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Title: The South-West - By a Yankee. In Two Volumes. Volume 2
Author: Ingraham, Joseph Holt, 1809-1860
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The South-West - By a Yankee. In Two Volumes. Volume 2" ***



           Where on my way I went;
 ----------A pilgrim from the North--
 Now more and more attracted, as I drew
 Nearer and nearer.







[Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1835, by HARPER
& BROTHERS, in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of



 Characteristic scenery of the Mississippi--Card playing--Sabbath on
 board a steamboat--An old sinner--A fair Virginian--Inquisitiveness of
 Yankee ladies--Southern ladies--A general--Ellis's cliffs--Mines--Atala
 --Natchez in the distance--Duelling ground--Fort Rosalie--Forests--A
 traveller's remark.                                               Page 9


 Land at the Levée--African porters--First impression of passing
 travellers--"Natchez under the Hill"--A dizzy road--A rapid descent
 --View from the summit--Fine scenery in the vicinity--Reservoir--A
 tawny Silenus--A young Apollo--Warriors "hors du combat"--Indian
 females--Mississippian backwoodsman--Mansion House.                   17


 A northerner's idea of the south-west--Natchez and health--"Broadway"
 of Natchez--Street scenes--Private carriages--Auction store--Sale of
 a slave--Manner in which slaves view slavery--Shopping--Fashion--
 Southern gentlemen--Merchants--Planters--Whip bearers--Planters'
 families.                                                             27


 First impressions--American want of taste in public buildings--
 Agricultural bank--Masonic hall--Natchez academy--Education of
 Mississippians--Cemetery--Theatre--Presbyterian church--Court-house
 --Episcopal church--Light-house--Hotels--Planters, Houses and
 galleries--Jefferson hotel--Cotton square.                            36


 Society of Natchez--New-England adventurers--Their prospects--The
 Yankee sisterhood--Southern bachelors--Southern society--Woman--Her
 past and present condition--Single combats--Fireside pleasures
 unknown--A change--Town and country--Characteristic discrepancies.    45


 A Sabbath morning in Natchez--A ramble to the bluff--Louisiana
 forests--Natchez under the Hill--Slaves--Holidays--Negroes going to
 church--Negro street coteries--Market day--City hotel--Description
 of the landing--Rail-way--A rendezvous--Neglected Sabbath-bell.       52


 Reminiscences--An aged pastor--Streets of Natchez on the Sabbath--
 Interior of a church--Church music--Pulpit oratory--A New England
 scene--Peculiar state of society--Wealthy ministers--Clerical
 planters--Health of Mississippi--Episcopalian church--Catholics--
 The French language--Catholic education--Methodists--An alarm bell
 and slaves.                                                           62


 Catholic burying-ground--Evening in a grave yard--Sounds of a busy
 city--Night--Disturbers of the dead--Dishumation of human remains
 --Mourning cards--A funeral--Various modes of riding--Yankee
 horsemanship--Mississippian horsemen--Pacers--A plantation road
 --Residence--The grave--Slaves weeping for their master!--New
 cemetery.                                                             73


 National diversities of character--Diversities of language--
 Provincialisms--A plantation and negroes--Natchez bar--A youthful
 judge--Physicians--Clergymen--Merchants, &c. &c.--A southern
 mania--"Washing"--Tobacco--Value of cotton planting and statistics
 --An easy "way to wealth."                                            84


 An excursion--A planter's gallery--Neglect of grounds--Taste and
 economy--Mississippi forests--The St. Catharine--Cotton fields--Worm
 fences--Hedges--The pride of China--The magnolia tree and flower--
 Plantation roads--White cliffs--General view of a plantation.         96


 Horticulture--Chateaubriand--A Mississippi garden and plants--A
 novel scene--Sick slaves--Care of masters for their sick--Shamming
 --Inertness of negroes--Burial of slaves--Negro mothers--A nursery
 --Negro village on the Sabbath--Religious privileges of slaves--
 Marriages--Negro "passes"--The advantages of this regulation--
 Anecdote of a runaway.                                               113


 Preparations for a deer hunt--A sailor, a planter, and an author--A
 deer driver--"Stands" for deer--The hunting ground--The hunt--
 Ellis's cliff--Silver mine--An hypothesis--Alluvial formation of
 the lower valley of the Mississippi--Geological descriptions of the
 south-west.                                                          132


 Geography of Mississippi--Ridges and bottoms--The Mississippi at
 its efflux--Pine and table lands--General features of the state--
 Bayous--Back-water of rivers--Springs--St. Catharine's harp--
 Bankston springs--Mineral waters of this state--Petrifactions--
 Quartz crystals--"Thunderbolts"--Rivers--The Yazoo and Pearl.        146


 Gibson--Raymond--Clinton--Southern villages--Vicksburg--Yeomen of
 and other towns--Monticello--Manchester--Rankin--Grand Gulf--Rodney
 --Warrenton--Woodville--Pinckneyville--White Apple village.          159


 Coloured population of the south--Mississippi saddle and horse
 caparisons--Ride through the city--Chain gang--Lynch law--Want of a
 penitentiary--Difficulties in consequence--Summary justice--Boating
 on the Mississippi--Chain gang and the runaway--Suburbs--Orphan
 asylum--A past era.                                                  182


 Slave mart--Scene within--File of negroes--"Trader"--Negro feelings
 --George and his purchaser--George's old and new wife--Female
 slaves--The intellect of the negro--A theory--An elderly lady and
 her slaves--Views of slaves upon their condition--Separation of
 kindred among slaves.                                                192


 Towns of Mississippi--Naming estates--The influence of towns on
 the social relations of the planters--Southern refinement--Colleges
 --Oakland--Clinton--Jefferson--History of the latter--Collegiate
 system of instruction--Primary departments--Quadrennial classes.     204


 Indian mounds--Their origin and object--Tumuli near Natchez--Skulls
 and other remains--Visit to the fortifications or mounds at
 Seltzertown--Appearance and description of the mounds--Their age--
 Reflections--History of the Natchez.                                 215


 Slavery in the south-west--Southern feelings--Increase of slaves
 --Virginia--Mode of buying slaves, and slave-traders--Mode of
 transportation by sea--Arrival at the mart--Mode of life in the
 market--Transportation by land--Privileges of slaves--Conduct of
 planters toward their negroes--Anecdotes--Negro traders--Their
 origin.                                                              231


 Slaves--Classes--Anecdotes--Negro instruction--Police--Natchez
 fencibles--Habitual awe of the negro for the white man--
 Illustrations--Religious slaves--Negro preaching--General view of
 slavery and emancipation--Conclusion.                                247



      Characteristic scenery of the Mississippi--Card-playing--
      Sabbath on board a steamboat--An old sinner--A fair
      Virginian--Inquisitiveness of Yankee ladies--Southern
      ladies--A general--Ellis's cliffs--Mines--Atala--Natchez
      in the distance--Duelling ground--Fort Rosalie--Forests--A
      traveller's remark.

The rich and luxuriant character of the scenery, which charms and
attracts the eye of the traveller as he ascends the Mississippi from
New-Orleans to Baton Rouge, is now changed. A broad, turbid flood,
rolling through a land of vast forests, alone meets the eye, giving
sublime yet wild and gloomy features to the scene. On looking from the
cabin window, I see only a long, unbroken line of cotton trees, with
their pale green foliage, as dull and void of interest as a fog-bank.
The opposite shore presents the same appearance; and so it is, with the
occasional relief of a plantation and a "landing place," comprising a
few buildings, the whole distance to Natchez. A wretched cabin, now and
then, varies the wild appearance of the banks--the home of some
solitary wood-cutter. Therefore, as I cannot give you descriptions of
things abroad, I must give you an account of persons on board.

There are in the cabin about forty passengers, of both sexes. Two of the
most genteel-looking among them, so far as dress goes, I am told, are
professed "black-legs;" or, as they more courteously style themselves,
"sporting gentlemen."--There is an organized body of these _ci-devant_
gentry upon the river, who have local agents in every town, and
travelling agents on board the principal steamboats. In the guise of
gentlemen, they "take in" the unwary passenger and unskilful player,
from whom they often obtain large sums of money. I might relate many
anecdotes illustrative of their mode of operating upon their victims;
but I defer them to some future occasion. As the same sportsmen do not
go twice in the same boat, the captains do not become so familiar with
their persons as to refuse them passage, were they so inclined. It is
very seldom, however, when they are known, that they are denied a
passage, as gambling is not only permitted but encouraged on most of the
boats, by carrying a supply of cards in the bar, for the use of the
passengers. Even the sanctity of the Sabbath is no check to this
amusement: all day yesterday the tables were surrounded with players, at
two of which they were dealing "faro;" at the third playing "brag." And
this was on the Sabbath! Indeed the day was utterly disregarded by
nearly every individual on board. Travelling is a sad demoralizer. My
fellow-passengers seemed to have adopted the sailors' maxim, "no Sunday
off soundings." Their religion was laid by for shore use. One good,
clever-looking old lady, was busily engaged all the morning hemming a
handkerchief; when some one remarked near her, "This time last Sunday we
made the Balize."--"Sunday! to-day Sunday!" she exclaimed, in the utmost
consternation, "Is to-day Sunday, sir?"

"It is indeed, madam."

"Oh, me! what a wicked sinner I am! O dear, that I should sew on
Sunday!"--and away she tottered to her state-room, amidst the pitiless
laughter of the passengers, with both hands elevated in horror, and
ejaculating, "Oh me! what a wicked sinner! How _could_ I forget!" In a
short time she returned with a Bible; and I verily believe that she did
not take her eyes from it the remainder of the day, unless it might be
to wipe her spectacles.--Good old soul! she was leaven to the whole lump
of our ungodly company.

There are several French gentlemen; one important looking personage, who
bears the title of general, and seems amply to feel the dignity it
confers; three or four Mississippi cotton planters, in large,
low-crowned, broad-brimmed, white fur hats, wearing their clothes in a
careless, half sailor-like, half gentleman-like air, dashed with a small
touch of the farmer, which style of dressing is peculiar to the
Mississippi country gentleman. They are talking about negroes,
rail-roads, and towing shipping. There is also a travelling Yankee
lawyer, in a plain, stiff, black coat, closely buttoned up to his chin,
strait trowsers, narrow hat, and gloves--the very antipodes, in
appearance, to the _non chalant_, easy, care-for-nothing air of his
southern neighbours. A Methodist minister, in a bottle-green frock coat,
fancy vest, black stock, white pantaloons and white hat, is sitting
apart by the stove, deeply engaged upon the pages of a little volume,
like a hymn-book. Any other dress than uniform black for a minister,
would, at the north, be deemed highly improper, custom having thus so
decided; but here they wear just what Providence sends them or their own
taste dictates. There are two or three fat men, in gray and blue--a
brace of bluff, manly-looking Germans--a lynx-eyed, sharp-nosed New-York
speculator--four old French Jews, with those noble foreheads, arched
brows, and strange-expressioned eyes, that look as though always
weeping--the well-known and never to be mistaken characteristics of this
remarkable people. The remainder of our passengers present no
peculiarities worth remarking. So I throw them in, tall and short,
little and big, and all sorts and sizes, to complete the motley
"_ensemble_" of my fellow-travellers.

Among the ladies, besides the aged sinner of the pocket-handkerchief,
are a beautiful, dark-eyed, dark-haired Virginian, and an intelligent,
young married lady from Vermont, accompanied by her only child, a
handsome, spirited boy, between four and five years of age. The little
fellow and I soon became great friends; in testimony whereof, he is now
teasing me to allow him to scrawl his enormous pot-hooks over my sheet,
by way of assisting me in my letter. An apology for his rudeness, by
his mother, opened the way for a conversation; during which I discovered
that she possessed a highly cultivated mind, great curiosity, as a
stranger in a strange land, and her full share of Yankee
inquisitiveness. She was always upon the "guard," resolved that nothing
worthy of observation should escape her inquiring eye. She was a pure
New-England interrogative. So far as it was in my power, it afforded me
pleasure to reply to her questions, which, as a stranger to southern
scenery, manners and customs, it was very natural she should put to any
one. With a southerner I might have journeyed from Montreal to Mexico,
without being questioned so often as I have been in this short passage
from New-Orleans. But unless we _can_ answer their innumerable
questions, (which, by the way, are most usually of a strongly
intelligent cast), travelling Yankee ladies are certainly, unless young
and pretty, a little annoying. I mean, always, the inquisitive ones; for
there are some who are far from being so. When a northerner is not
inquisitive, the fact may generally be ascribed to intellectual
dullness, or an uncultivated mind: in a southerner, to constitutional
indolence and love of quiet, which are enemies to one jot more corporeal
or mental exertion than is absolutely requisite to enable them to glide
through existence. I do not rank my fellow-traveller in the class of the
troublesome inquisitives--though full of curiosity, compared with the
"daughters of the sun,"--but she is no more so than any intelligent
person should be in a strange, and by no means uninteresting country.

"The general" is quite the lion on board. It would amuse you to observe
the gaping mouths, fixed eyes, and attentive looks around, when the
general speaks. He is the oracle--the _ne plus ultra_ of excellence--the
phoenix of generals!

By this time you must be wearied with my prosing about persons of whom
you know nothing, and are probably waiting for more interesting subjects
for description. Thus far, with the exception of one bluff, with a few
buildings perched upon its summit, there has been no variety in the
monotony of the gloomy forests which overhang the river.

Ellis's cliffs, which present the wildest and most romantic scenery upon
the Mississippi below St. Louis, are now in sight. They rise proudly
from the river, and compared with the tame features of the country, are
invested with the dignity of mountains. They exhibit a white
perpendicular face to the river, and are about one hundred and fifty
feet in height. Gold and silver ore have been lately found in the strata
of the cliffs; but not in sufficient purity and quantity to induce the
proprietors to excavate in search of them. Here are discovered the first
stones--small pebbles of recent formation--that are seen on ascending
the river. The surrounding country, which is nearly on a level with the
summit of the cliffs, recedes pleasantly undulating from the river, rich
with highly cultivated cotton plantations, and ornamented with the
elegant residences of the planters. It is said that few countries in
the world possess a more beautifully diversified surface--or one more
pleasantly distributed in hills and valleys. In the vicinity also, of
this romantic spot, Chateaubriand has laid some of the scenes of his
wild and splendid fiction "Atala."

We are now within twenty miles of Natchez. The river is here very
circuitous, making the distance much greater than by land. The shores
continue to exhibit the peculiarly gloomy and inhospitable features
which, with the occasional exception of a high bluff, plantation or
village, they present nearly to the mouth of the Ohio. The loud and
startling report of a cannon in the bows of the boat, making her stagger
and tremble through every beam, is the signal that our port is in
sight--a pile of gray and white cliffs with here and there a church
steeple, a roof elevated above its summit, and a light-house hanging on
the verge! At the foot of the bluffs are long straggling lines of wooden
buildings, principally stores and store-houses; the Levée is fringed
with flat boats and steamers, and above all, tower majestically the
masts of two or three ships. The whole prospect from the deck presents
an interesting scene of commercial life and bustle. But this is not
Natchez! The city proper is built upon the summit level, the tops of
whose buildings and trees can be seen from the boat, rising higher than
the cliff. The ascent from the lower town, or as it is commonly
designated, "under the hill", is by an excavated road, of moderate
elevation. The whole appearance of the place from the deck is highly
romantic. On our left, opposite Natchez, is Vidalia, in Louisiana, a
pleasant village of a few houses, built on one street parallel with the
river. Here, in a pleasant grove above the town, is the "field of
honour," where gentlemen from Mississippi occasionally exchange leaden
cards--all in the way of friendship.

On our right, a few hundred yards below Natchez, crowning a noble
eminence, stand the ruins of Fort Rosalie, celebrated in the early
history of this country. Its garrison early in the last century was
massacred, by the Natchez tribe, to a single man, who escaped by leaping
from the precipice. Here is the principal scene of Chateaubriand's
celebrated romance. The position of the fort, in a military point of
view, commanding, as it does, a great extent of river and country, is
well chosen. Beyond the fort, a peep at rich woods, green hills, and
tasteful country-seats, is agreeably refreshing to the eye, so long
accustomed to gaze upon melancholy forests, and dead flats covered with
cane-brakes. Indeed, the mournful character of the forests along the
Mississippi, is calculated to fill the mind with gloom. The long black
moss, well known at the north as the "Carolina moss", hangs in immense
fringes from every limb, frequently enveloping the whole tree in its
sombre garb. The forests thus clothed present a dismal yet majestic
appearance. As the traveller gazes upon them his mind partakes of their
funereal character, and the imagination is ready to assent to the strong
and highly poetical remark of a gentleman on board, with whom I was
promenading the "guard," who observed that it would seem that the
DEITY was dead, and that nature had clothed herself in mourning.


      Land at the Levée--African porters--First impression of
      passing travellers--"Natchez under the Hill"--A dizzy road
      --A rapid descent--View from the summit--Fine scenery in
      the vicinity--Reservoir--A tawny Silenus--A young Apollo
      --Warriors "hors du combat"--Indian females--Mississippian
      backwoodsmen--Mansion House.

Since the date of my last letter, a period sufficiently long to enable
me to make my observations with correctness has elapsed; and from
memoranda collected during the interval, I shall prepare this and
subsequent letters from this place.

We landed last evening at the Levée, amid the excitement, noise, and
confusion which always attend the arrival or departure of a steamer in
any place. But here the tumult was varied and increased by the incessant
jabbering, hauling, pulling, kicking and thumping, of some score or two
of ebony-cheeked men and urchins, who were tumbling over each other's
heads to get the first trunk.

"Trunk, massa--trunk! I take you baggage".

"You get out, for a nigger!" exclaimed a tall, strapping fellow, as
black as night, to his brother ebony. "I'm the gemman, massa, what care
de trunk." "Dis nigger, him know noffing, massa--I'm what's always
waits on um gentlemans from de boats!" roared another; and stooping to
take one of the handles, the other was instantly grappled by a rival,
and both giving a simultaneous jerk, the subject of the contest flew
violently from their hands, and was instantly caught up by the first
"gemman", and borne off in triumph. This little by-play was acted, with
variations, in every part of the cabin, where there was either a
gentleman or a trunk to form the subject.

On landing, there was yet another trial of the tympanum.

"Carriage, massa--mighty bad hill to walk up!" was vociferated on all
sides; and

"No, no, no!" was no argument with them for a cessation of attack;
denial only made them more obstinate; and, like true soldiers, they
seemed to derive courage from defeat.

Forcing my way through the dingy crowd--for four out of five of them
were black, and, "by the same token", as ragged as Falstaff's regiment,
of shirtless memory--I followed my athletic pioneer; who, with my heavy
baggage poised accurately upon his head, moved as rapidly and carelessly
along the thronged Levée as though he carried no weight but his own
thick cranium. On looking round me for a moment, on landing, I was far
from agreeably impressed with the general appearance of the buildings.
This part of the town is not properly Natchez--and strangers passing up
and down the river, who have had the opportunity of seeing only this
place, have, without dreaming of the beautiful city over their heads,
gone on their way, with impressions very inaccurate and unfavourable.
These impressions, derived only, but justly, from this repulsive spot,
have had a tendency to depreciate the city, and fasten upon it a bad
name, which it is very far from meriting. Like the celebrated "Five
Points," in New-York, "Natchez under the Hill," as it has been aptly
named, has extended its fame throughout the United States, in wretched
rhyme and viler story. For many years it has been the nucleus of vice
upon the Mississippi. But, for two or three years past, the
establishment of respectable mercantile houses, and an excellent hotel,
combined with an efficient police, and a spirit of moral reform among
the citizens, has, in a great measure, redeemed the place--changed its
repulsive character and cancelled its disgraceful name. Though now on
the high way of reform, there is still enough of the cloven-hoof
visible, to enable the stranger to recognise that its former reputation
was well earned.

The principal street, which terminates at the ascent of the hill, runs
parallel with the river, and is lined on either side with a row of old
wooden houses; which are alternately gambling-houses, brothels, and
bar-rooms: a fair assemblage! As we passed through the street--which we
gained with difficulty from the boat, picking our way to it as we could,
through a filthy alley--the low, broken, half-sunken side-walks, were
blocked up with fashionably-dressed young men, smoking or lounging,
tawdrily arrayed, highly rouged females, sailors, Kentucky boatmen,
negroes, negresses, mulattoes, pigs, dogs, and dirty children. The
sounds of profanity and Bacchanalian revels, well harmonizing with the
scene, assailed our ears as we passed hastily along, through an
atmosphere of tobacco smoke and other equally fragrant odours. After a
short walk we emerged into a purer air, and in front of a very neat and
well-conducted hotel. From near this place, extending along the Levée to
the north, commences the mercantile part of the "landing," lined with
stores and extensive warehouses, in which is transacted a very heavy
business. The whole of this lower town is built upon a reclaimed flat,
from one to two hundred yards broad, and half a mile in length; bounded
upon one side by the river, and on the other by the cliff or bluff, upon
which Natchez stands, and which rises abruptly from the _Batture_, to
the height of one hundred and sixty feet. This bluff extends along the
river, more or less varied and broken, for several miles; though at no
point so abrupt and bold as here, where it bears the peculiar
characteristics of the wild scenery of "Dover cliffs." The face of the
cliff at Natchez is not a uniform precipice, but, apparently by the
provident foresight of nature, broken by an oblique shelf or platform,
gradually inclining from the summit to the base. With but a little
excavation, a fine road has been constructed along this way, with an
inclination sufficiently gentle to enable the heaviest teams to ascend
with comparative ease. One side of the road is of course bounded by a
perpendicular cliff; the other by empty air and a dizzy precipice: so
that the unwary foot-traveller, involved amid the ascent and descent of
drays, carriages, horsemen, and porters, enjoys a tolerably fair
alternative of being squeezed uncomfortably close against the bluff, or
pitched, with a summerset, into some of the yawning chimneys on the
flats beneath. For the whole length of this ascent, which is nearly a
quarter of a mile, there is no kind of guard for the protection of the
passengers. Yet, I have been told, no lives have ever been lost here.
One poor fellow, a short time since, having taken a drop too much, and
reeling too near the verge, lost his equilibrium, and over he went. But
it is hard to kill a drunkard, except with the "pure spirit" itself; and
the actor in this "drop scene" being "a gem of sweet Erin," stuck to the
sod, and slid comfortably, though rapidly, to the bottom. The next
moment he was seen gathering himself up out of a sand-heap, with "By St.
Pathrick! but that was a jewel of a lape!--and it's my bright new baiver
castor that's smashed by it to smitherins."

On arriving at the summit of the hill, I delayed a moment, for the
double purpose of taking breath and surveying the scene spread out
around me. Beneath lay the roofs of warehouses, stores, and dwellings,
scattered over a flat, sandy surface, which was bordered, on the water
side, by hundreds of up-country flat-boats, laden with the produce of
the rich farming states bordering the Ohio and "Upper Mississippi."
Lower down, steamers were taking in and discharging freight; while the
mingled sounds of the busy multitude rose like the hum of a hive upon
the ear. Immediately opposite me lay two ships, which, with their
towering masts, gay flags, and dark hulls, agreeably relieved the
otherwise long and unbroken line of boats. To the north the river
spreads its noble bosom till lost in the distance; while the continuous
line of cliffs, extending along its shore like a giant wall, seem to
speak in the language of power, "thus far shalt thou flow and no
farther, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." To the south, the
view is confined by the near projection of the obtruding cliffs. Yet the
river stretches boldly out many miles on its course toward the sea, till
lost to sight within the bosom of the distant forests which bound the
southern horizon. To the west, the eye travels over the majestic breadth
of the river, here a mile wide, and rests for a moment upon level and
richly cultivated fields beyond, a quiet village and noble forests,
which spread away to the west like a vast sea of waving foliage, till
they blend with the bending sky, forming a level and unbroken horizon.
Turning from this scene of grandeur and beauty to the east, Natchez,
mantled with rich green foliage like a garment, with its handsome
structures and fine avenues, here a dome and there a tower, lies
immediately before me. It is the very contrast to its straggling
namesake below. The city proper consists of six streets, at right angles
with the river, intersected by seven others of the same length, parallel
with the stream. The front, or first parallel street, is laid out about
one hundred yards back from the verge of the bluff, leaving a noble
green esplanade along the front of the city, which not only adds to its
beauty, but is highly useful as a promenade and parade ground. Shade
trees are planted along the border, near the verge of the precipice,
beneath which are placed benches, for the comfort of the lounger. From
this place the eye commands one of the most extensive prospects to be
found on the Mississippi. To a spectator, standing in the centre of this
broad, natural terrace, the symmetrical arrangement of the artificial
scenery around him is highly picturesque and pleasing.

On his right, to the south, a noble colonnaded structure, whose heavy
appearance is gracefully relieved by shrubbery, parterres, and a light
latticed summer-house, crowning a gentle eminence in the rear, and half
suspended over the precipice, strikes his eye with a fine effect. From
this admirable foreground, gently sloping hills, with here and there a
white dwelling, half concealed in foliage, spread away into the country.
Between this edifice and the forest back ground rise the romantic ruins
of Fort Rosalie, now enamelled with a rich coating of verdure. On his
left, at the northern extremity of the esplanade, upon the beautiful
eminence, gradually yet roundly swelling away from the promenade, stands
another private residence, nearly resembling and directly opposite to
the other, its lofty colonnades glancing in the sun--a magnificent
garden spreading out around it, luxuriant with foliage--diversified with
avenues and terraces, and adorned with grottoes and summer-houses.
Imagine these handsome residences, flanking the city, and forming the
extreme northern and southern terminations of the broad terrace before
the town, with the mighty flood of the Mississippi rolling some hundred
feet beneath you--the dark forests of Louisiana stretching away to
infinity in the west, with Natchez--its streets alive with promenaders,
gay equipages and horsemen--immediately before you, and you will form
some idea of this beautiful city and its environs from this point. But
as the spot upon which the town is built, originally a cluster of green
hills, has been, by levelling and filling, converted into a smooth
surface, with a very slight inclination to the verge of the cliff, a
small portion only of the city is visible. The buildings on the front
street face the river, and, with the exception of one or two private
houses, with galleries and shrubbery, reminding one of the neat and
beautiful residences on the "coast,"[1] possess no peculiar interest.
The town is entered from the parade by rude bridges at the termination
of each street, spanning a dry, dilapidated brick aqueduct of large
dimensions, which has been constructed along the whole front of the
city, but is now, from some unknown cause, suffered to fall to ruin. It
was probably intended as a reservoir and conductor of the water which,
after heavy rains, rushes violently down the several streets of the

As I was crossing from the bluff to the entrance of one of the principal
streets--a beautiful avenue bordered with the luxuriant China tree,
whose dark rich foliage, nearly meeting above, formed a continued arcade
as far as the eye could penetrate--my attention was arrested by an
extraordinary group, reclining in various attitudes under the grateful
shade of the ornamental trees which lined the way. With his back firmly
planted against a tree, as though there existed a sympathetic affinity
between the two, sat an athletic Indian with the neck of a black bottle
thrust down his throat, while the opposite extremity pointed to the
heavens. Between his left forefinger and thumb he held a corncob, as a
substitute for a stopper. By his side, his blanket hanging in easy folds
from his shoulders, stood a tall, fine-looking youth, probably his son,
his raven hair falling in masses over his back, with his black eyes
fixed upon the elder Indian, as a faithful dog will watch each movement
of his intemperate master. One hand supported a rifle, while another was
carelessly suspended over his shoulder. There was no change in this
group while I remained in sight; they were as immoveable as statues. A
little in the rear, lay several "warriors" fast locked in the arms of
Bacchus or Somnus, (probably both,) their rifles lying beside them. Near
them a knot of embryo chiefs were gamboling in all the glorious freedom
of "_sans culottes_". At a little distance, half concealed by huge
baskets apparently just unstrapped from their backs, filled with the
motley paraphernalia of an Indian lady's wardrobe, sat, cross-legged, a
score of dark-eyed, brown-skinned girls and women, laughing and talking
in their soft, childish language, as merrily as any ladies would have
done, whose "lords" lay thus supine at their feet. Half a score of
miserable, starved wretches, "mongrel, whelp and hound," which it were
an insult to the noble species to term dogs, wandering about like
unburied ghosts "seeking what they might devour," completed the novel
and picturesque _ensemble_ of the scene.

On the opposite side of the way was another of a different character,
but not less interesting. Seated in a circle around their bread and
cheese, were half a dozen as rough, rude, honest-looking countrymen from
the back part of the state, as you could find in the nursery of
New-England's yeomanry. They are small farmers--own a few
negroes--cultivate a small tract of land, and raise a few bales of
cotton, which they bring to market themselves. Their carts are drawn
around them forming a barricade to their camp, for here, as is customary
among them, instead of putting up at taverns, they have encamped since
their arrival. Between them and their carts are their negroes, who
assume a "cheek by jowl" familiarity with their masters, while jokes, to
season their homely fare, accompanied by astounding horse-laughs, from
ivory-lined mouths that might convey a very tolerable idea of the crater
of Etna, pass from one group to the other, with perfect good will and a
mutual contempt for the nicer distinctions of colour.

Crossing the narrow bridge, I entered at once into the body of the city,
which is built as compactly within itself and aloof from the suburbs as
though it were separated from them by a wall; and in a few moments,
after traversing two sides of a well-built square on fine side walks, I
arrived at the "Mansion house," an extensive and commodious brick
edifice said to be one of the best hotels in the south west--except
Bishop's--agreeably impressed with this, my first _coup d'oeil_ of a
city, so extensively celebrated for the opulence, taste and hospitality
of its inhabitants.


[1] The banks of the Mississippi are termed "_the coast_," as far up the
river as Baton Rouge. It is usual to say one lives on the _coast_, if he
lives on the river shore.


      A northerner's idea of the south-west--Natchez and health
      --"Broadway" of Natchez--Street scenes--Private carriages
      --Auction store--Sale of a slave--Manner in which slaves
      view slavery--Shopping--Fashion--Southern gentlemen--
      Merchants--Planters--Whip bearers--Planters' families.

To the northerner, to whom every verdant hill is a magazine of health,
every mountain torrent and limpid river are leaping and flowing with
life, who receives a new existence as the rays of the summer's sun fall
upon his brow, and whose lungs expand more freely and whose pulse beats
more strongly under the influence of every breeze, Natchez has been,
till within a very short period, associated with miasma and marshes over
which the yellow fever, like a demon king, held undisputed sway. This
idea is not without foundation. Like New-Orleans, this city has been
the grave of many young and ambitious adventurers. Pestilence has here
literally "walked at noonday." The sun, the source and preserver of life
and health, in its path over this devoted city, has "become black as
sackcloth," and "the moon that walketh in brightness," shedding her calm
and gentle light upon the earth, has been "turned into blood," poisoning
the atmosphere with exhalations of death, and converting the green earth
into a sepulchre. But this is a record of the past. The angel of
vengeance has gone by, leaving health and peace to exercise their gentle
dominion over this late theatre of his terrible power. No city in our
happy country is more blessed with health than is now, this so often
depopulated place. For several years past its catalogue of mortality has
been very much smaller than that of many towns in Vermont and Maine,
containing the same number of inhabitants. Even that insatiable
destroyer, the Asiatic cholera, which has strewn both hemispheres with
the bones of its victims, has passed over this city without leaving a
trace of his progress, except among the blacks and a few imprudent
strangers. Not a citizen fell a victim to it. If any place demanded a
dispensation of mercy it was this--if past misfortunes can challenge an
exemption from farther infliction.

Main-street is the "Broadway" of Natchez. It extends from the river to
the eastern extremity of the city, about half a mile in length, dividing
the town into nearly equal portions, north and south. This street is to
Natchez what Chartres-street is to New-Orleans, though on a much smaller
scale. Here are all the banks and most of the dry goods and fancy stores.
Here, consequently, is the centre of business, and, to the ladies, that
of attraction; although the stores are not turned inside out every
morning, to adorn their fronts and create zigzags on the side-walks, to
the great edification of the shopmen, who are the operators, and the
little comfort of gouty or hurrying pedestrians. In passing up this
street, which is compactly built with handsome brick blocks, generally
but two stories in height, the stranger is struck with the extraordinary
number of private carriages, clustered before the doors of the most
fashionable stores, or millineries, rolling through the street, or
crossing and recrossing it from those by which it is intersected, nearly
every moment, from eleven till two on each fair day. But few of these
equipages are of the city: they are from the plantations in the
neighbourhood, which spread out from the town over richly cultivated
"hill and dale,"--a pleasant and fertile landscape--far into the
interior. Walk with me into this street about noon on a pleasant day in
December. It is the only one nearly destitute of shade trees; but the
few it boasts are shedding their yellow leaves, which sprinkle the
broad, regular, and well-constructed side-walks, and the warm sun shines
down cheerily and pleasantly upon the promenaders.--Here, at the corner,
surrounded by a crowd, is an auction store. Upon a box by the door
stands a tall, fine-looking man. But he is _black_; ebony cannot be
blacker. Of the congregation of human beings there, he is the most
unconcerned. Yet he has a deeper interest in the transactions of the
moment than all the rest--for a brief space will determine whom, among
the multitude, he is to call master! The auctioneer descants at large
upon his merits and capabilities.--"Acclimated, gentlemen! a first-rate
carriage-driver--raised by Col. ----. Six hundred dollars is bid.
Examine him, gentlemen--a strong and athletic fellow--but twenty-seven
years of age." He is knocked off at seven hundred dollars; and with
"There's your master," by the seller, who points to the purchaser,
springs from his elevation to follow his new owner; while his place is
supplied by another subject. These scenes are every-day matters here,
and attract no attention after beholding them a few times; so powerful
is habit, even in subduing our strongest prejudices. But the following
dialogue, overheard by me, between two well-dressed, smart-looking
blacks near by, one seated listlessly upon his coach-box, the other
holding the bridle of his master's horse--though brief, contains a
volume of meaning, in illustrating the opinions and views of the blacks
upon the state of their degraded race.

"You know dat nigger, they gwine to sell, George?"

"No, he field nigger; I nebber has no 'quaintance wid dat class."

"Well, nor no oder gentlemens would. But he's a likely chap. How much
you tink he go for?"--"I a'n't much 'quainted wid de price of such kind
o' peoples. My master paid seven hundred dollar for me, when I come out
from ole Wirginney--dat nigger fetch five hun'red dollar I reckon."

"You sell for only seben hun'red dollars!" exclaimed the gentleman upon
the coach-seat, drawing himself up with pride, and casting a
contemptuous glance down upon his companion: "my massa give eight
hundred and fifty silver dollars for me. Gom! I tink dat you was more
'spectable nigger nor dat." At this turn of the conversation the negro
was struck off at seven hundred, at which the colloquist of the same
price became highly chagrined; but, stepping upon the stirrup, and
raising himself above the crowd, that he might see "the fool massa what
give so much for a miserable good-for-nothing nigger, not wort' his
corn," consoled himself with the reflection that the buyer was "a man
what made no more dan tirty bale cotton; while my master make tree
hun'red, and one of de firs' gemmans too!"

Thus, though denied the privileges of his desired "caste," by the
estimation of his personal value, he aspired to it by a conclusive
argument, in the eye of a negro, viz. his master's wealth and rank in
society. Can individuals, who are thus affected at the sale of their
fellow-men, and who view their state of bondage in this light, feel
deeply their own condition, or be very sensitive upon the subject of
equal rights? Yet thus do negroes view slavery. Thus do they converse
upon it; and are as tenacious of the limited privileges, (yet to them
unlimited, because they know, and can therefore aspire to no other)
which, like flowers, are entwined among the links of their moral
bondage. There is one, proud that his chain weighs down a few more gold
pieces than that of his fellow, while the latter is in no less degree
mortified at the deficiency in weight of his own. Do such men "pine in
bondage" and "sigh for freedom?" Freedom, of which they know nothing,
and cannot, therefore, feel the deprivation; a freedom of which they
have heard only, as the orientals of their fabled genii, but to which
generally they no more think of aspiring than the subjects of the caliph
to the immortality and winged freedom of these imaginary beings. These
two negroes I have seen repeatedly since, and am assured that they are
as intelligent, well informed, and "respectable," as any of their class;
none of whom, allowing a very few exceptions, entertain higher or
different views of their state as slaves, or of their rank in the scale
of human beings. Do not mistake me: I am no advocate for slavery; but
neither am I a believer in that wild Garrisonian theory, which, like a
magician's wand, is at once to dissolve every link that binds the slave
to his master, and demolish at one blow a system that has existed, still
gaining in extent and stability, for centuries. The familiar French
proverb, "imagination gallops while the judgment advances only on a
walk," is most applicable to these visionary theorists who would build
Rome in a day.

Opposite to the auction store are a cluster of gay carriages, to and
from which fair beings, not quite angels, are "ascending and
descending," to look over all the "pretty things" in the richly lined
stores. Was there ever a fancy store that ladies were not hovering near?
"A new store"--"new goods,"--"less than cost!" What magic words! What
visions of silks and satins, gros de Swiss and gros de Naples, challys
and shawls, Grecian laces and Paris gloves, with a thousand other
charming etceteras, float before their delighted fancies, in every form
of grace and ornament that the imagination can picture or a refined
taste invent. Ladies are ladies all the world over; and where is the
place in which they do not love "to shop?" In this far corner of the
south and west, you are prepared to give fashion credit for but few
devotees, and those only partial and half-souled worshippers. But you
must not forget that these are southerners; and the southerner is never
found unfashionable or deficient in taste. The moving galaxy of grace
and beauty that floats down Chestnut-street, cannot at any time present
more fashionable and elegantly-dressed promenaders than now enliven the
street, or than that fair bevy of young ladies clustered round yonder
carriage door, all chattering together, with their sweet pleasant
voices, to a pale, beautiful, and interesting girl within, apparently an
invalid. So far as I can judge, as much of "the ton," in dress and
society, prevails here as in Philadelphia, where many residents of the
city and country spend a portion of every summer--certainly more than at
New-Orleans, which is by far the most unfashionable city in the United
States. The gentlemen of Natchez are less particular in their dress,
though much more punctilious than they were five or six years since,
when there was not to be found what would be termed a "fashionable man,"
(according to the acceptation of the term in New-York) among the
residents of this city. And where is the southern gentleman that ever
dressed _fashionably_? They dress well and richly, but seldom
fashionably. Their garments hang upon them loosely, as though made for
larger men; and they wear them with a sort of free and easy air,
enviable but inimitable by the stiffer and more formal northerner. The
southerner, particularly the planter, would wear with a native and
matchless grace the flowing toga of imperial Rome. Though destitute of
that fashionable exterior which the tailor supplies, and for which, in
general, they have a most sovereign indifference and contempt, they
possess--I mean the genuine, native-born, well-educated southerner--an
"_air distingué_," and in the highest degree aristocratic, which is
every where the most striking feature of their appearance.

That knot of gentlemen issuing from a plain brick building--one of the
banks--is composed of bank directors. Their decisions have elevated or
depressed the mercury in many an anxious breast. Two or three faces
resemble those one often sees in Wall-street, or on Change, in Boston.
The resemblance is so striking that one is quite sure at the first
glance that he has seen them there. But no; they are merchants of this
city--thorough-going commercial men. The resemblance is only that of a
species. Merchants resemble each other everywhere. Their features are
strongly marked and characteristic. It has been said that a Boston
merchant may be known all the world over. It has been proved that a
sea-faring life, especially when commenced in early years, has a
tendency to produce a physical change in the organ of vision. That a
mercantile life, long and intently pursued, has a tendency to stamp a
peculiar character upon the features, is equally certain, in the opinion
of those whose habits of observation may have led them to such
physiognomical investigations. Among the remainder, are two or three in
white blanket coats, broad-brimmed white hats, with slender riding-whips
in their hands, who will be readily designated as planters. A
circumstance that very soon arrests the attention of the stranger, is
the number of gentlemen with riding-whips in their hands to be met with
in all parts of the city, particularly on days when any public meeting
is held. Every third or fourth person is thus, to a northerner,
singularly armed. At the north few ride except in gigs. But here all are
horsemen; and it is unusual to see a gentleman in a gig or carriage. If
his wife rides out, he attends her _à cheval_. Instead of gigs,
therefore, which would fill the streets of a northern town,
saddle-horses, usually with high pummelled Spanish saddles, and numerous
private carriages, in which are the ladies of the family, drawn by
long-tailed horses, throng the streets and line the outside of the pave.
At least a third of the persons who fill the streets are planters and
their families from the country, which every day pours forth its
hundreds from many miles around the city, that like a magnet attracts
all within its influence.

There are several public buildings in this street of which I shall make
more particular mention hereafter. My object now is merely to give you
some idea of things as, when presented to it in the novel hues of "first
impressions," they strike the eye of a stranger.


      First impressions--American want of taste in public buildings
      --Agricultural bank--Masonic hall--Natchez academy--Education
      of Mississippians--Cemetery--Theatre--Presbyterian church--
      Court-house--Episcopal church--Light-house--Hotels--Planters'
      Houses and galleries--Jefferson hotel--Cotton square.

First impressions, if preserved, before the magnifying medium of novelty
through which they are seen becomes dissipated, are far more lively and
striking than the half-faded scenes which memory slowly and imperfectly
brings up from the past. Yet, if immediately recorded, while the colours
are fresh and glowing, there is danger of drawing too much upon the
imagination in the description, and exaggerating the picture. On the
other hand, if the impressions are suffered to become old and faint,
invention is too apt to be called in unconsciously, to fill up and
complete the half-forgotten and defective sketch. The medium is safer
and more accurate. A period of time sufficiently long should be suffered
to elapse, that the mind, by subsequent observation, may be enabled to
correct and digest its early impressions, exercise its judgment without
a bias, and from more matured experience, be prepared to form its
opinions, and make its comparisons with certainty. How far I have
attained this desirable medium, the general character and justice of my
descriptions must alone determine.

The deficient perception of architectural beauty, in the composition of
American minds, has frequently, and with some truth, been a subject upon
which foreign tourists love to exercise their castigating pens--weapons
always wielded fearlessly and pitilessly against every thing on this
side of the Atlantic. The very small number of handsome public buildings
in the United States, and the total contempt for order or style which,
(with but here and there an honourable exception,) they evince, would
give a very plausible foundation for this animadversion, did not
Americans redeem their reputation in this point, by the pure and correct
taste they universally exhibit in the construction of their private
residences. Herein, they are not surpassed by any other nation. Natchez,
like most of the minor cities of this country, cannot boast of any
public buildings remarkable for harmonious conformity to the rules or
orders of architecture. They are, nevertheless, well deserving of
notice, highly ornamental to the city, and reflect honour upon the
public spirit of its citizens. The Agricultural bank is unquestionably
the finest structure in the city. It has been erected very recently on
the south side of Main-street, presenting a noble colonnaded front, of
the modernized Grecian style; being built somewhat after the model of
the United States bank at Philadelphia; though brick and stucco are here
substituted for marble, and heavy pillars for the graceful column. It is
entered from the street by a broad and spacious flight of steps, leading
to its lofty portico, from which three large doors give admission into
its vast hall, decidedly the finest room south or west of Washington.
The whole structure is a chaste and beautiful specimen of architecture.
It is partially enclosed by a light, iron railing. To a stranger this
edifice is a striking object, and, contrasted with the buildings of less
pretension around it, will call forth his warmest admiration. The other
banks, of which there are, in all, three, including a branch of the
United States bank, are plain brick buildings, undistinguished from the
adjoining stores, except by a colder and more unfurnished appearance,
and the absence of signs. A short distance above this fine building is
the Masonic Hall; a large square edifice, two lofty stories in height.
Its front is beautifully stuccoed, and ornamented with white pilasters.
The hall is in the second story; a large, plain, vaulted apartment,
almost entirely destitute of the splendid furniture and rich decorations
which characterise such places at the north. Here masonry, with its
imposing forms, ceremonies, and honours, is yet preserved in all its
pristine glory. The first story of the building is used as an
academy--the only one in this state. It is a well-conducted
institution, and its pupils are thoroughly instructed by competent
officers, who are graduates of northern colleges, as are most of the
public and private instructors of this state. The number of students is
generally large. Those who are destined for professional life, after
completing their preparatory course here, usually enter some one of the
colleges at the north. Yale, Princeton, and Harvard annually receive
several from this state; either from this academy or from under the
hands of the private tutors, who are dispersed throughout the state, and
from whom a great majority of the planters' sons receive their
preparatory education. But on the subject of education in this country,
I shall speak more fully hereafter. I could not pass by this
institution, which reflects so much honour upon the city, without
expressing my gratification at its flourishing condition and high
character. It is the more gratifying from being unexpected at the south,
which, till very lately, has been wholly dependent upon the northern
seminaries or private institutions for the education of her sons. To see
here an institution that cannot be surpassed by any of the same rank in
other states, must not only be pleasing to the friends of education, but
particularly so to the citizens of this state, to whom it is ably
demonstrated, by the success of this academy, that literature is not an
exotic, though its germs may heretofore have been transplanted from
another soil. There is a female seminary also in the city, which, though
of a very respectable character, is not so celebrated and flourishing
as many others in the state.

On the south side of the next square is an old "burying-ground,"
crowning an eminence whose surface is covered with fragments of
grave-stones and dismantled tombs. The street is excavated through it to
its base, leaving a wall or bank of earth nearly thirty feet in height;
upon the verge of which crumbling tombs are suspended, threatening to
fall upon the passenger beneath. It has not been used for many years as
a place of burial; the present cemetery being about a mile above the
city, in a delightful spot among the green hills which cluster along the
banks of the river. This old cemetery is a striking but disagreeable
feature in the midst of so fair a city. Adjoining it, on the eastern
side, and nearly at the extremity of the street and also of the city,
stands the theatre; a large, commodious building, constructed of brick,
with arched entrances and perfectly plain exterior. The citizens of
Natchez are not a play-going community; consequently they take little
pride in the possession of a fine theatre. Its interior, however, is
well arranged, convenient, and handsomely painted and decorated. Its
boards are supplied, for two or three months during every season, by
performers from New-Orleans or New-York. Just beyond the theatre is the
termination of Main-street, here intersected by another, from which, to
the right and left, fine roads extend into the country--one to
Washington, a pleasant village six miles distant, formerly the seat of
government of the territory and the location of the public offices; but
now a retired, unassuming and rural spot, boasting of a well-endowed
college and female seminary--of which, more hereafter. Of the other
public buildings of Natchez, the Presbyterian church is the finest and
most imposing. It stands on a commanding site, overlooking the public
square, a pleasant green flat, in the centre of which is the
court-house. It is constructed of bricks, which are allowed to retain
their original colour; and surrounded by buff-coloured pilasters of
stucco work, which is here generally substituted for granite in facings.
It is surmounted, at the west end, by a fine tower of successive
stories; on one side of which is a clock, conspicuous from the most
distant parts of the city and suburbs.--You are aware, probably, that
there are in this country no Congregationalists, so called;
Presbyterians supply the place of this denomination in the
ecclesiastical society of all the south and west. The prevailing
denomination, however, in this state, as in all this section of the
United States, is that of the Methodists, which embraces men of all
classes, including a large proportion of planters. I now merely allude
to this and other subjects of the kind, as I intend, in subsequent
letters, to treat of them more at large.

The court-house is a fine, large, square building, opposite to the
church, surmounted by a cupola. It is surrounded by a beautiful, though
not spacious, green. On the streets which bound the four sides of it are
situated the lawyers' and public offices, which are generally plain,
neat, wooden buildings, from one to two stories in height. Should they
be denominated from the state of those who occupy them, they would be
correctly designated "bachelors' halls." Shade trees half embower them
and the court-house in their rich foliage. Opposite to the south side of
the square is the county prison; a handsome two story brick building,
resembling, save in its grated tier of windows in the upper story, a
gentleman's private dwelling. There is a fine Episcopalian church in the
south-east part of the town, adding much to its beauty. It is built of
brick, and surmounted by a vast dome, which has a rather heavy,
overgrown appearance, and is evidently too large for the building. It
has a neat front, adorned with a portico of the usual brick pillars.
There are not many Episcopalians here; but the few who are of this
denomination are, as every where else in the United States, generally of
the wealthy and educated class. There is also a Methodist church
adjoining the Masonic hall; a plain, neat building, remarkable only for
its unassuming simplicity, like all others of this denomination in

The light-house upon the bluff, at the north-west corner of the city, is
well deserving of notice, though not properly ranked under the public
buildings of Natchez. It is a simple tower, about forty feet in height,
commanding a section of the river, north and south, of about twelve
miles. But the natural inquiry of the stranger is, "What is its use?" A
light-house on a river bank, three hundred miles from the sea, has
certainly no place in the theory of the utilitarian. The use of it its
projectors must determine. Were a good telescope placed in its lantern
it would make a fine observatory, and become a source of amusement as
well as of improvement to the citizens, to whom it is now merely a
standing monument, in proof of the proverb, that "wisdom dwelleth not in
all men." The hotels are very fine. Parker's, on one of the front
squares, near the bluff, is a handsome, costly, and very extensive
building, three stories in height, with a stuccoed front, in imitation
of granite, and decidedly the largest edifice in the city. Its rooms are
large, spacious, and elegantly furnished; suited rather for gentlemen
and their families, who choose a temporary residence in town, than for
transient travellers and single men, who more frequently resort to the
"Mansion-house." This is not so large a structure as the former, though
its proprietor is enlarging it, on an extensive scale. It has long been
celebrated as an excellent house. Its accommodations for ladies are also
very good, their rooms opening into ventilated piazzas, or galleries, as
they are termed here, which are as necessary to every house in this
country as fire-places to a northern dwelling. These galleries, or more
properly verandas, are constructed--not like the New-England piazza,
raised on columns half the height of the building, with a flat roof, and
surrounded by a railing--but by extending a sloping roof beyond the main
building, supported at its verge by slender columns; as the houses are
usually of but one story in this country, southerners having a singular
aversion to mounting stairs. Such porticoes are easily constructed. No
house, particularly a planter's, is complete without this gallery,
usually at both the back and front; which furnishes a fine promenade and
dining-room in the warm season, and adds much to the lightness and
beauty of the edifice.

There is another very good hotel here, equivalent to Richardson's, in
New-Orleans, or the Elm-street house in Boston, where the country people
usually put up when they come in from the distant counties to dispose of
their cotton. It fronts on "Cotton-square," as a triangular area, formed
by clipping off a corner of one of the city squares, is termed; which is
filled every day, during the months of November, December, and January,
with huge teams loaded with cotton bales, for which this is the peculiar
market place.

The "City hotel," lately enlarged and refurnished, is now becoming quite
a place of fashionable resort.


      Society of Natchez--New-England adventurers--Their prospects
      --The Yankee sisterhood--Southern bachelors--Southern society
      --Woman--Her past and present condition--Single combats--
      Fireside pleasures unknown--A change--Town and country--
      Characteristic discrepancies.

Until within a very short period, the society of Natchez has exhibited
one peculiar characteristic, in the estimation of a northerner, in whose
migrating land "seven women," literally fulfilling the prediction, "take
hold of one man;" a prediction which has, moreover, been fulfilled,
according to the redoubtable and most classical Crockett, in the west;
but by no means in this place, or in any of the embryo cities, which are
springing up like Jonah's gourd, along the banks of the great "father of
waters." The predominance of male population in the countless villages
that are dotting the great western valley, rising up amidst the forests,
one after another, as stars come out at evening, and almost in as rapid
succession, is a necessary consequence of the natural laws of migration.
In the old Atlantic and New-England states, the sons, as they
successively grow up to manhood, take the paternal blessing and their
little patrimony, often all easily packed and carried in a knapsack, but
oftener in their heads, and bend their way to the "great west," to seek
their fortunes, with them no nursery tale, but a stern and hardly earned
reality:--there to struggle--prosper or fail--with blighted hopes go
down to early graves, or, building a fire-side of their own, gather
around it sons, who, in their declining years, shall, in their turn, go
forth from the paternal roof to seek beyond the mountains of the Pacific
shore a name, a fire-side, and a home of their own. And such is human

To this migratory propensity is to be attributed the recent peculiar
state of society in this city, and throughout the whole western country.
The sons are the founders of these infant emporiums, but the daughters
stay at home in a state of single blessedness--blessings (?) to the
maternal roof, till some bold aspirants for the yoke of hymen return,
after spying out the land, take them under their migratory wings and
bear them to their new home. But unluckily for six out of every seven of
the fair daughters of the east, the pioneers of the west feel disposed
to pass their lives in all the solitary dignity of the bachelor state.
Wrapped up in their speculations, their segars and their "clubs," not
even a second Sabine device could move them to bend their reluctant
necks to the noose. Those, however, who do take to themselves
"helpmeets," are more gallant and chivalrous than their Roman
predecessors in their mode of obtaining them, not demurring to travel,
like Coelebs, many hundred leagues to the land of steady habits, to
secure the possession of some one of its lovely flowers. The
concentrating of a great number of young gentlemen for a permanent
residence in one spot, without a suitable proportion of the gentler sex
to enliven and relieve the rougher shades of such an assemblage, must
produce a state of society, varying essentially from that in communities
where the division is more equal. Hotels, or offices of professional
business must be their residences--their leisure hours must be spent in
lounging at each other's rooms like college students, (to whose mode of
life their's is not dissimilar,) or in the public rooms of the hotels,
cafés, or gambling houses. Habits difficult to eradicate are contracted,
of dark and fatal consequences to many; and a rude, cavalier bearing is
thereby imperceptibly acquired, more congenial with the wild, free
spirit of the middle ages, than the refinement of modern times. The bold
and rugged outlines natural to the sterner character of man, can only be
softened by that refining influence which the cultivated female mind
irresistibly exerts upon society. Wherever woman--

  "Blessing and blest, where'er she moves,"

has exercised this gentle sway, the ruder attributes of man have been
subdued and blended with the soft and lovely virtues so eminently her
own. Second to Christianity, of which it is a striking effect, the
exalted rank to which man has elevated woman, from that degrading and
tyrannical subjugation to which she has in Pagan nations, in all ages,
from the pride and ignorance of her _soi disant_ "lords," been
subjected, has contributed more to the mental and personal refinement,
dignity and moral excellence of men, than any other agency that has
operated with a moral tendency directly upon the human mind. To the
absence of this purifying influence, is to be attributed in a very great
degree, that loose, immoral, and reckless state of society, peculiar to
all border settlements and new towns, originating generally from
communities of men. In such places that mysterious, yet indisputable
power, exercised by the other sex upon society, is unknown; and men,
throwing the reins upon the necks of their passions, plunge into vice
and dissipation, unchecked and unrestrained. In such a state the duello
had its origin--that blessed relic of that blessed age, when our
thick-skulled ancestors broke each other's heads with mace and battle
axe, for "faire ladye's love," or mere pleasant pastime--and a similar
state of things will always preserve and encourage it. Hence the
prevalence of this practice in the newly settled south and west, where
the healthful restraint of female society has been till within a few
years unknown. But as communities gain refinement through its influence,
this mode of "healing honour's wounds," so unwise, unsatisfactory and
sinful, gradually becomes less and less popular--till finally it is but
a "theme of the past." To this state of disuse and oblivion it is
rapidly advancing in this portion of the south-west, which, according to
the theory before advanced, is an indication of the growing refinement,
and moral and intellectual improvement of the community. Natchez has
been, you are well aware, celebrated for the frequency and sanguinary
character of its single combats; and this reputation it has once justly
merited. Till within a few years, duels were alarmingly frequent. But
more recently public opinion has changed, and the practice is now almost
abandoned. The society has emerged from its peculiar bachelor cast, to
that social and refined character, which constitutes the charm of well
organized and cultivated communities. But a short time since, there were
not three married men to ten unmarried. The latter predominating, gave
the tone to society, which was, as I have before observed, that of a
university, so far as habits and manners were concerned. And the
resemblance was still greater, as a large majority of the young men were
graduates of northern seminaries, or well informed young merchants. The
social or domestic circle, so dear to every New-Englander, in which he
delights to mingle wherever he reposes after his wanderings, was
neglected or unvalued; and the young ladies, of whom there was found
here and there one, (for their appearance in this desert of men was with
the unfrequency of "Angel's visits,") were compelled to pine neglected,

    "To bloom unseen around their lonely hearths,
    And waste their sweetness on the desert air."

Such was the state of society here formerly, varied only, at long
intervals, by a public ball at some one of the hotels, got up to kill
_ennui_, a plant which, in such a soil, flourishes vigorously. But now
"a change has come o'er the spirit of the town." A refined,
intellectual, and highly educated class of females, both exotic and
natural plants, enrich and diversify the moral features of the former
lonely and monotonous scene: and as the vine entwining around the oak
relieves with lines of grace and beauty its harsh, rugged outlines, so
woman here, as every where, has assumed her brilliant sceptre, waved it
over the heterogeneous mass, and "bidden it to live."

The society of Natchez, now, is not surpassed by any in America.
Originally, and therein differing from most western cities, composed of
intelligent and well-educated young men, assembled from every Atlantic
state, but principally from New-England and Virginia, it has advanced in
a degree proportionate to its native powers. English and Irish gentlemen
of family and fortune have here sought and found a home--while the
_gentilhomme_ of sunny France, and the dark-browed don of "old Castile,"
dwell upon the green hills that recede gently undulating from the city;
or find, in their vallies, a stranger's unmarbled and unhonoured grave.

The citizens of Natchez are, however, so inseparably connected with the
neighbouring planters, that these last are necessarily included in the
general term "society of Natchez." The two bodies united may
successfully challenge any other community to produce a more
intelligent, wealthy, and, I may say, _aristocratic_ whole. But I do not
much like the term applied to Americans; though no other word will
express so clearly that refinement and elegance to which I allude, and
which everywhere indicate the opulence and high breeding of their
possessors. This is not so manifest, however, in the external appearance
of their dwellings, as it is in their mode or style of living. To this
their houses, especially the residences of those who have _made_ their
wealth, and who yet occupy the same cabins, but little improved, which
they originally erected, present a sad contrast. Many of the wealthiest
planters are lodged wretchedly; a splendid sideboard not unfrequently
concealing a white-washed beam--a gorgeous Brussels carpet laid over a
rough-planked floor--while uncouth rafters, in ludicrous contrast to the
splendour they look down upon, stretch in coarse relief across the
ceiling.--These discrepancies, however, always characteristic of a new
country, are rapidly disappearing; and another generation will be
lodged, if not like princes, at least, like independent American
gentlemen.--Many of these combinations of the old and new systems still
exist, however, of a highly grotesque nature; some of the most
characteristic of which I may mention more particularly hereafter.


      A Sabbath morning in Natchez--A ramble to the bluff--
      Louisiana forests--Natchez under the Hill--Slaves--
      Holidays--Negroes going to church--Negro street coteries
      --Market-day--City hotel--Description of the landing--
      Rail-way--A rendezvous--Neglected Sabbath-bell.

Yesterday was the Sabbath; one of those still, bright, and sunny days
which poetry and religion have loved to challenge as peculiar to that
sacred time. To this beautiful conception, fact, aided somewhat by
fancy, does not, however, refuse its sanction. A serene and awful
majesty has ever appeared to me as peculiarly belonging to the day of
rest. It seems blessed with a holier power than is given to the common
days of earth: a more hallowed silence then reigns in the air and over
nature--a spirit of sanctity, like a "still small voice," breathes
eloquently over the heart, from which better feelings and purer thoughts
ascend and hold communion with the unseen world. A spell, like a mantle
of heavenly texture, seems thrown over all; to break which, by the light
notes of merry music, or the sounds of gay discourse, would seem like
profanation. Such was this Sabbath morning. The sun arose in the glory
of his southern power, "rejoicing to run his race." Bathed in a sea of
his own created light, he poured, with lavish opulence, floods of
radiance over nature--illuminating, beautifying, and enriching all on
which he shone. I had early rambled to the cliff, to get away from the
noise and bustle of the hotel, and to enjoy the luxuriant beauty of the
morning. The windows of the dwellings, and the roofs and spires of the
town, reflected back the rising sun, whose beams glittered from myriads
of dew-drops that spangled the green earth, converting its soft verdure
into a carpet, studded with innumerable gems. The city itself reposed,
as in a deep sleep, on the quiet hills upon which it rested. The
majestic Mississippi was spread out before me like a vast sheet of
liquid steel--its unruffled bosom, dotted and relieved here and there by
a light skiff, or a huge steamer, booming and puffing far away in the
distance; while the lofty, mural precipices which frowned menacingly
over its eastern shore, were reflected from its depth with the accuracy
and distinctness of a sub-marine creation. The Louisianian forests,
clothing the interminable plains which stretch away to the west, with an
almost perennial green, were crested with golden sun-light, and flashing
as they waved in the morning breeze, like a phosphorescent sea of
mingled green and light. Nature wore her richest garb, and her every
feature was eminently beautiful. There was nothing to impair her
loveliness, but that fallen, guilty being, who should be a diadem of
glory for her brow, and the brightest ornament of her bosom--MAN!
proud and sinful man, desecrating all that is fair and pure wherever he
treads--he alone defaced the calm and hallowed character of the scene.

From a row of dilapidated yet inhabited dwellings beneath me, at the
base of the cliff, sounds of rude merriment, mingled with the tones of
loud dispute and blasphemy, rose with appalling distinctness upon the
still air, breaking the Sabbath silence of the hour, in harsh discord
with its sacredness. The streets of the lower town were alive with
boatmen, draymen, buyers and sellers, horsemen and hacks, and scores of
negroes, some wrestling, some fighting, others running foot-races,
playing quoits or marbles, selling the products of their little gardens,
or, with greater probability, their predatory excursions; while from all
combined, a confused murmur, not unlike the harmony which floated around
Babel, rolled upward to the skies--an incense far from acceptable to
Him, who has promulgated amid the thunders of Sinai, "Remember the
Sabbath day to keep it holy."

In "Natchez under the hill," the Sabbath, as a day of rest and public
worship, is not observed according to the strictest letter of the old
"blue laws." On that day the stores are kept open and generally filled
with boatmen and negroes. With the latter this day is a short jubilee,
and, with the peculiar skill of their race, they make the most of
it--condensing the occupation and the jollity of seven days into one. It
is customary for planters in the neighbourhood to give their slaves a
small piece of land to cultivate for their own use, by which, those who
are industrious, generally make enough to keep themselves and their
wives in extra finery and spending money throughout the year. They have
the Sabbath given them as a holiday, when they are permitted to leave
their plantations and come into town to dispose of their produce, and
lay in their own little luxuries and private stores. The various avenues
to the city are consequently on that day filled with crowds of chatting,
laughing negroes, arrayed in their Sunday's best, and adroitly balancing
heavily loaded baskets on their heads, which, from long practice in this
mode of conveyance, often become indurated, like a petrification, and as
flat as the palm of the hand, distending at the sides, and elongating in
proportion to the depression, causing a peculiar conformation of the
skull, which would set phrenology at defiance. Others mounted on mules
or miserable-looking plough-horses, in whose presence Rosinante himself
would have looked sleek and respectable--burthened with their marketable
commodities, jog on side by side, with their dames or sweethearts riding
"double-jaded"--as the Yankees term the mode--behind them; while here
and there market carts returning from the city, (as this is also market
morning) or from the intersecting roads, pour in upon the highway to
increase the life, variety, and motley character of its crowd. But this
unpleasing picture of a Sabbath morning, has brighter tints to redeem
the graver character of its moral shades. Of all that picturesque
multitude of holiday slaves, two-thirds, the majority of whom are women,
are on their way to church, into whose galleries they congregate at the
hour of divine service in great numbers, and worship with an apparent
devoutness and attention, which beings who boast intellects of a higher
order might not disdain to imitate. The female slaves very generally
attend church in this country; but, whether to display their tawdry
finery, of which they are fond to a proverb, or for a better purpose, I
will not undertake to determine. The males prefer collecting in little
knots in the streets, where, imitating the manners, bearing, and
language of their masters, they converse with grave faces and in pompous
language, selecting hard, high-sounding words, which are almost
universally misapplied, and distorted, from their original sound as well
as sense to a most ridiculous degree--astounding their gaping auditors
"ob de field nigger class," who cannot boast such enviable
accomplishments--parading through the streets from mere listlessness, or
gathering around and filling the whiskey shops, spending their little
all for the means of intoxication. Though negroes are proverbially
lovers of whiskey, but few are to be found among them who get drunk,
unless on Christmas holidays, when the sober ones are most easily
numbered; this is owing to the discipline of plantations, the little
means they have wherewith to purchase, and last, though not least, the
fear of punishment--that "_argumentum ad corporem_," which leaves a
stinging conviction behind it, of the painful effects of "old rye" in
the abstract upon the body.

That a market should be held upon the Sabbath in this city, is a "bend
sinister" upon its escutcheon. But this custom is defended, even by
those who admit its evil tendency, upon the plea "that meats in this
climate will not keep over night."--This is no doubt the case during a
great part of the year. A different system of things, in this respect,
is desirable; but the reason just mentioned, combined with others,
peculiar to a southern state of society, renders any change at present
very difficult.

There is, on the whole, with the exception alluded to, very little
difference between the observance of the Sabbath here, and that in
places of the same size in New-England; and the quiet regularity of its
Sabbaths, if he could overlook the vast preponderance of coloured
population in the streets just before church hour, would forcibly remind
the northerner of his own native town. But in the lower town the face of
things very sensibly changes, though the difference is less perceptible
now than formerly. A few years since, its reputation was every way so
exceptionable, that, in a very witty argument, a lawyer of this city
demonstrated, that, so far from being a part and portion of the city
proper, it was not even a part or portion of the state! Where he
ultimately consigned it I did not learn.--It is true the city was not
very tenacious of its rights _quoad_ its reprobate neighbour. But more
recently, its superior advantages for heavy grocery business have
induced many merchants, of high respectability, to remove from the city
to this spot, whose presence has given it a better character.--So much
has it changed from its former reputation, that where it was once
considered disreputable to reside, there are now extensive stores, kept
by gentlemen of excellent character, and a fine hotel, lately erected,
for the convenience of these merchants, (most of whom, like the society
which formerly characterised the city, are bachelors) and for passengers
landing from, or waiting for, the steamboats. There is also, I should
have remarked in a former letter, a commodious brick hotel on
Main-street, in the city, under the superintendence of a young
northerner, which, from its location in the very centre of the city,
independent of other qualifications, is a convenient and agreeable
temporary residence for strangers, with the majority of whom it is a
general place of resort. Few towns, whose inhabitants quadruple those of
Natchez, can boast such fine, commodious, and well-ordered hotels as
this, or a more luxurious _table d'hote_ than is daily spread, between
one and two o'clock, in the long dining-halls of most of them.

The "Landing," which more popular term has of late superseded the old
notorious cognomination, "Natchez under the Hill," properly consists of
three dissimilar divisions. The northern is composed mostly of wretched
dwellings, low taverns, and drinking shops, where are congregated free
negroes, more wretched than their brother bondmen, and poor whites. At
the termination of this division are an excellent steam saw-mill and an
oil-mill, where oil of a superior quality for lamps is extracted from
cotton seed, heretofore a useless article, except for manure, but now
disposed of with considerable profit. About the centre of this northern
division is suspended a strangely-constructed rail-way, springing from
the Levée to the summit of the cliff. It was laid down, or rather built
up, a short time since, for the more convenient carriage of cotton to
the Landing; but has failed in its object, and is now disused and
neglected. Viewed from the Levée, it is a striking feature, rising
boldly from the feet of the observer, a mammoth pile of frame-work, at
an angle of 45 degrees, and terminating at the height of one hundred and
sixty feet, upon the verge of the bluff. The sides are closed up, and a
portion is occupied by stores or dwellings, while another part is
appropriated for a bowling alley. The noise of the iron-wheeled cars
rolling down the steep track, with the roar of thunder, over the heads
of the players, must have been a novel accompaniment to the sound of
their own balls. The southern division of the Landing consists of one
short street, parallel with the river, over which it hangs on one side,
while the houses on the other are overhung by a spur of the cliff,
which, like an avalanche, threatens every moment to slide and overwhelm
it. This street is lined with dancing-houses, tippling-shops, houses of
ill-fame, and gambling-rooms.--Here may always be heard the sound of the
violin, the clink of silver upon the roulette and faro-tables, and the
language of profanity and lewdness: and the revellers, so far from being
interrupted by the intervention of the Sabbath, actually distinguish it
by a closer and more persevering devotion to their unhallowed pursuits
and amusements. The remaining division of the Landing, which lies
between the other two, is a short street, extending from the base of
the cliff to the Levée, a great part of which it comprises, and along an
intersecting street, which skirts the foot of the bluff as far as the
rail-way: here are congregated store-houses, boarding-houses, and
bachelors' halls--which many of the merchants keep over their own
stores, hiring or buying some old black woman to officiate as the
representative of Monsieur Ude--the commodious hotel before alluded to,
conducted by a "Green Mountain boy," and wholesale and retail grocery
and dry goods stores. Neither of these kinds of goods is made, by
itself, the sole stock of a dealer, either here or on the hill; but with
the various articles in every kind of commercial dealing they pile their
shelves and fill their warehouses; the whole forming a mixed assortment,
appropriately adapted to the peculiar wants of their country, town, and
steamboat customers. These stores are all kept open upon the Sabbath, on
which day there is often more business done than on any other. The
blacks, who have no other opportunity of making their little purchases,
crowd around the counters--the boatmen trade off their cargoes, and the
purchasers store them--steamers are constantly arriving and departing,
lading and unlading--and the steam ferry-boat makes its oft-repeated
trip from shore to shore--all giving a life, bustle, and variety to the
scene, of a very unsabbath-like character. The merchants plead the
necessity of supplying steamers. This is readily admitted; but it has
given rise to a train of unforeseen evils, which have little relation to
this basis of the custom. The numerous drinking shops in the other
parts of the Landing are, on that day, as much at least, if not more
than on other days, filled with a motley assemblage of black, white, and
yellow, drinking and carousing.

Nearly two hundred feet below me, as I stood upon the bluff, and within
the huge shadow of the cliff, stretched a long, low building, over which
proudly waved the star-spangled banner, and to whose inhabitants the
sun, already high in the heavens, had not yet risen. From this building
issued the sound of bestial revelry, drowning the hum of business and
the shouts of boyish merriment. The coarse gray clothing (a shame to our
army) of most of those lounging about the door, designated it, in
conjunction with the flag over their heads, as a rendezvous--even had
not the martial eloquence of a little, half-tipsy, dapper man in a gray
doublet, whose voice now and then reached my ear in the intervals of the
uproarious proceedings--expatiating to a gaping crowd of grinning
Africans--nightcapped or bare-headed white females, in slattern apparel
and uncombed locks--two or three straight, blanketed, silent
Indians--noisy boys and ragged boatmen--upon the glories of a soldier's
life, sufficiently indicated its character.

"The sound of the church-going bell" pealed idly over their heads,
unheard, or if heard, disregarded; and to the crowds which the eye of an
observer could take in from his elevation upon the bluff, the divine
institution of the Sabbath is invalid.


      Reminiscences--An aged pastor--Streets of Natchez on the
      Sabbath--Interior of a church--Church music--Pulpit oratory
      --A New-England scene--Peculiar state of society--Wealthy
      ministers--Clerical planters--Health of Mississippi--
      Episcopalian church--Catholics--The French language--
      Catholic education--Methodists--An alarm bell and slaves.

After a long voyage, the sound of a Sabbath bell, borne over the waves
from a white tower, far inland among the green hills of my native land,
awed, like a voice from heaven, every spirit on board of our ship, from
the commander to the rudest mariner, striking a chord long untouched in
many hearts, and awakening associations of innocence and childhood, of
home and heaven. As one after another, each clear-toned peal rolled
solemnly over the sea, every footfall was involuntarily hushed, the half
uttered jest or oath was arrested on the tongue--the turbulent spirit
was quieted and subdued--every rough weather-beaten visage was softened,
and for the remainder of that day--long, long after its dying notes had
floated like spiritual music over our ship, and died away in the distant
"fields of the ocean,"--each one on board felt himself a better man.

Sensations nearly allied to these were awakened in my breast, as I
stood upon the cliff, the Sabbath morning preceding the date of my last
letter, contrasting the calm rich beauty of nature, with the dark scenes
of vice, misery and impiety beneath me, by the sudden pealing of the
church bell, ringing out its loud melody over the city, awakening the
slumbering echoes from

  "Tomb and tower, cliff and forest glade,"

and calling man to the worship of his Maker. My thoughts, by a natural
association, went backward many a long year, and dwelt upon a sweet
sequestered valley, far away among the northern hills, with its chaste
temple, whose snow-white slender spire, like the finger of undying hope,
pointed man to his home in heaven, where, in early boyhood, we were
first taught to worship the Great Being who made us; to the venerable
figure of that silver-headed man of God, whose eloquence, at one time
sublime, and full of majesty and power, would strike his hearers with
holy dread--at another, soft, persuasive, and artless as the language of
a child, diffuse a holy devotion throughout their bosoms, or melt them
into tears; whose audience listened with their hearts, rather than with
their ears--so masterly was the intellect, made God-like by religion,
which could ring what changes it would, upon the susceptible chords of
human sensibility. My reverie of the past, however, was soon interrupted
by the rattling of carriages, as they rolled over the noble esplanade
between me and the city, from the roads which extend north and south
along the banks of the river, on their way to church. I prepared to
follow their example. From my position I could look into one of the
principal streets of the town, now rapidly filling with well-dressed
people, numerous private equipages, and horsemen in great numbers. I
soon fell in with the living current, and in a few minutes arrived at
the Presbyterian church, situated in the centre and highest part of the
city. The approach was literally blockaded by carriages from the suburbs
and neighbouring plantations.

The congregation was large, attentive, and so far as I could judge, as
exteriorly fashionable as in Boston or New-York. The interior of the
building is plain, and vaulted. A handsome pulpit stands opposite the
entrance, over which is a gallery for the coloured people. The pulpit is
deficient in a sounding-board, that admirable contrivance for condensing
the voice, which, in an apartment of vast dimensions, has too great
expansion. There was neither organ nor any other instrumental aid to the
church music, which, though exclusively vocal, was uncommonly fine--the
clergyman himself leading. But the effect was much lessened by the want
of that volume and power, which it would gain, were the singers, who are
now dispersed over the house in their respective pews, collected into a
choir, and placed in the gallery, as is generally customary elsewhere.
The discourse was unexceptionable; possessing more originality than is
usually found at the present day in compositions of that nature,
embellished with considerable beauties of language, and pronounced in a
forcible, unimpassioned, yet impressive style of oratory, which I should
like to see more adopted in the sacred desk, as eminently fitter for the
solemnity of the house of God, than that haranguing declamatory style of
headlong eloquence so often displayed in the pulpit.

As I delayed for a minute under the portico of the church, after the
services were over, watching, with a stranger's eye, the members of the
congregation as they issued from the church and filed off through the
several streets to their residences, I felt that I had not, since
leaving New-England, beheld a scene which reminded me so forcibly and
pleasantly of home. I have, in a former letter, alluded to the
prevalence of the Presbyterian church government in Mississippi, to the
preclusion of Congregationalists. There is not a resident minister of
the latter denomination in this state or in Louisiana. There are only
about twenty-four Presbyterian churches in the state, comprising between
eight and nine hundred communicants in all; a less number than now
composes the late Dr. Payson's church in Portland. The church in Natchez
includes about one hundred members, which is the largest number in any
one church in the whole state, with two exceptions; one of which is, a
Scotch community, about fifty miles in the country east from this city;
most of whom, or their fathers before them, emigrating from the land of
primitive manners, still retain their national characteristics of
simplicity and piety; and that stern, unyielding spirit and Christian
devotedness which distinguished the Scottish Presbyterians of "olden
time," of whom, though planted in the bosom of an American forest, they
are worthy and original representatives. They are a plain, moderately
independent, farming community, and sincerely and rigidly devoted to the
duties of Christian worship. They have an aged pastor over them, to whom
they are devotedly attached; and who is to them, who regard him with the
affection of children, indeed a "shepherd and father in Israel." They
live like a little band of exiled Waldenses, unsophisticated in their
manners, pure and severe in their religion. The Gaelic is spoken among
them, and also by many of the other settlers in that portion of the
state, who reside in the vicinity of Pearl river; by them also the old
popular Gaelic songs are sung, in their original purity and spirit. In
the vicinity of this settlement the Presbyterians annually hold a camp
meeting. A Presbyterian camp meeting is at least a novelty at the north.

The majority of the ministers of this state are graduates of Princeton
college. They form, as do the educated clergy every where, a class of
well-informed, intelligent men; though too few in number, and generally
placed over congregations too much scattered throughout a large and
thinly inhabited extent of country, to command or exercise that peculiar
influence upon society which, in more densely populated countries, is so
universally possessed by them; and whose elevating, purifying, and moral
effect is so readily acknowledged by all classes. So long as this state
of society, now peculiar to the south, continues, ministerial
influence, in its unadulterated and evangelical power, can hold but
limited sway over the heart of the community. Divines are too often
looked upon, not as representatives of the Saviour, but merely as
intelligent, clever gentlemen, popular and esteemed as they make
themselves more or less agreeable and social. A distinguished clergyman
in England--where, as you know, the surplice is too often assumed,
without any other qualification for the sacred office than the talisman
"interest," was termed "a clever, noble fellow," by the neighbouring
gentry, for his skill in hunting, and the other lordly sports of English
country gentlemen. The manners, customs, amusements, and way of life, of
the native born, wealthy, educated planters, have struck me as very
similar to those of English gentlemen of wealth and leisure: and it is
certain that, generally, many of them would be very apt, like them, to
appreciate a clergyman as much for his social qualifications, as for
those naturally associated with, and with which he is invested by, his
clerical honours.

Here, the Presbyterian clergy, unlike those in the northern states, are
generally wealthy. With but a few exceptions, they have, after a short
residence in this country, become planters, some of whom have noble
annual incomes. After retiring to their plantations they do not--and I
mention it with pleasure--altogether resign their ministerial duties.
Some of them preach in destitute churches, from time to time; while
others regularly officiate to congregations of their own slaves. One of
these clerical planters has erected a neat church upon his plantation,
in which he officiates to an assembly of his slaves three Sabbaths in
every month; where the worship is conducted with the same regularity,
decorum, and dignity, as in other congregations. Some leave the entire
management of their estates to overseers, and regularly perform their
official duties. But it is difficult for a clergyman to own a rich
plantation, without becoming a thorough-going cotton planter. The
occupation, with all its ramifications, if not incompatible with his
holy office, must necessarily be more or less injurious to the
individual, and present a broad target for the shafts of the confessed
worshipper of Mammon.

The bugbear reputation of this country for mortality, has long deterred
young ministers from filling the places occasionally deserted by their
former occupants; many of whom, if they do not resign their office, pass
the long summers at the north.--But as no country can well be healthier
than this has been, for the last six or seven years, this "health plea"
can no longer be offered as an excuse. Indeed, so singularly healthy is
this portion of the south-west, that were I required to give it a name,
with reference to some one striking characteristic, I should at once
call it "Buenos Ayres."[2] Such, briefly, is the state and condition of
the Presbyterian church in this state; which, aside from its form of
government, in its formula of faith, and in the rank in society of its
members, is equivalent to the Congregational churches in the north.

The peculiar structure of southern society is neither prepared for, nor
will it admit of, the exercise of that ecclesiastical influence to which
I have above alluded. It is composed, primarily, of wealthy individuals,
living aloof from each other on their respective plantations, isolated
like feudal chieftains, who, of old, with the spirit of ascetics,
frowned defiance at each other, from their castellated rocks: though, do
not understand me that planters partake of their belligerent spirit. On
the contrary, the reverse is most true of them--for "hospitality" and
"southern planter" are synonymous terms. Though there are not more
hospitable men in the world than southern gentlemen--though no men can
render their houses more agreeable to the stranger--though none are more
fascinating in their manners, or more generous in heart--yet they are
deficient in that social, domestic feeling, which is the life,
excellence, and charm of New-England society, which renders it so dear
to every wanderer's heart, and casts around the affections a spell that
no power but death can injure or destroy.

The Episcopalian church comprises an infinitely smaller body of members:
the few who are of this church, however, are generally opulent planters,
merchants, and professional men, with their families. There is but one
church of this denomination in the state, which is in this city. I
attended worship here the last Sabbath. The house was fashionably but
thinly filled. The interior of the house is plain, though relieved, near
the termination of the southern aisle, by a black marble slab, fixed in
the wall, to the memory of the Rev. Dr. Porter, late pastor of the
church. The pulpit, which is a miniature forum, is chaste and elegant,
and its drapery rich and tastefully arranged. The choir was full and
powerful, whose effect was increased by a fine-toned organ, the only one
in the state; but whose rich and striking melody must be a powerful
pleader, to the ears of amateurs of good church music, for their more
general introduction. The eloquence of the speaker was engaging, mild,
and gentlemanly. The latter term is very expressive of his manner, and
conciliating pulpit address.--Though not striking as an orator, his
thoughts were just and pertinent. He

    "Mysterious secrets of a high concern
    And weighty truths--
    Explained by unaffected eloquence."

Contrary to the prevalent opinion at the north, Roman Catholic influence
in this state is entirely unknown. Formerly there was a Romish church in
this city, ill endowed and seldom supplied with an officiating priest.
This was accidentally destroyed by fire a year or two since; and there
is now no church of that denomination in the state, and hardly a
sufficient number of Catholics to organize one, did they possess either
the spirit or inclination. Such is the peculiar turn of mind of
Mississippians, that they never can be catholicised. The contiguity of
this state to Louisiana, with its French-Roman population, has probably
given rise to the opinion above stated, which is as erroneous and
unfounded in fact, as is one also very current among northerners, and
originating from the same local relation. Obtaining their knowledge of
this, among other countries, from Morse's or Cumming's Geography, or
other imperfect sources, they have the impression that the French and
Spanish languages are much spoken here; whereas they are probably less
used here, in mere colloquial intercourse, than in many of the Atlantic
states. Maine adjoins Canada; yet who gives Major Downing's
fellow-countrymen the credit of speaking French in their daily
transactions? It is true that many planters and citizens of Mississippi
send their sons to the Catholic seminary at St. Louis, or Bardstown, in
Kentucky, and their daughters to the French convents in Louisiana; but
this cannot be advanced as any proof of the prevalence of the religion
of Rome here, as the same thing is done in New-England, where stand the
very pillars of the orthodox faith; and it is done much less frequently
now than in former years. The prevailing Christian denomination, as I
have before remarked, is that of the Methodists. The excess of their
numbers over that of the two other denominations, Presbyterians and
Episcopalians, is very great; but having no table of ecclesiastical
statistics by me, to which I can refer for greater accuracy, I cannot
state correctly the proportions which they bear to each other.--This
denomination embraces all ranks of society, including many of the
affluent and a majority of the merely independent planters, throughout
the state.--Some of the assemblages here, in the Methodist churches,
would remind the stranger rather of a fashionable New-York audience,
than a congregation of plain people, soberly arrayed, such as he is
accustomed to behold in a Methodist church in New-England. Indeed, the
Methodists here are generally a widely different class of people from
those which compose a northern congregation of the same denomination.

I will conclude my remarks upon the Sabbath, as observed in this city,
which was the subject of my last letter, and from which I have so long
digressed, by an allusion to a precautionary and wise municipal
regulation for freeing the city, before sunset on the Sabbath, of its
army of holiday negroes. At the hour of four the Court-house bell rings
out an alarum, long and loud, warning all strange slaves to leave the
city. Then commences a ludicrous scene of hurrying and scampering, from
the four corners of the town; for wo be to the unlucky straggler, who is
found after a limited period within the forbidden bounds! The penalty of
forty stripes, save one, is speedily inflicted, by way of a lesson in
the science of discretion. For a lesson, thus administered, few have
little relish; and the subjects thereof, with their heads--the negro's
_omnibus_--loaded with their little articles--a pound of this and a
pound of that--are, all and singular, soon seen following their noses,
with all commendable speed, along the diverging highways, keeping quick
time to the tune of "over the hills and far away," to their respective


[2] See a meteorological table and medical report in the appendix--Note


      Catholic burying-ground--Evening in a grave-yard--Sounds of
      a busy city--Night--Disturbers of the dead--Dishumation of
      human remains--Mourning cards--A funeral--Various modes of
      riding--Yankee horsemanship--Mississippian horsemen--Pacers
      --A plantation road--Residence--The grave--Slaves weeping
      for their master!--New cemetery.

In a former letter I have alluded to the old cemetery in the centre of
this city, strewed with dismantled tombs, monuments and fragments of
grave-stones, fenceless and shadeless; a play-ground for the young
academicians, from the adjacent seminary, and a common for the epicurean
cow, it stands covering the sides and summit of a pleasantly rounded
hill, a monument and a testimony of the characteristic negligence and
indifference of Americans for the repositories of their dead.

A few evenings since, as the sun was sinking beneath the level horizon,
which was delineated by a line of green foliage, accurately traced along
the impurpled western sky, I ascended the slight eminence, upon whose
verdant bosom reposes this "city of the dead." Every step through this
repository of human ashes, over sunken graves and shattered marble, once
reared by the hand of affection or ostentation, forcibly recalled the
littleness and vanity of man. The dead slumbered beneath my feet in a
marble sleep--cold, silent, and forgotten! From the streets of the city,
which on every side closed in this future resting place of its living,
the clear laugh, and ringing shout of troops of merry children at their
sports, the playful prattle of a group of loitering school girls, the
rattling of whirling carriages, from whose windows glanced bright and
happy faces, the clattering of horses, the loud conversation of their
riders, the tramp of pedestrians along the brick _trottoirs_, the
monotonous song of the carman, the prolonged call of the teamster, and
the sharp reiterated ringing of his long whip, all mingled confusedly,
struck harshly in the clear evening air upon the ear, breaking the
silence that should repose over such a scene, and dissipating at once
those reflections, which a ramble among the lonely dwellings of the dead
is calculated to engender. As I lingered upon the hill, the gradually
deepening shadows of evening fell over the town, and subsiding with the
day, these sounds, by no means a "concord of enchanting ones," ceased
one after the other, and the subdued hum of a reposing city floated over
the spot, a strange requiem for its sepultured and unconscious
inhabitants. The full moon now rose above the tops of the majestic
forest trees, which tower along the eastern suburbs of the city, and
poured a flood of mellow light from a southern sky, upon the mouldering
ruins encircling the brow of the solitary hill, and glanced brightly
upon the roof and towers of the now nearly silent city, which reflected
her soft radiance with the mild lustre of polished silver. As I stood
contemplating the scene, and yielding to its associations, my attention
was drawn to a couple of men ascending the hill from the street. As they
approached the crest of the hill, I observed that one of them was
equipped with a spade and mattock, and that the other--whose black face
glistened in the moonlight like japan, betraying him as a son of
Afric--had his head surmounted by a small box. "Resurrectionists,"
thought I. They stopped not far from me, and the black setting down his
box, immediately commenced digging. After observing them for a few
minutes I advanced to the spot, and on an inquiry learned that they were
disinterring the remains of a gentleman, and those of several members of
his family, who had lain buried there for more than thirty years, for
the purpose of removing them for re-interment in the new burying-ground
north of the town. This cemetery is now wholly disused, and a great
number of the dead have been taken up and removed to the new one, but
the greater portion still rest, where they were first laid, fresh from
among the living; for in all probability the majority who lie there,
have neither existing name or friends to preserve their bones from
desecration. I was gratified to see that there existed, after so long a
period, some remaining affection for the dead displayed in the scene
before me. But it is an isolated instance, and does not palliate the
neglect which is manifested toward the "unknown, unhonoured, and
forgotten," whose bones still moulder there, to be "levelled over," when
the increase of the city shall compel the living to construct their
habitations over those of the dead. As I watched the progress of
exhumation, as the grave was emptied by the brawny arms of the muscular
slave, of load after load of the dark loam, my eye was attracted by a
white object glistening upon the thrown-up heap by the side of the
grave. I raised it from the damp soil--it was a finger-bone! The next
shovel full glittered with the slender, brittle fragments of what once
was _man_! Not a trace of the coffin remained, or of the snow-white,
scolloped shroud. The black now threw aside his spade, and stooping down
into the grave, lifted to his companion a round, glaring, white shell,
which was once the temple of the immortal intellect--the tenement of
mind! A few corroded bones and the half-decayed skull--all that remained
of the "human form divine"--were hastily heaped into the box, the grave
was refilled, and the desecrators of the repose of the dead departed, as
they came, soon to forget the solemn lesson, which their transient
occupation may have taught them. As I turned away from the humiliating
scene I had just beheld, with a melancholy heart, and a gloom of sorrow
drawn over my feelings, I could not but forcibly recall the words of the
preacher--"that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth beasts; even
one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea,
they have all one breath; so that man hath no preeminence above the
beast; for all is _vanity_. All go unto one place; all are of the dust,
and all turn to dust again."

The Spanish and Roman Catholic custom of sending printed mourning cards
to the relatives and friends of the deceased, is adopted in this
country. On the death of an individual these tickets are immediately
issued and sent throughout the city and neighbourhood--left
indiscriminately, by the carriers, with friends and strangers, at
private houses or in hotels and bar-rooms. While standing yesterday at
the door of the hotel, one of these cards was placed in my hands by a
mulatto slave, who, with his hands full of them, was distributing them
about the town. It was a beautifully watered sheet, surrounded with a
deep mourning body; in the centre of which were two or three lines of
invitation, "to assist, (_aider_, as the French say) in the funeral
ceremony;" and worded like those often seen inserted in the daily papers
of a large city. The use of these cards is an established custom, and
seldom if ever deviated from. It is at least a feeling one, and not
unworthy of general imitation.

In company with some gentlemen from the hotel, I attended this funeral,
actuated wholly by a stranger's curiosity; for, as well as others of the
party, I was a total stranger to the family of the deceased, who resided
a few miles in the country. Our cavalcade (for we were all mounted upon
those long-tailed, ambling ponies, to which southerners are so partial)
consisted of six--two Yankees, three southerners, and an Englishman.
The first rode, as most Yankees do, awkwardly; for Yankees, at home, are
gig-drivers, not horsemen. Giving too much heed to the poising of their
very erect bodies, they left their legs to take care of themselves; but
when their attention was drawn, for a moment, to these members, they
would rock upon their saddles, the very images of "tottering
equilibriums," as Capt. Hall would term them; and fortunate were they in
recovering their nearly forfeited seats again.--These horses, which
advance by first lifting two legs on one side and then changing to the
other, do not suit brother Jonathan's notions of a riding horse. So he
applies whip and spur, and breaks away into a long gallop. Then indeed
he is in his element. An Arabian, on being asked what was the best seat
in the world, replied, "The back of a fleet courser." If the querist had
applied to Jonathan, he would have said, "A galloping nag." Whenever you
see a stranger galloping at the south, you will seldom err in guessing
him to be a Yankee. Our English friend rode cockney fashion; that is,
not much unlike a clothes-pin, or a pair of compasses, astride a line.
Stiff and erect as a Hungarian hussar, he curvetted along the smooth
roads, till he had worked his slight-framed, spirited animal into a
fever of excitement, which flung the foam over his rider, as he tossed
his head, swelled his curved neck, and champed his bit in rage, in vain
efforts to spring away, free from his thraldom; but the rider fingered
the slight bridle-rein with the ease and skill of a master. The
southerners of the party rode like all southerners, admirably,
inimitably. They appeared as much at home and at ease in their saddles,
as in a well-stuffed arm-chair after dining generously. The
Mississippian sits his horse gracefully, yet not, as the riding-master
would say, scientifically. He never seems to think of himself, or the
position of his limbs. They yield, as does his whole body, pliantly and
naturally to the motions of the animal beneath him, with which his own
harmonize so perfectly and with such flexibility, that there seems to be
but one principle actuating both. He glides easily along upon his pacer,
with the bridle thrown upon its neck, or over the high pummel of his
handsome Spanish saddle; talking as unconcernedly with his companions,
as though lounging, arm in arm with them, along the streets. He seldom
goes out of a pace. If he is in haste, he only paces the faster. Of
every variety of gaited animals which I have seen, the Mississippian
pacer is the most desirable. I shall, however, have occasion to allude
hereafter to southern equestrianism more particularly, and will return
from my digression to the funeral.

We arrived at the entrance gate of the plantation after a delightful
ride of half an hour, along a fine though dusty road, (for with this
impalpable soil it is either paste or powder) bordered with noble
forests of oak, black gum, the hoary-coated sycamore, and the
rich-leaved, evergreen magnolia, among and around which the grape vine
entwined and hung in graceful festoons. Through natural vistas in the
wood occasional glimpses could be obtained of white villas, not
unfrequently large and elegant, half hidden in the centre of
plantations, or among the thick woods which crowned the swelling hills
on every side. The road was, like most of the roads here, a succession
of gentle ascents and descents, being laid out so as to intersect
transversely parallel ridges, themselves composed of isolated hills,
gently blending and linking into each other. The country was luxuriant,
undulating, and picturesque. The general character of the scenery struck
me as remarkably English. The resemblance would be still more striking,
did not the taste or convenience of the planters lead them to select the
site of their dwellings in the centre of their plantations, or in the
depths of their forests, without any reference to the public road, (from
which they are most universally concealed) which is always the northern
farmer's guide in such a case, thereby giving a solitary character to
the road scenery, and detracting much from the general beauty of the

The residence to which we were riding was invisible from the road. We
passed through a large gateway, the gate of which, one of our Yankee
brethren, who had galloped forward, tried in vain to open, nearly
tumbling from his horse in the attempt, but which one of our southern
friends paced up to, and scarcely checking his horse, opened with the
merest effort in the world. Winding our way rapidly along a circuitous
carriage-way, at one time threading the mazes of the forest, at another,
coursing through a cotton field, whitened as though snow had fallen in
large flakes and thickly sprinkled its green surface--now following the
pebbly bed of a deep bayou, with overhanging, precipitous banks, and now
skirting the borders of some brawling rivulet, we arrived in sight of
the "house of mourning." The dwelling, like most in Mississippi, was a
long, wooden, cottage-like edifice, with a long piazza, or gallery,
projecting from the roof, and extending along the front and rear of the
building. This gallery is in all country-houses, in the summer, the
lounging room, reception room, promenade and dining room. The kitchen,
"gin," stables, out-houses, and negro-quarters, extended some distance
in the rear, the whole forming quite a village--but more African than
American in its features. We were rather too late, as the funeral
procession was already proceeding to the grave-yard, which was, as on
most plantations, a secluded spot not far from the dwelling, set apart
as a family burying-ground. I was struck with the appearance of the
procession. Six mounted gentlemen in black, preceded the hearse as
bearers. A broad band of white cambric encircled their hats, and
streamed away behind in two pennons nearly a yard in length. A broad
white sash of similar materials was passed over the right shoulder, from
which a pennon of black ribbon fluttered, and was knotted under the left
side, while the ends were allowed to hang nearly to the feet. The hearse
was a huge black chest, opening at the end for the admission of the
coffin, which, as I discovered at the grave, was richly covered with
black silk velvet, and studded with a border of gilt nails. Its top was
not horizontal, as you are accustomed to see them, but raised in the
middle like a roof. The hearse was followed by several private
carriages, gigs, of which a northern procession would consist, being not
much used in this country. An irregular procession, or rather crowd of
slaves in the rear of all, followed with sorrowful countenances the
remains of their master, to his last, long home.

When the heavy clods rattled upon the hollow sounding coffin, these poor
wretches, who had anxiously crowded around the grave, burst into one
simultaneous flood of tears, mingled with expressions of regret, sorrow
and affection. A group of slaves lamenting over the grave of their
master! Will not our sceptical countrymen regard this as an anomaly in
philanthropy? Half a dozen slaves then shovelled for a few moments from
the fresh pile of earth upon the coffin, and a mound soon rose, where,
but a few moments before, yawned a grave! An appropriate prayer was
offered over the dead, and the procession dispersed at the burial-place.
Such is a plantation-burial! In this manner are consigned to the narrow
house, four fifths of the population of this state. The city and town
cemeteries are but little resorted to, for a large proportion of those
who breathe their last in town, unless they are friendless, or
strangers, are borne to some solitary family burial-place in the country
for sepulture: there are few families in the towns of Mississippi who
have not relatives residing on plantations in the country.

The grave-yard of Natchez, situated as I have formerly observed, a
little less than a mile north from the town, on the river road, covers
an irregular surface among several small wooded hills, and is surrounded
by cotton fields, from which it has been redeemed for its present use.
It evinces neither beauty of location, nor taste in the arrangement of
its tombs, of which there are but two or three remarkable for elegance
or neatness. Its avenues are overgrown with the rank, luxuriant grass,
peculiar to grave-yards, varied only here and there by clusters of
thorns and briars. The wild and naked features of the spot are
occasionally relieved by a shade tree planted by some kindly hand over
the grave of a friend; but this occasional testimony of respect will not
redeem the cemetery from that negligence and want of taste in this
matter with which Americans have been, with too much justice,
universally charged by foreigners. In observing the names upon the
various head-stones, I noticed that the majority of those who slept
beneath, were strangers, mostly from New-England, but many from Europe.
Many of them were young. It is thus that the scourge of the south has
ever reaped rich, teeming harvests from the north. But those days of
terror, it is to be hoped, are for ever past, and that henceforth health
will smile over the green hills of this pleasant land, which pestilence
has so long blasted with her frowns.


      National diversities of character--Diversities of language--
      Provincialisms--A plantation and negroes--Natchez bar--A
      youthful judge--Physicians--Clergymen--Merchants, &c. &c.--A
      southern mania--"Washing"--Tobacco--Value of cotton planting
      and statistics--An easy "way to wealth."

There are many causes, both moral and physical, which concur to render
the inhabitants of the south dissimilar to those of the north. Some of
these may be traced to climate, more to education and local relations,
and yet more to that peculiar state of things which necessarily prevails
in a planting country and all newly organized states. The difference is
clearly distinguishable through all its grades and ramifications, and so
strongly marked as to stamp the southern character with traits
sufficiently distinctive to be dignified with the term national.

A plantation well stocked with hands, is the _ne plus ultra_ of every
man's ambition who resides at the south. Young men who come to this
country, "to make money," soon catch the mania, and nothing less than a
broad plantation, waving with the snow white cotton bolls, can fill
their mental vision, as they anticipate by a few years in their dreams
of the future, the result of their plans and labours. Hence, the great
number of planters and the few professional men of long or eminent
standing in their several professions. In such a state of things no men
grow old or gray in their profession if at all successful. As soon as
the young lawyer acquires sufficient to purchase a few hundred acres of
the rich alluvial lands, and a few slaves, he quits his profession at
once, though perhaps just rising into eminence, and turns cotton
planter. The bar at Natchez is composed, with but few exceptions,
entirely of young men. Ten years hence, probably not four out of five of
these, if living, will remain in their profession. To the prevalence of
this custom of retiring so early from the bar, and not to want of
talent, is to be attributed its deficiency of distinguished names. There
is much talent now concentrated at this bar, and throughout the state.
But its possessors are young men; and this mania for planting will soon
deprive the state of any benefit from it in a professional point of
view. As the lawyers are young, the judges cannot of course be much
stricken in years. The northerner, naturally associates with the title
of "Judge," a venerable, dignified personage, with locks of snow, a suit
of sober black, and powdered queue, shoe-buckles, and black silk
stockings. Judge my surprise at hearing at the public table a few days
since, a young gentleman, apparently not more than four or five and
twenty, addressed as "judge!" I at first thought it applied as a mere
"_soubriquet_," till subsequently assured that he was really on the

Physicians make money much more rapidly than lawyers, and sooner retire
from practice and assume the planter. They, however, retain their
titles, so that medico-planters are now numerous, far out-numbering the
regular practitioners, who have not yet climbed high enough up the wall
to leap down into a cotton field on the other side. Ministers, who
constitute the third item of the diplomaed triad, are not free from the
universal mania, and as writing sermons is not coining money, the
plantations are like the vocative in Latin pronouns. They, however, by
observing the command in Gen. ix. 1, contrive ultimately to reach the
same goal. The merchant moves onward floundering through invoices,
ledgers, packages, and boxes. The gin-wright and overseer, also have an
eye upon this Ultima Thule, while the more wealthy mechanics begin to
form visions of cotton fields, and talk knowingly upon the "staple."
Even editors have an eye that way!

Cotton and negroes are the constant theme--the ever harped upon, never
worn out subject of conversation among all classes. But a small portion
of the broad rich lands of this thriving state is yet appropriated. Not
till every acre is purchased and cultivated--not till Mississippi
becomes one vast cotton field, will this mania, which has entered into
the very marrow, bone and sinew of a Mississippian's system, pass away.
And not then, till the lands become exhausted and wholly unfit for
farther cultivation. The rich loam which forms the upland soil of this
state is of a very slight depth--and after a few years is worn away by
constant culture and the action of the winds and rain. The fields are
then "thrown out" as useless. Every plough-furrow becomes the bed of a
rivulet after heavy rains--these uniting are increased into torrents,
before which the impalpable soil dissolves like ice under a summer's
sun. By degrees, acre after acre, of what was a few years previous
beautifully undulating ground, waving with the dark green, snow-crested
cotton, presents a wild scene of frightful precipices, and yawning
chasms, which are increased in depth and destructively enlarged after
every rain. There are many thousand acres within twenty miles of the
city of Natchez, being the earliest cultivated portions of the country,
which are now lying in this condition, presenting an appearance of wild
desolation, and not unfrequently, of sublimity. This peculiar feature of
the country intrudes itself into every rural prospect, painfully marring
the loveliest country that ever came from the hand of nature. Natchez
itself is nearly isolated by a deep ravine, which forms a natural moat
around the town. It has been formed by "washing," and though serpentine
and irregular in its depth, it is cut with the accuracy of a canal. It
is spanned by bridges along the several roads that issue from the town.

From the loose and friable nature of this soil, which renders it so
liable to "wash," as is the expressive technical term here, the
south-west portion of this state must within a century become waste,
barren, and wild, unless peradventure, some inventing Yankee, or other
patentee may devise a way of remedying the evil and making the
wilderness to "blossom like the rose." A thick bluish green grass,
termed Bermuda grass, is used with great success to check the progress
of a _wash_ when it has first commenced.[3] It is very tenacious of the
soil, takes firm and wide root, grows and spreads rapidly, and soon
forms a compact matted surface, which effectually checks any farther
increase of the ravines, or "bayous," as these deep chasms are usually
termed; though bayou in its original signification is applied to creeks,
and deep glens, with or without running water.

When this state was first settled, tobacco was exclusively cultivated as
the grand staple. But this plant was found to be a great exhauster of
the soil; cotton rapidly superseded its culture, and it was shortly
banished from the state, and found a home in Tennessee, where it is at
present extensively cultivated. It has not for many years been
cultivated here. Planters have no room for any thing but their cotton,
and corn, on their plantations, and scarcely are they willing to make
room even for the latter, as they buy a great part of their corn,
annually, from the Kentucky and Indiana flat boats at the "Landing."

Among northerners, southern planters are reputed wealthy. This idea is
not far from correct--as a class they are so; perhaps more so than any
other body of men in America. Like our Yankee farmers they are tillers
of the soil. "But why" you may ask, "do they who are engaged in the same
pursuits as the New-England farmer, so infinitely surpass him in the
reward of his labours?" The northern farmer cannot at the most make more
than three per cent. on his farm. He labours himself, or pays for
labour. He _must_ do the first or he cannot live. If he does the latter,
he can make nothing. If by hard labour and frugal economy, the common
independent Yankee farmer, such as the traveller meets with any where in
New-England, lays up annually from four to seven hundred dollars, he is
a thriving man and "getting rich." His daughters are attractive, and his
sons will have something "handsome" to begin the world with. But the
southern farmer can make from fifteen to thirty per cent. by his farm.
He works on his plantation a certain number of slaves, say thirty, which
are to him what the sinewy arms of the Yankee farmer are to himself.
Each slave ought to average from seven to eight bales of cotton during
the season, especially on the new lands. An acre will generally average
from one to two bales. Each bale averages four hundred pounds, at from
twelve to fifteen cents a pound. This may not be an exact estimate, but
it is not far from the true one. Deducting two thousand and five hundred
dollars for the expenses of the plantation, there will remain the net
income of eleven thousand dollars. Now suppose this plantation and
slaves to have been purchased on a credit, paying at the rate of six
hundred dollars apiece for his negroes, the planter would be able to pay
for nearly two-thirds of them the first year. The second year, he would
pay for the remainder, and purchase ten or twelve more; and the third
year, if he had obtained his plantation on a credit of that length of
time, he would pay for that also, and commence his fourth year with a
valuable plantation, and thirty-five or forty slaves, all his own
property, with an increased income for the ensuing year of some
thousands of dollars. Henceforward, if prudent, he will rank as an
opulent planter. Success is not however always in proportion to the
outlay or expectations of the aspirant for wealth. It is modified and
varied by the wear and tear, sickness and death, fluctuations of the
market, and many other ills to which all who adventure in the great
lottery of life are heirs. In the way above alluded to, numerous
plantations in this state have been commenced, and thus the wealth of a
great number of the opulent planters of this region has originated.
Incomes of twenty thousand dollars are common here. Several individuals
possess incomes of from forty to fifty thousand dollars, and live in a
style commensurate with their wealth. The amount is generally expressed
by the number of their negroes, and the number of "bales" they make at a
crop. To know the number of either is to know accurately their incomes.
And as this is easily ascertained, it is not difficult to form a prompt
estimate of individual wealth.

To sell cotton in order to buy negroes--to make more cotton to buy more
negroes, "ad infinitum," is the aim and direct tendency of all the
operations of the thorough-going cotton planter; his whole soul is
wrapped up in the pursuit. It is, apparently, the principle by which he
"lives, moves, and has his being." There are some who "work" three and
four hundred negroes, though the average number is from thirty to one
hundred. "This is all very fine," you say, "but the slaves!--there's the
rub." True; but without slaves there could be no planters, for whites
will not and cannot work cotton plantations, beneath a broiling southern
sun.--Without planters there could be no cotton; without cotton no
wealth. Without them Mississippi would be a wilderness, and revert to
the aboriginal possessors. Annihilate them to-morrow, and this state and
every southern state might be bought for a song. I am not advocating
this system; but destroy it--and the southern states become at once
comparative ciphers in the Union. Northerners, particularly Yankees, are
at first a little compunctious on the subject of holding slaves. They
soon, however, illustrate the truth contained in the following lines,
but slightly changed from their original application. With half-averted
eyes they at first view slavery as

           "A monster of such horrid mien,
    That to be hated needs but to be seen:
    But seen too oft, familiar with her face,
    They soon endure--and in the end embrace."

Many of the planters are northerners. When they have conquered their
prejudices, they become thorough, driving planters, generally giving
themselves up to the pursuit more devotedly than the regular-bred
planter. Their treatment of their slaves is also far more rigid.
Northerners are entirely unaccustomed to their habits, which are
perfectly understood and appreciated by southerners, who have been
familiar with Africans from childhood; whom they have had for their
nurses, play-fellows, and "bearers," and between whom and themselves a
reciprocal and very natural attachment exists, which, on the gentleman's
part, involuntarily extends to the whole dingy race, exhibited in a
kindly feeling and condescending familiarity, for which he receives
gratitude in return. On the part of the slave, this attachment is
manifested by an affection and faithfulness which only cease with life.
Of this state of feeling, which a southern life and education can only
give, the northerner knows nothing. Inexperience leads him to hold the
reins of government over his novel subjects with an unsparing severity,
which the native ruler of these domestic colonies finds wholly
unnecessary. The slave always prefers a southern master, because he
knows that he will be understood by him. His kindly feelings toward, and
sympathies with slaves, as such, are as honourable to his heart as
gratifying to the subjects of them. He treats with suitable allowance
those peculiarities of their race, which the unpractised northerner will
construe into idleness, obstinacy, laziness, revenge, or hatred. There
is another cause for their difference of treatment to their slaves. The
southerner, habituated to their presence, never fears them, and laughs
at the idea. It is the reverse with the northerner: he fears them, and
hopes to intimidate them by severity.

The system of credit in this country is peculiar. From new-year's to
new-year's is the customary extension of this accommodation, and the
first of January, as planters have then usually disposed of their crops,
is a season for a general settlement throughout every branch of
business. The planters have their commission merchants in New-Orleans
and Natchez, who receive and ship their cotton for them, and make
advances, if required, upon succeeding crops. Some planters export
direct to Liverpool and other ports, though generally they sell or
consign to the commission merchants in Natchez, who turn cotton into
gold so readily, that one verily would be inclined to think that the
philosopher's stone might be concealed within the bales. A planter
often commences with nothing, or merely an endorser--buys land and
negroes, and, in the strong phraseology of Crockett, "goes ahead." In a
few years he becomes opulent. Others, however, (as was the case with the
old settlers especially) and young men at the present time, with little
means, commence with a piece of wild land, and five or six, or perhaps
not more than two negroes--and go on strengthening and increasing,
adding acre to acre, negro to negro, bale to bale, till wealth crowns
their labours. Many of the oldest and wealthiest planters began in this
manner, when they had to dispute possession of the soil with the
Spaniard, the wild beast of the forest, or wilder Indian. They are now
reaping the rewards of their youthful toil, in the possession of sons
and daughters, lands and influence, and all the luxuries and enjoyments
which wealth commands. Their sons, more fortunate in their youth than
their sires, receive, from the paternal bounty, plantations and negroes,
and at once, without previous toil or care, assume the condition of the
refined and luxurious planter. So you perceive that a Yankee farmer and
a southern planter are birds of a very different feather.[4] Now in this
sad, idolatrous world, where Mammon is worshipped on millions of altars,
the swelling hills and noble forests of the south must certainly be
"where men ought to worship." If the satirical maxim, "man was made to
make money," is true, of which there can be no question--the mint of his
operations lies most temptingly between the "Father of waters" and the
arrowy Pearl. And men seem to feel the truth of it--or of the maxim of
Bacon, that "territory newly acquired and not settled, is a matter of
burthen rather than of strength;" for they are spreading over it like a
cloud, and occupying the vast tracts called "the Purchase," recently
obtained from the Indians, previous to their removal to the west. The
tide of emigration is rapidly setting to the north and east portions of
the state. Planters, who have exhausted their old lands in this
vicinity, are settling and removing to these new lands, which will soon
become the richest cotton growing part of Mississippi. Parents do not
now think of settling their children on plantations near Natchez, but
purchase for them in the upper part of the state. Small towns, with
"mighty names," plucked from the ruins of some long since mouldered city
of classic fame and memory, are springing up here and there, like
mushrooms, amidst the affrighted forests. Sixteen new counties have
lately been created in this portion of the state, where so recently the
Indian tracked his game and shrieked his war-whoop; and as an
agricultural state, the strength and sinew of Mississippi must be
hereafter concentrated in this fresher and younger portion of her


[3] The necessary properties of grasses suited to this climate differ
from those required in higher latitudes. They should have deep running
roots if erect, to withstand the scorching heat of the sun, or their
stems should lie prostrate and cover the ground. This is the peculiarity
of grasses in the West Indies and Egypt. The grass peculiar to them, and
well adapted to this country--the cynosurus Ægyptus--grows in South
Carolina and Georgia, and is highly esteemed. Among the small variety of
grasses cultivated here, is the Washita winter grass, perennial, and the
Natchez winter grass, an annual. The latter is a phalaris, not known at
the north. It is a rich grass and very succulent. There is a variety of
this grass termed striped grass, cultivated in yards at the north, which
is unknown here, and which from its peculiar properties is excellent to
bind banks, and would be of great service on plantations where there are
bayous. The Bermuda grass has large succulent leaves and runners, and is
better adapted to this climate than any other. Lucerne and esparcette
have the same properties, but have never been tried. The white clover of
Kentucky, known by the name of Buffalo clover, is also admirably
adapted, upon the above principles, to this soil and climate. Hay as an
article of culture is unknown here. White clover is abundant upon the
commons. There are several grasses peculiar to this country unknown at
the north; but they are never transplanted from the fields and woods,
and are scarcely known and never cultivated. There is properly but _one
plant_ in the south, if planters are to draw up the botanical catalogue,
and that is the _cotton plant_!

[4] I have lying before me a letter, bearing date July 1, 1806, from a
distinguished German botanist; in which, at the close of an article upon
the plants of this country, he inquires of Wm. Dunbar, Esq. to whom the
letter is addressed, "if the cotton plant has ever been tried in
Mississippi? _It seems to promise much!_" Mississippi planters of the
present day will certainly coincide with this gentleman in his opinion.


      An excursion--A planter's gallery--Neglect of grounds--Taste
      and economy--Mississippi forests--The St. Catherine--Cotton
      fields--Worm fences--Hedges--The pride of China--The magnolia
      tree and flower--Plantation roads--White cliffs--General view
      of a plantation.

A few days since, in company with a northern friend, I made an excursion
to an extensive plantation two hours' ride from the city. We left the
hotel at an early hour, exchanging our mattresses--the universal
southern bed--for more luxurious seats in elastic Spanish saddles, upon
delightfully cradling pacers, and proceeded through one of the principal
streets, already alive with pedestrians and horsemen; for, in a southern
climate, evening and morning constitute the day--the day itself being a
"noon of indolence," where ice and shade are the only blessings to be
devoutly wished. Ambling along at an easy gait toward the great southern
road, leading to New-Orleans, we passed, just on the confines of the
country, the residence of the Presbyterian clergyman, and one of the
most charming retreats I have yet seen in the vicinity of Natchez, whose
suburbs are peculiarly rich in tasteful country seats. Our eyes lingered
over the luxuriant shrubbery clustering about the edifice, entwining
around its columns and peeping in at the windows. Clumps of foliage, of
the deepest green, were enamelled with flowers of the brightest hues;
and every tree was an aviary, from which burst the sweetest melody. What
a spot for the student! Among flowers and vines and singing birds! What
a freshness must they fling around his heart! What a richness must
clothe even the language of sermons composed in such pleasant
shades--the cool wind loaded with fragrance, leaping from among the
trees upon the brow, and playing refreshingly among the hair!

Leaving, to the right, the romantic fort Rosalie, rearing its green
parapets in strong relief against the sky--a prominent object amid the
slightly elevated surface of the surrounding country--we turned into one
of those pleasant roads which wind in all directions through the rich
scenery of this state. The first mile we passed several neat dwellings,
of the cottage order; one of which, with a gallery in front, and
surrounded by a smooth, green slope, was the residence of the
Episcopalian clergyman. It was a chaste and pretty mansion, though not
so luxuriantly embowered as the abode of the clergyman above alluded to.
A huge colonnaded structure, crowning an abrupt eminence near the road,
struck our eyes with an imposing effect. It was the abode of one of the
wealthiest planters of this state; who, like the majority of those whose
families now roll in their splendid equipages, has been the maker of his
fortune. The grounds about this edifice were neglected; horses were
grazing around the piazzas, over which were strewed saddles, whips,
horse blankets, and the motley paraphernalia with which planters love to
lumber their galleries. On nearly every piazza in Mississippi may be
found a wash-stand, bowl, pitcher, towel, and water-bucket, for general
accommodation. But the southern gallery is not constructed, like those
at the north, for ornament or ostentation, but for use. Here they wash,
lounge, often sleep, and take their meals.--Here will the stranger or
visiter be invited to take a chair, or recline upon a sofa, settee, or
form, as the taste and ability of the host may have furnished this
important portion of a planter's house. I once called on a planter
within an hour's ride of Natchez, whose income would constitute a
fortune for five or six modest Yankees. I entered the front yard--a
green level, shaded with the relics of a forest--the live oak, sycamore,
and gum trees--through a narrow wicket in a white-washed paling, the
most common fence around southern dwellings. In the front yard were
several sheep, colts, calves, two or three saddle and a fine pair of
carriage-horses, negro children, and every variety of domestic fowl. The
planter was sitting upon the gallery, divested of coat, vest, and shoes,
with his feet on the railing, playing, in high glee, with a little
dark-eyed boy and two young negroes, who were chasing each other under
the bridge formed by his extended limbs. Three or four noble dogs, which
his voice and the presence of his servant, who accompanied me to the
house, kept submissive, were crouching like leopards around his chair. A
litter of young bull-headed pups lay upon a blanket under a window
opening into a bed-room, white with curtains and valances; while a
domestic tabby sat upon the window-sill, gazing musingly down upon the
rising generation of her hereditary foes, perhaps with reflections not
of the most pleasing cast. A hammock, suspended between an iron hook
driven into the side of the house and one of the slender columns which
supported the sloping roof of the gallery, contained a youth of
fourteen, a nephew of the planter, fast locked in the embraces of
Morpheus; whose _aid-de-camp_, in the shape of a strapping negress,
stood by the hammock, waving over the sleeper a long plume of gorgeous
feathers of the pea-fowl--that magnificent bird of the south, which
struts about the ground of the planter, gratifying the eye with the
glorious emblazonry upon his plumage by day, and torturing the ear with
his loud clamours by night. A pair of noble antlers was secured to one
of the pillars, from whose branches hung broad-brimmed hats, bridles, a
sheep-skin covering to a saddle, which reposed in one corner of the
piazza, a riding whip, a blanket coat or capote, spurs, surcingle, and
part of a coach harness. A rifle and a shot-gun with an incredibly large
bore, were suspended in beckets near the hall entrance; while a couple
of shot-pouches, a game-bag, and other sporting apparatus, hung beside
them. Slippers, brogans, a pillow, indented as though recently deserted,
a gourd, and a broken "cotton slate," filled up the picture, whose
original, in some one or other of its features, may be found in nearly
every planter's dwelling in this state.

There are many private residences, in the vicinity of Natchez, of an
equally expensive character with the one which furnished the above
description, whose elegant interiors, contrasting with the neglected
grounds about them, suggest the idea of a handsome city residence,
accidentally dropped upon a bleak hill, or into the midst of a partially
cleared forest, and there remaining, with its noble roof grasped by the
arms of an oak, and its windows and columns festooned by the drooping
moss, heavily waving in the wind. Thus are situated many of the
planters' dwellings, separated from the adjacent forests by a rude,
white-washed picket, enclosing around the house an unornamented green,
or grazing lot, for the saddle and carriage-horses, which can regale
their eyes at pleasure, by walking up to the parlour windows and gazing
in upon handsome carpets, elegant furniture, costly mantel ornaments,
and side-boards loaded with massive plate; and, no doubt, ruminate
philosophically upon the reflection of their figures at full-length in
long, richly-framed mirrors. Very few of the planters' villas, even
within a few miles of Natchez, are adorned with surrounding ornamental
shrubbery walks, or any other artificial auxiliaries to the natural
scenery, except a few shade trees and a narrow, gravelled avenue from
the gate to the house. A long avenue of trees, ornamenting and
sheltering the approach to a dwelling, is a rare sight in this state,
though very frequently seen in Louisiana. Yet, in no region of the
south can fine avenues of beautiful trees be made with such facility as
in Mississippi. No state surpasses this in the beauty, variety, and
rapid growth of its ornamental shade trees; the laurel, sycamore,
locust, oak, elm, and white bay, with the "pride of China,"--the
universal shade tree in the south-west--arrive here at the most perfect
maturity and beauty. Every plantation residence is approached by an
avenue, often nearly a mile in length; yet so little attention is paid
to this species of ornament and comfort, in a climate where shade is a
synonym for luxury, that scarcely one of them is shaded, except where,
in their course through a forest, nature has flung the broad arms of
majestic trees across the path.

The peculiarity of the dwellings of planters, evinced in hiding the
prettiest cottage imaginable under the wild, gnarled limbs of forest
trees, fringed with long black moss, like mourning weeds, which hangs
over the doors and windows in melancholy grandeur, may be traced, very
naturally, to the original mode of life of most of the occupants, who,
though now opulent, have arisen, with but few exceptions, from
comparative obscurity in the world of dollars. Originally occupying log
huts in the wilderness, their whole time and attention were engaged in
the culture of cotton; and embellishment, either of their cabins or
grounds, was wholly disregarded. When they became the lords of a domain
and a hundred slaves; for many retain their cabins even till
then--ostentation, as they saw the elegancies of refined society
displayed around them--necessity, for fear of being entombed in the
ruins of their venerable log palaces--or a desire for greater
comfort--razed the humble cabin, and reared upon its site the walls of
an expensive and beautiful fabric. Here the planter stops. The same
causes which originally influenced him to neglect the improvement of his
grounds, still continue to exist; and though he may inhabit a building
that would grace an English park, the grounds and scenery about it, with
the exception of a paling enclosing a green yard, are suffered to remain
in their pristine rudeness. Thus far, and with few exceptions, no
farther, have the wealthiest planters advanced. Here they have taken a
stand; and a motive cause, equal to that which led to the first step
from the cabin to the more elegant mansion, must again operate, or the
finest villas in Mississippi will, for many years to come, be
surrounded, on one or more sides, with the native forests, or stand in
unpicturesque contiguity with ploughed fields, cattle-pens, and the
several interesting divisions of a farm-yard.

You will judge, from this state of things, that the Mississippi planters
are not a showy and stylish class, but a plain, practical body of men,
who, in general, regard comfort, and conformity to old habits, rather
than display and fashionable innovations; and who would gaze with more
complacency upon an acre of their domain, whitened, like a newly-washed
flock, with cotton, than were it spread out before them magnificent with
horticulture, or beautifully velveted with green. Still planters are
not destitute of taste; it is their principle to make it yield to
interest. "What a fine park you might have around your house," once
remarked an English gentleman to a planter in this state, as he surveyed
the finely undulating fields here and there sprinkled with an oak,
extending on every side around the dwelling.

"Very true," replied the southron, "but these few acres yield me
annually from ten to twelve bales of cotton: this would be too great a
sacrifice for the mere gratification of the eye."

"Still very true," replied the Englishman, "but this sense could be
gratified without any sacrifice. Your plantation consists of eight or
nine hundred acres, and not one half is under cultivation; a portion of
that now uncultivated might be substituted for this." To this the
planter answered, that the soil about his house would produce more to
the acre than the other, by at least one bale in every ten, having been
long under cultivation; and that merely as a matter of taste, though no
one admired a fine park or lawn more than himself, he could not devote
it to this object.

This principle of the land economist, so devoutly reverenced, will long
preclude that desirable union of taste and interest, which is the
combined result of wealth attained and enjoyed. The last state men
cannot be said to be in, who, however wealthy, never relax their
exertions in adding to their incomes; which is, and ever will be the
case with the planter, and indeed every other man, so long as he can, by
his efforts, annually increase his revenue ten or twenty thousand
dollars. To the immense profit which every acre and the labour of every
slave yield the planter, and to no other cause, is to be referred the
anomalous result manifested in neglecting to improve their estates: for
an acre, that will yield them sixty dollars per annum, and a slave,
whose annual labour will yield from two to five hundred dollars, are, by
the laws which regulate the empire of money, to be appropriated to the
service of interest, to the entire exclusion of the claims of taste.

About a mile from Natchez, we passed, close by the road-side, a family
cemetery, whose white paling was bursting with shrubbery. No mausoleum
gratefully relieving the eye, rose amid the luxuriant foliage,
enshrining the affection of the living or the memory of the dead. On the
opposite side of the road stood a handsome mansion, though without that
noble expanse of lawn which is the finest feature in the grounds of an
English country residence. Instead of a lawn, a small unimproved
court-yard intervened between the house and the road. Winding round an
extensive vegetable garden, attached to the house, which is the only
dwelling for more than ten miles immediately on the road, we travelled
for an hour, either over a pleasantly rolling country, with extensive
cotton fields, spreading away on either hand; or beneath forest trees,
which, in height and majesty, might vie with the "cedars of Lebanon."
There is a grandeur in the vast forests of the south, of which a
northerner can form no adequate conception. The trees spring from the
ground into the air, noble columns, from fifty to a hundred feet in
height, and, expanding like the cocoa, fling abroad their limbs, which,
interlocking, present a canopy almost impervious to the sun, and beneath
which wind arcades of the most magnificent dimensions. The nakedness of
the tall shafts is relieved by the luxuriant tendrils of the muscadine
and woodbine twining about them, in spiral wreaths, quite to their
summit, or hanging in immense festoons from tree to tree. In these woods
horsemen can advance without obstruction, so spacious are the intervals
between the trees, so high the branches above them, and so free from
underwood is the sward. Of such forest-riding the northerner knows
nothing, unless his lore in tales of Italian banditti may have enabled
him to form some idea of scenes with which his own country refuses to
gratify him. So much do the northern and southern forests differ, that a
fleet rider will traverse the latter with more ease than the woodman can
the former.

Cut from the shaft of a southern forest tree, a section forty or fifty
feet in length, and plant the mutilated summit in the earth, and its
stunted appearance would convey to a Mississippian a tolerably correct
idea of a forest tree in New-England; or add to the low trunk of a wide
spreading northern oak, the column abstracted from its southern rival,
and northerners would form from its towering altitude, a tolerable idea
of a forest tree in Mississippi. Hang from its heavy branches huge
tassels of black Carolina moss, from two to six feet in length--suspend
from limb to limb gigantic festoons of vines, themselves but lesser
trees in size, and clothe its trunk with a spiral vestment of leaves, as
though a green serpent were coiled about it, and you will have created a
southern tree in its native majesty. Imagine a forest of them lifting
their tops to heaven and yourself bounding away upon a fleet horse
beneath its sublime domes, with a noble stag, flying down its glades
like a winged creature, while the shouts of hunters, the tramp of
horses, and the baying of hounds echo through its solemn corridors, and
then you will have some faint idea of the glory of a southern forest and
the noble character of its enjoyments.[5]

Between three and four miles from Natchez we crossed the St. Catharine,
a deeply bedded and narrow stream, winding through a fertile tract of
country in a very serpentine course, for nearly thirty leagues before it
empties into the Mississippi, twenty miles below Natchez. This stream is
celebrated in the early history of this state, and still possesses
interest from the Indian traditions with which it is associated. In
numerous villages, formerly scattered along its banks, and spread over
the beautiful hills among which it meanders, but not a vestige of which
now remains, it is supposed, on the authority both of oral and written
history, that more than two hundred thousand Indians but a few degrees
removed from the refinements of civilized life, dwelt peaceably under
their own vine and fig-tree. But where are they now? "Echo

Between five and six miles from town the road passed through the centre
of one of the most extensive plantations in the county. For more than a
mile on either side, an immense cotton field spread away to the distant
forests. Not a fence, except that which confined the road, (always
degraded, in the parlance of the country, when running between two
fences, to a "lane,") was to be seen over the whole cultivated surface
of a mile square. The absence of fences is a peculiarity of southern
farms. As their proprietors cultivate but one article as a staple, there
is no necessity of intersecting their lands by fences, as at the north,
where every farm is cut up into many portions, appropriated to a variety
of productions. To a northern eye, a large extent of cultivated country,
without a fence, or scarcely a dwelling, would present a singular
appearance; but a short residence in the south will soon render one
familiar with such scenery where no other meets the eye. The few fences,
however, that exist on plantations, for defining boundaries, confining
public roads, and fencing in the pasture lands--which, instead of broad
green fields as in New-England, are the woods and cane-brakes--are of
the most unsightly kind. With a gently undulating surface and a
diversity of vale and wood scenery unrivalled, the natural loveliness of
this state is disfigured by zigzag, or Virginia fences, which stretch
along the sides of the most charming roads, surround the loveliest
cottages, or rudely encroach upon the snowy palings that enclose them,
and intersect the finest eminences and fairest champaigns. The Yankee
farmer's stone and rail fences are bad enough, but they are in character
with the ruder features of his country; but the worm fences and arcadian
scenery of the south are combinations undreamed of in my philosophy.
These crooked lines of deformity obtruding upon the eye in every
scene--the numerous red banks and chasms caused by the "wash," and Congo
and Mandingo nymphs and swains, loitering around every fountain,
rambling through the groves, or reclining in the shades, are in
themselves sufficient to unruralise even "Araby the blest." Yet with all
these harsh artificial features, there is a picturesqueness--a quiet
beauty in the general aspect of the scenery, not unfrequently
strengthened into majesty, so indelibly stamped upon it by nature that
nothing less than a rail-road can wholly deface it.

On the plantation alluded to above, through which lay our road, I
noticed within the fence a young hedge, which, with an unparalleled
innovation upon the prescriptive right of twisted fences, had recently
been planted to supersede them. In a country where the "chickasaw rose,"
which is a beautiful hedge thorn, grows so luxuriantly, it is worthy of
remark that the culture of the hedge, so ornamental and useful as a
field-fence, is altogether neglected. Planters would certainly find it
eventually for their interest, and if generally adopted, the scenery of
this state would rival the loveliest sections of rural England.
Delaware, without any striking natural beauties, by clustering green
hedges around her wheat-fields and farm-houses, has created an
artificial feature in her scenery which renders her naturally tame
aspect extremely rural, if not beautiful. The hedge, however, will not
be introduced into this state to the exclusion of the rail-fence, until
the pine woods, dwindled here and there to a solitary tree, refuse
longer to deform in the shape of rails, a country they were originally
intended to beautify.

The "quarters" of the plantation were pleasantly situated upon an
eminence a third of a mile from the road, each dwelling neatly
white-washed and embowered in the China tree, which yields in beauty to
no other. This, as I have before remarked, is the universal shade tree
for cabin and villa in this state. It is in leaf about seven months in
the year, and bears early in the spring a delicate and beautiful flower,
of a pale pink ground slightly tinged with purple. In appearance and
fragrance it resembles the lilac, though the cluster of flowers is
larger and more irregularly formed. These after loading the air with
their fragrance for some days, fall off, leaving green berries thickly
clustering on every branch. These berries become yellow in autumn, and
long after the seared leaf falls, hang in clusters from the boughs, nor
finally drop from them until forced from their position by the young
branches and leaves in the succeeding spring. The chief beauty of this
tree consists in the richness and arrangement of its foliage. From a
trunk eight or ten feel in height, the limbs, in the perfect tree,
branch irregularly upward at an angle of about 45° or 50°. From these,
which are of various lengths, slender shoots extend laterally, bearing
at their extremities a thick tuft of leaves. These slender branches
radiate in all directions, each also terminating in fine feathery tufts,
which, being laid one over the other like scales on armour, present an
almost impenetrable shield to the rays of the sun. These young shoots
throughout the season are constantly expanding their bright parasols of
leaves, and as they are of a paler hue than the older leaves, which are
of a dark purple green, the variegated effect, combined with the
singularly beautiful arrangement of the whole, is very fine. The rapid
growth of this tree is remarkable. A severed limb placed in the ground,
in the winter, will burst forth into a fine luxuriant head of foliage in
the spring. From a berry slightly covered with soil, a weed, not unlike
the common pig-weed, in the rapidity of its growth and the greenness of
its stalk, shoots up during the summer four or five feet in height.
During the winter its stalks harden, and in the spring, in a brown coat,
and with the dignity of a young tree, it proudly displays its tufts of
pale, tapering leaves. In three or four summers more it will fling its
limbs over the planter's cottage--and cast upon the ground a broad and
delightful shade. Divest a tree of the largest size of its top, and in
the spring the naked stump will burst forth into a cloud of foliage.
Such is the tree which surrounds the dwellings and borders the streets
in the villages of the south-west--the "vine" and the "fig tree" under
which every man dwells.

About two leagues from Natchez the road entered an extensive forest,
winding along upon a ridge thickly covered with the polished leaved
magnolia tree (M. grandiflora)--the pride of southern forests. This tree
is an evergreen, and rises from the ground often to the height of
seventy feet, presenting an exterior of evergreen leaves, and large
white flowers. Its leaves appearing like "two single laurel-leaves
rolled into one," are five or six inches in length, of a dark green
colour, the under side of a rich brown, and the upper beautifully
glazed, and thick like shoe leather. The flower is magnificent. In June
it unfolds itself upon the green surface of the immoveable cone in fine
relief. When full blown it is of a great size; some of them cannot be
placed in a hat without crushing them. Its petals are a pure white,
shaped and curved precisely like a quarter-section of the rind of an
orange, and nearly as thick, and perfectly smooth and elastic. They are
frequently used by boarding-school misses to serve as _billets doux_,
for which, from their fragrance and unsullied purity, they are admirably
fitted. They are so large that I have written upon one of them with a
lead pencil in ordinary handwriting, a stanza from Childe Harold. It
must be confessed that the writing as well as the material is of a very
ephemeral kind; but for this reason the material is perhaps the more
valuable when pressed into the service of Don Cupid. They are so
fragrant that a single flower will fill a house with the most agreeable
perfume; and the atmosphere for many rods in the vicinity of a tree in
full flower is so heavily impregnated, that a sensation of faintness
will affect one long remaining within its influence.

The remainder of our ride was through a fine forest, occasionally
opening into broad cotton fields. Once on ascending a hill we caught,
through a vista in the woods over broad fields, a glimpse of the cypress
forests of Louisiana, spread out like a dark sea to the level horizon.
The Mississippi rolled through the midst unseen. As we rode on we passed
roads diverging to the right and left from the highway, leading to the
hidden dwellings of the planters. A large gate set into a rail fence
usually indicates the vicinity of a planter's residence in the
south--but the plantation roads here turned into the forests, through
which they romantically wound till lost in their depths. Any of these
roads would have conducted us to the villa of some wealthy planter.
There can be little ostentation in a people who thus hide their
dwellings from the public road. Jonathan, on the other hand, would plant
his house so near the highway as to have a word from his door with every
passenger. Deprive him of a view of the public road, and you deprive him
of his greatest enjoyment--the indulgence of curiosity. About nine miles
from town the forest retreated from the road, and from the brow of a
hill, the brown face of a cliff rose above the tops of the trees about a
league before us. To the eye so long accustomed to the unvarying green
hue of the scenery--the rough face of this cliff was an agreeable
relief. It was one of the white cliffs alluded to in a former letter.
Shortly after losing sight of this prominent object, we turned into a
road winding through the woods, which conducted us for a quarter of an
hour down and up several precipitous hills, across two deep bayous,
through an extensive cotton field in which the negroes were
industriously at work without a "driver" or an "overseer," and after
winding a short distance bordered by young poplars round the side of a
hill, passed through a first, then a second gateway, and finally brought
us in front of the dwelling house of our host, and the termination of
our interesting ride.


[5] The forests of Mississippi consist of oak, ash, maple, hickory,
sweet gum, cypress, (in the bottoms) yellow poplar, holly, black and
white flowering locusts, pecan, and pine on the ridges, with a countless
variety of underwood, ivy, grape vines, (vitis silvestris) papaw,
spice-wood, and innumerable creepers whose flexile tendrils twine around
every tree.


      Horticulture--Chateaubriand--A Mississippi garden and plants
      --A novel scene--Sick slaves--Care of masters for their sick
      --Shamming--Inertness of negroes--Burial of slaves--Negro
      mothers--A nursery--Negro village on the Sabbath--Religious
      privileges of slaves--Marriages--Negro "passes"--The advantages
      of this regulation--Anecdote of a runaway.

In America, where vegetation is on a scale of magnificence commensurate
with her continental extent--it is remarkable that a taste for
horticulture should be so little cultivated. In the southern United
States, nature enamels with a richness of colouring and a diversity of
materials which she has but sparingly employed in decorating the hills
and valleys of other lands. The grandeur of the forests in the south,
and the luxuriance of the shrubs and plants, have no parallel. But
southerners tread the avenues, breathe the air, and recline under the
trees and in the arbours of their paradise, thankfully accepting and
enjoying their luxurious boon, but seldom insinuating, through the
cultivation of flowers, that nature has left her work imperfect. There
are, it is true, individual exceptions. One of the finest private
gardens in the United States, which has suggested these remarks, is in
the south, and within two hours ride of Natchez. But as a general rule,
southerners, with the exception of the cultivation of a few plants in a
front yard, pay little regard to horticulture. So in New-England, a
lilac tree between the windows, a few rose bushes and indigenous plants
lining the walk, and five or six boxes or vases containing exotics
standing upon the granite steps on either side of the front door,
constitute the sum of their flower plants and the extent to which this
delightful science is carried. The severity of northern winters and the
shortness of the summers, may perhaps preclude perfection in this
pleasing study, but not excuse the present neglect of it. The English,
inhabiting a climate but a little milder, possess a strong and decided
horticultural taste--England itself is one vast garden made up of
innumerable smaller ones, each, from the cluster of shrubbery around the
humblest cottage to the magnificent park, that spreads around her
palaces, displaying the prevailing national passion.

Though southerners do not often pursue horticulture as a science, yet
they are passionately fond of flowers. At the south, gentlemen, without
the charge of coxcombry or effeminacy, wear them in the button-holes of
their vests--fair girls wreathe them in their hair, and children trudge
to school loaded with bouquets. The south is emphatically the land of
flowers; nature seems to have turned this region from her hand as the
_chef d'oeuvre_ of her skill. Here, in the glowing language of
Chateaubriand, are seen "floating islands of Pistia and Nenuphar, whose
yellow roses spring up like pavilions; here magnificent savanas unfold
their green mantles, which seem in the distance to blend their verdure
with the azure of the skies. Suspended on the floods of the Mississippi,
grouped on rocks and mountains and dispersed in valleys, trees of every
odour, every shape, every hue, entwine their variegated heads, and
ascend to an immeasurable height; bignonias, vines, and colocynths, wind
their slender roots around their trunks, creep to the summit of their
branches, and passing from the maple to the tulip tree and alcea, form a
thousand bowers and verdant arcades; stretching from tree to tree they
often throw their fibrous arms across rivers and erect on them arches of
foliage and flowers. Amidst these fragrant clusters, the proud magnolia
raises its immoveable cone, adorned with snowy roses, and commanding the
whole forest, meets with no other rival than the palm-tree, whose green
leaves are softly fanned by refreshing gales." The race here now is for
wealth; in good time the passion will change, and men, tired of
contesting for the prize in the game of life, which they have won over
and over again, will seek a theatre on which to display their golden
laurels; and where are men more fond of displaying their wealth than on
their persons, equipage, and dwellings? Horticulture, the taste in such
cases earliest cultivated, will then shed its genial influence over the
valley of the south-west, and noble mansions and tasteful cottages,
around which forests now gloomily frown, or rude fields spread their
ploughed surfaces, will be surrounded by noble grounds enriched by the
hand of taste from the lavish opulence of the forests and savanas. The
garden alluded to at the commencement of this letter, is situated upon
the plantation, an excursion to which was the subject of my last. As
this is said to be the finest garden in Mississippi, to which all others
more or less approximate, in the character of their plants, style, and
general arrangement, I would describe it, could my pen do adequate
justice to the taste of its proprietor, or the variety and beauty of the
plants and flowers. Among them--for I will mention a few--which
represented every clime, were the cape myrtle, with its pure and
delicately formed flower, the oak geranium, the classical ivy, and the
fragrant snow-drop. The broad walks were, as usual in southern gardens,
bordered by the varnished lauria mundi, occasionally relieved by the
cape jessamine, slender althea, and dark green arbor vitæ. The
splendidly attired amaryllis, the purple magnolia, the Arabian and
night-blooming jessamines, the verbenum, or lemon-scented geranium,
with the majestic aloe, that hoary monarch of the garden, which blooms
but once in a century, the broad-leaved yarra, or caco, the fragrant
snow-drop, and the sweet-scented shrub and oleander, with countless
other shrubs and flowers, breathing forth the sweetest fragrance,
gratified the senses, and pleased the eye wherever it was turned. There
spread the cassia, a creeping plant, bearing a pink flower, and
admirably adapted to bind the soil of this region, to prevent its
"washing," by the texture of its thickly matted shoots, its tenacity to
the soil, and the density of its foliage, all which combined, render it
a secure shield laid over the surface of the ground; box-trees, in
luxuriant, dark green cones, two or three feet high, were interspersed
among the loftier shrubs at the angles of the several avenues, which
were lined with diminutive hedges of this thickly-leaved plant. In the
centre of the main avenue, which, on account of the inclination of the
garden, was a terraced walk, terminating in an artificial pond, was a
large diamond-shaped bed of violets enamelled with blue and green, from
which arose a cloud of fragrance that floated over the whole garden,
gathering rich tributes from a hundred flowers of the sweetest perfume
and loveliest hues. Around this pond, were crescents of shrubs and
trees, among which the melancholy weeping willow drooped its graceful
tendrils over the water.[6] Beyond this little lake, the primeval
forests, which on every side bounded the prospect, rose majestically on
the summit of a high hill, in front, affording a striking contrast to
the Hesperian elegancies spread around the observer.

Arbours of the lauria mundi, and pleasant alcoves invited to repose or
meditation; and thickly shaded walks, wound on either side of the
principal walk which they occasionally intersected, in graceful
serpentine lines, bordered by the eglantine, or Scotch rose, the
monthly rose--the flower-pot plant of the north--which here grows in
luxuriant hedges, from six to ten feet high. The moss, and wild rose,
the last a native, in which the creative power of horticulture annually
unfolds new beauties, the dwarf cape jessamine, the Washita willow, with
its pretty flower, the laurustina, hypiscus, and citronelle, or fragrant
lemon grass, the tea-tree, three feet high, with orange and lemon trees,
bending under their golden fruit, and a guava tree, the only one in
fruit in the state, clustering with its delicious apple, presented on
every side the most delightful offerings to the senses. But I must beg
your indulgence for intruding upon you a botanical catalogue of plants
in a southern garden, which Pomona, envying the fair divinity presiding
there, might sigh to make her empire. Besides this exception to my
general philippic in the former part of this letter, against the
practical floral taste of Mississippians, there are a few others
sufficiently beautiful to atone for the prevailing deficiency of which I
have spoken. Clifton, an elegant villa near Natchez, and one of the
finest residences in the state, for the beauty of its grounds, and the
extent of the prospect from its lofty galleries, boasts a garden of
almost unrivalled beauty, and rich in the number and variety of its
shrubs and plants. There are three or four other gardens, buried like
gems in the centre of old plantations, which, in horticultural wealth
and display, nearly rival those above mentioned. I record these
instances with pleasure, as indicating the existence of that fine taste,
in the germ at least, which refinement, opulence, and leisure, will in
time unfold and ripen into maturity.

While standing upon the gallery in the evening, enjoying the various
busy scenes and confused sounds peculiar to a plantation at the close of
day, my attention was drawn to a lugubrious procession, consisting of
seven or eight negroes approaching the house from the "quarters," some
with blankets thrown like cloaks over their shoulders, their heads
bandaged, and moving with a listless gait of inimitable helplessness.
One after another they crawled up and presented themselves, before the
open passage in the gallery. Seeing such a sad assembly I approached
them with curiosity, while their master, notified of their arrival, came
out to examine into the state of this his walking hospital. Of all
modifications of the "human face divine," that of the sick negro is the
most dolorous. Their miserable, abject, hollow-eyed look has no
parallel. The negro is not an Adonis in his best estate. But he
increases his natural ugliness by a laxity of the muscles, a rolling of
the eye and a dropping of the under jaw, when ill, which give his face a
most ludicrously wo-begone appearance. The transparent jet-black hue of
his skin altogether disappears, leaving the complexion a dingy brown or
sallow, which in no slight degree increases the sadness of his
physiognomy. Those who are actually ill generally receive every
attention that humanity--not "interest"--dictates. It has been said that
interest is the only friend of the slave; that without this lever
applied to the feelings of the master, he would never be influenced to
care for his slaves either in health or in sickness. However true this
may be in individual instances, a vast number of cases have come within
my knowledge, which have convinced me that as a general censure this
charge is unmerited. Planters, particularly native planters, have a kind
of affection for their negroes, incredible to those who have not
observed its effects. If rebellious they punish them--if well behaved
they not unfrequently reward them. In health they treat them with
uniform kindness, in sickness with attention and sympathy. I once called
on a native planter--a young bachelor, like many of his class, who had
graduated at Cambridge and travelled in Europe--yet northern education
and foreign habits did not destroy the Mississippian. I found him by the
bed side of a dying slave--nursing him with a kindness of voice and
manner, and displaying a manly sympathy with his sufferings honorable to
himself and to humanity. On large plantations hospitals are erected for
the reception of the sick, and the best medical attendance is provided
for them. The physicians of Natchez derive a large proportion of their
incomes from attending plantations. On some estates a physician
permanently resides, whose time may be supposed sufficiently taken up in
attending to the health of from one to two hundred persons. Often,
several plantations, if the "force" on each is small, unite and employ
one physician for the whole. Every plantation is supplied with suitable
medicines, and generally to such an extent, that some room or part of a
room in the planter's house is converted into a small apothecary's
shop. These, in the absence of the physician in any sudden emergency,
are administered by the planter. Hence, the health of the slaves, so far
as medical skill is concerned, is well provided for. They are well fed
and warmly clothed in the winter, in warm jackets and trowsers, and
blanket coats enveloping the whole person, with hats or woolen caps and
brogans. In summer they have clothing suitable to the season, and a
ragged negro is less frequently to be met with than in northern cities.

The attendance which the sick receive is a great temptation for the
slaves to "sham" illness. I was dining not long since in the country
where the lady--a planter's daughter, and the wife and mother of a
planter--sent from the table some plates of rich soup and boiled fowl to
"poor sick Jane and her husband," as she observed in her reply to one
who inquired if any of her "people" were unwell. A portion of the
dessert was also sent to another who was convalescent. Those who are not
considered ill enough to be sent to the hospital, are permitted to
remain in their houses or cabins, reporting themselves every evening at
the "great hus," as they term the family mansion. The sombre procession
alluded to above, which led to these remarks, consisted of a few of
these invalids, who had appeared at the gallery to make their evening
report. On being questioned as to their respective conditions, a scene
ensues that to be appreciated, must be observed.

"What ails you, Peter?" "Mighty sick, master."[7] "Show me your
tongue:" and out, inch by inch, projects a long tongue, not unlike the
sole of his shoe in size and colour, accompanied by a groan from the
very pit of the stomach. If the negro is actually ill, suitable medicine
is prescribed, which his master or the physician compels him to swallow
in his presence. For, sick or well, and very fond of complaining, they
will never take "doctor's stuff," as they term it, but, throwing it away
as soon as they are out of sight, either go without any medicine, or
take some concoction in repute among the old African beldames in the
"quarters," by which they are sickened if well, and made worse if ill,
and present themselves for inspection the next evening, by no means
improved in health. They are fond of shamming, or "skulking," as sailors
term it, and will often voluntarily expose themselves to sickness, in
order to obtain exemption from labour.

There is no animal so averse to labour, even to the most necessary
locomotion, as the African. His greatest enjoyment seems to be a state
of animal inactivity. Inquire of any ordinary field negro why he would
like to be free, if he ever happened to indulge the wish, and he will
reply, "because me no work all day long." It is well known that the
"lazzaroni" of Italy, the gauchos who infest Buenos Ayres, and the
half-bloods swarming in the streets of all South American cities, will
never labour, unless absolutely obliged to do so for the purpose of
sustaining existence, and then only for the temporary supply. I once
applied to a half-naked gaucho, who, with his red _capote_ wound about
his head, was dozing in the sun on the _plaza_, to carry a portmanteau.
Slowly raising the heavy lids of his large glittering eyes, he took two
pieces of money, of small value, from the folds of his red sash, and
held them up to my view, murmuring, with a negative inclination of his
head--"Tengo dos reales, señor:" thereby implying, "I will take mine
ease while my money lasts--no more work till this is gone." By such a
feeling is this class of men invariably governed. Individuals of them I
have known to work with great industry for a day or two, and earn a few
dollars, when they would cease from their usual labour, and, until their
last penny was expended, no remuneration would prevail on them to carry
a trunk across the square. From my knowledge of negro character at the
south, however elevated it may be at the north, I am convinced that
slaves, in their present moral condition, if emancipated, would be
lazzaroni in every thing but colour. Sometimes a sham patient will be
detected; although, to make their complaints the more specious, they
frequently discolour the tongue. This species of culprit is often
punished by ridicule and exposure to his fellows, whose taunts on such
occasions embody the purest specimens of African wit. Not unfrequently
these cheats are punished by a dose from the medicine chest, that
effectually cures them of such indispositions. Latterly, since steaming
has been fashionable, a good steaming has been known to be an equally
effective prescription.

When a negro dies, his remains are placed in a coffin and decently
interred. Labour is often entirely suspended on the plantation, and the
slaves are assembled in their Sunday clothes to attend the funeral.
Divine service is sometimes performed in the little chapel on the
plantation, at which not only the slaves but the members of the white
family are present. A Presbyterian clergyman recently informed me that
he had been sent for by a native planter, to attend the funeral of one
of his slaves and preach his funeral sermon. He went, though twelve
miles distant from his residence, and remarked that he was never present
on a more interesting occasion. On most plantations females are allowed
a month's cessation from field labour, before and after confinement. But
it cannot be denied that on some plantations nothing but actual
confinement releases them from the field; to which the mother soon after
returns, leaving an infant a few days old at the "quarters," which she
is permitted to visit three or four times in the day. Sometimes, when a
little older, infants are brought into the field, under the care of an
old nurse, to save the time which the mothers would otherwise consume in
walking to and from the "quarters." Once, on riding through a
plantation, I noticed, under a China tree, which shaded the
shelter-house--a rude building, in the centre of extensive cotton
fields, in which negroes seek shelter on the approach of a storm--a
group of infants and children, whose parents I discovered at work more
than half a mile distant. Several little fellows, not two years old, and
as naked as young frogs, were amusing themselves in rolling over the
grass, heedless of the occasional warning of their _gouvernante_, "Take
care de snake."--Slung from a limb in a blanket reposed two others, very
snugly, side by side, mumbling corn bread; while, suspended from the
tree, in a rude cradle, were three or four more of this band of
nurslings, all in a pile, and fast asleep. I am indebted to this scene
for a correct application of the nursery song, which I had never before
been able exactly to understand, commencing--

    "Rock a bye, baby, upon the tree top,
     When the wind blows the cradle will rock;
     When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
     And down tumbles baby, cradle and all."

These little candidates for "field honours," are useless articles on a
plantation during the first five or six years of their existence. They
are then made to take the first lessons in the elementary part of their
education. When they have learned their manual alphabet tolerably well,
they are placed in the field to take a spell at cotton-picking. The
first day in the field is their proudest day. The young negroes look
forward to it, with as much restlessness and impatience as school-boys
to a vacation. Black children are not put to work so young as many
children of poor parents at the north. It is often the case that the
children of the domestic servants become pets in the house, and the
playmates of the white children of the family. No scene can be livelier
or more interesting to a northerner, than that which the negro quarters
of a well regulated plantation present, on a Sabbath morning, just
before church hour. In every cabin the men are shaving and dressing--the
women, arrayed in their gay muslins, are arranging their frizzly hair,
in which they take no little pride, or investigating the condition of
their children's heads--the old people neatly clothed are quietly
conversing or smoking about their doors, and those of the younger
portion, who are not undergoing the infliction of the wash-tub, are
enjoying themselves in the shade of the trees or around some little
pond, with as much zest as though "slavery" and "freedom" were
synonymous terms. When all are dressed and the hour arrives for worship,
they lock up their cabins, and the whole population of the little
village proceeds to the chapel, where divine worship is performed,
sometimes by an officiating clergyman, and often by the planter himself,
if a church member. The whole plantation is also frequently formed into
a Sabbath class, which is instructed by the planter or some member of
his family; and often such is the anxiety of masters that they should
perfectly understand what they are taught--a hard matter in the present
state of African intellect--that no means calculated to advance their
progress are left untried. I was not long since shown a manuscript
catechism, drawn up with great care and judgment by a distinguished
planter, on a plan admirably adapted to the comprehension of negroes.
The same gentleman, in conjunction with two or three neighbouring
planters, employs a Presbyterian clergyman, formerly a missionary among
the Choctaws at the Elliott station before their dispersion, to preach
to the slaves, paying him a salary for his services. On those
plantations which have no chapel, and no regular worship on the Sabbath,
negroes are permitted to go to the nearest town to church; a privilege
they seldom know how to appreciate, and prefer converting their liberty
into an opportunity for marketing or visiting. Experience, however, has
convinced planters that no indulgence to their slaves is so detrimental
as this, both to the moral condition of the slave, and the good order of
the plantation, for there is no vice in which many of them will not
become adepts, if allowed a temporary freedom from restraint, one day in
seven. Hence this liberty, except in particular instances, is denied
them on some estates; to which they are confined under easy discipline
during the day, passing the time in strolling through the woods,
sleeping, eating, and idling about the quarters. The evenings of the
Sabbath are passed in little gossipping circles in some of the cabins,
or beneath the shade of some tree in front of their dwellings, or at
weddings. The negroes are usually married by the planter, who reads the
service from the gallery--the couple with their attendants standing upon
the steps or on the green in front. These marriages, in the eye of the
slave, are binding. Clergymen are sometimes invited to officiate by
those planters who feel that respect for the marriage covenant, which
leads them to desire its strict observance, where human legislation has
not provided for it. On nuptial occasions the negroes partake of fine
suppers, to which the ladies add many little delicacies, and handsome
presents of wearing apparel to the married pair. When the negroes desire
a clergyman to perform the ceremony for them, planters seldom refuse to
comply with their request.

When negroes leave the plantation, for whatever purpose, whether to
attend church, class meeting or market, visit their husbands, wives, or
sweethearts, or are sent on errands, they must carry with them a written
permission of absence from their master, stating the object for which
his slave leaves his plantation, the place or places to which he is
going, and the time to which his absence is limited. This written
authority is called a "pass," and is usually written somewhat after this


      "Pass J---- to Natchez and back again by sunset," or "E----
      has permission to visit his wife on Mr. C----'s plantation,
      to be absent till 9 o'clock."

In such fluctuating property as slaves, it often happens that husband,
wife, and children may all belong to different owners; and as negroes
belonging to different plantations intermarry, such a provision, which
is a state law, is necessary to preserve discipline, and embrace within
the eye or knowledge of the master, every movement of his slave. Were
slaves allowed to leave the estates without the knowledge of their
masters, during a certain portion of every week, an immense body of men
in the aggregate, consisting of a few from every plantation in the
state, would be moving among the plantations, at liberty to plan and
execute any mischief they might choose to set on foot. If negroes leave
the plantation without a "pass," they are liable to be taken up by any
white person who suspects them to be runaways, and punishment is the
consequence. The law allows every white man in town or country this kind
of supervision over negroes; and as there are always men who are on the
lookout for runaways, for the purpose of obtaining the reward of several
dollars for each they can bring back to his master, the slave, should he
leave the plantation without his "pass"--the want of which generally
denotes the runaway--is soon apprehended. You will see that this
regulation is a wise legal provision for the preservation both of
private and public security. An anecdote connected with this subject was
recently related to me by a planter whose slave was the hero. "A
gentleman," said he, "met one of my negroes mounted on horseback, with a
jug in his hand, riding toward Natchez." Suspecting him from appearances
to be a runaway, he stopped him and asked for his "pass." The slave
unrolled first one old rag--an old rag is a negro's substitute for a
pocket--and then another without success. "I 'spec' me loss me pass,
master." "Whom do you belong to?" "Mr. ----," giving the wrong person.
"Where are you going?" "To Natchez, get whiskey, master." At the moment,
my brand upon the horse struck the eye of the gentleman; "You are a
runaway, boy--you belong to Mr. D----." Instantly the negro leaped from
his horse, cleared the fence, and fled through the woods like a deer
toward home. The gentleman on arriving at his own house, sent a servant
to me with the horse which the runaway had deserted. I immediately
assembled the whole force of the plantation and not one of the negroes
was missing; the culprit having managed to arrive at the plantation
before I could receive any intimation of his absence. I tried a long
time to make the guilty one confess, but in vain. So at last, I tried
the effect of a _ruse_. "Well, boys, I know it is one of you, and though
I am not able to point out the rogue, my friend who detected him will
recognize him at once. So you must walk over to his house. Fall in

"They proceeded a short distance, when I ordered a halt. "Mind, boys,
the guilty one shall not only be punished by me, but I will give every
'hand' on the plantation the liberty of taking personal satisfaction,
for compelling them to take a walk of three miles.--So, march!" They
moved on again for about a quarter of a mile, when they came to a full
stop--deliberated a few moments and then retraced their steps. "Hie!
what now?" "Why, master, Bob say he de one." Bob, who it seems had
confessed to his fellow-slaves as the best policy, now stepped forward,
and acknowledged himself to be the runaway."


[6] The weeping willow is less luxuriant in this climate than in
latitude 40°. It is not however cultivated in this state as it is in
Pennsylvania, where it arrives at the greatest perfection. There is a
willow which grows on the banks of the Mississippi, whose roots become
as dry as tinder, after the periodical swell has subsided, but which
vegetates afresh as soon as it is watered by the next inundation. This
property of dying and returning again to vegetative existence, is not
peculiar to this willow; other plants possess the same singular
property, though this exceeds all others in magnitude. The plants of
that description known to botanists, are all water mosses except two
species of ducksmeat--the "lemna minor" and the "lemna gibba." These are
but minute vegetables floating on the surface of stagnant water, without
taking root in the pond. They may be dried in the hot sun and then kept
in a deal box for two or three years, after which they will revive, if
placed in spring, river or rain water. There is at the north a kind of
natural paper, resembling the coats or strata of a wasp's nest in colour
and consistency, which is formed of the sediment of ponds, that become
dry in hot weather. If a piece of this paper-like substance be put in a
glass of fresh water and exposed to light, it loses its dirty-white
colour in a few minutes and assumes a lively green. This sudden and
unexpected change is occasioned by a number of aquatic mosses,
constituting a part of the materials of the paper or sediment in
question, and belonging to the genus "Conferra;" for these minute
vegetables may be said to be in the state of suspended animation, while
they remain dry; but the presence of water restores them to their
natural functions by its animating virtue.

So long retaining the principle of life, these curious plants, as well
as the two species above mentioned, may be transported to any distant
country in a torpid condition, where they might again be animated. The
same remark will apply to the Mississippi willow which suggested these

[7] The negro seldom is heard to say "massa;" they generally say
_master_, distinctly.


      Preparation for a deer hunt--A sailor, a planter, and an
      author--A deer driver--"Stands" for deer--The hunting ground
      --The hunt--Ellis's cliff--Silver mine--An hypothesis--
      Alluvial formation of the lower valley of the Mississippi--
      Geological descriptions of the south-west.

The morning after my arrival at the plantation, which suggested the
subject of my last letter, two gentlemen, with their guns and dogs,
arrived at the house, to proceed from thence, according to a previous
arrangement, on a deer hunt. This noble and attractive game abounds in
the "bottoms" and river hills in this region; though the planters, who
are in general passionately fond of hunting, are fast thinning their
numbers. The branching antlers of a stag, as in the old oaken halls of
England, are found fixed, in some conspicuous station, in almost every
planter's habitation--trophies of his skill, and testimonials of his
attachment to the chase.

Having prepared our hunting apparatus, and assembled the dogs, which,
from their impatient movements, evidently needed no intimation of our
design, we mounted our horses, and, winding through the cotton fields,
entered a forest to the south, and proceeded, in fine spirits, toward
the "drive," four or five miles below, as the hunting station is
technically termed by deer hunters. There were, exclusive of a servant,
four in our party. One of them, my host, formerly an officer in the
navy, having, some years since, left the service, and settled himself
down as a cotton planter, presented in his person the anomalous union,
in Mississippi, of the sailor and farmer: for in this state, which has
little intercourse directly with the sea, sailors are rare birds. Till
recently a ship could not be seen by a Mississippian without going to
New-Orleans, or elsewhere out of the state: but since Natchez became a
port of entry, and ships have ascended here, the citizens who flocked in
from all the country round, to gaze upon them, are a little more _au
fait_ to this branch of nautical knowledge. It would be difficult to say
which predominates in this gentleman, the bluff and frank bearing of the
sailor, or the easy and independent manner of the planter. In the
management of his plantation, the result of his peculiar economy has
shown, that the discipline with which he was familiar in the navy, with
suitable modifications, has not been applied unsuccessfully to the
government of his slaves. What a strange inclination sailors have for
farming! Inquire of any New-England sea-captain the ultimatum of his
wishes, after leaving the sea--for sailors in general follow the sea as
the means of securing them a snug berth on shore--and he will almost
invariably reply--"a farm." Another of our party was a planter, a native
of Mississippi, and the son of a gentleman whose philosophic researches
have greatly contributed to the advancement of science. He was a model
of a southern planter--gentlemanly, companionable, and a keen hunter.
The government of his plantation, which is one of the finest in the
state, is of a parental rather than an imperious character. He rules
rather by kindness than severity, and his slaves obey from the principle
of a desire to please, rather than from fear. And the result of his
discipline has fully overthrown the sweeping assertion, which it is the
fashion to repeat and believe, that "the more kindly slaves are treated
the worse they are." A favourite theory of philanthropists, in relation
to master and slave, is more practically illustrated on the estate of
this gentleman, than the most sanguine of its framers could have
anticipated. As I have, in a former letter, alluded to that branch of
the domestic economy of this plantation, relating to the religious
privileges of the slaves, and shall again have occasion to refer to its
discipline, I will pursue the subject here no farther.

The third individual of our party was a gentleman originally from
New-Jersey; a state which has contributed many valuable citizens to
Mississippi. But he had been too long in the south to preserve his
identity as a Jersey man. The son of a distinguished barrister, he had
been a lawyer himself; but, like all professional men, who have remained
here a short time, he had taken his third degree as a cotton planter. He
is a gentleman of fine taste and a chastened imagination; and besides
some beautiful tales, contributed to the periodicals, he is the author
of that delightful story, the "Fawn's leap," published in the Atlantic
Souvenir of 1830. The literary world will have reason to feel regret, in
which the subject of my remark will, no doubt, be far from sympathising,
that fortune has placed him among her _protegés_. He possesses an
independent property, and resides on an estate called "Woodbourne,"
eight or nine miles from Natchez. With true Mississippi taste, he has
placed his handsome villa in the midst of a forest; but the majestic
beauty of the lofty trees, as surveyed from the gallery, and the solemn
grandeur of the primeval forests which inclose his dwelling on all
sides, struck me, at the moment, as far superior to any display of art
in ornamental grounds, and nearly unhinged my predilection for
artificial scenery. In this charming retirement, and in the quiet
enjoyment of private life, he has laid aside the gown of the author to
assume the capote of the planter, and become an indefatigable devotee to
the lordly pleasures of the chase. Few men, who hunt merely _en
amateur_, and especially, few literary men, can boast that they have
killed twenty-seven deer, and been at the death of fifty-two--yet this
gentleman can do so with truth: and a row of notches, cut in his
hunting-horn, which I found suspended from an antler in the gallery of
the house we had just left, recorded the fact. Besides this gentleman,
there are but few individuals who are known out of this state as
cultivators of literature. Mississippi is yet too young to boast of her
authors, although she is not deficient in men of talent and learning.
But the members of the learned professions are too much involved in
schemes of wealth to have leisure or inclination for the cultivation of
general literature.

Half way through the forest into which we entered on leaving the
plantation, we came to a rude dwelling, inhabited by a ruder old hunter,
who was to officiate as "driver." He accompanied us with his dogs for a
while, and then turned aside into the woods to surround the deer in
their place of resort and drive them toward the river, between which and
them we were to take our "stands," for the purpose of intercepting them,
as they dashed by to the water. For if alarmed while feeding upon the
high grounds back front the Mississippi, they at once bound off to the
shelter of the swamps or bottoms near the river--and the skilful hunter,
whose experience teaches him by what paths they will seek to gain the
lowlands where the hounds cannot follow them, takes his stand with his
rifle behind some tree by which he is tolerably sure the deer will pass,
and as the noble and terrified animal bounds past him, he levels the
deadly rifle with unerring aim, and buries a bullet in his heart.

Emerging from the forest a mile or two above our hunting ground, we came
suddenly upon an amphitheatre of naked hills nearly surrounded by
forests of dark pine. Winding through romantic defiles thickly bordered
with cedars, we gradually ascended to the summit of the highest of this
cluster of treeless hills, when all at once the Mississippi, rolling
onward to the sea, burst upon our sight in all its majesty. There is a
grand and desolate character in those naked cliffs which hang in huge
terraces over the river, to the perpendicular height of three hundred
feet. The view from their summits is one of the most sublime and
extensive in the south-west. To the north and south the broad river
spreads away like a long serpentine lake, its western shore presenting a
plain, clothed even to the horizon with a boundless forest, with a
plantation here and there breaking the uniformity of its outlines, near
the water's edge.

After a farther ride of a mile, over a hilly road through woods
alternately exposing and hiding the river, we arrived at the
"deer-stand,"--a long ridge nearly parallel with the river, and covered
with a very open forest with a low "bottom," between the ridge and the
water, and an extensive "drive," or forest frequented by deer, extending
two miles inland. Our "driver" with the whole pack, had turned off into
the "drive" some time before, and having examined the ground, we took
our "stands" about a hundred yards apart, each behind a large tree
commanding an opening, or avenue, through which the deer were expected
to pass. Several of these "stands," and many more than we could occupy,
were on the ridge, all of which should have been occupied to insure a
successful issue to our sport. A few moments after we had taken our
stands, and while listening for the least token of the "driver's"
presence in the depths of the forest--the distant baying of dogs, in
that peculiar note with which they open when they have roused their
game, fell faintly upon our ears. The chorus of canine voices, however,
soon grew louder and more violent--and as they awoke the echoes of the
forests, and came down upon us like a storm--my heart leaped and the
blood coursed merrily in my veins. All at once the deep voices of the
hounds ceased as though they were at fault; but after a few moments'
pause, a staunch old hunter opened again far to the right, and again the
whole pack were in pursuit in full cry, and the crashing of trees and
underbrush directly in front of us about a quarter of a mile in the
wood, with the increased roar of the pack, warned us to be ready. The
next moment the noise moved away to the right, and all at once, with a
crash and a bound, a noble stag, with his head laid back upon his
shoulders, crossed our line at the remotest stand, and disappeared in
the thick woods along the river. The dogs followed like meteors. Away to
the left another crashing was heard, and a beautiful doe leaped across
the open space on the ridge, and was lost in the thicket. The sounds of
affrighted deer, passing through the forest at a great distance, were
occasionally heard, but these soon died away and we only heard the wild
clamour of the dogs, which the driver, who was close at their heels, in
vain essayed to recall by sounding his horn long and loud, and sending
its hoarse notes into the deepest recesses of the wood.

After a great deal of trouble, by whipping, coaxing, and driving, nearly
all the dogs were again collected, as it was in vain to pursue the deer
to their retreats. Some of the old hunters slowly coming in at the last,
laid themselves down by us panting and half dead with fatigue. By and by
the driver again started into the "drive" with the dogs; but an
engagement for the evening, precluding my participation in a renewal of
the spirit-stirring scene, I reluctantly left my agreeable party who
were out for the day, and proceeded homeward. They returned late at
night with, I believe, a single deer as the reward of their patience and
unwearied spirits, two most important virtues in a thorough-bred deer
hunter. Uncommon nerve and great presence of mind are also indispensable
qualifications. "Once," remarked a hunting gentleman to me, "while
waiting at my stand the approach of a buck, which some time before
seeing him I had heard leaping along in immense bounds through the
thicket--his sudden appearance in an open space about a hundred yards in
front, bearing down directly toward me at fearful speed, so awed and
unnerved me for the moment, that although my rifle was levelled at his
broad breast, I had not the power to pull the trigger, and before I
could recover myself the noble creature passed me like the wind." Yet
this gentleman was a tried hunter, and on other occasions had brought
down deer as they came toward him at full speed, at the distance of from
sixty to a hundred yards.

On my return from the hunting ground, I lingered on the romantic cliff
we had crossed in the morning, delighted at once more beholding scenery
that reminded me of the rude features of my native state. Dismounting
from my horse, which I secured to the only tree upon the cliff, I
descended, after many hair-breadth escapes a ravine nearly two hundred
feet in depth, which conducted me to the water side and near the mouth
of the beautiful St. Catharine, which, after a winding course of more
than eighty miles, empties itself into the Mississippi through an
embouchure ten yards wide, and as accurately defined as the mouth of a
canal. Near this spot is a silver mine lately re-discovered, after the
lapse of a third of a century. Its history, I believe, is this. Some
thirty or forty years ago, a Spaniard who had been a miner in Mexico,
passing down the Mississippi, discovered ore which he supposed to be
silver. He took a quantity of it into his pirogue, and on arriving at a
planter's house on the banks of the river in Louisiana, tested it as
correctly as circumstances would admit, and was satisfied that it was
pure silver. He communicated the discovery to his host, gave him a few
ingots of the metal and took his departure. What became of him is not
known. The host from year to year resolved to visit the spot, but
neglected it, or was prevented by the intrusion of more pressing
employments, till four or five years since. He then communicated the
discovery to a Mexican miner, an American or an Englishman, who stopped
at his house, and to whom, on hearing him speak of mines, he showed the
masses he had received so many years before from the Spaniard. The man
on examining them and ascertaining the metal to be pure silver, became
at once interested in the discovery, obtained the necessary information
to enable him to find the spot, and immediately ascended the river. On
arriving at the cliffs he commenced his search, and after a few days
discovered the vein, in one of the lowest strata of the cliffs. He
found it difficult, however, to engage the neighbouring planters in his
scheme of working it, for what planter would exchange his cotton fields
for a silver mine? Yet they treated him with attention, and seconded his
efforts by lending him slaves. More than a hundred weight of the ore was
obtained, and sent on to Philadelphia to undergo the process of fusion.
It probably is not rich enough for amalgamation, as it contains a
superior bulk of iron pyrites, blende, lead and earthy matter. The
amount of pure silver procured from the ore has not been ascertained,
the result of the process not having yet been made known. I obtained
several pieces, which make a very pretty show in a cabinet, and this is
probably the highest honour to which it will be exalted, at least till
the surface of the earth refuses longer to bear ingots of silver, in the
shape of the snowy cotton boll.

The peculiar features of these cliffs are a series of vast concavities,
or inverted hollow cones, connected with each other by narrow gorges,
whose bottoms are level with the river, and surrounded by perpendicular
and overhanging walls of earth, often detached, like huge pyramids, and
nearly three hundred feet in height. There are five clusters of these
cliffs in this state, all situated on the eastern shore of the
Mississippi, from forty to one hundred miles apart, of which this is the
most important in height and magnitude, as well as in grandeur and
variety of scenery. They are properly the heads or terminations of the
high grounds of the United States--the _antennæ_ of the Alleghanies.[8]
The hypothesis that they were promontories in past ages, with the waves
of the Mexican Gulf breaking at their bases, has had the support of many
scientific men. This opinion carries with it great probability, when the
peculiar qualities of the Mississippi are considered in relation to its
"forming effects." These effects are a consequence of the general truth
of the proposition, that every mechanical destruction will be followed
by a mechanical formation; hence the masses separated by the waters of
the Mississippi, will be again deposited on the surface of the land, or
its shores, about its mouth, and on the bottom of the sea. You are aware
that one twelfth of the bulk of this vast volume of water is earth, as
ascertained by its depositing that proportion in the bottom of a glass
filled with the water. During the flood the proportion is greater, and
the earthy particles are as dense as the water can hold in suspension.
The average velocity of the current below the Missouri, is between one
and two miles an hour, and it is calculated that it would require four
months to discharge the column of water embraced between this point and
its delta. Bearing constantly within its flood a mass of earth equal to
one twelfth of its whole bulk, it follows that it must bear toward the
sea, every four years, more than its cubical bulk of solid earth. Now
where is this great column of earth deposited? Has it been rolling
onward for centuries, without any visible effects? This will not be
affirmed, and experience proves the contrary in the hourly mechanical
depositions of the ochreous particles of this river, in its noble
convexities, its extensive bottoms, and the growing capes at its mouth.
But a small portion of the turbid mixture has been deposited in the bed
of the river, particularly in its southern section, as moving water will
not deposit at any great depth.[9]

Now when the general appearance and geological features of the
South-West, including the south part of Mississippi and nearly the whole
of Louisiana, are observed with reference to the preceding statements,
the irresistible conviction of the observer is, that the immense plain
now rich with sugar and cotton fields, a great emporium, numerous
villages and a thousand villas, was formed by the mechanical deposits of
the Mississippi upon the bed of the ocean, precisely as they are now
building up fields into the Mexican Gulf. Do not understand me that the
present fertile surface of this region was the original bed of the
ocean, but that it rose out of it, as the coral islands come up out of
the sea, by the gradual accumulation of deposits. The appearance of
these inland promontories or cliffs, which suggested these remarks, and
the fact that the highlands of the south-west, all terminate along the
southern border of this region, from fifty to one hundred miles from the
sea, leaving a broad alluvial tract between, and presenting a well
defined _inland_ sea-board, go far to strengthen the opinion I have

The chain of cliffs along the eastern shore of the Mississippi, have a
parallel chain opposite to them on the other side of the great savana,
skirted by the Mississippi, about forty miles distant. This savana or
valley gradually widens to the south until near the mouth of the river,
where it is increased to one hundred and forty or fifty miles in
breadth. It is this great valley which is of mechanical formation, and
its present site was in all probability covered by the waters of a bay
similar to the Chesapeake, extending many leagues above Natchez to the
nearest approximation of the cliffs on either side, where alone must
have been an original mouth of this great river. Where the spectator, in
looking westward from these bluffs; now beholds an extensive and level
forest, in ages past rolled the waters of the Mexican sea--and where he
now gazes upon a broad and placid river flowing onward to mingle with
the distant ocean, the very waves of that ocean rolled in loud surges,
dashed against the lofty cliffs, and kissed the pebbles at his feet.


[8] There are five more cliffs above this state, between it and the
mouth of the Ohio; and one on the western shore of the Mississippi at
Helena, Arkansas.

[9] The following extract from a private letter in the author's
possession, bearing date New Orleans 28th April, 1804, contains some
interesting facts, relative to the depth of the lower Mississippi, and
other characteristics of this river, which were obtained by the writer
from actual observation.

"In Nov. 1800, when there was scarcely any perceptible current, in
company with Mr. Benj. Morgan and Capt. Roger Crane, I set off from just
above the upper gate of this city and sounded the river, at every three
or four boats' length, until we landed opposite to M. Bernody's house on
the right bank of the river. The depth of water increased pretty
regularly; viz. 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 20 fathoms. The greatest
depth was found at about 120 yards from Bernody's shore. This operation
was accurately performed; and as the river rises about twelve feet on an
average at this place, the depth at high water will be twenty two
fathoms. A M. Dervengé, whose father was chief pilot in the time of the
French, informed me that his father often told him that a little way
below the English Turn there was fifty fathoms of water; and M. Laveau
Trudo said that about the upper Plaquemine, there was sixty fathoms, or
three hundred and sixty feet.

In the year 1791, during five days that I lay at the Balize, I learned
from M. Demaron Trudo, who was then commandant of that place, that there
was about three feet difference between the high and low waters. From
the best information I have been able to collect, there is a declension
of eight or nine feet from the natural banks of the river at this city,
to the banks upon which is the site of the house where the Spanish
commandant lived before they removed up to Plaquemine, at the distance
of about three leagues from the sea. There is a gradual slope or descent
of the whole southern region of the Mississippi river, from the river
Yazoo, in lat. 32° 30' N. to the ocean or Gulf of Mexico. The elevation
of the bluff at Natchez is about 200 feet; at St. Francisville, seventy
miles lower, it is a little more than 100 feet; at Baton Rouge, about
thirty miles lower, it is less than 40 feet, at New Orleans, according
to the above statement eight feet, and at the Balize less than two feet.
This vast glacis, at a similar angle of inclination, extends for some
leagues into the Gulf of Mexico, till lost in the natural bed of the

The river, whose current is said to be the most rapid at the period when
it is about to overflow its banks, runs in its swiftest vein or portion
about five miles an hour. I allude to the line of upper current, and not
to the mass, which moves much slower than the surface. The average
velocity of the river when not in flood is not above two miles an hour.
This is easily ascertained, by the progression and regular motion of its
swells, and not by its apparent motion.

In November, 1800, as before observed, the motion of the stream was so
sluggish as to be scarcely perceptible. A vessel that then lay opposite
the Government House, advanced against it with a light breeze. I was
told by a respectable lady, Mdme. Robin, who lives about six leagues
below the city, that the water of the river was so brackish that she was
obliged to drink other water, and that there were an abundance of
porpoises, sharks, mullet, and other sea-fish, even above her
plantation, nearly one hundred miles from the Gulf. The citizens thought
the water brackish opposite the town. It looked quite green like
sea-water, and when held to the light was quite clear. Although I did
not think it brackish, I found it vapid and disagreeable. This is a
phenomenon of rare occurrence, and not satisfactorily accounted for."


      Geography of Mississippi--Ridges and bottoms--The Mississippi
      at its efflux--Pine and table lands--General features of the
      state--Bayous--Back-water of rivers--Springs--St. Catharine's
      harp--Bankston springs--Mineral waters of this state--
      Petrifactions--Quartz crystals--"Thunderbolts"--Rivers--The
      Yazoo and Pearl.

Though not much given to theorising, I have been drawn into some
undigested remarks in my last letter, upon a theory, which is beginning
to command the attention of scientific men, to which the result of
geological researches daily adds weight, and to which time, with correct
observations and farther discoveries, must add the truth of

This letter I will devote to a subject, naturally arising from the
preceding, perhaps not entirely without interest--I mean the physical
geography and geology of this state. In the limits of a letter it is
impossible to treat this subject as the nature of it demands, yet I will
endeavour to go so far into its detail, as to give you a tolerable idea
of the general features of the region.

Besides the cliffs, or great head-lands, alluded to in my last letter,
frowning, at long intervals, over the Mississippi, serrated ridges,
formed of continuous hills projecting from these points, extend in
various directions over the state. These again branch into lower ridges,
which often terminate near the river, between the great bluffs, leaving
a flat space from their base to the water, from a third of a mile to a
league in breadth. These flats, or "bottoms," as they are termed in
western phraseology, are inundated at the periodical floods, increasing,
at those places, the breadth of the river to the dimensions of a lake.
The forest-covered savana, nearly forty miles across, through which the
Mississippi flows, and which is bordered by the mural high lands or
cliffs alluded to in my last letter, is also overflowed at such seasons;
so that the river then becomes, in reality, the breadth of its valley.
The grandeur of such a spectacle as a river, forty miles in breadth,
descending to the ocean between banks of lofty cliffs, too far distant
to be within each other's horizon, challenges a parallel. But, as this
vast plain is covered with a forest, the lower half of which only is
inundated, the width of the river remains as usual to the eye of the
spectator on the cliffs, who will have to call in the aid of his
imagination to realize, that in the bosom of the vast forest outspread
beneath him rolls a river, to which, in breadth, the noble stream before
him is but a rivulet. The interior hills, or ridges, mentioned above,
are usually covered with pine; which is found only on such eminences,
and in no other section of the south or west, except an isolated wood
in Missouri, for more than fifteen hundred miles. The surface of the
whole state is thus diversified with hills, with the exception of an
occasional interval on the borders of a stream, or a few leagues of
prairie in the north part of the state, covered with thin forests of
stunted oaks. These hills rise and fall in regular undulations, clothed
with forests of inconceivable majesty, springing from a rich, black
loam, peculiarly fitted to the production of cotton; though, according
to a late writer on this plant, "it flourishes with equal luxuriance in
the black alluvial soil of Alatamaha and in the glowing sands of St.

The general features of this state have suggested the idea of an immense
ploughed field, whose gigantic furrows intersect each other at various
angles.--Imagine the hills, formed by these intersections, clothed with
verdure, whitened with cotton fields, or covered with noble woods, with
streams winding along in the deep ravines, repeatedly turning back upon
their course, in their serpentine windings, before they disembogue into
the Mississippi on the west, or the Pearl on the east, and you will have
a rude though generally correct idea of the bolder features of this

A "plain," or extensive level expanse, which is not a marsh, forms,
consequently, no part of its scenery, hill and hollow being its stronger
characteristics. For a hilly country it presents one striking
peculiarity. The surface of the forests, viewed from the bluffs, or
from some superior elevation in the interior, presents one uniform
horizontal level, with scarcely an undulation in the line to break the
perspective. Particularly is this observable about a mile from Natchez,
from the summit of a hill on the road to the village of Washington. Here
an extensive forest scene lies east of the observer, to appearance a
perfect level. But as he travels over hill and through ravine,
anticipating a delightful prairie to lie before him, over which he may
pace, (or _canter_, if he be a northerner) at his ease, he will find
that the promised plain, like the _mirage_ before the fainting Arabian,
for ever eludes his path.

There is another remarkable feature in this country, peculiar to the
whole region through which the lower Mississippi flows which I can
illustrate no better than by resorting to the idea of a ploughed field.
As many of these intersecting furrows, or ravines, terminate with the
ridges that confine them, near the river, with whose medium tides they
are nearly level, they are inundated by the periodical effluxes, which,
flowing up into the land, find a passage through other furrows, and
discharge into some stream, that suddenly overflows its banks; or
winding sluggishly through the glens, cut deep channels for themselves
in the argillaceous soil, and through a chain of ravines again unite
with the Mississippi, after having created, by their surplus waters,
numerous marshes along their borders, and leaving around their course
innumerable pools of stagnant water, which become the home of the lazy
alligator,[11] and the countless water-fowls which inhabit these
regions. These inlets are properly bayous. They radiate from the
Mississippi, in the state of Louisiana, in countless numbers, forming a
net-work of inlets along its banks for fifty miles on either side,
increasing in numbers and size near its mouth; so that, for many leagues
above it, an inextricable tissue of lakes and inlets, or bayous, form
communications and passes from the river to the Gulf,[12] "accessible,"
says Flint, "by small vessels and bay-craft, and impossible to be
navigated, except by pilots perfectly acquainted with the waters." The
entrance of some of these bayous, which are in the vicinity of Natchez,
is fortified against the effluxes of the river by _levées_, constructed
from one highland to another; and by this means the bottom lands in the
rear are protected from the overflow, and, when cultivated, produce fine
crops of cotton. Inundations are also caused when the Mississippi is
high, by its waters flowing up into the small rivers and creeks, whose
natural level is many feet below the high water mark, till they find a
level.--The water of these streams is consequently forced back upon
itself, and, rising above its banks, overflows all the adjacent country.
This "back-water," as it is termed, is more difficult to be resisted by
levées than the effluxes of the bayous; and for the want of some
successful means of opposing its force, some of the finest "bottom
lands" in the state remain uncultivated, and covered with water and

The smaller rivers and streams in this state are wild and narrow
torrents, wholly unlike those placid streams which flow through
New-England, lined with grassy or rocky banks, and rolling over a stony
bottom, which can be discerned from many feet above it, through the
transparent fluid. Here the banks of the streams are precipices, and
entirely of clay or sand, and cave in after every rain, which suddenly
raises these torrents many feet in a few minutes; and such often is
their impetuosity, that if their banks are too high to be inundated,
they cut out new channels for themselves; and a planter may, not
improbably, in the morning after a heavy rain, find an acre or more
added to his fields from an adjoining estate; to be repaid, in kind,
after another rain. In the dry season the water of these streams--which,
with the exception of three or four of the large ones, are more properly
conduits for the rain water that falls upon the hills, than permanent
streams--is tolerably clear, though a transparent sheet of water larger
than a spring, whether in motion or at rest, I have not seen in this
state. After a rain they become turbid, like the Mississippi, impetuous
in their course, and dangerous to travellers. Few of these streams are
covered with bridges, as their banks dissolve, during a rain, almost as
rapidly as banks of snow--so light is the earth of which they are
composed--and the points from which bridges would spring are soon washed
away. The streams are therefore usually forded; and as their beds are of
the finest sand, and abound in quicksands, carriages and horses are
often swallowed up in fording them, and lives are not unfrequently lost.

The roads throughout the state, with the exception of these fords, are
very good, winding through fine natural scenery, past cultivated fields,
and pleasant villages.

In the neighbourhood of these streams, on the hills, and in the vales
throughout the state, springs of clear cold water abound. There is a
deep spring on the grounds attached to Jefferson College in this state,
whose water is so transparent, that to the eye, the bottom appears to be
reflected through no other medium than the air. The water is of a very
mild temperature in the winter, and of an icy coolness in the summer.
The spring is in a deep glen, surrounded by lofty trees, one of which,
from its shape, branching from the root into two trunks, and uniting
again in an extraordinary manner by a transverse limb, thirty feet from
the ground, is called "St. Catharine's Harp," and is one among the
natural curiosities of that vicinity. In the interior of the state are
several mineral springs, which of late years have become very
fashionable resorts for those who do not choose, like the majority of
Mississippians, to spend their summers and money at the Kentucky,
Virginian, or New-York springs. The waters of most of these springs are
chalybeate, with a large proportion of sulphuric acid combined with the
iron. The most celebrated are the Brandywine, romantically situated in a
deep glen in the interior of the state, and the Bankston springs, two
hour's ride from the capital. The constituent qualities of the waters,
as ascertained by a recent chemical analysis, are sulphate of magnesia,
sulphate of soda and sulphur, which exist in such a state of combination
as to render the waters not disagreeable to the taste, yet sufficiently
beneficial to the patient. They are said to act favourably upon most of
the diseases of the climate, such as affections of the liver, bowels,
cutaneous and chronic diseases, congestive and bilious fevers, debility,
and numerous other ills "that flesh is heir to." The location is highly
romantic and healthy. In the words of another--"the circumjacent country
is for several miles covered with forests, of which pine is the
principal growth; its surface is elevated and undulating, entirely free
from stagnant waters, and other local causes of disease. The site of the
springs is not inferior in beauty to any spot in the southern country.
They are situated in a narrow plane, surrounded, on one side by an
almost perpendicular bluff from which they flow, on the other, by a
gentle declivity, dividing itself into two twin ridges; which, after
describing a graceful curve, unite again at a point on which stands the
principal building, one hundred feet in length, and on either of these
ridges, is built a row of new and comfortable apartments. Through the
centre of the grove, a path leads from the principal building to the
spring, forming at all hours of the day, a delightful promenade. The
water at the fountain, is exceedingly cool and exhilarating. A dome
supported by neat columns, rises above the fountain, which, with the aid
of the surrounding hills and overhanging forest, renders it at all times
impervious to the sun. The roads, which during the summer season are
always good, communicate in various directions with Port Gibson,
Vicksburg, Jackson, Clinton, and Raymond, affording at all times good
society. The forest abounds with deer and other game, the chase of which
will afford a healthy amusement to those who may be tempted to join in

The mineral waters in the state are chiefly sulphurous and chalybeate,
with the exception, I believe, of one or two of the saline class.

In the vicinity of these springs, and also on most of the water courses
in the state, and, with but an exception or two, in these places alone,
are found the only stones in the state. Rock is almost unknown. I have
not seen even a stone, within fifteen miles of Natchez, larger than the
third part of a brick, and those that I have seen were found in the
pebbly bed of some stream. There is a stratum of pebbles from one to
three feet thick extending through this state. It is variously waved,
sometimes in a plane, and at others forming various angles of
inclination, and at an irregular depth from the surface, according to
the thickness of the superimposed masses of earth which are composed of
clay, loam, and sand. This stratum is penetrated and torn up by the
torrents, which strew their beds with the pebbles. There is no rock
except a species of soft sand-stone south of latitude 32° north, in this
state, except in Bayou Pierre, (the stony bayou) and a cliff at Grand
Gulf, forty miles above Natchez. This last is composed of common
carbonate of lime and silex, but the quantity of each has not been
accurately determined.

The sand-stone alluded to above, is in the intermediate state between
clay and stone, in which the process of petrifaction is still in
progress. In the north-east portion of the state, this species of stone,
whose basis is clay, is found in a more matured state of petrifaction.
Perfect gravel is seldom met with here, even in the stratum of pebbles
before mentioned. These resemble in properties and colour, the clay so
abundant in this region; a great proportion of the gravel is composed of
a petrifaction of clay and minute shells, of the mollusca tribe. I have
found in the dry bed of the St. Catharine's, pebbles, entirely composed
of thousands of the most delicately formed shells, some of which, of
singularly beautiful figures, I have not before met with. Concave spiral
cones, the regular discoid volute, cylinders, a circular shell, a tenth
of an inch in diameter, formed by several concentric circles, and a
delicate shell formed by spiral whorls, with fragments of various other
minute shells, principally compose them. The variety of shells in this
state is very limited. All that have been found here have their surfaces
covered with the smooth olive-green epidermis, characteristic of fresh
water shells, and are all very much eroded. Agates of singular beauty
have also been discovered, and minute quartz crystals are found imbedded
in the cavities of pebbles composed of alumina and grains of quartz.
Mica and feldspar I have not met with. About two years ago, on the
plantation of Robert Field, Esq. in the vicinity of the white cliffs, a
gentleman picked up from the ground a large colourless rock crystal,
with six sided prisms and a pyramidal termination of three faces.
Curiosity led him to examine the spot, and after digging a few minutes
beneath the surface, he found three more, of different sizes, two of
them nearly perfect crystals, but the third was an irregular mass of
colourless transparent quartz. This is the only instance of the
discovery of this mineral in the state, and how these came to be on that
spot, which is entirely argillaceous and at a great distance from any
rocks or pebbles, is a problem. Pure flint is not found in this state,
yet the plough-share turns up on some plantations, numerous
arrow-heads, formed of this material, and there is also a species of
stone, artificially formed, in size and shape precisely resembling the
common wedge for cleaving wood, with the angles smoothly rounded. They
are found all over the south-western country, and the negroes term them
"thunder bolts;" but wiser heads have sagely determined their origin
from the moon. Planters call them spear-heads, for which they were
probably constructed by the aborigines. The stone of which they are made
is not found in this country. Some of them I believe are composed of
mica and quartz. Many of them are a variety of the mica and of a brown
colour, sometimes inclining to green, and highly polished. I have seen
some on a plantation near Natchez, of an iron black colour resembling
polished pieces of black marble.

The several strata which compose this state are an upper layer of rich
black loam from one to three feet thick, the accumulation of centuries,
and a second stratum of clay several feet in thickness, beneath which
are various substrata of loam and sand, similar to that which
constitutes the islands and "bottoms" of the Mississippi. With the
exception of the Yazoo, which flows through a delightful country rich in
soil and magnificent with forests, along whose banks the Mississippians
are opening a new theatre for the accumulation of wealth, and where
villages spring up annually with the yearly harvest--and the Pearl--a
turbid and rapid torrent whose banks are lined with fine plantations and
beautiful villages--this state boasts no rivers of any magnitude; and
these, when compared with the great Mississippi, are but streams; and in
their chief characteristics they nearly resemble it.

But I have gone as far into geology as the limits of a letter writer
will permit. A volume might be written upon the physical features of
this country, without exhausting a subject prolific in uncommon
interest, or half surveying a field, scarcely yet examined by the


[10] It has been said that cotton will thrive as well in a sandy soil,
with a _sea_ exposure, as in a rich loam in the interior.

[11] The alligator is found on the shores of the lower Mississippi, in
bayous and at the mouths of creeks. It is seldom seen far above 32°
north latitude. There has been much dispute as to the identity of the
crocodile and alligator, nor are naturalists yet united in their
opinions upon this point. The opinion that they belong to the same
species is supported by the systema natura, as it came from the hand of
Linneus, but it is positively contradicted in the last edition of this
work, published by Professor Gmelin.

[12] "The experienced savage or solitary voyager, descending the
Mississippi for a thousand miles, paddles his canoe through the deep
forests from one bluff to the other. He moves, perhaps, along the
inundated forests of the vast interval through which the Mississippi
flows, into the mouth of White river. He ascends that river a few miles,
and by the Grand Cut-off moves down the flooded forest into Arkansas.
From that river he finds many _bayous_, which communicate readily with
Washita and Red river; and from that river, by some one of its hundred
bayous, he finds his way into the Atchafalaya and the Teche; and by this
stream to the Gulf of Mexico, reaching it more than twenty leagues west
of the Mississippi. At that time this is a river from thirty to a
hundred miles wide, all overshaded with forests, except an interior
strip of little more than a mile in width, where the eye reposes upon
the open expanse of waters visible between the forests, which is the
Mississippi proper."

[13] A bed of lime-stone has been recently discovered on the shore at
Natchez below high water mark, two hundred feet lower than the summit
level of the state of Mississippi. There are some extraordinary
petrifactions in the north part of this state, among which is the fallen
trunk of a tree twenty feet in length, converted into solid rock. The
outer surface of the bark, which is in contact with the soil, is covered
as thickly as they can be set, with brilliant brown crystals resembling
garnets in size and beauty.

Thin flakes of the purest enamel, the size of a guinea and irregularly
shaded, have been found in the ravines near Natchez. In the same ravines
mammoth bones are found in great numbers, on the caving in of the sides
after a heavy rain.


      Gibson--Raymond--Clinton--Southern villages--Vicksburg--Yeomen
      of Mississippi--Jackson--Vernon--Satartia--Benton--Amsterdam--
      Brandon and other towns--Monticello--Manchester--Rankin--Grand
      Gulf--Rodney--Warrenton--Woodville--Pinckneyville--White Apple

In my last letter I alluded to the geological features of Mississippi,
the peculiarities of its soil and rivers, or streams, and the
characteristics of its scenery. In this I will give you a brief
topographical description of the state, embracing its principal towns
and villages. Were I confined to the details of the tourist, in my
sketches, you might follow me step by step over hill and dale, through
forest and "bottom," to the several places which may form the subject of
the first part of this letter. But a short view of them, only, comes
within my limits as a letter-writer. For the more minute information I
possess upon this subject I am indebted to a gentleman,[14] whose
scientific and historical researches have greatly contributed to the
slender stock of information upon this state--its resources, statistics,
and general peculiarities.

Although I have said a great deal of Natchez, under this head something
may be communicated upon which I have not touched in my remarks upon
that city. Natchez is one hundred and fifty-five miles from New-Orleans
by land, and two hundred and ninety-two by water. It contains a
population of about three thousand, the majority of whom are coloured.
The influx of strangers--young merchants from the north, who have within
the last four years, bought out nearly all the old standing
merchants--numerous mechanics, and foreign emigrants--is rapidly
increasing the number, and in five years, if the rail-road already
surveyed from this city to the capital, a distance of one hundred and
nine miles, is brought into operation, it will probably contain twice
the present number of souls. Under the Spanish government vessels came
up to Natchez; and in 1803 there was, as appears by a publication of
Col. Andrew Marschalk, of Mississippi, a brisk trade kept up between
this and foreign and American ports which suddenly ceased, after a few
years' continuance, on account of the obstacles interposed by the
Spaniards. In 1833, this trade was revived by some enterprising
gentlemen of Natchez, and cotton is now shipped directly to the northern
states and Europe, from this port, instead of being conveyed by
steamboats to New-Orleans and there reshipped. There are two oil mills
in this city worked by steam. The oil is manufactured from cotton-seed,
which heretofore was used as manure. This oil is said to be superior to
sperm oil, and the finest paint oil. Similar manufactories are
established in New-Orleans, and I think, also, in Mobile. The material
of which this oil is made is so abundant that it will in all
probability in a very few years supersede the other oils almost
entirely. The "cake" is in consistency very much like that of flax-seed.
It is used, in equal parts with coal, for fuel, and burns with a clear
flame, and a fire so made is equally warm as one entirely of coal.

A Bethel church is to be erected this year under the hill, the erection
of which on this noted spot, will be the boldest and most important step
Christianity has taken in the valley of the Mississippi. There are four
occasionally officiating Methodist ministers here, one of the
Presbyterian, and one of the Episcopalian denominations. There are
eighteen physicians and surgeons, and sixteen lawyers, the majority of
whom are young men. There is a weekly paper, with extensive circulation,
and three others are about to be established. There are five schools or
seminaries of learning--three private, and two public--a flourishing
academy for males, and a boarding-school for young ladies, under the
care of very able teachers. There are also a hospital and poor-house,
and a highly useful orphan asylum. There are no circulating libraries in
the city, nor I believe in the state. There are three banks one of
which--the Planter's bank--has branches in seven different towns in the
state. Steamboats were first known at Natchez in 1811-12.

Washington, six miles north-east from Natchez, with a charming country
between, through which winds one of the worst carriage-roads in the
west, not even excepting the delightful rail-roads from Sandusky to
Columbus, in Ohio, is a corporation one mile square, containing about
four hundred inhabitants, of all sizes and colours. It contains a fine
brick hospital and poor-house in one building, two brick churches, one
of the Baptist, and the other of the Methodist denomination. The first
has recently settled a preacher, the other has long had a stationed
minister, who regularly officiates in the desk. There is a Presbyterian
clergyman residing in the place, whose church is five miles distant in
the country, in a fine grove on one of the highest elevations in the
state. The inhabitants of the village are principally Methodists, a
majority of which sect will be found in nearly every village in the

Jefferson College, the oldest and best endowed collegiate institution in
the state, is pleasantly situated at the head of a green on the borders
of the village. It is now flourishing; but has for several years been
labouring under pecuniary embarrassments, which are now, by a generous
provision of Congress, entirely removed, and with a fund of nearly two
hundred thousand dollars, it bids fair to become a useful and
distinguished institution. There is also a female seminary in a retired
part of this village, which was handsomely endowed by Miss Elizabeth
Greenfield, of Philadelphia, a member of the society of Friends, from
whom it is denominated the Elizabeth Academy. It is one of the first
female institutions in this state, and under the patronage of the
Methodist society.

Washington is one of the oldest towns in the state, was formerly the
seat of government, under the territorial administration, and once
contained many more inhabitants than any other place except Natchez, in
the territory. It was nearly depopulated by the yellow fever in 1825,
from the effects of which it has never recovered. The public offices,
with the exception of the Register's and Receiver's offices, are removed
to Jackson. The town possesses no resources, and is now only remarkable
for its quiet beauty, the sabbath-like repose of its streets, and its
pure water, and healthy location, upon the plane of an elevated table
land, rising abruptly from the St. Catharine's, which winds pleasantly
along by one side of the village with many romantic haunts for the
student and "walks" for the villagers, upon its banks. There is a post
office in the village, through which a triweekly mail passes to and from
Natchez. The route of the rail-road will be through this place, when it
will again lift its head among the thriving villages of the Great

Seltzertown, containing a tavern and a blacksmith's shop (which always
form the nucleus of an American village) is six miles from Washington
and twelve from Natchez. It is remarkable only for the extensive scenery
around it, and the remarkable Indian fortifications or temples in its
vicinity. These will form the subject of another letter.

Greenville, on the road from Natchez, passing through the two former
places, is twenty-one miles from that city. It is delightfully situated
in a little green vale, through which winds a small stream. The plain is
crossed by the rail-road, which here becomes a street, bordered by two
rows of dilapidated houses, overgrown with grass and half buried in
venerable shade trees. From the prison with its dungeons fallen in, and
its walls lifting themselves sullenly above the ruins by which they are
enclosed, to the tavern with its sunken galleries, and the cobbler's
shop with its doorless threshold, all were in ruins, a picture of rural
desolation exhibiting the beau ideal of the "deserted village."
Greenville was formerly a place of some importance, but other towns have
grown up in more eligible spots, for which this has been deserted by its
inhabitants. One does not meet with a lovelier prospect in this state,
than that presented to the eye on descending from the hill south and
west of the valley, into the quiet little vale beneath, just before the
going down of the sun. The air of peace and quiet which reigns around
the traveller, will perhaps remind him of the valley whose description
has so delighted him while lingering over the elegant pages of Rasselas.

Forty-two miles from Natchez is Port Gibson, one of the most flourishing
and beautiful towns in the south. It is only second to Natchez in the
beauty of its location, the regularity of its streets, the neatness of
its dwellings, and the number and excellence of its public buildings. It
is but seven miles by land from the Mississippi, with which it
communicates by a stream, called Bayou Pierre, navigable for keel and
flat boats, and, in high floods, for steamboats, quite to the village.
It is very healthy, and has seldom been visited by epidemics. It
contains about one thousand souls. The citizens were once distinguished
for their dissipation, if not profligacy; but they are now more
distinguished for their intelligence and morality as a community. There
is no town in the south which possesses so high a standard of morals as
Port Gibson. This reformation is the result of the evangelical labours
of the Presbyterian clergyman of that place; who, with untiring industry
and uncommon energy, combined with sterling piety, in a very few years
performed the work and produced the effect of an age.

There are a Presbyterian and a Methodist church in the town, with their
respective clergymen. It contains also a branch bank, court-house, gaol,
post-office, and one of the finest hotels in the state. A weekly paper,
called the "Correspondent," and very ably edited, is published here. The
society of the village and neighbourhood is not surpassed by any in the
state. There are some very pretty country seats in the vicinity, the
abodes of planters of intelligence and wealth; and the country around is
thickly wooded, with fine plantations interspersed; and the general
features of the scenery, though tame, are beautiful. The road from
Natchez to Port Gibson is through a rich planting country, pleasantly
undulating, with alternate forest and field scenery on either hand. But
beyond Port Gibson the country assumes a more rugged aspect, and is less
beautiful. The road, for the first few miles, winds among woods and
cotton fields; but, after crossing Bayou Pierre, at a ford, called
"Grindstone Ford," where the first rock is seen, in coming north from
the Mexican Gulf, the forest is for many miles unbroken. I cannot
express the strange delight I experienced as the iron heels of my horse
first rung upon the broad rocky pavement, when ascending the bank of
this stream from the water. No one but a northerner, the bases and
crests of whose native hills are of granite, and who has passed two
years or more in the stoneless soil of this region, can duly appreciate
such emotions from such a cause.

For forty-seven miles from Port Gibson, the road winds through a
"rolling" country, two-thirds of which is enveloped in the gloom of the
primeval forests, and then enters the little village of Raymond,
situated in an open space among the lofty forest trees which enclose it
on all sides. Raymond has been planted and matured to a handsome
village, with a fine court-house, several hotels, and neat private
dwellings, within five years. The society, like that of most new towns
in this state, is composed of young men, merchants, lawyers, and
physicians, the majority of whom are bachelors. The village is built
around a pleasant square, in the centre of which is the court-house, one
of the finest public buildings in this part of the state. It contains
about four hundred inhabitants, not one fifth of whom are females.

Beyond Raymond the country is less hilly, spreading more into table
lands, which in many places are marshy. A ride of eight miles through a
rudely cultivated country, in whose deep forests the persecuted deer
finds a home, often bounding across the path of the traveller, will
terminate at Clinton, formerly Mount Salus, one of the prettiest and
most flourishing villages in the state. It is situated upon a cluster of
precipitous hills, contains some good buildings, and is a place of much
business, which a rail-road, now in projection to the Mississippi, will
have a tendency greatly to increase. There is a Methodist church in the
village, and a small society of Presbyterians. The most flourishing
female seminary in the state is located in the immediate vicinity, under
the superintendence of a lady, formerly well known in the literary world
of New-York, as the authoress of one or two works, and a contributor to
the columns of the "Mirror" when in its infancy. There is also a college
in this place, but it is not of long standing or very flourishing. The
system adopted in this country, of combining an academy with a college,
though the state of education may require some such method, will always
be a clog to the advancement of the latter. There is a Spanish proverb,
"manacle a giant to a dwarf and he must stoop," which may have yet a
more extensive application, and the truth of which this system is daily
demonstrating. Here are a land office and a printing office, which
issues a weekly paper. There are many enterprising professional men and
merchants in the village from almost every state in the Union, but they
are generally bachelors, and congregate at the hotels, so that for the
number of inhabitants the proportion of families and dwellings is very
small. When a number of high-spirited young men thus assemble in a
little village, a code of honour, woven of the finest texture and of the
most sensitive materials, will naturally be established. This code will
have for its basis--feeling. It will be constantly appealed to, and its
adjudications sacredly observed. To the decisions of such a tribunal,
may be traced the numerous _affaires d'honneur_ which have occurred in
the south during the last twenty years, most of which originated in
villages composed principally of young gentlemen. There is something
striking to the eye of a northerner, on entering one of these
south-western villages. He will find every third building occupied by a
lawyer or a doctor, around whose open doors will be congregated knots of
young men, _en deshabille_, smoking and conversing, sometimes with
animation, but more commonly with an air of indifference. He will pass
by the stores and see them sitting upon the counters or lounging about
the doors. In the streets and bar-rooms of the hotels, they will cluster
around him, fashionably dressed, with sword canes dangling from their
fingers. Wherever he turns his eyes he sees nothing but young fellows.
Whole classes from medical and law schools, or whole counting-houses
from New-York or Boston, seem to have been transported _en masse_ into
the little village through which he is passing. An old man, or a gray
hair, scarcely relieves his vision. He will be reminded, as he gazes
about him upon the youthful faces, of the fabled village, whose
inhabitants had drunk at the fountain of rejuvenescence. Women he will
find to resemble angels, more than he had believed; for "few and far
between," are their forms seen gliding through the streets, blockaded by
young gentlemen, and "few" are the bright eyes that beam upon him from
galleries and windows. If he stays during the evening, he may pass it in
the noisy bar-room, the billiard-room, or at a wine-party. If he remains
a "season," he may attend several public balls in the hotel, where he
will meet with beautiful females, for whom the whole country, with its
villages and plantations for twenty miles round, has been put under
contribution. One of the most fashionable assemblies I have attended in
the south-west, I was present at, one or two winters since, in the
village of Clinton.

This village contains about four hundred inhabitants, and is thirty-five
miles from Vicksburg, its port, on the Mississippi. Vicksburg is about
two miles below the Walnut hills, one of the bluffs of the Mississippi,
and five hundred from the Balize. It contains nearly two thousand
inhabitants. Thirty thousand bales of cotton, about one eighth of the
whole quantity shipped by the state at large, are annually shipped from
this place. In this respect it is inferior only to Natchez and Grand
Gulf, the first of which ships fifty thousand. There is a weekly paper
published here, of a very respectable character, and well edited, and
another is in contemplation. There are also a bank, with two or three
churches, and a handsome brick court-house, erected on an eminence from
which there is an extensive view of the Mississippi, with its majestic
steamers, and humbler flat boats, "keels" and "arks," and of the vast
forests of the Louisiana shore, which every where, when viewed from the
Mississippi side of the river, exhibits the appearance of an ocean whose
surface, even to the level horizon, is thickly covered with the tops of
trees in full foliage, like the golden isles of sea weed floating in the
southern seas.

There is no town in the south-west more flourishing than Vicksburg. It
is surrounded by rich plantations, and contains many public-spirited
individuals; whose co-operation in public enterprises is opening new
avenues of wealth for the citizens, and laying a broad and secure
foundation for the future importance of the town. It is already a
powerful rival of Natchez: but the two places are so distant from each
other, that their interests will always revolve in different circles.
The situation of this town, on the shelving declivity of a cluster of
precipitous hills, which rise abruptly from the river, is highly
romantic. The houses are scattered in picturesque groups on natural
terraces along the river, the balcony or portico of one often
overhanging the roof of another. Merchandise destined for Clinton is
landed here, and hauled over a hilly country to that place, a distance
of thirty-five miles. Cotton is often conveyed to Vicksburg, and other
shipping places, from a distance of one hundred miles in the interior.
The cotton teams, containing usually ten bales, are drawn by six or
eight yoke of oxen, which accomplish about twenty miles a day in good
weather. The teamsters camp every night, in an enclosure formed by their
waggons and cattle, with a bright fire burning; and occasionally their
bivouacs present striking groups for the pencil. The majority of these
teamsters are slaves; but there are many small farmers who drive their
own oxen, often conveying their whole crop on one waggon. These small
farmers form a peculiar class, and include the majority of the
inhabitants in the east part of this state. With the awkwardness of the
Yankee countryman, they are destitute of his morals, education, and
reverence for religion. With the rude and bold qualities of the
chivalrous Kentuckian, they are destitute of his intelligence, and the
humour which tempers and renders amusing his very vices. They are in
general uneducated, and their apparel consists of a coarse
linsey-woolsey, of a dingy yellow or blue, with broad-brimmed hats;
though they usually follow their teams bare-footed and bare-headed, with
their long locks hanging over their eyes and shoulders, giving them a
wild appearance. Accost them as they pass you, one after another, in
long lines, cracking their whips, which they use instead of the
goad--perhaps the turn-out of a whole district, from the old,
gray-headed hunter, to the youngest boy that can wield the whip, often
fifteen and twenty feet in length, including the staff--and their
replies will generally be sullen or insulting. There is in them a total
absence of that courtesy which the country people of New-England
manifest for strangers. They will seldom allow carriages to pass them,
unless attended by gentlemen, who often have to do battle for the
highway. Ladies, in carriages or on horseback, if unattended by
gentlemen, are most usually insulted by them. They have a decided
aversion to a broad-cloth coat, and this antipathy is transferred to the
wearer. There is a species of warfare kept up between them and the
citizens of the shipping ports, mutually evinced by the jokes and tricks
played upon them by the latter when they come into market; and their
retaliation, when their hour of advantage comes, by an encounter in the
back woods, which they claim as their domain. At home they live in
log-houses on partially cleared lands, labour hard in their fields,
sometimes owning a few slaves, but more generally with but one or
none.--They are good hunters, and expert with the rifle, which is an
important article of furniture in their houses. Whiskey is their
favourite beverage, which they present to the stranger with one hand,
while they give him a chair with the other. They are uneducated, and
destitute of the regular administration of the gospel. As there is no
common school system of education adopted in this state, their children
grow up as rude and ignorant as themselves; some of whom, looking as
wild as young Orsons, I have caught in the cotton market at Natchez, and
questioned upon the simple principles of religion and education which
every child is supposed to know, and have found them wholly uninformed.
This class of men is valuable to the state, and legislative policy, at
least, should recommend such measures as would secure religious
instruction to the adults, and the advantages of a common education to
the children, who, in thirty years, will form a large proportion of the
native inhabitants of Mississippi.

About three miles from Clinton, on the main road to the capital, is
situated "New Forest," a cotton plantation, owned and recently improved
by two enterprising young gentlemen from Hallowell, in Maine. They are
the sons of one of the most eminent and estimable medical gentlemen in
New-England; whose pre-eminent success in the management of an appalling
and desolating epidemic, a few years since, acquired for him a proud and
distinguished name, both at home and abroad.--New Forest is spread out
upon the elevated ridges which separate the waters of the Chitalusa, or
Big Black, and Pearl rivers; and pleasantly situated in one of the
richest and healthiest counties, on a line with the projected rail-road,
and in the immediate neighbourhood of the capital of the state--it will
soon become one of the most valuable and beautiful "homesteads" to be
seen in the south.

Besides the proprietors of this estate, there are several other young
gentlemen from Maine, residing in Mississippi, who, with the
characteristic energy and perseverance of northerners, are steadily
advancing to wealth and distinction.

Jackson, the capital of the state, is in latitude 32° 17', and in
longitude 13° 07' west of Washington. It is one hundred and eight miles
north-east of Natchez, and forty-five miles east of Vicksburg, on the
Mississippi. It lies on the right bank of Pearl river; which, after a
southerly course, and dividing the state into two nearly equal parts,
empties into Lake Borgne, in the Gulf of Mexico. This river is navigable
two hundred miles from its mouth, and steamboats have been as far as
Jackson. But the torrent is rapid, and the obstructions to navigation
are very numerous. There are many pleasant and thriving villages on its
banks, and a rich country of plantations spreads away on either side.
The great rail-road from New-Orleans to Nashville will run near and
parallel with this river for a great distance, and will monopolize, for
the former market, all that branch of the cotton trade which is now
attached to the ports on the Mississippi above mentioned. Jackson was
but recently selected as the seat of government of this state. Its site
was chosen for its central position alone, without any reference to its
resources, or any other aids to future importance, than it might derive
from being the state capital. It is built upon a level area, half a mile
square, cut out from the depth of the forest which surrounds it. It is a
quarter of a mile from the Pearl, which is concealed by the forests; a
steep, winding path through which leads to the water side, where the
turbid current darts by, a miniature resemblance of the great river
rolling to the west of it. There are a branch bank in this place, and a
plain, two-storied brick edifice, occupied by the legislature and courts
of justice. Three newspapers are published here, which, like all others
in this state, are of a warmly political character. A handsome state
house is now in the progress of erection, and many private and public
buildings are going up in various parts of the town. There is a steam
saw-mill near the village, for water privileges are unknown in this
region of impetuous streams; and several other avenues of wealth and
public benefit are opening by the enterprising citizens.--During the
intervals of the sessions of the legislature and supreme court, Jackson
is a very uninteresting village; but during the sessions of these
bodies, there is no town in the state which, for the time, presents so
lively and stirring a scene.

Vernon is a pleasant village situated on a rapid and navigable stream,
which often winds through wild and romantic scenery. Steamboats ascend
to this place during part of the year. It is rapidly improving and
filling with many young men, some of whom, possessing both talent and
industry, are natives of this state. It is worthy of remark that those
communities composed principally of young Mississippians, are
distinguished by much less dissipation and adherence to the code of
honour formerly alluded to, than such as are formed of young men
principally from the northern and Atlantic southern states. The young
Mississippian is not the irascible, hot-headed, and quarrelsome being he
has been represented, although naturally warm-hearted and full of
generous feelings, and governed by a high sense of honour. He is seldom
a beau or a buck in the city--acceptation of those terms, but dresses
plainly--as often in pantaloons of Kentucky jean, a broad brimmed white
hat, brogans and a blanket coat, as in any other style of vesture.
Nevertheless he knows how to be well-dressed, and the public assemblies
of the south-west boast more richly attired young gentlemen than are
often found in the assembly-rooms of the Atlantic cities. He is educated
to become a farmer--an occupation which requires and originates
plainness of manners--and not to shine in the circles of a city. He
prefers riding over his own, or his father's estate, wrapped in his
blanket coat, to a morning lounge in Broadway enveloped in a fashionable
cloak. He would rather walk booted and spurred upon the "turf," the
"exchange" of southern planters, than move, shod in delicate slippers,
over the noiseless carpet of the drawing-room. His short handled
riding-whip serves him better than the slender rattan--his blanketed
saddle is his cabriolet--the road between his plantation and a cotton
market, his "drive"--and the noble forests on his domain--the home of
the stag and deer--he finds when he moves through their deep glades,
with his rifle in his hand, better suited to his tastes than the "mall,"
or Hyde Park, and he will be ready to bet a bale of cotton that the
sport which they afford him is at least an equivalent to shooting
cock-sparrows from a thorn bush on a moor.

Satartia is on the left side of the river Yazoo, fourteen miles from
Vernon and thirty-five by land from Vicksburg. The village is pleasantly
situated near the water, contains ten or fifteen stores, a tavern, and
several dwelling houses, with a post-office. From ten to twelve thousand
bales of cotton are annually shipped here. It promises to be one of the
largest shipping ports in north Mississippi.

Benton, on the Yazoo, twenty-two miles to the north of Vernon, is a
growing place, and issues a weekly newspaper. The rich country around is
rapidly settling, and in the course of twenty years it will be one of
the wealthiest portions of this state. Amsterdam, within steamboat
navigation, on a deep creek, sixteen miles from Vicksburg, is a thriving
town. Columbia, on the east bank of the Pearl, is accessible by
steamboats, and Columbus, on the Tombeckbee, some hundred miles above
Mobile, is a flourishing town. There is here a printing press which
issues a weekly paper. Steamboats occasionally ascend to this place from
Mobile. There are besides, east of the Pearl river, Brandon, so called
in honour of the ex-governor; Winchester, Westville, Pearlington, and
Shieldsborough--the latter in the southern extremity of the state on
Lake Borgne, within forty miles of New-Orleans--most of which are
thriving villages. One of the most flourishing towns on the Pearl is
Monticello, about ninety miles east of Natchez.

Manchester, on the Yazoo, has been but recently settled. It is very
flourishing, contains many stores and dwellings, and ships from twelve
to fifteen thousand bales of cotton annually. It is seventy-six miles
from the mouth of the Yazoo, on the Mississippi. Twenty-five miles from
this village is Rankin, within three miles of steamboat navigation, and
rapidly rising into importance. There are many other villages in this
new region yet in embryo, but which must grow with the country into
wealth and distinction.

Grand Gulf, about forty-five miles above Natchez, on the Mississippi,
situated on a natural terrace, receding to a wooded crescent of hills on
the north and east, and just above a dangerous eddy which gives the
name to the town, is the third town of commercial importance in the
state. It was settled five years ago, and the present year about
forty-five thousand bales of cotton were shipped from this port. It
contains about nine hundred inhabitants. A rail-road is projected to
Port Gibson eight miles back from the river, and to the interior, which
will benefit both places. Within sight of the village, and a short
distance above it, is the only cliff of rocks in this region.
Mississippians and Louisianians should do pilgrimage there. In the
vicinity of this town Aaron Burr surrendered to General Mead, and the
detachment ordered out to arrest him.

Rodney is a pleasant town twenty miles above Natchez, on the river. It
is a place of commercial importance, and ships annually many thousand
bales of cotton. Its inhabitants are enterprising and intelligent.

Warrenton, nine miles below Vicksburg, is the only other village between
Natchez and the latter place.

The most important settlement south of Natchez is Woodville, a beautiful
village, built around a square, in the centre of which is a handsome
court-house. Various streets diverge from this public square, and are
soon lost in the forests, which enclose the village. There are some
eminent lawyers who reside here, and the neighbourhood is one of the
wealthiest and most polished in the state. Governor Poindexter resided
till recently at a neat country seat a short ride from Woodville,
striking only for its quiet cottage-like beauty. Dr. Carmichael,
president of the board of medical censors of this state, and formerly a
surgeon in the revolutionary army, and the late Governor Brandon, reside
also in the neighbourhood, but still more distant in the country. One of
the most eminent lawyers of this place is a native of Portland, who has
also distinguished himself as an occasional contributor to the annuals.
One of the first lawyers in Vicksburg, if not in the state, is a native
of Maine, and a graduate of Bowdoin. He is this year a candidate for
congress; though with that juvenility, which characterises southern
athlete in every intellectual arena, he scarcely yet numbers thirty

There are three churches in Woodville; a Methodist, Episcopalian, and
Baptist. A weekly paper is published here, conducted with talent and
editorial skill. The court-house, which is a substantial and handsome
structure of brick, contains a superior clock. A market-house and a gaol
are also numbered among the public buildings. There is a branch of the
Planters' bank here, and an academy for boys and another for girls,
established within a mile of the village, are excellent schools.
Woodville is about eighteen miles from the Mississippi. Its port is Fort
Adams, formerly mentioned. A rail-road is in contemplation, between
Woodville and St. Francisville, La. twenty-nine miles distant, on the
river, which will render the communication easy and rapid to
New-Orleans. This village contains about eight hundred inhabitants, and
is one of the healthiest in Mississippi. During a period of eighteen
months--according to Mr. Vose, to whose accurate and elaborate
researches I am indebted for much of my information upon the topography
of this state--out of one hundred and forty-four men, of whom he kept an
account for that length of time, only three died, and two of these were

Fayette, a very neat and pleasant village, containing a handsome
court-house and church, is twenty-five miles east of Natchez. It is the
most rural and New-England like village, except Port Gibson, in the
state. Meadville, to the south, is a small retired place, containing a

Kingston, on the road from Natchez to Woodville, originally settled by a
colony from New-Jersey, is a small village, containing a church,
post-office, two or three stores, and several dwelling-houses. This and
Pinckneyville, a few miles south of Woodville, the latter merely a short
street, lined by a few dwelling-houses and stores, are the only places
south of Natchez, besides those already mentioned, of any importance.
The site of White Apple village, the capital of the Natchez tribe, and
the residence of "Great Sun," chief of the chiefs of that interesting
nation, is pointed out to the traveller, on the river road to Woodville
from Natchez. A few mounds, with the usual remains of spear and arrow
heads, beads, and broken pottery only exist, to mark the spot. Fragments
of gold lace and Spanish weapons have been found in the neighbourhood,
with many other traces of the march of the Spanish army through this

I will conclude my long letter with an allusion to the only remaining
place of any importance.--About eighteen miles to the east of Woodville
are the "Elysian Fields!" "Shade of Achilles," you exclaim, "are the
Elysü Campi of thy ghostly wanderings discovered in a Mississippian
forest?" Nevertheless they are here, and the great problem is solved.
Some have placed these regions in the sun, some in the moon, and others
in the middle region of the air; and others again in the centre of the
earth, in the vicinity of Tartarus, and probably in the neighbourhood of
the "incognita terra" of Capt. Symmes. By many, and this was the vulgar
opinion, they were supposed to lie among the Canary isles: but, march of
mind! more modern and wiser heads have discovered their position nearly
on the confines of Louisiana and Mississippi. Here the traveller will
behold beautiful birds with gorgeous plumage--for splendidly enamelled
birds enrich, with their brilliant dyes, the forests of the south--and
his ear will drink in the sweetest melody from the feathered
myriads--such as would have tempted even "pius Æneas" to linger on his
way: but this, alas! is all that his imagination will recognize of
Elysium. Trojan chiefs he will find metamorphosed into Mandingo negroes,
who, in lieu of managing "war-horses," and handling arms, are guiding,
with loud clamour, the philosophic mule, or wielding the useful hoe.
Nymphs gathering flowers, "themselves the fairer," he will find changed
into Congo sylphs, whose zoneless waists plainly demonstrate the
possibility of the quadrature, who with skilful fingers gather the
milk-white cotton from the teeming stalks. A few buildings, of an
ordinary kind, and a post-office, surrounded by cotton fields and woods,
make up the sum of this celestial abode for departed heroes.


[14] Henry Vose, Esq., of Woodville.


      Coloured population of the south--Mississippi saddle and
      horse caparisons--Ride through the city--Chain gang--Lynch
      law--Want of a penitentiary--Difficulties in consequence--
      Summary justice--Boating on the Mississippi--Chain gang and
      the runaway--Suburbs--Orphan asylum--A past era.

For the tourist to give sketches of the south without adverting to the
slave population, would be as difficult, as for the historian to write
of the early settlement of America without alluding to the aborigines. I
shall, therefore, in this and two or three subsequent letters,
discursively, as the subject is suggested to me, introduce such notices
of the relative and actual condition of the slaves in this state, as may
have a tendency to correct any prejudices, which as a New-Englander you
may have imbibed, and set you right upon a subject, which has been
singularly misrepresented. With slavery in the abstract, my remarks have
nothing to do. Southerners and northerners think alike here--but I wish
to present the subject before you precisely, as during a long residence
in Mississippi it has constantly been presented to me--not to give you
_ex parte_ facts, and those from the darkest side of the
picture--recording the moan here, and omitting the smile
there--remembering the sound of the lash, and forgetting that of the
violin--painting the ragged slave, and passing by his gayly-dressed
fellow--but to state facts impartially and fearlessly, leaving you to
draw your own conclusions.

Aware of the nature of the ground, upon which I am about to venture, I
trust that I shall approach a subject upon which the sons of the
chivalresque south are naturally so sensitive--involving as it does, a
right so sacred as that of property--without those prejudices with which
a northerner might be supposed fore-armed. Among the numerous important
subjects with which the public mind within a few years past has been
agitated, no one has been so obscured by error, and altogether so little
understood as this.

In my letters from New-Orleans, there was but little allusion to this
subject, as I then possessed very slight and imperfect knowledge of it.
But the broad peculiarities of slavery, and the general traits of
African character differ not materially, whether exhibited on the
extensive sugar fields of Louisiana, or on the cotton plantations of
Mississippi. The relative situations, also, of the slaves are so much
alike, that a dissertation upon slavery as it exists in one state, can
with almost equal precision be applied to it as existing in the other.
All my remarks upon this subject, however, are the result only of my
observations in the state of Mississippi.

"Will you ride with me into the country?" said a young planter as we
rose from the _table d'hote_ of the Mansion house. "I am about
purchasing a few negroes, and a peep into a slave-mart may not be
uninteresting to you." I readily embraced the opportunity thus presented
of visiting a southern slave market; and in a few minutes our horses
were at the door--long-tailed pacers with flowing manes and slender
limbs. One of them was caparisoned with the deep concave Spanish saddle
I have so often mentioned, with a high pummel terminating in a round
flat head--and covered with blue broad-cloth, which hung nearly to the
stirrup, and, extending in one piece far behind, formed ample housings.
The other horse bore an ordinary saddle, over which was thrown a light
blue merino blanket several times folded, and secured to the saddle by a
gayly-woven surcingle. Southerners usually ride with a thick blanket,
oftener white than coloured, thus bound over their saddles, forming a
comfortable cushion, and another placed between the saddle and the back
of the horse. These blankets are considered indispensable in this
climate. They are not always of the purest white, and the negroes, whose
taste in this as well as in many other things might be improved, usually
put them on awry, with a ragged corner hanging down in fine contrast
with the handsome saddle, and in pleasant companionship with the cloth
skirts of the rider. These little matters, however, the southerner
seldom notices. If well mounted, which he is always sure to be, the
"keeping" of the _ensemble_ is but a secondary affair. The saddle
blankets are often unstrapped by the rider, in case of rain, and folded
about him after the manner of the Choctaws. This custom of wearing
blankets over the saddle originated with the old pioneers, who carried
them to sleep on, as they camped in the woods.

Crossing Cotton Square--the chief market place for cotton in the
city--we in a few minutes entered upon the great northern road leading
to Jackson, the capital of this state, and thence to Washington, the
seat of the general government. Near the intersection of this road with
the city streets, a sudden clanking of chains, startled our horses, and
the next instant a gang of negroes, in straggling procession, followed
by an ordinary looking white man armed with a whip, emerged from one of
the streets. Each negro carried slung over his shoulder a polished iron
ball, apparently a twenty-four pounder, suspended by a heavy ox chain
five or six feet in length and secured to the right ancle by a massive
ring. They moved along under their burthen as though it were any thing
but comfortable--some with idealess faces, looking the mere animal,
others with sullen and dogged looks, and others again talking and
laughing as though "Hymen's chains had bound them." This galley-looking
procession, whose tattered wardrobe seemed to have been stolen from a
chimney-sweep, was what is very appropriately termed the "Chain gang," a
fraternity well known in New-Orleans and Natchez, and valued for its
services in cleaning and repairing the streets. In the former city
however there is one for whites as well as blacks, who may be known by
their parti-coloured clothing. These gangs are merely moving
penitentiaries, appropriating that amount of labour, which at the north
is expended within four walls, to the broader limits of the city. In
Natchez, negro criminals only are thus honoured--a "coat of tar and
feathers" being applied to those white men who may require some kind of
discipline not provided by the courts of justice. This last summary
process of popular justice, or more properly excitement, termed "Lynch's
law," I believe from its originator, is too much in vogue in this state.
In the resentment of public as well as private wrongs, individuals have
long been in the habit of forestalling and improving upon the decisions
of the courts, by taking the execution of the laws into their own hands.
The consequence is, that the dignity of the bench is degraded, and
justice is set aside for the exhibition of wild outbreaks of popular
feeling. But this summary mode of procedure is now, to the honour of the
south, rapidly falling into disuse, and men feel willing to yield to the
dignity of the law and acquiesce in its decisions, even to the sacrifice
of individual prejudices. That "border" state of society from which the
custom originated no longer exists here--and the causes having ceased
which at first, in the absence of proper tribunals, may have rendered it
perhaps necessary thus to administer justice, the effect will naturally
cease also--and men will surrender the sword of justice to the public
tribunals, erected by themselves.

The want of a penitentiary has had a tendency to keep this custom alive
in this state longer than it would otherwise have existed. When an
individual is guilty of any offence, which renders him amenable to the
laws, he must either be acquitted altogether or suffer death. There is
no intermediate mode of punishment, except the stocks, whipping,
branding and cropping--the last two are seldom resorted to now as legal
punishments, and the others are regarded as too light an expiation for
an offence which merited a seven years' imprisonment. Therefore when a
criminal is acquitted, because his guilt is not quite sufficient to
demand the sacrifice of his life, but enough to confine him to many
years' hard labour in a state's prison--popular vengeance, if the nature
of his guilt has enlisted the feelings of the multitude--immediately
seizes upon him, and the poor wretch expiates his crime, by one of the
most cruel systems of justice that human ingenuity has ever invented.
When a criminal is here condemned to death, whose sentence in other
states would have been confinement for a limited period, there is in
public feeling sometimes a reaction, as singularly in the other extreme.
Petitions for his pardon are circulated, and, with columns of names
appended, presented to the governor, for here there can be no
commutation of a sentence of death.--There must be a free, unconditional
pardon or the scaffold. Sometimes a criminal under sentence of death is
pardoned by the governor, thinking his crime not sufficiently aggravated
to be atoned for by his life, which may often be the case in a state
where eleven crimes are punishable with death.[15] In such instances
the criminal, unless escorted beyond the reach of popular resentment,
receives from the multitude a commutation of his sentence, which,
through the tender mercies of his judges, is more dreadful than death
itself. Death indeed has in two or three instances terminated the
sufferings of these victims of public feeling; sometimes they have been
placed upright in a skiff with their arms pinioned behind them, and a
jug of whiskey placed at their feet, and thus thrown upon the mercy of
the Mississippi, down which under a burning sun, naked and bare-headed
they are borne, till rescued by some steamer, cast upon the inhospitable
shores, or buried beneath the waves. This act, inhuman as it may appear,
does not indicate a more barbarous or inhuman state of society than
elsewhere. It is the consequence of a deficiency in the mode and means
of punishment. Was there but one sentence passed upon all criminals in
sober New-England, and that sentence, death, humanity would lead to
numerous acquittals and pardons, while popular feeling, when it felt
itself injured, refusing to acquiesce in the total escape of the guilty,
would take upon itself to inflict that punishment which the code had
neglected to provide. A penitentiary in this state would at once do
away this custom, which however necessary it may appear in the opinion
of those who adhere to it, can never be defended.

The "chain gang," which led to this digression, consists of
insubordinate negroes and slaves, who, having run away from their
masters, have been taken up and confined in jail, to await the
reclamation of their owners; during the interval elapsing between their
arrest and the time of their liberation by their masters, they are daily
led forth from the prison to work on the streets, under the charge of an
overseer. This punishment is considered very degrading, and merely the
threat of the Calaboose, or the "ball and chain," will often intimidate
and render submissive the most incorrigible.

"Hi! Bill--dat you in ball and chain?" said, as we passed by, a young
slave well dressed and mounted on his master's fine saddle-horse; "I no
tink you eber runaway--you is a disgrace to we black gentlemen--I neber
'sociate wid you 'gain."

Bill, who was a tall, good-looking mulatto, the coachman of a gentleman
near town, and of course, high in the scale of African society--seemed
to feel the reproof, and be sensible of his degradation; for he hung his
head moodily and in silence. The other prisoners, however, began to
vituperate the young horseman, who was glad to escape from their
Billingsgate missiles, by quickening his speed.

When a runaway is apprehended he is committed to jail, and an
advertisement describing his person and wearing apparel, is inserted in
the newspaper for six months, if he is not claimed in the interim; at
the expiration of which period he may be sold at auction, and the
proceeds, after deducting all expenses, go to the use of the county.
Should the owner subsequently claim and prove his property, the amount
paid into the treasury, on account of the sale, is refunded to him. An
owner, making his claim before the six months have expired, and proving
his property before a justice of the peace, is allowed to take him away
on producing a certificate to that effect from the justice, and paying
the expenses incurred in the apprehension and securing of his slave. All
runaways, or suspected runaways, may lawfully be apprehended, and
carried before a justice of the peace, who at his discretion may either
commit them to jail, or send them to the owner, and the person by whom
the arrest was made, is entitled to six dollars for each, on delivering
him to his master.

The road, for the first mile after leaving town, passed through a
charming country, seen at intervals, and between long lines of
unpainted, wretched looking dwellings, occupied as "groggeries," by free
negroes, or poor emigrants. The contrast between the miserable buildings
and their squalid occupants, and the rich woodlands beyond them on
either side, among whose noble trees rose the white columns and lofty
roofs of elegant villas, was certainly very great, but far from
agreeable. On a hill a short distance from the road the "Orphan Asylum"
was pointed out to me, by my companion, as a monument of the benevolence
and public spirit of the ladies of Natchez. Shortly after the prevalence
of a great epidemic in this city, seventeen years ago, which left many
children orphans, and destitute, a few distinguished ladies formed
themselves into a society for their aid, obtained bountiful
subscriptions, for on such occasions hearts and purses are freely
opened, gathered the parentless children scattered throughout the city,
and placed them in this asylum, where all destitute orphans have since
found a home. The institution is now in a flourishing state, and is
under the patronage of several ladies of great respectability. Some
distance beyond the asylum, to the left, a fine view of groves and green
hills, presenting a prospect strikingly resembling English park scenery,
terminated in the roofs and columns of a "southern palace" rising above
rich woods and evergreen foliage--the residence of the family of a late
distinguished officer under the Spanish _regime_. These massive
structures, with double colonnades and spacious galleries, peculiar to
the opulent southern planter, are numerous in the neighbourhood of
Natchez, but they date back to the great cotton era, when fortunes were
made almost in a single season. Magnificence was then the prevailing
taste, and the walls of costly dwellings rose, as the most available
means of displaying to the public eye the rapidly acquired wealth of
successful speculators. But times are now somewhat changed. The rage for
these noble and expensive structures has passed away, and those which
are now seen, rear themselves among magnificent groves--monuments only
of the past, when the good old customs of Virginia characterized the
inhabitants. These were for the most part gentlemen of education, or
officers of the army--for those were military times. This was the day of
dinner parties and courtly balls--an era to which the gentlemen, who
participated in them, now look back with a sigh. Perhaps no state--not
even Virginia herself, which Mississippi claims as her mother
country--could present a more hospitable, chivalrous, and high-minded
class of men, or more cultivated females than this, during the first few
years, subsequent to its accession to the Union.


[15] The capital crimes of this state are, murder, arson, robbery, rape,
burglary, stealing a slave, stealing or selling a free person for a
slave, forgery, manslaughter, second offence--horse stealing, second
offence--accessories, before the fact, to rape, arson, robbery and


      Slave mart--Scene within--File of negroes--"Trader"--Negro
      feelings--George and his purchaser--George's old and new
      wife--Female slaves--The intellect of the negro--A theory--
      An elderly lady and her slaves--Views of slaves upon their
      condition--Separation of kindred among slaves.

Having terminated my last letter with one of my usual digressions,
before entering upon the subject with which I had intended to fill its
pages, I will now pursue my original design, and introduce you into one
of the great slave-marts of the south-west.

A mile from Natchez we came to a cluster of rough wooden buildings, in
the angle of two roads, in front of which several saddle-horses, either
tied or held by servants, indicated a place of popular resort.

"This is the slave market," said my companion, pointing to a building in
the rear; and alighting, we left our horses in charge of a neatly
dressed yellow boy belonging to the establishment. Entering through a
wide gate into a narrow court-yard, partially enclosed by low buildings,
a scene of a novel character was at once presented. A line of negroes,
commencing at the entrance with the tallest, who was not more than five
feet eight or nine inches in height--for negroes are a low rather than a
tall race of men--down to a little fellow about ten years of age,
extended in a semicircle around the right side of the yard. There were
in all about forty. Each was dressed in the usual uniform of slaves,
when in market, consisting of a fashionably shaped, black fur hat,
roundabout and trowsers of coarse corduroy velvet, precisely such as are
worn by Irish labourers, when they first "come over the water;" good
vests, strong shoes, and white cotton shirts, completed their equipment.
This dress they lay aside after they are sold, or wear out as soon as
may be; for the negro dislikes to retain the indication of his having
recently been in the market. With their hats in their hands, which hung
down by their sides, they stood perfectly still, and in close order,
while some gentlemen were passing from one to another examining for the
purpose of buying. With the exception of displaying their teeth when
addressed, and rolling their great white eyes about the court--they were
so many statues of the most glossy ebony. As we entered the mart, one of
the slave merchants--for a "lot" of slaves is usually accompanied, if
not owned, by two or three individuals--approached us, saying "Good
morning, gentlemen! Would you like to examine my lot of boys?[16] I have
as fine a lot as ever came into market."--We approached them, one of us
as a curious spectator, the other as a purchaser; and as my friend
passed along the line, with a scrutinizing eye--giving that singular
look, peculiar to the buyer of slaves as he glances from head to foot
over each individual--the passive subjects of his observations betrayed
no other signs of curiosity than that evinced by an occasional glance.
The entrance of a stranger into a mart is by no means an unimportant
event to the slave, for every stranger may soon become his master and
command his future destinies. But negroes are seldom strongly affected
by any circumstances, and their reflections never give them much
uneasiness. To the generality of them, life is mere animal existence,
passed in physical exertion or enjoyment. This is the case with the
field hands in particular, and more so with the females than the males,
who through a long life seldom see any other white person than their
master or overseer, or any other gentleman's dwelling than the "great
hus," the "white house" of these little domestic empires in which they
are the subjects. To this class a change of masters is a matter of
indifference;--they are handed from one to another with the passiveness
of a purchased horse. These constitute the lowest rank of slaves, and
lowest grade in the scale of the human species. Domestic and city slaves
form classes of a superior order, though each constitutes a distinct
class by itself. I shall speak of these more fully hereafter.

"For what service in particular did you want to buy?" inquired the
"trader" of my friend, "A coachman." "There is one I think may suit you,
sir," said he; "George, step out here." Forthwith a light-coloured
negro, with a fine figure and good face, bating an enormous pair of
lips, advanced a step from the line, and looked with some degree of
intelligence, though with an air of indifference, upon his intended

"How old are you, George?" he inquired. "I don't recollect, sir,
'zactly--b'lieve I'm somewere 'bout twenty-dree." "Where were you
raised?" "On master R----'s farm in Wirginny." "Then you are a Virginia
negro." "Yes, master, me full blood Wirginny." "Did you drive your
master's carriage?" "Yes, master, I drove ole missus' carage, more dan
four year." "Have you a wife?" "Yes, master, I lef' young wife in
Richmond, but I got new wife here in de lot. I wishy you buy her,
master, if you gwine to buy me."

Then came a series of the usual questions from the intended purchaser.
"Let me see your teeth--your tongue--open your hands--roll up your
sleeves--have you a good appetite? are you good tempered?" "Me get mad
sometime," replied George to the last query, "but neber wid my horses."
"What do you ask for this boy, sir?" inquired the planter, after putting
a few more questions to the unusually loquacious slave. "I have held him
at one thousand dollars, but I will take nine hundred and seventy-five
cash." The bargain was in a few minutes concluded, and my companion took
the negro at nine hundred and fifty, giving negotiable paper--the
customary way of paying for slaves--at four months. It is, however,
generally understood, that if servants prove unqualified for the
particular service for which they are bought, the sale is dissolved. So
there is in general perfect safety in purchasing servants untried, and
merely on the warrant of the seller. George, in the meanwhile, stood by,
with his hat in his hand, apparently unconcerned in the negotiations
going on, and when the trader said to him, "George, the gentleman has
bought you; get ready to go with him," he appeared gratified at the
tidings, and smiled upon his companions apparently quite pleased, and
then bounded off to the buildings for his little bundle. In a few
minutes he returned and took leave of several of his companions, who,
having been drawn up into line only to be shown to purchasers, were now
once more at liberty, and moving about the court, all the visiters
having left except my friend and myself. "You mighty lucky, George" said
one, congratulating him, "to get sol so quick." Oh, you neber min',
Charly," replied the delighted George; "your turn come soon too."

"You know who you' master be--whar he live?" said another. "No, not
zactly; he lib on plantation some whar here 'bout." After taking leave
of his companions, George came, hat in hand, very respectfully, to his
purchaser, and said, "Young master, you never be sorry for buy George; I
make you a good servant. But--beg pardon, master--but--if master would
be so good as buy Jane--" "Who is Jane?"--"My wife, since I come from
Wirginny. She good wife and a good girl--she good seamstress an' good
nurse--make de nice shirts and ebery ting."

"Where is she, George?" "Here she be, master," said he, pointing to a
bright mulatto girl, about eighteen, with a genteel figure and a lively
countenance, who was waiting with anxiety the reply of the planter.
Opposite to the line of males was also a line of females, extended along
the left side of the court. They were about twenty in number, dressed in
neat calico frocks, white aprons and capes, and fancy kerchiefs, tied in
a mode peculiar to the negress, upon their heads. Their whole appearance
was extremely neat and "tidy." They could not be disciplined to the
grave silence observed by the males, but were constantly laughing and
chattering with each other in suppressed voices, and appeared to take,
generally, a livelier interest in the transactions in which all were
equally concerned. The planter approached this line of female slaves,
and inquired of the girl her capabilities as seamstress, nurse, and
ironer. Her price was seven hundred and fifty dollars. He said he would
take her to his family; and if the ladies were pleased with her, he
would purchase her. The poor girl was as much delighted as though
already purchased; and, at the command of the trader, went to prepare
herself to leave the mart. Some other negroes were purchased, several of
whom appeared merely powerful combinations of bone and muscle, and the
only idea suggested to the mind, in gazing upon them, was of remarkable
physical energy. In the dull eye and fleshy mouth there was no
expression indicative of intellect.

It is the popular opinion, both at the north and south, that the negro
is inferior in intellect to the white man. This opinion is not, however,
founded upon just experience. The African intellect has never been
developed. Individuals, indeed, have been educated, whose acquirements
certainly reflect honour upon the race. Uneducated negroes have also
exhibited indications of strong intellectual vigour. And because, in
both instances, the negro has shown himself still inferior to the white
man, he is unhesitatingly pronounced an inferior being, irremediably so,
in the estimation of his judges, by the operation of organic laws. That
the African intellect, in its present state, is inferior to that of the
European, is undeniable: but that, by any peculiarity in his organized
system, a necessary inferiority ensues, will not so readily be admitted.
Physiologists have agreed, that physical peculiarities may be
communicated from generation to generation; and it is no less certain
that mental talents may thus be transmitted also. Dr. King, in speaking
of the fatality which attended the house of Stuart, says, "If I were to
ascribe their calamities to another cause" (than evil fate), "or
endeavour to account for them by any natural means, I should think they
were chiefly owing to a certain obstinacy of temper, which appears to
have been hereditary, and inherent in all the Stuarts, except Charles
the second." The Brahmins are much superior in intellect to all the
other castes in Hindostan; and it is mentioned, says Combe, by the
missionaries, as an ascertained fact, that the children of the Brahmins
are naturally more acute, intelligent, and docile, than those of the
inferior castes, age and other circumstances being equal. "Parents,"
says Dr. Gregory, "frequently live again in their offspring. It is
certain that children resemble their parents, not only in countenance
and in the form of the body, but in mental dispositions and in their
virtues and vices. The haughty "gens Claudia" transmitted the peculiar
mental character of its founder through six centuries, and in the
tyrannical Nero again lived the imperious Appius Claudius." If this
theory be correct, there is something more to be done before African
intellect can be fairly developed. If culture will expand the intellect
of the untutored negro--take one of the present generation for
instance--according to this theory, which experience proves to be true,
it is certain that he will transmit to his offspring an intellectual
organization, so to speak, superior to that which was transmitted to
himself by his parent; the mind of the offspring will be a less rude
soil for mental cultivation than was his father's; and when his
education is commenced, he will be one step in the scale of intellect in
advance of his parents at the same period. When he arrives at maturity,
he will, under equal circumstances, be mentally superior to his
progenitors at the same period of their lives. His offspring will be
superior to himself, and their offspring yet a grade higher in the
scale of intelligence, and standing, perhaps, upon the very line drawn
between human and angelic intellect. His mind will bear comparison with
that of the white man; and, morally and intellectually, he will stand
beside him as his equal.

This is mere theory, but it is theory based upon the operation of laws
whose general principles cannot be controverted: and when the negro, by
the emancipation of his species, has opportunity for the culture of his
own mind--which, if he is disposed to neglect, the philanthropist will
not be--a few generations will leave no traces of those mental shackles,
which, like chains loaded upon the body, have so long borne him down to
a level with the brute. Till time proves this original equi-mental
organization of the white man and the negro, which opinion fact has been
strengthening for two or three generations in individual instances, it
is due, both to philanthropy and justice, to suspend the sentence which
condemns him as a being less than man.

Shortly before leaving the slave mart--a handsome carriage drove up,
from which alighted an elderly lady, who, leaning on the arm of a youth,
entered the court. After looking at and questioning in a kind tone
several of the female slaves, she purchased two, a young mother and her
child, and in a few minutes afterward, at the solicitation of the youth,
purchased the husband of the girl, and all three, with happy
faces--happier, that they were not to be separated--flew to get their
little parcels, and rode away with their mistress,--the wife and child
sitting within the carriage on the front seat--and the man on the
coach-box beside the coachman. We soon after mounted our horses, and
with George and his wife walking on before us with elastic steps,
returned to town. The slave market, which is the subject of this letter,
I have since frequently visited, as well as four or five others in the
vicinity of Natchez, where several hundred slaves of all ages, colours,
and conditions, of both sexes, were exposed for sale. I have conversed
with a great number of them, from the liveliest to the most sullen, and
my impression, which is daily strengthened by a more intimate knowledge
of their species, is, that the negro is not dissatisfied with his
condition--that it is seldom or never the subject of his thoughts--that
he regards it as his destiny, as much as a home about the poles is the
Laplander's; nor does he pine after freedom more than the other after
the green hills and sunny skies of Italy. They find themselves first
existing in this state, and pass through life without questioning the
justice of their allotment, which, if they think at all, they suppose a
natural one. Had the American slave once enjoyed freedom, these
circumstances would be changed. But there is probably not one among
them, except some venerable African, who has realized what it is to be
free. So long as he has had any consciousness, he is conscious of having
been a slave, and he fulfils his duties as such, without stopping from
time to time to put the question to himself, "Is this my original
destiny? Was my first ancestor created a slave?" With as much propriety
might the haughty white man query if more exalted physical beauty and
perfection were not once his, and whether man was not originally
winged! There are, of course, individual exceptions to this general
remark, but in the present darkened state of negro intellect, these
exceptions are very few.

During the time they remain in the mart for sale, few men pass their
time with more apparent contentment. There are two extensive markets for
slaves, opposite to each other, on the road to Washington, three miles
from Natchez. These I have passed at least once a week for more than a
year, and I have always seen the slaves either dancing to the sound of
the violin, played by one of their number, playing at marbles, quoits,
practising gymnastics, lounging, sleeping in the sun, or idling about
the door, while their masters, the "slave traders," regardless of them,
were playing at cards or backgammon, smoking or sitting about the door
conversing together, or with a buyer; their presence not producing the
least restraint upon the noisy merriment around them. But when a
purchaser stops and desires to look at the "lot," the slaves at once
leave their several amusements, and draw up into a line, for inspection
and purchase; and when the stranger leaves, taking with him one or more
of their number, to whom they bid a cheerful good-bye, they return to
their former pursuits wholly unimpressed by the event that has just
taken place.

Negroes, when brought into market, are always anxious to be sold; and to
be sold first is a great desideratum, for in their estimation it is an
evidence of their superiority. "None but poor nigger stay for be sol'
last." Hence, when a purchaser enters, they strive to appear before him
to the best advantage, and by their manner assiduously invite attention
to themselves. There are but two things which at all depress the mind of
the slave in market; these are, the possibility of obtaining a bad
master, and that of being separated from their relations. The first,
however, seldom troubles them, and the degree in which they are governed
by this apprehension depends wholly upon their former treatment. With
individuals who have been blessed with a partial master it may weigh
much, but with the generality of slaves it is a light consideration. The
latter apprehension is in a great measure lessened by a certainty of
being sold together to the same individual, if possible. It is a rule
seldom deviated from, to sell families and relations together, if
practicable, and if not, at least to masters residing in the
neighbourhood of each other. A negro trader, in my presence, refused to
sell a negro girl, for whom a planter offered a high price, because he
would not also purchase her sister--"for," said the trader, "they are
much attached to each other, and when their mother died I promised her I
would not part them."

Relatives, except husband and wife, often prefer being sold to different
masters in the same neighbourhood. This is to be attributed to the
roving propensity of their race, which induces them to prefer a
separation of this nature, for a pretence to visit from one plantation
to another on Sabbaths and Christmas holydays, at which season the
slaves have a temporary freedom for several days. Then the highways,
lanes, and streets, in town and country, are filled with gay parties on
foot or on plough-horses, caparisoned for the occasion, as happy as the
total absence of care, thoughtlessness of to-morrow, plenty of whiskey,
and a cessation of all labour, can make them.


[16] Male slaves of any age under forty are always denominated boys.


      Towns of Mississippi--Naming estates--The influence of towns
      on the social relations of the planters--Southern refinement
      --Colleges--Oakland--Clinton--Jefferson--History of the latter
      --Collegiate system of instruction--Primary departments--
      Quadrennial classes.

The towns and villages of Mississippi, as in European states, are
located perfectly independent of each other, isolated among its forests,
and often many leagues apart, leaving in the intervals large tracts of
country covered with plantations, and claiming no minuter subdivision
than that of "county." Natchez, for instance, is a corporation one mile
square, but from the boundaries of the city to Woodville, the next
incorporated town south, there is an interval of thirty-eight miles. It
is necessary for the planters who reside between towns so far asunder,
to have some more particular address, than the indefinite one arising
from their vicinity to one or other of these towns. Hence has
originated the pleasing custom of naming estates, as in England; and
names so given are always regarded by the planters themselves, and by
the community, as an inseparable part of their address. These names are
generally selected with taste, such as "Monmouth," "Laurel-hill,"
"Grange," "Magnolia grove," "The Forest," "Cottage," "Briars,"
"Fatherland," and "Anchorage"--the last given by a retired navy officer
to his plantation. The name is sometimes adopted with reference to some
characteristic of the domain, as "The Oaks," "China grove," "New
Forest," &c., but more frequently it is a mere matter of fancy. Towns in
this state have usually originated from the location of a county seat,
after the formation of a new county. Here the court-house is placed, and
forms the centre of an area which is soon filled with edifices and
inhabitants. If the county lies on the river, another town may arise,
for a shipping port, but here the accumulation of towns usually ceases.
A county seat, and a cotton mart, are all that an agricultural country
requires. The towns in this state are thus dispersed two or three to
each county, nor so long as this is a planting country, will there be
any great increase to their number, although in wealth and importance
they may rival, particularly the shipping ports, the most populous
places in the valley of the west. In these towns are the banks, the
merchants, the post offices, and the several places of resort for
business or pleasure that draw the planter and his family from his
estate. Each town is the centre of a circle which extends many miles
around it into the country, and daily attracts all within its influence.
The ladies come in their carriages "to shop," the gentlemen, on
horseback, to do business with their commission merchants, visit the
banks, hear the news, dine together at the hotels, and ride back in the
evening. The southern town is properly the "Exchange" for the
neighbouring planters, and the "Broadway" for their wives and daughters.
And as no plantation is without a private carriage, the number of these
gay vehicles, filling the streets of the larger towns on pleasant
mornings in the winter, is surprising. I have counted between thirty and
forty private carriages in the streets of Natchez in one morning. In a
small country village, I once numbered seventeen, standing around a
Methodist chapel. Showy carriages and saddle horses are the peculiar
characteristics of the "moving spectacle" in the streets of
south-western towns.

Every village is a nucleus of southern society, to which the least
portion is generally contributed by itself. When a public ball is given
by the bachelors, in one of these towns--for private parties are
scarcely known--the tickets of invitation fly into the retirement of the
plantations, within the prescribed circle, often to the distance of
thirty miles. Thus families, who reside several leagues apart, on
opposite sides of the town, and who might otherwise never associate,
unless on "change," or in "shopping," meet together, like the
inhabitants of one city. This state of things unites, in a social bond,
the intelligent inhabitants of a large extent of country, who are
nearly equally wealthy, and creates a state of society in the highest
degree favourable to hospitality and social feeling. These social
"circles" often revolve within one another, and sometimes enlarge, until
they embrace several towns. The Mississippians are remarkable for their
"locomotivity;" an organ which they have plainly developed, if we
reason, as phrenologists sometimes do, from effect to cause--and whose
existence is manifest from their propensity annually to depopulate their
state, by taking northern tours during the summer months. During the
season of gayety, in the winter months, the public assemblies and
private coteries of Natchez are unsurpassed by those of any other city,
in the elegance, refinement, or loveliness of the individuals who
compose them. If you will bear in mind, that the southern females of
wealth are usually educated in the most finished style, at the first
female seminaries in the north, and, until recently, not seldom in
Europe; and recollect the personal beauty, sprightliness, and extreme
refinement of the southern lady, you will not be surprised that elegant
women grace the private circles, and shine in the gay assemblies of
southern cities.

But fashion and refinement are not confined to Natchez. In nearly every
county reside opulent planters, whose children enjoy precisely the same
advantages as are afforded in the city. Drawn from the seclusion of
their plantations, their daughters are sent to the north; whence they
return, in the course of time, with cultivated minds and elegant
manners. Hence every village can draw around it a polished circle of
its own; for refinement and wealth do not always diminish here, as in
New-England, in the inverse ratio of distance from a metropolis--and
elegant women may often be found blooming in the depths of forests far
in the interior.

Less attention is paid to the mental or personal cultivation of the male
youth of this state, than to that of the females. Many of them are
partially educated at home; and, by the time they attain the age at
which northern boys enter college, become assistants on the plantation,
which they expect one day to inherit; or, at the age of nineteen or
twenty, receive from their parents land and negroes, and commence
planting for themselves. At the age of twenty-one or two they frequently
marry. Many planters are opposed to giving their sons, whom they destine
to succeed them as farmers, a classical education. A common practical
education they consider sufficient for young gentlemen who are to bury
themselves for life in the retirement of a plantation. But Mississippi,
in this age and at this juncture, from the peculiar construction of her
political and social laws, demands an educated youth.--The majority of
the planters are able to educate their children in a superior manner;
and if they do this, they will elevate the rising generation high in the
scale of society, and give Mississippi an honourable rank among the
republics of America. Although education is not indigenous, and is too
frequently a secondary consideration in the minds of many, children in
the towns are probably as well educated as they would be at the north,
under similar circumstances, for no village is without private schools.
But the education of young children on plantations is much neglected.
Many boys and girls, whose parents reside five or ten miles from any
town or academy, and do not employ tutors, grow up to the age of eight
or ten, unable either to read or write. Some planters, who have but one
or two children, and do not think it worth while to employ a tutor for
so small a number, thoughtless of the injury their children may sustain,
suffer them to grow up at home, almost ignorant even of the alphabet,
till of an age to be sent away to a boarding-school, or an academy,
where they first learn to read. In such a state of things, it is not
uncommon to meet with very interesting and intelligent children wholly
ignorant of those childish studies, and that story-book information,
which throw such a charm over their little society, invigorating the
intellectual faculties, and laying a foundation for a superstructure of
mind. Often several families will unite and employ a tutor;
constructing, for the purpose, a school-house, in a central position
among their plantations. But those who look forward to a high rank in
American and European society for their children, employ private tutors
in their own houses, even if they have but one child. Some gentlemen
send their children, when quite young, to the north, and visit them
every summer. Two-thirds of the planters' children of this state are
educated out of it. There is annually a larger sum carried out of the
state, for the education of children at the north, and in the expenses
of parents in making them yearly visits there, than would be sufficient
to endow an institution at intervals of four or five years.

There are three colleges in Mississippi; but Mississippians have so long
been in the habit of sending their children away, when it was necessary,
that they still adhere to the custom, when there is no farther occasion
for it; and the consequence is, that their own institutions are
neglected, and soon fall into decay, while the money which they send for
the support of northern colleges, would elevate their own to high
literary distinction and usefulness.

Oakland college, twenty-five miles from Natchez, near Rodney, is a
flourishing institution under Presbyterian patronage. It is of recent
foundation, and has yet no permanent buildings; but handsome college
edifices are about to be erected for the accommodation of the students.
Its situation is rural and very healthy. Its funds are respectable, and
under the presidency of the Rev. J. Chamberlin, a gentleman of learning
and piety, it is rapidly rising into eminence. It already has about one
hundred students, and its professors are men of talent and industry, one
of whom is a son of the late Dr. Payson of Portland. It is thus that
young northerners work their way to distinction in the south and west.
There is another college at Clinton, of which I have before spoken, and
also an academy at Natchez, ranking as high as a south-western college,
under the superintendence of J. H. B. Black, Esq. of New-Jersey.
Jefferson college, in the village of Washington, six miles from Natchez,
is the oldest and best endowed institution in the state. It was founded
by private subscription in 1802, and subsequently received a grant of a
township of unsaleable land from Congress, exchanged two years since for
a more eligible tract, which sold for a very large sum. The income of
the college is now about eight thousand dollars, arising from a fund of
more than one hundred and fifty thousand. The building is a large,
three-story brick edifice, handsomely finished, and capable of
containing one hundred students. The location is highly beautiful, in a
grove of majestic oaks, and at the head of a fine green parade, which
lies, with a magnificent oak in its centre, between it and the village.
A primary department is connected with it; and a pleasant brick
building, half surrounded with galleries, on the opposite side of the
"green," is appropriated to this branch of the institution. The primary
department, which includes a moiety of the students, is under the able
superintendence of professor Crane, a native of New-Jersey, and recently
from West Point. The history of this institution will confirm what I
have stated in my remarks upon education. Since its organization until
very recently, it has laboured under pecuniary difficulties, with which
it was unable to contend; for a great part of the time it has been
without pupils or teachers; and its halls have occasionally been used
for private schools. It obtained no celebrity as a college until
1829-30, when Mr. Williston, the author of "Eloquence in the United
States," and "Williston's Tacitus," was chosen its president, and the
institution was placed under military organization, after the plan
adopted by capt. Alden Partridge. The novelty of this mode drew a great
number of pupils within its walls. The following year ill health
compelled president Williston to resign, and he was succeeded by major
Holbrook, formerly principal of the seminary in Georgetown, D. C. During
his presidency there were above one hundred and fifty cadets connected
with the institution, and it was more flourishing in every respect than
any other in the south-west. But the new president, seized with the
mania for cotton-planting, which infects all who reside here for any
length of time, devoted a portion of his attention to agricultural
pursuits, and the patrons of the college, perhaps regarding this
additional vocation as incompatible with that of instructing, withdrew
their sons, one after another, the novelty of a military education
having worn off, and fell into the old mode of keeping them at home on
their plantations, or sending them to Kentucky, the great academy for
Mississippi youth, to complete their education. During the summer the
president died, and the institution again became disorganized. In 1833,
capt. Alden Partridge was invited by the board of trustees to assume the
presidency, but after remaining a few months, returned to the north,
unable to restore it to its former flourishing condition. The college
halls became again, and for the sixth time since their foundation,
nearly deserted. In the spring of 1834, the board invited two professors
to take charge of the college until they could decide upon the choice of
a president. The present year, C. B. Dubuisson, Esq. of Philadelphia,
one of these professors, was unanimously elected president, and was
inaugurated on the 6th of July, 1835. Under the new president, who is a
finished scholar and a very amiable and energetic man, the college has
become very flourishing, and is rapidly advancing to permanent literary
distinction. Professor Symmes, a graduate of the University of Virginia,
and an able scholar, is professor of mathematics. Under these two
gentlemen, and the professor in the primary department, planters may now
have their sons as well educated as at the north. They are beginning to
think so. But if they would more generally adopt the opinion, that their
sons can be educated at the south by northern professors as well as at
the north, the literary institutions of this country would not have to
struggle for existence, scarcely able to rise above the rank of an
academy. In connexion with the disinclination which southerners have to
educating their sons at home, and their disposition to depreciate their
native institutions, there exists another cause, with a direct tendency
to check their advancement. It is the system of education pursued in
their colleges, which, in a great degree, is the result of necessity.
Until within a few years, there have been no good preparatory schools in
this state, where youth could fit themselves for admission into college.
Now, to form the lowest class in a college, it is necessary that those
who are to compose it--however large or small their number--should have
gone through a prescribed series of preparatory studies. But where
there has been no opportunity for pursuing this preparatory course, as
here in the south-west, the college must open its doors to unprepared
youth, to the great injury of its classes, or, in the absence of other
means, provide measures for fitting them for admission. These measures
all colleges here are at present taking, by the establishment of primary
departments; until the pupils of these departments are qualified for
promotion, the college classes remain vacant; and thus, though nominally
a college, the institution is, for the time being, an academy, or
preparatory school for _itself_. This is the present state of the
colleges here, and none of them have advanced so far as to open the
junior class. Jefferson College indeed has been, with the exception of
its condition under military discipline a few years since, no more than
a preparatory department since its organization. It is now rising into
the dignity of a college, although the quadrennial course, which in our
notions is inseparable from a collegiate education, is not intended by
the board to form a part of their system. The method adopted in the
University of Virginia, in relation to the routine of studies and
succession of classes, will be partially pursued. In the present state
of things, this is no doubt the preferable course to follow; but it is
to be feared that the college will never be eminent or very permanent,
until established on the good old basis of our northern institutions. If
this system were adopted, and a professor appointed to fill the chair in
each department of science, whether there were students or not--and the
freshman class opened, even by the admission of a single scholar--the
institution, with its immense fund, would stand upon an immovable
foundation. The classes would increase every year in size, and at the
end of the fifth series, or in twenty years, a class of seniors would
receive their degrees, whom even aristocratic Harvard would not disdain
to acknowledge as her foster children.


      Indian mounds--Their origin and object--Tumuli near Natchez
      --Skulls and other remains--Visit to the fortifications or
      mounds at Seltzertown--Appearance and description of the
      mounds--Their age--Reflections--History of the Natchez.

The Indian mounds, those gigantic mausolea of unhistoried nations, will
ever present a subject of absorbing interest to the reflecting mind.
Elevating their green summits amid the great forests of the
west--mysterious links of the unknown past--they will stand imperishable
through time, encircled by the cities and palaces of men, silent but
impressive monitors of their grasping ambition. These sepulchres are
scattered every where throughout the valley of the Mississippi--itself a
mighty cemetery of mighty tombs. In the pathless forests, and on the
banks of the rivers of the south-west, they are still more thickly
strewed than in the north valley, indicating a denser population. It
was recently suggested to me, by a gentleman of antiquarian tastes, that
the Indians of the southern valley, by whom these mounds were
constructed, and who were a mild and inoffensive people, far advanced in
civilization, were, in remote ages, invaded by a horde of northern
tribes from the Atlantic shores--as were the effeminate states of
southern Europe by the Goths and Vandals--who drove out the original
possessors, and took possession of their delightful country; while the
fugitive inhabitants crossed the Mississippi, and, moving to the west
and south, laid the foundation of the empire of Mexico. This theory is
not improbable, and it is supported by many established facts. It is
certain that the rude tribes found in this country, by De Soto and his
followers, remnants of which still exist, cannot be identified with
those by whom these tumuli were erected. Among them there exists not
even a tradition of the formation of these mounds.

There have been many curious hypotheses advanced in reference to their
object. Some have supposed that they were constructed, after a great
battle, of the numerous bodies of the slain; others, that they were the
customary burial-places of the Indians, gradually accumulating in a
series of years, until, terminating in a cone, they were covered with
earth, and deserted for new cemeteries, to be in like manner abandoned
in their turn. Others, by a train of analogous reasoning, founded upon
the prevailing custom of other aboriginal tribes, have supposed them to
be fortifications; and others again believe them temples; or, like the
pyramids of Egypt, structures connected with the mysteries of the
religion of their builders. But their true origin, like that of their
grander prototypes on the plains of Memphis, must for ever be lost in

In the vicinity of Natchez, and within three hours' ride of the city, in
various directions, are twelve or fifteen of these mounds. Some of them
have been partially excavated; and besides many vessels, weapons of war,
and ordinary human remains, skeletons of men of a large size have been
found in them. On the estate of a gentleman two miles from Natchez, and
in the loveliest vale in this region, there are three, situated
equidistant from each other, along the bank of the St. Catharine. One of
these was recently excavated by Dr. Powell, a distinguished phrenologist
of the west; from which he obtained several earthen vessels, neatly
made, various fragments, and besides other bones, three perfect
skulls--one the most beautiful head I ever beheld, of a young Choctaw
girl; another, the skull of a man of the same tribe; and the third, a
massive and remarkably formed skull of a Natchez. I have since examined
two of these mounds, but was not able to add any thing important to the
discoveries of Dr. Powell. The perfect decomposition which has taken
place in one of them, would indicate a much greater age than is
generally attributed to them. I laid bare a perpendicular face of this
mound, ten feet square, and the spade struck but one hard substance,
which proved to be the lower jaw, containing seven or eight teeth, of
some wild animal, and a few splinters of corroded human bones that
crumbled between the fingers. I could easily discern several strata, in
this exposed surface, alternately of common earth and a black friable
loam, resembling powder to the eye, but soft like paste in the fingers.
These black strata were veined with light brown or dingy white streaks,
of a firmer consistence. The location of this mound, its height, not
exceeding twenty feet, the uniform decomposition, and the regular series
of strata, lead to the conclusion, that it was constructed at one time,
probably after a battle, of the bodies of men whose deaths took place at
the same period, laid in layers, one above another, as the modern slain
are buried, by only reversing the process, in deep pits.

The skulls found by Dr. Powell in the mound opened by him, were very
perfect specimens. The head of the Choctaw differs not materially from
those of Europeans, when considered phrenologically, although its
developements of the organs of animal feelings are more prominent than
those of the intellectual faculties. The head is generally smaller than
that of the European, but the general contour is nearly the same. The
skull of the Natchez is remarkable in every respect. It is large, like
the German head, very angular, with bold developements. It is shaped
artificially in infancy,--a peculiarity only of the skulls of the
males--so that the top of the forehead forms the apex of a cone. The
compressure necessary to produce this shape has entirely destroyed the
organs of veneration, of benevolence, and of the reasoning powers. My
examination of this skull was for a moment only, and very superficial,
so that I did not ascertain the particular deficiency or developement of
any special organ. The heads of the females of this extinct tribe, I am
informed by those who have examined them, are very fine, displaying in
their graceful, undulating outline, the _beau ideal_ of the human

There is a mound about five miles from Natchez, upon the plantation of a
gentleman, whose taste or ambition has influenced him to erect his
dwelling upon its summit. A strange dwelling-place for the living, over
the sepulchres of the dead! Eleven miles from the city there is another
mound, or a collection of mounds, which, in the beauty of its location,
the elevation of its summit, and the ingenuity displayed in its
construction, either as a fortress or a temple, is entitled to an
important rank among these mysterious structures of the western valley.
A few days since I left Natchez with a northern gentleman, for the
purpose of visiting this mound. Three miles from town we passed the
race-course, situated in a delightful intervale. This is the finest
"course" in the south, passing round a perfectly level plain in a circle
of one mile, whose centre is slightly convex, so that the spectators can
obtain a full view of the horses while running. Ladies, on extraordinary
occasions, attend the races, although it is not customary. But to
south-western gentlemen the race-course is a place of resort of the most
alluring character. On the St. Catharine race-course, now alluded to, on
great race days, the chivalry of Mississippi will be found assembled in
high spirits, and full of the peculiar excitement incident to the
occasion. Home is, perhaps, the proper scene for studying the planter's
character; but it will never be perfectly understood until he is seen,
booted and spurred, with his pocket-book in one hand, and bank bills
fluttering in the other, moving about upon the turf.

Three miles from the race-ground, about which is gathered a little
village, sometimes called St. Catharinesville, we entered the pretty and
rural town of Washington. The whole village was embowered in the foliage
of China trees, which thickly lined both sides of the main street.
Turning down a street to the left, which led to the college, we alighted
there after a short ride over the green, as it was the intention of the
president and one or two of the professors to accompany us to the mound.
We were shown the college library, comprised in a few shelves filled
with volumes of the statutes; and the cabinet, where, besides a few
interesting geological specimens, were some bones of a mammoth, or
mastodon, found in the neighbourhood.

In the course of an hour we all mounted our horses, and, entering the
village, rode down its quiet and shaded streets, and emerged on the brow
of the hill or ridge on which the town is built; and shortly after
crossed the pebbly bed of the St. Catharine's, which, in its serpentine
windings, crosses nearly every road in the neighbourhood of Natchez.
Beyond this stream, from an eminence over which the road wound, we had a
fine view of the village on the opposite hill, with its college, lifting
its roof among the towering oaks; its dwellings, with their light
galleries and balconies, half hidden among the shade trees; the female
academy, with its green lawn, a high colonnaded private edifice,
overtopping the trees, and its neat unassuming churches.

After a pleasant ride of five miles, through forest and plantation
scenery, over a country pleasantly undulating, we arrived at the summit
of a hill, just after passing a neat brick cottage, surrounded by a
parterre, and half hidden in the woods; so that it would not have been
observed, but for the wide gate on the road-side--often the only
indication, as I have before remarked, of the vicinage of a planter's
residence. From this hill we were gratified with an extensive prospect
of a richly wooded and partially cultivated extent of country,
occasionally rising into precipitous hills, crowned with forest trees.
About a mile to the north, on our left, in the centre of a large cotton
plantation, surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, stood a singular
cluster of eminences, isolated from those encircling them, whose summits
were destitute of verdure or trees. These were the goal of our
excursion--the celebrated tumuli of Mississippi. Descending the hill, we
passed through a gate, opening into a narrow lane, bordered on either
side with thick clumps of trees, and the luxuriant wild shrubbery which
grows by the streams and along the roads throughout the south; and after
winding through ravines and crossing bayous, we arrived at the "gin" of
the plantation; a large building resembling a northern hay-press, where
some negroes were at work; one of whom, with a readiness always
characteristic of the negro slave, immediately came out to take charge
of our horses. Declining his aid, as we had no authority for
appropriating his services--a liberty as to which some planters are very
punctilious--we hitched our horses to the rail fence. Had the proprietor
of the estate been present, we should have solicited the aid of some of
his slaves in excavating: but since then I have met with the venerable
planter, who, with great politeness, has offered me every facility for
making whatever researches or excavations curiosity might suggest.

We ascended the steep sides of the mound with some difficulty, as they
were inclined but a few degrees from the perpendicular. On gaining the
summit, thirty-five feet from the base, we saw, extended before us, an
elliptical area, whose plane was three or four feet lower than the verge
of the mound. To the right, at the eastern extremity of the area, rose a
super-mound, fifteen feet high; and on the opposite extremity, to the
east, stood another, rising thirty feet from the floor of the area or
summit of the great mound we had just ascended, and sixty feet from the
level of the surrounding plantation. From the summit of this second
mound the eye embraced an irregular amphitheatre, confined by elevated
forests, half a league in diameter, whose centre was the mound, from
which, on nearly every side, the ground descended, almost imperceptibly,
with a few obstructions, to the foot of the surrounding hills.

This peculiarity of its location, so favourable for a military
position, would indicate such to have been the object of its
constructors. The whole structure, so far as an opinion can be formed
from a careful survey of its general features, was originally a conical
hill, now changed to its present shape by human labour; which nature, in
a wayward mood, placed, like Joseph's sheaf, conspicuous, and aloof from
the hills that surround it on every side. From its present aspect, the
mound, if originally a natural hill, must have been forty or fifty feet
high, of an oblong form, its greatest diameter being from east to west,
with very precipitous sides. It consists now of a single conspicuous
elevation, oval in shape, and presenting, on every side, indentations
and projections, not unlike the salient angles of military works,
serving to strengthen the opinion that it was a fortification. Its
summit is perfectly flat, comprising an area of four acres, surrounded
by a kind of balustrade, formed by the projection of the sides of the
mound two or three feet higher than the area. The two super-mounds
before mentioned stand at either extremity of the summit, in a direction
east and west; a position indicating design, and confirming the views of
those who believe the structure to be a temple. The Indians, by whom the
mound is supposed to have been erected, were, like the Peruvians,
worshippers of the sun and of fire, and maintained a perpetual sacrifice
of the latter upon their altars. If this was a temple, the two
super-mounds were its altars; on one of which, toward the east, burned
the sacrifice of fire, to welcome the rising sun, of which it was a pure
and beautiful emblem; while the bright flame upon the altar toward the
west, mingled with his last expiring beams. Between these two superior
mounds are four others of inferior height, two of which border the
northern verge of the area, and two the southern, although not exactly
opposite to the former. Thus the area upon the summit is surrounded by
six tumuli, of various elevations. The largest of them, to the west,
before mentioned, is flat on the top, which contains about one-fourth of
an acre. Its external sides slope, as do the outside surfaces of the
other five, gradually down to the base of the great mound upon which it
is constructed.

The whole work is surrounded by the remains of a ditch; from which, and
from the sides of the chief mound, the earth must have been taken to
form those upon the summit. The material of which the whole is
constructed, is the same alluvial earth as that composing the sides of
the ditch and the surrounding plain. Neither stone nor brick forms any
portion of the material of the work, nor is the former found any where
in the vicinity. In the centre of the elevated area is the mouth of a
subterranean passage, leading, with an easy inclination, to a spring
without the mound, on the north side of the plain. It is now fallen in,
and choked with briers, vines, and young trees. There are traces also of
another avenue, conducting to the south side, and opening into the
country. Against the two eastern angles of the mound, at its base, are
two smaller mounds, ten feet high, which might be taken for bastions by
one who regarded the work as a fortification. In the early settlement
of this country, the mound was covered with fruit-trees of a large size,
whose age indicated uninterrupted possession of their places for
centuries. It is now divested of its trees, and under cultivation. It is
to be regretted that the axe or plough should ever have desecrated a
monument so sacred to the antiquary.

There is every evidence that formerly this position was one of great
importance. Remains of excavated roads, passing through the adjacent
forests, and converging to this mound as their common centre, still
exist, in which large trees are growing, whose age--more than two
hundred years--gives an approximation to the date when these roads were
disused, and when, probably, the spot to which they centred, ceased to
be regarded either as a shrine for the Indian pilgrim--a national
temple--or the centre of their military strength. Human remains of very
large size have been discovered in its vicinity, and also fragments of
pottery, weapons, pipes, and mortar-shaped vessels, covered with
ornamental tracery and hieroglyphics, evincing a high degree of
advancement in the arts. If their dwellings and apparel were made with
the same skill which is displayed in the utensils and weapons discovered
in these mounds, their fabricators will be regarded, so far as this
criterion extends, as having possessed a high degree of civilization.

In surveying this mound from the plain, the mind is impressed with the
idea of the vast amount of human labour expended in thus piling it
up--mound upon mound--like Pelion upon Ossa. Thousands of human emmets
have toiled to rear this hill--their busy hum filled the air, and every
spot around us was trodden by their nimble feet. The question is
naturally suggested to the mind, while gazing upon the huge pile, "For
what was it constructed?"--and imagination, surveying the sad history of
the departed nations, who once inhabited this pleasant land, might
answer that a prophetic warning of their total annihilation influenced
these people to erect a national tomb. And are they not their tombs? Are
not these the only evidences that they ever have been--and are they not
the receptacles of their national remains? The footstep of the labourer
is now stayed for ever! his voice is hushed in death! The shout of the
hunter--the cry of the warrior--the voice of love, are heard no more.

"The Natchez tribe of Indians," says a beautiful writer, to whom I have
before alluded, and who involves in his historical sketch a touching
narrative, "who inhabited the luxuriant soil of Mississippi, were a
mild, generous, and hospitable people. The offspring of a serene
climate, their character was marked by nothing ferocious; and beyond the
necessity of self-defence, or the unavoidable collisions with
neighbouring tribes, by nothing martial. Their government, it is true,
was most despotic; and, perhaps, the history of no other nation north of
the equator presents a parallel; and yet no charge of an unnecessary, or
unwarrantable exercise of this great power, is made against them, even
by their historians, who were also the countrymen of their oppressors.
Their king, or chief, was called "THE SUN," and the exalted
station which he held, was designated by a representation of that
luminary worn upon his breast. He united also with his civic function,
the priestly power and supremacy--and thus entrenched behind the
ramparts of physical force, and wielding the terrors of superstition, he
was absolute master of the lives and property of his subjects. His
equal, in dignity and power, was his queen, under the title of "THE
WIFE OF THE SUN." Thus, then, living in undisturbed repose, and in
the innocent enjoyment of the bounties of nature, there came in an evil
hour to their peaceful shores, a party of French emigrants, who, about
the end of the seventeenth or beginning of the eighteenth century,
navigated the Mississippi in quest of wealth and territory. They were
received with all the cordiality and affection that these guiltless and
inoffensive beings could bestow. The choicest gifts of the beneficent
Creator had been showered upon them with a lavish hand, and with a
spirit, somewhat allied to his who had conferred them, they cheerfully
tendered to the houseless wanderers a participation in the blessings
they themselves enjoyed. These substantial pledges of amity and good
feeling were received with apparent gratitude by the emigrants; but
their immediate wants supplied, they were again thrown back upon their
evil passions, that for a moment had been quelled by misfortune, and
perpetrated acts of injustice and cruelty which excited the indignation
of their benefactors. Driven almost to frenzy, by repeated acts of
aggression, they attempted a re-establishment of their rights, but were
eventually subdued, and basely massacred. The French, upon their
arrival, affected to treat upon terms of reciprocity for the products of
the soil; perceiving, however, the unsuspicious temper of these generous
Indians, they threw off the mask, and urged novel and extravagant
demands; even extending to the fields which supported their wives and
children--and not until they were driven in ignominy from them into the
depth of the wilderness, were their shameless oppressors satisfied. At
this period commenced the league against the French, which embraced all
the tribes lying on the east, and to the failure of which, through the
unmerited compassion of their queen, they owed their defeat and

Messengers were despatched to different quarters, and a general massacre
of the common enemy was agreed upon. A day was appointed, but being
unacquainted with the art of writing, or the use of numbers, the period
was designated by a bundle of sticks, every stick representing a day;
each of the confederated chiefs prepared a bundle corresponding in
number with those of his associates, one of which was to be burned
daily; and the committing of the last to the flames, was to be the
signal for the attack.

"The wife of the sun," still attached to the French by many
recollections, being the strangers whom she had protected and
loved--trembling at the torrents of blood which must flow, and
forgetting the wrongs which had been heaped upon her country, determined
to preserve them, and intimated to their commander the necessity of
caution; by some singular incredulity he despised and neglected the
counsel thus tendered to him. Frustrated in her purpose of saving those
within the limits of her own tribe, she determined, by the anticipation
of their fate, to preserve the majority scattered throughout other
tribes. Having free access to the temple, she removed several of the
sticks there deposited, and the warriors, on repairing thither, finding
but one symbol remaining, prepared for the dreadful business on which
they had resolved. They then consigned the last stick to the fire, and
supposing that the united nations were all engaged in the same bloody
work, fell upon the French, and cut them off almost to a man.[17]
Perrein, the commander, with a few more, escaped, and collecting a few
of his countrymen, prevailed upon the neighbouring tribes, by threats or
promises, to abandon and betray the devoted Natchez; and in one day
consigned them to the sword, sparing neither age, sex, nor condition; he
burnt their houses, laid waste their fields, and desolation soon marked
the spot, once the retreat of an unoffending, peaceful, and happy
people. The few who escaped, fled for protection to a neighbouring
tribe, then, and now, known as the Chickasaws; a brave, warlike, and
independent nation. Their conduct toward these wretched outcasts should
be remembered to their immortal honour; they received them with open
arms, and resisted with unshaken firmness, the earnest and repeated
demands of the French for their delivery; and to such an extent did they
carry their magnanimity, that they preferred hazarding a doubtful
contest, when their own existence was at stake, to a violation of the
pledges of hospitality and protection, which they had made to a few
persecuted strangers. Three times, with souls bent upon vengeance
against the remnant of their ancient foes, and with no less bloody
purposes against their defenders, did the French carry war to the
Chickasaw boundary, and three times were they driven back with ignominy
and loss--nor did they ever obtain their object. The poor Natchez shared
the hospitality of their protectors until their necessities and sorrows
were alike relieved by death; their bones repose in a land unknown to
their fathers; their spirits may be again mingled in the beautiful
regions which they believe to be prepared by the Great Spirit for the
fearless warrior, the successful hunter, and the faithful and hospitable
Indian, beyond the great lakes. Such is the story of the Natchez--such
their melancholy end--such the kindness and benevolence extended to the
white man in distress--and such the ingratitude, perfidy, and cruelty,
with which these favours were repaid. Of the distinguished female, whose
humanity and mercy proved so unexpectedly fatal to her race, we hear no
more--but it is highly probable, that in the indiscriminate massacre
which took place, neither her strong claims to the gratitude of the
French, nor her merciful and forbearing disposition, nor her honours,
titles, and dignities, nor even her sex, could protect her; but that she
fell an undistinguished victim, among her slaughtered people."


[17] The attack was made on Fort Rosalie, at Natchez, in 1729, the head
quarters of the French.


      Slavery in the south-west--Southern feelings--Increase of
      slaves--Virginia--Mode of buying slaves, and slave-traders
      --Mode of transportation by sea--Arrival at the mart--Mode
      of life in the market--Transportation by land--Privileges of
      slaves--Conduct of planters toward their negroes--Anecdotes
      --Negro traders--Their origin.

In my desultory sketches of the white and negro population of the
south-west, my intention has not been to detail minutely their social
relations and domestic economy. To convey a general idea of their
condition alone enters into my present plan. Having enlarged upon that
of the white population, I will devote a portion of the following pages
to a brief sketch of a variety of the human species, which has ever
presented an interesting field for the efforts of the philanthropist.

The origin of slavery is lost: but there is no doubt that it prevailed,
in the early post-diluvian ages, among all the infant nations of the
earth.[18] Sacred history assures us of its existence shortly after the
flood; and divine economy, in regulating the political and domestic
state of the Jews, permitted its existence. But Jewish, and all ancient
slavery, was a species of warlike retribution against enemies taken in
battle. Civilization and Christianity had not then established the
modern treatment and disposal of prisoners. Then they were held in
bondage by their conquerors during life; now their detention is but for
a limited time; then, they were individual, now they are national,
property. Christianity, in this enlightened age, has taught conquerors
to mitigate their severity toward the conquered; and national policy has
found it most expedient to make other disposition of them than holding
them in bondage.

But the establishment and preservation of slavery in the south-west, are
more immediately the objects of my remarks. If any people can repudiate
with justice the charge of originating it, the Mississippians can do so.
The Spaniards introduced it here; the first American settlers of this
state found slaves attached to its soil, after the Spaniards resigned
the country to the government of the United States, and they received
them as a portion of the possessions, which fell into their hands by
treaty or purchase. Finding them here they retained them--for the
slavery question, like many others in those days of innocence, had not
been agitated--or they might have sent them after their Spanish masters.

There was, of course, nothing more natural and easy than the increase of
this property. The process of generation was too slow, however, and men
commenced purchasing, not free men from slave ships, but Africans who
were already slaves. Virginia, where the lands were worn out, and slaves
were numerous, and almost useless, afforded them facilities for
purchasing; emigrants from that and other slave-holding states also
brought great numbers with them, and in a few years this species of
property had accumulated to a great extent. Planters' sons, and all new
planters, must be supplied from the same fountain--losses by death and
elopement must be made up, till, almost imperceptibly, slavery became
firmly established here, and is now a state institution; and Virginia,
with the Carolinas and Georgia, and recently Kentucky, has become the
great mart for slave purchasers from the south-west.

The increased demand for slaves led many farmers in Virginia, whose
lands were unavailable, to turn their attention to raising slaves, if I
may so term it, for the south-western market. Hence a nursery for slaves
has been imperceptibly forming in that state, till now, by a sort of
necessity, a vast amount of its capital is involved in this trade, the
discontinuance of which would be as injurious in a pecuniary point of
view, to those who raise them, as the want of the facilities which the
trade affords, would be to the planter. Thus Virginia has become the
field for the purchaser, and the phrase--"he is gone to Virginia to buy
negroes," or "niggers," as is the elegant and equally common
phraseology, is as often applied to a temporarily absent planter, as "he
is gone to Boston to buy goods," to a New-England country merchant.

Negroes are transported here both by sea and land. Alexandria and
Norfolk are the principal depots of slaves, previous to their being
shipped. To these cities they are brought from the surrounding country,
and sold to the slave-trader, who purchases them for about one-half or
one-third less than he expects to obtain for them in the southern
market. After the resident slave-dealer has collected a sufficient
number, he places them under the care of an agent. They are then shipped
for New-Orleans, with as comfortable accommodations as can be expected,
where one or two hundred are congregated in a single merchant vessel. I
have seen more than one hundred landing from a brig, on the Levée, in
New-Orleans, in fine condition, looking as lively and hearty as though a
sea voyage agreed well with them. They are transferred, if destined for
the Mississippi market, to a steamboat, and landed at Natchez. The
debarkation of a hundred slaves, of both sexes and all ages, is a novel
spectacle to a northerner. Landing on the Levée, they proceed, each with
his bundle, under the charge of their temporary master or conductor,
toward the city, in a long straggling line, or sometimes in double
files, in well-ordered procession, gazing about them with curiosity and
wonder upon the new scenes opening before them, as they advance into the
city, and speculating upon the advantages afforded as their home, by the
beautiful country to which they find themselves transplanted. Nothing
seems to escape their attention, and every few steps offer subjects for
remark or laughter; for the risible muscles of the negro are uncommonly

On arriving on the "Hill," in view of the city, and obtaining a glimpse
of the fine country spread out around them, their delight is very great.
Full of the impression, which they early imbibe, that the south is
emphatically the grave of their race, and daily having it held up before
their imaginations at home, _in terrorem_, to keep them in the line of
duty, if insubordinate, they leave home, as they proudly and
affectionately term Virginia, with something of the feelings of the
soldier, allotted to a "forlorn hope." It cannot be denied that many
have died shortly after being brought into this country; but this was
owing to indiscretion, in transporting them at the wrong season of the
year--in the spring, after a winter spent at the north; or in autumn,
during the prevalence, in former years, of the epidemics, which once
were almost annual visitants of this country. Experience has taught
those who introduce slaves, in late years, to bring them quite late in
autumn. Hence, the two great causes of mortality being removed, the
effects have, in a great measure, ceased; and slaves, when they arrive
here, and gaze with surprise upon the athletic figures and gray heads of
their fellows, who meet them at every step, as they advance into the
city--find that they can live even in the south, and grow old on other
plantations than those in "Ol' Wirginny." "I see no dead nigger yet,
Jef."--"No--nor no coffin pile up neider in de street,"--said another of
a gang of negroes passing through the streets, peering on all sides for
these ominous signs of this "fatal" climate, as they trudged along to
their quarters in the slave-market. This too common opinion of master
and slave must soon be exploded, for it has now no foundation in fact.
Passing through the city in procession, sometimes dressed in a new
uniform, purchased for them in New-Orleans, but often in the brown rags
in which they left Virginia, preceded by a large wagon, carrying the
surplus baggage; they are marched beyond the city limits, within which,
till recently, they were publicly sold, the marts being on nearly every
street. Arriving at their quarters, which are usually old unoccupied
buildings, and often tents or booths, pitched upon the common, beside
some stream of water, and under the shade of trees, they resort, in the
first place, to a general ablution, preparatory to being exposed for
sale. The toilet arrangements of one hundred negroes, just from a long
voyage, are a formidable affair. Both the rivers, Alpheus and Peneus,
would hardly suffice for the process. Two or three days are consumed in
it; after which, all appear in new, comfortable, uniform dresses, with
shining faces, and refreshed after the fatigue of travel. They are now
ready for inspection and sale. To this important period, the day of
sale, they cheerfully look forward, manifesting not a little emulation
to be "sol' fust." The interim between their arrival and sale--for they
are not sold at auction, or all at once, but singly, or in parties, as
purchasers may be inclined to buy--is passed in an _otium cum dignitate_
of a peculiarly African character, involving eating, drinking, playing,
and sleeping. The interval of ease enjoyed in the slave-market is an
oasis of luxury in their existence, which they seldom know how to
appreciate, if we may judge from the wishful manner in which they gaze
upon gentlemen who enter the mart, as though anxious to put a period to
this kind of enjoyment, so congenial to their feelings and temperament.

Probably two-thirds of the first slaves came into this state from
Virginia; and nearly all now introduced, of whom there are several
thousands annually, are brought from that state. Kentucky contributes a
small number, which is yearly increasing; and since the late passage of
the slave law in Missouri, a new market is there opened for this trade.
It is computed that more than two hundred thousand dollars' worth of
slaves will be purchased in Missouri this season, for the Natchez
market. A single individual has recently left Natchez with one hundred
thousand dollars, for the purpose of buying up negroes in that state to
sell in Mississippi.

The usual way of transporting slaves is by land, although they are
frequently brought round by sea; but the last is the most expensive
method, and therefore, to "bring them through," is accounted preferable.
This is done by forming them into a caravan at the place where they are
purchased, and conducting them by land through the Indian nations to
this state. The route is for the most part through a continuous forest,
and is usually performed by the negroes, on foot, in seven or eight
weeks. Their personal appearance, when they arrive at Natchez, is by no
means improved, although they are usually stouter and in better
condition than when they leave home, for they are generally well fed,
and their health is otherwise carefully attended to, while on the route.
Arrived within two or three miles of Natchez, they encamp in some
romantic spot near a rivulet, and like their brethren transported by
sea, commence polishing their skins, and arraying themselves in the
coarse but neat uniform, which their master has purchased for them in

A few Sabbaths ago, while standing before a village church in the
country, my attention was drawn to a long procession at the extremity of
the street, slowly approaching like a troop of wearied pilgrims. There
were several gentlemen in company, some of them planters, who gazed upon
the singular spectacle with unusual interest. One sooty brown hue was
cast over the whole horde, by the sombre colour of their tattered
garments, which, combined with the slow pace and fatigued air of most of
those who composed it, gave to the whole train a sad and funereal
appearance. First came half a dozen boys and girls, with fragments of
blankets and ragged pantaloons and frocks, hanging upon, but not
covering their glossy limbs. They passed along in high spirits, glad to
be once more in a village, after their weary way through the wilderness;
capering and practising jokes upon each other, while their even rows of
teeth, and the whites of their eyes--the most expressive features in the
African physiognomy--were displayed in striking contrast to their ebony
skins. These were followed by a tall mulatto, with high cheek-bones, and
lean and hungry looks, making rapid inroads into a huge loaf of bread,
whose twin brother was secured under his left arm. A woman, very black,
very short, and very pursy, who breathed like a porpoise, and whose
capacity for rapid movement was equal to that of a puncheon, trudged
along behind, evidently endeavouring to come up with the mulatto, as her
eye was fixed very resolutely on the spare loaf; but its owner strode
forward deliberately and with perfect impunity. She was followed by
another female, bearing an infant in her arms, probably born in the
wilderness. Close behind her came a covered wagon, from which she had
just descended to walk, drawn by two fine horses, and loaded with young
negroes, who were permitted to ride and walk alternately on the
journey. Behind the wagon, at a long distance, came an old patriarch,
at least eighty years of age, bent nearly double with the weight of
years and infirmity. By his side moved an old negress, nearly coeval
with him, who supported her decrepit form by a staff. They were the
venerable progenitors of the children and grandchildren who preceded
them. This aged couple, who were at liberty to ride when they chose, in
a covered wagon behind them, were followed by a mixed crowd of negroes
of all ages, and of both sexes, with and without staff, hatless and
bare-footed. The office of the negro's hat is a mere sinecure--they love
the warm sun upon their heads--but they like to be well shod, and that
with boots, for the lower region of their limbs about the ancles is very
sensitive. Behind these came a wretched cart, covered with torn,
red-painted canvass, and drawn by a mule and a horse;--Sancho Panza's
mule and Rosinante--I mean no insult to the worthy knight or his
squire--if coupled together, would have made precisely such a pair. This
vehicle contained several invalids, two of whom were reclining on a
matrass laid along the bottom. Around it were many young slaves of both
sexes, talking and marching along in gleeful mood. Two or three old
people followed, one of whom, who walked with both hands grasping a long
staff, stopped as he passed us, and with an air of affecting humility,
and with his venerable forehead bowed to the earth, addressed us, "hab
massas got piece 'bacca' for ol' nigger?" An old gentleman standing by,
whose locks were whitened with the snows of sixty winters, having first
obtained leave to do so from the owner of the drove, who, mounted on a
fine blooded horse, rode carelessly along behind them, gave the old
slave all he had about him, which, fortunately for the petitioner,
happened to be a large quantity, and for which he appeared extremely
grateful. Several other negroes, walking along with vigorous steps, and
another white conductor, with a couple of delicately limbed race-horses,
enveloped in broidered mantles, and ridden by bright-eyed little mulatto
boys, and two or three leashes of hounds, led by a slave, completed the
train. They had been seven weeks on the road, through the "nation," as
the southern wilderness is here termed--travelling by easy stages, and
encamping at night. Old people are seldom seen in these "droves." The
young and athletic usually compose them. But as in this instance, the
old people are sometimes allowed to come with the younger portion of
their families, as a favour; and if sold at all, they are sold with
their children, who can take care of them in their old age, which they
well do--for negroes have a peculiarly strong affection for the old
people of their own colour. Veneration for the aged is one of their
strongest characteristics.

Nor are planters indifferent to the comfort of their gray-headed slaves.
I have been much affected at beholding many exhibitions of their kindly
feeling toward them. They always address them in a mild and pleasant
manner--as "Uncle," or "Aunty"--titles as peculiar to the old negro and
negress, as "boy" and "girl," to all under forty years of age. Some old
Africans are allowed to spend their last years in their houses, without
doing any kind of labour; these, if not too infirm, cultivate little
patches of ground, on which they raise a few vegetables--for vegetables
grow nearly all the year round in this climate--and make a little money
to purchase a few extra comforts. They are also always receiving
presents from their masters and mistresses, and the negroes on the
estate, the latter of whom are extremely desirous of seeing the old
people comfortable. A relation of the extra comforts, which some
planters allow their slaves, would hardly obtain credit at the north.
But you must recollect that southern planters are men--and men of
feeling--generous and high minded, and possessing as much of the "milk
of human kindness," as the sons of colder climes--although they may have
been educated to regard that as right, which a different education has
led northerners to consider wrong.

"What can you do with so much tobacco?" said a gentleman--who related
the circumstance to me--on hearing a planter, whom he was visiting, give
an order to his teamster to bring two hogsheads of tobacco out to the
estate from the "Landing." "I purchase it for my negroes; it is a
harmless indulgence, which it gives me pleasure to afford them."

"Why are you at the trouble and expense of having high-post bedsteads
for your negroes?" said a gentleman from the north, while walking
through the handsome "quarters," or village for the slaves, then in
progress on a plantation near Natchez--addressing the proprietor.

"To suspend their "bars" from, that they may not be troubled with

"Master, me would like, if you please, a little bit gallery, front my
house." "For what, Peter?" "Cause, master, de sun too hot" (an odd
reason for a negro to give,) "dat side, and when he rain we no able to
keep de door open." "Well, well, when the carpenter gets a little
leisure you shall have one." A few weeks after I was at the plantation,
and riding past the quarters one Sabbath morning, beheld Peter, his
wife, and children, with his old father, all sunning themselves in their
new gallery.

"Missus, you promise me a Chrismus gif'." "Well, Jane, there is a new
calico frock for you." "It werry pretty, missus," said Jane, eyeing it
at a distance without touching it, "but me prefer muslin, if you please;
muslin de fashion dis Chrismus." "Very well, Jane, call to-morrow and
you shall have a muslin."

These little anecdotes are unimportant in themselves, but they serve to
illustrate what I have stated above, of the kindness and indulgence of
masters to their slaves. I could add many others, of frequent
occurrence; but these are sufficiently numerous for my purpose.

Probably of the two ways of bringing slaves here, that by land is
preferable; not only because attended with less expense, but by
gradually advancing them into the climate, it in a measure precludes
the effect which a sudden transition from one state to the other might
produce. All slaves, however, are not brought here by negro traders.
Many of the planters prefer going on and purchasing for themselves, for
which purpose it is not unusual for them to take on from twenty to forty
and fifty thousand dollars, lay the whole out in slaves, and either
accompany them through the wilderness themselves on horseback, or engage
a conductor. By adopting this method they purchase them at a much
greater advantage, than at second-hand from the professional trader, as
slaves can be bought for fifty per cent. less there, than after they are
once brought into this market. The number of slaves introduced into the
south-western market is annually increasing. Last year more than four
thousand were brought into the state, one-third of whom were sold in the
Natchez market. The prices of slaves vary with the prices of cotton and
sugar. At this time, when cotton brings a good price, a good "field
hand" cannot be bought for less than eight hundred dollars, if a male;
if a female, for six hundred. "Body servants" sell much higher, one
thousand dollars being a common price for them. Good mechanics sometimes
sell for two thousand dollars, and seldom for less than nine hundred.
Coachmen are high, and house servants are worth at all times, from ten
to thirty per cent. more than field negroes. The usual price for a good
seamstress, or nurse, is from seven hundred to one thousand dollars.
Children are valued in proportion to their ages. An infant adds one
hundred dollars to the price of the mother; and from infancy the
children of the slaves increase in value about one hundred dollars for
every three years, until they arrive at mature age. All domestic slaves,
or "house servants," which class includes coachmen, nurses, hostlers,
gardeners, footmen, cooks, waiting-maids, &c., &c.--all indispensable to
the _menage_ of a wealthy planter--are always in great demand, and often
sell at the most extravagant prices. Some of these, born and raised in
this climate, (acclimated as they are termed,) often sell for eighteen
hundred and two thousand dollars apiece, of either sex. But these are
exceptions, where the slave possesses some peculiarly valuable trait as
a domestic.

Negro traders soon accumulate great wealth, from the immense profit they
make on their merchandise. Certainly such a trade demands no trifling
consideration. If any of the worshippers of Mammon earn their gold, it
is the slave-dealer. One of their number, who is the great southern
slave-merchant, and who, for the last fifteen years, has supplied this
country with two-thirds of the slaves brought into it, has amassed a
fortune of more than a million of dollars by this traffic alone. He is a
bachelor, and a man of gentlemanly address, as are many of these
merchants, and not the ferocious, Captain Kidd looking fellows, we
Yankees have been apt to imagine them. Their admission into society,
however, is not recognised. Planters associate with them freely enough,
in the way of business, but notice them no farther. A slave trader is,
nevertheless, very much like other men. He is to-day a plain farmer,
with twenty or thirty slaves, endeavouring to earn a few dollars from
worn-out land, in some old "homestead" among the Alleghanies; which,
with his slaves, he has inherited from his father. He is in debt, and
hears that he can sell his slaves in Mississippi for twice their value
in his own state. If there is no harm in selling them to his next
neighbour, and coming to Mississippi without them, he feels that there
can be no harm--nay, justice to his creditors requires that he should
place them in the highest market--in bringing them into this state, and
selling them here. He rises in the morning, gathers his slaves, prepares
his wagons and horses, takes one or two of his sons, or hires a
neighbour, who may add a few of his own to the stock, to accompany him;
and, by and by, the caravan moves slowly off toward the south and west.
Seven or eight weeks afterward, a drove of negroes, weary and worn, from
a long journey, are seen within two or three miles of Natchez, turning
from the high road, to pitch their tents upon the green sward, beneath
some wide-spreading tree. It is the caravan from the Alleghanies. The
ensuing morning a bright array of white tents, and busy men moving among
them, excites the attention of the passer-by. The figure of the old
Virginia farmer, mingling among his slaves, attracts the notice of a
stranger. "Who is that old gentleman?" he inquires of the southerner
with whom he is riding in company. "A negro trader," is the reply. This
is the first step of the trader. He finds it profitable; and if his
inclinations prompt him, he will return home, after selling his slaves,
and buy, with ready money, from his neighbours, a few here and a few
there, until he has a sufficient number to make another caravan, with
which he proceeds a second time to the south-western market. He follows
this trade from season to season, and does it conscientiously. He
reasons as I have above stated; and if there is no harm in selling the
first, there is none in selling the last. This is the metal of which a
slave trader is moulded. The humane characteristics of the trade will
be, of course, regulated by the tempers and dispositions of the
individuals who engage in it.


[18] "Slavery, at a very early period after the flood, prevailed,
perhaps in every region of the globe. In Asia it is practised to this
day. The savage nations of Africa have at no period been exempted from
it. In Germany, and other countries of Europe, slaves were generally
attached to the soil, as in Russia and Poland at the present day. They
were generally employed in tending cattle, and in conducting the
business of agriculture."--_Tacitus de moribus Germanorum._ "Among the
ancient Germans, according to the same author, it was not uncommon for
an ardent gamester to stake his personal liberty on a throw of the dice.
The latter species of slaves were alone considered as materials of
commerce. In England, now so tenacious of the rights of man, a species
of slavery, similar to that among the ancient Germans, subsisted even to
the end of the sixteenth century, as appears from a commission issued by
Queen Elizabeth in 1574. Colliers and salters were not totally
emancipated from every vestige of slavery till about the year 1750.
Before that period the sons of colliers could follow no business but
that of their fathers, nor could they seek employment in any other mines
than in those to which they were attached by birth."

 _Encyclopedia Britan._


      Slaves--Classes--Anecdotes--Negro instruction--Police--Natchez
      fencibles--Habitual awe of the negro for the white man--
      Illustrations--Religious slaves--Negro preaching--General view
      of slavery and emancipation--Conclusion.

There are properly three distinct classes of slaves in the south. The
first, and most intelligent class, is composed of the domestic slaves,
or "servants," as they are properly termed, of the planters. Some of
these both read and write, and possess a great degree of intelligence:
and as the negro, of all the varieties of the human species, is the most
imitative, they soon learn the language, and readily adopt the manners,
of the family to which they are attached. It is true, they frequently
burlesque the latter, and select the high-sounding words of the former
for practice--for the negro has an ear for euphony--which they usually
misapply, or mis-pronounce.

"Ben, how did you like the sermon to-day?" I once inquired of one, who,
for pompous language and high-sounding epithets, was the Johnson of
negroes.--"Mighty obligated wid it, master, de 'clusive 'flections werry
distructive to de ignorum."

In the more fashionable families, negroes feel it their duty--to show
their aristocratic breeding--to ape manners, and to use language, to
which the common herd cannot aspire. An aristocratic negro, full of his
master's wealth and importance, which he feels to be reflected upon
himself, is the most aristocratic personage in existence. He supports
his own dignity, and that of his own master, or "_family_," as he
phrases it, which he deems inseparable, by a course of conduct befitting
coloured gentlemen. Always about the persons of their masters or
mistresses, the domestic slaves obtain a better knowledge of the modes
of civilized life than they could do in the field, where negroes can
rise but little above their original African state. So identified are
they with the families in which they have been "raised," and so
accurate, but rough, are the copies which they individually present, of
their masters, that were all the domestic slaves of several planters'
families transferred to Liberia, or Hayti, they would there constitute a
by no means inferior state of African society, whose model would be
found in Mississippi. Each family would be a faithful copy of that with
which it was once connected: and should their former owners visit them
in their new home, they would smile at its resemblance to the original.
It is from this class that the friends of wisely-regulated emancipation
are to seek material for carrying their plans into effect.

The second class is composed of town slaves; which not only includes
domestic slaves, in the families of the citizens, but also all negro
mechanics, draymen, hostlers, labourers, hucksters, and washwomen, and
the heterogeneous multitude of every other occupation, who fill the
streets of a busy city--for slaves are trained to every kind of manual
labour. The blacksmith, cabinet-maker, carpenter, builder,
wheelwright,--all have one or more slaves labouring at their trades. The
negro is a third arm to every working man, who can possibly save money
enough to purchase one. He is emphatically the "right-hand man" of every
man. Even free negroes cannot do without them: some of them own several,
to whom they are the severest masters.

"To whom do you belong?" I once inquired of a negro whom I had employed.
"There's my master," he replied; pointing to a steady old negro, who had
purchased himself, then his wife, and subsequently his three children,
by his own manual exertions and persevering industry. He was now the
owner of a comfortable house, a piece of land, and two or three slaves,
to whom he could add one every three years. It is worthy of remark, and
serves to illustrate one of the many singularities characteristic of
the race, that the free negro, who "buys his wife's freedom," as they
term it, from her master, by paying him her full value, ever afterward
considers her in the light of property.

"Thomas, you are a free man," I remarked to one who had purchased
himself and wife from his master, by the profits of a poultry yard and
vegetable garden, industriously attended to for many years, in his
leisure hours and on Sundays. "You are a free man; I suppose you will
soon have negroes of your own."

"Hi! Hab one now, master." "Who, Tom?"--"Ol' Sarah, master." "Old Sarah!
she is your wife." "She my nigger too; I pay master five hun'red dollar
for her."

Many of the negroes who swarm in the cities are what are called "hired
servants." They belong to planters, or others, who, finding them
qualified for some occupation in which they cannot afford to employ
them, hire them to citizens, as mechanics, cooks, waiters, nurses, &c.,
and receive the monthly wages for their services. Some steady slaves are
permitted to "hire their own time;" that is, to go into town and earn
what they can, as porters, labourers, gardeners, or in other ways, and
pay a stipulated sum weekly to their owners, which will be regulated
according to the supposed value of the slave's labour. Masters, however,
who are sufficiently indulgent to allow them to "hire their time," are
seldom rigorous in rating their labour very high. But whether the slave
earn less or more than the specified sum, he must always pay that, and
neither more nor less than that to his master at the close of each
week, as the condition of this privilege. Few fail in making up the sum;
and generally they earn more, if industrious, which is expended in
little luxuries, or laid by in an old rag among the rafters of their
houses, till a sufficient sum is thus accumulated to purchase their
freedom. This they are seldom refused, and if a small amount is wanting
to reach their value, the master makes it up out of his own purse, or
rather, takes no notice of the deficiency. I have never known a planter
refuse to aid, by peculiar indulgences, any of his steady and
well-disposed slaves, who desired to purchase their freedom. On the
contrary, they often endeavour to excite emulation in them to the
attainment of this end. This custom of allowing slaves to "hire their
time," ensuring the master a certain sum weekly, and the slave a small
surplus, is mutually advantageous to both.

The majority of town servants are those who are hired to families by
planters, or by those living in town who own more than they have
employment for, or who can make more by hiring them out than by keeping
them at home. Some families, who possess not an acre of land, but own
many slaves, hire them out to different individuals; the wages
constituting their only income, which is often very large. There are
indeed few families, however wealthy, whose incomes are not increased by
the wages of hired slaves, and there are many poor people, who own one
or two slaves, whose hire enables them to live comfortably. From three
to five dollars a week is the hire of a female, and seventy-five cents
or a dollar a day for a male. Thus, contrary to the opinion at the
north, families may have good servants, and yet not own one, if they are
unable to buy, or are conscientious upon that ground, though there is
not a shade of difference between hiring a slave, where prejudices are
concerned, and owning one. Those who think otherwise, and thus compound
with conscience, are only making a distinction without a difference.
Northern people, when they come to this country, who dislike either to
hire or purchase, often bring free coloured, or white servants (helps)
with them. The first soon marry with the free blacks, or become too
lofty in their conceptions of things, in contrasting the situation of
their fellows around them, with their own, to be retained. The latter,
if they are young and pretty, or even old and ugly, assume the fine lady
at once, disdaining to be servants among slaves, and Hymen, in the
person of some spruce overseer, soon fulfils their expectations. I have
seen but one white servant, or domestic, of either sex, in this country,
and this was the body servant of an Englishman who remained a few days
in Natchez, during which time, John sturdily refused to perform a single
duty of his station.

The expense of a domestic establishment at the south, would appear very
great in the estimation of a New-Englander. A gardener, coachman, nurse,
cook, seamstress, and a house-maid, are indispensable. Some of the more
fashionable families add footmen, chamber-maids, hostler, an additional
nurse, if there be many children, and another seamstress. To each of
these officials is generally attached a young neophyte, while one
constantly stumbles over useless little negroes scattered all about the
house and court-yard. Necessary as custom has made so great a number of
servants, there seems to be much less domestic labour performed in a
family of five, such perfect "eye-servants" are they, than in a northern
family, with only one "maid of all work." There are some Yankee "kitchen
girls"--I beg their ladyships' pardon for so styling them--who can do
more house-work, and do it better, than three or four negro servants,
unless the eye of their mistress is upon them. As nearly all manual
labour is performed by slaves, there must be one to each department, and
hence originates a state of domestic manners and individual character,
which affords an interesting field of contemplation to the severer
northerner. The city slaves are distinguished as a class, by superior
intelligence, acuteness, and deeper moral degradation. A great
proportion of them are hired, and, free from restraint in a great
degree, compared with their situations under their own masters, or in
the country, they soon become corrupted by the vices of the city, and in
associating indiscriminately with each other, and the refuse of the
white population. Soon the vices of the city, divested of their
refinement, become their own unmasked. Although they may once have
ranked under the first class, and possessed the characteristics which
designate the decent, well-behaved domestic of the planter, they soon
lose their identity. There are of course exceptions to these
characteristics, as also in the other classes. Some of these exceptions
have come within my knowledge, of a highly meritorious character.

The third and lowest class consists of those slaves, who are termed
"field hands."[19] Many of them rank but little higher than the brutes
that perish, in the scale of intellect, and they are in general, as a
class, the last and lowest link in the chain of the human species.
Secluded in the solitude of an extensive plantation, which is their
world, beyond whose horizon they know nothing--their walks limited by
the "quarters" and the field--their knowledge and information derived
from the rude gossip of their fellows, straggling runaways, or house
servants, and without seeing a white person except their master or
overseer, as they ride over the estate, with whom they seldom hold any
conversation--they present the singular feature of African savages,
disciplined to subordination, and placed in the heart of a civilized
community. Mere change of place will not change the savage. Moral and
intellectual culture alone, will elevate him to an equality with his
civilized brethren. The African transplanted from the arid soil of Ebo,
Sene-Gambia, or Guinea, to the green fields of America, without mental
culture, will remain still the wild African, though he may wield his
ox-whip, whistle after his plough, and lift his hat, when addressed,
like his more civilized fellows. His children, born on the plantation to
which he is attached, and suffered to grow up as ignorant as himself,
will not be one degree higher in the scale of civilization, than they
would have been had they been born in Africa. The next generation will
be no higher advanced; and though they may have thrown away the idols of
their country, and been taught some vague notions of God and the
Christian religion, they are in almost every sense of the word Africans,
as rude, and barbarous, but not so artless, as their untamed brethren
beyond the Atlantic. This has been, till within a few years, the general
condition of "field hands" in this country, though there have been
exceptions on some plantations highly honourable to their proprietors.
Within a few years, gentlemen of intelligence, humanity, and wealth,
themselves the owners of great numbers of slaves, have exerted
themselves and used their influence in mitigating the condition of this
class. They commenced a reformation of the old system, whose chief
foundation was unyielding rigour, first upon their own plantations. The
influence of their example was manifest by the general change which
gradually took place on other estates. This reformation is still in
progress, and the condition of the plantation slave is now meliorated,
so far as policy will admit, while they remain in their present
relation. But still they are, and by necessity, always will be, an
inferior class to the two former. It is now popular to treat slaves with
kindness; and those planters who are known to be inhumanly rigorous to
their slaves, are scarcely countenanced by the more intelligent and
humane portion of the community. Such instances, however, are very rare;
but there are unprincipled men everywhere, who will give vent to their
ill feelings, and bad passions, not with less good-will upon the back of
an indented apprentice, than upon that of a purchased slave. Private
chapels are now introduced upon most of the plantations of the more
wealthy, which are far from any church; Sabbath-schools are instituted
for the black children, and Bible-classes for the parents, which are
superintended by the planter, a chaplain, or some of the female members
of the family. But with all these aids they are still, as I have
remarked, the most degraded class of slaves; and they are not only
regarded as such by the whites, but by the two other classes, who look
upon them as infinitely beneath themselves. It is a difficult matter to
impress upon their minds moral or religious truths. They generally get
hold of some undefined ideas, but they can go no farther. Their minds
seem to want the capacity to receive intellectual impressions, nor are
they capable of reasoning from the simplest principles, or of
associating ideas. A native planter, who has had the management of
between two and three hundred slaves, since he commenced planting,
recently informed me, that if he conveyed an order to any of his "field
hands," which contained two ideas, he was sure it would not be followed

"Dick," said he to one of them, "go to the carriage-house, and you will
find a side-saddle and a man's saddle there. Put one of them on the roan
horse; but don't put on the ladies' saddle, mind you." "Yes, master,"
said Dick, lifting his cap very respectfully, and then posted off to the
carriage-house; whence he returned in a few minutes with the roan
caparisoned for a lady.

The last idea seems to thrust out the first. I have frequently tried
experiments to ascertain how far this was true of them in general, and
have convinced myself, that it is very hard for the uneducated, rude
field negro to retain more than a single impression at a time. A
gentleman, who has been a leading planter for the last twenty years, and
who has nearly one hundred slaves, of all ages, told me, that, finding
the established catechism too hard for his slaves, he drew one up in
manuscript himself, as simply as he thought it could be done. But a few
lessons convinced him that he must make another effort, on a plan still
more simple: and he accordingly drew up a series of questions, each
containing one idea, and no more; for every question involving two had
always puzzled them. Every question he also made a _leading_ one: this
he found to be absolutely necessary. "Yet," he observed, "after all my
efforts, for many years past, to imbue the minds--not of the children
only, but of the parents, who were all included in my list of
catechumens--with the plainest rudiments of Christianity, I do not
think that I have one on my estate, who comprehends the simplest
principle connected with the atonement."

One of these negroes, after a long course of drilling, was asked, "In
whose image were you made?" "In de image ob de debil, master," was his
prompt reply.

The restrictions upon slaves are very rigorous in law, but not in fact.
They are forbidden to leave their estates without a written "pass," or
some letter or token, whereby it may appear that they are proceeding by
authority. This is a wise regulation, to which I have before alluded;
and if its spirit was properly entered into by the community, it would
be the best means for public security that could be adopted.

Patrols are organized in the several counties and towns, whose duty it
is to preserve order, and apprehend all negroes without passes. This
body of men consists of four or five citizens, unarmed, unless with
riding whips, headed by one of their number as captain. They are
appointed monthly by a justice of the peace, and authorized to visit
negro cabins, "quarters," and all places suspected to contain negroes,
or unlawful assemblies of slaves; and all whom they may find strolling
about, without a "pass," they are empowered to punish upon the spot,
with "any number of lashes not exceeding fifteen," or take them to
prison. They go out on duty once a week in the towns and villages; but
it is considered a bore, and performed reluctantly. But there is no
deficiency of energy and activity in case of any actual alarm. Soon
after the South-Hampton tragedy, during the Christmas holydays, the
public mind was excited by a vague rumour that this drama was to be
reacted here, as it was known that some of the negroes, supposed to be
engaged in it, had been brought out and sold in this state. During this
excitement the patrols were very vigilant. On the high roads they were
increased to one hundred armed and mounted men. But this alarm was
groundless, and very soon subsided.

The fencibles--a volunteer military corps in Natchez, composed of the
first young gentlemen of the city, and now commanded by the late
chancellor of the state--the best disciplined and finest looking body of
men west of the Alleghanies, constitute the military police of that
city. They are also the "firemen;" and a more efficient phalanx to
battle with a conflagration, cannot be found, even in New-York or
Boston. Patrols go out merely to preserve the peace of the neighbourhood
from any disturbance from drunken negroes, rather than to guard against
insurrectionary movements.

Though the south has little to apprehend from her coloured population,
yet many bold plans, indicating great genius in their originators, have
been formed by slaves for effecting their freedom. But farther than mere
plans, or violent acts, of short continuance, they will hardly be able
to advance. The negro is wholly destitute of courage. He possesses an
animal instinct, which impels him, when roused, to the performance of
the most savage acts. He is a being of impulse, and cowardice is a
principle of his soul, as instinctive as courage in the white man. This
may be caused by their condition, and without doubt it is. But whatever
may be the cause, the effect exists, and will ever preclude any
apprehension of serious evil from any insurrectionary combination of
their number. The spirit of insubordination will die as soon as the
momentary excitement which produced it has subsided; and negroes never
can accomplish any thing of a tragic nature, unless under the influence
of extraordinary temporary excitement. The negro has a habitual fear of
the white man, which has become a second nature; and this, combined with
the fearless contempt of the white man for him, in his belligerent
attitude, will operate to prevent any very serious evil resulting from
their plans.

A northerner looks upon a band of negroes, as upon so many _men_. But
the planter, or southerner, views them in a very different light; and
armed only with a hunting whip or walking-cane, he will fearlessly throw
himself among a score of them, armed as they may be, and they will
instantly flee with terror. There is a peculiar tone of authority, in
which an angry master speaks to his slaves, which, while they are
subordinate, cowers them, and when they are insubordinate, so strong is
the force of habit, it does not lose its effects. The very same cause
which enables him to keep in subjection fifty or a hundred negroes on
his estate, through the instrumentality of his voice, or mere presence,
operates so soon as the momentary intoxication of insurrectionary
excitement is over--if it does not check its first exhibition--to bring
them into subjection. Nor do I speak unadvisedly or lightly, when I say
that a band of insurgent slaves will be more easily intimidated and
defeated by half the number of planters, with whips or canes, and their
peculiarly authoritative voices, than by an equal number of northern
soldiers armed _cap à pie_. Fear, awe, and obedience in relation to his
master, are interwoven into the very nature of the slave. They are the
main-spring of all his actions; a part and portion of himself, and no
extraneous circumstances can enable him to rise superior to their

I could relate many facts illustrative of what I have stated above,
respecting the influence of habitual or natural obedience upon the
negro. The runaway will sometimes suffer himself to be taken by a white
boy not a third of his size. Recently, about midnight, a lady saw, by
the light of the moon, a tall negro enter her gallery. She immediately
arose, observed him through the window more distinctly as he was peering
about with a light step, and satisfied that he was a negro, she threw up
the window, and cried "stop, sir! stop!" in the tone of authority
peculiar to all who have had any thing to do with negroes. He at first
started, and made a motion to run, but on a repetition of the command he
submissively obeyed, and suffered himself to be taken by the lady's
coachman, whom she called up--the runaway, as he proved to be, standing
till he came and bound him, without moving a limb. This conduct betrayed
no uncommon nerve or resolution in the lady, for southern ladies would
laugh at the idea of being afraid of a negro. The readiness of the black
coachman to arrest his fellow slave, goes far also toward illustrating
the views which the slaves themselves entertain of their condition. But
this is illustrated still more forcibly by the following incident. I was
sitting, not long since, on the portico of a house in the country,
engaged in conversation, when an old negro entered the front gate,
leading by the arm a negro boy about sixteen years of age. "Ah," said
the gentleman with whom I was talking, "there is my runaway!" The old
man approached the steps, which led to the portico, and removing his
hat, as usual with slaves on addressing a white person, said, "master, I
done bring John home. I cotch him skulkin 'bout in Natchy: I wish master
sell him where ol' nigger nebber see him more, if he runaway 'gain: he
disgrace he family; his ol' mammy cry 'nough 'bout it when she hearn

This couple were father and son. A "good negro," in the usual
acceptation of the term, feels that there is a kind of disgrace attached
to himself and family, if any one of them becomes a runaway.

A negro lad, who had absconded for a few days' play, was apprehended and
led by his overseer through the streets on his way home, not long ago,
when an old negro wash-woman standing by, exclaimed on seeing him, "La,
me! who 'tink he 'gin so young to act bad!" I will relate an instance of
their readiness to arrest each other.

"Missus, dere's a runaway back de garden," said hastily a young negress,
as a party were sitting down to the tea table of a lady at whose house I
was visiting. "Let me go catch him," "let me go missus," said the
waiters, and they could hardly be kept in the hall. Permission was given
for one to go, who in a few minutes returned, leading up to the
hall-door a stout half-naked negro whom he had caught prowling about the
premises. "Here de nigger, missus," said he exultingly, as though he
himself belonged to another race and colour.

Negroes are very sensitive. They are easily excited, and upon no subject
so much so perhaps, as religion. They are, particularly the females, of
a very religious temperament, strongly inclining to superstition. Unable
to command their feelings, they give vent to the least emotion in the
loudest clamours. They are thereby persuaded that they are converted,
and apply for admission into the church in great numbers. Many of them
are perhaps truly pious. But the religion of most of them is made up of
shouting, which is an incontrovertible argument or proof, with them, of
conversion. This shouting is not produced generally by the sermon, for
few are able to understand a very plain discourse, of which every
sentence will contain words wholly incomprehensible to them. But they
always listen with great attention, and so they would do were the sermon
delivered in any other tongue. A few of the more intelligent and pious
negroes, who can understand most of the sermon, perhaps become affected,
and unable, like their better disciplined masters, to control their
feelings, give vent to them in groans and shouts. Those about them catch
the infection, and spread it, till the whole negro portion of the
audience in the gallery, becomes affected ostensibly by religious
feeling, but really by a kind of animal magnetism, inexplicable and

The majority of the religious slaves are of the Methodist denomination,
some of which sect may be found on every plantation in the country, but
few of them are practical Christians. They are apt to consider the name
as the thing. But I have met with individual exceptions, which reflect
honour upon their race, and which I now recall with pleasure. One of the
most touching and eloquent prayers I have ever heard, I recently
listened to from the lips of an old negro, (who sometimes preached to
his fellow slaves,) as he kneeled by the pallet of a dying African, and
commended in an appeal,--which for beautiful simplicity and pathos, is
seldom equalled--his departing spirit to his God.

I have observed that they are seldom influenced by the principles of
religion in their individual conduct. Many, who are regarded by their
brother Africans as "shining lights," drink ardent spirits freely and
without compunction. "Ben, why do you drink whiskey?" I inquired of an
old "member," who was very fond of indulging in this favourite southern
potation for all classes.--"It no sin master--don't de Bible say, what
enter into de mouth no defile de man?" This was unanswerable.

I asked another, "why he swore?" "Cause, master, nigger no keep de debil
down he throat, when oxen so bad."

Negro preaching has obtained here formerly, but the injudicious course
taken at the north by those who are friendly to the cause of
emancipation, but who do not evince their good feelings in the wisest
manner, has led planters to keep a tighter rein upon their slaves. And
negro preaching, among the removal of other privileges which they once
enjoyed, is now interdicted. It is certainly to be regretted that the
steps taken by those who desire to do away slavery, should have
militated against their views, through their own unadvised measures, and
placed the subject of their philanthropic efforts in a less desirable
state than formerly.

The more I see of slavery, the more firmly I am convinced that the
interference of our northern friends, in the present state of their
information upon the subject, will be more injurious than beneficial to
the cause. The physician, like Prince Hohenloe, might as reasonably be
expected to heal, with the Atlantic between himself and his patient's
pulse, or to use a juster figure, an individual, wholly ignorant of a
disease, might as well attempt its cure, as for northerners, however
sincere their exertions, or however pure their intentions may be, under
existing circumstances, to meliorate the condition of the coloured
population of the south. When the chains of the slave are broken in
pieces, it must be by a southern hand--and thousands of southern
gentlemen are already extending their arms, ready to strike the blow.
And when experience shall tell them the time is at hand, then,

"Thy chains are broken, Africa, be free!" shall be shouted from the
south to the north; and

                                      wind waves
    Shall waft the tidings to the land of slaves,
    Proclaim on Guinea's coast, by Gambia's side,
    As far as Niger rolls his eastern tide,
    "Thy chains are broken, Africa, be free!"

I will conclude my remarks upon this interesting subject, with some
valuable reflections from another pen. "It avails but little to
deprecate now," says the able writer whom I quote, "and even to denounce
with holy zeal, the iniquity of those who first established the
relations of master and slave in the then colonies of Great Britain, but
now United States of America. These relations have been sanctioned by
law and long usage, and interwoven with the institutions of the two
countries: they cannot be cancelled at once by any law, founded on
justice and equity, which should place at once either or both of the
parties in a less advantageous position, than the one which they held
when connected by the tie of master and slave. However opposed to
slavery in the abstract, and alive to its numerous evils in practice;
and with whatever zeal we may advocate emancipation, we ought ever, in
this, as in all other kinds of reform, political as well as moral, to
act with that wise discretion, which should make the present work a
means of future and permanent good. It should be steadily borne in mind,
therefore, that immediate, unconditional emancipation, while it is
detrimental to the master, does no immediate good to the manumitted
slave. It is not the boon, so much as a beginning, a hope, and a promise
of future good to the African; it is simply one of the means, a most
important and paramount one, indeed, for acquiring the blessings of
rational liberty; but it is not the blessing itself. It becomes,
therefore, the bounden duty, on every principle of equity and religion,
of those who, either of their own free will, or by menaces to the
master, give emancipation to the slave, to carry out what they have
begun, to realize what they have promised, to fulfil the hopes which
they have raised. Failing to do this, and simply content with severing
the relations between master and slave, they become, themselves, the
most cruel tyrants, the most unjust men. They have hurried on, by their
blind zeal, a crisis, which they are either unable, or unwilling, or
know not how, to turn to the best account, for the cause of humanity,
civilization, and religion.

Previous--and essential preliminaries, to any attempt at emancipation,
either by direct advocacy of the measure in particular quarters, or by
legislative enactments, where such are constitutional and legal--a full
inquiry ought to be instituted under the following heads:--

I. The actual condition of the slaves, which will include the kind and
amount of labour which they are bound to perform, the treatment which
they experience when at work, and the degree of attention paid to their
physical wants and moral nature, as to lodging, clothing, food,
amusements, and instruction.

II. The immediate effects of unconditional emancipation, on the coloured
freeman. Under this head should be investigated his capability, under
the circumstances, of providing for himself and family; and of his
acting the part of a good neighbour, and a useful, productive citizen.

III. The compatibility of the whites and blacks, the former masters and
slaves, and their descendants respectively, living together after
emancipation in the same community, with due regard to the feelings,
interests, dispositions, and wants of each class.

IV. The measures to be adopted for the interests of each, in case of
such incompatibility being evident and impossible to be overcome. The
first branch of inquiry results favourably to the cause of humanity, as
far as the West Indies are concerned. The state of the slave population
in the United States is even still more favourable in the main: and if
the comparisons instituted between the slaves in the islands and the
operatives in England, have resulted in favour of the superior comforts
of the former, I feel very sure that, when made between the latter and
the American slaves, they will exhibit these in a still more
advantageous position.

All this, however, while it diminishes the fears of the philanthropist,
ought not to relax his efforts for a future and gradual melioration. It
simply illustrates things as they are, and does not positively show how
they should be.

The facts hitherto collected under the second branch of inquiry, are not
encouraging. The third head presents a very unsatisfactory aspect to the
friends of emancipation, and of the negro race. The problem has not been
solved; or if partially so, it goes to show, that there is an
incompatibility between the two races, and that both are sufferers by
their sojourn in the same land, even though both should be free
nominally, and, in the eye of the law, equal. A glance at the condition
of the free states of the union, as they are called, in this respect,
exhibits the proofs of this condition of things. And so long as these
startling anomalies exist--freedom without its enjoyments, equality
without its social privileges--we really do not see how the people of
the free states can pretend, with any show of propriety or justice, even
had they the power by law and constitution, to meddle with the relations
between master and slave, in the slave-holding states. They have the
right, which all men ought to have, of discussing freely any and every
important question in ethics, jurisprudence, and political economy, but
not to give their conclusion a direct and offensive application to those
portions of their fellow-citizens or fellow-men, to whom they have not
yet furnished a clear and satisfactory example, and rule of conduct in
the case specially adverted to.

Still more do the difficulties of the subject increase, if the last
branch of inquiry has not been satisfactorily carried out--if the
necessity of separation of the two races, be denied; or, if admitted,
the means of accomplishing it be opposed and reviled, as either
impracticable or unjust. I am myself in favour of emancipation; but this
is a conclusion which it seems to us ought to be carried into effect,
only after a due consideration of the premises, and with a full
knowledge of the remoter consequences, and ability to make these
consequences correspond with the claims of justice and peace in the
beginning; and the best and permanent interests of the two races,
ultimately. Have those who advocate immediate and unconditional
emancipation weighed well these several branches of inquiry on this
momentous subject? It is to be feared, indeed, by their language and
conduct, that they have not. They should beware, while they are
denouncing the slave-holder, that they do not themselves incur a still
more fearful responsibility, and make themselves answerable for
jeoparding, if not actually dissolving, the Union, and encouraging
civil, perhaps servile war, with all its horrors and atrocities."


[19] "Field hands"--"Force"--"Hands"--"People," and "Niggers," are terms
applied to the purchased labourers of a plantation; but "Slaves"--never.
"Boys" is the general term for the men, and "women," for females. It is
common to address a negro forty years of age as "boy." If much older he
is called "daddy," or "uncle;" but "mister," or "man"--never. The
females, in old age, become "aunty," "granny," or "old lady."


NOTE A.--_Title-page--Mississippi._

Desirous of embodying in the appendix to this work, whatever of an
interesting nature relates to the South-west, the author has compiled,
principally from the American Almanac for 1835, the following
STATISTICAL TABLES of Mississippi, presenting that growing
state in a variety of interesting views:--


  Latitude of Natchez,                   31° 34' North.

  Longitude in degrees                   91  24' 42" West.

                                         _h._  _m._  _s._

  Longitude in time,                      6     5    38.8

  Distance from Washington, 1146 miles.

    Relative size of Mississippi, 9. |  Extent in square miles, 45,760.

         In 1810.        |       In 1820.        |       In 1830.
            .9           |         1.6           |          3


          In 1810.       |        In 1820.       |        In 1830.
   Free  | Slave | Total | Free  | Slave | Total | Free  | Slave | Total
    20   |   9   |  19   |  24   |   10  |   21  |  24   |   10  |   22


     From 1800 to 1810.  |   From 1810 to 1820.  |   From 1820 to 1830.
   Free  | Slave | Total | Free  | Slave | Total | Free  | Slave | Total
   334   | 389.7 |  356  |       |       |       |  66.4 | 100   |   81


      Free     |   Slaves    |  No. of free to 1 slave   |    Total
     23,264    |   17,088    |           1.35            |   40,352

  In 1820.

     42,634    |   32,814    |           1.29            |   75,488

  In 1830.

     70,962    |   65,659    |           1.08            |  136,621


           Value of Imports          |     Value of Exports
                             Tonnage, 925 Tons.


  HIRAM G. RUNNELS, governor; (term of office expires
      Nov. 1835.)                                         $2,500
  DAVID DICKSON, secretary of state,                       1,200
  JAMES PHILLIPS, state treasurer,                         1,200
  JOHN H. MALLORY, auditor of public accounts,             1,200

GEN. BRISCOE, president of the senate:--ADAMAM L. BIRGAMAN, speaker of
the house of representatives. The legislature meets, once in two years,
on the 4th Monday in November.


  _High Court of errors and appeals._

  WILLIAM L. SHARKEY, presiding judge,                     $2,000
  COTESWORTH P. SMITH, judge,                               2,000
  DAVID W. WRIGHT, judge,                                   2,000
  MATTHEW D. PATTON, attorney general,                      1,000

This court, which has no jurisdiction, except what properly belongs to a
court of errors and appeals, holds two sessions annually, at Jackson,
commencing on the first Monday in January and July.

_Superior court of chancery._

  EDWARD TURNER, chancellor,            _Salary_ $2,000

This court, which has jurisdiction over all matters, pleas, and
complaints whatsoever, belonging to or cognizable in a court of equity,
holds two sessions annually, beginning on the first Monday in January
and July.

_Circuit court._

  1st district, ALEXANDER MONTGOMERY, judge,
  2d  district, JAMES SCOTT,          judge,
  3d  district, A. M. KEEGAR,         judge,
  4th district,                       judge,
  5th district, J. J. H. MORRIS,      judge,
  6th district, JAMES F. TROTTER,     judge.

The state is divided into six districts or circuits, and one judge, and
a district attorney are chosen by the electors of each district; and a
circuit court is held in each county twice every year. It has original
jurisdiction in civil cases in which the sum in controversy exceeds $50.


Exhibition of their state on the 7th of January, 1834, as laid before
Congress, June 24, 1834.

                              |   Capital    |    Bills     |
             NAME.            |  stock paid  |     in       |   Specie.
                              |     in.      | circulation. |
  Planters' bank, Natchez,    |$2,666,805 45 | 1,510,426 15 | 113,220 47
  Estimated situation of b'ks |              |              |
   from which no returns      |              |              |
   were received.             |              |              |
  Agricultural bank of      } |              |              |
   Miss. Natchez.           } | 1,000,000 00 |   590,000 00 |  43,000 00
  State bank of Mississippi,} |              |              |
   Natchez.                 } |              |              |
                              |------------- |------------- |-----------
                        Total |$3,666,805 45 | 2,100,426 15 | 156,220 47

Statement of the banks, as given by a correspondent, under date of
August 10, 1834.

      NAME.    |  Place.  |  Capital.  | Branches of Planters' bank.
               |          |            | { Vicksburg,   $500,000
               |          |            | { Port Gibson,  500,000
  Planters'  } |          |            | { Woodville,    500,000
   bank,     } | Natchez, | $4,000,000 | { Manchester,   300,000
               |          |            | { Monticello,   200,000
               |          |            | { Columbus,     200,000
               |          |            | { Jackson,      100,000
               |          |            |
               |          |            | Total of brn's, $2,300,000
               |          |            |
  Agricultural}|          |            |
  bank.       }| Natchez, | $4,000,000 |
               |          |  --------- |
               |  Total   |  7,000,000 |

The capitals of the branches constitute a part of the ($4,000,000)
capital of the Planters' bank.

A rail-road is being surveyed this summer from Natchez to Jackson, for
which a charter will be granted at the next meeting of the legislature.


The governor of Mississippi is elected by the people. Term begins
November, 1833--expires November, 1835. Duration of the term two years.
Salary $2,500.

Senators, 11. Term of years, three. Representatives 36. Term of years,
one. Total, senators and representatives, 47. Pay per day, $3.

Electors of president and vice-president are chosen by general ticket.

Seat of government, Jackson.

Time of holding elections, in May.

Time of meeting of the legislature, fourth Monday in November,

Mississippi admitted into the union in 1817.

NOTE B. _Page 27._

For the following meteorological table, the author is indebted to the
politeness of Henry Tooley Esq. a scientific gentleman who has been a
resident of Natchez the third of a century, and who has during the
greater part of his life kept a daily register of the weather. The
exposure of his thermometer was unexceptionable, and always the same.
The tables in the author's possession from various other sources, date
back to the year 1799, affording an uninterrupted series of
meteorological observations in this climate, down to the present period.
An abstract from these tables would be too elaborate for a work of this
nature, and would not, indeed, convey any farther important information
upon this climate, than is contained in the accompanying abstract from
the tables of Dr. Tooley, for the past ten years. The general
temperature, though varying much from day to day, is so regular, one
year with another, that a meteorological table for any one period of ten
years will answer, with slight variations, for almost any other term of
the same duration.

The thermometer was examined at 5 A. M. and at 4 P. M. for the extremes.


IN N. Lat. 31° 34' Long. 91° 24' 42" W.

      |             |5 A.M. |4 P.M.|5 A.M. |4 P.M. |       Number of days
      |             +-------+------+-------+-------+-----+------+-----+----+-----
  Year| Mean  temp  |    Warmest   |     Coldest   |Clear|Cloudy|Rainy|Snow|Sleet
  1825|60    |81-1/6|71-1/12|81-1/3|49-1/2 |63-5/12| 178 |  88  |  99 |    |
  1826|63-1/2|75    |74-1/3 |80-3/4|48-1/4 |64-9/12| 134 | 120  | 110 |  1 |
  1827|63-1/2|74    |74-5/6 |73-1/3|51-1/3 |66-1/4 | 151 | 126  |  88 |    |
  1828|64    |76    |64-1/3 |77-1/6|53-1/2 |65-3/4 | 133 | 121  | 112 |    |
  1829|54    |65    |72-2/3 |76-1/3|48-1/12|61-2/3 | 116 | 124  | 134 | 1  |
  1830|62-1/3|74    |72-1/4 |80-3/4|48-1/2 |66-7/12| 161 | 121  |  77 | 2  |  1
  1831|57    |69-1/2|71-1/4 |77-1/2|44-1/2 |60-1/3 | 187 | 141  |  34 | 3  |
  1832|61-5/6|74-1/2|68-1/8 |84-1/3|47     |64-7/12| 185 | 146  |  23 | 2  |
  1833|60-1/2|72    |71-1/12|78-1/2|48-1/2 |65     | 177 | 138  |  50 |    |
  1834|60-1/2|73-1/4|73-9/12|82-1/3|47     |65     | 166 | 151  |  46 | 2  |
  to  |      |      |       |      |       |       |     |      |     |    |
  June|      |      |       |      |       |       |     |      |     |    |
  1835|21-1/3|26-1/4|28-1/2 |30-1/6|15     |22-2/3 |  62 |  69  |  18 | 2  |


        |    Mean     |               |                |    |    |    |    |
  Months|    temp     |     Warm      |     Cold       |Cl'r|Cl'y|Rain|Snow|Sleet
  Jan.  |46-2/3|57    |69     |64     |32     |48      | 12 | 16 |  3 |    |
  Feb.  |36-1/3|50    |59     |61     |10     |28      | 13 | 11 |  3 | 1  |
  Mar.  |46    |65-2/3|68     |74     |32     |50      | 14 | 11 |  5 | 1  |
  April,|57-2/3|65    |71     |75     |46     |64      |  9 | 18 |  3 |    |
  May,  |69-2/3|77-1/3|76     |88     |60     |82      | 14 | 13 |  4 |    |
  June, |      |      |       |       |       |        |    |    |    |    |
        |21-1/3|26-1/4|28-7/12|30-1/6 |15     |22-1/3  | 62 | 69 | 18 | 2  |

Mean temp. obtained by adding mean of months together, and then dividing
by the number of months.


  Jan.  |29-2/3|50    |67     |74     |14     |27      |  5 | 12 | 11 | 2  | 1
  Feb.  |52-2/3|65    |72     |73     |32     |52      | 13 | 14 |  1 |    |
  Mar.  |47    |67    |69     |78     |39     |62      |  9 | 17 |  5 |    |
  April,|61    |76    |67     |83     |49     |74      | 17 | 11 |  2 |    |
  May,  |66    |89-1/2|76     |93     |54     |63      | 14 | 12 |  5 |    |
  June, |76-2/3|87    |80     |93     |71     |87      | 15 | 15 |    |    |
  July, |77    |89-2/3|82     |83     |74     |91      | 21 | 10 |    |    |
  Aug.  |77-2/3|90-1/2|83     |98     |73     |89      | 18 | 12 |  1 |    |
  Sept. |69-1/3|70    |77     |77     |57     |77      | 13 | 10 |  7 |    |
  Oct.  |66-1/2|75-1/2|76     |87     |41     |56      | 19 |  9 |  3 |    |
  Nov.  |55-1/3|63-2/3|69     |77     |31     |51      | 10 | 15 |  5 |    |
  Dec.  |47-1/2|55-2/3|67     |72     |35     |52      | 12 | 14 |  5 |    |
        |60-1/2|73-1/4|73-9/12|82-1/3 |47-1/12|65-1/12 |166 |151 | 45 | 2  | 1


  Jan.  |53-1/2|37-1/2|68     |74     |31     |51      |  9 | 17 |  5 |    |
  Feb.  |46-3/4|60    |59     |72     |38     |56      | 11 |  9 |  8 |    |
  Mar.  |51    |66    |64     |71     |25     |37      | 13 |  5 | 13 |    |
  April,|63    |76    |73     |65     |55     |66      | 13 | 16 |  1 |    |
  May,  |70    |82    |76     |84     |66     |73      | 15 | 13 |  3 |    |
  June, |75    |87    |80     |92     |65     |84      | 18 | 11 |  1 |    |
  July, |63-2/3|89-2/3|81     |93     |69     |89      | 22 |  9 |    |    |
  Aug.  |74    |89-1/2|80     |93     |69     |88      | 19 | 12 |    |    |
  Sept. |74    |86-1/3|79     |94     |62     |81      | 15 | 12 |  3 |    |
  Oct.  |58    |69-2/3|68     |70     |37     |56      | 18 |  8 |  5 |    |
  Nov.  |49    |63    |69     |71     |30     |45      | 15 | 11 |  4 |    |
  Dec.  |48-1/3|58    |61     |62     |36     |53      |  9 | 15 |  7 |    |
        |60-1/2|72    |71-1/12|78-5/12|48-7/12|64-11/12|177 |138 | 50 |    |

The author has been favoured with the following medical report drawn up
by a physician of Natchez, who has had long experience in the diseases
of this climate.


Return of deaths within the city of Natchez, from 1st June 1822, to
first June 1835--including thirteen years:

The population of Natchez is ordinarily between three and four
thousand--lessened, probably, in the summer season, from 500 to 1000.
With this number of residents, the mortality cannot be regarded as very
large. On the contrary, few places of equal magnitude, either north or
south, can boast a greater degree of general health than this city.
Since the year 1825, it will be perceived, it has been growing gradually
healthier--with the exception of the last two or three years,--when,
owing in a great measure to the severity of the winter season, a great
proportion of the sickness and mortality has occurred in the winter and
spring months. Indeed take a period of seven years--from 1825 to 1833,
and we challenge any southern or western city, with the same amount of
population, to show a less number of deaths--especially in the summer
season, than the city of Natchez. The bill of mortality has been
considerably augmented of late, by that appalling and sweeping epidemic,
which increased in strength, and doubled its roll of victims in
proportion as it travelled south--together with small pox and
intemperance--for both of which nature has provided specific
remedies--but which certain classes continue still to avoid, and will
hence continue to suffer and die in spite of Jenner and the temperance
societies, as long as incredulity shall exist, and distilleries pour
forth their floods of poison in the land. Most of those with the last
mentioned diseases, it would seem, have been inmates of the public

On an average, about 1/5 to 1/4 of the deaths annually occur from
bilious remittent, congestive and typhus fever. The yellow fever, be it
known, has not appeared here as an epidemic for the last five or six
years, and may be regarded as quite extinct in the city. Owing to the
careless and imperfect manner in which the returns have generally been
made--and this we are sorry to say, is too often the case--a large
portion of the deaths are from unknown diseases--as to which in regard
to the age of the subjects, and the colour, which in this country is
somewhat important, we are left generally in the dark. By giving the
subject some considerable attention, however, we have been enabled to
preserve a degree of accuracy in the proportion, and the general result,
we believe, is nearly, if not specifically correct.

The whole number of deaths by fever, during 13 years, is 511; cholera
107, consumption 100, intemperance 58, small pox 45, infantile 49,
dysentery 30, delirium tremens 23, drowned 10, murder 10, old age 10,
suicide 4, unknown 205.

The remainder, which we purposely omit, are by ordinary diseases, which
are not peculiar to any clime or season. We have examined a
meteorological table, kept with a considerable degree of accuracy for
the last 10 years: but it presents nothing peculiar--and its details are
too minute and comprehensive for our present object. We notice, however,
a greater proportion of "cloudy and rainy" days than could be expected
in this "sunny clime," while the average degree of heat is by no means
greater than in latitudes somewhat farther north. The greatest range of
heat is 98, and the greatest cold 10°.--This we are inclined to believe,
is not strictly correct, as we have twice, within a few years, seen the
thermometer as low as 10° in the neighbourhood of New Orleans.


  years,    1822|1823|1824|1825|1826|1827|1828|1829|1830|1831|1832|1833|1834|1835
                |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
  January,      |   7|   4|   5|   7|   5|   4|   7|   5|   4|   5|   4|  14|  17
  February,     |   4|  10|   7|   6|   2|   7|   4|   6|   5|   6|   5|  16|  16
  March,        |   8|   5|   1|   3|   4|   3|   7|   6|   8|   3|  11|  30|  18
  April,        |  12|   6|   3|   4|   4|   5|   7|   2|   6|   5|   8|  22|  25
  May,          |  11|   6|   5|   9|   3|   6|   6|   3|  11|   9|  16|  19|  32
  June,        9|  15|   8|   6|   7|   3|   9|   5|   4|   6|   3|  27|  44|
  July,       33|  15|  19|   4|  11|   4|   5|   3|   7|   5|   4|   9|  27|
  August,     29| 102|  14|  17|   9|   5|   2|   6|  16|   4|   3|  11|  14|
  September,  28| 155|  13|  33|  10|   6|  12|  19|   9|   4|   9|  15|  17|
  October,    22|  56|   8|  48|   5|  26|   9|  21|  10|   5|  13|  30|  20|
  November,   12|   8|   5|  15|   4|  16|   9|  16|   7|   4|  10|  10|  26|
  December,    6|   7|   4|   4|  12|   8|   3|   2|   5|  12|   8|  13|  20|
    Total,   139| 400| 102| 148|  87|  86|  74| 103|  80|  74|  75| 159| 269|108-
                |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |1904
    Males,   119| 315|  80| 128|  62|  76|  56|  80|  55|  57|  55| 124| 193| 79-
                |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |1479
    Females,  20|  85|  22|  20|  25|  10|  18|  23|  25|  17|  20|  35|  76| 29-
                |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | 425

NOTE C--_Page 90_.

For the following valuable paper upon the cultivation of cotton, the
author is indebted to the kindness of Dr. J. W. Monett, of Mississippi,
already well known to the medical world by his treatises published at
the north upon the prevailing epidemics of this climate.


"Having finished or relinquished the miscellaneous business of winter,
such as clearing, building, ditching, and splitting rails, the hands are
actively employed in making preparation for another crop. The first
thing to be attended to, is the repairing of all the fences, with the
light force, such as boys and women; while the strong hands are employed
in chopping, and log-rolling in the new grounds. These operations are
commenced generally about the middle of February, and continued two or
three weeks, unless the farm is mostly new; in which case the clearing
of the new ground continues four or five weeks until it is time to plant
corn, generally from the first to the twentieth of March. During all
this time several ploughs, in a well opened place, are kept constantly
running (unless prevented by rain), in "listing up" corn and cotton
ground. The distance between the ridges for cotton varies according to
the strength of the soil, and the consequent size to which the plant
grows. In the rich bottoms the distance between the middle or tops of
the ridges must be from five to seven feet; while in the thin upland
soil, a space of three or four feet is amply sufficient. In the latter
soil, the cotton plant attains the height of three or four feet, and
branches laterally about half that distance. But in the rich alluvial
lands, the stalk not unfrequently shoots up to six and eight feet, and
branches so as to interlock with the other rows six or eight feet apart.

Early in April, and sometimes even in the last days of March, the
cotton-planting commences. To open the ridges, a narrow plough is run by
one horse along the middle of the ridge, so as to open a narrow shallow
furrow, in the mellow ground first ploughed. Immediately behind the
opening plough, follows the sower, with his sack of cotton-seed
suspended from his neck, walking at the same pace with the plough-man
before. At every step or two he throws the seed so as to strew it four
or five feet ahead in the furrow, at each dash of the hand. The
quantity sown is often unnecessarily large, being frequently twenty
times more numerous than the stalks permitted to remain growing. This
profusion of seed is sown for the purpose of obtaining a "good stand,"
after allowing for defective seeds as well as some which may not be
covered, and others that may be covered too deep, and also for many
plants that may sicken and die after they have vegetated and come above
the ground. This latter circumstance frequently occurs: a stand may be
amply sufficient when first up, but from drought, excessive rain, or
chilling winds, one half in the rows, and sometimes whole acres
together, die with the "rust," "sore skin," or "yellow fever."

After the sower another hand follows closely with a light horse harrow,
drawn over the furrow, for the purpose of covering the seed. This throws
in the loose earth over the seed, and covers them so lightly that often
one-third of them are still visible, yet this covering is sufficient,
for no seeds require less covering than cotton-seed. They will sprout
and take root, when left on the surface of the ground, if a slight
shower follows.

On a large plantation where there are, say, fifty effective hands, there
will probably be three or four sets of hands engaged at the same time in
planting; each set, however, not in any way interfering with the other;
but all pushing on with a constant brisk motion. As a medium task, each
set, of three hands, will very easily plant ten acres, but oftener
fifteen in old well broken land. During the planting season, or between
the first of April and the middle of May, there are always from one to
three wet or rainy spells, continuing from one to four days each, so
that the planting is necessarily interrupted. This, however, is an
advantage which none complain of, as it facilitates and expedites the
vegetation of the seed already planted; while it causes the several
portions of the crop to vary eight or ten days in age, and thereby
renders the working more convenient. Twenty planting days are sufficient
to put in the whole cotton crop, or at least as much as can be properly
tended and secured. On the rich bottom lands, when the growth of the
cotton is very luxuriant, it is desirable to finish planting always
before the first of May; but in the hills, especially where the soil is
thin, and the cotton plant attains but a small comparative size, it is
preferable to plant between the fifteenth of April and the twentieth of
May. Cotton thus planted in thin soil, will mature and open as soon as
that which has been planted three weeks sooner in bottom lands.

When the earth is moist and warm, cotton-seed will sprout, and be up in
about five or six days; but if the soil be dry it takes much longer--or
until there is rain sufficient to saturate the loose earth: for the
seed, being covered with a thick coat of coarse wool, is not so readily,
as some other seeds, acted upon by slight moisture. As the plant first
comes out of the ground, it has somewhat the appearance of a young bean,
or of the okra plant, being composed at first of two lobate leaflets,
which continue, gradually enlarging, until about the end of the first
week, when a leaf or two begins to put out between the lobules. The
young cotton-plant is extremely tender, and sensible to the most
moderate degrees of cold: the slightest frost cuts it off--while it
withers and dies from the effects of a few hours of chilling winds.

From the profusion of seed planted, the cotton plant of course comes up
very thick and crowded in the row; in which condition it is allowed to
remain a week or ten days, and often of necessity much longer, when it
is thinned out, or as it is called, "scraped." During scraping time
there is one constant rush, and every hand that can use a hoe is brought
into the field. The process of scraping commences by running a light
furrow close on each side of the row of young cotton, with the share of
the plough next it, so as to throw the dirt from the cotton and trim off
the scattering plants: the space left unbroken between these two furrows
is about eight or ten inches wide, ready for the hoes. If there are many
hoe-hands there are several ploughs "barring off" as it is called. The
hoe hands follow close upon the ploughs, each hand upon a separate row,
and with hoes sharp, and set particularly for "scraping." Experienced
cotton hands run over the rows with great rapidity, and evince great
dexterity in striking out all to a single stalk, which is left at the
distance, from its next neighbour, of at least the width of the hoe; and
in bottom land, at double that distance. Thus, in thin land, the stalks
are desired to be ten or twelve inches apart, and in the rich lands
about eighteen or twenty inches, in the row. The cotton plant thus
thinned out, continues to grow slowly until the hot weather of June sets
in, when it begins to grow rapidly, putting out a blossom at each new
joint formed on the branches. This successive florescence continues
until frost puts a stop to the growth of the plant, which is generally
in October. The pericarp or boll of cotton, from the first bloom, is
generally matured in eight or ten weeks, when it begins to crack at the
four seams in the bolls, until the four valves spread wide open,
remaining attached only at the base or extremity next the _stem_. When
the valves are thus open, the cotton with the seed, to which it adheres
in a kind of cluster, hangs down from one to four inches. From June
until October, the cotton exhibits a successive and continued
florescence, while the plant is loading itself with green bolls, from
the size of a young peach, having just dropped its blossom, to that of a
small hen's egg. About the last of August the matured bolls begin to
burst or open their valves and suspend their cotton; and from that time
the plant exhibits at the same time, blossoms, and bolls of every size,
and every stage of maturity. Toward fall, when the heat of the sun is
constant and intense, the bolls will mature and open in six weeks from
the blossom.

After the first "scraping out," the cultivation is carried on much in
the same manner as in the cultivation of corn, until about the first of
August, when it ceases, and the crop is laid by. The same kind of
cultivation that would make good corn would make good cotton. In this
however there is a difference of opinion: some will hill, or heap the
earth up in high ridges with both corn and cotton, while others will
keep the soil loose and level about both; the latter is decidedly the
proper mode for either.

When the blossom is first unfolded, which generally occurs in the night,
in form it resembles the white hollyhock, but is smaller, and is of a
faint yellowish white colour, which it retains until about noon; the
heat of the sun then being intense, the corolla partially closes, not
unlike the four-o'clock-flower, and at the same time its hue is changed
to a delicate rose, or lilac. On the following day the flowers become
more deeply tinged; toward the close of the second evening they are of a
deep crimson, or violet hue. During the succeeding night, and morning,
that is, about forty-eight hours after they first open, they always drop
off while of a deep violet colour, leaving the young capsule or boll.
The blossoms generally open, as well as fall off, during the night, and
early in the morning. Thus a cotton field in July, August, September,
and October, exhibits the singular appearance of a continued crop of
opening, closing, and falling blossoms, with an almost equal mixture of
white, lilac, and purple flowers; while each morning the ground is seen
covered with the latter, and the branches replenished with the white.

As the ploughing generally ceases and the crop is "laid by" about the
last of July, when the plant is large and brittle, there is but little
done in the field during the first three weeks in August, except that a
few light hands are kept employed in cutting, or pulling up the
"tie-vines" which are sometimes very troublesome: the tie-vine is
nothing more or less than the morning-glory, so carefully cultivated in
gardens at the north, for the purpose of shading arbours and summer

Toward the last of August, or as soon as there is sufficient open cotton
for a hand to pick fifteen or twenty pounds during the day, the light
force, consisting of women and children, is put to picking for a week or
ten days; when there being sufficient cotton opened, to make a full
day's work, all hands are engaged without exception. Then begins another
push, which continues until the whole crop is gathered and housed.
During "picking time" which continues where full crops are made until
the first of December, and in river lands, until the first of January,
the hands are regularly roused, by a large bell or horn, about the first
dawn of day, or earlier so that they are ready to enter the field as
soon as there is sufficient light to distinguish the bolls. As the dews
are extremely heavy and cool, each hand is provided with a blanket coat
or wrapper, which is kept close around him until the dew is partially
evaporated by the sun. Without this protection they would be completely
wet from head to feet, in a very short time; and as they would be in the
field at least two hours before the sun's rays would be felt, they would
be perfectly chilled, if no worse consequence attended. The hands remain
in the field until it is too dark to distinguish the cotton, having
brought their meals with them. For the purpose of collecting the cotton,
each hand is furnished with a large basket, and two coarse cotton bags
about the size of a pillow case, with a strong strap to suspend them
from the neck or shoulders. The basket is left at the end of a row, and
both bags taken along: when one bag is as full as it can well be
crammed, it is laid down in the row, and the hand begins to fill the
second in the same way. As soon as the second is full, he returns to the
basket, taking the other bag as he passes it, and empties both into the
basket, treading it down well, to make it contain his whole day's work.
The same process is repeated until night; when the basket is taken upon
his head and carried to the scaffold-yard, to be weighed. There the
overseer meets all hands at the scales, with the lamp, slate, and whip.
On the left hand margin of the slate is pasted a strip of paper, with
the name of each written in fair large hand. As soon as their baskets
are set upon the ground, the weighing commences. Each basket is
carefully weighed, and the nett weight of cotton set down upon the
slate, opposite the name of the picker. The negroes stand round, to
remove and replace the baskets as they are weighed; and occasionally the
countenance of an idler may be seen to fall. Then is the time for the
overseer to watch close or he may be greatly imposed upon by the cunning
and lazy, who are apt, in the crowd, to prevent their baskets from being
weighed, by substituting a heavier one which has been passed, or they
may fill up their baskets from one already weighed. Sometimes a negro,
known to be lazy, will have heavy weight and will probably extort from
the overseer expressions of praise and encouragement, unless he examines
the basket, when perchance he may find one of his sacks full of moist
earth snugly covered up at the bottom; such tricks as these will be
continually practised upon an overseer, who is careless or "soft;" a
quality or character, which none can more readily and properly
appreciate than the negro. It is not an uncommon occurrence for an
overseer, who is even vigilant, amid the crowd of negroes and baskets,
with only one lamp, held close to the scales and slate, to weigh some of
the heavier baskets several times, their exact weight being changed by
taking out, or putting in a few pounds; while the lighter ones pass
entirely unnoticed. No inconvenience arises to any one from such
incidents, except that the crop is not gathered in as good time as it
might otherwise have been, and a portion consequently is wasted.

After the weighing is over, and the baskets are emptied, or turned
bottom upward, upon the scaffolds, the overseer takes the slate, and
examines the weights attached to each name. Those who are found to have
brought in less than their usual quantity, unless for good reasons, are
called in the order of their names: the individual advances, and if his
reasons are insufficient, he is ordered to lie down upon his face, with
his back exposed; when he receives ten, twenty, or fifty stripes with
the whip, according to his deserts. In this way the overseer goes over
the list, punishing only those who have idled away their time.

No one knows that he is to be punished until his name is called, when he
has an opportunity of giving his reasons for his imperfect day's work.
As to the quantity which a hand can pick in a day, there is a great
difference; some will pick only from 75 to 100 lbs., others from 150 to
200 lbs., while some extraordinary pickers can pick as high as 4 or 500
lbs. in one day. But to pick these last weights requires such brisk and
incessant motion, that it could not be done two days in succession
without danger of life or health; and is only attempted for a wager, or
such like reason. The average weight picked by all the hands on a place,
will seldom exceed 150 or 160 lbs., in good picking. Children from ten
to fifteen years of age generally pick nearly as much as grown hands.
The scaffolds for drying cotton are mostly temporary, being made anew
every summer, of common boards or plank. Upon these the cotton is
suffered to lie spread out to the sun, at least one day to dry; while
some old or decrepit hand stays at the scaffold, to turn and spread it,
as well as to pick out leaves and trash.

It may not be improper to make a remark or two relative to whipping.
This is generally performed with as much care and humanity as the nature
of the case will admit. A person standing at the distance of two hundred
yards, being unacquainted with the mode, and hearing the loud sharp
crack of the whip upon the naked skin, would almost tremble for the life
of the poor sufferer. But what would be his surprise, after hearing
fifty or one hundred stripes thus laid on, to go up and examine the poor
fellow, and find the skin not broken, and not a drop of blood drawn from
him! Yet this is the way in which the whip is generally used here upon
slaves: very few planters would permit them to be whipped on the bare
back with a raw-hide, or cow-skin, as it is called. Though, as in every
thing else, there is a great difference in the degree of severity
exercised by different masters: yet we must take the general rule, as
applicable to the great class of planters. The common overseer's whip
consists of a stout flexible stalk, large at the handle, tapering
rapidly to the distance of about eighteen inches, and thence continued
with cord or leather; the whole is covered with a leather plat, which
continues tapering into, and forms the lash--the whole together being
about three feet and a half long. To the end of the lash is attached a
soft, dry, buckskin cracker, about three eighths of an inch wide and ten
or twelve inches long, which is the only part allowed to strike, in
whipping on the bare skin. So soft is the cracker, that a person who has
not the sleight of using the whip, could scarcely hurt a child with it.
When it is used by an experienced hand it makes a very loud report, and
stings, or "burns" the skin smartly, but does not bruise it. One hundred
lashes well laid on with it, would not injure the skin as much as ten
moderate stripes with a cow-skin.

But to return from this digression:--Every day, when the weather will
admit, beholds a repetition of the ceremony of picking, weighing, and
drying, as before detailed. Those who have gins, as all planters should
have, generally keep the stand running during the picking season, so as
to gin out the cotton as fast as it is picked. If there are forty or
fifty good pickers, it requires one stand to be kept running constantly
to keep up with them. In such cases, during wet weather, when the hands
cannot pick cotton, the ablest of them are kept baling the cotton which
has been ginned since the last rain, or within the last eight or ten
days. When there are not more than twenty, or twenty-five, the gin will
be able to keep up, by ginning the last three days in the week, in
addition to all rainy weather; and the able-bodied hands will be able to
do all the pressing and baling during the wet days.

Gin, in the common acceptation, signifies the house and all the
machinery required to separate the _lint_ from the seed, and to press it
into large bales, weighing generally from 400 to 500 pounds. The house
is a large enclosed roof, resting upon blocks or posts, which support it
at about eight or nine feet from the ground. The common area covered is
about forty by sixty feet, the rafters resting upon plates, and the
plates upon flooring beams, or joists, upon which the floor is laid.
About the distance of one-third the length of the house, two gearing
beams are laid across, for supporting the machinery. These rest upon the
top of the blocks, or on posts framed into them. On the ground floor is
the horse-path for drawing the main wheel and counter wheel; the last of
which carries a broad band, which passes over and turns the cylinder and
brush of the gin-stand alone. The large plantations are adopting steam
engines, and erect for the purpose very large and expensive buildings,
in which are placed two, three, or four stands. A gin-stand is a frame,
in which runs a wooden cylinder with an iron shaft running through it;
this cylinder is encircled at every inch by a very thin circular saw,
with sharp hooked teeth, upon which the seed cotton is thrown, running
through parallel grates. The teeth of the saws catch and carry through
the lint from the seed. Just behind the cylinder is a fly-wheel
brush--that is, a fan, with a brush on its extreme circumference; this
brush, running considerably faster than the cylinder, takes off the
cotton from the teeth, and blows it back. The space or room above is
divided into two apartments; one for the stand and seed cotton, and the
other for ginned cotton; the latter of which will contain cotton for
twenty or thirty bales. A good gin-stand, with sixty or sixty-five saws,
running constantly from daybreak in the morning until eight or nine
o'clock at night, will gin out as much as will make three or four bales.

At the other end of the house, and immediately under the room containing
ginned cotton, is the press. It consists of two large wooden screws,
twelve or sixteen inches in diameter, with reversed threads cut on each
end to within eighteen inches or two feet of the middle, through which
there is a mortice for the lever. These screws stand perpendicularly,
and about ten feet apart, and work into a large heavy beam above, and
into another firmly secured below. The upper moves up or down (when the
screws are turned), between four strong upright posts, framed together,
two on each side, so as to come down strait and steady when pressing.

The lower sides of the press are composed of very strong batten doors;
when the beam is brought sufficiently low, a spring is struck, and they
fly open; when they are removed, leaving the naked bale standing on its
edge under the press. A piece of bagging, cut to the proper size and
shape, was put in the bottom of the press-box, before filling in the
cotton, and another on top, immediately under the follower. These two
pieces are brought together in such manner as to cover the cotton
neatly, and there sewed with twine. The rope passed under and over it,
through the grooves left in the bed-sill and in the follower, by means
of a windlass, is drawn extremely tight and tied with double loop knots.
When all is finished, the screws are turned backward, the beam rises,
and the bale is rolled out. Notwithstanding there are seven bands of
strong rope around it, the bale will swell and stretch the rope, until
its breadth is at least two or three inches more than when in the press.
To press and bale expeditiously requires at least four or five hands and
one horse. When the box has been sufficiently filled, generally eight or
nine feet deep, the men bring down the beam by turning the screws with
hand levers as long as they can turn them; then a large lever is placed
in the screw, with a strong horse attached to one end, and a few turns
of the screws by the horse bring the beam down to the proper point,
within thirty or thirty-four inches of the sill.

The requisite number of hands will put up and bale with a common press
about ten or twelve bales a day, by pushing. After the bales are
properly put up, the next thing is to mark and number them on one end.
For this purpose a plate of copper, with the initials, or such mark as
is fancied, cut in it, is applied to the end of the bale and the letters
and figures painted through it with black marking ink.

The next trouble is to haul them to market, or the nearest landing for
boats; sometimes this is a very troublesome and difficult task,
especially in wet weather, when the roads, from the immense quantity of
heavy hauling, in getting the crops to market, are much cut up, and
often almost impassable. The planter who is careful to take all proper
advantages of season and weather, will have his cotton hauled early in
the fall, as fast as it is ginned, when the roads are almost certainly

The quantity of cotton produced to the acre, varies with the quality of
the soil and the season. The best kind of river and alluvial lands, when
in a complete state of cultivation, and with a good season, will produce
on an average from 1500 to 2000 lbs. of cotton in the seed per acre;
while new land of the same quality will not yield more than 1200 or 1400
lbs. per acre. The highlands, where the soil is fertile, will yield
under the most favourable circumstances about 1400 lbs., while those
lands which have been many years in cultivation, where the soil is thin,
will not yield more than from 800 to 1000 lbs. per acre; and some not
more than 600 lbs. As a general rule 1300 or 1400 lbs. of seed cotton,
will, when ginned out, make a bale of 400 lbs. or more. This is
according to the correct weight of the daily picking in the cotton book;
although after being weighed, it must lose some weight by drying.

The quantity of cotton raised and secured by good management most
commonly averages about five or six bales to the hand: and the quantity,
among the mass of planters, more frequently falls below, than rises
above this estimate. Some, with a few choice hands, may sometimes
average nine or ten bales to the hand by picking until January.

When the crop is all secured, which, as we observed before, varies from
the first of December until some time in January, according to the
season, hands, and extent of the crop, the hands are employed during the
winter in clearing, chopping logs in the field, splitting rails, or
ditching, if necessary. About the middle of February they resume
preparations for "another crop."

NOTE D.--_Page 258._

A recent writer, in speculating upon the possible result of an
insurrectionary movement in the south, says, in the course of his

"Here, where the whites so far outnumber the blacks, as to render such a
struggle hopeless on their part, there is little or nothing to
apprehend; but in the south, where the case is reversed, the
consequences will probably be what they were in St. Domingo--the
extermination or expatriation of the whites, the loss of tens of
hundreds of thousands of lives, and hundreds or perhaps of millions of

In reply, and in confutation of this opinion, Gen. Houston of Natchez,
addressed a very sensible and well-written paper to the editor of the
New-York Courier and Enquirer, in which he says--

"There are but two states in the Union where the slaves are equal in
numbers to the whites, and in these they have a bare majority; in other
states they have but a third and in others a fourth or fifth. Now is
there any man who supposes that an equal number of negroes, unacquainted
with arms, undisciplined, without combination, without officers,
without a rifle or a musket, or a single cartridge, can in any way be
formidable to an equal number of whites, well armed and equipped, well
supplied with all the necessaries of war, well organized, and well
officered? The notion is absurd. I will go farther; take a body of
negroes, furnish them with arms, equipments, and every thing necessary
for war; let them have twelve months to combine, to train, and to
acquire a knowledge of the use of arms, and my life on it, they would be
nothing more at the end of the time than an ignorant disorderly rabble,
who could not form a line of battle, a thousand of them would not stand
the charge of a single volunteer corps, they would disperse at the first
volley of musketry, and a body of white men would feel debased to
compete with such foes.

"There is no southern state that apprehends any injury from its
slaves--that seeks protection from any power on earth--not one of them
values the Union one particle as the means of guarding them on that

"There are no people on earth better supplied with arms, more accustomed
to their daily use, and I may say more ready to use them, than the
people of the south. Go into any house in Mississippi, Alabama, South
Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, or any other southern state,
and you will generally see a good rifle and fowling-piece; and every
neighbourhood has its men who can throw a deer running at full speed at
the distance of one hundred yards. Do such men seek protection or
apprehend danger from an inferior number of unarmed, ignorant and
enslaved negroes? Most assuredly not.

"Experience has shown that the militia of the United States are
frequently able to combat successfully with the regular troops of
Europe. And many a well-fought field has shown that the militia of the
southern states are equal to any in the Union, I will not be invidious
and say superior. If such is the case, what lessons do the wars and
experience of Europe teach us? There it is a received maxim that ten
thousand disciplined troops are superior to an army of forty thousand
undisciplined peasantry, even when they are equally supplied with arms.
And to this maxim history shows but few exceptions, as in Switzerland
and the Tyrolese mountains, where the peasantry are much favoured by the
mountains and defiles, are inured to hardships, trained in the chase
and in the use of arms.

"Have not the peasantry of Europe more acquaintance with arms, more
means of acquiring them and other necessaries for war, more military
information, more means of combination, and more intelligence, than the
negroes of the south? Most assuredly they have, and yet they are
generally held in subjection by a comparatively small body of men. I
merely glance at this, but could, if time and space permitted, give many
striking illustrations.

"If the south are so safe, it may be asked why are they so sensitive on
this subject? I will answer:--they are sensitive from motives of
interest and humanity.

"He who makes my negroes dissatisfied with their situation, makes them
less useful to me, and puts me under the necessity of dealing more
rigorously with them.

"Throughout the whole south it is considered disgraceful not to clothe
and feed negroes well, or to treat them cruelly, and there are very few
who have the hardihood to brave public sentiment. And on many
plantations, when they are orderly and obedient, they have many
indulgences and privileges, such as to raise and sell poultry, &c.: to
cultivate a small piece of ground and sell the products; and time is
allowed them for such purposes. But if negroes become disorderly,
discontented, and disobedient, the necessity requires that they should
either be set at large at once, or their privileges curtailed, and
discipline made more rigorous till they are brought into complete
subjection; there is no middle course. Again--if negroes become
dissatisfied, disobedient and rebellious, there is a possibility that
they may do damage in a single neighbourhood, and destroy the lives of a
few women and children--the consequence of which would be that then
whites would be under the necessity of putting great numbers of the
misguided wretches to death. Such was the case at Southampton. This we
would avoid, both from motives of interest and humanity, not that we
apprehend any more serious injury, and you may rest assured that if the
negroes were to rebel and do any considerable injury, the havoc and
destruction made amongst them would be dreadful; and it would be
difficult to prevent its extending to those who were innocent.

"Those, therefore, who are instrumental in making the negro dissatisfied
with his condition, make it much worse, for they constrain his owner to
be more rigorous in his treatment, and they tempt him to rebellion,
which must lead to death and extermination."


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