his refusal, _fined him_ the exact amount of his fees _for contempt_,
entered up judgment on the basis of the compromise, and adjourned the

The man who thus discourages litigation at the expense of his own
official emoluments, may be forgiven a few irregularities of proceeding,
in consideration of the good he effects; for although under such a
system it was seldom that either party obtained his full and just
rights, both were always benefited by the spirit of peace infused into
the community. It would, perhaps, be well for the country now, were our
legal officers actuated by the same motives; unfortunately, however,
such men belong only to primitive times.

But the love of peace was not accompanied, in this character, as it
usually is, by merciful judgment, for, as he was very swift in
determining a prisoner's guilt, he was equally rigid in imposing the
penalty. The enactments of the criminal code were generally so worded as
to give some scope for the exercise of a compassionate and enlightened
discretion; but when the decision lay in the breast of our justice, if
he adjudged any punishment at all, it was usually the severest provided
for by the statute. Half-measures were not adapted to the temper of the
times or the character of the people; indeed, they are suited to _no_
people, and are signal failures at all times, in all circumstances.
Inflicting light punishments is like firing blank cartridges at a mob,
they only irritate, without subduing; and as the latter course usually
ends in unnecessary bloodshed, the former invariably increases the
amount of crime.

_Certainty_ of punishment may be--unquestionably _is_--a very important
element in the administration of justice, but as nothing so strongly
disinclines a man to entering the water as the sight of another
drowning, so nothing will so effectually deter him from the commission
of crime, as the knowledge that another has been severely punished for
yielding to the same temptation. The justice, however, based the rigor
of his judgments upon no such argument of policy. His austerity was a
part of his character, and had been rendered more severe by the
circumstances in which he had lived--the audacity of law-breakers, and
the necessity for harsh penalties, in order for protection.

It will be observed that I say nothing of juries, and speak of justices
of the peace, as officers having authority to decide causes alone. And,
it must be recollected, that in the days of which I am writing, resort
was very seldom had to this cumbersome and uncertain mode of
adjudication. In civil causes, juries were seldom empanelled, because
they were attended by very considerable expense and delay. The chief
object, in going to law, moreover, was, in most cases, to have _a
decision_ of the matter in dispute; and juries were as prone to "hang"
then as now. Suitors generally, therefore, would rather submit to the
arbitration of the justice, than take the risk of delay and uncertainty,
with a jury. In criminal causes, the case was very similar: the accused
would as lief be judged by one prejudiced man as by twelve; for the same
rigorous spirit which actuated the justice, pervaded also the juries;
and (besides the chance of timidity or favor in the justice) in the
latter he must take the additional risks of personal enmity and
relationship to the party injured. Thus, juries were often discarded in
criminal causes also, and we think their disuse was no great sacrifice.
Such a system can derive its utility, in this country, only from an
enlightened public sentiment: if that sentiment be capricious and
oppressive, as it too often is, juries are quite as likely to partake
its vices as legal officers: if the sentiment be just and healthy, no
judicial officer dare be guilty of oppression. So that our fathers lost
nothing in seldom resorting to this "palladium of our liberties," and,
without doubt, gained something by avoiding delay, uncertainty, and

The reader will also observe, that I say nothing of higher courts. But
the lines between the upper and lower tribunals were not so strictly
drawn then as they now are, and the limits of jurisdiction were,
consequently, very indefinite. Most of the characteristics, moreover,
here ascribed to the justice of the peace, belonged, in almost an equal
degree, to the judges of the circuit courts; and, though some of the
latter were men of respectable legal requirements, the same off-hand
mode of administering the law which distinguished the inferior
magistrates, marked the proceedings of their courts also. Both
occasionally assumed powers which they did not legally possess; both
were guided more by their own notions of justice, than by the rules of
law; and both were remarkable for their severity upon all transgressors.
Neither cared much for the rules of evidence, each was equal to any
emergency or responsibility, and both had very exalted ideas of their
own authority.

But the functions of the justice were, in his estimation, especially
important--his dignity was very considerable also, and his powers
anything but circumscribed. A few well-authenticated anecdotes, however,
will illustrate the character better than any elaborate portraiture.
And, for fear those I am about to relate may seem exceptions, not fairly
representing the class, I should state, in the outset, that I have
selected them from a great number which I can recall, particularly
because they are _not_ exceptive, and give a very just impression of the
character which I am endeavoring to portray.

Squire A---- was a plain, honest farmer, who had distinguished himself
as a pioneer and ranger, and was remarkable as a man of undoubted
courage, but singularly peaceable temper. In the year eighteen hundred
and twenty, he received from Governor Bond of Illinois, a commission as
justice of the peace, and though he was not very clear what his duties,
dignities, and responsibilities, precisely were, like a patriot and a
Roman, he determined to discharge them to the letter. At the period of
his appointment, he was at feud with one of his neighbors about that
most fruitful of all subjects of quarrel, a division-fence; and as such
differences always are, the dispute had been waxing warmer for several
months. He received his docket, blanks, and "Form-Book," on Saturday
evening, and though he had as yet no suits to enter and no process to
issue, was thus provided with all the weapons of justice. On the
following Monday morning, he repaired, as usual, to his fields, about
half-a-mile from home, and though full of his new dignity, went quietly
to work.

He had not been there long, before his old and only enemy made his
appearance, and opened upon him a volley of abuse in relation to the
division-fence, bestowing upon his honor, among other expressive titles,
the euphonious epithet of "jackass." A---- bore the attack until it came
to this point--which, it would seem, was as far as a man's patience
ought to extend--and, it is probable, that had he not been a legal
functionary, a battle would have ensued "then and there." But it was
beneath the dignity thus outraged, to avenge itself by a vulgar
fisticuff, and A---- bethought him of a much better and more honorable
course. He threw his coat across his arm, and marched home. There he
took down his new docket, and upon the first page, recorded the case of
the "_People of the State of Illinois_ vs. _John Braxton_" (his enemy).
He then entered up the following judgment: "_The defendant in this case,
this day, fined ten dollars and costs, for_ CONTEMPT OF COURT, _he
having called_ US _a jackass_!" On the opposite page is an entry of
satisfaction, by which it appears that he forthwith issued an execution
upon the judgment, and collected the money!

This pretext of "contempt" was much in vogue, as a means of reaching
offences not expressly provided for by statute; but the justice was
never at a loss for expedients, even in cases entirely without
precedent, as the following anecdote will illustrate:--

A certain justice, in the same state of Illinois, was one day trying,
for an aggravated assault, a man who was too much intoxicated fully to
realize the import of the proceedings or the dignity of the court. He
was continually interrupting witnesses, contradicting their testimony,
and swearing at the justice. It soon became evident that he must be
silenced or the trial adjourned. The justice's patience at length gave
way. He ordered the constable to take the obstreperous culprit to a
creek, which ran near the office, "and duck him until he was sober
enough to be quiet and respect the court!" This operation the constable
alone could not perform, but in due time he brought the defendant back
dripping from the creek and thoroughly sobered, reporting, at the same
time, that he had availed himself of the assistance of two men, Messrs.
B---- and L----, in the execution of his honor's commands. The trial
then went quietly on, the defendant was fined for a breach of the peace,
and ordered to pay _the costs_: one item of which was two dollars to
Messrs. B---- and L---- "for assisting the constable in ducking the
prisoner!" But, as the justice could find no form nor precedent for
hydropathic services, he entered the charge as "_witness fees_," and
required immediate payment! The shivering culprit, glad to escape on any
terms, paid the bill and vanished!

Whatever might have been the prevailing opinion, as to the legality of
such a proceeding, the ridicule attaching to it would effectually have
prevented any remedy--most men being willing to forgive a little
irregularity, for the sake of substantial justice and "a good joke." But
the summary course, adopted by these magistrates, sometimes worked even
greater injustice--as might have been expected; and of this, the
following is an example:--

About the year eighteen hundred and twenty-six, there lived, in a
certain part of the west, a man named Smedley, who, so far as the
collection of debts was concerned, was entirely "law-proof." He seemed
to have a constitutional indisposition to paying anything he owed: and,
though there were sundry executions in the hands of officers against
him--and though he even seemed thrifty enough in his pecuniary
affairs--no property could ever be found, upon which they could be
levied. There was, at the same time, a constable in the neighborhood, a
man named White, who was celebrated, in those days of difficult
collections, for the shrewdness and success of his official exploits;
and the justice upon whom he usually attended, was equally remarkable,
for the high hand with which he carried his authority. But, though two
executions were placed in the hands of the former, upon judgments on the
docket of the latter, months passed away, without anything being
realized from the impervious defendant, Smedley.

Whenever the constable found him in possession of property, and made a
levy, it was proven to belong to some one else; and the only result of
his indefatigable efforts, was the additions of heavy costs to the
already hopeless demand.

At length, however, White learned that Smedley had _traded horses_ with
a man named Wyatt, and he straightway posted off to consult the
magistrate. Between them, the plan of operations was agreed upon. White
levied first upon the horse then in the possession of Smedley, taking
him under _one_ of the two writs: he then levied _the other_ execution
upon the horse which Smedley had traded to Wyatt. The latter,
apprehending the loss of his property, claimed the first horse--that
which he had traded to Smedley. But, upon the "trial of the right of
property," the justice decided that the horse was found in the
possession of Smedley, and was, therefore, subject to levy and sale. He
was accordingly sold, and the first judgment was satisfied. Wyatt then
claimed the _second_ horse--that which he had received from Smedley.
But, upon a similar "trial"--after severely reprimanding Wyatt for
claiming _both_ horses, when, on his own showing, he never owned but
_one_--the justice decided that the property in dispute had been in the
possession of Smedley at the rendition of the judgment, and was
therefore, like the other, subject to a lien, and equally liable to levy
and sale! And accordingly, this horse, also, was sold, to satisfy the
second execution, and Wyatt was dismissed by the justice, with no gentle
admonition, "to be careful in future with whom he swapped horses!" A
piece of advice which he probably took, and for which he ought to have
been duly grateful! Fallen humanity, however, is very perverse; and it
is at least supposable, that, having lost his horse, he considered
himself hardly used--an opinion in which my legal readers will probably

Before leaving this part of my subject, I will relate another anecdote,
which, though it refers more particularly to constables, serves to
illustrate the characteristics of the early officers of the
law--justices, as well as others:--

The constable who figured so advantageously in the anecdote last
related, had an execution against a man named Corson, who was almost as
nearly "law proof" as Smedley. He had been a long time endeavoring to
realize something, but without success. At length, he was informed, that
Corson had sued another man, upon an account, before a justice in a
distant part of the same county. This, the delinquent officer at once
saw, gave him a chance to secure something; and, on the day of trial,
away he posted to the justice's office. Here, he quietly seated himself,
and watched the course of the proceeding. The trial went on, and, in due
time, the justice decided the cause in favor of Corson. At this
juncture, White arose, and, while the justice was entering up judgment,
approached the table. When the docket was about to be laid aside, he

"Stop!" said he, placing his hand upon the docket, "_I levels on this
judgment_!" And, giving no attention to remonstrances, he demanded and
obtained the execution. On this he collected the money, and at once
applied it to that, which he had been so long carrying--thus settling
two controversies, by diligence and force of will. He was certainly a
valuable officer!

Thus irregular and informal were many of the proceedings of the
primitive legal functionaries; but a liberal view of their characters
must bring us to the conclusion, that their influence upon the progress
of civilization of the country, was, on the whole, decidedly



    "This is a traveller, sir; knows men and


Previous to the organization of civil government, and "the form and
pressure" given to the times by this and its attendant circumstances,
the primitive tastes and habits of the western people, excluded many of
those artificial wants which are gratified by commerce, and afforded no
room for traders, excepting those who sold the absolute necessaries of

In those days, housekeeping was a very simple matter. Neither
steam-engines nor patent cook-stoves were yet known, as necessary
adjuncts to a kitchen; the housewife would have "turned up her nose" in
contempt of a bake-oven: would have thrown a "Yankee reflector" over the
fence, and branded the innovator with the old-fashioned gridiron. Tin
was then supposed to be made only for cups and coffee-pots: pie-pans
had not yet even entered "the land of dreams;" and the tea-kettle, which
then "sang songs of family glee," was a quaint, squat figure, resembling
nothing so much as an over-fed duck, and poured forth its music from a
crooked, quizzical spout, with a notch in its iron nozzle. If its
shut-iron lid was ornamented with a brass button, for a handle, it was
thought to be manufactured in superior style. Iron spoons were good
enough for the daintiest mouth; and a full set of pewter was a household
treasure. China dishes and silver plate had been heard of, but belonged
to the same class of marvellous things, with Aladdin's lamp and
Fortunatus's purse. Cooking was not yet reduced to a science, and eating
was like sleep--a necessity, not a mere amusement. The only luxuries
known, were coffee and sugar; and these, with domestics and other cotton
fabrics, were the chief articles for which the products of the earth
were bartered.

French cloths and Parisian fashions were still less known than silver
spoons and "rotary stoves." The men wore homemade jeans, cut after the
_mode_ of the forest: its dye a favorite "Tennessean" brownish-yellow;
and the women were not ashamed to be seen in linsey-wolsey, woven in the
same domestic loom. Knitting was then not only an accomplishment, but a
useful art; and the size which a "yarn" stocking gave to a pretty ankle,
was not suffered to overbalance the consideration of its comfort. The
verge of nakedness was not then the region of modesty: the neck and its
adjacent parts were covered in preference to the hands; and, in their
barbarous ignorance, the women thought it more shame to appear in public
half-dressed, than to wear a comfortable shoe.

They were certainly a very primitive people--unrefined, unfashionable,
"coarse"--and many of their sons and daughters are even now ashamed to
think what "savages" their parents were! In their mode of life, they
sought comfort, not "appearances;" and many things which their more
sophisticated descendants deem necessaries, they contemned as luxuries.

But, in the course of time, these things began to change, for simplicity
is always "primitive," and the progress of refinement is only the
multiplication of wants. As the country was reduced to cultivation, and
peace settled upon its borders, new classes of emigrants began to take
possession of the soil; and, for the immediate purposes of rapid
advancement, and especially of social improvement, they were better
classes than their predecessors: for, as the original pioneers had
always lived a little beyond the influences of regular civilization,
these had remained within its limits until the pressure of legal
organization began to grow irksome to their partially untamed spirits.
There was, indeed, an unbroken gradation of character, from the nearly
savage hunter, who visited the country only because it was uninhabited,
except by wild beasts, to the genuine _citizen_, who brought with him
order, and industry, and legal supremacy.

The emigrants, of whom we are now writing, constituted the third step in
this progression; and they imported along with them, or drew after them,
the peculiarities belonging to their own degree of advancement. Their
notions of comfort and modes of living, though still quite crude,
indicated an appreciable stage of refinement. They were better supplied,
for example, with cooking utensils--their household furniture was not so
primitive--and in wearing apparel, they manifested some regard to
elegance as well as comfort. Social intercourse disseminated these ideas
among those to whom they were novel; where, previously, the highest
motive to improvement had been a desire for convenience, the idea of
gentility began to claim an influence; and some of the more moderate
embellishments of life assumed the place of the mere necessaries.

The transition was not rapid nor violent, like all permanent changes, it
was the work of years, marked by comparatively slow gradations. First,
tin-ware, of various descriptions, became necessary to the operations of
the kitchen; and that which had been confined to one or two articles,
was now multiplied into many forms. A housewife could no more bake a pie
without a "scalloped" pie-pan, than without a fire: a tin-bucket was
much more easily handled than one of cedar or oak; and a pepper-box, of
the same material, was as indispensable as a salt-cellar. A little tea
was occasionally added to the ancient regimen of coffee, and thus a
tin-canister became necessary for the preservation of the precious drug.
With tea came queensware: and half-a-dozen cups and saucers, usually of
a dingy white, with a raised blue edge, were needful for the pranking of
the little cupboard.

But it was not only in the victualing department that the progress of
refinement could be traced; for the thrifty housewife, who thought it
proper to adorn her table, and equip her kitchen with all the late
improvements, could not, of course, entirely overlook "the fashions:"
the decoration of her person has been, in all ages, the just and honest
pride of woman. Linsey-wolsey began to give place to calicoes and
many-colored prints; calf-skin shoes were antiquated by the use of kid;
and ribands fluttered gracefully upon new-fashioned bonnets. Progress of
this kind never takes a step backward: once possessed of an improvement
in personal comfort, convenience, or adornment, man--or woman--seldom
gives it up. Thus, these things, once used, thenceforth became wants,
whose gratification was not to be foregone: and it is one of the
principles governing commerce, that the demand draws to it the supply.

There were few "country stores," in those days, and the settlements were
so scattered as to make it sometimes very inconvenient to visit them.
From ten to twenty miles was a moderate distance to the dépôt of
supplies; and a whole day was usually consumed in going and returning.
The visits were, therefore, not very frequent--the purchases for many
weeks--perhaps months--being made on each occasion. This was a very
inconvenient mode of "shopping," even for the energetic women of that
day; and, since the population would not justify more numerous
"stores," it was desirable that some new system should be introduced,
capable of supplying the demand at the cost of less trouble, and fewer
miles of travel. To answer this necessity there was but one way--the
"storekeeper" must carry his wares to the doors of his customers. And
thus arose the occupation of the _Peddler_, or, as he called himself,
the "travelling merchant."

The population of the country was then almost exclusively
agricultural--the mechanic arts belong to a more advanced period. The
consequence was, that the first articles carried about from house to
house, were such as are manufactured by artisans--and the chief of these
was tin-ware.

The tinkers of the rural districts in older countries, were, however,
not known in this--they were not adapted to the genius of the people.
The men who sold the ware were, scarcely ever, the same who made it;
and, though the manual dexterity of most of these ready men, might
enable them to mend a broken pan, or a leaky coffeepot, their skill was
seldom put in requisition. Besides, since the mending of an old article
might interfere with the sale of a new one, inability to perform the
office was more frequently assumed than felt.

In the course of time--as the people of the country began to acquire new
ideas, and discover new wants--other articles were added to the
peddler's stock. Calicoes were often carried in the same box with tin
pans--cotton checks and ginghams were stowed away beneath tin-cups and
iron-spoons--shining coffee-pots were crammed with spools of thread,
papers of pins, cards of horn-buttons, and cakes of shaving-soap--and
bolts of gaudy riband could be drawn from pepper-boxes and
sausage-stuffers. Table-cloths, of cotton or brown linen, were displayed
before admiring eyes, which had turned away from all the brightness of
new tin plates; and knives and forks, all "warranted pure steel,"
appealed to tastes, which nothing else could excite. New razors touched
the men "in tender places," while shining scissors clipped the purses of
the women. Silk handkerchiefs and "fancy" neckcloths--things till then
unknown--could occupy the former, while the latter covetously turned
over and examined bright ribands and fresh cotton hose. The peddler was
a master of the art of pleasing all tastes: even the children were not
forgotten; for there were whips and jew's-harps for the boys, and nice
check aprons for the girls. (The taste for "playing mother" was as much
an instinct, with the female children of that day, as it is in times
more modern; but life was yet too earnest to display it in the dressing
and nursing of waxen babies.) To suit the people from whom the peddler's
income was derived, he must consult at least the appearance of utility,
in every article he offered; for, though no man could do more, to coax
the money out of one's pocket, without leaving an equivalent, even _he_
could not succeed in such an enterprise, against the matter-of-fact

The "travelling merchants" of this country were generally what their
customers called "Yankees"--that is, New-Englanders, or descendants of
the puritans, whether born east of the Hudson or not. And, certainly, no
class of men were ever better fitted for an occupation, than were those
for "peddling." The majority of them were young men, too; for the
"Yankee" who lives beyond middle age, without providing snug quarters
for the decline of life, is usually not even fit for a peddler. But,
though often not advanced in years, they often exhibited qualities,
which one would have expected to find only in men of age and experience.
They could "calculate," with the most absolute certainty, what precise
stage of advancement and cultivation, was necessary to the introduction
of every article of merchandise their stock comprised. Up to a certain
limit, they offered, for example, linen table-cloths: beyond that,
cotton was better and more saleable; in certain settlements, they could
sell numbers of the finer articles, which, in others, hung on their
hands like lead; and they seemed to know, the moment they breathed the
air of a neighborhood, what precise character of goods was most likely
to pay.

Thus--by way of illustration--it might seem, to one not experienced in
reading the signs of progress, a matter of nice speculation and subtle
inquiry, to determine what exact degree of cultivation was necessary, to
make profitable the trade in _clocks_. But I believe there is no
instance of an unsuccessful clock-peddler on record; and, though this
fact may be accounted for, superficially, by asserting that time is
alike important to all men, and a measure of its course, therefore,
always a want, a little reflection will convince us, that this
explanation is more plausible than sound.

It is, perhaps, beyond the capacity of any man, to judge unerringly, by
observation, of the usual signs of progress, the exact point at which a
community, or a man, has arrived in the scale of cultivation; and it may
seem especially difficult, to determine commercially, what precise
articles, of use or ornament, are adapted to the state indicated by
those signs. But that there are such indications, which, if properly
attended to, will be unfailing guides, is not to be denied. Thus, the
quick observation of a clock-peddler would detect among a community of
primitive habits, the growing tendency to regularity of life; for, as
refinement advances, the common affairs of everyday existence, feeling
the influence first, assume a degree of order and arrangement; and from
the display of this improvement, the trader might draw inferences
favorable to his traffic. Eating, for example, as he would perceive, is
done at certain hours of the day--sleep is taken between fixed periods
of the night and morning--especially, public worship--which is one of
the best and surest signs of social advancement--must be held at a time
generally understood.

The peddler might conclude, also, when he saw a glazed window in a
house, that the owner was already possessed of a clock--which, perhaps,
needed repairing--or, at least, was in great need of one, if he had not
yet made the purchase. One of these shrewd "calculators" once told me,
that, when he saw a man with four panes of glass in his house, and no
clock, he either sold him one straightway, or "set him down crazy, or a

"Have you no other 'signs of promise'"? I asked.

"O yes," he replied, "many! For instance: When I am riding past a
house--(I always ride slowly)--I take a general and particular survey of
the premises--or, as the military men say, I make a _reconnaissance_;
and it must be a very bare place, indeed, if I can not see some 'sign,'
by which to determine, whether the owner needs a clock. If I see the
man, himself, I look at his extremities; and by the appearance of hat
and boot, I make up my opinion as to whether he knows the value of time:
if he wears anything but a cap, I can pretty fairly calculate upon
selling him a clock; and if, to the hat, he has added _boots_, I halt at
once, and, without ceremony, carry a good one in.

"When I see the wife, instead of the husband, I have no difficulty in
making up my mind--though the signs about the women are so numerous and
minute, that it would be hard to explain them. If one wears a
check-apron and sports a calico dress, I know that a 'travelling
merchant' has been in the neighborhood; and if he has succeeded in
making a reasonable number of sales, I am certain that he has given her
such a taste for buying, that I can sell her anything at all: for
purchasing cheap goods, to a woman, is like sipping good liquor, to a
man--she soon acquires the appetite, and thenceforward it is insatiable.

"I have some customers who have a _passion_ for clocks. There is a man
on this road, who has one for every room in his house; and I have
another with me now--with a portrait of General Jackson in the
front--which I expect to add to his stock. There is a farmer not far
from here, with whom I have 'traded' clocks every year since I first
entered the neighborhood--always receiving about half the value of the
article I sell, in money, 'to boot.' There are clock-fanciers, as well
as fanciers of dogs and birds; and I have known cases, in which a man
would have two or three time-pieces in his house, and not a pair of
shoes in the family! But such customers are rare--as they ought to be;
and the larger part of our trade is carried on, with people who begin to
feel the necessity of regularity--to whom the sun has ceased to be a
sufficient guide--and who have acquired some notions of elegance and
comfort. And we seldom encounter the least trouble in determining, by
the general appearance of the place, whether the occupant has arrived at
that stage of refinement."

We perceive that the principal study of the peddler is human nature; and
though he classifies the principles of his experience, more especially
with reference to the profits of his trade, his rapid observation of
minor traits and indications, is a talent which might be useful in many
pursuits, besides clock-peddling. And, accordingly, we discover that,
even after he has abandoned the occupation, and ceased to be a bird of
passage, he never fails to turn his learning to a good account.

He was distinguished by energy as well as shrewdness, and an
enterprising spirit was the first element of his prosperity. There was
no corner--no secluded settlement--no out-of-the way place--where he was
not seen. Bad roads never deterred him: he could drive his horses and
wagon where a four-wheeled vehicle never went before. He understood
bearings and distances as well as a topographical engineer, and would
go, whistling contentedly, across a prairie or through a forest, where
he had not even a "trail" to guide him. He could find fords and
crossings where none were previously known to exist; and his pair of
lean horses, by the skilful management of their driver, would carry him
and his wares across sloughs and swamps, where a steam-engine would have
been clogged by the weight of a baby-wagon. If he broke his harness or
his vehicle in the wilderness, he could repair it without assistance,
for his mechanical accomplishments extended from the shoeing of a horse
to the repair of a watch, and embraced everything between. He was never
taken by surprise--accidents never came unexpected, and strange events
never disconcerted him. He would whistle "Yankee Doodle" while his
horses were floundering in a quagmire, and sing "Hail Columbia" while
plunging into an unknown river!

He never met a stranger, for he was intimately acquainted with a man as
soon as he saw him. Introductions were useless ceremonies to him, for he
cared nothing about names. He called a woman "ma'am" and a man "mister,"
and if he could sell either of them a few goods, he never troubled
himself or them with impertinent inquiries. Sometimes he had a habit of
learning each man's name from his next neighbor, and possessing an
excellent memory, he never lost the information thus acquired.

When he had passed through a settlement once, he had a complete
knowledge of all its circumstances, history, and inhabitants; and, the
next year, if he met a child in the road, he could tell you whom it most
resembled, and to what family it belonged. He recollected all who were
sick on his last visit--what peculiar difficulties each was laboring
under--and was always glad to hear of their convalescence. He gathered
medicinal herbs along the road, and generously presented them to the
housewives where he halted, and he understood perfectly the special
properties of each. He possessed a great store of good advice, suited to
every occasion, and distributed it with the disinterested benevolence of
a philanthropist. He knew precisely what articles of merchandise were
adapted to the taste of each customer; and the comprehensive "rule of
three" would not have enabled him to calculate more nicely the exact
amount of "talk" necessary to convince them of the same.

His address was extremely insinuating, for he always endeavored to say
the most agreeable things, and no man could judge more accurately what
would best please the person addressed. He might be vain enough, but his
egotism was never obtruded upon others. He might secretly felicitate
himself upon a successful trade, but he never boasted of it. He seemed
to be far more interested in the affairs of others than in his own. He
had sympathy for the afflictions of his customers, counsel for their
difficulties, triumph in their success.

Before the introduction of mails, he was the universal news-carrier, and
could tell all about the movements of the whole world. He could gossip
over his wares with his female customers, till he beguiled them into
endless purchases, for he had heard of every death, marriage, and birth
within fifty miles. He recollected the precise piece of calico from
which Mrs. Jones bought her last new dress, and the identical bolt of
riband from which Mrs. Smith trimmed her "Sunday bonnet." He knew whose
children went to "meeting" in "store-shoes," whose daughter was
beginning to wear long dresses, and whose wife wore cotton hose. He
could ring the changes on the "latest fashions" as glibly as the
skilfulest _modiste_. He was a _connoisseur_ in colors, and learned in
their effects upon complexion. He could laugh the husband into
half-a-dozen shirts, flatter the wife into calico and gingham, and
praise the children till both parents joined in dressing them anew from
top to toe.

He always sold his goods "at a ruinous sacrifice," but he seemed to have
a dépôt of infinite extent and capacity, from which he annually drew new
supplies. He invariably left a neighborhood the loser by his visit, and
the close of each season found him inconsolable for his "losses." But
the next year he was sure to come back, risen, like the Phoenix, from his
own ashes, and ready to be ruined again--in the same way. He could never
resist the pleading look of a pretty woman, and if she "jewed" him
twenty per cent. (though his profits were only two hundred), the
tenderness of his heart compelled him to yield. What wonder is it, then,
if he was a prime favorite with all the women, or that his advent, to
the children, made a day of jubilee?

But the peddler, like every other human "institution," only had "his
day." The time soon came when he was forced to give way before the march
of newfangledness. The country grew densely populated, neighborhoods
became thicker, and the smoke of one man's chimney could be seen from
another's front-door. People's wants began to be permanent--they were no
longer content with transient or periodical supplies--they demanded
something more constant and regular. From this demand arose the little
neighborhood "stores," established for each settlement at a central and
convenient point--usually at "cross-roads," or next door to the
blacksmith's shop--and these it was which superseded the peddler's

We could wish to pause here, and, after describing the little dépôt,
"take an account of stock:" for no store, not even a sutler's, ever
presented a more amusing or characteristic assortment. But since these
modest establishments were generally the _nuclei_, around which western
towns were built, we must reserve our fire until we reach that subject.

But the peddler had not acquired his experience of life for nothing, he
was not to be outdone, even by the more aristocratic stationary
shop-keeper. When he found his trade declining, he cast about him for a
good neighborhood, still uninvaded by the Lombards, and his extensive
knowledge of the country soon enabled him to find one. Here he erected
his own cabin, and boldly entered the lists against his new
competitors. If he could find no eligible point for such an
establishment, or if he augured unfavorably of his success in the new
walk, he was not cast down. If he could not "keep store," he could at
least "keep tavern," an occupation for which his knowledge of the world
and cosmopolitan habits, admirably fitted him. In this capacity, we
shall have occasion to refer to him again; and have now only to record,
that in the progress of time, he grew rich, if not fat, and eventually
died, "universally regretted."



    "There, in his quiet mansion, skilled to rule,
    The village _master_ taught his little school.

           *       *       *       *       *

    "I knew him well, and every truant knew:

           *       *       *       *       *

    "Yet he was kind; or, if severe in aught,
    The love he bore to learning was in fault.
    The village all declared how much he knew:
    'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too."--


[Illustration: THE SCHOOLMASTER.]

In the progress of society, the physical wants are felt before the
intellectual. Men appreciate the necessity for covering their backs and
lining their stomachs before storing their minds, and they naturally
provide a shelter from the storms of heaven, before they seek (with
other learning) a knowledge of the heavenly bodies. Thus the rudest
social system comprises something of the mechanic arts--government
begins to advance toward the dignity of a science--commerce follows the
establishment of legal supremacy--and the education of the citizen
comes directly after the recognition of his social and political rights.
So, the justice of the peace (among other legal functionaries) indicates
subjection, more or less complete, to the regulations of law; the
peddler represents the beginning of commercial interests; and the
schoolmaster succeeds him, in the natural order of things.

It may be possible to preserve a high respect for a _calling_, while we
despise the men who exercise it: though I believe this is not one of the
rules which "work both ways," and the converse is, therefore, not
equally true. A man's occupation affects _him_ more nearly than _he_
does his occupation. A thousand contemptible men will not bring a
respectable profession into so much disrepute, as a contemptible
profession will a thousand respectable men. All the military talents,
for example, of the commander-in-chief of our armies, would not preserve
him from contempt, should he set up a barber-shop, or drive a milk-cart;
but the barber, or the milkman, might make a thousand blunders at the
head of an army, should extravagant democracy elevate him to that
position, and yet the rank of a general would be as desirable, because
as honorable, as ever.

It is certainly true, however, that the most exalted station may be
degraded by filling it with a low or despicable incumbent, for the
mental effort necessary to the abstraction of the employment from him
who pursues it, is one which most men do not take the trouble to make:
an effort, indeed, which the majority of men are _incapable_ of making.
A vicious priest degrades the priestly vocation--a hypocrite brings
reproach upon the religious profession--a dishonest lawyer sinks the
legal character--and even the bravest men care but little for promotion
in an army, when cowardice and incompetency are rewarded with rank and
power. But manifest incapacity, culpable neglect of duty, or even a
positively vicious character, will not reduce a calling to contempt, or
bring it into disrepute so soon, as any quality which excites ridicule.

An awkward figure, a badly-shaped garment, or an ungainly manner, will
sometimes outweigh the acquirements of the finest scholar; and the cause
of religion has suffered more, from the absence of the softer graces, in
its clerical representations, than from all the logic of its
adversaries. A laugh is more effectual to subvert an institution, than
an argument--for it is easier to make men ashamed, than to convince
them. Truth and reason are formidable weapons, but ridicule is stronger
than either--or both.

Thus: All thinking men will eagerly admit, that the profession of the
schoolmaster is, not only respectable, but honorable, alike to the
individual, and to the community in which he pursues it: yet, rather
than teach a school for a livelihood, the large majority of the same men
would "split rails" or cut cord-wood! And this is not because teaching
is laborious--though it _is_ laborious, and thankless, too, beyond all
other occupations; but because a number and variety of causes, into
which we need not inquire, have combined to throw ridicule upon him, who
is derisively called the pedagogue--for most men would rather be shot
at, than laughed at. Cause and effect are always inter-reactive: and the
refusal of the most competent men, to "take up the birch"--which is the
effect of this derision--has filled our school-rooms with men, who are,
not unfairly, its victims. Thus the profession--(for such is its
inherent dignity)--itself, has fallen into discredit--even though the
judgment of men universally is, that it is not only useful, but

Nor is that judgment incorrect. For, though home-education may sometimes
succeed, it is usually too fragmentary to be beneficial--private tutors
are too often the slaves of their pupils, and can not enforce "attention,"
the first condition of advancement, where they have not the paraphernalia
of command--and, as for self-education, logically there can be no such
thing: "one might as well attempt to lift himself over the fence, by the
straps of his boots," as to educate himself "without a master."

The schoolmaster, then, is a useful member of society--not to be spared
at any stage of its progress. But he is particularly necessary to
communities which are in the transition state; for, upon the
enlightenment of the rising generation depend the success and
preservation of growing institutions. Nor does his usefulness consist
altogether--or even in a great measure--in the number of facts,
sciences, or theories, with which he may store the minds of his pupils.
These are not the objects of education, any more than a knowledge of the
compartments in a printer's "letter-case," is the ultimate result of the
art of printing. The types are so arranged, in order to enable the
compositors more conveniently to attain the ends, for which that
arrangement is only a preparation: facts and sciences are taught for
the improvement of the faculties, in order that they may work with more
ease, force, and certainty, upon other and really important things; for
education is only the marshalling of powers, preliminary to the great
"battle of life."

The mind of an uneducated man, however strong in itself, is like an army
of undisciplined men--a crowd of chaotic, shapeless, and often
misdirected elements. To bring these into proper subjection--to enable
him to bind them, with anything like their native force, to a given
purpose--a prescribed "training" is necessary; and it is this which
education supplies. If you can give a mind the _habit of attention_, all
the power it has will be made available: and it is through this faculty,
that even dull minds are so frequently able to mount the car of triumph,
and ride swiftly past so many, who are immeasurably their superiors. The
first element of the discipline which develops this power, is submission
to control; and without such subordination, a school can not exist.
Thus, the first lesson that children learn from the schoolmaster, is the
most valuable acquisition they can make.

But it was no easy task to teach this principle to the sturdy children
of the early Western "settler;" in this, as in all other things, the
difficulty of the labor was in exact proportion to its necessity. The
peculiarities of the people, and the state of the country, were not
favorable to the establishment of the limited monarchy, requisite to
successful teaching. In the first place, the parents very generally
undervalued, what they called "mere book-learning." For themselves, they
had found more use for a rifle than a pen; and they naturally thought it
a much more valuable accomplishment, to be able to scalp a squirrel with
a bullet, at a hundred paces, than to read the natural history of the
animal in the "picture-book." They were enthusiastic, also, upon the
subject of independence; and, though they could control their children
sternly enough at home, they were apt to look, with a jealous eye, upon
any attempt to establish dominion elsewhere. The children partook
largely of the free, wild spirit of their fathers. They were very prompt
to resist anything like encroachment upon their privileges or rights,
and were, of course, pretty certain to consider even salutary control an
attempt to assert a despotism. I believe history contains no record,
whatever the annals of fiction may display, of a boy, with much spirit,
submitting without a murmur to the authority of the schoolmaster: if
such a prodigy of enlightened humility ever existed, he certainly did
not live in the west. But a more important difficulty than either of
these, was the almost entire want of money in the country; and without
this there was but little encouragement for the effort to overcome other
obstacles. Money _may_ be only a _representative_ of value, but its
absence operates marvellously like the want of the value itself, and the
primitive people of those days, and especially that class to which the
schoolmaster belonged, had a habit, however illogical, of considering it
a desirable commodity, _per se_.

All these impediments, however, could, in the course of time, be
conquered: the country was improving in social tone; parents must
eventually take some pride even in the accomplishments they despised;
and patience and gentleness, intermingled, now and then, with a little
wholesome severity, will ultimately subdue the most stubborn spirit. As
for the pecuniary difficulty, it was, as the political economists will
tell us, only the absence of a medium at the worst: and, in its stead,
the master could receive boarding, clothing, and the agricultural
products of the country. So many barrels of corn, or bushels of wheat,
"per quarter," might not be so conveniently handled, but were quite as
easy to be counted, as an equal number of dollars; and this primitive
mode of payment is even yet practised in many rural districts, perhaps,
in both the east and west. To counter-balance its inconvenience of bulk,
this "currency" possessed a double advantage over the more refined
"medium of exchange" now in use: it was not liable to counterfeits, and
the bank from which it issued was certain not to "break."

So the schoolmaster was not to be deterred from pursuing his honorable
calling, even by the difficulties incident to half-organized
communities. Indeed, teaching was the resort, at least temporary, of
four fifths of the educated, and nearly an equal number of the
uneducated young men, who came to the west: for certainly that
proportion of both classes arrived in the country, without money to
support, friends to encourage, or pride to deter them.

They were almost all what western people call "Yankees"--born and bred
east of the Hudson: descendants of the sturdy puritans--and
distinguished by the peculiarities of that strongly-marked people, in
personal appearance, language, manners, and style and tone of thought.
Like the peddlers, they were generally on the sunny side of thirty, full
of the hopeful energy which belongs to that period of life, and only
submitting to the labors and privations of the present, because through
these they looked to the future for better and brighter things.

The causes which led to their emigration, were as many and as various as
the adventurers whom they moved. They were, most of them, mere boys:
young Whittingtons, whom the bells did _not_ ring back, to become
lord-mayors; who, indeed, had not even the limited possessions of that
celebrated worthy; and, thus destitute, they wandered off, many hundreds
of miles, "to see the world and make their fortunes," at an age when the
youth of the present day are just beginning to think of college. They
brought neither money, letters of introduction, nor bills of exchange:
they expected to find neither acquaintance nor relatives. But they
knew--for it was one of the wise maxims of their unromantic
fathers--that industry and honesty must soon gather friends, and that
all other desirable things would speedily follow. They had great and
just confidence in their own abilities to "get along;" and if they did
not actually think that the whole world belonged to them, they were
well-assured, that in an incredibly short space of time, they would be
able to possess a respectable portion of it.

A genuine specimen of the class to which most of the early schoolmasters
belonged, never felt any misgivings about his own success, and never
hesitated to assume any position in life. Neither pride nor modesty was
ever suffered to interfere with his action. He would take charge of a
numerous school, when he could do little more than write his own name,
just as he would have undertaken to run a steamboat, or command an army,
when he had never studied engineering or heard of strategy. Nor would he
have failed in either capacity: a week's application would make him
master of a steam-engine, or a proficient (after the _present manner_ of
proficiency) in tactics; and as for his school, he could himself learn
at night what he was to teach others on the following day! Nor was this
mere "conceit"--though, in some other respects, that word, in its
limited sense, was not inapplicable--neither was it altogether ignorant
presumption; for one of these men was seldom known to fail in anything
he undertook: or, if he did fail, he was never found to be cast down by
defeat, and the resiliency of his nature justified his confidence.

The pursuit of a certain avocation, for a long period, is apt to warp
one's nature to its inequalities; and as the character gradually assumes
the peculiar shape, the personal appearance changes in a corresponding
direction and degree. Thus, the blacksmith becomes brawny, square, and
sturdy, and the characteristic swing of his arm gives tone to his whole
bearing: the silversmith acquires a peering, cunning look, as if he were
always examining delicate machinery: the physician becomes solemn,
stately, pompous, and mysterious, and speaks like "Sir Oracle," as if he
were eternally administering a bread-pill, or enjoining a regimen of
drugs and starvation: the lawyer assumes a keen, alert, suspicious
manner, as if he were constantly in pursuit of a latent perjury, or
feared that his adversary might discover a flaw in his "case:" and so
on, throughout the catalogue of human avocations. But, among all these,
that which marks its votaries most clearly, is school-teaching.

There seems to be a sort of antagonism between this employment and all
manner of neatness, and the circle of the schoolmaster's female
acquaintance never included the Graces. Attention to personal decoration
is usually, though not universally, in an inverse ratio to mental
garniture; and an artistically-tied cravat seems inconsistent with the
supposition of a well-stored head above it. A mind which is directed
toward the evolution of its own powers, has but little time to waste in
adorning the body; and a fashionable costume would appear to cramp the
intellect, as did the iron-vessel the genius of the Arabian tale.
Although, therefore, there are numerous exceptions--persons whose
externals are as elegant as their pursuits are intellectual--men of
assiduously-cultivated minds are apt to be careless of appearances, and
the principle applies, with especial force, to those whose business it
is to develop the minds of others.

Nor was the schoolmaster of early days in the west, an exception to the
rule. He might not be as learned, nor as purely intellectual, as some of
our modern college-professors, but he was as ungraceful, and as
awkwardly clad, as the most slovenly of them all. Indeed, he came of a
stock which has never been noted for any of the lighter accomplishments,
or "carnal graces;" for at no period of its eventful history, has the
puritan type been a remarkable elegant one. The men so named have been
better known for bravery than taste, for zeal than polish; and since
there is always a correspondence between habits of thought and feeling
and the external appearance, the _physique_ of the race is more
remarkable for rigor of muscle and angularity of outline, than for
accuracy of proportion or smoothness of finish. Neither Apollo nor
Adonis was in any way related to the family; and if either had been, the
probability is that his kindred would have disowned him.

Properly to represent his lineage, therefore, the schoolmaster could be
neither dandy nor dancing-master; and, as if to hold him to his
integrity, nature had omitted to give him any temptation, in his own
person, to assume either of these respectable characters. The tailor
that could shape a coat to fit _his_ shoulders, never yet handled
shears; and he would have been as ill at ease, in a pair of fashionable
pantaloons, as if they had been lined with chestnut-burrs. He was
generally above the medium height, with a very decided stoop, as if in
the habit of carrying burthens; and a long, high nose, with light blue
eyes, and coarse, uneven hair, of a faded weather-stain color, gave his
face the expression answering to this lathy outline. Though never very
slender, he was always thin: as if he had been flattened out in a
rolling-mill; and rotundity of corporation was a mode of development not
at all characteristic. His complexion was seldom florid, and not often
decidedly pale; a sort of sallow discoloration was its prevailing hue,
like that which marks the countenance of a consumer of "coarse" whiskey
and strong tobacco. But these failings were not the cause of his
cadaverous look--for a faithful representative of the class held them
both in commendable abhorrence--_they were not the vices of his nature_.

There was a sub-division of the class, a secondary type, not so often
observed, but common enough to entitle it to a brief notice. _He_ was,
generally, short, square, and thick--the latitude bearing a better
proportion to the longitude than in his lank brother--but never
approaching anything like roundness. With this attractive figure, he had
a complexion of decidedly bilious darkness, and what is commonly called
a "dish-face." His nose was depressed between the eyes, an arrangement
which dragged the point upward in the most cruel manner, but gave it an
expression equally ludicrous and impertinent. A pair of small, round,
black eyes, encompassed--like two little feudal fortresses, each by its
moat--with a circle of yellowish white, peered out from under brows like
battlements. Coarse, black hair, always cut short, and standing erect,
so as to present something the appearance of a _chevaux de frise_,
protected a hard, round head--a shape most appropriate to his
lineage--while, with equal propriety, ears of corresponding magnitude
stood boldly forth to assert their claim to notice.

Both these types were distinguished for large feet, which no boot could
enclose, and hands broad beyond the compass of any glove. Neither was
ever known to get drunk, to grow fat, to engage in a game of chance, or
to lose his appetite: it became the teacher of "ingenuous youth" to
preserve an exemplary bearing before those whom he was endeavoring to
benefit; while respectable "appearances," and proper appreciation of the
good things of life, were the _alpha_ and _omega_ of his system of

But the schoolmaster--and we now include both sub-divisions of the
class--was not deficient as an example in many other things, to all who
wished to learn the true principles of living. Among other things, he
was distinguished for a rigid, iron-bound economy: a characteristic
which it might have been well to impart to many of his pupils. But that
which the discreet master denominated _prudence_, the extravagant and
wrong-headed scholar was inclined to term _meanness_: and historical
truth compels us to admit, that the rigor of grim economy sometimes wore
an aspect of questionable austerity. Notwithstanding this, however, when
we reflect upon the scanty compensation afforded the benefactor of the
rising generation, we can not severely blame his penurious tenacity any
more than we can censure an empty wine-cask for not giving forth the
nectar which we have never poured into it. If, accordingly, he was out
at the elbows, we are bound to conclude that it was because he had not
the money to buy a new coat; and if he never indulged himself in any of
the luxuries of life, it was, probably, because the purchase of its
necessaries had already brought him too near the bottom of his purse.

He was always, moreover, "a close calculator," and, with a wisdom worthy
of all imitation, never mortgaged the future for the convenience of the
present. Indeed, this power of "calculation" was not only a talent but a
passion: you would have thought that his progenitors had been
arithmeticians since the time of Noah! He could "figure up" any
proposition whatsoever: but he was especially great upon the question,
how much he could save from his scanty salary, and yet live to the end
of the year.

In fact, it was only _living_ that he cared for. The useful, with him,
was always superior to the ornamental; and whatever was not absolutely
necessary, he considered wasteful and extravagant. Even the profusion of
western hospitality was, in his eyes, a crime against the law of
prudence, and he would as soon have forgiven a breach of good morals as
a violation of this, his favorite rule.

As might have been expected, he carried this principle with him into the
school-room, and was very averse to teaching anything beyond what would
certainly "pay." He rigidly eschewed embellishment, and adorned his
pupils with no graceful accomplishments. It might be that he never
taught anything above the useful branches of education, because he had
never learned more himself; but it is certain that he would not have
imparted merely polite learning, had his own training enabled him to do
so: for he had, constitutionally, a high contempt for all "flimsy"
things, and, moreover, he was not employed or paid to teach rhetoric or
_belles-lettres_, and, "on principle," he never gave more in return
than the value of the money he received.

With this reservation, his duties were always thoroughly performed, for
neither by nature, education, nor lineage, was he likely to slight any
recognised obligation. He devoted his time and talents to his school, as
completely as if he had derived from it the income of a bishop; and the
iron constitution, of both body and mind, peculiar to his race, enabled
him to endure a greater amount of continuous application than any other
man. Indeed, his powers of endurance were quite surprising, and the
fibre of his mind was as tough as that of his body. Even upon a quality
so valuable as this, however, he never prided himself; for, excepting
the boast of race, which was historical and not unjustifiable, he _had_
no pride. He might be a little vain; and, in what he said and did, more
especially in its manner, there might occasionally be a shade of
self-conceit: for he certainly entertained no mean opinion of himself.
This might be a little obtrusive, too, at times; for he had but slight
veneration for men, or their feelings, or opinions; and he would
sometimes pronounce a judgment in a tone of superiority justly
offensive. But he possessed the uncommon virtue of sincerity: he
thoroughly believed in the infallibility of his own conclusions; and
for this the loftiness of his tone might be forgiven.

The most important of the opinions thus expressed, were upon religious
subjects, for Jews, puritans, and Spaniards, have always been very
decided controversialists. His theology was grim, solemn, and angular,
and he was as combative as one of Cromwell's disputatious troopers. In
his capacious pocket, he always carried a copy of the New Testament--as,
of old, the carnal controvertists bore a sword buckled to the side. Thus
armed, he was a genuine polemical "swash-buckler," and would whip out
his Testament, as the bravo did his weapon, to cut you in two without
ceremony. He could carve you into numerous pieces, and season you with
scriptural salt and pepper; and he would do it with a gusto so serious,
that it would have been no unreasonable apprehension that he intended to
eat you afterward. And the value of his triumph was enhanced, too, by
the consideration that it was won by no meretricious graces or
rhetorical flourishes; for the ease of his gesticulation was such as you
see in the arms of a windmill, and his enunciation was as nasal and
monotonous as that of the Reverend Eleazar Poundtext, under whose
ministrations he had been brought up in all godliness.

But he possessed other accomplishments beside those of the polemic. He
was not, it is true, overloaded with the learning of "the schools"--was,
in fact, quite ignorant of some of the branches of knowledge which he
imparted to his pupils: yet this was never allowed to become apparent,
for as we have intimated, he would frequently himself acquire, at night,
the lessons which he was to teach on the morrow. But time was seldom
wasted among the people from whom he sprang, and this want of
preparation denoted that his leisure hours had been occupied in
possessing himself of other acquirements. Among these, the most elegant,
if not the most useful, was music, and his favorite instrument was the

In "David Copperfield," Dickens describes a certain flute-playing tutor,
by the name of Mell, concerning whom, and the rest of mankind, he
expresses the rash opinion, "after many years of reflection," that
"nobody ever could have played worse." But Dickens never saw Strongfaith
Lippincott, the schoolmaster, nor heard his lugubrious flute, and he
therefore knows nothing of the superlative degree of detestable playing.

There _are_ instruments upon which even an unskilful performer may make
tolerable music, but the flute is not one of them--the man who murders
_that_, is a malefactor entitled to no "benefit of clergy:" and our
schoolmaster _did_ murder it in the most inhuman manner! But, let it be
said in mitigation of his offence, he had never received the benefit of
any scientific teaching--he had not been "under the tuition of the
celebrated Signor Wheeziana," nor had he profited by "the invaluable
instructions of the unrivalled Bellowsblauer"--and it is very doubtful
whether he would have gained much advantage from them, had he met the

He knew that, in order to make a noise on the flute, or, indeed,
anywhere else, it was necessary to _blow_, and blow he did, like Boreas!
He always carried the instrument in his pocket, and on being asked to
play--a piece of politeness for which he always looked--he drew it out
with the solemnity of visage with which a tender-hearted sheriff
produces a death-warrant, and while he screwed the joints together,
sighed blasts like a furnace. He usually deposited himself upon the
door-sill--a favorite seat for him--and collecting the younger members
of the family about him, thence poured forth his strains of concentrated

He invariably selected the most melancholy tunes, playing, with a more
profound solemnity, the gloomiest psalms and lamentations. When he
ventured upon secular music, he never performed anything more lively
than "The Mistletoe Bough," or "Barbara Allen," and into each he threw a
spirit so much more dismal than the original, as almost to induce his
hearers to imitate the example of the disconsolate "Barbara," and "turn
their faces to the wall" in despair of being ever again able to muster a

He was not a scientific musician, then--fortunately for his
usefulness--because thorough musicians are generally "good-for-nothing"
else. But music was not a science among the pioneers, though the
undertone of melancholy feeling, to which all sweet sounds appeal, was
as easily reached in them as in any other people. Their wants in this,
as in other things, were very easily satisfied--they were susceptible of
pleasure from anything which was in the least commendable: and not
feeling obliged, by any captious canon, to condemn nine true notes,
because of the tenth false one, they allowed themselves to enjoy the
best music they could get, without thinking of the damage done their
musical and critical reputation.

But his flute was not the only means of pleasing within the
schoolmaster's reach: for he could flatter as well as if the souls of
ten courtiers had transmigrated into his single body. He might not do it
quite so gracefully as one of these, nor with phrases so well-chosen, or
so correctly pronounced, but what he said was always cunningly adapted
to the character of the person whom he desired to move. He had "a deal
of candied courtesy," especially for the women; and though his sturdy
manhood and the excellent opinion of himself--both of which came to him
from his ancestry--usually preserved him from the charge of servility,
he was sometimes a "cozener" whose conscience annoyed him with very few
scruples. Occasionally he might be seen fawning upon the rich; but it
was not with him--as it usually is with the parasites of wealthy
men--because he thought Dives more respectable, but more _useful_, on
account of his money: the opulent possessed what the indigent wanted,
and the shortest road to the goal of Cupidity, lay through the region of
Vanity. There was none of that servility which Mr. Carlyle has attempted
to dignify with the name of "hero-worship," for the rich man was rather
a bird to be plucked, than a "hero" to be worshipped. And though it may
seem that I do the schoolmaster little honor by the distinction, I can
not but think cupidity a more manly trait than servility: the beast of
prey a more respectable animal than the hound.

But the schoolmaster's obsequiousness was more in manner than in
inclination, and found its excuse in the dependence of his
circumstances. It has been immemorially the custom of the world,
practically to undervalue his services, and in all time teaching and
poverty have been inseparable companions. Nobody ever cared how poorly
he was clad, how laborious his life, or how few his comforts; and if he
failed to attend to his own interests by all the arts in his power, no
one, certainly, would perform the office for him. He was expected to
make himself generally useful without being particular about his
compensation: he was willing to do the one, but was, very naturally,
rather averse to the other: that which justice would not give him, he
managed to procure by stratagem.

His manners thus acquired the characteristics we have enumerated, with
also others. He was, for example, very officious; a peculiarity which
might, perhaps, be derived from his parentage, but which was never
repressed by his occupation. The desire to make himself agreeable, and
his high opinion of his ability to do so, rendered his tone and bearing
very familiar; but this was, also, a trait which he shared with his
race, and one which has contributed, as much as any other, to bring the
people called "Yankees" into contempt in the west. The men of that
section are not themselves reserved, and hate nothing more than
ceremonious politeness: but they like to be the first to make advances,
and their demonstrations are all hearty, blunt, and open. They therefore
disliked anything which has an insinuating tone, and the man who
attempts to ingratiate himself with them, whether it be by elaborate
arts or sidelong familiarity, at once arms them against them.

The schoolmaster was inquisitive, also, and to that western men most
decidedly object. They have little curiosity themselves, and seldom ask
impertinent questions. When they do so, it is almost always for the
purpose of insulting the man to whom they are put, and _never_ to make
themselves agreeable. The habit of asking numerous questions was,
therefore, apt to prejudice them against men whose characteristics might
be, in other respects, very estimable; and it must be acknowledged, that
vulgar and obtrusive impertinence is an unfortunate accompaniment to an
introduction. But the schoolmaster never meant to be impertinent, for
he was far from being quarrelsome (except with his scholars), and the
idea that any one could be otherwise than pleased with his notice,
however given, never entered his mind. Though his questions were, for
the most part, asked to gratify a constitutional curiosity, he was
actuated in some degree, also, by the notion that his condescension
would be acceptably interpreted by those whom he thus favored. But, like
many other benevolent men, who put force upon their inclinations for the
benefit of their neighbors, he was mistaken in his "calculation;" and
where he considered himself a benefactor, he was by others pronounced a
"bore." The fact is, he had some versatility, and, like most men of
various powers, he was prone to think himself a much greater man than he
really was.

He was not peculiarly fitted to shine as a gallant "in hall or bower,"
but had he been the climax of knightly qualities, the very impersonation
of beauty, grace, and accomplishment, he could not have been better
adapted than, in his own estimation, he already was, to please the fancy
of a lady. He was blissfully unconscious of every imperfection; and
displayed himself before what he thought the admiring gaze of all
_dames_ and _demoiselles_, as proudly as if he had been the
all-accomplished victor in some passage of arms. Yet he carried
himself, in outward appearance, as meekly as the humblest Christian, and
took credit to himself accordingly. He seldom pressed his advantages to
the utter subjugation of the sighing dames, but deported himself with
commendable forbearance toward the weak and defenceless whom his
perfections had disarmed. He was as merciful as he was irresistible: as
considerate as he was beautiful.

     "What a saint of a knight is the knight of Saint John!"

The personal advantages which he believed made him so dangerous to the
peace of woman, were counteracted, thus, by his saintly piety. For--as
it became him to be, both in the character of a man, and in that of a
descendant of the puritans--he was always habited in "the livery of
heaven." Some ill-natured and suspicious people, it is true, were
inclined to call his exemplary "walk" hypocritical, and to stigmatise
his pious "conversation" as _cant_. But the ungodly world has always
persecuted the righteous, and the schoolmaster was correct in
attributing their sneers to the rebuke which his example gave to their
wickedness, and to make "capital" out of the "persecution." And who
shall blame him--when in the weary intervals of a laborious and
thankless profession, fatigue repressed enthusiasm--if he sometimes eked
out the want of inspiration by a godly snuffle? True piety reduces even
the weapons of the scorner to the service of religion, and the citadel
of the Gloomy Kingdom is bombarded with the artillery of Satan! Thus,
the nose, which is so serviceable in the production of the devilish and
unchristian sneer, is elevated by a saintlike zeal, to the expression of
a devout whine: and this I believe to be the only satisfactory
explanation which has ever been given, of the connection, in so many
good men, between the _nasal_ and the _religious_!

But the schoolmaster usually possessed genuine religious feeling, as
well as a pious manner; and, excepting an occasional display of
hereditary, and almost unconscious, cunning, he lived "a righteous and
upright life."

The process of becoming a respectable and respected citizen was a very
short and simple one--and whether the schoolmaster designed to remain
only a lord of the ferrule, or casting the insignia of his office behind
him, to seek higher things, he was never slow in adopting it. Among his
scholars, there were generally half-a-dozen or more young
women--marriageable daughters of substantial men; and from this number
he selected, courted, and espoused, some healthy, buxom girl, the
heiress of a considerable plantation or a quantity of "wild land." He
always sought these two requisites combined--for he was equally fond of
a fine person and handsome estate. Upon the land, he generally managed
to find an eligible town-site; and, being a perfect master of the art of
building cities on paper, and puffing them into celebrity, his sales of
town-lots usually brought him a competent fortune. As years rolled on,
his substance increased with the improvement of the country--the rougher
points of his character were gradually rubbed down--age and gray hairs
thickened upon his brow--honors, troops of friends, and numerous
children, gathered round him--and the close of his career found him
respected in life and lamented in death. His memory is a monument of
what honesty and industry, even without worldly advantages, may always

     [NOTE.--A friend expresses a doubt whether I have not made the
     foregoing portrait too hard-featured for historical accuracy; and,
     by way of fortifying his opinion, points to illustrious examples of
     men who have taught schools in their youth--senators and
     statesmen--some of whom now hold prominent positions before the
     people, even for the highest offices in their gift. But these men
     never belonged to the class which I have attempted to portray.
     Arriving in this country in youth, without the means of
     subsistence--in many cases, long before they had acquired the
     professions which afterward made them famous--they resorted to
     school-teaching as a mere expedient for present support, without
     any intention to make it the occupation of their lives, or the
     means of their advancement. They were moved by an ambition which
     looked beyond it, and they invariably abandoned it so soon as they
     had prepared themselves for another pursuit.

     But the genuine _character_ took it up as a permanent
     employment--he looked to it not only as a means of temporary
     subsistence, but as a source, by some of the direct or indirect
     channels which we have indicated, of lasting income--and he never
     threw it up until he had already secured that to which the other
     class, when _they_ abandoned the occupation, were still looking
     forward. In the warfare against Ignorance, therefore, these, whom
     we have described, were the regular army, while the exceptions were
     but volunteers for a limited period, and, in the muster-roll of
     permanent strength, they are, therefore, not included.]




    "And yet I love thee not--thy brow
    Is but the sculptor's mould:
    It wants a shade, it wants a glow--
    It is less fair than cold."

    L. E. L.

But the family of the pioneer consisted of girls as well as boys; and
though the former were never so carefully educated as the latter, they
were seldom allowed to go wholly untaught.

The more modern system, which separates the sexes while infants, and
never suffers them to come together again until they are "marriageable,"
was not then introduced; and we think it would have been no great
misfortune to the country had it remained in Spain, whence it would seem
to have been imported. Children of both sexes were intended to grow up
together--to be educated in company--at least until they have reached
the points where their paths naturally diverge, for thus only can they
be most useful to each other, in the duties, trials, and struggles, of
after life. The artificial refinement which teaches a little girl that a
boy is something to be dreaded--a sort of beast of prey--before she
recognises any difference, save in dress, can never benefit her at best;
for by-and-by she will discover the falsehood: the very instincts of her
nature would unveil it, did she learn it in no other way: and as action
and reaction are equal, the rebound may cause her to entertain opinions
altogether too favorable to those whom she has so foolishly been taught
to fear.

Nor is the effect of such a system likely to be any better upon the
other sex: for it is association with females (as early as possible,
too, all the better), which softens, humanizes, graces, and adorns the
masculine character. The boy who has been denied such association--the
incidents to whose education have made him shy, as so many are, even of
little girls--is apt to grow up morose and selfish, ill-tempered, and
worse mannered. When the impulses of his developing nature finally force
him into female society, he goes unprepared, and comes away without
profit: his ease degenerates into familiarity, his conversation is, at
best, but washy sentimentalism, and the association, until the
accumulated rust of youth is worn away, is of very doubtful benefit to
both parties. Indeed, parents who thus govern and educate their
children, can find no justification for the practice, until they can
first so alter the course of Nature, as to establish the law, that each
family shall be composed altogether of girls, or shall consist
exclusively of boys!

But these modern refinements had not obtained currency, at the period of
which we are writing; nor was any such nonsense the motive to the
introduction of female teachers. But one of the lessons learned by
observation of the domestic circle, and particularly of the influence of
the mother over her children, was the principle, that a woman can teach
males of a certain age quite as well as a man, and _females much
better_; and that, since the school-teacher stands, for the time in the
place of the parent, a _mistress_ was far more desirable, especially for
the girls, than a _master_. Hence, the latter had exercised his vocation
in the west, but a few years, before he was followed by the former.

New England was the great nursery of this class, as it was of so many
others, transplanted beyond the Alleghenies. Emigration, and the
enticements and casualties of a seafaring life--drawing the men into
their appropriate channels of enterprise and adventure, had there
reduced their number below that of the women--thus remitting many of the
latter, to other than the usual and natural occupations of "the sex."
Matrimony became a remote possibility to large numbers--attention to
household matters gave place to various kinds of light labor--and, since
they were not likely to have progeny of their own to rear, many resorted
to the teaching of children belonging to others. Idleness was a rare
vice; and New England girls--to their honor be it spoken--have seldom
resembled "the lilies of the field," in aught, save the fairness of
their complexions! They have never displayed much squeamishness--about
work: and if they could not benefit the rising generation in a maternal,
were willing to make themselves useful in a tutorial capacity. The
people of that enlightened section, have always possessed the learning
necessary to appreciate, and the philanthropy implied in the wish to
dispel, the benighted ignorance of all other quarters of the world; and
thus a competent number of them have ever been found willing to give up
the comforts of home, for the benefit of the "barbarous west."

The schoolmistress, then, generally came from the "cradle" of
intelligence, as well as "of liberty," beyond the Hudson; and, in the
true spirit of benevolence, she carried her blessings (herself the
greatest) across the mountain barrier, to bestow them, _gratis_, upon
the spiritually and materially needy, in the valley of the Mississippi.
Her vocation, or, as it would now be called, her "mission" was to teach
an impulse not only given by her education, but belonging to her nature.
She had a constitutional tendency toward it--indeed, a genius for it;
like that which impels one to painting, another to sculpture--this to a
learned profession, that to a mechanical trade. And so perfectly was she
adapted to it, that "the ignorant people of the west" not recognising
her "divine appointment," were often at a loss to conjecture, who, or
whether anybody, could have taught _her_!

For that same "ignorant," and too often, ungrateful people, she was full
of tender pity--the yearning of the single-hearted missionary, for the
welfare of his flock. _They_ were steeped in darkness, but _she_ carried
the light--nay, she _was_ the light! and with a benignity, often evinced
by self-sacrifice--she poured it graciously over the land--

    "Heaven doth with us, as we with torches do:
    Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
    Did not go forth of us, 't were all alike
    As if we had them not."

For the good of the race, or of any (male) individual, she would
immolate herself, even upon the altar of Hymen; and, since the number,
who were to be benefited by such self-devotement, was small in New
England, but large in the west, she did well to seek a field for her
benign dedication, beyond the Alleghenies! Honor to the all-daring
self-denial, which brought to the forlorn bachelor of the west, a
companion in his labors, a solace in his afflictions, and a mother to
his children!

Her name was invariably Grace, Charity, or Prudence; and, if names had
been always descriptive of the personal qualities of those who bore
them, she would have been entitled to all three.

In the early ages of the world, names were, or, at least, were supposed
to be, fair exponents of the personal characters of those, upon whom
they were bestowed. But, _then_, the qualities must be manifested,
before the name could be earned, so that all who had never distinguished
themselves, in some way, were said to be "nameless." In more modern
times, however, an improvement upon this system was introduced: the
character was anticipated, and parents called their children what they
_wished_ them to be, in the hope that they would grow to the standard
thus imposed. And it is no doubt, true, that names thus bestowed had
much influence in the development of character--on the same principle,
upon which the boards, to which Indian women lash their infants soon
after birth, have much to do with the erect carriage of the mature
savage. Such an appellation is a perpetual memento of parental
counsels--a substitute for barren precept--an endless exhortation to
Grace, Charity, or Prudence.

I do not mean, that calling a boy Cicero will certainly make him an
orator, or that all Jeremiahs are necessarily prophets; nor is it
improbable, that the same peculiarities in the parents, which dictate
these expressive names, may direct the characters of the children, by
controlling their education; but it is unquestionable, that the
characteristics, and even the fortunes of the man, are frequently
daguerreotyped by a name given in infancy. There is not a little wisdom
in the advice of Sterne to godfathers--not "to Nicodemus a man into
nothing."--"Harsh names," says D'Israeli, the elder, "will have, in
spite of all our philosophy, a painful and ludicrous effect on our ears
and our associations; it is vexatious, that the softness of delicious
vowels, or the ruggedness of inexorable consonants, should at all be
connected with a man's happiness, or even have an influence on his

            "That which we call a rose,
    By any other name would smell as sweet;"

but this does not touch the question, whether, if it had not smelt as
sweet we would not have given it some other name. The celebrated
demagogue, Wilkes, is reported to have said, that, "without knowing the
comparative merits of the two poets, we would have no hesitation in
preferring John Dryden to Elkanah Settle, _from the names only_." And
the reason of this truth is to be found in the fact, that our
impressions of both men and things depend upon associations, often
beyond our penetration to detect--associations with which _sound_,
depending on hidden laws, has quite as much to do, as _sense_.

Among those who have carried the custom of picturesque or expressive
naming, to an extent bordering on the ridiculous, were the hard-headed
champions of the true church-militant, the English puritans--as Hume,
the bigoted old Tory, rather ill-naturedly testifies! And the puritans
of _New_ England--whatever advancing intelligence may have made them in
the present--were, for a long time, faithful representatives of the
oddities, as well as of the virtues, of their fathers.

And, accordingly, we find the schoolmistress--being a descendant of the
Jason's-crew, who landed from the Argo-Mayflower, usually bearing a name
thus significant, and manifesting, even at her age, traits of character
justifying the compellation. What that age precisely _was_, could not
always be known; indeed, a lady's age is generally among indeterminate
things; and it has, very properly, come to be considered ungallant, if
not impertinent, to be curious upon so delicate a subject. A man has no
more right to know how many years a woman has, than how many skirts she
wears; and, if he have any anxiety about the matter, in either case, his
eyes must be the only questioners. The principle upon which the women
themselves proceed, in growing old, seems to be parallel to the law of
gravitation: when a stone, for example, is thrown into the air the
higher it goes the slower it travels; and the momentum toward Heaven,
given to a woman at her birth, appears to decrease in about the same

We will not be so ungallant, then, as to inquire too curiously into the
age of the schoolmistress; but, without disparagement to her
youthfulness, we may be allowed to conjecture that, in order to fit her
so well for the duties of her responsible station (and incline her to
undertake such labors), a goodly number of years must needs have been
required. Yet she bore time well; for, unless married in the meanwhile,
at thirty, she was as youthful in manners, as at eighteen.

But this is not surprising: for, even as early as her twelfth year, she
had much the appearance of a mature woman--something like that noticed
in young quakers, by Clarkson[79]--and her figure belonged to that
rugged type, which is adapted to bear, unscathed, more than the ravages
of time. She was never above the medium height, for the rigid rule of
economy seemed to apply to flesh and blood, as to all other things
pertaining to her race; at all events, material had not been wasted in
giving her extra longitude--at the ends. Between the extremities, it
might be different--for she was generally very long-waisted. But this
might be accounted for in the process of _flattening out_: for like her
compeer, the schoolmaster, she had much more breadth than thickness. She
was somewhat angular, of course, and rather bony; but this was only the
natural correspondence, between the external development, and the mental
and moral organization. Her eyes were usually blue, and, to speak with
accuracy, a little cold and grayish, in their expression--like the sky
on a bleak morning in Autumn. Her forehead was very high and prominent,
having, indeed, an _exposed_ look, like a shelterless knoll in an open
prairie: but, not content with this, though the hair above it was often
thin, she usually dragged the latter forcibly back, as if to increase
the altitude of the former, by extending the skin. Her mouth was of that
class called "primped," but was filled with teeth of respectable

Her arms were long, and, indeed, a little skinny, and she swung them
very freely when she walked; while hands, of no insignificant size,
dangled at the extremities, as if the joints of her wrists were
insecure. She had large feet, too, and in walking her toes were
assiduously turned out. She had, however, almost always one very great
attraction--a fine, clear, healthy complexion--and the only blemishes
upon this, that I have ever observed, were a little _red_ on the tip of
her nose and on the points of her cheek-bones, and a good deal of _down_
on her upper lip.

In manners and bearing, she was brisk, prim, and sometimes a little
"fidgety," as if she was conscious of sitting on a dusty chair; and she
had a way of searching nervously for her pocket, as if to find a
handkerchief with which to brush it off. She was a very fast walker, and
an equally rapid talker--taking usually very short steps, as if afraid
of splitting economical skirts, but using very long words, as if
entertaining no such apprehension about her throat. Her gait was too
rapid to be graceful, and her voice too sharp to be musical; but she was
quite unconscious of these imperfections, especially of the latter: for
at church--I beg pardon of her enlightened ancestors! I should say at
"_meeting_"--her notes of praise were heard high over all the tumult of
primitive singing; and, with her chin thrown out, and her shoulders
drawn back, she looked, as well as sounded, the impersonation of
_melody_, as contra-distinguished from _harmony_!

But postponing, for the present, our consideration of her qualifications
as a teacher, we find that her characteristics were still more
respectable and valuable as a private member of society. And in this
relation, her most prominent trait, like that of her brother teacher,
was her stainless piety. In this respect, if in no other, women are
always more sincere and single-hearted than men--perhaps because the
distribution of social duties gives her less temptation to
hypocrisy--and even the worldly, strong-minded, and self-reliant
daughter of the church-hating Puritan-Zion, displayed a tendency toward
genuine religious feeling.[80]

But in our subject, this was not a mere bias, but a constant, unflagging
sentiment, an everyday manifestation. She was as warm in the cause of
religion on one day as upon another, in small things as in great--as
zealous in the repression of all unbecoming and ungodly levity, as in
the eradication of positive vice. Life was too solemn a thing with her
to admit of thoughtless amusements--it was entirely a state of
probation, not to be enjoyed in itself, or for itself, but purgatorial,
remedial, and preparatory. She hated all devices of pleasure as her
ancestors did the abominations of popery. A fiddle she could tolerate
only in the shape of a bass-viol; and dancing, if practised at all, must
be called "calisthenics." The drama was to her an invention of the Enemy
of Souls--and if she ever saw a play, it must be at a _museum_, and not
within the walls of that temple of Baal, the theatre. None but "serious"
conversation was allowable, and a hearty laugh was the expression of a
spirit ripe for the destination of unforgiven sinners.

Errors in religion were too tremendous to be tolerated for a moment, and
the form (or rather anti-form) of worship handed down by her fathers,
had cost too much blood and crime to be oppugned. She thought
Barebones's the only godly parliament that ever sat, and did not hate
Hume half so much for his infidelity, as for his ridicule of the
roundheads. Her list of martyrs was made up of the intruders ousted by
Charles's "Act of Conformity," and her catalogue of saints was headed by
the witch-boilers of Massachusetts Bay. She abhorred the memory of all
_popish_ persecutions, and knew no difference between catholic and
cannibal. Her running calendar of living saints were born "to inherit
the earth," and heaven, too: they possessed a monopoly of all truth, an
unlimited "indulgence" to enforce conformity, and, in their zeal, an
infallible safeguard against the commission of error. She had no
patience with those who could not "see the truth;" and he who reviled
the puritan mode of worship, was "worse than the infidel." The only
argument she ever used with such, was the _argumentum ad hominem_, which
saves the trouble of conviction by "giving over to hardness of heart."
New England was, to her, the land of Goshen--whither God's people had
been led by God's hand--"the land of the patriarchs, where it rains
righteousness"[81]--and all the adjacent country was a land of Egyptian

She was commendably prudent in her personal deportment: being thoroughly
pure and circumspect herself, she could forgive no thoughtless
imprudence in her sister-woman: but she well-understood metaphysical
distinctions, and was tolerant, if not liberal, to marriageable men.
These she could hope to reform at some future time: and she had,
moreover, a just idea of the weakness of man's nature. But being a
woman, and a staid and sober-minded woman, she could never understand
the power of temptation upon her own sex, or the commonest impulses of
high spirits. Perhaps she was a little deficient in charity: but, as we
have seen, it was chiefly toward her female friends, and since none can
bear severe judgment more safely than woman, her austerity did little

But she sincerely regretted what she could never palliate; she hated not
the guilty, though she could not forgive the sin; and no one was more
easily melted to tears by the faults, and particularly by the _follies_,
of the world. Wickedness is a very melancholy thing, but it is to be
punished as well as lamented: and like the unfortunate governor who was
forced to condemn his own son, she wept while she pronounced judgment.
But earthly sorrow, by her, was given only to earthly faults: violations
of simple good morals, crimes against heavenly creeds and forms (or
rather _the_ form) of worship, claimed no tear. Her blood rose to
fever-heat at the mention of an unbeliever, and she would as soon have
wept for the errors of the fallen angels, as for those of

But though thus rigid and austere, I never heard that she was at all
disinclined to being courted: especially if it gave her any prospect of
being able to make herself useful as a wife, either to herself, her
husband, or her country. She understood the art of rearing and managing
children, in her capacity as a teacher: she was thus peculiarly
well-fitted for matrimonial duties, and was unwilling that the world
should lose the benefit of her talents. But the man who courted her must
do so in the most sober, staid, and regulated spirit, for it was seldom
any unmixed romance about "love and nonsense," which moved _her_ to the
sacrifice: if she entertained notions of that sort, they were such only
as could find a place in her well-balanced mind, and, above all, were
the subject of no raptures or transports of delight. If she indulged any
enthusiasm, in view of the approaching change, it was in the prospect of
endless shirt-making, and in calculations about how cheaply (not how
happily) she could enable her husband to live. She had no squeamish
delicacy about allowing the world to know the scope and meaning of her
arrangements, and all her friends participated in her visions of comfort
and economy. False modesty was no part of her nature--and her sentiment
could be reduced to an algebraic formula--excluding the "unknown
quantities" usually represented by the letters _b_, _c_, and _d_:
meaning "bliss," "cottages," and "devotion."

Yet, though she cared little for poetry, and seldom understood the
images of fancy, she was not averse to a modicum of scandal in moments
of relaxation: for the faults of others were the illustrations of her
prudent maxims, and the thoughtlessness of a sister was the best
possible text for a moral homily. The tense rigidity of her character,
too, sometimes required a little unbending, and she had, therefore, no
special aversion to an occasional surreptitious novel. But this she
would indulge only in private; for in her mind, the worst quality of
transgression was its bad example; and she never failed, in public, to
condemn all such things with becoming and virtuous severity. Nor must
this apparent inconsistency be construed to her disadvantage; for her
strong mind and well-fortified morals, could withstand safely what would
have corrupted a large majority of those around her; and it was meet,
that one whose "mission" it was to reform, should thoroughly understand
the enemy against which she battled. And these things never unfavorably
affected her life and manners, for she was as prudent in her deportment
(ill-natured people say _prudish_) as if some ancestress of hers had
been deceived, and left in the family a tradition of man's perfidy and
woman's frailty.

She was careful, then, of three things--her clothes, her money, and her
reputation: and, to do her justice, the last was as spotless as the
first, and as much prized as the second, and that is saying a good deal,
both for its purity and estimation. Neat, economical, and prudent, were,
indeed, the three capital adjectives of her vocabulary, and to deserve
them was her eleventh commandment.

With one exception, these were the texts of all her homilies, and the
exception was, unluckily, one which admitted of much more argument.

It was the history of the puritans. But upon this subject, she was as
dexterous a special pleader as Neale, and as skilful in giving a false
coloring to facts, as D'Aubigné. But she had the advantage of these
worthies in that her declamation was quite honest: she had been taught
sincerely and heartily to believe all she asserted. She was of the
opinion that but two respectable ships had been set afloat since the
world began: one of which was Noah's ark, and the other the Mayflower.
She believed that no people had ever endured such persecutions as the
puritans, and was especially eloquent upon the subject of "New England's
Blarney-stone," the Rock of Plymouth.

Indeed, according to the creed of her people, historical and religious,
this is the only piece of granite in the whole world "worth speaking
of;" and geologists have sadly wasted their time in travelling over the
world in search of the records of creation, when a full epitome of
everything deserving to be known, existed in so small a space! All the
other rocks of the earth sink into insignificance, and "hide their
diminished heads," when compared to this mighty stone! The Rock of
Leucas, from which the amorous Lesbian maid cast herself disconsolate
into the sea, is a mere pile of dirt: the Tarpeian, whence the Law went
forth to the whole world for so many centuries, is not fit to be
mentioned in the same day: the Rock of Cashel, itself, is but the
subject of profane Milesian oaths; and the Ledge of Plymouth is the real
"Rock of Ages!" It is well that every people should have something to
adore, especially if that "something" belongs exclusively to themselves.
It elevates their self-respect: and, for this object, even historical
fictions may be forgiven.

But, as we have intimated, in the course of time the schoolmistress
became a married woman; and as she gathered experience, she gradually
learned that New England is not the whole "moral vineyard," and that
one might be more profitably employed than in disputing about
questionable points of history. New duties devolved upon her, and new
responsibilities rained fast. Instead of teaching the children of other
people, she now raised children for other people to teach. New sources
of pride were found in these, and in her husband and his prosperity. She
discovered that she could be religious without bigotry, modest without
prudery, and economical without meanness: and, profiting by the lessons
thus learned, she subsided into a true, faithful, and respectable
matron, thus, at last, fulfilling her genuine "mission."


[79] Author of the Life of William Penn, whose accuracy has lately been

[80] By this form of expression, which may seem awkward, I mean to
convey this idea: That consistency of character would seem to preclude
any heartfelt reverence in the descendant of those whose piety was
manifested more in the _hatred of earthly_, than in _the love of
heavenly_, things.

[81] The language of a precious pamphlet, even now in circulation in the



    "All would be deemed, e'en from the cradle, fit
    To rule in politics as well as wit:
    The grave, the gay, the fopling, and the dunce,
    Start up (God bless us!) statesmen all at once!"


In a country where the popular breath sways men to its purposes or
caprices, as the wind bends the weeds in a meadow, statesmanship may
become a _system_, but can never rise to the dignity of a _science_; and
politics, instead of being an _art_, is a series of _arts_.

A system is order without principle: a science is order, based upon
principle. Statesmanship has to do with generalities--with the relations
of states, the exposition and preservation of constitutional provisions,
and with fundamental organizations. Politics relates to measures, and
the details of legislation. The _art_ of governing is the accomplishment
of the true politician: the _arts_ of governing are the trickeries of
the demagogue. _Right_ is the key-note of one: _popularity_ of the

The large majority of men are sufficiently candid to acknowledge--at
least to themselves--that they are unfit for the station of law-giver;
but the vanity and jealousy begotten by participation in political
power, lead many of them, if not actually to believe, at all events to
_act_ upon the faith, that men, no more able than themselves, are the
best material for rulers. It is a kind of compromise between their
modesty and self-love: not burthening them with the trials and
responsibilities of positions for which they feel incompetent, but
soothing their vanity by the contemplation of office-holders not at all
their superiors. Below a certain (or uncertain) grade, therefore,
political stations are usually filled by men of very moderate abilities:
and their elevation is favored--indeed, often effected--by the very
causes which should prevent it. Such men are prone to thrust themselves
upon public notice, and thus secure, by persistence and impudence, what
might not be awarded them on the score of merit.

It is a trite remark, that people are inclined to accept a man's
estimate of himself, and to put him in possession of that place, in
their consideration, which he has the hardihood to claim. And the
observation is just, to this extent: if the individual does not respect
himself, probably no one else will take that trouble. But in a country
where universal suffrage reigns, it may be doubted whether the elevation
of an ordinary man indicates any recognition of the justice of his
claims. On the contrary, they may be endorsed precisely because they are
false: that is, because he really possesses no other title to the
support of common men, than that which is founded upon fellow-feeling or
sympathy of character. Many a man, therefore, who receives his election
as a compliment from the voters, if he understood the motives of their
action, would throw up his office in disgust; for in a large majority of
cases, the popular choice, so far from being an assertion of the
candidate's peculiar fitness to be singled out from among his brethren,
is only a declaration that neither talent nor character entitles him to
the distinction. The cry that a man is "one of the people," will bring
him great strength at the ballot-box: but this is a phrase which means
very different things, according as it is used by the candidate or the
voter; and, in many cases, if they could thoroughly understand each
other, the latter would not give his support, and the former would not
ask it.

These remarks are applicable to all stages of society's progress; for,
if the world were so enlightened, that, in the scale of intellect, such
a man as Daniel Webster could only be classed as an idiot, there would
still be the "ignorant vulgar," the "uneducated classes." Society is one
entire web--albeit woven with threads of wool and silk, of silver and
gold: turn it as you will, it must all turn together; and if a whirlwind
of enlightenment should waft it to the skies, although each thread would
be immeasurably above its present condition, the relation of one to
another would still be the same. If the baser wool should be transmuted
into gold, the very same process would refine and sublimate the precious
metal, in a corresponding ratio; and the equilibrium of God's appointed
relations would remain undisturbed.

But it is more especially in the primitive periods, before the great
political truths become household words, and while the reign of law and
municipal organization is a vague and distant thing, that most citizens
shrink from official duties. Diffidence, in this matter is,
fortunately, a disease which time will alleviate--a youthful weakness,
which communities "outgrow," as children do physical defects; and, I
believe, of late years, few offices have "gone begging," either east or
west of the great barrier of the Allegheny.

In the earlier periods of its history, we have seen that the western
country was peculiarly situated. The settlements were weak and the
population small; with the exception of a few narrow fields, in the
vicinity of each frontier fort, or stockade, the land was a wilderness,
held in undisturbed possession by the savages and wild beasts. The great
struggle, which we call the Revolution, but which was, in fact, only a
justifiable and successful rebellion, had exhausted the force and
drained the coffers of the feeble federal government; had plunged the
infant states into enormous debts; and the only means of paying these
were the boundless but unclaimed lands of the west, which the same
causes rendered them unable to protect. The scattered settlements on the
Mississippi side of the Alleghenies, were thus left to their own scanty
resources; and the distance was so great, that, had the older states
been able to afford assistance, the delays and losses attendant upon its
transmission across so wide a tract of wilderness, would have made it
almost nugatory.

In those times, therefore, though a few were looking forward to separate
political organization and the erection of new states, the larger number
of the western people were too constantly occupied with their defence,
to give much attention to internal politics. Such organization as they
had was military, or patriarchal: the early pioneer, who had
distinguished himself in the first explorations of the country, or by
successfully leading and establishing a new settlement, as he became the
commander of the local fort, was also the law-giver of the community.
The pressure of external danger was too close to allow a very liberal
democracy in government; and, as must be the case in all primitive
assemblages of men, the counsels and commands of him whom they knew to
be the _most able_, were always observed. He who had proven himself
competent to lead was, therefore, the leader _ipso facto_ and _de jure_;
and the evidence required was the performance of such exploits, and the
display of such courage and sagacity, as were necessary to the defence,
well-being, and protection of the community.

It is obvious that no mere pretender could exhibit these proofs; and
that, where they were taken as the sole measure of a man's worth,
dexterity with a rifle must be of more value than the accomplishments of
a talker--Indian-fighting a more respectable occupation than
speech-making. Small politicians were, therefore, very small men, and
saying that one had "a turn for politics," would have been equivalent to
calling him a vagabond. The people had neither time nor patience to
listen to declamation--the man who rose in a public assembly, and called
upon his neighbors to follow him in avenging a wrong, made the only
speech they cared to hear. "Preambles and resolutions" were unmeaning
formalities--their "resolutions" were taken in their own minds, and, to
use their own expressive words, they executed them "without preamble."
An ounce of lead was worth more than a pound of advice; and, in the
vindication of justice, a "charge" of gunpowder was more effectual than
the most tedious judicial harangue. It is, even now, a proud, but
well-founded boast, of western men, that these traits have been
transmitted to them from their fathers--that they are more remarkable
for _fighting_ than for _wrangling_, for _acting_ than for _talking_.

In such a state of society, civil offices existed scarcely in name, and
were never very eagerly sought. That which makes official station
desirable is obedience to its authority, and if the title of "captain"
gave the idea of more absolute power than that of "sheriff," one would
rather command a company of militia than the "_posse comitatus_."
Besides, the men of the frontier were simple-hearted and unambitious,
desiring nothing so much as to be "left alone," and willing to make a
compact of forbearance with the whole world--excepting only the Indians.
They had never been accustomed to the restraints of municipal
regulations, they were innocent of the unhealthy pleasures of
office-holding, or the degrading impulses of office-seeking. Their lives
had given them little or no knowledge of these things; experience had
never suggested their importance, for their acquaintance with life was,
almost exclusively, such as could be acquired in the woods and forest

But as time rolled away, and the population of the country became more
dense--as the pressure of external danger was withdrawn, and the
necessities of defence grew less urgent--the rigor of military
organization came gradually to be somewhat irksome. The seeds of civil
institutions began to germinate among the people, while the extending
interests of communities required corresponding enactments and
regulations. The instincts of social beings, love of home and family,
attachment to property, the desire of tranquillity, and, perhaps, a
leaven of ambition for good estimation among neighbors, all combined to
open men's eyes to the importance of peaceful institutions. The day of
the rifle and scalping-knife passed away, and justice without form--the
rule of the elementary strong-hand--gave place to order and legal

Then first began to appear the class of politicians, though, as yet,
office-seeking had not become a trade, nor office-holding a regular
means of livelihood. Politics had not acquired a place among the arts,
nor had its professors become the teachers of the land. There were few,
indeed, who sought to fill civil stations; and, although men's
qualifications for office were, probably, not any more rigidly examined
then than now, those who possessed the due degree of prominence, either
deemed themselves, or were believed by their fellow-citizens, peculiarly
capable of discharging such functions. They were generally men who had
made themselves conspicuous or useful in other capacities--who had
become well or favorably known to their neighbors through their zeal,
courage, sagacity, or public spirit. A leader of regulators, for
example, whose administration of his dangerous powers had been marked by
promptitude and severity, was expected to be equally efficient when
clothed with more regular authority. A captain of rangers, whose
enterprises had been remarkable for certainty and _finish_, would, it
was believed, do quite as good service, in the capacity of a civil
officer. A daring pioneer, whose courage or presence of mind had saved
himself and others from the dangers of the wilderness, was supposed to
be an equally sure guide in the pathless ways of politics. Lawyers were
yet few, and not of much repute, for they were, for the most part,
youthful adventurers, who had come into the field long before the
ripening of the harvest.

There was another class, whose members held prominent positions, though
they had never been distinguished for the possession of any of the
qualifications above enumerated. These might be designated as the
_noisy_ sort--loud-talking, wise-looking men, self-constituted oracles
and advice-givers, with a better opinion of their own wisdom than any
one else was willing to endorse. Such men became "file-leaders," or
"pivot-men," because the taciturn people of the west, though inclined to
undervalue a mere talker, were simple-minded enough to accept a man's
valuation of his own powers: or easy-tempered enough to spare themselves
the trouble of investigating so small a matter. It was of little
consequence to them, whether the candidate was as wise as he desired to
be thought; and since, in political affairs, they knew of no interest
which they could have in disputing it, for _his_ gratification they were
willing to admit it. These were halcyon days for mere pretenders--though
for no very flattering reason: since their claims were allowed chiefly
because they were not deemed worth controverting. Those days, thanks to
the "progress of intelligence!" are now gone by: the people are better
acquainted with the natural history of such animals, and--witness, ye
halls of Congress!--none may now hold office except capable, patriotic,
and disinterested men!

Nor must we be understood to assert that the primitive politician was
the reverse of all this, save in the matter of capability. And, even in
that particular, no conception of his deficiency ever glimmered in his
consciousness. His own assumption, and the complaisance of his
fellow-citizens, were inter-reactive, mutually cause and effect. _They_
were willing to confirm his valuation of his own talents: _he_ was
inclined to exalt himself in their good opinion. Parallel to this, also,
was the oracular tone of his speech: the louder he talked, the more
respectfully silent were his auditors; and the more attentive _they_
became, the noisier _he_ grew. Submission always encourages oppression,
and admiration adds fuel to the fire of vanity. Not that the politician
was precisely a despot, even over men's opinions: the application of
that name to him would have been as sore a wound to his self-respect as
the imputation of horse-stealing. He was but an oracle of opinion, and
though allowed to dictate in matters of thought as absolutely as if
backed by brigades of soldiers, he was a sovereign whose power existed
only through the consent of his subjects.

In personal appearance, he was well-calculated to retain the authority
intrusted to him by such men. He was, in fact, an epitome of all the
physical qualities which distinguished the rugged people of the west:
and between these and the moral and intellectual, there is an invariable
correspondence--as if the spirit within had moulded its material
encasement to the planes and angles of its own "form and pressure."

National form and feature are the external marks of national character,
stamped more or less distinctly in different individuals, but, in the
aggregate, perfectly correspondent and commensurate. The man, therefore,
who possesses the national traits of character in their best
development, will be, also, the most faithful representative of his race
in physical characteristics. At some periods, there are whole classes of
these types; and if there be any _one_ who embodies the character more
perfectly than all others, the tranquillity of the age is not calculated
to draw him forth. But in all times of trouble--of revolution or
national ferment--the perfect Man-emblem is seen to rise, and (which is
more to the purpose) is sure to stand at the head of his fellows: for he
who best represents the character of his followers, becomes, by God's
appointment, their leader. To this extent, the _vox populi_ is the _vox
Dei_; and the unfailing success of every such man, throughout his
appointed term, is the best possible justification of the choice.

What was Washington, for example, but an epitome of the steady and noble
qualities combined of cavalier and puritan, which were then coalescing
in the American character? And what more perfect correspondence could be
conceived between the moral and intellectual and the physical outlines?
What was Cromwell but _the Englishman_, not only of his own time, but of
all times? And the testimony of all who saw him, what is it, but that a
child, who looked upon him, could not fail to see, in his very
lineaments, the great and terrible man he was? And Napoleon, was he
aught but an abridgment of the French nation, the sublimate and "proof"
essence of French character? Not one, of all the great men of history,
has possessed, so far as we know, a physical constitution more perfectly
representing, even in its advancing grossness, both the strength and
weakness of the people he led.

In tranquil times, these things are not observed in one individual more
than in others of his class, and we are, therefore, not prepared to
decide whether, at such periods, _the one man_ exists. The great
Leviathan, the king of all the creatures of the ocean, rises to the
surface only in the tumult of the storm; his huge, portentous form, lies
on the face of the troubled waters only when the currents are changed
and the fountains of the deep are broken up.

Nature does no superfluous work, and it may require the same causes
which produce the storm to organize its Ruler. If a great rebellion is
boiling among men, the mingling of the elements is projecting, also, the
Great Rebel: if a national cause is to be asserted, the principles upon
which it rests will first create its appropriate Exponent. But when no
such agitation is on the point of breaking out--when the crisis is not
near, and the necessity for such greatness distant--national character
probably retains its level; and though there be no _one_ whom the people
will recognise as the arch-man, the representatives, losing in intensity
what they gain in numbers, become a class. They fill the civil stations
of the country, and are known as men of mark--their opinions are
received, their advice accepted, their leading followed. No one of them
is known instinctively, or trusted implicitly, as the leader of Nature's
appointment: yet they are, in fact, the exponents of their time and
race, and in exact proportion to the degree in which they possess the
character, will they exhibit, also, the physical peculiarities.

Thus it was at the time of which we are writing, with the class to which
belonged the politician, and a description of his personal appearance,
like that of any other man, will convey no indistinct impression of his
internal character.

Such a description probably combined more characteristic adjectives than
that of any other personage of his time--adjectives, some of which were
applicable to many of his neighbors, respectively, but _all_ of which
might be bestowed upon him _only_. He was tall, gaunt, angular, swarthy,
active, and athletic. His hair was, invariably, black as the wing of the
raven; even in that small portion which the cap of raccoon-skin left
exposed to the action of sun and rain, the gray was but thinly
scattered; imparting to the monotonous darkness only a more iron
character. As late as the present day, though we have changed in many
things, light-haired men seldom attain eminence among the western
people: many of our legislators are _young_ enough, but none of them are
_beardless_. They have a bilious look, as if, in case of illness, their
only hope would lie in calomel and jalap. One might understand, at the
first glance, that they are men of _talent_, not of _genius_; and that
physical energy, the enduring vitality of the body, has no
inconsiderable share in the power of the mind.

Corresponding to the sable of the hair, the politician's eye was usually
small, and intensely black--not the dead, inexpressive jet, which gives
the idea of a hole through white paper, or of a cavernous socket in a
death's-head; but the keen, midnight darkness, in whose depths you can
see a twinkle of starlight--where you feel that there is meaning as well
as color. There might be an expression of cunning along with that of
penetration--but, in a much higher degree, the blaze of irascibility.
There could be no doubt, from its glance, that its possessor was an
excellent hater; you might be assured that he would never forget an
injury or betray a friend.

A stoop in the shoulders indicated that, in times past, he had been in
the habit of carrying a heavy rifle, and of closely examining the ground
over which he walked; but what the chest thus lost in depth it gained in
breadth. His lungs had ample space in which to play--there was nothing
pulmonary even in the drooping shoulders. Few of his class have ever
lived to a very advanced age, but it was not for want of
iron-constitutions, that they went early to the grave. The same services
to his country, which gave the politician his prominence, also shortened
his life.

From shoulders thus bowed, hung long, muscular arms--sometimes, perhaps,
dangling a little ungracefully, but always under the command of their
owner, and ready for any effort, however violent. These were terminated
by broad, bony hands, which looked like grapnels--their grasp, indeed,
bore no faint resemblance to the hold of those symmetrical instruments.
Large feet, whose toes were usually turned in, like those of the Indian,
were wielded by limbs whose vigor and activity were in keeping with the
figure they supported. Imagine, with these peculiarities, a free, bold,
rather swaggering gait, a swarthy complexion, and conformable features
and tones of voice: and--excepting his costume--you have before your
fancy a complete picture of the early western politician.

But the item of costume is too important to be passed over with a mere
allusion. As well might we paint a mountain without its verdant
clothing, its waving plumes of pine and cedar, as the western man
without his picturesque and characteristic habiliments. The first, and
indispensable article of dress, was the national hunting-shirt: a
garment whose easy fit was well-adapted, both to the character of his
figure and the freedom of his movements. Its nature did not admit much
change in fashion: the only variations of which it was capable, were
those of ornament and color. It might be fringed around the cape and
skirt, or made plain; it might be blue, or copper-colored--perhaps
tinged with a little madder. And the variety of material was quite as
limited, since it must be of either jeans or deer-skin.

Corresponding to this, in material, style, and texture, he wore, also, a
pair of wide pantaloons--not always of precisely the proper length for
the limbs of the wearer, but having invariably a broad waistband, coming
up close under the arms, and answering the purpose of the modern vest.
People were not so dainty about "set" and "fit," in those days, as they
have since become; and these primitive integuments were equally
well-adapted to the figure of any one to whose lot they might fall. In
their production, no one had been concerned save the family of the
wearer. The sheep which bore the wool, belonged to his own flock, and
all the operations, subsequent to the shearing, necessary to the
ultimate result of shaping into a garment, had been performed by his
wife or daughter. Many politicians have continued this affectation of
plainness, even when the necessity has ceased, on account of its effect
upon the masses; for people are apt to entertain the notion, that
decent clothing is incompatible with mental ability, and that he who is
most manifestly behind the improvements of the time, is best qualified
for official stations.

A neck-cloth, or cravat, was never seen about the politician's throat;
and for the same reason of expediency: for these were refinements of
affectation which had not then been introduced; and a man who thus
compassed his neck, could no more have been elected to an office, than
if he had worn the cap and bells of a Saxon jester. The shirt-bosoms of
modern days were in the same category; and _starch_ was an article
contraband to the law of public sentiment--insomuch that no epithet
expressed more thorough contempt for a man, than the graphic word
"starched." A raccoon-skin cap--or, as a piece of extravagant finery, a
white-wool hat--with a pair of heavy shoes, not unfrequently without the
luxury of hose--or, if with them, made of blue-woollen yarn, from the
back of a sheep of the aforesaid flock--completed the element of

He was not very extravagantly dressed, as the reader sees; but we can
say of him--what could not be as truly spoken of many men, or, indeed,
of many women, of this day--that his clothing bore distinct reference to
his character, and was well-adapted to his "style of beauty." In fact,
everything about him, form, face, manners, dress, was in "in keeping"
with his characteristics.

In occupation, he was usually a farmer; for the materials of which
popular tribunes are made in later times--such as lawyers, gentlemen of
leisure, and pugnacious preachers--were not then to be found. The
population of the country was thoroughly agricultural; and though (as I
believe I have elsewhere observed) the rural people of the west were
neither a cheerful nor a polished race, as a class, they possess, even
yet, qualities, which, culminating in an individual, eminently fit him
for the _rôle_ of a noisy popular leader.

But a man who is merely fitted to such a position, is a very different
animal to one qualified to give laws for the government of the citizen.
After all our vain boasting, that public sentiment is the law of our
land, there is really a very broad distinction between forming men's
opinions and controlling their action. If the government had been so
organized, that the pressure of popular feeling might make itself felt,
directly, in the halls of legislation, our history, instead of being
that of a great and advancing nation, would have been only a chronicle
of factious and unstable violence. It does not follow, that one who is
qualified to lead voters at the polls, or, as they say here, "on the
stump," will be able to embody, in enlightened enactments, the sentiment
which he contributes to form, any more than that the tanner will be able
to shape a well-fitting boot from the leather he prepares. "_Suum cuique
proprium dat Natura donum_."[82] A blacksmith, therefore, is not the
best manufacturer of silver spoons, a lawyer the ablest writer of
sermons, nor either of them necessarily the safest law-maker.

But those things to which his qualifications were appropriate, the
politician did thoroughly and well. For example, he was a skilful
farmer--at least in the leading branches of that calling, though he gave
little or no attention to the merely ornamental. For the latter, he had
neither time nor inclination. Even in the essentials, it was only by
working, as he expressed it, "to the best advantage,"--that is,
contriving to produce the largest amount of results with the least
expenditure of labor and patience--that he got sufficient leisure to
attend to his public duties; and as for "inclination," no quaker ever
felt a more supreme contempt for mere embellishment.

He was seldom very happy in his domestic relations; for, excepting at
those seasons when the exigencies of his calling required his constant
attention, he spent but little of his time at his own fireside. He
absented himself _until_ his home became strange and uncomfortable to
him: and he then did the same, _because_ it had become so. Every man who
may try the experiment will discover that these circumstances mutually
aggravate each other--are, interchangeably, cause and effect. His
children were, however, always numerous, scarcely ever falling below
half-a-dozen, and not unfrequently doubling that allowance. They
generally appeared upon the stage in rapid succession--one had scarcely
time to get out of the way, before another was pushing him from his
place. The peevishness thus begotten in the mother--by the constant
habit of nursing cross cherubs--though it diminished the amount of
family peace, contributed, in another way, to the general welfare: it
induced the father to look abroad for enjoyment, and thus gave the
country the benefit of his wisdom as a political counsellor. Public
spirit, and the consciousness of ability, have "brought out" many
politicians: but uncomfortable homes have produced many more.

He was an oracle on the subject of hunting, and an unerring judge of
whiskey--to both which means of enjoyment he was strongly attached. He
was careful, however, neither to hunt nor drink in solitude, for even
his amusements were subservient to his political interests. To hunt
alone was a waste of time, while drinking alone was a loss of
good-fellowship, upon which much of his influence was founded. He was
particularly attached to parties of half-a-dozen, or more; for in such
companions, his talents were always conspicuous. Around a burgou[83]
pot, or along the trenches of an impromptu barbecue, he shone in
meridian splendor; and the approving smack of his lips, over a bottle of
"backwoods' nectar," was the seal of the judgment which gave character
to the liquor.

"Militia musters" were days in his calendar, "marked with a
white-stone;" for it was upon these occasions that he appeared in his
utmost magnificence. His grade was never lower than that of colonel, and
it not unfrequently extended to, or even beyond, the rank of
brigadier-general. It was worth "a sabbath-day's journey" on foot, to
witness one of these parades; for I believe that all the annals of the
burlesque do not furnish a more amusing caricature of the "pomp and
circumstance" of war. Compared to one of those militia regiments,
Falstaff's famous corps, whose appearance was so unmilitary as to
prevent even that liberal-minded gentleman from marching through
Coventry in their company, was a model of elegance and discipline.
Sedenó's cavalry in the South American wars, though their uniform
consisted only of "leggings," a pair of spurs, and a Spanish blanket,
had more the aspect of a regular _corps d'armée_ than these! A mob of
rustics was never armed with a more extensive variety of weapons; and no
night's "haul" of a recruiting sergeant's net, ever made a more
disorderly appearance, when mustered in the morning for inspection.

The "citizen-soldier" knew no more about "dressing the line," than about
dressing himself, and the front of his company presented as many
inequalities as a "worm-fence." Tall men and short men--beaver hats and
raccoon-skin caps--rusty firelocks and long corn-stalks--stiff brogans
and naked feet--composed the grand display. There were as many officers
as men, and each was continually commanding and instructing his
neighbor, but never thinking of himself. At the command "Right dress!"
(when the officer _par excellence_ knew enough to deliver it) some
looked right, others left--some thrust their heads out before--some
leaned back to get a glimpse behind--and the whole line waved like a
streamer in the wind. "Silence in line!" produced a greater clamor than
ever, for each repeated the command to every other, sending the order
along the ranks like a rolling fire, and not unfrequently enforcing it
with the push of a corn-stalk, or a vigorous elbow-hint. When a movement
was directed, the order reached the men successively, by the same
process of repetition--so that while some files were walking slowly, and
looking back to beckon on their lagging fellow-soldiers, others were
forced to a quick run to regain their places, and the scramble often
continued many minutes after the word "halt!" The longer the parade
lasted, the worse was the drill; and after a tedious day's "muster,"
each man knew less, if possible, of military tactics, than he did in the

But the most ludicrous part of the display, was the earnest solemnity
with which the politician-colonel endeavored "to lick the mass into
shape." If you had judged only by the expression of his face, you would
have supposed that an invading army was already within our borders, and
that this democratic army was the only hope of patriotism to repel the
foreign foe. And, indeed, it might not be too much to say, that some
such idea actually occupied his mind: for he was so fond of "supposing
cases," that bare possibilities sometimes grew in his mind to actual
realities; and it was a part of his creed, as well as his policy to
preach, that "a nation's best defence" is to be found in "the
undisciplined valor of its citizens." His military maxims were not based
upon the history of such countries as Poland and Spain--and Hungary had
not then added her example to the list. He never understood the relation
between discipline and efficiency; and the doctrine of the "largest
liberty" was so popular, that, on his theory, it must be universally
right. Tempered thus, and modified by some of the tendencies of the
demagogue, his love of military parade amounted to a propensity, a trait
which he shared with most of the people among whom he lived.

The inference from this characteristic, that he possessed what
phrenologists used to call "combativeness," is not unavoidable, though
such was the fact. He was, indeed, quite pugnacious, ready, at all
times, to fight for himself or for his friends, and never with any very
special or discriminating reference to the cause of quarrel. He was,
however, seldom at feud with any one whose enmity could materially
injure him: extensive connections he always conciliated, and every
popular man was his friend. Nor was he compelled, in order to compass
these ends, to descend to any very low arts; for "the people," were not
so fastidious in those days, as they seem since to have become; and a
straightforward sincerity was then the first element of popularity. The
politician was not forced to affect an exemplary "walk and
conversation;" nor was an open declaration of principle or opinion
dangerous to his success.

This liberality in public sentiment had its evils: since, for example,
the politician was not generally the less esteemed for being rather a
hard _swearer_. In the majority of the class, indeed, this amounted only
to an energetic or emphatic mode of expression; and such the people did
not less respect, than if, in the same person, they had had reason to
believe the opposite tone hypocritical. The western people--to their
honor be it written!--were, and are, mortal enemies to everything like
_cant_: though they might regret, that one's morals were no _better_
than they appeared, they were still more grieved, if they found
evidence, that they were _worse_ than they claimed to be.

But, though the politician was really very open and candid in all the
affairs of life, in his own estimation he was a very dexterous and
dangerous intriguer: he often deceived himself into the belief, that the
success, which was in fact the result of his manly candor, was
attributable only to his cunning management. He was always forming, and
attempting to execute, schemes for circumventing his political
opponents; but, if he bore down all opposition, it was _in spite of_ his
chicanery, and not by its assistance. Left-handed courses are never
advantageous "in the long run;" and, perhaps, it would be well if this
lesson were better understood by politicians, even in our own
enlightened day.

For the arts of rhetoric he had small respect; in his opinion, the man
who was capable of making a long, florid speech, was fit for little
else. His own oratorical efforts were usually brief, pithy, and to the
point. For example, here follows a specimen, which the writer heard
delivered in Illinois, by a candidate for the legislature:--

"Fellow-citizens: I am no speech-maker, but what I say, _I'll do_. I've
lived among you twenty years, and if I've shown myself a clever fellow,
you know it, _without_ a speech: if I'm not a clever fellow, you know
that, too, and wouldn't forget it _with_ a speech. I'm a candidate for
the legislature: if you think I'm 'the clear grit,' _vote_ for me: if
you think Major R---- of a better 'stripe' than I am, vote for _him_.
The fact is, that either of us will make a devilish good

For the satisfaction of the reader, we should record that the orator was
triumphantly elected, and, though "no speech-maker," was an excellent
member for several years.

The saddest, yet cheerfullest--the quaintest, yet most unaffected of
moralists, has written "A Complaint upon the Decay of Beggars," which
will not cease to be read, so long as pure English and pure feeling are
understood and appreciated. They were a part of the recollections of his
childhood--images painted upon his heart, impressions made in his soft
and pitying nature; and the "besom of societarian reformation,"
legislating busybodies, and tinkers of the general welfare, were
sweeping them away, with all their humanizing influences, their deep
lessons of dire adversity and gentle charity.

There are some memories of the childhood of western men--unlike, and yet
similar in their generous persuasions on all pure young hearts--upon
whose "Decay" might, also, be written a "Complaint," which should come
as truly, and yet as sadly, from the heart of him, who remembers his
boyhood, as did that from the heart of Elia. Gatherings of the militia,
burgou-hunts, barbecues, and anniversaries--phases of a primitive, yet
true and hearty time!--are fast giving way, before the march of a
barbarous "progress" (erroneously christened) "of intelligence." The
hard spirit of money-getting, the harder spirit of education-getting,
and the hardest of _all_ spirits, that of pharisaical morality, have
divorced our youth, _a vinculo_, from every species of amusement; and
life has come to be a probationary struggle, too fierce to allow a
moment's relaxation. The bodies of children are drugged and worried into
health, their intellects are stuffed and forced into premature
development, or early decay--but their _hearts_ are utterly forgotten!
Enjoyment is a forbidden thing, and only the miserable cant of
"intellectual pleasure" is allowed. _Ideas_--of philosophy, religious
observance, and mathematics--are supplied _ad nauseam_; but the
encouragement of a generous _impulse_, or a magnanimous _feeling_, is
too frivolous a thing to have a place in our vile system. Children are
"brought up," and "brought out," as if they were composed exclusively of
intellect and body: And, since the manifestations of any other element
are pronounced pernicious--even if the existence of the element itself
be recognised--the means of fostering it, innocent amusements, which
make the sunshine brighter, the spirits more cheerful, and the heart
purer and lighter, are sternly prohibited. Alas! for the generation
which shall grow up, and be "educated" (God save the mark!) as if it had
no heart! And wo to the blasphemy which dares to offer, as service to
Heaven, an arrogant contempt of Heaven's gifts, and claims a reward,
like the self-tormentors of the middle ages, for its vain

But, in the time of the politician, of whom we write, these things were
far different. We have already seen him at a "militia muster," and fain
would we pause here, to display him at a barbecue. What memories,
sweet, though sad, we might evoke of "the glorious fourth" in the olden
time! How savory are even the dim recollections of the dripping viands,
which hung, and fried, and crisped, and crackled, over the great fires,
in the long deep trenches! Our nostrils grow young again with the
thought--and the flavor of the feast floats on the breezes of memory,
even "across the waste of years" which lie between! And the cool,
luxuriant foliage of the grove, the verdant thickets, and among them
pleasant vistas, little patches of green sward, covered with gay and
laughing parties--even the rosy-cheeked girls, in their rustling gingham
dresses, cast now and then a longing glance, toward the yet forbidden
tables! how fresh and clear these images return upon the fancy!

And then the waving banners, roaring cannon, and the slow procession,
moving all too solemnly for our impatient wishes! And finally, the
dropping of the ropes, the simultaneous rush upon the open feast, and
the rapid, perhaps ravenous consumption of the smoking viands, the jest,
the laugh, all pleasant merriment, the exhilaration of the crowd, the
music, and the occasion! What glories we heard from the orator, of
victories achieved by our fathers! How we longed--O! brief, but
glorious dream! to be one day spoken of like Washington! How wildly our
hearts leaped in our boyish bosoms, as we listened to the accents of the
solemn pledge and "declaration"--"our lives, our fortunes, and our
sacred honor!" The whole year went lighter for that one day, and at each
return, we went home happier, and better!

How measureless we thought the politician's greatness then! This was his
proper element--here he was at home; and, as he ordered and directed
everything about him, flourishing his marshal's baton, clearing the way
for the march of the procession--settling the "order of exercises," and
reading the programme, in a stentorian voice--there was, probably in his
own estimation, and certainly in ours, no more important or honored
individual in all that multitude!

In such scenes as these, he was, indeed, without a rival; but there were
others, also, in which he was quite as useful, if not so conspicuous. On
election days, for instance, when a free people assembled to exercise
their "inestimable privilege," to choose their own rulers--he was as
busy as a witch in a tempest. His talents shone forth with especial and
peculiar lustre--for, with him, this was "the day for which all other
days were made." He marshalled his retainers, and led them to "the
polls"--not as an inexperienced tactician would have done, with much
waste of time, in seeking every private voter, but after the manner of
feudal times--by calling upon his immediate dependants, captains over
tens and twenties, through whom he managed the more numerous masses.
These were the "file-leaders," the "fugle-men," and "heads of messes;"
and it was by a judicious management of these, that he was able to
acquire and retain an extensive influence.

The first article of his electioneering creed was, that every voter was
controlled by somebody; and that the only way to sway the privates was,
to govern the officers: and, whether true or not, it must be admitted
that his theory worked well in practice. He affected to entertain a high
respect for those whom he described as "the boys from the heads of the
hollows"--men who were never seen beyond the precincts of their own
little "clearings," except upon the Fourth of July and election day,
from one end of the year to the other. With these he drank bad whiskey,
made stale jokes, and affected a flattering condescension. With others,
more important or less easily imposed upon, he "whittled" sociably in
the fence-corners, talked solemnly in conspicuous places, and always
looked confidential and mysterious.

But, however earnestly engaged, he never forgot the warfare in which he
was chief combatant. Like a general upon a field of battle, with his
staff about him, he had sundry of his friends always near, to undertake
any commission, or convey any order, which he desired to have executed;
and not a voter could come upon the ground, whom there was the remotest
chance to influence, that his vigilance did not at once discover and
seize upon, through some one of these lieutenants. He resorted to every
conceivable art, to induce the freemen to vote _properly_; and, when he
could not succeed in this, his next study was to prevent their voting
_at all_. The consequence usually was, that he secured his own election,
or that of his chosen candidate; for, in him, vigilance and shrewdness
were happily combined.

But, perhaps fortunately for the country, his ambition was generally
limited to such small offices, as he was quite capable of filling. The
highest point at which he aimed, was a seat in the state legislature;
and on reaching that goal, he signalized his term, chiefly, if at all,
in advocating laws about division fences, and trespassers upon
timber--measures which he deemed desirable for his own immediate
constituency, with very little care for the question of their general
utility. Indeed, he never went to the capital, without having his
pockets full of "private bills," for the gratification of his personal
friends, or near neighbors; and if, after a reasonable term of service,
he had succeeded in getting all these passed into laws, he came home,
contented to "subside," and live the remainder of his days, upon the
recollection of his legislative honors.

In the course of time, like all other earthly things, his class began to
decay. The tide of immigration, or the increasing intelligence of the
people, raised up men of larger views; and he speedily found himself
outstripped in the race, and forgotten by his ancient retainers.
Then--like his predecessor, the original frontierman--disgusted with
civilization and its refinements--he migrated to more congenial regions,
and, in the scenes of his former triumphs, was heard of no more.


[82] Translate "_donum_," talent.

[83] A kind of soup, made by boiling all sorts of game with corn,
onions, tomatoes, and a variety of other vegetables. When skilfully
concocted and properly seasoned, not at all unsavory. So called from a
soup made by seamen.


Here we must pause.

On the hither side of the period, represented by the early politician,
and between that and the present, the space of time is much too narrow,
to contain any distinct development: those who superseded the primitive
oracles, are yet in possession of the temple. We could not, therefore,
pursue our plan further, without hazarding the charge of drawing from
the life.

It is remarkable, that anything like a fair or candid estimate of--for
example--a public man's character, while he is yet favored with the
people's suffrages, is very certain to be pronounced a caricature; and
it is not less singular, that, while the complaints of popular critics,
in effect, affirm that there is fidelity enough in the picture to enable
even obtuse minds to fit the copy to the original, they at the same time
vehemently assert that the whole portrait is a libel. A just
admeasurement of a demagogue's ability is thus always abated by the
imputation of partisan falsehood or prejudice; and whosoever declines to
join in the adulation of a temporary idol, may consider himself
fortunate, if he escape with only the reproach of envy. Sketches of
contemporaneous character--if they seek recognition among the masses,
must, therefore, not reduce the altitude which blind admiration has
assigned, nor cut away the foreign lace, nor tear the ornaments, with
which excited parties have bedaubed their images of clay. And, yet, so
prone are men to overrate their leaders, that no estimate of a prominent
man can be just, without impugning popular opinion.

There is probably no other ground quite so perilous as politics, unless
it be literature: and, as yet, the west is comparatively barren of those
"sensitive plants," literary men. But any attempt to delineate society,
by portraiture of living characters, even though the pictures were
purely ideal, would, upon the present plan, involve the suspicion (and
perhaps the temptation to deserve it), indicated above. Before venturing
upon such uncertain paths, therefore, we must display a little
generalship, and call a halt, if not a council of war. Whether we are to
march forward, will be determined by the "General _Orders_."







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     Y. Courier and Enquirer._



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Notes and Emendations to the Text of Shakespeare's Plays, from the Early
Manuscript Corrections in a copy of the folio of 1632, in the possession
of JOHN PAYNE COLLIER, Esq., F.S.A. Third edition, with a facsimile of
the Manuscript Corrections. 1 vol. 12mo, cloth, $1.50.

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     of Shakespeare's text, by far the most important of any offered or
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     we venture to think, of more value than the labors of nearly all
     the critics on Shakespeare's text put together."--_London Literary

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=Life under an Italian Despotism!=




_One Vol., 12mo, Cloth--Price $1.00._

       *       *       *       *       *


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     has chosen to adopt fictitious and fantastic designations for
     himself and his associates. Since 1833, Ruffini has resided chiefly
     (if not wholly) in England and France, where his qualities, we
     understand, have secured him respect and regard. In 1848, he was
     selected by Charles Albert to fill the responsible situation of
     embassador to Paris, in which city he had long been domesticated as
     a refugee. He ere long, however, relinquished that office, and
     again withdrew into private life. He appears to have employed the
     time of his exile in this country to such advantage as to have
     acquired a most uncommon mastery over the English language. The
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     is scarcely inferior in spirited delineations of human character,
     and in the variety of events which it relates. But as a description
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     mere fiction."--_Dublin Evening Mail._



_Reprinted from the newly-discovered copy of the Folio of 1632 in the
possession of J. Payne Collier, containing nearly_

=Twenty Thousand Manuscript Corrections=,

_With a History of the Stage to the Time, an Introduction to each Play,
a Life of the Poet, etc._


_To which are added, Glossarial and other Notes, the Readings of Former
Editions, a_ PORTRAIT _after that by Martin Droeshout, a_ VIGNETTE TITLE
_on Steel, and a_ FACSIMILE OF THE OLD FOLIO, _with the Manuscript
Corrections_. 1 vol., Imperial 8vo. Cloth $4.00.

The =WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE= the same as the above. Uniform in Size with
the celebrated Chiswick Edition, 8 vols. 16mo, cloth $6.00. Half calf or
moroc. extra.

These are _American Copyright Editions_, the Notes being expressly
prepared for the work. The English edition contains simply the text,
without a single note or indication of the changes made in the text. In
the present, the variations from old copies are noted by reference of
all changes to former editions (abbreviated f.e.), and every indication
and explanation is given essential to a clear understanding of the
author. The prefatory matter, Life, &c., will be fuller than in any
American edition now published.

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     "Altogether the most correct and therefore the most valuable
     edition extant."--_Albany Express._

     "This edition of Shakespeare will ultimately supersede all others.
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     Shakespeare desirable and correct."--_Niagara Democrat._

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     Evening Post._

     "Beyond all question, the very best edition of the great bard
     hitherto published."--_New England Religious Herald._

     "It must hereafter be the standard edition of Shakespeare's
     plays."--_National Argus._

     "It is clear from internal evidence that they are genuine
     restorations of the original plays."--_Detroit Daily Times._

     "This must we think supersede all other editions of Shakespeare
     hitherto published. Collier's corrections make it really a
     different work from its predecessors. Compared with it we consider
     them hardly worth possessing."--_Daily Georgian, Savannah._

     "One who will probably hereafter be considered as the only true
     authority. No one we think, will wish to purchase an edition of
     Shakespeare, except it shall be conformable to the amended text by
     Collier."--_Newark Daily Advertiser._

     "A great outcry has been made in England against this edition of
     the bard, by Singer and others interested in other editions; but
     the emendations commend themselves too strongly to the good sense
     of every reader to be dropped by the public--the old editions must
     become obsolete."--_Yankee Blade, Boston._

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