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Title: Retrospect of Western Travel, Volume I (of 2)
Author: Martineau, Harriet, 1802-1876
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Retrospect of Western Travel, Volume I (of 2)" ***

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The Works of Charles Lamb. To which are prefixed his Letters, and a
Sketch of his Life, by Thomas Noon Talfourd. 2 vols. 12mo. Portrait.

A Journal of Travels on the Continent of Europe: viz., in England,
Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, Switzerland, some Parts of Germany,
and the Netherlands, during the Years 1835 and '36. By Wilbur Fisk, D.D.
8vo. With Engravings.

Memoirs of Aaron Burr. With Miscellaneous Selections from his
Correspondence. 2 vols. 8vo. Portraits.

A New Hieroglyphical Bible, with 400 Cuts, by Adams. 16mo.

Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petræa, and the Holy Land. 2 vols.
12mo. _Third Edition._ With Engravings.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Comprising the Details
of a Mutiny and atrocious Butchery on board the American Brig Grampus on
her Way to the South Seas in the Month of June, 1827, &c., &c., &c.
12mo. Engravings.

Sketches of the Life and Character of the Rev. Lemuel Haynes, A.M. By
Timothy Mather Cooley, D.D. With some Introductory Remarks by Wm. B.
Sprague, D.D. 12mo. Portrait.

The Economy of Health; or, the Stream of Human Life from the Cradle to
the Grave. With Reflections, Moral, Physical, and Philosophical, on the
Septennial Phases of Human Existence. By James Johnson, M.D. 18mo.

The Monk of Cimiés. By Mrs. Sherwood. 12mo. Engravings. [Vol. XIV. of
her Works.]

Henry Milner. Complete. [Vol. XV. of Mrs. Sherwood's Works.]

Sacred History of the World. By Sharon Turner. Vol. III. [No. 83 of the
Family Library.]

Scenery of the Heavens. By Thomas Dick, LL.D., Author of "Christian
Philosopher," &c. 18mo. Engravings.

Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat. By
Edmund Roberts. 8vo.

Zion's Songster. Compiled by Rev. T. Mason. 48mo.

Leila; or, the Siege of Grenada. By E. L. Bulwer: Esq., Author of "Eugene
Aram," &c. 12mo.

Ernest Maltravers. By the Author of "Pelham," "Rienzi," &c. 2 vols.

Attila. By the Author of "Richelieu," "Philip Augustus," "The Gipsy,"
&c. 2 vols. 12mo.

Pelayo: a Story of the Goth. By the Author of "Guy Rivers,"
"Mellichampe," &c. 2 vols. 12mo.

Burton; or, the Sieges. By the Author of "Lafitte," &c. 2 vols. 12mo.

Live and Let Live; or, Domestic Service Illustrated. By the Author of
"The Linwoods," "The Poor Rich Man," &c. 18mo.

A Love Token for Children. By the Author of "Live and Let Live," &c.

Cromwell: a Romance. By the Author of "The Brothers," &c. 2 vols. 12mo.

Recollections of a Southern Matron. By the Author of "Recollections of a
New-England Housekeeper." 12mo.

Falkner. By the Author of "Frankenstein," "Lodore," &c. 12mo.

Constance Latimer; or, the Blind Girl. With other Stories. By Mrs. Emma
C. Embury. 18mo.

_Anthon's Series of Classical Works for Schools and Colleges, now in the
course of publication._

--> The following works, already published, may be regarded as specimens
of the whole series, which will consist of about thirty volumes.

Sallust's Jugurthine War and Conspiracy of Catiline, with an English
Commentary, and Geographical and Historical Indexes. By Charles Anthon,
LL.D. Sixth Edition, corrected and enlarged. 12mo. With a Portrait.

Select Orations of Cicero, with an English Commentary, and Historical,
Geographical, and Legal Indexes. By Charles Anthon, LL.D., &c: 12mo.
Third Edition.

Cæsar. With Notes; etc., by Professor Anthon. 12mo. With a Map of
Ancient Gaul, and Plans of Battles, Sieges, &c.

A Grammar of the Greek Language, for the Use of Schools and Colleges,
with Teutonic, Gothic, Sclavonic, Gaelic, Sanscrit, and Zend Analogies.
By C. Anthon, LL.D. 12mo.

A System of Greek Prosody and Metre, with Illustrations of the Choral
Scanning in the Dramatic Writers. By C. Anthon; LL.D. 12mo.















When I finished my late work on Society in America, I had not the most
remote idea of writing anything more on the subject of the New World. I
have since been strongly solicited to communicate more of my personal
narrative, and of the lighter characteristics of men, and incidents of
travel, than it suited my purpose to give in the other work. It has also
been represented to me that, as my published-book concerns the Americans
at least as much as the English, there is room for another which shall
supply to the English what the Americans do not want--a picture of the
aspect of the country, and of its men and manners. There seems no reason
why such a picture should not be appended to an inquiry into the theory
and practice of their society; especially as I believe that I have
little to tell which will not strengthen the feelings of respect and
kindness with which the people of Great Britain are more and more
learning to regard the inhabitants of the Western Republic. I have,
therefore, willingly acceded to the desire of such of my readers as have
requested to be presented with my Retrospect of Western Travel.

                                                           H. MARTINEAU.




  The Voyage                                   13

  First Impressions                            35

  The Hudson                                   43

  Pine Orchard House                           57

  Weddings                                     63

  High Road Travelling                         71

  Fort Erie                                    90

  Niagara                                      96

  Priestley                                   109

  Prisons                                     123

  First Sight of Slavery                      139

  Life at Washington                          143

  The Capitol                                 164

  Mount Vernon                                186

  Madison                                     189

  Jefferson's University                      199

  Country Life in the South                   208

  City Life in the South                      223

  Restless Slaves                             242

  New-Orleans                                 254





    "When the sun dawn'd, gay and glad,
    We set the sail and plied the oar;
    But when the night-wind blew like breath,
    For joy of one day's voyage more,
    We sang together on the wide sea,
    Like men at peace on a peaceful shore;
    Each sail was loosed to the wind so free,
    The helm made sure by the twilight star,
    And in a sleep as calm as death
    We the voyagers from afar
    Lay stretched."

                                                  _Paracelsus_, Part iv.

The packet-ship in which my passage was taken, the United States,
Captain Nathan Holdrege, was to have sailed from Liverpool on Friday,
the 8th of August, 1834, at eleven o'clock. At half past ten my
fellow-traveller and I, with our friends, were on the way to the dock,
in some doubt about our departure, from the wind being directly against
us, when we met a gentleman interested in the sailing of the vessel, who
told us that we might turn back, as the captain had given up all hope of
getting out of port that day. This was uncomfortable news enough. We had
bidden farewell to many friends, half the pain of parting was over, and
there was little pleasure in having it all to go through again.

We resolved to proceed to the dock, to put our luggage on board, and see
for ourselves the true state of affairs. It was not very agreeable. The
deck was encumbered with water-casks and chests; the captain was
fidgeting about, giving his orders in a voice rather less placid than
ordinary; a great number of inquiring persons, who had come down to see
us off, had to be told that we were not going to-day, and why; and
several of the American passengers were on the spot, looking very
melancholy. They had entered the 8th in their journals as the day of
sailing, brought down their portmanteaus, paid their bills at the hotel,
and taken leave of Boots and chambermaid. Here they were left with
four-and-twenty dreary and expensive hours upon their hands, and who
knew how many more than four-and-twenty? One declared that the wind
appeared as if it had set in against us, and he should not be surprised
if it was a week before we sailed. Their fate was so truly mournful,
that I was ashamed of feeling any discomfiture on my own account,
domesticated as I was in the nearest and dearest of homes next to my
own. Our disconsolate acquaintance among the passengers were invited to
dispose of their evening with us; and we returned to tell the children,
and everybody whom we met, that we were not gone, and wherefore. Of
course, we presently recollected several reasons why it was well that we
had another day. There were two letters which it was highly desirable I
should write from Liverpool rather than from New-York; and the children
had never before found leisure to show me the cupboards and shelves
where they kept their playthings; so that, if the wind had been fair, I
should actually have gone away without seeing them.

We sauntered all the afternoon in the Zoological Gardens, and, as we
returned, caught each other looking up at every weathercock we passed.
In the evening our visiters dropped in, each ready with a speculation as
to how the wind would be to-morrow.

On the morrow the weathercock told no better news; and a note was on the
breakfast-table which informed us that there was no chance of our
sailing that day. I was now really sorry. It was Saturday; and I feared
my host would write no sermon if I remained to keep his household in an
unsettled state. Our seadresses, too, would not serve for a Sunday in
Liverpool, and our books and work were all on board with our wardrobes.
The tidings were therefore welcome which were brought early in the
forenoon, that the captain had engaged a steamboat to tow us out to sea.
By eleven o'clock the carriage of a friend was at the door, with
bouquets of flowers, and baskets of grapes and other acid refreshments,
which it was thought might be welcome at sea.

"Have you _no_ misgivings?" asked an intimate, before whose imagination
the Western World now rose tremendous in its magnitude. "Have you no
misgivings now?" I had none, and it was well. If I had had such as would
have made me draw back in the last moment, what a world of good should I
have foregone! Not only what knowledge, but what a store of imagery!
What intense and varied enjoyment! and, above all, what friendships!
When I now look back upon what I have gained, and at how small an
expense of peril and inconvenience, I cannot but regard my setting foot
on board ship as one of the most fortunate acts of my life.

When we arrived at the dock we found there was really to be no further
delay. The knots of friends, the crowds of gazers were gathering; the
steamer was hissing and puffing in the river, and the song of the
sailors was heard, as they were warping our ship out of the dock. In a
few minutes we and the other passengers were requested to step on board.
I first carried my flowers down to my stateroom, intending to hide them
there till we should be out of sight of land, when an apparition of
fresh flowers upon deck might be more than commonly welcome. I then took
my station by a window of the roundhouse, whence I could see all that
passed on shore without being much seen. Thence I could observe my
brother and sisters speaking to each other, and pointing out things
which I could easily interpret. It occurred to me that I could send them
one more token, by means of the little waves which rolled away from the
sides of our ship, and washed the pier on which the crowd was standing.
I threw out a rose at a moment when I caught a watchful eye; and I saw
it borne, after many vagaries, directly under their feet. Suddenly I
missed them from the spot where they were standing, and supposed they
were quite tired (as they well might have been), and had gone home. But
it was not so. They had withdrawn only in order to secure front places
at the extreme end of the pier, whence they might watch us yet longer
than from their former station. There they stood, as long as we could
distinguish any forms from among the crowd. Then three cheers were
exchanged between the crew and the shore, and the passengers strained
their eyes no more.

The greater number then went below to make arrangements in their
staterooms; and afterward ensued the ceremony of introducing the company
to each other on deck. Our number was twenty-three, six of whom formed
the party to which I belonged; or, rather, so it seemed to ourselves
before we went on board. The distinction was afterward forgotten, for
the company assembled was, with two or three exceptions, so exceedingly
agreeable and so wonderfully congenial, considering how accidentally we
were brought together, that we mingled completely as one party. We had
among us a Prussian physician; a New-England divine; a Boston merchant,
with his sprightly and showy young wife; a high-spirited young South
Carolinian, fresh from a German university; a newly-married couple,
whose station was not exactly discoverable while on board, but who
opened a public-house soon after their arrival in New-York; a Scotch
major, whose peculiarities made him the butt of the young men; an
elderly widow lady; two amiable young ladies; and a Scotch lady, "of no
particular age," but of very particular placidity and good-humour; and a
youth out of Yorkshire, who was leaving his parents' roof for the first
time alone, and who was destined never to return to it. The number was
made up by English and American merchants; young men so accustomed to
pass between Liverpool and New-York, that the voyage was little more to
them than an expedition to Primrose Hill is to a cockney.

The cold dinner and drinking of healths customary on the day of sailing
succeeded. Then there was the library to look over, and trial to be made
of a seat on the rail, whence we could see the dim shores as we glided
smoothly along in the wake of the steamer. By the time it was dusk the
latter had performed her engagement. We saw the payment handed over, and
the shaking of hands of the two captains, and then she disengaged
herself from us, and began ploughing her way to the north coast of
Ireland. We felt very helpless when she was gone, the little wind there
was being unfavourable. There was so little, however, as to allow us
novices a night of sound sleep at the outset.

On Sunday we crept along in almost a calm, having a glimpse of the dim
outline of the Isle of Man in the morning, and being still in sight of
Holyhead in the evening. To me it was a day of luxury; for, jaded as I
had been with business and novelty, there was no circumstance of the
voyage that I valued so highly as the impossibility of receiving letters
or news for three weeks or a month. The gliding on thus in a calm, with
time to think and be still, was all that I wanted; but the Americans,
who had home on the horizon before them, and longed to be at rest
there, looked grave on this inauspicious beginning of their transit. On
Monday, however, they felt, from another cause, a good deal worse. The
wind had freshened, but I believe nobody cared which way or how fast it
blew us. The only meal at which I was not present was that of Monday's
dinner. I can testify to the breakfast and tea being quiet and sad
enough, with a sprinkling of languid passengers at table, and a
knowledge of how wretched all the rest were in their rooms.

On Tuesday began my experience of the pleasures of the sea. The wind had
freshened to a strong breeze, which had so rocked us in our berths that
I rose miserably ill. I was strongly persuaded of the necessity of
exertion in seasickness, of having fresh air, and of getting out of the
way of the sights and sounds of the cabin; and I therefore persevered in
dressing and going up to the deck. There was the captain, with only one
passenger to talk with, and heartily glad at the prospect of another
being convalescent. He seated me on the rail, where I kept my eyes away
from the helpless invalids who were strewed about the deck, and in half
an hour I was quite well. We were careering along in most exhilarating
style. The wind was so strong as to put the wearing a bonnet out of the
question. I had happily been furnished with a sort of cap, which no lady
should go to sea without; a black silk cap, well wadded. With the head
thus defended, and a large warm cloak, a lady may abide almost any
weather, and avoid the _désagremens_ and unwholesomeness of the cabin.
My eye was never weary of watching the dashing and boiling of the dark
green waves, from the gray horizon to the ship's side; and I know of no
motion so gladsome as that of riding the high billows in a brisk breeze.
The captain pointed out to me the first of the monsters of the deep that
I ever saw; a large blackfish, tumbling about joyously by itself in the
stormy sea, now throwing its thick body forward in ungainly gambols, and
now rearing its forked tail perpendicularly as it prepared to dive.

My flowers did not disappoint my expectations. They were still quite
fresh on the Wednesday, when, as we were out of sight of land, I carried
them up to the deck, and gave each passenger one, that being precisely
my supply. I never saw flowers give so much pleasure before, except in
cases of long confinement from illness. Truly they were very like a
message from home.

In two or three days more all but two ladies and one gentleman had
settled themselves into the routine of sea life. It was very desirable
that they should do so, as on the 15th we were still little more than
three hundred miles from Liverpool. It would have been dismal to add
idleness and unsettledness to the discouragement caused by such a
beginning of our voyage. Our mode of life was very simple and quiet; to
me, very delightful. I enjoyed it so much that I delayed beginning my
letters home till we had been a week at sea, lest I should write some
extravagance which I should afterward have to qualify or retract. None
of my subsequent experience, however, has altered my feeling that a
voyage is the most pleasant pastime I have ever known.

The passengers showed themselves upon deck some time between seven and
nine in the morning. Each one either made his way to the binnacle to see
for himself what course we were upon, or learned the important
intelligence from some obliging individual who held the fact at the
general service. We all asked the captain at first, but soon
discontinued the practice when we found that favourable answers were
likely to be rare, and how it must vex him to tell us every morning that
we were scarcely getting on at all.

After a brisk morning's walk upon deck, no one was sorry to hear the
breakfast-bell. Breakfast was the most cheerful meal of the day. If ever
there was any news to tell, it was then. The early risers could
sometimes speak to the sluggards of a big fish, of a passing sail, of a
frolic among the sailors. I was asked once by a passenger, in a tone
whose laziness cannot be conveyed on paper, "What, did ye see the whale
this mornin'?"

"No. It came at four o'clock, when I was asleep; but the captain
promises to have me called next time, whatever the hour may be."

"What, d'ye want to see a whale?"

"Yes, very much."

"Well, but I dare say you have seen a pictur' o' one."

It was not apparent to him that this was not an equally good thing.

After breakfast, the gentlemen who kept journals produced their
writing-cases in the cabin. The ladies sat in sunny or shaded places on
deck, netting, making table-mats, or reading, or mounted the railing to
talk or look abroad. I had a task to do, which is a thing that should
be avoided on board ship. I had a long article to write; and nothing
else would I do, on fine mornings, till it was finished. It is
disagreeable writing in the cabin, with people flitting all about one.
It is unwholesome writing in one's stateroom in the month of August. The
deck is the only place. The first care, after breakfast, of my clerical
friend the New-Englander, was to find me a corner where the wind would
not blow my paper about, where the sun would not dazzle me, and where I
might be quiet; and then he took his seat behind the roundhouse, with a
row of children from the steerage before him to do their lessons. I
wondered at first how he would teach them without books, slates, or any
other visible implements of instruction; but when I saw him get a
potato, and cut it into two and four parts, to show the children what
halves and quarters were, I was assured he would prosper with them. And
so he did. They went to school to excellent purpose; and I dare say they
will send back grateful thoughts all through their lives upon the kind
gentleman who attended to them on the voyage.

For some time I was daily baffled in my purpose of writing by the
observation of persons who seemed not only entirely ignorant of the
process of composition, but very anxious to learn it. Not only did the
children from the steerage spy from behind chests and casks, and peep
over my shoulder, but the inquirer about the whale was wont to place
himself directly in front of me, with his arms akimbo, and his eyes
fixed on the point of my pen. Somebody gave him a hint at last, and I
was left in peace. By two o'clock, when the deck began to fill again
after luncheon, my head and eyes had had enough of writing, and I
joyfully mounted the rail. If I wanted to watch the sea undisturbed, I
held a Shakspeare in my hand. If I carried no book, somebody came to
talk. What fleets of Portuguese men-of-war did we see at those hours! I
hardly know whether these little mariners of the deep are most beautiful
when gliding, rich in their violet hues, along the calm sunny surface of
the summer sea, or when they are tossed about like toys by rough dark
waves. One day, when I was exclaiming on their beauty, a young lady,
industriously working at her table-mats, observed that it was very odd
that she had crossed this ocean three times, and had never seen a
Portuguese man-of-war. I concluded that she had never looked for them,
and asked the favour of her to stand by my side for one half hour. She
did so, and saw three. I strongly suspect that those who complain of the
monotony of the ocean do not use their eyes as they do on land. It seems
to be the custom at sea to sit on deck, looking abroad only when the sun
is setting, or the moon rising, or when there is a sail to be speculated
upon. Some of the most beautiful sights I caught were when no one else
was looking down quite into the deep, the only way to see most of the
creatures that live there. One day I was startled, while thus gazing,
with an excessive radiance, like an expanse of brilliant rainbow, far
down in the sunny deep under our bows. My exclamation brought one
witness to behold, as I did, the distinct form of a dolphin come out of
the light. It was a family of dolphins, the only ones that were seen on
the voyage. Many a flying fish darted from the crest of one wave into
another. Many a minuet did Mother Carey's chickens trip, with their
slender web-feet, on the momentary calm left between two billows. Many a
shining visiter came up from the lowest deep to exchange glances and be
gone. I soon found it was in vain to call people to look. These sights
are too transient to be caught otherwise than by watching. When a shoal
of porpoises came to race with the ship, every one on board was up on
the rail to see; and an exhilarating sight it is, when the ship is going
before the wind in a rough sea, and the porpoises dart visibly through
the midst of a billow, and pitch, and rise, and cross each other's path,
swiftly and orderly, without ever relaxing their speed, till they are
tired of play. It is impossible to help having a favourite among the
shoal, and watching him with an interest and admiration which, upon
consideration, are really ridiculous.

The most generally interesting sight, perhaps, was a sail; and we were
never a day without seeing one or more. Sometimes three or four seemed
to be peeping at us from the horizon. Sometimes our ship and another
were nearing each other almost all day. Once or twice I was startled
with a sudden apparition of one close at hand, with all her sails set,
black in a streak of moonlight, when I went up to bid the sea
good-night. One morning early I found the deck in a bustle, from a ship
having made signals of distress. "A ship in distress!" everybody began
shouting. "A ship in distress!" cried I to the ladies in the cabin, one
of whom came up muffled in a cloak, and another with her nightcap under
her bonnet, rather than miss the romance of the scene. The hearts of the
novices were all ready to bleed; the faces of the gentlemen began to
wear, in anticipation, an expression of manly compassion, as we hung out
our colours, shortened sail (one of the first times we had been going
right on our course), and wore round, while all the people of both ships
gathered on the decks, and the captains brandished their trumpets. She
was French, and her distress was that she had lost her longitude! Our
good captain, very angry at the loss of time from such a cause, said
they ought to have lost their heads with it, shouted out the longitude,
and turned into our course again. The ladies went back to finish their
toilet in an ordinary mood of sensibility, and the French went on their
way, we may conclude, rejoicing.

A distant sail was one day decided to be a merchant ship from the south
of France, to everybody's apparent satisfaction but mine. I had a strong
persuasion that she was not French, but felt how presumptuous it would
be to say so. I watched her, however; and, at the end of three hours,
directed the captain's attention again to her. He snatched his glass,
and the next moment electrified us all by the vehemence of his
directions to the helmsman and others of the crew. It was a rival
packet-ship, the Montreal, which had left Portsmouth four days before we
sailed. We were in for a race, which lasted three days, after which we
lost sight of our rival, till she reached New-York after us. Our captain
left the dinner-table three times this first day of the race, and was
excessively anxious throughout. It was very exciting to us all. We
concluded, after fair trial, that she beat in a light wind and we in a
strong one. Some weeks after our landing I fell in with two passengers
from the Montreal, who described the counterpart of the scene we had
beheld as having taken place on board their ship. There had been the
same start of surprise on the part of their captain, who had also left
the dinner-table three times; the same excitement among the passengers;
and the same conclusion as to the respective sailing merits of the two

From four to six we were dining. Some of us felt it rather annoying to
be so long at table; but it is a custom established on board these
packets, for the sake, I believe, of those who happen to find the day
too long. Such persons need compassion, and their happier companions can
afford to sacrifice something to their ease; so no one objects openly to
devoting two of the best hours of the day to dinner and dessert. The
rush up to the deck, however, when they are over, shows what the taste
of the majority is. One afternoon the ladies were called down again, and
found in their cabin a surprise at least as agreeable as my flowers. A
dessert of pines and grapes had been sent in by a gentleman who found
that a friend had put a basket of choice fruits on board for his use,
but who preferred favouring the ladies with them. He was sent for to
preside at the table he had thus spread, and was not a little rallied by
his brother passengers on his privileges. These things seem trifles on
paper, but they yield no trifling amusement on a voyage. Our afternoons
were delightful; for the greater number of the forty-two days that we
were at sea, the sun set visibly, with more or less lustre, and all eyes
were watching his decline. There was an unusual quietness on board just
about sunset. All the cabin passengers were collected on one side,
except any two or three who might be in the rigging. The steerage
passengers were to be seen looking out at the same sight, and probably
engaged as we were in pointing out some particular bar of reddened
cloud, or snowy mountain of vapours, or the crimson or golden light
spattered on the swelling sides of the billows as they heaved sunward.
Then came the last moment of expectation, even to the rising on tiptoe,
as if that would enable us to see a spark more of the sun; and then the
revival of talk, and the bustle of pairing off to walk. This was the
hour for walking the deck; and, till near teatime, almost the whole
company might be seen parading like a school. I never grew very fond of
walking on a heaving floor, on which you have to turn at the end of
every thirty paces or so; but it is a duty to walk on board ship, and it
is best to do it at this hour, and in full and cheerful company.

After tea the cabin was busy with whist and chess parties, readers, and
laughers and talkers. On damp and moonless evenings I joined a whist
party; but my delight was the deck at this time, when I had it all to
myself, or when I could at least sit alone in the stern. I know no
greater luxury than sitting alone in the stern on fine nights, when
there is no one within hearing but the helmsman, and sights of beauty
meet the eye wherever it turns. Behind, the light from the binnacle
alone gleams upon the deck; dim, shifting lights and shadows mark out
the full sails against the sky, and stars look down between. The young
moon drops silently into the sea afar. In our wake is a long train of
pale fire, perpetually renewed as we hiss through the dark waves. On
such a quiet night, how startling is a voice from the deck, or a shout
of laughter from the cabin! More than once, when I heard the voices of
children and the barking of a dog from the steerage, I wholly forgot for
the moment that I was at sea, and, looking up, was struck breathless at
the sight of the dim, gray, limitless expanse. Never, however, did I see
the march of the night so beautiful over hill, dale, wood, or plain, as
over the boundless sea, roofed with its complete arch. The inexpressible
silence, the undimmed lustre, the steady, visible motion of the sky,
make the night what it can nowhere be on land, unless in the midst of
the Great Desert or on a high mountain-top. It is not the clear still
nights alone that are beautiful. Nothing can be more chilling to the
imagination than the idea of fog, yet I have seen exquisite sights in a
night fog; not in a pervading, durable mist, but in such a fog as is
common at sea, thick and driving, with spaces through which the moon may
shine down, making clusters of silvery islands on every side. This was
an entirely new appearance to me, and the white archipelago was a
spectacle of great beauty. Then, again, the action of the ship in a
strong night-breeze is fine, cutting her steady way through the seething
water, and dashing them from her sides so uniformly and strongly, that
for half a mile on either hand the sea is as a white marble floor gemmed
with stars; just like a child's idea of "the pavement of the heavenly
courts." Such are the hours when all that one has ever known or thought
that is beautiful comes back softly and mysteriously; snatches of old
songs, all one's first loves in poetry and in the phantasmagoria of
nature. No sleep is sweeter than that into which one sinks in such a
mood, when one's spirit drops anchor amid the turbulence of the outward
world, and the very power of the elements seems to shed stillness into
the soul.

There must be many a set-off against such hours, however, or the whole
world would be rushing to sea. There would be parties to the Azores as
there now are to Rome, and people would be doubling the Capes as they
now cross the Simplon. There are disagreeable hours and days at sea;
whole days, when the ship rolls so as to stop employment in the cabin,
and the rain pours down so as to prevent any weary passenger from
putting out his head upon deck; when the captain is to be seen outside
in his seacoat, with the water streaming from nose, chin, hat, and every
projection of his costume; when every one's limbs are aching with
keeping himself from tumbling over his neighbour; when the tea and
coffee are cold, and all that is liquid is spilled, and everything solid
thrown out of its place. The best thing to be done on such days is to
sit in the roundhouse, each one well wedged in between two, the
balustrade in front, and the wall behind; all as loquacious as possible,
talking all manner of sense or nonsense that may occur; those who can
joke, joking; those who can sing, singing; those who know any new games,
teaching them. This is better than the only other thing that can be
done, lying in one's heaving berth; better, not only because it is more
sociable, but because there is a fairer chance of appetite and sleep
after the exercise of laughing (be the laughter about anything or
nothing) than after a day of uncomfortable listlessness.

A calm is a much less disagreeable affair, though it is not common to
say so. A dead calm affords a fine opportunity to the gentlemen for
writing and reading, and to the ladies for the repairs of the wardrobe.
Sewing, which I think a pleasant employment everywhere else, is trying
to the head at sea; and many omissions and commissions may be observed
in the matter of costume, which the parties would be ashamed of on land.
The difference after a calm is remarkable: the cap-borders are spruce;
the bonnets wear a new air; the gloves are whole; the married gentlemen
appear with complete sets of buttons and rectified stocks. The worst
quality of a calm is that it tries tempers a little too far. If there be
an infirmity of temper, it is sure to come out then. At such a time
there is much playing of shuffleboard upon deck, and the matches do not
always end harmoniously. "You touched mine with your foot." "I did not,
I declare." "Now, don't say so," &c., &c. "You are eight." "No, we are
ten." "I can show you you are only eight." "Well, if you can't count any
better than that," and so on. After three days of calm there may be
heard a subdued tone of scolding from the whist party at the top of the
table, and a stray oath from some checkmated person lower down; and
while the ladies are brushing their hair in their cabin, certain items
of information are apt to be given of how Mr. A. looked when the lady's
partner turned up trumps, and how shockingly Mr. B. pushed past Mr. C.
in going up the cabin to dinner. The first breath of favourable wind,
however, usually blows all these offences away, and tempers turn into
their right course with the ship.

I had heard so much at home of the annoyances on board ship, that I
made a list of them at the time for the consolation of my friends at
home, who were, I suspected, bestowing more compassion upon me than I
had any title to. I find them noted down as follows:--

Next to the sickness, an annoyance scarcely to be exaggerated while it
lasts, there is, first, the damp clammy feel of everything you touch.
Remedy, to wear gloves constantly, and clothes which are too bad to be
spoiled. In this latter device nearly the whole company were so
accomplished that it was hard to say who excelled.

Next, want of room. The remedy for this is a tight, orderly putting away
of everything; for which there is plenty of time.

Thirdly, the candles flare, and look untidy from running down twice as
fast as they burn. Remedy, to go out of the way of them; to the stern,
for instance, where there are far better lights to be seen.

Fourthly, the seats and beds are all as hard as boards: a grievance
where one cannot always walk when one's limbs want resting with
exercise. Remedy, patience. Perhaps air-cushions may be better still.

Fifthly, warning is given to be careful in the use of water. Remedy, to
bathe in seawater, and drink cider at dinner.

Sixthly, the cider is apt to get low. Remedy, take to soda-water, ale,
hock, or claret.

Seventhly, the scraping of the deck sets one's teeth on edge. For this I
know of no remedy but patience; for the deck must be scraped.

Eighthly, the rattling, stamping, and clattering overhead when the sails
are shifted in the night. Remedy, to go to sleep again.

Ninthly, sour bread. Remedy, to eat biscuit instead.

Tenthly, getting sunburnt. Remedy, not to look in the glass.

These are all that I can allow from my own experience. Some people talk
of danger, but I do not believe there is more than in travelling on
land. Some have called a ship a prison so often, that the saying seems
to have become current. But, in my idea, the evils of a prison are the
being coerced by another person's will; the being disgraced; the being
excluded from the face of nature; and the being debarred from society,
employment, and exercise. None of these objections apply to a ship as a
residence. As for the one point of resemblance, the being unable to
walk a mile or more out and back again, of how many persons is this the
voluntary choice, who were never either in a prison or a ship? I would
never take the responsibility of recommending any elderly, or nervous,
or untravelled persons to put themselves into a place which will not
keep still, nor anything in it, for a month or six weeks, and from which
they cannot get out; but I cannot think the confinement, by itself,
anything to be much complained of.

A bad captain must be the worst of annoyances, to judge by contrast from
the comfort we enjoyed under the government of an exceedingly good one.
We had all great faith in Captain Holdrege as an excellent sailor; and
we enjoyed daily and hourly proofs of his kindness of heart, and desire
to make everybody about him happy. It was amazing with what patience he
bore the teazings of some who were perpetually wanting to know things
that he could not possibly tell them; when we should be at New-York, and
so forth. The gentleman who unconsciously supplied the most merriment to
the party waylaid the captain one busy morning; one of the first when
there had been anything for the captain to do, and he was in such a
bustle that nobody else dreamed of speaking to him.

"Captain," said the gentleman, "I want to speak to you."

"Another time, sir, if you please. I am in a hurry now."

"But, captain, I want to speak to you very much."

"Speak, then, sir, and be quick, if you please."

"Captain, I am very glad you have a cow on board, because of the milk."

"Hum," said the captain, and went on with his business.

One Sunday morning, when we were on "the Banks," this gentleman came to
me with a doleful face, to tell me that he thought we should have been
at New-York to-day. I found that he had actually expected this up to the
night before, because he had been told, previous to sailing, that we
should probably spend our fourth Sunday at New-York. It was proposed to
tell him that we should probably be in the Pacific by the next morning,
to see whether he would believe it; but I believe the experiment was not
ventured upon. Some of the passengers, talking one day at dinner of
percussion caps, asked him whether they were used in a regiment of
which he had frequently spoken. He replied that he did not know, as he
had not inquired much into the costume of the army.

By the 23d of August we were only about one hundred and twenty miles
N.W. of the Azores. On the 1st of September, when our thoughts wandered
homeward to the sportsmen all abroad in the stubble, to the readers of
monthly periodicals in which we were interested, and to our families,
who were doubtless fancying us on the point of landing, we were not far
from where we were a week ago. We had had beautiful weather, but every
variety of westerly wind with it. The passengers began to flag. The
novels were all read; the ladies' work was all done; and shuffleboard
and chess will not do for ever. The captain began to send up an
occasional whet of cherry bounce to the ladies before dinner. For my own
part, I was finishing my writing, and finding my first leisure for
books; and I found myself forgetting New-York, and losing sight of all I
expected to see beyond it, in the pleasures of the sea. We were now
scarcely half way. The turning point of the voyage came the next day in
the shape of a storm.

Before I went on board I had said that I should like to behold a storm
as fierce as we could escape from without fatal damage. Some passenger
repeated this wish of mine (very common in persons going to sea for the
first time) in the hearing of the mate, who told the sailors; who,
accordingly, were overheard saying one afternoon that I had better come
on deck, and see what I should see. My clerical friend took the hint,
and called me hastily, to observe the crew make ready for a squall. I
ran up, and perceived the black line advancing over the water from the
horizon, the remarkable indication of a coming squall. The sailors were
running up the shrouds to get the sails in. The second mate was aloft,
in the post of danger, his long hair streaming in the wind, while with
us below all was calm. The sails were got in just in time. The captain
did not come down to dinner. Orders were given to "splice the
main-brace;" for the crew had been handling the ropes since four in the
morning. I saw them come for their grog, and then wait for what might
happen next. By sunset the sky was tremendous; the sea rising, the wind
moaning and whistling strangely. When I staggered to the stern, to bid
the sea good-night, according to custom, the waters were splendidly
luminous. Floods of blue fire were dashed abroad from our bows, and
beyond, the whole expanse sparkled as with diamonds.

All night the noises would have banished sleep if we could have lain
quiet. There was a roar of wind; the waves dashed against the sides of
the ship as if they were bursting in; water poured into our cabin,
though the skylight was fastened down. A heavy fall was now and then
heard from the other cabin; some passenger heaved out of his berth.
After five hours I could hold in no longer, and a tremendous lurch
tossed me out upon the floor, where I alighted upon my thimble and
scissors, the ottoman I was working (and which, I had felt confident,
was far enough off), my clothes, books, and the empty water-bottle. All
these things were lying in a wet heap. I traversed the ladies' cabin to
explore, holding by whatever was fastened to the floor. The only dry
place in which I could lie down was under the table, and standing was
out of the question; so I brought a blanket and pillow, laid down with a
firm hold of the leg of the table, and got an hour's welcome sleep, by
which time the storm was enough to have wakened the dead. The state of
our cabin was intolerable; the crashing of glass, the complaining voices
of the sick ladies, the creaking and straining of the ship; and, above
all, the want of air, while the winds were roaring over head. I saw no
necessity for bearing all this; so, sick as I was, I put my clothes on,
swathed myself in one cloak, and carried up another, wherewith to lash
myself to something on deck.

There, all was so glorious that I immediately stumbled down again to
implore the other ladies to come up and be refreshed; but no one would
listen to me. They were too ill. I got the captain's leave to fasten
myself to the post of the binnacle, promising to give no trouble, and
there I saw the whole of the never-to-be-forgotten scene.

We were lying in the trough of the sea, and the rolling was tremendous.
The captain wished to wear round, and put out a sail, which, though
quite new, was instantly split to ribands, so that we had to make
ourselves contented where we were. The scene was perfectly unlike what I
had imagined. The sea was no more like water than it was like land or
sky. When I had heard of the ocean running mountains high, I thought it
a mere hyperbolical expression. But here the scene was of huge wandering
mountains--wandering as if to find a resting-place--with dreary leaden
vales between. The sky seemed narrowed to a mere slip overhead, and a
long-drawn extent of leaden waters seemed to measure a thousand miles;
and these were crested by most exquisite shades of blue and green where
the foam was about to break. The heavens seemed rocking their masses of
torn clouds, keeping time with the billows to the solemn music of the
winds; the most swelling and mournful music I ever listened to. The
delight of the hour I shall not forget; it was the only new scene I had
ever beheld that I had totally and unsuspectingly failed to imagine.

It was impossible to remain longer than noon, unless we meant to be
drowned. When two or three gentlemen had been almost washed off, and the
ship had been once nearly half her length under water, it was time to go
below, sad as the necessity was. The gale gradually abated. In the
afternoon the ladies obtained leave to have their skylight opened, their
cabin mopped, and the carpets taken up and carried away to dry.

The sailors got the mate to inquire how I liked the storm. If I was not
satisfied now, I never should be. I was satisfied, and most thankful.
The only thing that surprised me much was, that there was so little
terrific about it. I was not aware till the next day, when the captain
was found to have set it down a hurricane in the logbook, how serious a
storm it was. The vessel is so obviously buoyant, that it appears
impossible to overwhelm her; and we were a thousand miles from any
rocks. In the excitement of such an hour, one feels that one would as
soon go down in those magnificent waters as die any other death; but
there was nothing present which impressed me with the idea of danger but
the terrors of two of the passengers. Of the poor ladies I can give no
account; but one gentleman pulled his travelling-cap forward over his
eyes, clasped his hands on his knees, and sat visibly shaking in a
corner of the roundhouse, looking shrunk to half his size. The fears of
another I regarded with more respect, because he tried hard to hide
them. He followed me throughout, talking in an artist-like style about
the tints, and the hues, and many other things that were to be noted,
but not talked about at the moment. If he succeeded in covering up his
fears from himself, one may well excuse the bad taste of the means
employed. My clerical friend did better. He was on the watch for others
and for himself. In high exhilaration, he helped everybody, saw
everything, and will, to the end of his days, I will answer for it,
forget nothing of that glorious time.

After the storm we met with few delays. A calm of nine hours enabled the
crew to repair all damage sustained; the rest of the time we were making
progress, though it was sometimes very slow. We went south of "the
Banks," and so missed something besides the fogs; our hoped-for treat of
fresh cod, and the spectacle of the fishermen's boats. Hereabout the dog
in the steerage smelt land, and stood snuffing, with his paws on the
rail. A wild pigeon flew on board, too, supposed to be from
Newfoundland; and the air was sensibly colder, as it becomes on
approaching the shore. The lottery with which the gentlemen had amused
themselves became now very interesting. It consisted of ten tickets, at
a sovereign each, answering to the ten days during which it had been
thought probable that we should land. The two earliest were now sold for
a shilling and eighteenpence; and the Captain gave five pounds for the
last, which bore date the 11th. This seemed to indicate the captain's
expectation that our progress would still be slow; but we were scarcely
more likely to land on the 11th than on the 4th or 5th.

A passenger beckoned the captain out of the cabin one evening about this
time, and asked him to look down into the hold, where a tallow candle,
with a long wick, was seen leaning over the side of a candlestick, which
was standing on a heap of loose cotton! Such are the perils that
careless sailors will expose themselves and others to. The captain took
care to impress his crew with his opinion on the matter.

I believe a regular piece of amusement on board these packet-ships is
emptying the letter-bags out on the deck. A fine morning is chosen for
this; and to a person who sits on the rail it affords a pretty picture.
The ladies draw their chairs round the immense heap of letters; the
gentlemen lie at length, and scarcely an epistle escapes comment. A
shout of mirth bursts forth now and then at some singular name or mode
of address; commonly at some Irish epistle, addressed to an emigrant in
some out-of-the-way place, which there is scarcely room to insert,
though the direction runs from corner to corner over the whole square.

About this time a pedler, who was among the steerage passengers,
appeared on deck with his wares. His pretence was, that some of his silk
handkerchiefs and gloves had got slightly spotted at sea, and that he
was not so anxious as before to carry them to New-York. However this
might be, the merchant showed himself a shrewd man. He saw that the
pleasure of shopping, after being for some weeks out of sight of land,
would open to him the purse of many a passenger. It was most amusing to
see the eagerness of both gentlemen and ladies, and their pleasure in
purchases which they would have disdained on shore. For the next two or
three days the company was spruce in damaged handkerchiefs, and ribands,
and mildewed gloves, rending in all directions; while the pedler escaped
duties, and stepped ashore with a heavy purse and light pack.

On the 15th we were still between five and six hundred miles from our
port. A sheep had jumped overboard, and so cheated us of some of our
mutton. The vegetables were getting very dry. It was found best not to
look into the dishes of dried fruits which formed our dessert. All was
done that care and cookery could do; but who could have anticipated such
a length of voyage? Open declarations of _ennui_ began to be made by not
a few; and I was almost afraid to own, in answer to questions, that I
was not tired of the sea; but I could not honestly say that I was. The
gentlemen began to spar at table about the comparative merits of England
and America; the Prussian could not find English in which to bemoan
himself sufficiently, and shrugged. The cider, ale, soda-water, and
claret were all gone, and we were taking to porter, which must needs
soon come to an end. Some show of preparation to land was this day made,
and a lively bustle ensued on the first hint from the captain. He went
round to take down the names of the passengers at length, in order to
their being reported on arrival. The ages had to be affixed to the
names; and as the captain could not ask the ladies for their ages, he
committed it to the gentlemen to decide upon each. The ladies, who were
quilling, trimming, and sorting their things in their own cabin, could
not conceive the meaning of the shouts of laughter which came from the
top of the gentlemen's table, till the young Carolinian came and told
what the fun was. The standing joke is to make the young ladies many
years too old, and the old ladies ridiculously young; and this was done
now, the ladies considering the affair no business of theirs. One lady,
who had frequently crossed, told me that ten years before she had been
set down as forty; she stood now as twenty-four.

On the 17th we were surrounded with weed, and Mother Carey's chickens
began to disappear. Soundings were this day taken, and I was called to
see and touch the first American soil, the thimbleful deposited on the
lead. The next day, Thursday, the wind continuing fair, we were within
one hundred miles of our port, and all was liveliness and bustle.

The American divine was requested by all the passengers to propose,
after dinner, the health of Captain and Mrs. Holdrege, using the
opportunity to express our hearty thanks to the captain for the whole of
his conduct towards us. The captain rose to speak in acknowledgment of
the toast, but was so taken by surprise with his lady's name being
hailed with our good wishes, that after two words of thanks he shot out
of the cabin, every one understanding the cause of his brevity. In the
evening we were told that we should see land on rising in the morning;
and some of us requested to be called at five.

At five, on the morning of the 19th, I started up, and at the foot of
the companion-way was stopped by the Scotch lady, who told me I might go
back again, as we were becalmed, and I might see the shore just as well
two hours hence. This was being a little too cool about such a matter. I
saw the dim shore; a long line of the New-Jersey coast, with
distinguishable trees and white houses. By breakfast-time our eyes were
painfully strained, as only one could have the glass at a time, and I
did not like to snatch it from those who were enjoying the pleasure of
recognising familiar objects; tracing the first features of home. I was
taken by surprise by my own emotions. All that I had heard of the
Pilgrim Fathers, of the old colonial days, of the great men of the
Revolution, and of the busy, prosperous succeeding days, stirred up my
mind while I looked upon the sunny reach of land on the horizon. All the
morning I sat dreaming, interrupted now and then by the smiling but
tearful young mother, who expected tidings of her child before the day
was over; or by others, who had less cause for being deeply moved, who
came to describe to me the pleasures of Long Branch (the bathing-place
in view), or to speculate on how long this tedious calm would last. All
the morning I sat on the rail, or played sister Anne to the ladies
below, when once the wind had freshened, and we glided slowly along
towards Sandy Hook. "Now I see a large white house." "Now I see
Neversink. Come up and see Neversink!" "Now I see a flock of sheep on
the side of a hill; and now a fisherman standing beside his boat," and
so forth.

What were the ladies below for? They were dressing for the shore. The
gentlemen, too, vanished from the deck, one by one, and reappeared in
glossy hats, coats with the creases of the portmanteau upon them, and
the first really black shoes and boots we had seen for weeks. The
quizzing which was properly due to the discarded sea-garments was now
bestowed on this spruce costume; and every gentleman had to encounter a
laugh as he issued from the companion-way. We agreed to snatch our meals
as we pleased this day. No one was to remain at table longer than he
liked. Everything looked joyous. The passengers were in the most amiable
mood: we were in sight of a score of ships crossing the bar at Sandy
Hook; the last company of porpoises was sporting alongside, and shoals
of glittering white fish rippled the water. The captain was fidgety,
however. Those vessels crossing the bar might be rival packet-ships, and
no pilot was yet to be seen. "Here he is!" cried a dozen voices at once;
and an elegant little affair of a boat was seen approaching. A
curious-looking old gentleman swung himself up, and seemed likely to be
torn in pieces by the ravenous inquirers for news. He thrust an armful
of newspapers among us, and beckoned the captain to the stern, where the
two remained in a grave consultation for a few minutes, when the captain
called one of the lady passengers aside to ask her a question. What the
pilot wanted to know was, whether George Thomson, the abolition
missionary, was on board. He was to have been, but was not. The pilot
declared that this was well, as he could not have been landed without
the certainty of being destroyed within a week, the abolition riots in
New-York having taken place just before. What the captain wanted to
learn of the lady passenger was, what my opinions on slavery were, in
order to know whether he might safely land me. She told him that I was
an abolitionist in principle; but that she believed I went to America to
learn and not to teach. So the good captain nodded, and said nothing to
me on the subject.

Next arrived a boat from the newspaper office of the Courier and
Enquirer, whose agent would not hear of dinner or any other delay, but
shouldered his bag of news, got the list of our names, and was off. The
American passengers, all by this time good friends of mine, came to show
me, with much mirth, paragraphs in the newspapers the pilot had brought,
exhorting their readers not to chew tobacco or praise themselves in my
presence, under penalty of being reported of in London for these
national foibles.

After dinner we were off Sandy Hook, and the hills of New-Jersey, Long
Island, and Staten Island were growing purple in the cloudy sunset, when
a small shabby steamboat was seen emerging from the Narrows. Oh, the
speculations and breathless suspense as to whether she was coming to us!
In a few minutes there remained no further doubt. Then there was a rush
to the side, and one of the young ladies saw through her tears her two
brothers, and other passengers other relations showing themselves on the
bows of the steamer. They presently boarded us, we strangers having all
retired to the other side. I never liked introductions better than those
which followed. With broad smiles my passenger friends came up, saying,
"I have the great pleasure of introducing to you my brother." "I am sure
you will be glad to hear that my family are all well." These are
occasions when sympathy is very sweet, and when it is always ready.

Then was heard the captain's loudest voice, crying, "All who wish to go
up to the city to-night get ready directly." We had all previously
agreed how much better it was that we should spend this night on board,
as the harbour would be seen to much more advantage by the morning
light; but we forgot all this in a moment, and nobody dreamed of being
left behind. Our little bundles were made up in a trice, and we left our
ship. The crew and steerage passengers assembled on deck, and gave us
three parting cheers, which might be heard all over the harbour. Our
gentlemen returned them, and our hearts yearned towards our beautiful
ship, as she sat dark upon the evening waters, with all her sails
majestically spread. "Does she not look well now?" "Does she not show
herself beautifully now?" exclaimed one and another, in the hearing of
the gratified captain.

The light was failing as we entered the Narrows. The captain and several
other friends pointed out to me every headland, bay, and fortification
as we passed. We were detained a long while at the quarantine ground.
The doctor was three miles off, and nearly an hour elapsed before the
great news reached him that we were all quite well, and we were
therefore allowed to proceed. It now rained heavily, and we were obliged
to crowd into the small cabin of the poorest steamer in the bay. There,
by the light of one dim and dirty lamp, was the question first asked me,
in joke, which has since been repeated in so many moods, "How do you
like America?" The weather cleared up in another half hour. We stood in
the dark on the wet deck, watching the yellow lights and shadowy
buildings of the shore we were rapidly nearing, till we felt the
expected shock, and jumped upon the wharf amid the warm welcomes of many
friends, who, in their own joy at alighting on their native shore, did
not forget to make it at once a home to us strangers.

This was at eight in the evening of the 19th of September, 1834, after a
long but agreeable voyage of forty-two days.


    "Navigia, atque agri culturas, mœnia, leges
    Arma, vias, vesteis, et cætera de genere horum
    Præmia, delicias quoque vitæ funditus omneis,
    Carmina, picturas, ac dædala signa, politus
    Usus, et impigræ simul experientia mentis,
    Paullatim docuit pedetentim progredienteis."

                                                    _Lucretius_, lib. v.

The moment of first landing in a foreign city is commonly spoken of as a
perfect realization of forlornness. My entrance upon American life was
anything but this. The spirits of my companions and myself were in a
holyday dance while we were receiving our first impressions; and
New-York always afterward bore an air of gayety to me from the
association of the early pleasures of foreign travel.

Apartments had been secured for us at a boarding-house in Broadway, and
a hackney-coach was in waiting at the wharf. The moonlight was
flickering through the trees of the Battery, the insects were buzzing
all about us, the catydids were grinding, and all the sounds, except
human voices, were quite unlike all we had heard for six weeks. One of
my companions took the sound of the catydid for a noise in her head for
many hours after coming into their neighbourhood. As we rattled over the
stones, I was surprised to find that the street we were in was Broadway;
the lower and narrower end, however; but nothing that I saw, after all I
had heard, and the panorama of New-York that I had visited in London,
disappointed me so much as Broadway. Its length is remarkable, but
neither its width nor the style of its houses. The trees with which it
is lined gave it, this first evening, a foreign air.

Our hostess at the boarding-house shook hands with us, and ordered tea.
While we were waiting for it, and within ten minutes after I had crossed
the first American threshold, three gentlemen introduced themselves to
me, one of whom was the melancholy politician whom I have mentioned
elsewhere[1] as having forewarned me of the total overthrow of the
United States' institutions which would certainly take place while I was
in the country. This gentleman afterward became a dear and intimate
friend; and we found that politics are, perhaps, the only subject on
which we entertain irreconcilable differences of opinion. We often
amused ourselves with recurring to this our first meeting. This
gentleman afforded me an early specimen of the humour which I think one
of the chief characteristics of the Americans. In the few minutes during
which we were waiting for tea, he dropped some drolleries so new to me,
and so intense, that I was perplexed what to do with my laughter.

Footnote 1: Society in America, vol. i., p. 10.

While we were at tea a few gentlemen dropped in, and read the newspapers
at the long table at which we were seated. One fixed my attention at
once. He had the carriage of a soldier, with an uncommonly fine
countenance, bearing a general resemblance to the great men of the
Revolution with whose portraits the English are most familiar. I think
it is not a mere fancy that there is an air common to Washington,
Jefferson, and Madison. This gentleman reminded me of them all; and the
quietness with which he made his remarks, and his evident high breeding,
piqued the curiosity of a stranger. He was General Mason, the father of
the young governor of Michigan; and the most eminent citizen of
Detroit. From time to time, in my travels, I met various members of his
family, whose kindness always made me thankful that accident had placed
me in the same house with them at the outset.

In our rooms we found beds with four posts, looking as if meant to hang
gowns and bonnets upon; for there was no tester. The washstand was
without tumbler, glass, soap, or brush-tray. The candlestick had no
snuffers. There was, however, the luxury, sufficient for the occasion,
that every article of furniture stood still in its place, and that the
apartment itself did not rock up and down. The first few days after a
voyage go far towards making one believe that some things have a quality
of stability, however one may be metaphysically convinced that the sea
affords a far truer hint of the incessant flux and change which are the
law of the universe. If I had rejoiced in the emblem at sea, I now
enjoyed the deception on land.

At five in the morning I threw up my sash to see what I could see. I
cannot conceive what travellers mean by saying that there is little that
is foreign in the aspect of New-York. I beheld nothing at this moment
that I could have seen at home, except the sky and the grass of the
courtyard. The houses were all neatly and brightly painted, had green
outside blinds to every window, and an apparatus for drying linen on the
roof. A young lady in black silk, with her hair neatly dressed, was
mopping the steps of one house, and a similar young lady was dusting the
parlour of another. A large locust-tree grew in the middle of the
courtyard of the house I was in, and under it was a truly American
woodpile. Two negroes were at the pump, and a third was carrying

When the breakfast-bell rang the long and cross tables in the
eating-room were filled in five minutes. The cross table, at which our
hostess presided, was occupied by General Mason's family, a party of
Spaniards, and ourselves. The long one was filled up with families
returning southward from the springs; married persons without children,
who preferred boarding to housekeeping; and single gentlemen, chiefly
merchants. I found this mode of living rather formidable the first day;
and not all the good manners that I saw at public tables ever reconciled
me to it.

From a trunk belonging to a lady of our party having been put on board
a wrong ship, we had some immediate shopping to do, and to find a
mantuamaker. We suspected we should soon be detained at home by callers,
and therefore determined to transact our business at once, though our
luggage had not arrived from the custom-house, and we were not "dressed
for Broadway," as the phrase is.

In the streets I was in danger of being run down by the fire-engines, so
busy were my eyes with the novelties about me. These fire-engines run
along the side-pavement, stopping for nobody; and I scarcely ever walked
out in New-York without seeing one or more out on business, or for an
airing. The novelties which amused me were the spruce appearance of all
the people; the pervading neatness and brightness, and the business-like
air of the children. The carmen were all well dressed, and even two poor
boys who were selling matches had clean shirt-collars and whole coats,
though they were barefooted. The stocks of goods seemed large and
handsome, and we were less struck with the indifference of manner
commonly ascribed to American storekeepers than frequently afterward.
The most unpleasant circumstance was the appearance and manner of the
ladies whom we saw in the streets and stores. It was now the end of a
very hot summer, and every lady we met looked as if she were emerging
from the yellow fever; and the languid and unsteady step betokened the
reverse of health.

The heat was somewhat oppressive. We were in the warm dresses we had put
on while yet at sea, as our trunks had not made their appearance. Trains
of callers came in the afternoon and evening; members of Congress,
candidates for state offices, fellow-passengers and their friends, and
other friends of our friends; and still we were not "dressed for
Broadway." In the evening the luggage of my companions was brought up,
but not mine. Special orders had been issued from the custom-house that
my baggage should pass without examination; and it was therefore at this
moment on board ship. To-night it was too late; next morning it was
Sunday, and everything in the hold was under lock and key, and
unattainable till Monday. There seemed no hope of my getting out all
day, and I was really vexed. I wanted to see the churches, and hear the
preaching, and be doing what others were doing; but the heat was plainly
too great to be encountered in any gown but a muslin one. A lady
boarding in the house happened to hear of the case, and sent her
servant to say that she believed her dresses would fit me, and that she
should be happy to supply me with a gown and bonnet till my trunks
should arrive. I accepted her kind offer without any scruple, feeling
that a service like this was just what I should wish to render to any
lady under the same circumstances; so I went to church equipped in a
morning-gown and second-best bonnet of this neighbourly lady's.

The church that we went to was the Unitarian church in Chamber-street.
Its regular pastor was absent, and a professional brother from
Philadelphia preached. We were most deeply impressed by the devotional
part of his service, delivered in a voice which I have certainly never
heard equalled for music and volume. His discourse moved us no less. We
looked at one another in much delight. I warned my companion not to be
too certain that this preaching was all we then felt it to be; we had
been six Sundays at sea, and some of the impression might be owing to
this being the renewal of the privilege of social worship in a church. I
heard much of the same preaching afterward, however; and I am now of the
same opinion that I was this first day; that it is the most true,
simple, and solemn that I ever listened to. The moment the service was
over the minister came down from the pulpit, addressed me as an old
friend, and requested me to accept the hospitality of his house when I
should visit Philadelphia. Under the emotions of the hour it was
impossible to help giving a glad assent; and in his house I afterward
enjoyed many weeks of an intercourse as intimate as can ever exist
between members of the same family. We kept up the most rapid and
copious correspondence the whole time I was in America, and he and his
wife were my American brother and sister, the depositaries of all those
"impressions" on the mind of a stranger about which American society is
so anxious.

General Mason introduced me to Governor Cass, then secretary-at-war, now
ambassador at Paris. Governor Cass is a shrewd, hard-looking man, the
very concentration of American caution. He is an accomplished and an
honest man; but his dread of committing himself renders both his solid
and ornamental good qualities of less value to society than they should
be. The state of Michigan, which is under great obligations to him, is
proud of her citizen; and it is agreed, I believe, on all hands, that
his appointment is more satisfactory and honourable to his country than
that of many who have been sent as ministers to foreign courts.

I feel some doubt about giving any account of the public men of the
United States; I do not mean scruples of conscience; for when a man
comes forward in political or other kind of public life, he makes a
present of himself to society at large, and his person, mind, and
manners become a legitimate subject of observation and remark. My doubts
arise from the want of interest in the English about the great men of
America; a want of interest which arises from no fault in either party,
I believe, but from the baseness of the newspapers, whose revilings of
all persons in turn who fill a public station are so disgusting as to
discourage curiosity, and set all friendly interest at defiance. The
names of the English political leaders of the day are almost as familiar
in the mouths of Americans as of natives, while people in London are
asking who Mr. Clay is, and what part of the Union Mr. Calhoun comes
from. The deeds of Mr. Clay and the aspirations of Mr. Calhoun would be
at least as interesting in London as the proceedings of French and
German statesmen, if they could be fairly placed under observation; but
every man of feeling and taste recoils from wading through such a slough
of rancour, folly, and falsehood as the American newspapers present as
the only medium through which the object is to be attained.

Mr. Gallatin's name is, however, everywhere known and welcome. Mr.
Gallatin did me the honour of calling on me in New-York, having heard
that I desired to learn the precise grounds of the quarrel which was
agitating the country about the bank. I was delighted to listen to his
full and luminous report of the question, and of many other matters, on
which he spoke with a freedom and courtesy which would go far towards
making the current of human affairs run smooth, if they were but
general. He told me something of the early part of his career, which
began in 1787; described his three visits to England, and sketched the
character of the reigns of our last two kings, of Louis Philippe, and of
President Jackson. He entered upon the philosophy of the presidentship;
exhibited the spirit of the three great divisions of the United States,
the north, south, and west; explained the principles on which the
letting of land proceeds; described the Germans and other agricultural
population of the country, and showed the process by which the
aristocratic class rises and is replenished in a democratic republic.
While he was talking I felt as if he was furnishing me with new powers
of observation; and when he was gone I hastened to secure what he had
told me, lest its novelty and abundance should deceive my memory. I
believe Mr. Gallatin was at this time seventy-two; but he did not appear
so old. He is tall, and looks dignified and courteous. He is a native of
Switzerland, and speaks with a very slight foreign accent, but with a
flow and liveliness which are delightful.

I was assured at the outset that the late abolition riots in New-York
were the work of the Irish emigrants, who feared the increase of a free
black population as likely to interfere with their monopoly of certain
kinds of labour. This I afterward found to be untrue. Some Irish may
have joined in "the row," but the mischief originated with natives. It
is remarkable that I heard no more of abolition for many weeks; I think
not till I was about leaving Philadelphia.

We obtained some "impressions" of the environs of New-York to add to
those we had of the city itself, by going to spend an evening at Mr.
Kings at High Wood, two miles beyond Hoboken, on the New-Jersey side of
the river. The frame cottages, with their thatched verandahs, struck me
as very pretty. I could not say much for the beauty of the corn, whose
plants, long since stripped of their cobs, were standing yellow and dry,
and fast hastening to decay. There were ridges of gray rock,
interspersed with woods, which still flourished in their summer
greenness. Above all was a sunset, which, if seen in England, would
persuade the nation that the end of the world was come. The whole arch
of the sky appeared lined with conflagration. It seemed strange to see
the wagon-driver talking with his bullocks and the old Dutch dame
spinning in the stoop as quietly as if that scarlet sky had been of its
usual summer blue.

I was shown on the way the spot where Hamilton received his death-wound
from Colonel Burr. It was once made a qualification for office that the
candidate should never have fought a duel. Duelling is an institution
not to be reached by such a provision as this. No man under provocation
to fight would refrain from fear of disqualifying himself for office
hereafter; and the operation of the restriction was accordingly found to
be this; that duels were as frequent as ever, and that desirable
candidates were excluded. The provision was got rid of on the plea that
promissory oaths are bad in principle. The cure of duelling, as of every
other encroachment of passion and selfishness on such higher principles
as, being passive, cannot be imbodied in acts, must be the natural
result of the improved moral condition of the individual or of society.
No one believes that the legal penalties of duelling have had much
effect in stopping the practice; and it is an injury to society to
choose out of the ample range of penalties disqualification for social
duty as one.

The view from Mr. King's garden at High Wood is beautiful. From one
opening a reach of twelve miles of the Hudson is commanded, from the
Narrows upward. A soft red light was resting on the waters, the last
tinge from the late flaming sky. The dark sloops moored below were thus
rendered visible, while the twilight shrouded the rocks. Opposite there
was a flare in the woods from a glasshouse; and the lights of the city
twinkled afar off, reflected in the waters.

One of the first impressions of a foreigner in New-York is of the
extreme insolence and vulgarity of certain young Englishmen, who thus
make themselves very conspicuous. Well-mannered Englishmen are scarcely
distinguishable from the natives, and thus escape observation; while
every commercial traveller who sneers at republicanism all day long, and
every impertinent boy, leaving home for the first time, with no
understanding or sympathy for anything but what he has been accustomed
to see at home, obtrudes himself upon the notice, and challenges the
congeniality of such countrymen and countrywomen as he can contrive to
put himself in the way of. I was annoyed this evening, on my return
home, by a very complete specimen of the last-mentioned order of

Need I say, after thus detailing the little incidents which followed my
landing in America, that my first impressions of the country were highly


                     "Oh, there is not lost
    One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet,
    After the flight of untold centuries,
    The freshness of her far beginning lies,
    And yet shall lie."


I went three times up the Hudson; and, if I lived at New-York, should be
tempted to ascend it three times a week during the summer. Yet the
greater number of ladies on board the steamboat remained in the close
cabin among the crying babies, even while we were passing the finest
scenery of the river. They do not share the taste of a gentleman who,
when I was there, actually made the steamboat his place of abode during
the entire summer season, sleeping on board at Albany and New-York on
alternate nights, and gazing at the shores all the day long with
apparently undiminishing delight.

The first time we went up the early part of the morning was foggy, and
the mist hung about the ridge of the Palisades, the rocky western
barrier of the river. There were cottages perched here and there, and
trees were sprinkled in the crevices, and a little yellow strand, just
wide enough for the fisherman and his boat, now and then intervened
between the waters and the perpendicular rock. In the shadowy recesses
of the shore wore sloops moored. Seagulls dipped their wings in the
gleams of the river, and the solitary fishhawk sailed slowly over the
woods. I saw on the eastern bank a wide flight of steps cut in the turf,
leading to an opening in the trees, at the end of which stood a white
house, apparently in deep retirement. Farther on the river widened into
the Tappan Sea, and then the hills rose higher behind the banks, and
wandering gleams lighted up a mountain region here and there. The
captain admitted us, as strangers (of course without any hint from us),
into the wheel-room, which was shady, breezy, roomy, and commanding the
entire view. Hence we were shown Mr. Irvings's cottage, the spot where
André was captured, and the other interesting points of the scenery.
Then the banks seemed to close, and it was matter for conjecture where
the outlet was. The waters were hemmed in by abrupt and dark mountains,
but the channel was still broad and smooth enough for all the steamboats
in the republic to ride in safety. Ridges of rock plunged into the
waters, garnished with trees which seemed to grow without soil; above
them were patches of cultivation on the mountain sides, and slopes of
cleared land, with white houses upon them. Doves flitted among the
nearest trees, and gay rowboats darted from point to point from one
island to another.

West Point, beautiful as it is, was always visible too soon. Yet to
leave the boat was the only way to remain in sight of the Highlands; and
the charms of the place itself are scarcely to be surpassed. The hotel
is always full of good company in the season. Mr. Cozens keeps a table
for the officers, and is permitted to add as many guests as his house
will hold; but, under such circumstances, he takes pains to admit only
such as are fit company for his permanent boarders. The views from the
hotel are so fine, and there is such a provision of comfort and
entertainment, that there would be no hardship in sitting within doors
for a week; but we made the best use we could of our opportunities, and
saw and achieved everything pertaining to the place, except mounting the
Crow's Nest; an expedition which the heat of the weather prevented our

In some solitary spots of this settlement the stranger cannot help
meditating on the vast materials of human happiness which are placed at
the disposal of the real administrators of this great country. How great
is the apparatus to be yet put to use! Here, where life is swarming all
around, how few are the habitations of men! Here are woods climbing
above woods to the clouds and stretching to the horizon, in which
myriads of creatures are chirping, humming, and sporting; clefts whence
the waters gush out; green slopes ready for the plough and the sickle;
flat meadows with a few haycocks lying at the foot of mountains as yet
untouched. Grasshoppers spring at every step one takes in the rich
grass, and many a blue dragon-fly balances itself on the tips of the
strongest blades; butterflies, green, black, white, and yellow, dazzle
the eye that would follow them; yet how few men are near! A gay group on
the steps of the hotel, a company of cadets parading on the green, the
ferryman and his fare, and the owners of this, and that, and the other
house perched upon the pinnacles of the hills; these are all as yet
visible in a region which will hereafter be filled with speech and busy
with thought.

On the steep above the landing-place I was introduced to Mr. Irving,
with whom I had a few minutes' conversation before he stepped into the
ferryboat which was to take him over to the foundry to dinner. Many
other persons with whom I was glad to have the opportunity of becoming
acquainted were at the hotel. Mr. and Mrs. Morris were our guides to
Fort Putnam after dinner; walkers as active and resolute as ourselves.
The beauty from this elevated platform is really oppressive to the
sense. One is glad to divert one's attention from its awful radiance by
walking in precipitous places, by visiting the cell in which it is said,
but doubtfully, that André was confined, or even by meditating on the
lot of the solitary cow that has the honour of grazing in the midst of
the only ruins that adorn American scenery.

A lady in the hotel offered to meet me on the housetop at five o'clock
in the morning to see the sun rise. I looked out at three; there was a
solitary light twinkling in the academy, and a faint gleam out of a
cloudy sky upon the river. At five the sky was so thickly overspread
with clouds that the expedition to the housetop had to be abandoned. The
morning afterward cleared, and I went alone down to Kosciusko's Garden.
I loved this retreat at an hour when I was likely to have it to myself.
It is a nook scooped, as it were, out of the rocky bank of the river,
and reached by descending several flights of steps from the platform
behind the hotel and academy. Besides the piled rocks and the vegetation
with which they are clothed, there is nothing but a clear spring, which
wells up in a stone basin inscribed with the hero's name. This was his
favourite retreat; and here he sat for many hours in a day with his book
and his thoughts. After fancying for some time that I was alone, and
playing with the fountain and the leaves of the red beech and the maple,
now turning into its autumnal scarlet, I found, on looking up, that one
of the cadets was stretched at length on a high projection of rock, and
that another was coming down the steps. The latter accosted me, offering
to point out to me the objects of interest about the place. We had a
long conversation about his academical life.

The students apply themselves to mathematics during the first and second
years; during the third, to mathematics, chymistry, and natural
philosophy; and during the fourth, to engineering. There is less
literary pursuit than they or their friends would like; but they have
not time for everything. Their work is from seven in the morning till
four in the afternoon, with the exception of two hours for meals. Then
come drill and recreation, and then the evening parade. During six weeks
(I think) of the summer they camp out, which some of the youths enjoy,
while others like it so much less than living under a roof, that they
take this time to be absent on furlough. The friends of others come to
see them while the pretty spectacle of a camp is added to the
attractions of the place. Every care is used that the proficiency should
be maintained at the highest point that it can be made to reach. The
classes consist of not less than one hundred and forty, of whom only
forty graduate. Some find the work too hard; some dislike the routine;
others are postponed; and by this careful weeding out the choicest are
kept for the public service. This process may go some way towards
accounting for the present unpopularity of the institution, and the
consequent danger of its downfall. The number of disappointed youths,
whose connexions will naturally bear a grudge against the establishment,
must be great. There is a belief abroad that its principle and
administration are both anti-republican; and in answer to an
irresistible popular demand, a committee of Congress has been engaged in
investigating both the philosophy and practice of this national military
academy; for some time previous to which there was difficulty in
obtaining the annual appropriation for its support. I have not seen the
report of this committee, but I was told that the evidence on which it
is founded is very unfavourable to the conduct of the establishment in a
political point of view. The advantages of such an institution in
securing a uniformity of military conduct in case of war, from the young
soldiers of all the states having received a common education; in
affording one meeting point where sectional prejudice may be dissolved;
and in concentrating the attention of the whole union upon maintaining a
high degree of proficiency in science, are so great, that it is no
wonder that an indignant and honest cry is raised against those who
would abolish it on account of its aristocratical tendencies. I rather
think it is a case in which both parties are more than commonly right;
that it is an institution which can scarcely be dispensed with, but
which requires to be watched with the closest jealousy, that there may
be no abuse of patronage, and no such combination as could lead to the
foundation of a military aristocracy.

I saw the well-selected library, consisting of several thousand volumes,
the spacious lecture-rooms, and students' apartments. I often wonder
whether students are at all aware of the wistful longing, the envy, with
which those who are precluded from academical life view the arrangements
of colleges. No library in a private house conveys any idea of the power
of devotion to study which is suggested by the sight of a student's
apartment in a college. The sight of the snug solitary room, the
bookshelves, the single desk and armchair, the larum, and even the
flowerpot or two in the window, and the portrait of some favourite
philosophical worthy; these things send a thrill of envy through the
heart of the thoughtful politician, or man of business, or woman, who
cannot command such facilities for study. I know that the fallacy of
attributing too much to external arrangements enters here; that many
study to as much advantage under difficulties as any academical member
in his retirement; I know, too, that the student shares the human
weakness of finding evil in his lot, and supposing that he should be
better in some other circumstances; I know this by a revelation once
made to me by a college student, for whose facilities I had been
intensely thankful, a revelation of his deep and incessant trouble
because he was living to himself, selfishly studying, and obliged to
wait four or five years before he could bestir himself for his race;
yet, in spite of all this knowledge that the common equality of
pleasures and pains subsists here, I never see the interior of a college
without longing to impress upon its inmates how envied and enviable they
are. It is difficult to remember that the stillness of the cell is of no
avail without the intentness of the mind, and that there is no
efficacious solitude in the deepest retirement if the spirit is roving
abroad after schemes of pleasure or ambition, or even of piety and
benevolence, which are not the appointed duty of the time. But I have
wandered from my new acquaintance in Kosciusko's Garden.

I was surprised to learn the extraordinary high average of health the
place can boast of. The young men enter at the age of from fourteen to
twenty, stay three or four years, and number about three hundred at a
time. The mortality in the seventeen years preceding my visit was only
five. For eight years before the winter of 1834 there had been no death.
Within a few months after, the superintendent's wife, a servant, and a
cadet died; and this was, of course, considered an extraordinary
mortality. I rather wondered at this account, for the young men look
anything but robust, and the use of tobacco among them is very free
indeed. It is prohibited, but not the less indulged in on that account,
nor from the absence of evil example in their superintendents. My new
acquaintance made very frank confessions on this subject. He told me
that he believed the free use of tobacco had extensively and irreparably
injured his health, and that he bitterly mourned his first indulgence in

"Do not you mean to leave it off?" said I.


"Do you think you could not?"

"I could; but it would take three weeks to cure myself; and during that
time I could do nothing; and I cannot afford that. I could not learn my
lessons without it, and the loss of three weeks would injure all my
prospects in life."

"Hardly so fatally as the ruin of your health, I should think. Is your
case a common one here?"

"Too common. But I assure you I do all I can to prevent the bad
consequences of my own example. I warn my juniors, as they come in, very

"Do you find your warnings of much use?"

"I am afraid not much."

"They have the usual fate of mere precept, I suppose?"

"Yes, I am afraid so."

The manners of the cadets are excellent. They are allowed, under
restrictions, to mix with the company at Mr. Cozens's, and thus to be
frequently into ladies' society. There is a book kept at the hotel,
where every cadet must, at each visit, enter his name at length, and the
duration of his stay.

The second time I was at West Point was during the camping-out season.
The artillery drill in the morning was very noisy and grand to the
ladies, who had never seen anything of the "pomp and circumstance of
glorious war." Then the cadets retired to their tents, and the ladies
flitted about all the morning, making calls on each other. When we had
discharged this first of a traveller's duties, we sauntered to the
cemetery. Never did I see such a spot to be buried in. The green hill
projects into the river so that the monumental pillar erected by the
cadets to the comrade who was killed by the bursting of a gun in 1817 is
visible from two long reaches. One other accident had occurred a little
while before; a cadet had been killed by a comrade in fencing. The tombs
are few, and the inscriptions simple. Broad, spreading trees overshadow
the long grass, and the whole is so hemmed in, so intensely quiet, that
no sound is to be heard but the plash of oars from below and the hum of
insects around, except when the evening gun booms over the heights, or
the summer storm reverberates among the mountains.

Such a storm I had beheld the evening before from the piazza of the
hotel. I stayed from the parade to watch it. As the thick veil of rain
came down, the mountains seemed to retire, growing larger as they
receded. As the darkness advanced, the scene became strangely compound.
A friend sat with me in the piazza, talking of the deepest subjects on
which human thought can speculate. Behind us were the open windows of
the hotel, where, by turning the head, we might see the dancing going
on; the gallant cadets and their pretty partners, while all the black
servants of the house ranged their laughing faces in the rear. The music
of the ballroom came to us mingling with the prolonged bursts of
thunder; and other and grander strains rose from the river, where two
large steamboats, with their lights, moved like constellations on the
water, conveying a regiment from Pennsylvania which was visiting the
soldiery of New-York State. They sent up rockets into the murky sky, and
poured new blasts of music from their band as they passed our
promontory. Every moment the lightning burst; now illuminating the
interior of a mass of clouds; now quivering from end to end of heaven;
now shedding broad livid gleams, which suddenly revealed a solitary
figure on the terrace, a sloop on the waters, and every jutting point of
rock. Still the dance went on till the hour struck which abruptly called
the youths away from their partners, and bade them hie to their tents.

On returning from the cemetery we found Mr. and Mrs. Kemble, from the
opposite side of the river, waiting to offer us their hospitality; and
we agreed to visit them in the afternoon. Mr. Kemble's boat awaited us
at the landing-place by three o'clock, and we rowed about some time
before landing on the opposite bank, so irresistible is the temptation
to linger in this scene of magical beauty. The Catholic chapel of
Coldspring is well placed on a point above the river; and the village,
hidden from West Point by a headland, is pretty. From Mr. Kemble's we
were to be treated with a visit to the Indian Fall, and were carried
within half a mile of it by water. We followed the brawling brook for
that distance, when we saw the glistening of the column of water through
the trees. No fall can be prettier for its size, which is just small
enough to tempt one to climb. A gentleman of our party made the attempt;
but the rocks were too slippery with wet weed, and he narrowly escaped a
tumble of twenty feet into the dark pool below. The boys, after bringing
us branches of the black cherry, clustered with the fruit, found a safe
and dry way up, and appeared waving their green boughs in triumph at the
top of the rocks. The tide had risen so that the river was brimming full
as we returned, and soft with the mountain shadows; but we landed at
West Point in time to see the sun set twice, as it happened. At the
landing-place we stood to see it drop behind the mountain; but just
after we had bidden it good-night, I saw that a meditative cadet, lying
at length upon a rock, was still basking in the golden light, and I ran
up the steep to the piazza. There, in a gap between two summits, was the
broad disk, as round as ever; and once more we saw it sink in a
tranquillity almost as grand as the stormy splendour of the preceding
night. Then ensued the evening parade, guitar music in the hotel, and
dancing in the camp.

This evening a lady and her daughter steamed down from Fishkill with a
request to us to spend a few days there; and a clergyman steamed up from
New-York with an invitation from Doctor Hosack to visit him and his
family at Hyde Park. We could not do both; and there was some difficulty
in contriving to do either, anxiously as we desired it; but we presently
settled that Fishkill must be given up, and that we must content
ourselves with two days at Hyde Park.

The next morning I experienced a sensation which I had often heard of,
but never quite believed in; the certainty that one has wakened in
another world. Those who have travelled much know that a frequent
puzzle, on waking from sound sleep in new places, is to know where one
is; even in what country of the world. This night I left my window open
close to my head, so that I could see the stars reflected in the river.
When I woke the scene was steeped in the light of the sunrise, and as
still as death. Its ineffable beauty was all; I remarked no individual
objects; but my heart stood still with an emotion which I should be glad
to think I may feel again whenever I really do enter a new scene of
existence. It was some time before my senses were separately roused;
during the whole day I could not get rid of the impression that I had
seen a vision; and even now I can scarcely look back upon the scene as
the very same which, at other hours, I saw clouded with earth-drawn
vapours, and gilded by the common sun.

At eleven o'clock we left West Point; and I am glad that we felt sure at
the time that we should visit it again; a design which we did not
accomplish, as the place was ravaged by scarlet fever at the season of
the next year that we had fixed for our visit. Mr. Livingston, who had
just returned from his French mission, was on board the boat. My letters
of introduction to him were at the bottom of my trunk; but we did not
put off becoming acquainted till I could get at them.

Mr. Livingston's name is celebrated and honoured in England (as over all
Europe), through its connexion with the Louisiana Code, this gentleman's
great work. He was born and educated in the state of New-York. While
pursuing his studies at Princeton College in 1779 and 1780, he was
subject to strange interruptions, the professors being repeatedly driven
from their chairs by incursions of the enemy, and their scholars on such
occasions forming a corps to go out and fight. The library was
scattered, the philosophical apparatus destroyed, and the college
buildings shared with troops quartered in the establishment; yet young
Livingston left college a good scholar. He was a member of the fourth
Congress, and there made himself remarkable by his exertions to
ameliorate the criminal code of the United States, then as sanguinary as
those of the Old World. In 1801 he returned to the practice of his
profession of the law in New-York, but was not long permitted to decline
public life. He was appointed attorney of the state of New-York, and
mayor of the city. He remained in the city, in the discharge of his
duties, while the yellow fever drove away every one who could remove. He
nearly died of the disease, and was ruined in his private affairs by
his devotion to the public service. In 1804 he resigned his offices, and
retired to Louisiana (then a new acquisition of the United States) to
retrieve his fortunes; and from thence he discharged all his
obligations, paying his debts, with interest upon them, to the last
farthing. He was deprived, by a mistake of President Jefferson's, of an
immense property which he had acquired there, and was involved in
expensive litigation of many years' duration. The law decided in his
favour, and the controversy ended in a manner the most honourable to
both parties; in a reciprocation of hearty good-will.

During the invasion of Louisiana by the British Mr. Livingston took a
prominent part in the defence of the state; and, when it was over,
undertook, with two coadjutors, the formidable task of simplifying its
laws, entangled as they were with Spanish prolixities, and all manner of
unnecessary and unintelligible provisions. His system was adopted, and
has been in use ever since. In 1820 the system of municipal law was
revised at New-Orleans under the superintendence of Mr. Livingston, and
his amendments were put in practice in 1823. He was at the same time
engaged, without assistance, in preparing his celebrated penal code.
When it was all ready for the press, in 1824, he sat up late one night
to ascertain finally the correctness of the fair copy; and, having
finished, retired to rest in a state of calm satisfaction at his great
work being completed. He was awakened by a cry of fire. The room where
he had been employed was burning, and every scrap of his papers was
consumed. Not a note or memorandum was saved.

He appeared to be stunned for the hour; but, before the day closed, he
had begun his labours again, and he never relaxed till, in two years
from the time of the fire, he presented his work to the legislature of
Louisiana, improved by the reconsideration which he had been compelled
to give it. Men of all countries who understand jurisprudence seem to
think that no praise of this achievement can be excessive.

He afterward represented Louisiana in both Houses of Congress; became
Secretary of State in 1831; and, in 1833, minister to France. His was a
busy life, of doing, suffering, and, we may confidently add, enjoying;
for his was a nature full of simplicity, modesty, and benevolence. His
industry is of itself exhilarating to contemplate.

During the whole preceding year I had heard Mr. Livingston's name almost
daily in connexion with his extremely difficult negotiations between the
United States and France, or, rather, between President Jackson and
Louis Philippe. I had read his despatches (some of which were made
public that were never designed to be so), and had not been quite
satisfied as to their straightforwardness, but concluded, on the whole,
that he had done as much as human wits could well do in so absurd, and
perplexed, and dangerous a quarrel, where the minister had to manage the
temper of his own potentate as well as baffle the policy of the European
monarch. A desire for peace and justice was evident through the whole of
Mr. Livingston's correspondence; and under all, a strong wish to get
home. Here he was, now ploughing his way up his own beloved river, whose
banks were studded with the country-seats of a host of his relations. He
came to me on the upper deck, and sat looking very placid with his staff
between his knees, and his strong, observing countenance melting into an
expression of pleasure when he described to me his enjoyment in burying
himself among the mountains of Switzerland. He said he would not now
hear of mountains anywhere else; at least not in either his own country
or mine. He gave me some opinions upon the government of the King of the
French which I little expected to hear from the minister of a democratic
republic. We were deep in this subject when a great hissing of the steam
made us look up and see that we were at Hyde Park, and that Dr. Hosack
and a party of ladies were waiting for me on the wharf. I repeatedly met
Mr. Livingston in society in New-York the next spring, when a deafness,
which had been slight, was growing upon him, and impairing his enjoyment
of conversation. The last time I saw him was at the christening of a
grand-niece, when he looked well in health, but conversed little, and
seemed rather out of spirits. Within a month of that evening he was
seized with pleurisy, which would in all probability have yielded to
treatment; but he refused medicine, and was carried off after a very
short illness. Dr. Hosack died some months before him. How little did I
think, as I now went from the one to the other, that both these vigorous
old men would be laid in their graves even before my return home should
call upon me to bid them farewell!

The aspect of Hyde Park from the river had disappointed me, after all I
had heard of it. It looks little more than a white house upon a ridge. I
was therefore doubly delighted when I found what this ridge really was.
It is a natural terrace, overhanging one of the sweetest reaches of the
river; and, though broad and straight at the top, not square and formal,
like an artificial embankment, but undulating, sloping, and sweeping
between the ridge and the river, and dropped with trees; the whole
carpeted with turf, tempting grown people, who happen to have the
spirits of children, to run up and down the slopes, and play
hide-and-seek in the hollows. Whatever we might be talking of as we
paced the terrace, I felt a perpetual inclination to start off for play.
Yet, when the ladies and ourselves actually did something like it,
threading the little thickets and rounding every promontory, even to the
farthest (which they call Cape Horn), I felt that the possession of such
a place ought to make a man devout if any of the gifts of Providence can
do so. To hold in one's hand that which melts all strangers' hearts is
to be a steward in a very serious sense of the term. Most liberally did
Dr. Hosack dispense the means of enjoyment he possessed. Hospitality is
inseparably connected with his name in the minds of all who ever heard
it; and it was hospitality of the heartiest and most gladsome kind.

Dr. Hosack had a good library; I believe, one of the best private
libraries in the country; some good pictures, and botanical and
mineralogical cabinets of value. Among the ornaments of his house I
observed some biscuits and vases once belonging to Louis XVI., purchased
by Dr. Hosack from a gentleman who had them committed to his keeping
during the troubles of the first French Revolution.

In the afternoon Dr. Hosack drove me in his gig round his estate, which
lies on both sides of the high road; the farm on one side and the
pleasure-grounds on the other. The conservatory is remarkable for
America; and the flower-garden all that it can be made under present
circumstances, but the neighbouring country people have no idea of a
gentleman's pleasure in his garden, and of respecting it. On occasions
of weddings and other festivities, the villagers come up into the Hyde
Park grounds to enjoy themselves; and persons who would not dream of
any other mode of theft, pull up rare plants, as they would wild flowers
in the woods, and carry them away. Dr. Hosack would frequently see some
flower that he had brought with much pains from Europe flourishing in
some garden of the village below. As soon as he explained the nature of
the case, the plant would be restored with all zeal and care; but the
losses were so frequent and provoking as greatly to moderate his
horticultural enthusiasm. We passed through the poultry-yard, where the
congregation of fowls exceeded in number and bustle any that I had ever
seen. We drove round his kitchen-garden too, where he had taken pains to
grow every kind of vegetable which will flourish in that climate. Then
crossing the road, after paying our respects to his dairy of fine cows,
we drove through the orchard, and round Cape Horn, and refreshed
ourselves with the sweet river views on our way home. There we sat in
the pavilion, and he told me much of De Witt Clinton, and showed me his
own Life of Clinton, a copy of which he said should await me on my
return to New-York. When that time came he was no more; but his promise
was kindly borne in mind by his lady, from whose hands I received the
valued legacy.

We saw some pleasant society at Hyde Park: among the rest, some members
of the wide-spreading Livingston family, and the Rev. Charles Stewart,
who lived for some years as missionary in the South Sea Islands, and
afterward published a very interesting account of his residence there.
His manners, which are particularly gentlemanly and modest, show no
traces of a residence among savages, or of the shifts and disorder of a
missionary life; nor of any bad effects from the sudden fame which
awaited him on his return into civilized life. I remember with great
pleasure a conversation we had by the river-side, which proved to me
that he understands the philosophy of fame, knowing how to appropriate
the good and reject the evil that it brings, and which deepened the
respect I had entertained for him from the beginning of our

The Livingston family, one of the oldest, most numerous, and opulent in
the States, has been faithful in the days of its greatness to its
democratic principles. In Boston it seems a matter of course that the
"first people" should be federalists; that those who may be aristocratic
in station should become aristocratic in principle. The Livingstons are
an evidence that this need not be. Amid their splendid entertainments in
New-York, and in their luxurious retirements on the Hudson, they may be
heard going further than most in defence of President Jackson's
idiosyncracy. Their zeal in favour of Mr. Van Buren was accounted for by
many from the natural bias of the first family in the state of New-York
in favour of the first president furnished by that state; but there is
no reason to find any such cause. The Livingstons have consistently
advocated the most liberal principles through all changes; and that they
retain their democratic opinions in the midst of their opulence and
family influence is not the less honourable to them for their party
having now the ascendency.

Dr. Hosack and his family accompanied us down to the wharf to see Mr.
Stewart off by one boat and our party by another, when, on the third day
of our visit, we were obliged to depart. Our hearts would have been more
sorrowful than they were if we had foreseen that we should not enjoy our
promised meeting with this accomplished and amiable family at New-York.

Dr. Hosack was a native American, but his father was Scotch. After
obtaining the best medical education he could in America, he studied in
Edinburgh and London, and hence his affectionate relations with Great
Britain, and the warmth with which he welcomed English travellers. He
practised medicine in New-York for upward of forty years, and filled the
Professorship of Botany and Materia Medica in Columbia College for some
time. He distinguished himself by his successful attention to the causes
and treatment of yellow fever. But his services out of his profession
were as eminent as any for which his fellow-citizens are indebted to
him. He rendered liberal aid to various literary, scientific, and
benevolent institutions, and was always willing and indefatigable in
exertion for public objects. One of the most painful scenes of his life
was the duel in which Hamilton perished. Dr. Hosack was Hamilton's
second, and, probably, as well aware as his principal and others that
the encounter could hardly end otherwise than as it did. Dr. Hosack was
in New-York with his family the winter after my visit to Hyde Park. He
was one day in medical conversation with Dr. M'Vickar of that city, and
observed that it would not do for either of them to have an attack of
apoplexy, as there would be small chance of their surviving it. Within
two weeks both were dead of apoplexy. Dr. Hosack lost property in the
great fire at New-York; he over-exerted himself on the night of the
fire, and the fatigue and anxiety brought on an attack of the disease he
dreaded, under which he presently sank from amid the well-earned
enjoyments of a vigorous and prosperous old age. He was in his 67th
year, and showed to the eye of a stranger no symptom of decline. His eye
was bright, his spirits as buoyant, and his life as full of activity as
those of most men of half his years. I always heard the death of this
enterprising and useful citizen mentioned as heading the list of the
calamities of the Great Fire.


    "But the new glory mixes with the heaven
    And earth. Man, once descried, imprints for ever
    His presence on all lifeless things; the winds
    Are henceforth voices, wailing or a shout,
    A querulous mutter or a quick gay laugh;
    Never a senseless gust now man is born.
    The herded pines commune, and have deep thoughts,
    A secret they assemble to discuss,
    When the sun drops behind their trunks which glare
    Like grates of hell; the peerless cup afloat
    Of the lake-lily is an urn some nymph
    Swims bearing high above her head.

       *       *       *       *       *

    The morn has enterprise; deep quiet droops
    With evening; triumph when the sun takes rest;
    Voluptuous transport when the corn-fields ripen
    Beneath a warm moon, like a happy face;
    And this to fill us with regard for man,
    Deep apprehension of his passing worth."

                                                   _Paracelsus_, Part v.

However widely European travellers have differed about other things in
America, all seem to agree in their love of the Hudson. The pens of all
tourists dwell on its scenery, and their affections linger about it like
the magic lights which seem to have this river in their peculiar charge.
Yet very few travellers have seen its noblest wonder. I may be
singular; but I own that I was more moved by what I saw from the
Mountain House than by Niagara itself.

What is this Mountain House? this Pine Orchard House? many will ask; for
its name is not to be found in most books of American travels. "What is
that white speck?" I myself asked, when staying at Tivoli, on the east
bank of the Hudson, opposite to the Catskills, whose shadowy surface was
perpetually tempting the eye. That white speck, visible to most eyes
only when bright sunshine was upon it, was the Mountain House; a hotel
built for the accommodation of hardy travellers who may desire to obtain
that complete view of the valley of the Hudson which can be had nowhere
else. I made up my mind to go; and the next year I went, on leaving Dr.
Hosack's. I think I had rather have missed the Hawk's Nest, the
Prairies, the Mississippi, and even Niagara, than this.

The steamboat in which we left Hyde Park landed us at Catskill
(thirty-one miles) at a little after three in the afternoon. Stages were
waiting to convey passengers to the Mountain House, and we were off in a
few minutes, expecting to perform the ascending journey of twelve miles
in a little more than four hours. We had the same horses all the way,
and therefore set off at a moderate pace, though the road was for some
time level, intersecting rich bottoms, and passing flourishing
farmhouses, where the men were milking, and the women looked up from
their work in the piazzas as we passed. Haymaking was going on in the
fields, which appeared to hang above us at first, but on which we
afterward looked down from such a height that the haycocks were scarcely
distinguishable. It was the 25th of July, and a very hot day for the
season. The roads were parched up, and every exposed thing that one
handled on board the steamboat or in the stage made one flinch from the
burning sensation. The panting horses, one of them bleeding at the
mouth, stopped to drink at a house at the foot of the ascent; and we
wondered how, exhausted as they seemed, they would drag us up the
mountain. We did not calculate on the change of temperature which we
were soon to experience.

The mountain laurel conveyed by association the first impression of
coolness. Sheep were browsing among the shrubs, apparently enjoying the
shelter of the covert. We scrambled through deep shade for three or four
miles, heavy showers passing over us, and gusts of wind bowing the
tree-tops, and sending a shiver through us, partly from the sudden
chillness, and partly from expectation and awe of the breezy solitude.
On turning a sharp angle of the steep road, at a great elevation, we
stopped in a damp green nook, where there was an arrangement of hollow
trees to serve for water-troughs. While the horses were drinking, the
gusts parted the trees to the left, and exposed to me a vast extent of
country lying below, checkered with light and shadow. This was the
moment in which a lady in the stage said, with a yawn, "I hope we shall
find something at the top to pay us for all this." Truly the philosophy
of recompense seems to be little understood. In moral affairs people
seem to expect recompense for privileges, as when children, grown and
ungrown, are told that they will be rewarded for doing their duty; and
here was a lady hoping for recompense for being carried up a glorious
mountainside, in ease, coolness, leisure, and society, all at once. If
it was recompense for the evil of inborn _ennui_ that she wanted, she
was not likely to find it where she was going to look for it.

After another level reach of road and another scrambling ascent I saw
something on the rocky platform above our heads like (to compare great
things with small) an illumined fairy palace perched among the clouds in
opera scenery; a large building, whose numerous window-lights marked out
its figure from amid the thunder-clouds and black twilight which
overshadowed it. It was now half past eight o'clock and a stormy
evening. Everything was chill, and we were glad of lights and tea in the
first place.

After tea I went out upon the platform in front of the house, having
been warned not to go too near the edge, so as to fall an unmeasured
depth into the forest below. I sat upon the edge as a security against
stepping over unawares. The stars were bright overhead, and had
conquered half the sky, giving promise of what we ardently desired, a
fine morrow. Over the other half the mass of thunder-clouds was, I
supposed, heaped together, for I could at first discern nothing of the
champaign which I knew must be stretched below. Suddenly, and from that
moment incessantly, gushes of red lightning poured out from the cloudy
canopy, revealing not merely the horizon, but the course of the river,
in all its windings through the valley. This thread of river, thus
illuminated, looked like a flash of lightning caught by some strong
hand and laid along in the valley. All the principal features of the
landscape might, no doubt, have been discerned by this sulphurous light;
but my whole attention was absorbed by the river, which seemed to come
out of the darkness like an apparition at the summons of my impatient
will. It could be borne only for a short time; this dazzling,
bewildering alternation of glare and blackness, of vast reality and
nothingness. I was soon glad to draw back from the precipice and seek
the candlelight within.

The next day was Sunday. I shall never forget, if I live to a hundred,
how the world lay at my feet one Sunday morning. I rose very early, and
looked abroad from my window, two stories above the platform. A dense
fog, exactly level with my eyes, as it appeared, roofed in the whole
plain of the earth; a dusky firmament in which the stars had hidden
themselves for the day. Such is the account which an antediluvian
spectator would probably have given of it. This solid firmament had
spaces in it, however, through which gushes of sunlight were poured,
lighting up the spires of white churches, and clusters of farm buildings
too small to be otherwise distinguished; and especially the river, with
its sloops floating like motes in the sunbeam. The firmament rose and
melted, or parted off into the likeness of snowy sky-mountains, and left
the cool Sabbath to brood brightly over the land. What human interest
sanctifies a bird's-eye view! I suppose this is its peculiar charm, for
its charm is found to deepen in proportion to the growth of mind. To an
infant, a champaign of a hundred miles is not so much as a yard square
of gay carpet. To the rustic it is less bewitching than a paddock with
two cows. To the philosopher, what is it not? As he casts his eye over
its glittering towns, its scattered hamlets, its secluded homes, its
mountain ranges, church spires, and untrodden forests, it is a picture
of life; an epitome of the human universe; the complete volume of moral
philosophy, for which he has sought in vain in all libraries. On the
left horizon are the Green Mountains of Vermont, and at the right
extremity sparkles the Atlantic. Beneath lies the forest where the deer
are hiding and the birds rejoicing in song. Beyond the river he sees
spread the rich plains of Connecticut; there, where a blue expanse lies
beyond the triple range of hills, are the churches of religious
Massachusetts sending up their Sabbath psalms; praise which he is too
high to hear, while God is not. The fields and waters seem to him
to-day no more truly property than the skies which shine down upon them;
and to think how some below are busying their thoughts this Sabbath-day
about how they shall hedge in another field, or multiply their flocks on
yonder meadows, gives him a taste of the same pity which Jesus felt in
his solitude when his followers were contending about which should be
greatest. It seems strange to him now that man should call anything
_his_ but the power which is in him, and which can create somewhat more
vast and beautiful than all that this horizon encloses. Here he gains
the conviction, to be never again shaken, that all that is real is
ideal; that the joys and sorrows of men do not spring up out of the
ground, or fly abroad on the wings of the wind, or come showered down
from the sky; that good cannot be hedged in, nor evil barred out; even
that light does not reach the spirit through the eye alone, nor wisdom
through the medium of sound or silence only. He becomes of one mind with
the spiritual Berkeley, that the face of nature itself, the very picture
of woods, and streams, and meadows, is a hieroglyphic writing in the
spirit itself, of which the retina is no interpreter. The proof is just
below him (at least it came under my eye), in the lady (not American)
who, after glancing over the landscape, brings her chair into the
piazza, and, turning her back to the champaign, and her face to the
wooden walls of the hotel, begins the study, this Sunday morning, of her
lapful of newspapers. What a sermon is thus preached to him at this
moment from a very hackneyed text! To him that hath much; that hath the
eye, and ear, and wealth of the spirit, shall more be given; even a
replenishing of this spiritual life from that which to others is
formless and dumb; while from him that hath little, who trusts in that
which lies about him rather than in that which lives within him, shall
be taken away, by natural decline, the power of perceiving and enjoying
what is within his own domain. To him who is already enriched with large
divine and human revelations this scene is, for all its stillness,
musical with divine and human speech; while one who has been deafened by
the din of worldly affairs can hear nothing in this mountain solitude.

The march of the day over the valley was glorious, and I was grieved to
have to leave my window for an expedition to the Falls a few miles off.
The Falls are really very fine, or, rather, their environment; but I
could see plenty of waterfalls elsewhere, but nowhere else such a
mountain platform. However, the expedition was a good preparation for
the return to my window. The little nooks of the road, crowded with
bilberries, cherries, and alpine plants, and the quiet tarn, studded
with golden water-lilies, were a wholesome contrast to the grandeur of
what we had left behind us.

On returning, we found dinner awaiting us, and also a party of friends
out of Massachusetts, with whom we passed the afternoon, climbing higher
and higher among the pines, ferns, and blue-berries of the mountain, to
get wider and wider views. They told me that I saw Albany, but I was by
no means sure of it. This large city lay in the landscape like an
anthill in a meadow. Long before sunset I was at my window again,
watching the gradual lengthening of the shadows and purpling of the
landscape. It was more beautiful than the sunrise of this morning, and
less so than that of the morrow. Of this last I shall give no
description, for I would not weary others with what is most sacred to
me. Suffice it that it gave me a vivid idea of the process of creation,
from the moment when all was without form and void, to that when light
was commanded, and there was light. Here, again, I was humbled by seeing
what such things are to some who watch in vain for what they are not
made to see. A gentleman and lady in the hotel intended to have left the
place on Sunday. Having overslept that morning's sunrise, and arrived
too late for that on Saturday, they were persuaded to stay till Monday
noon; and I was pleased, on rising at four on Monday morning, to see
that they were in the piazza below, with a telescope. We met at
breakfast, all faint with hunger, of course.

"Well, Miss M.," said the gentleman, discontentedly, "I suppose you were
disappointed in the sunrise."

"No, I was not."

"Why, do you think the sun was any handsomer here than at New-York?"

I made no answer; for what could one say? But he drove me by questions
to tell what I expected to see in the sun.

"I did not expect to see the sun green or blue."

"What did you expect, then?"

I was obliged to explain that it was the effect of the sun on the
landscape that I had been looking for.

"Upon the landscape! Oh! but we saw that yesterday."

The gentleman was perfectly serious; quite earnest in all this. When we
were departing, a foreign tourist was heard to complain of the high
charges! High charges! As if we were to be supplied for nothing on a
perch where the wonder is if any but the young ravens get fed! When I
considered what a drawback it is in visiting mountain-tops that one is
driven down again almost immediately by one's bodily wants, I was ready
to thank the people devoutly for harbouring us on any terms, so that we
might think out our thoughts, and compose our emotions, and take our
fill of that portion of our universal and eternal inheritance.


    "God, the best maker of all marriages,
     Combine your hearts in one!"

                                                              _Henry V._

I was present at four weddings in the United States, and at an offer of

The offer of marriage ought hardly to be so called, however. It was a
petition from a slave to be allowed to wed (as slaves wed) the nursemaid
of a lady in whose house I was staying. The young man could either write
a little, or had employed some one who could to prepare his epistle for
him. It ran from corner to corner of the paper, which was daubed with
diluted wafer, like certain love-letters nearer home than Georgia. Here
are the contents:

    "Miss Cunningham it is My wishes to companion in your Present and I
    hope you will Be peeze at it and I hope that you will not think Hard
    of Me I have Ben to the Doctor and he was very well satafide with Me
    and I hope you is and Miss Mahuw all so

    "thats all I has to say now wiheshen you will grant Me that honour I
    will Be very glad.

                                                           "S.B. SMITH."

The nursemaid was granted; and as it was a love-match, and as the girl's
mistress is one of the tender, the sore-hearted about having slaves, I
hope the poor creatures are as happy as love in debasement can make

The first wedding I saw in Boston was very like the common run of
weddings in England. It happened to be convenient that the parties
should be married in church; and in the Unitarian church in which they
usually worshipped we accordingly awaited them. I had no acquaintance
with the family, but went on the invitation of the pastor who married
them. The family connexion was large, and the church, therefore, about
half full. The form of celebration is at the pleasure of the pastor;
but, by consent, the administration by pastors of the same sect is very
nearly alike. The promises of the married parties are made reciprocal, I
observed. The service in this instance struck me as being very beautiful
from its simplicity, tenderness, and brevity. There was one variation
from the usual method, in the offering of one of the prayers by a second
pastor, who, being the uncle of the bridegroom, was invited to take a
share in the service.

The young people were to set out for Europe in the afternoon, the bride
being out of health, the dreary drawback upon almost every extensive
plan of action and fair promise of happiness in America. The lady has, I
rejoice to hear, been quite restored by travel; but her sickness threw a
gloom over the celebration, even in the minds of strangers. She and her
husband walked up the middle aisle to the desk where the pastors sat.
They were attended by only one bridesmaid and one groomsman, and were
all in plain travelling dresses. They said steadily and quietly what
they had to say, and walked down the aisle again as they came. Nothing
could be simpler and better, for this was not a marriage where festivity
could have place. If there is any natural scope for joy, let weddings by
all means be joyous; but here there was sickness, with the prospect of a
long family separation, and there was most truth in quietness.

The other wedding I saw in Boston was as gay a one as is often seen. The
parties were opulent, and in the first rank in society. They were
married in the drawing-room of the bride's house, at half past eight in
the evening, by Dr. Channing. The moment the ceremony was over, crowds
of company began to arrive; and the bride, young and delicate, and her
maidens, were niched in a corner of one of the drawing-rooms to courtesy
to all comers. They were so formally placed, so richly and (as it then
seemed) formally dressed, for the present revived antique style of dress
was then quite new, that, in the interval of their courtesies, they
looked like an old picture brought from Windsor Castle. The bride's
mother presided in the other drawing-room, and the bridegroom flitted
about, universally attentive, and on the watch to introduce all visiters
to his lady. The transition from the solemnity of Dr. Channing's service
to the noisy gayeties of a rout was not at all to my taste. I imagined
that it was not to Dr. Channing's either, for his talk with me was on
matters very little resembling anything that we had before our eyes; and
he soon went away. The noise became such as to silence all who were not
inured to the gabble of an American party, the noisiest kind of
assemblage, I imagine (not excepting a Jew's synagogue), on the face of
the globe. I doubt whether any pagans in their worship can raise any
hubbub to equal it. I constantly found in a large party, after trying in
vain every kind of scream that I was capable of, that I must give up,
and satisfy myself with nodding and shaking my head. If I was rightly
understood, well and good; if not, I must let it pass. As the noise
thickened and the heat grew more oppressive, I glanced towards the poor
bride in her corner, still standing, still courtesying; her pale face
growing paler; her nonchalant manner (perhaps the best she could assume)
more indifferent. I was afraid that if all this went on much longer, she
would faint or die upon the spot. It did not last much longer. By eleven
some of the company began to go away, and by a quarter before twelve all
were gone but the comparatively small party (including ourselves) who
were invited to stay to supper.

The chandelier and mantelpieces, I then saw, were dressed with flowers.
There was a splendid supper; and, before we departed, we were carried up
to a well-lighted apartment, where bride cake and the wedding presents
were set out in bright array.

Five days afterward we went, in common with all her acquaintance, to pay
our respects to the bride. The courtyard of her mother's house was
thronged with carriages, though no one seemed to stay five minutes. The
bridegroom received us at the head of the stairs, and led us to his
lady, who courtesied as before. Cake, wine, and liqueurs were handed
round, the visiters all standing. A few words on common subjects were
exchanged, and we were gone to make way for others.

A Quaker marriage which I saw at Philadelphia was scarcely less showy in
its way. It took place at the Cherrystreet church, belonging to the
Hicksites. The reformed Quaker Church, consisting of the followers of
Elias Hicks, bears about the same relation to the old Quakerism as the
Church of England to that of Rome; and, it seems to me, the mutual
dislike is as intense. I question whether religious enmity ever attained
a greater extreme than among the orthodox Friends of Philadelphia. The
Hicksites are more moderate, but are sometimes naturally worried out of
their patience by the meddling, the denunciations, and the calumnies of
the old Quaker societies. The new church is thinking of reforming and
relaxing a good deal farther, and in the celebration of marriage among
other things. It is under consideration (or was when I was there)
whether the process of betrothment should not be simplified, and
marriage in the father's house permitted to such as prefer it to the
church. The wedding at which I was present was, however, performed with
all the formalities.

A Quaker friend of mine, a frequent preacher, suggested, a few days
previously, that a seat had better be reserved for me near the speakers,
that I might have a chance of hearing "in case there should be
communications." I had hopes from this that my friend would speak, and
my wishes were not disappointed.

The spacious church was crowded; and for three or four hours the poor
bride had to sit facing the assemblage, aware, doubtless, that during
the time of silence the occupation of the strangers present, if not of
the friends themselves, would be watching her and her party. She was
pretty, and most beautifully dressed. I have seldom pitied anybody more
than I did her, while she sat palpitating for three hours under the gaze
of some hundreds of people; but, towards the end of the time of silence,
my compassion was transferred to the bridegroom. For want of something
to do, after suppressing many yawns, he looked up to the ceiling; and in
the midst of an empty stare, I imagine he caught the eye of an
acquaintance in the back seats; for he was instantly troubled with a
most irrepressible and unseasonable inclination to laugh. He struggled
manfully with his difficulty; but the smiles would come, broader and
broader. If, by dint of looking steadfastly into his hat for a few
minutes, he attained a becoming gravity, it was gone the moment he
raised his head. I was in a panic lest we should have a scandalous peal
of merriment if something was not given him to do or listen to. Happily
"there were communications," and the course of his ideas was changed.

Of the five speakers, one was an old gentleman whose discourse was an
entire perplexity to me. For nearly an hour he discoursed on Jacob's
ladder; but in a style so rambling, and in a chant so singularly
unmusical as to set attention and remembrace at defiance. Some
parenthetical observations alone stood a chance of being retained, from
their singularity; one, for instance, which he introduced in the course
of his narrative about Jacob setting a stone for a pillow; "a very
different," cried the preacher, raising his chant to the highest pitch,
"a very different pillow, by-the-way, from any that
we--are--accommodated--with." What a contrast was the brief discourse of
my Quaker friend which followed! Her noble countenance was radiant as
the morning; her soft voice, though low, so firm that she was heard to
the farthest corner, and her little sermon as philosophical as it was
devout. "Send forth thy light and thy truth," was her text. She spoke
gratefully of intellectual light as a guide to spiritual truth, and
anticipated and prayed for an ultimate universal diffusion of both. The
certificate of the marriage was read by Dr. Parrish, an elderly
physician of Philadelphia, the very realization of all my imaginings of
the personal appearance of William Penn; with all the dignity and
bonhommie that one fancies Penn invested with in his dealings with the
Indians. Dr. Parrish speaks with affection of the Indians, from the
experience some ancestors of his had of the hospitality of these poor
people when they were in a condition to show hospitality. His
grandfather's family were shipwrecked, and the Indians took the poor
lady and her children home to an inhabited cave, and fed them for many
weeks or months. The tree stump round which they used to sit at meals is
still standing; and Dr. Parrish says that, let it stand as long as it
will, the love of his family to the Indians shall outlast it.

The matrimonial promise was distinctly and well spoken by both the
parties. At the request of the bride and bridegroom, Dr. Parrish asked
me to put the first signature, after their own, to the certificate of
the marriage; and we adjourned for the purpose to an apartment connected
with the church. Most ample sheets of parchment were provided for the
signatures; and there was a prodigious array of names before we left,
when a crowd was still waiting to testify. This multitudinous witnessing
is the pleasantest part of being married by acclamation. If weddings are
not to be private, there seems no question of the superiority of this
Quaker method to that of the Boston marriage I beheld, where there was
all the publicity, without the co-operation and sanction.

The last wedding which I have to give an account of is full of a
melancholy interest to me now. All was so joyous, so simple, so right,
that there seemed no suggestion to evil-boding, no excuse for
anticipating such wo as has followed. On one of the latter days of July,
1835, I reached the village of Stockbridge; the Sedgwicks' village, for
the second time, intending to stay four or five days with my friends
there. I had heard of an approaching wedding in the family connexion,
and was glad that I had planned to leave, so as to be out of the way at
a time when I supposed the presence of foreigners, though friends, might
be easily dispensed with. But when Miss Sedgwick and I were sitting in
her room one bright morning, there was a tap at the door. It was the
pretty black-eyed girl who was to be married the next week. She stood
only a minute on the threshold to say, with grave simplicity, "I am come
to ask you to join our friends at my father's house next Tuesday
evening." Being thus invited, I joyfully assented, and put off my

The numerous children of the family connexion were in wild spirits all
that Tuesday. In the morning we went a strong party to the Ice Hole; a
defile between two hills, so perplexed and encumbered with rocks that
none but practised climbers need attempt the passage. It was a good way
for the young people to work off their exuberant spirits. Their laughter
was heard from amid the nooks and hiding-places of the labyrinth, and
smiling faces might be seen behind every shrubby screen which sprang up
from the crevices. How we tried to surpass each other in the ferns and
mosses we gathered, rich in size and variety! What skipping and
scrambling there was; what trunk bridges and ladders of roots! How
valiant the ladies looked with their stout sticks! How glad every one
was to feast upon the wild raspberries when we struggled through the
close defile into the cool, green, breezy meadow on the banks of the
Housatonic! During the afternoon we were very quiet, reading one of
Carlyle's reviews aloud (for the twentieth time, I believe, to some of
the party), and discussing it and other things. By eight o'clock we were
all dressed for the wedding; and some of the children ran over the green
before us, but came back, saying that all was not quite ready; so we got
one of the girls to sing to us for another half hour.

The house of the bride's father was well lighted, and dressed with
flowers. She had no mother; but her elder sisters aided her father in
bidding us welcome. The drawing-room was quite full; and while the
grown-up friends found it difficult to talk, and to repress the
indefinable anxiety and agitation which always attend a wedding, the
younger members of the party were amusing themselves with whispered
mirth. The domestics looked as if the most joyous event of their lives
were taking place, and the old father seemed placid and satisfied.

In a few minutes we were summoned to another room, at the top of which
stood the tall bridegroom, with his pretty little lady on his arm; on
either side, the three gentlemen and three ladies who attended them; and
in front, the Episcopalian minister who was to marry them, and who has
since been united to one of the sisters. It was the first time of his
performing the ceremony, and his manner was solemn and somewhat anxious,
as might be expected.

The bridegroom was a professor in a college in the neighbouring State of
New-York; a young man of high acquirements and character, to whom the
old father might well be proud to give his daughter. His manners were
remarkably pleasing; and there was a joyous, dignified serenity visible
in them this evening, which at once favourably prepossessed us who did
not previously know him. He was attended by a brother professor from the
same college. When the service was over, we all kissed the grave and
quiet bride. I trust that no bodings of the woes which awaited her cast
a shadow over her spirits then. I think, though grave, she was not sad.
She spoke with all her father's guests in the course of the evening, as
did her husband. How often have I of late tried to recall precisely
what they said to me, and every look with which they said it!

We went back to the drawing-room for cake and wine; and then ensued the
search for the ring in the great wedding cake, with much merriment among
those who were alive to all the fun of a festivity like this, and to
none of the care. There was much moving about between the rooms, and
dressing with flowers in the hall; and lively conversation, as it must
needs be where there are Sedgwicks. Then Champagne and drinking of
healths went round, the guests poured out upon the green, all the ladies
with handkerchiefs tied over their heads. There we bade good-night, and
parted off to our several homes.

When I left the village the next morning two or three carriages full of
young people were setting off, as attendants upon the bride and
bridegroom, to Lebanon. After a few such short excursions in the
neighbourhood, the young couple went home to begin their quiet college
and domestic life.

Before a year had elapsed, a year which to me seemed gone like a month,
I was at Stockbridge again and found the young wife's family in great
trouble. She was in a raging fever, consequent on her confinement, and
great fears were entertained for her life. Her infant seemed to have but
a small chance under the circumstances, and there was a passing mention
of her husband being ill. Every one spoke of him with a respect and
affection which showed how worthy he was of this young creature's love;
and it was our feeling for him which made our prayers for her
restoration so earnest as they were. The last I heard of her before I
left the country was that she was slowly and doubtfully recovering, but
had not yet been removed from her father's house. The next intelligence
that I received after my return to England was of her husband's death;
that he had died in a calm and satisfied state of mind; satisfied that
if their reasonable hopes of domestic joy and usefulness had not been
fulfilled, it was for wise and kind reasons; and that the strong hand
which thus early divided them would uphold the gentle surviver. No one
who beheld and blessed their union can help beseeching and trusting,
since all other hope is over, that it may be even thus.


    "How far my pen has been fatigued like those of other travellers in
    this journey of it, the world must judge; but the traces of it,
    which are now all set o'vibrating together this moment, tell me it
    is the most fruitful and busy period of my life; for, as I had made
    no convention with my man with the gun as to time--by seizing every
    handle, of what size or shape soever which chance held out to me in
    this journey--I was always in company, and with great variety

Our first land travelling, in which we had to take our chance with the
world in general, was across the State of New-York. My account of what
we saw may seem excessively minute in some of its details; but this
style of particularity is not adopted without reasons. While writing my
journal, I always endeavoured to bear in mind the rapidity with which
civilization advances in America, and the desirablness of recording
things precisely in their present state, in order to have materials for
comparison some few years hence, when travelling may probably be as
unlike what it is now, as a journey from London to Liverpool by the new
railroad differs from the same enterprise as undertaken a century and a
half ago.

To avoid some of the fatigues and liabilities of common travelling,
certain of our shipmates and their friends and ourselves had made up a
party to traverse the State of New-York in an "exclusive extra;" a stage
hired, with the driver, for our own use, to proceed at our own time. Our
fellow-travellers were a German and a Dutch gentleman, and the Prussian
physician and young South Carolinian whom I have mentioned in the list
of our shipmates. We were to meet at the Congress Hall hotel in Albany
on the 6th of October.

On our way from Stockbridge to Albany we saw a few objects
characteristic of the country. While the horses were baiting we wandered
into a graveyard, where the names on the tombstones were enough to
inform any observer what country of the world he was in. One inscription
was laudatory of Nelson and Nabby Bullis; another of Amasa and Polly
Fielding. Hiram and Keziah were there too. The signs in the American
streets are as ludicrous for their confusion of Greek, Roman, and Hebrew
names, as those of Irish towns are for the arbitrary divisions of words.
One sees Rudolphus figuring beside Eliakim, and Aristides beside Zerug.
I pitied an acquaintance of mine for being named Peleg, till I found he
had baptized his two boys Peleg and Seth. On a table in a little wayside
inn I found Fox's Martyr's; and against the wall hung a framed sampler,
with the following lines worked upon it:--

    "Jesus, permit thine awful name to stand
    As the first offering of an infant's hand:
    And as her fingers o'er the canvass move,
    Oh fill her thoughtful bosom with thy love,
    With thy dear children let her bear a part,
    And write thy name thyself upon her heart."

In these small inns the disagreeable practice of rocking in the chair is
seen in its excess. In the inn parlour are three or four rocking-chairs,
in which sit ladies who are vibrating in different directions, and at
various velocities, so as to try the head of a stranger almost as
severely as the tobacco-chewer his stomach. How this lazy and ungraceful
indulgence ever became general, I cannot imagine; but the nation seems
so wedded to it, that I see little chance of its being forsaken. When
American ladies come to live in Europe, they sometimes send home for a
rocking-chair. A common wedding-present is a rocking-chair. A beloved
pastor has every room in his house furnished with a rocking-chair by his
grateful and devoted people. It is well that the gentlemen can be
satisfied to sit still, or the world might be treated with the spectacle
of the sublime American Senate in a new position; its fifty-two senators
see-sawing in full deliberation, like the wise birds of a rookery in a
breeze. If such a thing should ever happen, it will be time for them to
leave off laughing at the Shaker worship.

As we approached Greenbush, which lies opposite to Albany, on the east
bank of the Hudson, we met riding horses, exercised by grooms, and more
than one handsome carriage; tokens that we were approaching some centre
of luxury. The view of Albany rising from the river side, with its brown
stone courthouse and white marble capitol, is fine; but it wants the
relief of more trees within itself, or of a rural background. How
changed is this bustling city, thronged with costly buildings, from the
Albany of the early days of Mrs. Grant of Laggan, when the children used
to run up and down the green slope which is now State-street, imposing
from its width and the massiveness of the houses seen behind its rows of
trees! A tunnel is about to be made under the Hudson at Albany; meantime
we crossed, as everybody does, by a horse ferryboat; a device so cruel
as well as clumsy, that the sooner it is superseded the better. I was
told that the strongest horses, however kept up with corn, rarely
survive a year of this work.

We observed that, even in this city, the physicians have not always
their names engraved on brass doorplates. On the most conspicuous part
of their houses, perhaps on the angle of a corner house, is nailed some
glazed substance like floorcloth, with "Dr. Such-an-one" painted upon
it. At Washington I remember seeing "MAGISTRATE" thus affixed to a mere

As we surmounted the hill leading to our hotel, we saw our two shipmates
dancing down the steps to welcome us. There certainly is a feeling among
shipmates which does not grow out of any other relation. They are thrown
first into such absolute dependance on one another, for better for
worse, and are afterward so suddenly and widely separated, that if they
do chance to meet again, they renew their intimacy with a fervour which
does not belong to a friendship otherwise originated. The glee of our
whole party this evening is almost ridiculous to look back upon.
Everything served to make a laugh, and we were almost intoxicated with
the prospect of what we were going to see and do together. We had
separated only a fortnight ago, but we had as much to talk over as if we
had been travelling apart for six months. The Prussian had to tell his
adventures, we our impressions, and the Southerner his comparisons of
his own country with Europe. Then we had to arrange the division of
labour by which the gentlemen were to lighten the cares of travelling.
Dr. J., the Prussian, was on all occasions to select apartments for us;
Mr. S., the Dutchman, to undertake the eating department; Mr. H., the
American, was paymaster; and Mr. O., the German, took charge of the
luggage. It was proposed that badges should be worn to designate their
offices. Mr. S. was to be adorned with a corncob. Mr. H. stuck a
bankbill in front of his hat; and, next morning, when Mr. O. was looking
another way, the young men locked a small padlock upon his button-hole,
which he was compelled to carry there for a day or two, till his
comrades vouchsafed to release him from his badge.

The hotel was well furnished and conducted. I pointed out, with some
complacency, what a handsome piano we had in our drawing-room; but when,
in the dark hour, I opened it in order to play, I found it empty of
keys! a disappointment, however, which I have met with in England.

Mr. Van Buren and his son happened to be in Albany, and called on me
this afternoon. There is nothing remarkable in the appearance of this
gentleman, whom I afterward saw frequently at Washington. He is small in
person, with light hair and blue eyes. I was often asked whether I did
not think his manners gentlemanly. There is much friendliness in his
manners, for he is a kind-hearted man; he is also rich in information,
and lets it come out on subjects in which he cannot contrive to see any
danger in speaking. But his manners want the frankness and confidence
which are essential to good breeding. He questions closely, without
giving anything in return. Moreover, he flatters to a degree which so
cautious a man should long ago have found out to be disagreeable; and
his flattery is not merely praise of the person he is speaking to, but a
worse kind still; a skepticism and ridicule of objects and persons
supposed to be distasteful to the one he is conversing with. I fully
believe that he is an amiable and indulgent domestic man, and a
reasonable political master, a good scholar, and a shrewd man of
business; but he has the skepticism which marks the lower order of
politicians. His public career exhibits no one exercise of that faith in
men and preference of principle to petty expediency by which a statesman
shows himself to be great.

The consequence is, that, with all his opportunities, no great deed has
ever been put to his account, and his shrewdness has been at fault in
some of the most trying crises of his career. The man who so little
trusts others, and so intensely regards self as to make it the study of
his life not to commit himself, is liable to a more than ordinary danger
of judging wrong when compelled, by the pressure of circumstances, to
act a decided part. It has already been so with Mr. Van Buren more than
once; and now that he is placed in a position where he must sometimes
visibly lead, and cannot always appear to follow, it will be seen
whether a due reverence of men and a forgetfulness of self would not
have furnished him with more practical wisdom than all his "sounding on
his dim and perilous way." Mr. Calhoun is, I believe, Mr. Van Buren's
evil genius. Mr. Calhoun was understood to be in expectation of
succeeding to the presidential chair when Mr. Van Buren was appointed
minister to Great Britain. This appointment of President Jackson's did
not receive the necessary sanction from the Senate, and the new minister
was recalled on the first possible day, Mr. Calhoun being very active in
bringing him back. Mr. Calhoun was not aware that he was recalling one
who was to prove a successful rival. Mr. Calhoun has not been president;
Mr. Van Buren is so; but the successful rival has a mortal dread of the
great nullifier; a dread so obvious, and causing such a prostration of
all principle and all dignity, as to oblige observers to conclude that
there is more in the matter than they see; that it will come out some
day why the disappointed aspirant is still to be propitiated, when he
seems to be deprived of power to do mischief. In "Society in America" I
have given an account of the nullification struggle, and of the
irritation, the mysterious discontent which it has left behind.[2]

Footnote 2: Society in America, vol. i., p. 91.

Perhaps Mr. Van Buren may entertain the opinion which many hold, that
that business is not over yet, and that the slavery question is made a
pretext by the nullifiers of the South for a line of action to which
they are impelled by the disappointed personal ambition of one or two,
and the wounded pride of the many, who cannot endure the contrast
between the increase of the free states of the North and the
deterioration of the slave states of the South. However this may be, to
propitiate Mr. Calhoun seems to have been Mr. Van Buren's great object
for a long time past; an object probably hopeless in itself, and in the
pursuit of which he is likely to lose the confidence of the North far
faster than he could, at best, disarm the enmity of the South.

In the spring of 1836, when Mr. Van Buren was still vice-president, and
the presidential election was drawing near, Mr. Calhoun brought forward
in the Senate his bill (commonly called the Gag Bill) to violate the
postoffice function, by authorizing postmasters to investigate the
contents of the mails, and to keep back all papers whatsoever relating
to the subject of slavery. The bill was, by consent, read the first and
second times without debate; and the Senate was to be divided on the
question whether it should go to a third reading. The votes were equal,
18 to 18. "Where's the vice-president?" shouted Mr. Calhoun's mighty
voice. The vice-president was behind a pillar, talking. He was compelled
to give the casting vote, to commit himself for once; a cruel necessity
to a man of his caution. He voted for the third reading, and there was a
bitter cry on the instant, "The Northern States are sold." The bill was
thrown out on the division on the third reading, and the vice-president
lost by his vote the good-will of the whole body of abolitionists, who
had till then supported him as the democratic and supposed anti-slavery
candidate. As it was, most of the abolitionists did not vote at all, for
want of a good candidate, and Mr. Van Buren's majority was so reduced as
to justify a belief, that if the people had had another year to consider
his conduct in, or if another democratic candidate could have been put
forward, he would have been emphatically rejected. Having once committed
himself, he has gone further still in propitiation of Mr. Calhoun. On
the day of his presidential installation he declared that under no
circumstances would he give his assent to any bill for the abolition of
slavery in the District of Columbia. This declaration does not arise out
of a belief that Congress has not power to abolish slavery in the
District; for he did, not long before, when hard pressed, declare that
he believed Congress to possess that power. He has therefore hazarded
the extraordinary declaration that he will not, under any circumstances,
assent to what may become the will of the people constitutionally
imbodied. This is a bold intimation for a "non-committal man" to make.
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Calhoun, if really dangerous, can be
kept quiet by such fawning as this; and whether the will of the people
may not be rather stimulated than restrained by this sacrifice of them
to the South, so as either to compel the president to retract his
declaration before his four years are out, or to prevent his

How strange it is to recall one's first impressions of public men in the
midst of one's matured opinions of them! How freshly I remember the chat
about West Point and Stockbridge acquaintances that I had that afternoon
at Albany, with the conspicuous man about whom I was then ignorant and
indifferent, and whom I have since seen committed to the lowest
political principles and practices, while elected as professing some of
the highest! It only remains to be said, that if Mr. Van Buren feels
himself aggrieved by the interpretation which is commonly put upon the
facts of his political life, he has no one to blame but himself; for
such misinterpretation (if it exists) is owing to his singular reserve;
a reserve which all men agree in considering incompatible with the
simple honesty and cheerful admission of responsibility which democratic
republicans have a right to require of their rulers.

Before breakfast the next morning we walked down to the Padroon's house,
known by reputation, with the history of the estate, to everybody. We
just caught a sight of the shrubbery, and took leave to pass through the
courtyard, and hastened back to breakfast, immediately after which we
proceeded by railroad to Schenectady. There we at once stepped into a
canalboat for Utica. I would never advise ladies to travel by canal,
unless the boats are quite new and clean; or, at least, far better kept
than any that I saw or heard of on this canal. On fine days it is
pleasant enough sitting outside (except for having to duck under the
bridges every quarter of an hour, under penalty of having one's head
crushed to atoms), and in dark evenings the approach of the boatlights
on the water is a pretty sight; but the horrors of night and of wet days
more than compensate for all the advantages these vehicles can boast.
The heat and noise, the known vicinity of a compressed crowd, lying
packed like herrings in a barrel, the bumping against the sides of the
locks, and the hissing of water therein like an inundation, startling
one from sleep; these things are very disagreeable. We suffered under an
additional annoyance in the presence of sixteen Presbyterian clergymen,
some of the most unprepossessing of their class. If there be a duty more
obvious than another on board a canalboat, it is to walk on the bank
occasionally in fair weather, or, at least, to remain outside, in order
to air the cabin (close enough at best) and get rid of the scents of the
table before the unhappy passengers are shut up to sleep there. These
sixteen gentlemen, on their way to a Convention at Utica, could not wait
till they got there to begin their devotional observances, but obtruded
them upon the passengers in a most unjustifiable manner. They were not
satisfied with saying an almost interminable grace before and after each
meal, but shut up the cabin for prayers before dinner; for missionary
conversation in the afternoon, and for scripture reading and prayers
quite late into the night, keeping tired travellers from their rest, and
every one from his fair allowance of fresh air.

The passengers were all invited to listen to and to question a
missionary from China who was of the party. The gentleman did not seem
to have profited much by his travels, however; for he declared himself
unable to answer some very simple inquiries. "Is the religion of the
Christian missionaries tolerated by the Chinese government?" "I am not
prepared to answer that question." "Are the Chinese cannibals?" "I am
not prepared to answer that question." One requested that any brother
would offer a suggestion as to how government might be awakened to the
sinfulness of permitting Sunday mails; during the continuance of which
practice there was no hope of the Sabbath being duly sanctified. No one
was ready with a suggestion, but one offered a story, which every head
was bent to hear. The story was of two sheep-drovers, one of whom feared
God, and the other did not. The profane drover set out with his sheep
for a particular destination two hours earlier than the other, and did
not rest on Sunday like his pious comrade. What was the catastrophe? The
Godfearing drover, though he had stood still all Sunday, arrived at his
destination two hours earlier than the other. "Ah!" "Ah!" resounded
through the cabin in all conceivable tones of conviction, no one asking
particulars of what had happened on the road; of how and where the
profane drover had been delayed. Temperance was, of course, a great
topic with these divines, and they fairly provoked ridicule upon it. One
passenger told me that they were so strict that they would not drink
water out of the Brandywine river; and another remarked that they
partook with much relish of the strong wine-sauce served with our

In addition to other discomforts, we passed the fine scenery of Little
Falls in the night. I was not aware what we had missed till I traversed
the Mohawk valley by a better conveyance nearly two years afterward. I
have described this valley in my other work on America,[3] and must
therefore restrain my pen from dwelling on its beauties here.

Footnote 3: "Society in America," vol. ii., p. 188.

The appearance of the berths in the ladies' cabin was so repulsive, that
we were seriously contemplating sitting out all night, when it began to
rain so as to leave us no choice. I was out early in the misty morning,
however, and was presently joined by the rest of my party, all looking
eagerly for signs of Utica being near.

By eight o'clock we were at the wharf. We thought Utica the most
extempore place we had yet seen. The _right-up_ shops, the daubed
houses, the streets running into the woods, all seemed to betoken that
the place had sprung up out of some sudden need. How much more ancient
and respectable did it seem after my return from the West, where I had
seen towns so much newer still! We were civilly received and
accommodated at Bagg's hotel, where we knew how to value cold water,
spacious rooms, and retirement, after the annoyances of the boat.

Our baggage-master was fortunate in securing a neat, clean stage to take
us to Trenton Falls (14 miles), where we promised each other to spend
the whole day, on condition of being off by five the next morning, in
order to accomplish the distance to Syracuse in the course of the day.
The reason for our economy of time was not merely that it was late in
the season, and every day which kept us from the Falls of Niagara,
therefore, of consequence, but that our German friend, Mr. O., was
obliged to be back in New-York by a certain day. We all considered a
little extra haste and fatigue a small tax to pay for the privilege of
his companionship.

We clapped our hands at the sight of the "Rural Retreat," the
comfortable, hospitable house of entertainment at Trenton, standing in
its garden on the edge of the forest, so unlike hotels on the high road.

As no other company was there, we could choose our own hours. We ordered
a late dinner, and proceeded to the Falls. We had only to follow a path
in the pine forest for a few paces, and we were at the edge of the
ravine which encloses the cascades.

It is a pity that the Indian name is not retained. Trenton Falls are
called Cayoharic by the Indians. They are occasioned by the descent of
West Canada Creek through a ravine, where it makes a succession of leaps
from platforms of rock, six of these falls being pretty easily
accessible by travellers. Much has been said of the danger of the
enterprise of ascending the ravine; but I saw no peril to persons who
are neither rash nor nervous. The two accidents which have happened
have, I believe, been owing, the one to extreme rashness, and the other
to sudden terror.

From the edge of the ravine the black water, speckled with white foam,
is seen rushing below with a swiftness which already half turns the head
of the stranger. We descended five flights of wooden steps fixed against
the steep face of the rock, and at the bottom found ourselves at the
brink of the torrent. I never was in so dark and chill a place in the
open air; yet the sun was shining on the opposite face of the rock,
lighting the one scarlet maple which stood out from among the black
cedars and dark green elms. We selected our footing with a care which we
were quite ready to ridicule when we came back; and were not above
grasping the chain which is riveted into the rock where the shelf which
forms the pathway is narrowest, and where the angles are sharpest. The
hollow is here so filled with the voice of many waters, that no other
can be heard; and after many irreverent shouts had been attempted, we
gave up all attempts to converse till we reached a quieter place. Being
impatient to see the first fall, I went on before the rest, and having
climbed the flight of wooden steps, so wetted with the spray of the fall
as to be as slippery as ice, I stood on the platform under a covert of
rock foaming with the thunder of the waters, and saw my companions, one
by one, turn the angle of the path, and pause in front of the sheet of
liquid amber sprinkled with snow. The path on which they stood seemed
too narrow for human foot; and when, discerning me, they waved their
hands, I trembled lest, disregarding their footing, they should be swept
away by the furious torrent. When we found our heads turning with the
rush of the dark waters, we amused ourselves with admiring the little
wells in the rock, and the drip from the roots of a cedar projecting
from the top of the ravine, a never-failing, glittering shower. Between
the fifth and sixth fall there is a long tranquil reach of water; and
here we lingered to rest our bewildered senses before entering upon the
confusion of rocks through which the sixth forces its way. We seesawed
upon a fallen trunk, sent autumn leaves whirling down the stream, and
watched the endless dance of the balls of foam which had found their
way into the tiny creeks and bays opposite, and could not get out again.

Gay butterflies seemed quite at home in this ravine. They flit through
the very spray of the falls. It seemed wonderful that an insect could
retain its frail life in the midst of such an uproar. When the sun, in
its course, suddenly shone full into the glen through a chasm in its
rocky wall, how the cascade was instantly dressed in glory! crowned with
a rainbow, and invested with all radiant hues! How the poor banished
Indians must mourn when the lights of their Cayoharic visit their senses
again in the dreams of memory or of sleep! The recollection of these
poor exiles was an ever-present saddening thought in the midst of all
the most beautiful scenes of the New World.

When we had surmounted the sixth fall, we saw indeed that we could go no
farther. A round projection of rock, without trace of anything that I
could call a foothold, barred us out from the privacy of the upper
ravine. The falls there are said to be as beautiful as any that we saw,
and it is to be hoped that, by blasting a pathway or by some other
means, they also may be laid open to the affections of happy visiters.

They have been seen and reported of. A friend of mine has told me, since
I was there, how Bryant the poet and himself behaved like two
thoughtless boys in this place. Clambering about by themselves one
summer day, when their wives had gone back to the house, they were
irresistibly tempted to pass the barrier, and see what lay beyond. They
got round the rock, I cannot conceive how, by inequalities in its
surface. They met with so many difficulties and so much beauty higher
up, that they forgot all about time, till they found themselves in utter
darkness. They hastened to grope their way homeward through the forest,
and were startled, after a while, by shouts and moving lights. Till that
moment they never recollected how alarmed their wives must be. It was
past ten o'clock, and the poor ladies had been in a state of uneasiness
half the evening, and of mortal terror for the last two hours. They had
got people from the neighbourhood to go out with torches, little
expecting to see their husbands come walking home on their own feet, and
with nothing the matter with them but hunger and shame. I hope the
ladies were exceedingly angry when their panic was over.

The forest at the top of the ravine was a study to me, who had yet seen
but little forest. Moss cushioned all the roots of the trees; hibiscus
overspread the ground; among the pine stems there was a tangle of
unknown shrubs; and a brilliant bird, scarlet except its black wings,
hovered about as if it had no fear of us. I could learn nothing more
about it than that the people call it the red robin. Before we returned
the moon hung like a gem over the darkness of the ravine. I spent
another happy day among these falls some months after, and was yet more
impressed with their singularity and beauty.

When we had exchanged our wet clothes, an excellent dinner was served,
and our host himself waited upon us, sitting down by the window when
nothing was wanted. In the course of dinner Mr. H. related to me some
particulars of the slave insurrection at Charleston a few years before,
when upward of thirty slaves were hanged at once. Some circumstance
which he told led me to observe that I should have done as the thirty
did in their place. "Oh," said he, "so should I." I thanked him for his
response, saying that no defence he could now make of slavery would
stand against such an admission. He did not retract, but a long argument
ensued, in which our host became deeply interested. He moved his chair
forwarder and forwarder, till I saw him leaning over the table between
two of the gentlemen to listen. Everybody had long done eating, and
every dish on the table was quite cold, and the debate concluded, before
our host remembered that we had not had our pudding, and started up to
serve us.

We soon retired to our rooms, being in need of rest after the
discomforts of the canalboat and the fatigues of the day; but it was not
too late for the neighbours to offer their hospitable welcomes. Just
after I was undressed, the cards of visiters were brought me, with a
friendly message; but it was too late to do more than send a message in

We left the place at a little after five in the morning, in a dismal
rain. While breakfasting at Utica, we engaged an "exclusive extra" to
carry us to Buffalo for eighty dollars, the precise route being agreed
upon, and the choice of times and seasons to remain with us. On going
out to our carriage we found the steps of the hotel occupied by a number
of persons, some from Boston, who offered me welcome to the country, and
any information or assistance I might need. One gentleman put into my
hand a letter of introduction to an influential friend of his at
Cincinnati, as it was understood that I was going there. So from this
strange place, where I had not spent above two hours, we drove off amid
a variety of friendly greetings.

This day I first saw a loghouse, and first felt myself admitted into the
sanctuary of the forest. These things made the day full of interest to
me, though the rain scarcely ceased from morning till night.
Well-settled farms were numerous along the road, but in the intervals
were miles of forests; dark thronging trees with their soft gay summits.
Till now the autumn woods had appeared at a distance too red and rusty;
these, when looked into, were the melting of all harmonious colours. As
for the forms, some were drooping, some towering, their tall bare stems
wreathed with crimson creepers. The cleared hollows and slopes, with the
forest ever advancing or receding, are as fine to the imagination as any
natural language can be. I looked for an Indian or two standing on the
forest verge, within a shade as dusky as himself; but for this I had to
wait another day.

Just after dark we arrived at Syracuse, in time for the common supper. I
was surprised at the size and style of the hotel. Land and building
material being cheap, and there being no window-tax, there is little
inducement to economize space in the American houses, and the new hotels
have the ambitious air which is given by spaciousness. The deficiency
lies in furniture, and yet more in attendance; but I really think, that
if travellers will trouble themselves to learn a little of the ways of
the house, so as not to run into opposition to other people's
convenience, much more comfort may be enjoyed in these places than
unaccommodating tourists will believe. Our chambers were quite
sufficiently furnished here; and I never in any place found difficulty
in obtaining as large a supply of water as I wished by simply asking for
it in good time. I observed that the hotel parlours in various parts of
the country were papered with the old-fashioned papers, I believe
French, which represent a sort of panorama of a hunting-party, a fleet,
or some such diversified scene. I saw many such a hunting-party, the
ladies in scarlet riding-habits, as I remember the landlord of the inn
at Bray, near Dublin, to have been proud of in his best parlour. At
Schenectady, the bay of Naples, with its fishing-boats on the water and
groups of lazzaroni on the shore, adorned our parlour walls. It seems
to be an irresistible temptation to idle visiters, English, Irish, and
American, to put speeches into the mouths of the painted personages; and
such hangings are usually seen deformed with scribblings. The effect is
odd, in wild places, of seeing American witticisms put into the mouths
of Neapolitan fishermen, ancient English ladies of quality, or of
tritons and dryads.

There is taste quite as bad as this in a matter of far more importance,
the naming of places. Syracuse in the State of New-York! I often wonder
whether it is yet too late to revert to the Indian names, to undo the
mischief which has been done by boys fresh from their smattering of the
classics, who have gone into the forest to hew out towns and villages. I
heard many Americans say that the State of New-York ought to be called
Ontario, and the city Manhattan. But, so far from bringing back the
nomenclature to a better state, we not only find Utica, Syracuse,
Manlius, and Camillus, and the village of Geneva on Seneca Lake, with
Ithaca at its other extremity, but the village of Chittenango actually
baptized into Sullivan; and all this in the neighbourhood of the lakes
Onondago, Cayuga, and Owasco. It is as bad as the English in Van
Diemen's Land, who, if I remember rightly, have got Palmyra, Richmond,
and Jericho all in a line.

Some curious associations arise from a new nation using the language of
the old. While speculating sometimes on what the classical conceptions
can be in the minds of youths who hear every day, in the most sordid
connexion, of Rome, Utica, Carthage, Athens, Palmyra, and Troy, it
occurred to me that some of our commonest English writing must bear a
different meaning to the Americans and to us. All that is written about
cornfields, for instance, must call up pictures in their minds quite
unlike any that the poets intended to create. "Waving corn" is not the
true description to them; and one can scarcely bring one's tongue to
explain that it means "small grain." Their poetical attachments are
naturally and reasonably to their Indian corn, which is a beautiful
plant, worthy of all love and celebration. But the consequence is, that
we have not their sympathy about our sheaves, our harvest wain, our
gleaners; for though they have wheat, their harvest, _par excellence_,
is of corncobs, and their "small grain" bears about the same relation to
poetry with them as turnips with us. Then, again, there is the month of
May, about which we lose their sympathy. Over a great proportion of the
country May is one of their worst months, damp, drizzly, with intervals
of biting winds, as little fit for the climate of a poem as our windy
and dusty March. Many other such particulars might be mentioned, which
it would be a new employment to trace out.

When I traversed New-York State at a subsequent period with another
party of friends, we saw many Indians before reaching Syracuse. It was
at Oneida Castle, a village on the borders of the Oneida territory,
which was once fortified after the Indian fashion, whence its formidable
name. We saw in such close neighbourhood as to cause many strange
reflections, the Episcopalian church built for the Indians of the
vicinity, who are declared to be reclaimed from idolatry and their
ancient Council Grove, where they met to think their own thoughts and
say their own sayings. This grove is a fine clump of twenty-seven
butternut-trees. We passed through the village on the day when the
Indians had all come in to receive their annual government allowance of
seven dollars a head. Two men were drunk; the rest looked sober enough.
The squaws were neatly dressed in blue pantaloons edged with white, and
had clean blankets over their shoulders. The babies looked fat and
lively. One squaw had her infant lashed to a board at her back. When we
stopped to water the horses we saw several boys with bows and arrows,
and Dr. F. made them understand by signs that any one who could strike a
quarter dollar which he would fix on a post should have it. He made a
notch in the post of a shed, and placed his coin, and forthwith the
arrows flew like hail. One struck deep into a post, and we saw how
easily fatal this weapon might be. An old Indian or two watched the
sport, and assumed the superintendence. The coin fell, and Dr. F. was
going to deliver it to the claimant, when an old Indian came forward
with "No, no." He showed by signs that the coin had fallen, not from its
being struck, but from the post having been shaken. The quarter dollar
was put up again, and soon after struck and bent in the middle by the
arrow of a youth, who looked as happy with his prize as if he had
regained a tract of his native wood. The party gave us some very bright
looks as we drove away.

In a hotel on this road I found a Sabbath-school history of Lady Jane
Grey, compiled obviously for the purpose of prejudicing the reader's
mind against the Catholics. Among other wise things in it there was an
explanation that the heroine was called "Lady" because she was related
to the king; and people are sometimes called so in England. A clear idea
to give the American youth of our English peerage!

We left Syracuse at dawn; and this was the morning when, finding
ourselves too hungry to proceed to Skaneatles without food, we were
treated to that abundant breakfast, so characteristically served, which
I have described in my other book.[4] No one likes to breakfast twice
over in description any more than in reality; and I therefore say
nothing about Elbridge here. The greater part of this day, and some of
the next, was spent at Auburn in viewing the prison, walking about the
town, and driving down the shores of the pretty Owasco Lake.

Footnote 4: "Society in America," vol. iii., p. 87.

The cultivation of the country now began to show the improvement which
increases all the way to Buffalo. At the head of Cayuga Lake we
travelled over the longest bridge I ever saw, even a mile and eight rods
long. It is wooden, of course, laid upon piles, and more conspicuous for
usefulness than beauty. The great ornament of this route is the village
of Geneva, reared on a terrace which overhangs Seneca Lake. The Northern
States abound in beautiful villages; but I know none more captivating
than this. A long row of handsome white and red houses, each with its
sloping garden, fronts the lake; and behind the dwellings the road is
bordered with locust-trees, which seem to imbower the place. The gardens
are more carefully cultivated than is at all common in America, and they
well repay the trouble bestowed on them. There is a college standing on
high ground above the lake, to which a natural lawn steeply descends
from the open space in front of the building. Holstein, aiddecamp to
Bolivar, was professor of modern languages in this college when I was
first at Geneva. Before my second visit he had removed to Albany. To
crown the temptations of Geneva as a place of residence, it has rather a
choice society. It has been charged with not being healthy, but I
believe this is not true. It seems to be well and speedily supplied with
literature. I saw a placard outside a bookseller's store, "Two Old Men's
Tales, price 80 cents," that is, four shillings. One of my last
interests, before I left England, had been watching over the publication
of this work; and now here it was selling at four shillings, in the back
of the State of New-York! I remarked two things more about this village;
that all the women I saw were pretty, and that a profusion of azalea
grew wild in the neighbourhood.

The road to Canandaigua ascends for a considerable distance after
leaving Geneva, and the last view of the place from above was exquisite,
imbosomed as it lay in the autumn woods, and with its blue lake
stretched behind it in the sunny atmosphere. One element in the
exhilaration of such scenes in America is the universal presence of
competence. The boys who gather about the stage do not come to beg, or
even to sell, but to amuse themselves while eating their bread and meat,
or on their way to the field. The young women all well dressed, the men
all at work or amusement, the farms all held in fee-simple, the stores
all inadequate to their custom; these things are indescribably cheering
to behold, and a never-failing source of pleasure to the traveller from
Europe. It may be a questionable comfort, but it is a comfort to think,
"if these people are not happy, it is their own fault." Whether their
minds are as easy as their fortunes, it may not be safe to affirm; but
at least the sin and sorrow of social injustice in regard to the first
necessities of life are absent.

The moon was gleaming over Canandaigua Lake when we came in sight of it,
and a golden planet dropped beneath the horizon when we took the turn
towards the village. We found that Blossom's hotel did not answer to the
favourable description which had been given us of it. This had been a
training day, and the house was so noisy with drunken soldiers, that,
when we had attained the drawing-room, we locked ourselves in till the
house should be cleared, which happened as early as nine o'clock; but we
still found the inn less comfortable than most upon the road.

The pretty village of Canandaigua is noted for its good society. It
would have given me pleasure to have been able to accept the kind
invitation of some of its inhabitants to prolong my stay now, or to
revisit it the next year; but we had promised Mr. O. to cause no delay
in getting to Niagara; and we engaged, in return for his agreeing to
stop this day, to travel all night; and I never was able to allot any
future time to this place. We saw as much of it, however, as we could in
one day.

There are many families of Scotch extraction at Canandaigua, and to this
the village owes its superiority in gardens to almost any place in the
country. We spent the greater part of the day with a gentleman who was
born in Scotland, but had settled at Canandaigua thirty-four years
before, when the place was almost a desert. He now sees himself
surrounded by handsome dwellings, trim gardens, and a highly-cultivated
society, able to command resources of books and other intellectual
luxuries to almost any extent, from the directness and ease of
communication with New-York. He had just taken possession of a splendid
new dwelling, and had presented his old one to the Episcopalian church
for a parsonage. He showed me from the top of the house, where his
dwelling had stood, where it stood now, and how it had been moved entire
in a day and a half. I think the distance could not have been much under
a mile.

After our early breakfast we were engaged till church-time in receiving
and making calls, as there was no time to be lost. We went to the
Episcopalian church with our friends, and heard a sermon which could not
please us, it was so full of dogmatism and bitterness. Our friends
insisted on entertaining the whole of our large party, and invited some
agreeable guests in addition, so that we spent a very profitable as well
as pleasant afternoon. We walked over the grounds, enjoyed the view of
the lake from the housetop, and picked up a good deal of information
about the place and neighbourhood, which might seem to the inhabitants
scarcely worthy of the name of knowledge, but which is inestimable to
the stranger as opening new departments of inquiry, and explaining much
which he did not understand before.

The stage was ordered for nine, and we returned to Blossom's for an
hour's rest before setting out on our rough night's journey.

We reached Batavia to breakfast, and soon after found ourselves on the
first piece of corduroy road we had encountered in the country. I
mention this because corduroy roads appear to have made a deep
impression on the imaginations of the English, who seem to suppose that
American roads are all corduroy. I can assure them that there is a
large variety in American roads. There are the excellent limestone roads
which stretch out in three directions from Nashville, Tennessee, and
some like them in Kentucky, on which the tourist might sketch almost
without difficulty while travelling at a rapid rate. There is quite
another sort of limestone road in Virginia, in traversing which the
stage is dragged up from shelf to shelf, some of the shelves sloping so
as to throw the passengers on one another, on either side alternately.
Then there are the rich mud roads of Ohio, through whose deep red
sloughs the stage goes slowly sousing after rain, and gently upsetting
when the rut on the one or the other side proves to be of a greater
depth than was anticipated. Then there are the sandy roads of the
pine-barrens, of an agreeable consistency after rain, but very heavy in
dry weather. Then there is the ridge road, running parallel with a part
of Lake Ontario, and supposed to be the edge of what was once its basin.
The level terrace thus provided by Nature offered the foundation of an
admirable road, one of the best in the states. Lastly, there is the
corduroy road, happily of rare occurrence, where, if the driver is
merciful to his passengers, he drives them so as to give them the
association of being on the way to a funeral, their involuntary sobs on
each jolt helping the resemblance; or, if he be in a hurry, he shakes
them like pills in a pillbox. But the American drivers are a class of
men marked by that merciful temper which naturally accompanies genius.
They are men who command admiration equally by their perfection in their
art, their fertility of resource, and their patience with their
passengers. I was never upset in a stage but once during all my travels;
and the worse the roads were, the more I was amused at the variety of
devices by which we got on, through difficulties which appeared
insurmountable, and the more I was edified at the gentleness with which
our drivers treated female fears and fretfulness.

By this time a solitary Indian might be frequently seen standing on a
heap of stones by the roadside, or sleeping under a fence. There is
something which rivets the eye of the stranger in the grave gaze, the
lank hair, the blanket-wrapped form of the savage, as he stands
motionless. We were generally to be seen leaning out of every opening in
the stage as long as the figure remained in sight.

We issued from the corduroy road upon one on which we could easily have
performed twelve miles an hour. Houses with porches of Ionic pillars
began to be scattered by the roadside. We were obviously approaching
Buffalo. Soon the lake was visible, and then we entered the long main
street, and stopped at the entrance of the Eagle hotel.


    "That night a child might understand
    The de'il had business on his hand."


On consulting a good map, a little promontory may be seen jutting out
into Lake Erie on the Canada shore, nearly opposite to Black Rock.
Perhaps it may be marked Fort Erie, for there Fort Erie stood.

A lady of Buffalo, who happens to be a good walker, proposed that she
and I should indulge in a ramble to Fort Erie one fine day towards the
end of October. She showed me that she was provided with stout boots, in
case of our having to cross swampy ground; and she said she believed we
might trust to getting some sort of a dinner on the Canada side, and
might therefore go unencumbered with provisions.

We set out from Buffalo soon after breakfast, and made our way over a
waste, through brush, over fences, along a natural terrace once planted
with guns, down to the ferry at Black Rock. On the way I saw one of the
less prepossessing abodes of settlers so frequently described; its
desolate appearance on the verge of the wood; its untidy garden, and the
cool, uncomfortable manners, and the lank hair, and pale, dingy
countenance of its mistress. I also heard, during our walk, some things
which make me think that Buffalo is as undesirable a place of residence
as any in the free States. It is the rendezvous of all manner of
persons; the passage through which fugitives pass from the States to
Canada, from Canada to the States, and from Europe and the Eastern
States into the wild West. Runaway slaves come here, and their owners
follow in hopes of recapturing them. Indian traders, land speculators,
and poor emigrants come here, and the most debased Indians, the
half-civilized, hang about the outskirts. No influence that the mass of
respectable inhabitants can exert can neutralize the bad effects of a
floating population like this; and the place is unavoidably a very
vicious one. A sufficient proof of this is, that ladies cannot walk
beyond the streets without the protection of a gentleman. Some excellent
English ladies opened a school in Buffalo, and, not being aware of the
peculiarities of the place, followed, with their pupils, the English
practice of taking country walks. They persevered for some time, hoping
to obtain countenance for the wholesome practice; but were compelled,
after a time, not only to give up walking, but to leave the place. It
will be understood that I do not give this as any specimen of American
towns. The corruption of Buffalo is owing chiefly to its frontier
position, and consequent liability to a vicious, transient population.

After crossing the ferry at Black Rock we pursued our walk in a
southwest direction, sometimes treading a firm sand and sometimes a
greensward washed by the fresh waters of the lake. Though we were on
British ground, we were entertained by an American woman who lived on
the lake shore close by the fort. She treated us with negus and cake
while preparing to get a dinner for us, and amused us with accounts of
how butter and eggs are smuggled into Buffalo from her neighbourhood,
these articles not being allowed to pass the custom-house. My eyes never
rested on the Canada shore without my feeling how absurd it was that
that poor country should belong to us, its poverty and hopeless
inactivity contrasting, so much to our disgrace, with the prosperous
activity of the opposite shore; but here was the climax of absurdity,
the prohibition of a free traffic in butter and eggs! What a worthy
subject of contention between two great nations, the one breaking the
laws to provide Buffalo with butter and eggs, and the preventive force
of the other exercised in opposition!

Our hostess was sewing when we went in, amusing herself meanwhile with
snatches of reading from "Peter Parley," which lay open before her. She
put away her work to cook for us, conversing all the while, and by no
means sorry, I fancy, to have the amusement of a little company. She
gave us tea, beefsteak, hot rolls and butter, honeycomb, and preserved
plums and crab-apples. Immediately after dinner I went out to the fort,
my friend promising to follow.

The thickness of the remaining fragments of the walls shows the fort to
have been substantially built. It was held by the Americans to the last
extremity in the war of 1814, and then blown up by a brave man to
prevent its falling into the hands of the British. He remained alone in
the fort to do the deed; and as I now beheld the desolation of the
solitude in which it stands, I felt as if I could enter into what his
feelings must have been on the last day of his life. At one moment all
had been dead silence; at the next the windows in Buffalo were blown out
by the explosion.

I sat alone beside a pool in the middle of the fort. Fragments of the
building lay tumbled around, overgrown with tall grass, and bristling
with shrubbery. Behind me was the grim forest, with the ruins of a
single deserted house standing within its shadow. Before me lay the
waste of waters, with gulls dipping and sailing. A single birch overhung
the pool beside me, and a solitary snipe, which seemed to have no fear
of me, vibrated on the top of a bulrush. I do not know that I was ever
so oppressed with a sense of solitude; and I was really glad soon to see
my friend standing on a pinnacle of the ruined wall, and beckoning me to
come up.

This afternoon she told me her wonderful story; a part of which, that
part in which the public may be said to have an interest, I am going to

At the time of the war of 1812 Mrs. W. lived in Buffalo with her father,
mother, brothers, and sisters. In 1814, just when the war was becoming
terrific on the frontier, her father and eldest brother were drowned in
crossing the neighbouring ferry. Six months after this accident the
danger of Buffalo was so great that the younger children of the family
were sent away into the country with their married sister, under the
charge of their brother-in-law, who was to return with his wagon for the
mother and two daughters who were left behind, and for the clothes of
the family. For three weeks there had been so strong an apprehension of
a descent of the Indians, the barbarous allies of the British, that the
ladies had snatched sleep with their clothes on, one watching while the
others lay down. It was with some difficulty, and after many delays,
that the wagon party got away, and there were still doubts whether it
was the safer course to go or stay. Nothing was heard of them before
night, however, and it was hoped that they were safe, and that the wagon
would come for the remaining three the next morning.

The ladies put out their lights early, as they were desired; and at
eight two of the three lay down to sleep, Mrs. W., then a girl of
sixteen, being one. At nine she was called up by the beating of a drum,
the signal that the Indians were at hand. No description can give an
idea of the loathing with which these savages were then regarded; the
mingled horror, disgust, dread, and hatred. The Indians were insidious,
dangerous, and cruel beyond example, even in the history of savage
warfare. These poor ladies had been brought up to hate them with a
deadly hatred; they were surrounded with persons burning with the
injuries inflicted by Indian revenge and barbarity; for weeks they had
lived in hourly dread of death by their hands; their strength was worn,
and their nerves shaken by the long suspense; and now the hoarse drum
woke them up with news that the hour was come. A deadly sickness
overspread their hearts as they started from their beds. They looked
from their windows, but could see nothing through the blank darkness.
They listened, but they knew that if the streets had been quiet as
death, the stealthy tread of the savages would have been inaudible.
There was a bustle in the town. Was the fight beginning? No. It was an
express sent by the scouts to say that it was a false alarm. The wornout
ladies composed their spirits, and sank to sleep again. At four they
were once more awakened by the horrid drum, and now there was a
mustering in the streets which looked as if this were no false alarm. In
the same moment the sister who was watching what passed in the street
saw by torchlight the militia part asunder and fly; and Mrs. W., who was
looking through the back window, perceived in the uncertain glimmer that
a host of savages was leaping the garden fence; leaping along the walks
to the house like so many kangaroos, but painted, and flourishing their
tomahawks. She cried out to her mother and sister, and they attempted to
fly; but there was no time. Before they could open the front door the
back windows came crashing in, and the house was crowded with yelling
savages. With their tomahawks they destroyed everything but the ladies,
who put on the most submissive air possible. The trunks containing the
clothing of the whole family stood in the hall, ready to be carried away
when the wagon should arrive. These were split to fragments by the
tomahawk. These wretches had actually met the wagon with the rest of
the family, and turned it back; but the brother-in-law, watching his
opportunity, wheeled off from the road when his savage guards were
somehow engaged, and escaped.

The ladies were seized, and, as Mrs. W. claimed protection, they were
delivered into the charge of some squaws to be driven to the British
camp. It was unpleasant enough the being goaded on through such a scene
by savage women, as insolent as the men were cruel; but the ladies soon
saw that this was the best thing that could have happened to them; for
the town was burning in various directions, and soon no alternative
would be left between being in the British camp and in the thick of the
slaughter in the burning streets. The British officer did not wish to
have his hands full of helpless female prisoners. He sent them home
again with a guard of an ensign and a private, who had orders to prevent
their house being burned. The ensign had much to do to fulfil his
orders. He stood in the doorway, commanding, persuading, struggling,
threatening; but he saved the house, which was, in two days, almost the
only one left standing. The whole town was a mass of smoking ruins, in
many places slaked with blood. Opposite the door lay the body of a woman
who, in her despair, had drunk spirits, and then defied the savages.
They tomahawked her in sight of the neighbours, and before her own door,
and her body lay where it had fallen, for there were none to bury the
dead. Some of the inhabitants had barricaded themselves in the jail,
which proved, it was said, too damp to burn; the rest who survived were
dispersed in the woods.

Before the fire was quite burned out the Indians were gone, and the
inhabitants began to creep back into the town, cold and half dead with
hunger. The ladies kept up a large fire (carefully darkening the
windows), and cooked for the settlers till they were too weary to stand,
and one at a time lay down to sleep before the fire. Mrs. W. often,
during those dreary days, used to fasten a blanket, Indian fashion,
about her shoulders, and go out into the wintry night to forage for
food; a strange employment for a young girl in the neighbourhood of a
savage foe. She traced the hogs in the snow, and caught many fowls in
the dark. On the third day, very early in the morning, six Buffalo men
were enjoying a breakfast of her cooking, when the windows were again
broken in, and the house once more full of savages. They had come back
to burn and pillage all that was left. The six men fled, and, by a
natural impulse, the girl with them. At some distance from the house she
looked behind her, and saw a savage leaping towards her with his
tomahawk already raised. She saw that the next instant it would be
buried in her scull. She faced about, burst out a laughing, and held out
both her hands to the savage. His countenance changed, first to
perplexity; but he swerved his weapon aside, laughed, and shook hands,
but motioned her homeward. She was full of remorse for having left her
mother and sister. When she reached her door the house was so crowded
that she could neither make her way in nor learn anything of their fate.
Under the persuasion that they lay murdered within, she flew to some
British dragoons who were sitting on the ground at a considerable
distance, watching the burning of the remainder of the town. They
expressed their amazement that she should have made her way through the
savages, and guarded her home, where they procured an entrance for her,
so that she reached the arms of her patient and suffering mother and
sister. That house was, at length, the only one left standing; and when
we returned Mrs. W. pointed it out to me.

The settlers remained for some time in the woods, stealing into a
midnight warming and supper at the lone abode of the widow and her
daughters. The ladies had nothing left but this dwelling. Their property
had been in houses which were burned, and their very clothes were gone.
The settlers had, however, carried off their money with them safely into
the woods. They paid the ladies for their hospitality, and afterward for
as much needlework as they could do; for every one was in want of
clothes. By their industry these women raised themselves to
independence, which the widow lived some tranquil years to enjoy. The
daughter who told me the story is now the lady of a judge. She never
boasts of her bravery, and rarely refers to her adventures in the war;
but preserves all her readiness and strength of mind, and in the silence
of her own heart, or in the ear of a sympathizing friend, gratefully
contrasts the perils of her youth with the milder discipline of her
riper age.


                          "Look back!
    Lo! where it comes like an eternity,
    As if to sweep down all things in its track,
    Charming the eye with dread!"


It is not my intention to describe what we saw at Niagara so much as to
relate what we did. To offer an idea of Niagara by writing of hues and
dimensions is much like representing the kingdom of Heaven by images of
jasper and topazes.

I visited the falls twice: first in October, 1834, in company with the
party with whom we traversed the state of New-York, when we stayed
nearly a week; and again with Dr. and Mrs. F., and other friends, in
June, 1836, when we remained between two and three days. The first time
we approached the falls from Buffalo, the next from Lewistown and

I expected to be disappointed in the first sight of the falls, and did
not relish the idea of being questioned on the first day as to my
"impressions." I therefore made a law, with the hearty agreement of the
rest of the party, that no one should ask an opinion of the spectacle
for twenty-four hours. We stepped into the stage at Buffalo at half past
eight in the morning on the 14th of October. At Black Rock we got out to
cross the ferry. We looked at the green rushing waters we were crossing,
and wondered whether they or we should be at the falls first. We had to
wait some minutes for the stage on the Canada side, and a comely English
woman invited us into her kitchen to warm ourselves. She was washing as
well as cooking; and such a log was blazing under her boilers as no
fireplace in England would hold. It looked like the entire trunk of a
pine somewhat shortened. I could not help often wishing that some of the
shivering poor of London could have supplies of the fuel which lies
rotting in the American woods.

The road is extremely hard all the way from the ferry to the falls, and
the bridges the rudest of the rude. The few farms looked decaying, and
ill-clad children offered us autumn fruit for sale. We saw nothing to
flatter our national complacency; for truly the contrast with the other
side of the river was mournful enough. It was not till we had passed the
inn with the sign of the "Chippeway Battle Ground" that we saw the spray
from the falls. I believe we might have seen it sooner if we had known
where to look. "Is that it?" we all exclaimed. It appeared on the
left-hand side, whereas we had been looking to the right; and instead of
its being suspended in the air like a white cloud, as we had imagined,
it curled vigorously up, like smoke from a cannon or from a replenished
fire. The winding of the road presently brought this round to our right
hand. It seemed very near; the river, too, was as smooth as oil. The
beginning of the Welland canal was next pointed out to me, but it was
not a moment to care for canals. Then the little Round Island, covered
with wood and surrounded by rapids, lay close at hand, in a recess of
the Canada shore. Some of the rapids, of eight or ten feet descent,
would be called falls elsewhere. They were glittering and foamy, with
spaces of green water between. I caught a glimpse of a section of the
cataract, but not any adequate view, before we were driven briskly up to
the door of the hotel. We ran quickly from piazza to piazza till we
reached the crown of the roof, where there is a space railed in for the
advantage of the gazer who desires to reach the highest point. I think
the emotion of this moment was never renewed or equalled. The morning
had been cloudy, with a very few wandering gleams. It was now a little
after noon; the sky was clearing, and at this moment the sun lighted up
the Horseshoe Fall. I am not going to describe it. The most striking
appearance was the slowness with which the shaded green waters rolled
over the brink. This majestic oozing gives a true idea of the volume of
the floods, but they no longer look like water.

We wandered through the wood, along Table Rock, and to the ferry. We sat
down opposite to the American Falls, finding them the first day or two
more level to our comprehension than the Great Horseshoe Cataract; yet
throughout, the beauty was far more impressive to me than the grandeur.
One's imagination may heap up almost any degree of grandeur; but the
subtile colouring of this scene, varying with every breath of wind,
refining upon the softness of driven snow, and dimming all the gems of
the mine, is wholly inconceivable. The woods on Goat Island were in
their gaudiest autumn dress; yet, on looking up to them from the fall,
they seemed one dust colour. This will not be believed, but it is true.

The little detached fall on the American side piqued my interest at
once. It looks solitary in the midst of the crowd of waters, coming out
of its privacy in the wood to take its leap by itself. In the afternoon,
as I was standing on Table Rock, a rainbow started out from the
precipice a hundred feet below me, and curved upward as if about to
alight on my head. Other such apparitions seemed to have a similar
understanding with the sun. They went and came, blushed and faded, the
floods rolling on, on, till the human heart, overcharged with beauty,
could bear no more.

We crossed the ferry in the afternoon. Our boat was tossed like a cork
in the writhing waves. We soon found that, though driven hither and
thither by the currents, the ferryman always conquers at last, and
shoots his boat into the desired creek; but the tossing and whirling
amid the driving spray seems a rather dubious affair at first. To be
carried down would be no better than to be sucked up the river, as there
is a fatal whirlpool below which forbids all navigation as peremptorily
as the falls.

I still think the finest single impression of all is half way up the
American Fall, seen, not from the staircase, but from the bank on the
very verge of the sheet. Here we stood this first evening, and amid the
rapids above. In returning, we saw from the river the singular effect of
the clouds of spray being in shadow, and the descending floods in light;
while the evening star hung over one extremity of the falls, and the
moon over the other, and the little perpetual cloud, amber in the last
rays from the west, spread its fine drizzle like a silver veil over the

There is nothing like patient waiting in a place like this. The gazer,
who sits for hours watching what sun and wind may be pleased to reveal,
is sure to be rewarded, somewhat as Newton described himself as being
when he set a thought before him, and sat still to see what would come
out of it. It is surprising what secrets of the thunder cavern were
disclosed to me during a few days of still watching; disclosed by a puff
of wind clearing the spray for an instant, or by the lightest touch of
a sunbeam. The sound of the waters is lulling, even on the very brink;
but if one wishes for stillness, there is the forest all around, where
the eyes may become accustomed to common objects again. It is pleasant,
after the high excitement, to stroll in the wild woods, and wonder what
this new tree is and what that; and to gossip with the pigs, slim and
spruce while fed on forest nuts and roots; and to watch the progress of
a loghouse, sitting the while on a stump or leaning over a snake-fence;
and then to return, with new wonder, to the ethereal vision.

The first evening the gentlemen were all restless under the prohibition
to ask about impressions; every one of them was eager to tell, but too
proud to pour out till others did the same. What an outpouring it was
when it did happen!

One morning we found an old man, between seventy and eighty years old,
gazing from Table Rock. He was an American. Being on a journey, he had
walked from Queenstown to see the falls. He quietly observed that he was
ashamed to think there had been wars near such a place, and that he
hoped the English and Americans were grown wiser now, and would not
think of fighting any more. This came in echo of my thought. I had been
secretly wishing that all the enemies in the world could be brought
together on this rock; they could not but love as brethren.

An English family at the hotel seemed marvellously skilled in putting
away all the good influences of the place. The gentleman was so anxious
about where he should settle, so incessantly pettish, so resolutely
miserable, as to bespeak the compassion of all the guests for the ladies
of his family, one of whom told me that she had forgotten all about the
falls in her domestic anxieties. As this gentleman found fault with
everybody and everything, and ostentatiously proved that nothing could
give him any pleasure, it was not surprising that the cataract itself
failed to meet his approbation; yet I was not prepared for the question
he put to me across the table, in the presence of both Canadians and
Americans, whether I did not think the natives made a very silly fuss
about the falls, and whether the Falls of the Clyde were not much finer.
Such are the persons by whom foreigners suppose themselves made
acquainted with the English character. Such is the way in which not a
few English study to mortify the inhabitants, and then come home and
complain of American conceit. I told this gentleman that I perceived he
was speaking of the rapids, and had not seen the falls.

We wished, while we were in the neighbourhood, to obtain a glimpse of
Lake Ontario, as we were not sure of being able to visit Canada at a
future time. We took the opportunity of two of our party going
northward, to accompany them as far as Queenstown, seven miles off,
where we intended to see Brock's monument, satisfy ourselves with the
view from the top of it, and walk home through the woods in the
afternoon. In the stage were an Irish gentleman and his wife. The lady
amused me by the zeal with which she knitted all the way, just as if she
were in a dark parlour in the Old Jewry; and the gentleman with some
sentiments which were wholly new to me; for instance, he feared that the
independence of the Americans made them feel themselves independent of
God. This consequence of democratic government had not struck me before,
and I never perceived any traces of its existence; but if it should
occur, there will probably soon be an epidemic or a bad season to bring
them to their senses again.

Before the door of the wretched, foul inn at Queenstown, we sorrowfully
shook hands with our Prussian and Dutch companions, hoping to meet them
again in the course of our travels; which, indeed, happened more than
once. We provided ourselves here with cider, cakes, and sandwiches;
i.e., beefsteak laid between thick dry bread. With this provision we
ascended the hill to the foot of Brock's monument, and found the
portress, an active little Irishwoman, waiting to let us in. She was
delighted to meet ladies from the old country, and heartily invited us
to spread our dinner in her cottage below. She told us all her affairs,
and seemed unwilling to leave us when we told her we meant to stay a
long while on the top of the monument, and would not detain her from her
washtub, but would come down to her by-and-by. She and her husband have,
for showing the monument, sixty dollars a season (that is, while the
boats run), and all that they happen to take in the winter. They were
soon to have a cottage built for them nearer the monument. When we went
down to her cottage she had spread plates, knives, and pickles, and had
her head full of questions and communications. She was grateful for a
small payment for her trouble, and gave us the impression of her being
a very amiable, contented person, whom we should like to see again.

Sir Isaac Brock fell at the battle of Queenstown, in October, 1812, near
the base of this monument. It is 145 feet high, and, being built on a
pretty steep hill, commands a fine view. To the left a prodigious sweep
of forest terminates in blue Canadian hills. On the right is the
American shore, at this time gaudy with autumn woods. There stands the
village of Lewistown, with its winding descent to the ferry. At our feet
lay Queenstown, its sordidness being lost in distance, and its long
street presenting the appearance of an English village. The green river
rushes between its lofty wooded banks, which suddenly widen at
Queenstown, causing the waters to spread and relax their speed while
making their way, with three or four bends, to the lake. We saw the
white church of Niagara rising above the woods some miles off where the
junction takes place; and beyond, the vast lake spreads its waters, gray
on the horizon. There was life in this magnificent scene. The ferryboat
was buffeted by the waves; groups were in waiting on either side the
ferry, and teams were in the fields. The Irishwoman was grieved that she
had no telescope wherewith to enable us to see what was doing on the
lake. She and her husband had provided one for the accommodation of
visiters. Some travellers (English) had thrown it down from the top of
the monument, and when she asked for payment only bullied her; and her
husband had not been able to afford to get another.

After dinner we sat on the top of the precipitous wooded bank of the
river, looking down into its green eddies, and watching the family of
white birds which hovered far beneath us, but yet high over the stream.
Meditating, as we were, that we were now sitting on the spot where the
falls were pouring down their flood ages before Babylon was founded or
the Greek Mythology had arisen out of the elements of universal
conviction, it was not surprising that we had no thoughts to spare for
the weather.[5] We did not observe how the sky had been darkening. Two
wagons driven by lads stopped in passing, and their drivers offered us
seats to Niagara. We at first declined, being bent upon walking; but
feeling heavy drops of rain at the moment, we retracted our refusal, and
jumped into one of the vehicles. It was a mere box upon wheels; a
barbarous machine, but of great service to us in the ensuing storm.
Before we reached our hotel we were thoroughly wet, but had obtained a
good deal of information from our driver about the condition of the
Canadian settlers in the neighbourhood. He was the son of a Canadian
father and Scotch mother, who were doing well in the world, as he said
the English settlers do who set the right way to work. The land is not
the best near the road; so that what is seen there is no fair specimen
of the state of the settlers. The farms hereabout consist of about 100
acres generally, and are all the property of the residents. Labourers
live with the farmers, and receive, besides their board and lodging,
about 120 dollars a year. A gentleman, a farmer and physician, from some
distance, called on me one day when I was out, and left messages for me
with one of our party. He said he wished me to see and do justice to
Canada. People go, he believes, with wrong expectations, and so are
disappointed. He, his wife and daughters, went expecting ease and
comfort, and they have found it; but they have not wealth and luxury. He
declared that civility and cheerfulness would always command good
manners and service. As I had no opportunity of "seeing and doing
justice to Canada," I give this gentleman's testimony. It is very
agreeable, and I do not doubt its justness.

Footnote 5: It is familiar to all that the cataract of Niagara is
supposed to have worn its way back from the point of the narrowing of
its channel (the spot where we now sat), and that there is an
anticipation of its continuing to retire the remaining twelve miles to
Lake Erie. Unless counteracting agencies should in the mean time be at
work, the inundation of the level country which must then take place
will be almost boundless. The period is, however, too remote for
calculation. An American told me, smiling, that the apprehension has not
yet affected the title to land. And no one knows what secret barriers
may be building up or drains opening.

Another visiter of a very different kind came to our parlour as I was
preparing for our departure. I looked up from my packing, and saw an
extraordinary apparition in the doorway; a lady bridling, winking, and
attitudinizing in a wonderful manner. On my asking her to come in and
sit down, she said she was deputed by a gentleman to ask my address, in
order to his communicating with me before I should publish my account of
the falls. She seemed deeply grieved at finding that I did not
contemplate any such publication, saying that it would be a serious
disappointment to the gentleman, who hoped I might have been of
essential service to him--by recommending his hotel! It appeared that a
sharp competition was going on about the letting of this hotel, and the
gentleman in question was in hopes of getting it. He seemed to have one
great qualification, the determination to leave no stone unturned.

The second time I visited Niagara I accomplished the feat of going
behind the fall. In October it was too cold; on a sunny 8th of June
there was no imprudence in it. When I descended the staircase with Dr.
and Mrs. F. after breakfast, we had no such intention; but we were all
tempted farther and farther over the rocks, nearer and nearer to the
sheet, till the puffing away of the spray gave us glimpses of what was
behind, and made us feel that this was the right day and hour. Mrs. F.'s
chest was not very strong, and this was no enterprise for a child; so
Dr. F. and I were to be the favoured ones. We ascended to the guide's
house, and surveyed the extraordinary costume in which we were to make
the expedition. Stout socks and shoes (but I would recommend ladies to
go shod as usual), thick cotton garments reaching to the feet, green
oilskin jackets and hats; in this mountaineer sort of costume is the
adventure to be gone through. As the guide's wife was assisting me, she
hoped I had enjoyed myself since I was last at the falls.

"Were you aware that I had been here before?"

"Yes, madam, I remember you well."

"Why, how is it possible that you should remember me among the thousands
of people who have been here in two seasons? We were not acquainted,
were we?"

"No, madam; but one evening you stopped and admired my cow."

"Did not this trumpet help you to remember me?"

"No, madam; I never saw it before."

How many ways there are to people's hearts! I now remembered having
remarked to a companion on the beauty and docility of a cow which a
woman was milking. The good wife had treasured up my observation as a
personal compliment.

Mrs. F. and Charley accompanied us to the edge of the spray, when we
sent them back, charging them not to expect us too soon, as we meant to
look about us a while.

We had a stout negro for a guide. He took me by the hand, and led me
through the spray. I presently found the method of keeping myself at my
ease. It was to hold down the brim of my hat, so as to protect my eyes
from the dashing water, and to keep my mouth shut. With these
precautions I could breathe and see freely in the midst of a tumult
which would otherwise be enough to extinguish one's being. A hurricane
blows up from the caldron; a deluge drives at you from all parts; and
the noise of both wind and waters, reverberated from the cavern, is
inconceivable. Our path was sometimes a wet ledge of rock just broad
enough to allow one person at a time to creep along; in other places we
walked over heaps of fragments both slippery and unstable.[6] If all had
been dry and quiet, I might probably have thought this path above the
boiling basin dangerous, and have trembled to pass it; but amid the
hubbub of gusts and floods, it appeared so firm a footing that I had no
fear of slipping into the caldron. From the moment that I perceived that
we were actually behind the cataract, and not in a mere cloud of spray,
the enjoyment was intense. I not only saw the watery curtain before me
like tempest-driven snow, but by momentary glances could see the crystal
roof of this most wonderful of Nature's palaces. The precise point where
the flood left the rock was marked by a gush of silvery light, which, of
course, was brighter where the waters were shooting forward than below
where they fell perpendicularly. There was light enough to see one
another's features by, and even to give a shadow to the side of the
projecting rock which barred our farther progress. When we came within a
few paces of this projection, our guide, by a motion of his hand (for
speaking was out of the question), forbade my advancing farther. But it
was no time and place to be stopped by anything but impossibilities. I
saw that though there was no regular path on the other side of the
guide, there were two pieces of rock wide enough for my feet, by
standing on which I might touch the wall which limited our walk. I made
the guide press himself back against the rock, and crossed between him
and the caldron, and easily gained my object--laying my hand on
Termination Rock. When I returned to my place Dr. F. passed both the
guide and myself for the same purpose. In returning my hat blew off, in
spite of all my efforts to hold it on. The guide put his upon my head,
and that was carried away in like manner. I ought to have been
instructed to tie it well on, for mere holding will not do in a
hurricane. It is a proof that we were well lighted in our cavern, that
we all saw the outline of a hat which was jammed between two stones some
way beneath us. The guide made for this, looking just as if he were
coolly walking down into destruction; for the volumes of spray curled
thickly up, as if eager to swallow him. He grasped the hat, but found it
too much beaten to pieces to be of any use.

Footnote 6: A rope has since been stretched along the rock to serve for
a handrail. This must render the expedition far less formidable than

Mrs. F. says we looked like three gliding ghosts when her anxious eye
first caught our forms moving behind the cloud. She was glad enough to
see us; for some one passing by had made her expect us at least two
minutes before we appeared. Dripping at all points as we were, we
scudded under the rocks and up the staircase to our dressing-rooms,
after which we wrote our names among those of the adventurers who have
performed the same exploit, and received a certificate of our having
visited Termination Rock. I was told that a fee and a wetting in the
spray may secure such a certificate at any time. Be this as it may, ours
were honest.

When we came down in our own likeness, Mrs. F. had found a glorious seat
for us on a rock which jutted outward and upward, commanding the entire
range of the falls, with every advantage of light, and also of solitude;
no inconsiderable gain in a place where tourists may be heard discussing
on Table Rock the probability of there being chickens for dinner. I felt
some pain in my chest for a few hours, but was not otherwise injured by
the expedition. When the other members of our party joined us, they were
somewhat surprised to hear what we had done; and one of them followed
our example another day.

I look back upon this morning as the very best of the many I spent at
the falls. We found several new points of view, and the weather was
divine. We clambered down to the water's edge, where men were gathering
spars and other "curiosities." We sat long amusing ourselves with
watching the vain attempts of the tree-trunks, which had been carried
over from above, to get any farther down the river. They were whisked
about like twigs in the boiling waters, and sometimes made a vigorous
shoot as if to get free of the eddies; but as often as they reached a
particular spot they were sure to be turned back, and sucked up the
stream to try again. I think they must be doing penance there still,
unless, enormous logs as they are, they have been dashed to pieces. When
the sun became too hot to be borne below, we came up to the foot of the
staircase and sat in the shade, drinking from the drip the soft shower
which could not make itself heard amid the solemn roar of the floods.
Here Charley stood, placing spouts of reed which might convey water from
the drip wherewith to wash his spars. Not a word of wonder had we from
him. He gloried in the scene, and feared nothing, climbing, with the
help of his father's strong hand, wherever it was practicable to set his
little foot; but there was no wonder. The age of wonder has not arrived
to children, savages, and other ignorant persons. They know too little
of purposes, means, and obstructions to be aware of what either divine
or human achievement is. A child believes you if you promise to take him
into the moon; and a savage supposes that you eclipse the sun by firing
a musket. An ignorant person annoys Mr. Babbage, after much praise of
his machine, by asking to know one thing more: "If you put a question in
wrong, will the answer come out right?" Charley would hardly have asked
this question, child as he was; but he did not share our wonder at the
cataract. He enjoyed the climbing, and the rainbows, and the emerald
pillars based on clouds, which was the form the floods bore this sultry
noon; but he went on washing his spars as tranquilly as if he had been
beside our favourite brook in the wood at Stockbridge. His pity was
stirred up this morning, however, with a story of a bird which I saw
perish. It had got bewildered in the circuit of the Horseshoe Fall. I
saw it driving and fluttering about for a minute or two in the spray,
when it flew directly into the sheet, and was swallowed up.

The next day was devoted to Goat Island. Dr. F., who learned English to
the last degree of perfection in little more than two years, happened to
say one day that there was one English word whose exact meaning he did
not understand, _dawdle_. We promised to afford him an exemplification
of it this day. There was also a joke against me. I was now a practised
traveller; and having found how the pleasures of travelling are
economized by business-like habits of arrangement, I was the prompter of
our somewhat inexperienced party about ordering dinner, packing at
convenient times, and so contriving as to have our thoughts at perfect
liberty for pleasure while we were out of doors, instead of having to
run or send to our lodgings about business which might have been settled
while we were there. They asked me whether I could spend a whole day
without thinking of time, meals, or the fitness of things in any way. No
one was better pleased with such liberty than I; so we left behind us
even our watches. It appears, however, that somebody must have carried
money, for food was brought to us, and, doubtless, honestly paid for.

At some unknown hour of a bright morning, therefore, we set forth from
our hotel, and in due time reached the ferry. The entire party paid
sufficient attention to business to sit properly in the boat, which is
no place for freak and frolic while bobbing about among the eddies. We
_dawdled_ long about the American Fall. I had never before been fully
aware of its power over the senses. To-day I saw a lady who was sitting
on the bank--as safe a seat as an armchair by the fireside--convulsively
turn away from the scene and clasp the ground. Yet the water flows so
tranquilly that I should not be afraid to stand in the flood near the
bank where it takes the leap. I tried the force of the water there, and
found it very moderate. After completing the ascent, Mrs. F. and I were
standing looking at the rapids, when a letter was handed to me. Somebody
had actually been mundane enough to remember the postoffice, and to go
to it! I was glad it was not I. Further sins against the spirit of the
day were presently committed. Of course, I cannot say what time it was,
but, by the heat, probably about the middle of the day, when the ladies
were sitting on the stem of a tree, in a tiny island amid the roaring
rapids--an interesting love-story being their topic--and the gentlemen
were seen approaching with bread, biscuits, cheese, ale, and lemonade.
They had not even forgotten glasses. We ate our dinner on a bench under
the trees, all except Charley, who niched himself in an ash which parted
from the root into many stems. The boy looked like a beautiful fairy,
and, for his own part, declared that this was far better than dining in
any house.

We dawdled hours away in Goat Island; now lying on the grassy bank with
our feet almost into the rapids; now fanning ourselves in the
translucent green shades of the wood, among rabbits and goats, and then
gathering new wild-flowers from the multitude which blossomed under our
feet, the roar of the falls solemnizing all. The timid ones sat in the
alcove erected above the Horseshoe Fall, while the rest went down to the
Terrapin Bridge and Tower. The tower, forty feet high, is built on rocks
in the midst of the rapids, and its summit affords an absolutely
complete view of the scene. The bridge is built on logs which extend
from rock to rock in the rapids to the edge of the precipice, the flood
gushing beneath in a dizzying whirl. At my first visit this bridge had
been complete, and, to all appearance, secure. I had stood on its
extreme point, which projected over the precipice. There I hung
suspended above the fall, standing in the air on the extremity of a
beam, and without any suspicion that I was not perfectly safe. It was
there that I learned some of the secrets of the cataract. I saw there
what can be seen nowhere else, the emerald columns broken and forced up,
and falling again in gushes of diamonds, which again were melted into
wreaths of dazzling snow. It was now too late to see this any more. The
bridge had broken down some way from the end; the handrail was gone; and
the brink of the precipice was no longer accessible. We got to the
tower, however, and farther; and Charley and his father stepped down
from the bridge among the rocks, and stood amid the water very near the
brink of the great fall! Their position was shown to be perfectly safe
by the verdure of these rocks. Slight shrubs, rooted in their crevices,
were full of leaf. Their smallest twigs were tossed in the never-dying
breeze without being snapped. Yet we were glad when our friends were
safe on the bridge again.

We descended the Biddle staircase--the spiral staircase fixed against
the perpendicular rock in Goat Island--and pursued a narrow path from
its foot back to the fall, where we found a glacier! An enormous pile of
snow and ice lay against the rock, so solid, under this intense June
sun, that Charley climbed to the top of it. Here every successive pulse
of the cataract was like a cannon shot a few yards off, so that there
was no standing it long; there was much yet to do; and the party
probably observed, though no one chose to mention it, that the sun was
going down. We crossed the detached American Fall by its rustic bridge,
and hunted it back to its retreat in the wood. Our faces were now turned
homeward; but we lingered long in the shades, and afterward at Bath
Island, where some one observed that it would be dusk before we could
reach the ferry, and that the walk home on the Canada side was not of a
kind to be prosecuted in the dark. The sun disappeared before we reached
the ferry-house, and the panorama from the river was seen in the
magnitude and majesty of twilight. In the dark woods on the Canada side
we made ourselves visible to each other by catching fireflies and
sticking them in our bonnets. They sat very still among our bows of
riband, and really served our purpose very well.

Bad news awaited us at home; news of Mr. Van Buren's casting vote in
favour of the third reading of the Gag Bill, and of a fresh breaking out
of the dreadful Creek war in Georgia; but now that that atrocious bill
has long been thrown out, and the Creek war ended (though with grievous
suffering and humiliation to the poor Creeks), this day of delicious
dawdling (a word which Dr. F. by this time completely understood) stands
out bright enough to be worthy of the scene and of our human life.


        "Ingrata Patria!"

                                                      DANTE'S _Epitaph_.

    "Que l'homme donc s'estime son prix: il a en lui la capacité de
    connôitre la vérité, et d'être heureux: mais il n'a point de vérité,
    ou constante, ou satisfaisante. Je voudrois donc porter l'homme a
    désirer d'en trouver: à être prêt et dégagé des passions pour la
    suivre où il la trouvera."--PASCAL.

Among the select classes of men to whom the common race looks up with
the heart-throb of mingled reverence and sympathy, none is perhaps so
eminent as that of sufferers for opinion. If ever we are conscious of a
breathing of the Godhead in man, it is in the sanctified presence,
actual or ideal, of martyrs to truth. Such men, as a class, are liable
to particular faults, are usually marked by the imperfections which
attend their virtues, as shadows are a consequence of sunshine. But in
no case are men in general so tolerant of faults as in theirs; I do not
mean in their own day, when they are not commonly recognised as
confessors and martyrs, but when they stand out from the records of
time, complete characters in history. The turbulence, jealousy, and
self-will of such men are allowed for more liberally than the same
faults in other orders of men; more slightly noticed; more eagerly
extenuated. And why? Because, of all men, they most infallibly and
extensively command sympathy. As truth is the one eternal good, the
single pursuit of truth is the one eternal virtue which wins and
elevates all human souls. But when, as in some rare instances, this
devotion to truth is seen purified from the failings which elsewhere
seem its natural accompaniments; when the hero is seen holy, harmless,
and undefiled as the sage; when no regrets need mingle with the
admiration of the disciple, as delicious a contemplation is afforded to
the moral taste as the moral creation yields.

Such was Priestley, the singled-minded martyr, but the meek inquirer;
the intrepid confessor, but the humble Christian; the gentle
philosopher, the sympathizing friend. Circumstances have been
unfavourable to a wide, but not to a full knowledge of his character.
The comparatively few to whom his mind and heart have been absolutely
laid open, regard him with a love which is only not idolatrous because
it is perfectly reasonable. The many know him as a man who was driven
away from Birmingham by a mob who destroyed his house, papers, and
philosophical apparatus, burned his church, and sought his life; and
that he took refuge in America, and died there. Some go on to believe
what was said at the time; that he was a turbulent man, a
mischief-maker, and either a conceited smatterer in theology and
philosophy, or a deep malignant infidel, they do not know which. Others
hold him to have been a good kind of man, who rashly drew upon his own
head the tempests of his time, and had to bear only the natural though
hard consequences of his own imprudence. But those whose knowledge of
him is complete can tell that his imputed turbulence was intellectual
activity; his conceit a simplicity too lofty for the apprehension of his
enemies; his infidelity a devout constancy to truth. His depth was all
of wisdom; his hatreds were of cant, hypocrisy, and designed obstruction
of truth. He exposed himself to tribulation as innocently and
unconsciously as he bore it meekly and heroically. He never sought
martyrdom, for he loved life and its comforts in the bosom of his family
and friends; he valued repose for his philosophical pursuits, and
thought his daily probation sufficient for every man's strength. He was
playing backgammon with his wife after supper when the mob came upon
him; he was so wholly unprepared that his MSS. and private letters lay
all exposed to the rioters; and the philosopher suffered--calmly and
bravely suffered--the anguish of feeling himself a hated and an injured
man. Yet, thus taken by surprise, his emotions were not for himself, or
for the many near and dear friends who were being overwhelmed with him.
While he stood looking over a garden hedge where he could see the flames
devouring his church, and hear the shouts of the mob which was
demolishing his house, he dropped a natural expression of pity for the
misery of those poor people when they should discover what mischief they
had done. No word was ever heard from him about the effect which the
sufferings of the day would have upon anybody's mind or upon any future
time. He simply did the duty, and bore the probation of the hour,
leaving unconsciously an example of sublime patience which has raised
and kindled more minds than the highest order of good men ever dream of
influencing, and whose force will not be spent while men are moved by
disinterestedness or thrilled by heroism.

Of his retirement in America we have many particulars, but still not
enough. Enough can never be learned of the course of life of one whose
more homely virtues were now put to the severest test, after those which
are commonly esteemed more lofty had well stood their trial. The
following passage delivers over to us the impression of the
philosopher's latter days, which Priestley's own correspondence and the
notices of his friends leave on the mind of an affectionate admirer of
the man.

"There, in one of its remote recesses, on the outer margin of
civilization, he who had made a part of the world's briskest activity,
who had led on the speed of its progress, whose mind had kept pace with
its learning, and overtaken its science, and outstripped its freedom and
its morality, gathered together his resources of philosophy and
devotion; thence he looked forth on the vicissitudes and prospects of
Europe with melancholy but hopeful interests, like the prophet from his
mount on the land whose glories he was not to see. But it was not for
such an energetic spirit as his to pass instantaneously into the
quietude of exile without an irrecoverable shock. He had not that dreamy
and idle pietism which could enwrap itself in the mists of its own
contemplations, and believe Heaven nearer in proportion as earth became
less distinct. The shifting sights and busy murmurs that reached him
from afar reminded him of the circulation of social toils which had
plied his hand and heart. Year after year passed on, and brought him no
summons of duty back into the stir of men; all that he did he had to
devise and execute by his own solitary energies, apart from advice and
sympathy, and with no hope but that of benefiting the world he was soon
to leave. The effort to exchange the habits of the city for those of the
cloister was astonishingly successful. But his mind was never the same
again; it is impossible not to perceive a decline of power, a tendency
to garrulity of style and eccentricity of speculation in his American
publications. And yet, while this slight though perceptible shade fell
over his intellect, a softened light seemed to spread itself over his
character. His feelings, his moral perceptions were mellowed and ripened
by years, and assumed a tenderness and refinement not observable before.
Thanks to the genial and heavenly clime which Christianity sheds round
the soul, the aged stem burst into blossom. And so it will always be
when the mind is really pervaded by so noble a faith as Priestley's.
There is no law of nature, there are no frosts of time to shed a
snowblight on the heart. The feelings die out when their objects come to
an end; and if there be no future, and the aims of life become shorter
and shorter, and its treasures drop off, and its attractions are spent,
and a few links only of its hours remain in the hand, well may there be
no heart for effort and no eye for beauty, and well may love gather
itself up to die. But open perfection to its veneration and immortality
to its step; tell it of one who is and always will be the inspirer of
genius, the originator of truth, the life of emotion; assure it that all
which is loved shall live for ever; that that which is known shall
enlarge for ever; that all which is felt shall grow intenser for ever,
and the proximity of death will quicken instead of withering the mind;
the eye will grow dim on the open page of knowledge; the hand will be
found clasping in death the instruments of human good; the heart's last
pulse will beat with some new emotion of benignity. In Priestley's case
there was not merely a sustainment, but a positive advancement of
character in later years. The symptoms of restlessness gradually
disappear without abatement of his activity; a quietude as of one who
waits and listens comes over him; there are touches of sentiment and
traces of tears in his letters, and yet an obvious increase of serenity
and hope; there is a disposition to devise and accomplish more good for
the world, and ply himself while an energy remained, and yet no anxiety
to do what was beyond his powers. He successively followed to the grave
a son and a wife; and the more he was left alone, the more did he love
to be alone; and in his study, surrounded by the books which had been
his companions for half a century and over half the earth, and sitting
beneath the pictures of friends under the turf, he took his last survey
of the world which had given him so long a shelter; like a grateful
guest before his departure, he numbered up the bright and social, or the
adventurous hours which had passed during his stay; and the philosophers
who had welcomed him in his annual visits to London, the broad,
sagacious face of Franklin, the benignant intelligence of Price, rose up
before him, and the social voices of the group of heretics round the
fireside of Essex-street floated on his ear; and as the full moon shone
upon his table and glistened in his electrical machine, his eye would
dream of the dining philosophers of the Lunar Society, and glisten to
greet again the doughty features of Darwin, and the clear, calculating
eye of Watt. Yet his retrospective thoughts were but hints to suggest a
train of prospective far more interesting. The scenes which he loved
were in the past, but most of the objects which clothed them with
associations of interest were already transferred to the future: there
they were in reserve for him, to be recovered (to use his own favourite
phrase, slightly tinged with the melancholy spirit of his solitude)
'under more favourable circumstances;' and thither, with all his
attachment to the world, whose last cliffs he had reached, and whose
boundary ocean already murmured beneath, he hoped soon to emigrate."[7]

Footnote 7: "Monthly Repository," New Series, vol. vii., p. 235.

Priestley had much to suffer in America. His severest woes befell him
there. There he lost his beloved son Harry; then his wife departed; and
trials which exceeded even these put his Christian acquiescence to the
fullest proof. To an intimate friend he writes, "From how much trouble
has my wife been relieved! She had a great mind, but the events that
have taken place since her death would have affected her deeply. My
trials, now towards the close of life, are as great as I can bear,
though I doubt not that a wise and good Providence overrules all events,
and I have daily a more habitual respect to it. Nothing else could
support me.... We are frail, imperfect beings, and our faith is at best
but weak, and requires to be strengthened by reading and reflection. I
never omit reading, and I do it with more satisfaction than ever, a
considerable portion of scripture every day, and by this means my mind
is much relieved."

This is not the device of the devotee, the refuge of the disappointed
man, who takes to religion as the only resource left him. This is the
declaration of a philosopher, whose youth and whose riper years were
given to the close study of the book which was now the pillow of his

I know not how it may appear to persons less familiarized than myself
with the spirit of the man and the eloquent moderation of his language,
but I have always regarded the letter on the death of his son Harry as
an exquisite revelation of a healthy mind in sorrow:--

        "TO THE REV. T. LINDSEY.

                                         "Northumberland, Dec. 17, 1795.

    "Dear Friend,

    "I think that, in my last of the 7th instant, I mentioned Harry's
    being indisposed, in consequence, we imagined, of his attending his
    limekiln in the night. It proved to be a more serious illness than
    we or the physician imagined. He grew worse till the 11th, when he
    died, it is now almost certain, of an inflammation and mortification
    of the stomach. Having had little or no apprehension of danger till
    near the time of his death, the shock, you may suppose, was very
    great; and, being the first event of the kind, I am affected more
    than I thought I should have been, though I have unspeakable
    consolation in believing that nothing can befall us without the
    appointment of the best of Beings, and that we shall meet our
    departed children and friends in a better state.

    "He had recovered from an ague which was common in this part of the
    country this summer; but, after this, he had frequent colds from
    exposing himself to cold and wet, and not taking proper care of
    himself afterward, which certainly laid the foundation of his
    subsequent and last illness.

    "Had he been bred a farmer, he could not have been more assiduous
    than he was. He was admired by everybody for his unremitting labour,
    as well as good judgment, in the management of his business, though
    only eighteen years old. With respect to his ardour in his pursuits,
    he was more like what I was at his age than any of my children,
    though our objects were very different. He was strictly virtuous,
    and was uncommonly beloved by all that worked under him; and it was
    always said that he was better served than any other farmer in this
    country. He had a sense of honour and generosity which, I am sorry
    to say, is not common here. I hope, therefore, that he had the
    foundation of something in his character on which a good
    superstructure may be raised hereafter. We thought his temper, and
    even his looks, altered for the worse by the severe illness he had
    at Hackney; but it is remarkable, that some time before his death
    (as his mother, who never left him, says), and very visibly
    afterward, he had the same sweet, placid, and even cheerful
    countenance that he had when he was young; much like that of his
    sister, whom, at that time, he greatly resembled. I never saw the
    countenance of a dead person so pleasing; and so it continued till
    he was buried. Even this seemingly trifling circumstance gives me
    much satisfaction. I know you and Mrs. Lindsey will excuse my
    writing so much about myself and family. I could not write so much
    to anybody else.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "My wife is much affected, as you will suppose, by the death of
    Harry; but, at the same time, discovers proper fortitude. By her
    constant attendance upon him she has made herself ill, but seems to
    be getting better."[8]

Footnote 8: Rutt's Life, Correspondence, and Works of Priestley,
vol. i., part ii., p. 327.

This is the man whom Johnson dared to execrate. At a chymical lecture he
knit his brows, and was displeased with the lecturer for citing so often
the discoveries of Dr. Priestley. When excuse was made that chymical
lectures could not be faithfully given without citing Priestley's
discoveries, "Well," said the moral Johnson, "I suppose we must give
even the devil his due." Thus may even great men revile greater,
denouncing those to whom it would be well for them to kneel.

There are some who are as blind to Priestley's merits as Johnson,
without half his excuse. Before I went to America I was aware that the
Unitarians there, who ought to know everything about the apostle of
their faith who took refuge in their country, were so far in the dark
about him, as that they misapprehended his philosophy, and
misrepresented its tendencies in a way and to a degree which seemed
irreconcilable with the means of information within their reach. I knew
that Dr. Channing's celebrated note on Priestley remained unretracted,
though rebuked on the spot[9] with much spirit and tenderness by a then
young divine, who better understood the Christian sage. I knew that the
tendency of this sect in America to lean upon authority, with some other
causes, must indispose them to do justice to Priestley. But, till I was
among them, I had no idea that it was possible for those of them who
were not ignorant of the character of the philosopher to allow their
fear and dislike of some of his convictions to render them so insensible
as they are to the majesty of the man. They themselves would deny the
insensibility, and point to this and that testimony to Priestley being a
well-meaning man, which may be found in their publications. But facts
show what the insensibility is. Dr. Channing speaks of him now in a tone
of patronage, admitting that he is under obligations to him for one or
two detached sermons which breathe the true spirit. Another clergyman
puts forth a small volume of selections from Priestley's works, with an
apologetical preface, which states, that whatever Priestley's doctrines
and writings may have been as a whole, there are portions which may be
picked out for people to profit by. Such facts show that the character
and mission of the man are not understood. Priestley was, above most
men, one who came at a right point of time to accomplish a particular
service; to break up the reliance on authority in matters of opinion and
conscience, and insensibly to show, in an age when prejudice and denial
were at fierce war, how noble and touching is the free, and fervent, and
disinterested pursuit of truth. His character is to everlasting; but his
writings are, for the most part, suitable to only a particular position
of affairs, a critical social state. Those who, like the Americans, are
unprepared for--alienated from--his philosophy, and who are remarkable
for their dependance on authority in matters of opinion, cannot possibly
sympathize with Priestley's convictions, and a full appreciation of him
ought not to be expected of them. But they had better, in such a
position of circumstances, let his works alone. It is not necessary or
desirable that they should study writings to which no impulse of
sympathy or admiration leads them; but it is most desirable that they
should not speak and write apologetically and patronisingly of one of
the largest-minded and most single-hearted of sages. In the transition
which the religious and philosophical society of America has to make
from reliance on authority to a state of individual research and
conviction, the philosopher may or may not yet become an apostle to
them. In their present condition he cannot be so. The warmest friends of
both see that it cannot be so. They only desire that his reputation
should be left unvisited as his remains; and that, while no traveller is
drawn aside from his path to seek the philosopher's tomb, no
presumptuous hand should offer to endorse his merits, or push the claims
to partial approbation of one who was created to command reverent
discipleship; reverent discipleship in the pursuit of truth, if not in
the reception of doctrine.

Footnote 9: In the "Christian Disciple."

The first point of my travels fixed in my intentions was the retreat of
Priestley, and my pilgrimage thither was accomplished within a few weeks
after I landed. From Pittsburg we crossed the Alleghanies by the road
through Ebensburg, and in four days reached Youngmanstown, eighteen
miles from Northumberland. We breakfasted at Lewisburg on the 11th of
November, and were very glad to leave behind us the most fretful stage
company we were shut up with in all our travels. We crossed the
Susquehanna in peace and quiet; and could freely enjoy our meditations,
as every mile brought us nearer the philosopher's resting-place. I wish
I could communicate to others of his disciples the harmony between the
scenery and the man which now exists, and ever will exist, in my own
mind. Priestley himself wrote, "I do not think there can be, in any part
of the world, a more delightful situation than this and the
neighbourhood;" and I revolved this in my thoughts as I gazed upon the
broad, shoaly, and gleamy river bordered with pines, and the swelling
hills and sloping fields which sometimes intervened between us and the
river. The morning was one of lustrous clouds and mild gleams, and the
whole scene was of the tranquil character, and dressed in the soft light
which is most accordant with the mood of those traversing the scenery
with such reasons as mine. I was full of stronger emotions than when I
found myself in sight of the spray of Niagara. There is nothing so
sanctifying as the ideal presence of the pure in spirit; and not all the
thronging images of what Niagara had witnessed since the earliest
worship of an extinct race was paid there, before the ancient empires of
the earth were heard of, affected me so much as the thought of the sage
who came hither to forgive his enemies and hope all things for the
world, in the midst of his hourly privations and daily regrets.

Abrupt wooded rocks dignify the river banks near the town; and nothing
can be much more beautiful than the situation of the place, in the fork
of the Susquehanna. The town itself, however, would delight an
improvement-hater. It has scarcely advanced at all since Priestley's
time. Some of the inhabitants complain that this stagnation is owing to
the want of enterprise among their capitalists; but there would be
enterprise there as elsewhere, if there was an average prospect of
reward. Others allege that the place is not healthy. It is certainly
subject to fever and ague, but the causes are thought to be removable.
Sunbury, on the other shore of the eastern branch of the river, is a
rival, a thriving competitor of Northumberland, but the growth of
neither is to be compared with that of most American towns. The only
interest connected with Northumberland still is its being Priestley's
city of refuge.

We were hospitably received at the clean little inn, and I presently
discovered that our hostess could give me more information about
Priestley than anybody else in the place. Her father had been intimately
acquainted with the philosopher; had been his confidant in his latest
and severest trials; and she herself remembered him well, and could
relate many little incidents which delighted me as giving life to
objects that were before my eyes. No words can convey the passionate
admiration, the devoted love with which this good lady spoke of him. A
power went out of him which melted his enemies, and converted those who
came with hatred into his presence; and it exalted the love of his
friends to the highest pitch that human affection can reach. "All that
I have formerly said of Dr. Priestley is nonsense," declared a stiff
religious bigot after an accidental interview with the philosopher. "I
have now seen him for myself, and you must let me see more of him." Our
good hostess told me how unequalled his preaching was, so simple, and
earnest, and tender, quite unlike any other person's preaching, and his
looks so bright: she dwelt on his goodness to his neighbours, and how
inexhaustible were his charities; so thoughtful, so steady, so
perpetual. She laughed again at the remembrance of his childlike gayety,
bursting out in the midst of his heart-soreness, and declared that he
was never long depressed; he was so sure that all was right in reality,
that he could never be dismayed at its seeming otherwise for a time. She
remembered that "he was much thought of when he first came," yet she
never felt afraid of him. She was present at the only time when he was
seen wholly overcome with grief, and will never forget the oppression of
heart, the anguish of seeing tears streaming down his face when no one
could do anything to help him. But her recollections of him are chiefly
joyous; of his eagerness about his philosophical pursuits; the cheerful
tone of his preaching; his sympathy with young people. Never was a
lovelier picture of old age given--of its virtues, nor, alas! of its
privileges--than by this affectionate observer. Her testimony is
confirmed by every other that exists. I saw the gentleman who was with
him when he received his Voltaic pile, and who told me how eagerly he
pointed out the wire dissolving, and made his friend take a shock in his
forefinger. All who conversed with him mentioned that his feelings
became more sensitive towards the end of his life; his eyes were
frequently seen to glisten in conversation, and he smiled oftener. A
gentleman, now well known as an unbeliever of the last degree of
bigotry, who shrinks with as much hatred and fear from the very mention
of religion as persons of an opposite character from infidelity, bore a
singular testimony to the state of Priestley's mind in his latter days.
This gentleman was observing to me that it was strange, considering how
irritable Priestley's temper was by nature, and that he died of a
harassing and depressing disease, that he was eminently placid during
the last few months of his life. I observed that his religion was of a
sustaining nature, being no superstition, but a firmly-grounded,
long-tried faith; and that the natural explanation of his tranquillity
was, that he was in a thoroughly religious state of mind. "Religious!
bless me, no!" cried the gentleman; "he was always very cheerful
whenever I saw him."

At the house of his grandson, cashier of the bank at Northumberland, I
saw a delightful portrait of him. It is from a copy of this picture that
the engraving in the "Gallery of Portraits," published by the Society
for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, is taken. The face and air are
worthy of the man; gentle and venerable. The philosopher's house we
found occupied by a judge and his lady, who are Quakers, while their
children are orthodox; but this double difference of religious opinion
does not impair their respect for the former inhabitant of their
dwelling. They preserve with an honourable reverence every vestige of
him and his pursuits. They show the willows that were planted in his
time in the garden, and have preserved the round hole he made in the
window-shutter of his study for the advantage of his optical
experiments, and even the bit of wainscot which he scorched with his
burning glasses. They took me to the corner of the library where he
breathed his last, and to the balustrade on the top of the roof where he
went up to meditate at eventide. It commands a beautiful prospect of the
course of the two branches of the Susquehanna, and of their junction.

Priestley's Hill is so called from its vicinity to the lands held by his
family. It is pleasant to know that he was possessed of abundance during
the last years of his life. His own wants were few, almost all his
expenditure being in charity and in his philosophical pursuits. He had
enough for these, and to settle his sons on good farms. No man bestowed
and accepted money with a better grace than he; his generous English
friends, who had the best reasons for being aware of this, had the
satisfaction of knowing that no pecuniary anxieties mingled with the
trials of his closing years.

The tombs of the three--of Priestley, his excellent wife, and his son
Harry--are in a family graveyard which is on the outskirts of the little
town, and some way from the family residence. It is walled round, and
has an iron gate. I was familiar with the account of Harry's funeral,
written at the time, and could not understand how it happened that he
lay in this place. It is clear, from the testimony of persons on the
spot, that his body had never been moved; and as the place of interment
is described as being woodland, we must suppose that the bare place
where he lies was within the verge of the forest in 1795. A resident in
the neighbourhood wrote thus: "I attended the funeral to the lonely
spot, and there I saw the good old father perform the service over the
grave of his son. It was an affecting sight, but he went through it with
fortitude, and, after praying, addressed the attendants in a few words,
assuring them that, though death had separated them here, they should
meet again in another and a better world."

How little did I think when, some years ago, I read and reread the
narrative of Harry's death--striving to extract from it something more,
and yet something more to throw light on the character of father and
son--that I should stand by that very grave and plant a rose upon it!
Few feet have wandered that way, and no hands seem to be busied about
those graves; but I was thankful to have been there among the first of
many pilgrims who will yet see the spot. For another pupil of the
philosopher's, whose homage I carried with my own, I planted a snowberry
on Priestley's grave. When that other and I were infants, caring for
nothing but our baby plays, this grave was being dug for one who was to
exert a most unusual influence over our minds and hearts, exercising our
intellects, and winning our affections like a present master and parent,
rather than a thinker who had passed away from the earth. Here I now
stood by his grave, listening to tales which seemed as fresh as if he
were living and walking yesterday, instead of having been wept before I
knew any of the meanings of tears.

The inscription on Priestley's tomb is singularly inappropriate: "Return
unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.
I will lay me down in peace, and sleep until I awake in the morning of
the resurrection." Phrases from the Old Testament and about the soul on
the grave of Priestley!

I remained in the neighbourhood several days, and visited as many of the
philosopher's haunts as I could get pointed out to me; and when I was at
length obliged to resume my journey down the Susquehanna, it was with a
strong feeling of satisfaction in the accomplishment of my object. These
are the places in which to learn what are the real, in distinction from
the comparatively insignificant, objects of regard; of approbation and
hatred; of desire and fear. This was the place to learn what survived
of a well-exercised and much-tried man. He made mistakes; they are
transient evils, for others have been sent to rectify them. He felt
certain of some things still dubious; this is a transient evil, for he
is gone where he will obtain greater clearness; and men have arisen and
will arise to enlighten us, and those who will follow us. He exploded
errors; this was a real, but second-rate good, which would have been
achieved by another, if not by him. He discovered new truths; this is a
real good, and as eternal as truth itself. He made an unusual progress
towards moral perfection; this is the highest good of all, and never
ending. His mistakes will be rectified; the prejudices against him on
their account will die out; the hands that injured him, the tongues that
wounded him, are all, or nearly all, stilled in death; the bitter tears
which these occasioned have long since been all wept. These things are
gone or going by; they have reached, or are tending to the extinction
which awaits all sins and sorrows. What remains? Whatever was real of
the man and of the work given him to do. Whatsoever truth he discovered
will propagate itself for ever, whether the honour of it be ascribed to
him or not. There remain other things no less great, no less real, no
less eternal, to be reckoned among the spiritual treasures of the race;
things of which Priestley, the immortal, was composed, and in which he
manifestly survives; a love of truth which no danger could daunt and no
toil relax; a religious faith which no severity of probation could
shake; a liberality proof against prejudice from within and injury from
without; a simplicity which no experience of life and men could corrupt;
a charity which grew tenderer under persecution and warmer in exile; a
hope which flourished in disappointment and triumphed in the grave.
These are the things which remain, bearing no relation to country or
time; as truly here as there, now as hereafter.

These realities are the inheritance of those who sit at home as well as
of those who wander abroad; yet it may be forgiven to the weak, whose
faith is dimsighted and whose affections crave a visible resting-place,
if they find their sense of privilege refreshed by treading the shores
of the exile's chosen Susquehanna.


    "In the prison of Coldbath Fields, in which the silent system is
    believed to be brought to the greatest degree of perfection, under
    the management of a highly intelligent and able governor, who has at
    his command every possible advantage for working the system, there
    were in the year 1836 no less than 5138 punishments 'for talking and
    swearing.'"--_Second Report of the Inspectors of Prisons of Great
    Britain, 1837._

    "Silence and Secrecy!... Do thou thyself but hold thy tongue for one
    day; on the morrow how much clearer are thy purposes and duties!
    what wreck and rubbish have those mute workmen within thee swept
    away, when intrusive noises were shut out!"--_Sartor Resartus._

I have shown in my account of Society in America that, after visiting
several prisons in the United States, I was convinced that the system of
solitary confinement at Philadelphia is the best that has yet been
adopted.[10] So much has been heard in England of the Auburn prison, its
details look so complete and satisfactory on paper, and it is so much a
better system than the English have been accustomed to see followed at
home, that it has a high reputation among us. But I think a careful
survey of the institution on the spot must lessen the admiration
entertained for this mode of punishment.

Footnote 10: "Society in America," part iii., chap. iv.

The convicts are, almost without exception, pale and haggard. As their
work is done either in the open air or in well-ventilated shops, and
their diet is good, their unhealthy appearance is no doubt owing chiefly
to the bad construction of their night-cells. These cells are small and
ill-ventilated, and do not even answer the purpose of placing the
prisoners in solitude during the night. The convicts converse with
nearly as much ease, through the air-pipes or otherwise, at night, as
they do by speaking behind their teeth, without moving the lips, while
at work in the day. In both cases they feel that they are transgressing
the laws of the prison by doing an otherwise innocent and almost
necessary act; a knowledge and feeling most unfavourable to reformation,
and destructive of any conscientiousness which retribution may be
generating in them. Their anxious and haggard looks may be easily
accounted for. They are denied the forgetfulness of themselves and their
miseries which they might enjoy in free conversation; and also the
repose and the shelter from shame which are the privileges of solitary
confinement. Every movement reminds them that they are in disgrace; a
multitude of eyes (the eyes of the wicked, too) is ever upon them; they
can live neither to themselves nor to society, and self-respect is
rendered next to impossible. A man must be either hardened, or restless
and wretched under such circumstances; and the faces at Auburn are no

The finishing of the day's work and the housing for the night are sights
barely endurable. The governor saw my disgust, and explained that he
utterly disapproved of strangers being allowed to be present at all
this; but that the free Americans would not be debarred from beholding
the operation of anything which they have decreed. This is right enough;
the evil is in there being any such spectacle to behold. The prisoners
are ranged in companies for the march from their workshops into the
prison. Each fills his pail and carries it, and takes up the can with
his supper as he passes the kitchen; and, when I was there, this was
done in the presence of staring and amused strangers, who looked down
smiling from the portico. Some of the prisoners turned their heads every
possible way to avoid meeting our eyes, and were in an agony of shame;
while the blacks, who, from their social degradation, have little idea
of shame, and who are remarkable for exaggeration in all they do,
figured away ridiculously in the march, stamping and gesticulating as if
they were engaged in a game at romps. I do not know which extreme was
the most painful to behold. It is clear that no occasion should be
afforded for either; that men should not be ignominiously paraded
because they are guilty.

The arrangements for the women were extremely bad at that time; but the
governor needed no convincing of this, and hoped for a speedy
rectification. The women were all in one large room, sewing. The attempt
to enforce silence was soon given up as hopeless; and the gabble of
tongues among the few who were there was enough to paralyze any matron.
Some rather hopeful-looking girls were side by side with old offenders
of their own colour, and with some most brutish-looking black women.
There was an engine in sight which made me doubt the evidence of my own
eyes; stocks of a terrible construction; a chair, with a fastening for
the head and for all the limbs. Any lunatic asylum ought to be ashamed
of such an instrument. The governor liked it no better than we; but he
pleaded that it was his only means of keeping his refractory female
prisoners quiet while he was allowed only one room to put them all into.
I hope these stocks have been used for firewood before this.

The first principle in the management of the guilty seems to me to be to
treat them as men and women; which they were before they were guilty,
and will be when they are no longer so; and which they are in the midst
of it all. Their humanity is the principal thing about them; their guilt
is a temporary state. The insane are first men, and secondarily diseased
men; and in a due consideration of this order of things lies the main
secret of the successful treatment of such. The drunkard is first a man,
and secondarily a man with a peculiar weakness. The convict is, in like
manner, first a man, and then a sinner. Now, there is something in the
isolation of the convict which tends to keep this order of
considerations right in the mind of his guardians. The warden and his
prisoner converse like two men when they are face to face; but when the
keeper watches a hundred men herded together in virtue of the one common
characteristic of their being criminals, the guilt becomes the prominent
circumstance, and there is an end of the brotherly faith in each, to
which each must mainly owe his cure. This, in our human weakness, is the
great evil attendant upon the good of collecting together sufferers
under any particular physical or moral evil. Visiters are shy of the
blind, the deaf and dumb, and insane, when they see them all together,
while they would feel little or nothing of this shyness if they met each
sufferer in the bosom of his own family. In the one case, the infirmity,
defying sympathy, is the prominent circumstance; in the other, not. It
follows from this, that such an association of prisoners as that at
Auburn must be more difficult to reform, more difficult to do the
state's duty by, than any number or kind of criminals who are classed by
some other characteristic, or not classed at all.

The wonderfully successful friend of criminals, Captain Pillsbury, of
the Weathersfield prison, has worked on this principle, and owes his
success to it. His moral power over the guilty is so remarkable, that
prison-breakers who can be confined nowhere else are sent to him to be
charmed into staying their term out. I was told of his treatment of two
such. One was a gigantic personage, the terror of the country, who had
plunged deeper and deeper in crime for seventeen years. Captain
Pillsbury told him when he came that he hoped he would not repeat the
attempts to escape which he had made elsewhere. "It will be best," said
he, "that you and I should treat each other as well as we can. I will
make you as comfortable as I possibly can, and shall be anxious to be
your friend; and I hope you will not get me into any difficulty on your
account. There is a cell intended for solitary confinement, but we have
never used it, and I should be sorry ever to have to turn the key upon
anybody in it. You may range the place as freely as I do if you will
trust me as I shall trust you." The man was sulky, and for weeks showed
only very gradual symptoms of softening under the operation of Captain
Pillsbury's cheerful confidence. At length information was given to the
captain of this man's intention to break prison. The captain called him,
and taxed him with it; the man preserved a gloomy silence. He was told
that it was now necessary for him to be locked in the solitary cell, and
desired to follow the captain, who went first, carrying a lamp in one
hand and the key in the other. In the narrowest part of the passage the
captain (who is a small, slight man) turned round and looked in the face
of the stout criminal. "Now," said he, "I ask you whether you have
treated me as I deserve? I have done everything I could think of to make
you comfortable; I have trusted you, and you have never given me the
least confidence in return, and have even planned to get me into
difficulty. Is this kind? And yet I cannot bear to lock you up. If I had
the least sign that you cared for me...." The man burst into tears.
"Sir," said he, "I have been a very devil these seventeen years; but you
treat me like a man." "Come, let us go back," said the captain. The
convict had the free range of the prison as before. From this hour he
began to open his heart to the captain, and cheerfully fulfilled his
whole term of imprisonment, confiding to his friend, as they arose, all
impulses to violate his trust, and all facilities for doing so which he
imagined he saw.

The other case was of a criminal of the same character, who went so far
as to make the actual attempt to escape. He fell, and hurt his ankle
very much. The captain had him brought in and laid on his bed, and the
ankle attended to, every one being forbidden to speak a word of reproach
to the sufferer. The man was sullen, and would not say whether the
bandaging of his ankle gave him pain or not. This was in the night, and
every one returned to bed when this was done. But the captain could not
sleep. He was distressed at the attempt, and thought he could not have
fully done his duty by any man who would make it. He was afraid the man
was in great pain. He rose, threw on his gown, and went with a lamp to
the cell. The prisoner's face was turned to the wall, and his eyes were
closed, but the traces of suffering were not to be mistaken. The captain
loosened and replaced the bandage, and went for his own pillow to rest
the limb upon, the man neither speaking nor moving all the time. Just
when he was shutting the door the prisoner started up and called him
back. "Stop, sir. Was it all to see after my ankle that you have got

"Yes, it was. I could not sleep for thinking of you."

"And you have never said a word of the way I have used you!"

"I do feel hurt with you, but I don't want to call you unkind while you
are suffering as you are now."

The man was in an agony of shame and grief. All he asked was to be
trusted again when he should have recovered. He was freely trusted, and
gave his generous friend no more anxiety on his behalf.

Captain Pillsbury is the gentleman who, on being told that a desperate
prisoner had sworn to murder him speedily, sent for him to shave him,
allowing no one to be present. He eyed the man, pointed to the razor,
and desired him to shave him. The prisoner's hand trembled, but he went
through it very well. When he had done the captain said, "I have been
told you meant to murder me, but I thought I might trust you." "God
bless you, sir! you may," replied the regenerated man. Such is the power
of faith in man!

The greatest advantage of solitary confinement is that it presents the
best part of a prisoner's mind to be acted upon by his guardians; and
the next is, that the prisoner is preserved from the evil influences of
vicious companionship, of shame within the prison walls, and of
degradation when he comes out. I am persuaded that no system of
secondary punishment has yet been devised that can be compared with
this. I need not, at this time of day, explain that I mean solitary
imprisonment with labour, and with frequent visits from the guardians of
the prisoner. Without labour, the punishment is too horrible and unjust
to be thought of. The reflective man would go mad, and the clown would
sleep away his term, and none of the purposes of human existence could
be answered. Work is, in prison as out of it, the grand equaliser,
stimulus, composer, and rectifier; the prime obligation and the prime
privilege. It is delightful to see how soon its character is recognised
there. In the Philadelphia penitentiary work is forbidden to the
criminal for two days subsequent to his entrance; he petitions for it
before the two days are out, however doggedly he may have declared that
he will never work. Small incidents show what a resource it is. A
convict shoemaker mentioned to a visiter a very early hour of the winter
day as that at which he began to work. "But how can you see at that time
of a winter's morning? it must be nearly dark." "I hammer my leather.
That requires very little light. I get up and hammer my leather."

On his entrance the convict is taken to the bathroom, where he is well
cleansed, and his state of health examined into and recorded by the
physician and warden. A hood is then put over his head, and he is led to
his apartment. I never met with one who could in the least tell what the
form of the central part of the prison was, or which of the radii his
cell was placed in, though they make very accurate observations of the
times at which the sun shines in. At the end of two days, during which
the convict has neither book nor work, the warden visits him, and has a
conversation with him about the mode of life in the institution. If he
asks for work, he is offered a choice of three or four kinds, of which
weaving and shoemaking are the chief. He is told that if he does a
certain amount of work, he will have the full diet provided for hard
labourers; if less, he will have what is sufficient for a moderate
worker; if more, the price of it will be laid by to accumulate, and paid
over to him on his leaving the prison. He is furnished with a Bible; and
other books, provided by the friends to the institution, circulate among
the convicts. Some who have books at home are allowed to have them
brought. A convict gentleman whom I visited had a fine library at home,
and was plentifully supplied from thence. It was difficult to find
occupation for this unhappy man, who had never been used to labour. He
was filling bobbins when I saw him, and he wrote a great deal in various
languages. His story was a dreadful one, too horrible to be related. His
crime was murder, but committed under such intense provocation, real or
imaginary, that he had the compassion of every one who knew his history.
He had been justice of the peace for twenty years; and his interest was
so strong that he had little doubt of being able to obtain a pardon, and
for some years was daily racked with expectation. He told me that it was
opposed by political enemies only; and this belief did not, of course,
tend to calm his mind. Pardon came at last, when nine years of the
twelve for which he was sentenced had expired. He was released a year
and a half after I saw him.

In his case there were peculiar disturbing influences, and his seclusion
was doubtless more painful and less profitable than that of most
prisoners. His case was public; his station and the singularity of the
circumstances made it necessarily so; and the knowledge of this
publicity is a great drawback upon reformation and upon repose of mind.
The most hopeful cases I met with were those of men who came from a
distance, who were tried under a feigned name, or whose old connexions
were, from other circumstances, unaware of their present condition. Of
course I cannot publicly relate facts concerning any of these. They
disclosed their stories to me in confidence. I can give nothing but
general impressions, except in a few cases which are already notorious,
or where death has removed the obligation to secrecy, by rendering it
impossible for the penitent to be injured, while his reputation may be
benefited by its being known what were the feelings of his latter days.

After a general survey of the establishment, which furnished me with all
that the managers had to bring forward, I entered, by the kind
permission of the board, upon the yet more interesting inquiry of what
the convicts had to say for themselves. I supposed that, from their long
seclusion from all society but that of their guardians, they would be
ready to communicate very freely; and also, judging from my own
feelings, that they could not do this in the presence of any third
person. I therefore requested, and was allowed to go entirely alone,
the turnkey coming at the end of a specified time to let me out. No one
of them, except the gentleman above mentioned, had any notice whatever
of my coming. Their door was unlocked at an unusual hour, and I stepped
in. My reception was in every case the same. Every man of them looked
up, transfixed with amazement, one with his shuttle, another with his
awl suspended. I said that if my visit was not agreeable, I would call
the turnkey before he was out of hearing, and go away. If the contrary,
perhaps I might be favoured with a seat. In an instant the workman
sprang up, wiped his stool with his apron for me, and sat down himself
on his workbench. In a few cases I had to make a further explanation
that I did not come for prayer and religious discourse. The conversation
invariably took that turn before I left, as it naturally does with the
anxious and suffering; but two or three rushed at once into such
shocking cant, that I lost no time in telling them the real object of my
visit; to learn what were the causes of crime in the United States. I
also told them all that I could not give them news from the city,
because this was against the rules of the prison. They were glad to
converse with me on my own conditions, and I am confident that they
presented me faithfully with their state of mind as it appeared to
themselves. I have never received confidence more full and simple than
theirs, and much of it was very extraordinary. All, except two or three,
voluntarily acknowledged their guilt; the last point, of course, on
which I should have chosen to press them. It seemed a relief to them to
dwell on the minutest particulars relating to their temptation to their
crime, and the time and mode of its commission. One man began protesting
his innocence early in our conversation; following the practice common
among felons, of declaring himself a guilty fellow enough, but innocent
of this particular crime. I stopped him, saying that I asked him no
questions, and had no business with his innocence or guilt, and that I
did not like such protestations as he was making: we would talk of
something else. He looked abashed, and within half an hour he had
communicated his first act of dishonesty in life; the festering wound
which I have reason to believe he never before laid open to human eye.

Several incidents of this nature which occurred persuade me that almost
anything may be done with these sufferers by occasional intercourse and
free sympathy. Each time that I went I was amazed at the effect of words
that had passed, lightly enough, days or weeks before. I found them all
expecting a pardon; and the most painful part of my duty to them was
undeceiving them about this. It was dreadful to see the emotion of some;
but I knew they would have no repose of mind, so necessary in their
case, while racked with this hope; I therefore took pains to explain
what punishment was for, and how rarely pardon could be justified. On my
subsequent visits it was cheering to see how completely they had
understood me, and how they had followed out the subject to their own
entire conviction.

"Well, J.," said I to a young man who had been rather languid about his
work, making only three shoes a week while expecting a pardon, "how have
you been since I saw you?"

"Very fairly indeed, madam. I make seven shoes a week now."

"Ah! then you have left off fretting yourself about a pardon. You have
made up your mind to your term, like a man."

"Yes, I have been thinking about that, and something more. I have been
thinking that perhaps it is well that I am here now; for, madam, I got
that that I took so easily, that I believe, if I had not been caught, I
should have gone back to the same place and taken more, and so have come
in for ten years instead of five."

Twenty months afterward I heard of this man from the warden. He was in
health, cheerful, and industrious. I have no doubt of his doing well
when he comes out.

A negro, in for a very serious offence, which he acknowledged, told me
of another committed long before, which, since his imprisonment, had
weighed much more heavily on his mind, perhaps because no one knew it or
suspected him; it was a theft of sixteen dollars, committed with some
treachery. This subject had been entirely dismissed, and had even gone
out of my mind when we talked over the expiration of his term and his
prospects in life. "Where do you mean to go first?" said I. "Stay in
Philadelphia till I have worked for those sixteen dollars, and paid
them," said he. This was without the slightest leading on my part.

Several told me more about their mothers than about anything else in
their former lives; and those who were tried under false names seemed
more afraid of their mothers knowing where they were than of any other
consequence. In every case some heartsore was at the bottom of the
guilt. Many were as ignorant as Americans ever are, and had sought to
get rid of their griefs, as ignorant people do, by physical excitement.
First passion, then drink, then crime: this is the descent. Most
declared that the privation of tobacco was the first tremendous
suffering within the prison; then the solitude; then the vain hope of
pardon. The middle part of their term is the easiest. Near the end they
grow restless and nervous. Every one that I asked could promptly tell me
the day of the month.

"May I ask," said I to one for whom I had much regard, "may I ask what
all these black marks on your wall are for?" I was not without a
conjecture, remembering that he was to go out on the 17th of the next
August, this being the 1st of December.

He looked down, and said he had no secret in the matter, only that I
should think him very silly. I told him that I did not think any
amusement silly to one who had so few.

"Well, madam, I have been trying to find out what day of the week the
17th of next August will be; but I can't quite make it out, because I
don't know whether the next is leap year."

The holding out my hand to them at parting brought every one of them to
tears; yet there was nothing unmanly in their bearing; there was no lack
of health, no feebleness of spirits, though a quietness of manner such
as might be anticipated in men under punishment and subject to remorse.
There was a degree of contentment (when the expectation of pardon was
removed) which I did not look for. They spoke (such as were qualified)
of other prisons with horror, and with approbation approaching to
thankfulness of the treatment they met with in this, where they were not
degraded as if they had done nothing but crime, as if they were not
still men. I was much moved by the temper of one, and much humbled (as I
often was) at thinking for how little guilt some are heavily visited,
when there is not one of us, perhaps, who may not justly feel that,
however safe and honoured he may appear, he has done worse, and deserved
a more fearful retribution.

A friend of mine, who knew that I was visiting the penitentiary, asked
me to see two brothers who were in for forging and coining. The case
was notorious, the elder brother being an old offender. I agreed to
inquire for them; and upon this my friend somewhat imprudently told the
mother of the convicts and the wife of the younger one what I had
promised, and sent them to see me. I soon perceived that the wife was
telling me a number of family particulars in the hope that I should
communicate them to her husband. I felt myself obliged to put a stop to
this, as I was upon honour, and could not think of violating any of the
rules of the prison, one of which was that the convicts should receive
no intelligence from without. The wife's reply was heart-wringing. She
said she did not wish to show disrespect to any rules; there was but one
thing that she implored me to convey to her husband. He had expected a
pardon in three months from his conviction; five months had now passed,
and he would be wondering. She only wanted him to know that it was
through no want of exertion on her part that he was still in prison. I
was compelled to refuse to communicate anything, and even to let the
young man know that I had seen any of his family. But in my own mind I
resolved not to see the convict till the warden, who was absent, should
return to Philadelphia, and to tell him the whole, that he might
communicate what he thought proper. By these means I believe the
prisoner heard some comfortable tidings after I saw him, and I am sure
he had never a hard thought of his good wife. I promised her a most
minute account of her husband's situation, to which there could be no
objection. She had done nothing wrong, and was not to be punished,
though it appeared that some of the ladies of Philadelphia thought
otherwise, as they took from her the needlework she had undertaken for
the support of herself and her children during her husband's
imprisonment. These virtuous ladies could not think of countenancing
anybody connected with forgers and coiners.

I found the young man weaving. After some talk about the work, during
which I saw that his mind was full of something else, I obviated all
danger of his putting questions which I could not answer by asking him
whether he had relations in the city. This put an end to all reserve. He
mentioned his father, and the brother who had led him into crime, with a
forbearance and delicacy of forgiveness which were extremely touching.
He was not aware that I knew how different a tone might have been
excused, might have been almost justified. But he spoke most of his
wife. He told me that he had always been weak, too easily persuaded,
from being afraid of some people about him; and that his wife, who had a
nobler mind, always kept him up, yet managing to do it when they were
alone so as never to expose his weakness. He had unfortunately come to
Philadelphia two days before her, and in that interval he had been
threatened and persuaded into endeavouring to pass two counterfeit
five-franc pieces. This was all. But he himself did not extenuate his
offence or appear to think it a trifle. He observed, indeed, that at
that time he was not aware what sins against property were; he used to
think, that if some people had so much more than they wanted, there was
no great harm in those who have too little taking some from them. He had
had much time for thought since, and now saw so plainly how necessary it
was that men should be protected while living in society, that he
believed no compulsion could now make him break the laws in any such
way. But the mischief was done. He had made his wife wretched, and all
was over. I convinced him that it was not. His term was five years; and
when it was fulfilled he would still be a young man, and might cherish
his wife for a good many years. It was well that we thought so at the
time, for the hope gave him substantial comfort. He lifted up his head
from his loom, where it had sunk down in his bitter weeping, and began
to talk upon the subject I dreaded, pardon. I saw what kind of mind I
had to deal with, reasoning and reflective. I led him to consider, as he
had found out the purposes of law, the purposes of punishment; and, at
length, put the question to him whether he thought he ought to be
pardoned. Trembling from head to foot, and white as the wall, he bravely
answered "No." I asked him whether it would not be better to settle his
mind to his lot than to be trembling for four years at every footstep
that came near his cell, expecting deliverance, and expecting it in
vain. He did not answer. I told him that when he was heartsick with
expecting in vain, perhaps some hard thought of his wife--that she had
not done all she could--might rise up to trouble him. "Oh no, no,
never!" he cried. I had now obtained what I wanted for her.

I told him I should endeavour to see his wife. He desired me to tell her
that he was in health, and had brought himself to own to me what he had
done, and that he should be pretty comfortable but for thinking how he
had used her; but he would try to make up for it one day. He was quite
cheerful when I left him.

The wife called on me the next day. She said she could not stay long, as
she was about to set off, with her children, for a remote part of the
country. It was a dreadful thing to her to leave her husband's
neighbourhood; but she had been deprived of the means of support by her
work being taken from her, and no resource remained but going to her
father's house. She was surprised, and seemed almost sorry (no doubt
from a jealousy for his reputation), that her husband had acknowledged
his offence. She said he had not acknowledged it when he went in. I told
her every particular about his cell and employments, as well as his
looks and conversation, till, when I had done, she started up, saying
that she was forgetting her children, and her journey, and everything.
When we had parted she came back again from the door to ask "one thing
more;" whether I thought there would ever be anything in the world that
she could do for me. I thought it very possible in a world of change
like this, and promised to rely upon her if she could ever serve me or

She settled herself at her father's, and after a while drooped in
spirits, and was sure something would happen. When bad news came she
cried, "There! I knew it!" As the turnkey passed her husband's cell one
day he heard some noise and looked in. The young man was just falling
from his loom in a fit of apoplexy. There was no delay in doing all that
can be done in such cases; but in a few hours he died. There is no
reason to suppose that his imprisonment had anything to do with the
attack. It was probably a constitutional tendency, aggravated by anxiety
of mind.

The prison must be tried some years longer before a complete comparison
of it with others can be made; but it appears at present, that if there
be some few diseases which may possibly be aggravated by the silence and
thoughtfulness attendant on solitary confinement (which I do not know to
be the case), there are many more which disappear under the regularity
of temperature and of hours, and the good diet of the establishment.
There was certainly less sallowness and anxiety in the faces of the
inmates than struck me in the other prisons. One man amazed me by
calling the four years he had passed here the most comfortable he had
ever known; but when he told me the wretchedness of his previous life,
I fully believed him.

I found, on visiting the elder of the brothers, how complete is the
secrecy preserved in the prison. I had been repeatedly told that these
brothers came in together, and, therefore, had no hesitation in
mentioning the one to the other. I was thunderstruck with the vehemence
with which the elder turned upon me with the question, "Is _my_ brother
in this prison?" "I was told you came in together," replied I. "Then
they put him in just after me," cried he. "What did they find him guilty
of? What part of the prison is he in? What work does he do?" and a
number of other questions; none of which, of course, I would answer. I
was not very sorry that he was accidentally made acquainted with what he
had led his young brother into. I fear he could bear it only too well.
When I told the warden the mistake I had made, I found that the younger
brother came in three weeks after the elder.

The cases I became acquainted with were not all hopeful. Some of the
convicts were so stupid as not to be relied upon, more or less. Others
canted so detestably, and were (always in connexion with their cant) so
certain that they should never sin more, that I have every expectation
that they will find themselves in prison again some day. One fellow, a
sailor, notorious for having taken more lives than probably any man in
the United States, was quite confident that he should be perfectly
virtuous henceforth. He should never touch anything stronger than tea,
or lift his hand against money or life. I told him I thought he could
not be sure of all this till he was within sight of money and the smell
of strong liquors; and that he was more confident than I should like to
be. He shook his shock of red hair at me, and glared with his one
ferocious eye, as he said he knew all about it, as he had been the worst
of men, and Christ had had mercy on his poor soul. When I had got him
away from his cant, and upon subjects on which he could talk with some
simplicity, I found that even this man preferred this prison to others
that he had been in. It so happened that no conviction for murder had
ever been procurable against him; his imprisonments were all for theft.
His account of the old Walnut-street prison was dreadful. He there daily
heard stories of crimes, from four in the winter afternoons till
daylight. "Poor boasting! for the crimes they bragged of were never
done." I asked him how he got into that prison. "For a couple o'
larcenies, a grand and a little," said he, with the most business-like
nonchalance. He was waylaid by two old burglars on his coming out, and
on the spot agreed upon an enterprise for the next night. His mother
died in his arms; he went and committed the burglary, was caught, and
before midnight was in prison again. His accounts of his deeds were too
scientific for my understanding; but I made out enough to be ready when
he asked my advice what to do when he came out. I answered as if he were
in earnest, advising him to leave Philadelphia and all towns, and settle
in the woods, out of the way of grogshops, bad company, and other
people's property. But his keepers expect that he will end his days with
them, and this is the hope of that part of society which fears his

As the system of solitary imprisonment gains ground, I trust that the
practice of prison-visiting will gain ground too. It is most desirable
that it should not be left wholly in the hands of proselyting
religionists, but be shared by those who better understand human nature
and command a greater variety of influences. For the sake of religion
itself this is desirable, to rescue it from becoming a mere prison
solace; an excitement seized when no other can be had, and to be laid
aside when old pursuits offer themselves for resumption. Kind-hearted
persons will have an opportunity of doing extensive and unquestionable
good by keeping up the social affections of the prisoners, giving them
new ideas, making them cheerful, and investing with pleasant
associations whatever things are honest, pure, lovely, and of good

In other prisons much might thus be done, though not, I think, with such
extraordinary effect as under the system of solitary confinement. I was
struck with something I saw at the Charlestown prison (Massachusetts).
Several convicts, black and white, who had behaved well, were practising
singing, which is allowed as an indulgence. It seemed strange to hear
"The heavens are telling" from such lips; but I listened to it with more
pleasure than in some far finer places. Any kind person who can
introduce a new innocent pursuit into a prison as a solace to its
inmates cannot fail to be doing an important good.

This reminds me that a service may be rendered, not so much to the
convicts as to society, by any persons who can supply the prisons where
stonecutting is going on with a good set of epitaphs. At Auburn they are
wanted, and much more at Nashville (Tennessee), where the stonecutting
department is superintended by an honest Englishman, whose stock of
epitaphs is small and of miserable quality. We half undertook to prepare
and collect some for him, but found it a less easy task than we had
supposed. We got out our pencils at three o'clock one summer morning,
when our stage had broken down on a bad Tennessee road; but one of our
party observing that this was the first time he had ever heard of making
epitaphs for amusement, there was an end of the attempt; and the
Nashville prison remains unsupplied, unless somebody else has done
better than we.

I suspect the fault lies in the supposition that epitaphs of general
application cannot be made at all. An epitaph should be the breathing of
emotion arising out of a particular case; and none made for
stonecutters' use can have much life or truth. Still, they may have
grammar and general propriety, so as to be an advantageous substitute
for some at present in use, if only persons can be found to compose them
on such considerations.

I saw at the Charlestown prison a sight more impressive to me than all
else that the walls contained; a man of might, but whose power has taken
a wrong direction; his hand being against every man, and every man's
against him. He is a prison-breaker so formidable as to be regarded and
treated as if he were of Satanic race, and not as made up of flesh and
blood, and emotions that may be roused, and affections subject to the
touch. He seems, indeed, to have become somewhat of the Satanic kind,
for he is now piqued to do all the harm he can. His pride is in for it;
his reputation stands upon it. I was shown an enormous block of stone
which he had displaced by the aid of a "gentleman" outside, who, for
fear of the prison-breaker's blabbing, committed suicide on his
recapture. The strong man was heavily fettered, confined in a different
cell every night, and conducted to it by a procession of turnkeys. As we
stood aside in the echoing passage to let the array go by, there was
something really grand in the air of the man who had virtually said to
himself, "Evil, be thou my good!" He stepped slowly, clanking his
chains, and looking us full in the face as he passed. He cannot but have
a calm sense of power when he nightly sees the irons, the bars and
locks, and the six fellow-men, all in requisition to keep him from
working his will. As we saw him slowly turn into his cell, and heard
lock after lock shot behind him, I could not help thinking that there
was much true monarchical feeling within those four narrow walls.


    "Ed io, ch'avea di riguardar desio
    La condicion, che tal fortezza serra,
    Com' i fu dentro, l'occhio intorno invio,
    E veggio ad ogni man grande campagna
    Piena ad duolo, e di tormento rio."


From the day of my entering the States till that of my leaving
Philadelphia I had seen society basking in one bright sunshine of
good-will. The sweet temper and kindly manners of the Americans are so
striking to foreigners, that it is some time before the dazzled stranger
perceives that, genuine as is all this good, evils as black as night
exist along with it. I had been received with such hearty hospitality
everywhere, and had lived among friends so conscientious in their regard
for human rights, that, though I had heard of abolition riots, and had
observed somewhat of the degradation of the blacks, my mind had not yet
been really troubled about the enmity of the races. The time of
awakening must come. It began just before I left Philadelphia.

I was calling on a lady whom I had heard speak with strong horror of the
abolitionists (with whom I had then no acquaintance), and she turned
round upon me with the question whether I would not prevent, if I could,
the marriage of a white person with a person of colour. I saw at once
the beginning of endless troubles in this inquiry, and was very sorry it
had been made; but my determination had been adopted long before, never
to evade the great question of colour; never to provoke it; but always
to meet it plainly in whatever form it should be presented. I replied
that I would never, under any circumstances, try to separate persons
who really loved, believing such to be truly those whom God had joined;
but I observed that the case she put was one not likely to happen, as I
believed the blacks were no more disposed to marry the whites than the
whites to marry the blacks. "You are an amalgamationist!" cried she. I
told her that the party term was new to me; but that she must give what
name she pleased to the principle I had declared in answer to her
question. This lady is an eminent religionist, and denunciations spread
rapidly from her. The day before I left Philadelphia my old shipmate,
the Prussian physician, arrived there, and lost no time in calling to
tell me, with much agitation, that I must not go a step farther south;
that he had heard on all hands, within two hours of his arrival, that I
was an amalgamationist, and that my having published a story against
slavery would be fatal to me in the slave states. I did not give much
credit to the latter part of this news, and saw plainly that all I had
to do was to go straight on. I really desired to see the working of the
slave system, and was glad that my having published against its
principles divested me altogether of the character of a spy, and gave me
an unquestioned liberty to publish the results of what I might observe.
In order to see things as they were, it was necessary that people's
minds should not be prepossessed by my friends as to my opinions and
conduct; and I therefore forbade my Philadelphia friends to publish in
the newspapers, as they wished, an antidote to the charges already
current against me.

The next day I first set foot in a slave state, arriving in the evening
at Baltimore. I dreaded inexpressibly the first sight of a slave, and
could not help speculating on the lot of every person of colour I saw
from the windows the first few days. The servants in the house where I
was were free blacks.

Before a week was over I perceived that all that is said in England of
the hatred of the whites to the blacks in America is short of the truth.
The slanders that I heard of the free blacks were too gross to injure my
estimation of any but those who spoke them. In Baltimore the bodies of
coloured people exclusively are taken for dissection, "because the
whites do not like it, and the coloured people cannot resist." It is
wonderful that the bodily structure can be (with the exception of the
colouring of the skin) thus assumed to be the pattern of that of the
whites; that the exquisite nervous system, the instrument of moral as
well as physicial pleasures and pains, can be nicely investigated, on
the ground of its being analogous with that of the whites; that not only
the mechanism, but the sensibilities of the degraded race should be
argued from to those of the exalted order, and that men come from such a
study with contempt for these brethren in their countenances, hatred in
their hearts, and insult on their tongues. These students are the men
who cannot say that the coloured people have not nerves that quiver
under moral injury, nor a brain that is on fire with insult, nor pulses
that throb under oppression. These are the men who should stay the hand
of the rash and ignorant possessors of power, who crush the being of
creatures, like themselves, "fearfully and wonderfully made." But to
speak the right word, to hold out the helping hand, these searchers into
man have not light nor strength.

It was in Baltimore that I heard Miss Edgeworth denounced as a woman of
no intelligence or delicacy, whose works could never be cared for again,
because, in Belinda, poor Juba was married, at length, to an English
farmer's daughter! The incident is so subordinate that I had entirely
forgotten it; but a clergyman's lady threw the volume to the opposite
corner of the floor when she came to the page. As I have said elsewhere,
Miss Edgeworth is worshipped throughout the United States; but it is in
spite of this terrible passage, this clause of a sentence in Belinda,
which nobody in America can tolerate, while no one elsewhere ever, I
should think, dreamed of finding fault with it.

A lady from New-England, staying in Baltimore, was one day talking over
slavery with me, her detestation of it being great, when I told her I
dreaded seeing a slave. "You have seen one," said she. "You were waited
on by a slave yesterday evening." She told me of a gentleman who let out
and lent out his slaves to wait at gentlemen's houses, and that the tall
handsome mulatto who handed the tea at a party the evening before was
one of these. I was glad it was over for once; but I never lost the
painful feeling caused to a stranger by intercourse with slaves. No
familiarity with them, no mirth and contentment on their part, ever
soothed the miserable restlessness caused by the presence of a
deeply-injured fellow-being. No wonder or ridicule on the spot avails
anything to the stranger. He suffers, and must suffer from this, deeply
and long, as surely as he is human and hates oppression.

The next slave that I saw, knowing that it was a slave, was at
Washington, where a little negro child took hold of my gown in the
passage of our boarding-house, and entered our drawing-room with me. She
shut the door softly, as asking leave to stay. I took up a newspaper.
She sat at my feet, and began amusing herself with my shoestrings.
Finding herself not discouraged, she presently begged play by peeping at
me above and on each side the newspaper. She was a brighteyed,
merry-hearted child; confiding, like other children, and dreading no
evil, but doomed, hopelessly doomed, to ignorance, privation, and moral
degradation. When I looked at her, and thought of the fearful
disobedience to the first of moral laws, the cowardly treachery, the
cruel abuse of power involved in thus dooming to blight a being so
helpless, so confiding, and so full of promise, a horror came over me
which sickened my very soul. To see slaves is not to be reconciled to

At Baltimore and Washington again I was warned, in various stealthy
ways, of perils awaiting me in the South. I had no means of ascertaining
the justness of these warnings but by going on, and turning back for
such vague reasons was not to be thought of. So I determined to say no
word to my companions (who were in no danger), but to see the truth for
myself. The threats proved idle, as I suspected they would. Throughout
the South I met with very candid and kind treatment. I mention these
warnings partly because they are a fact connected with the state of the
country, and partly because it will afterward appear that the stranger's
real danger lies in the North and West, over which the South had, in my
case, greatly the advantage in liberality.


    "With studious thought observed the illustrious throng,
    In Nature's order as they pass'd along;
    Their names, their fates."

                                                       DRYDEN'S _Æneid_.

Washington is no place for persons of domestic tastes. Persons who love
dissipation, persons who love to watch the game of politics, and those
who make a study of strong minds under strong excitements, like a season
at Washington; but it is dreary to those whose pursuits and affections
are domestic. I spent five weeks there, and was heartily glad when they
were over. I felt the satisfaction all the time of doing something that
was highly useful; of getting knowledge that was necessary to me, and
could not be otherwise obtained; but the quiet delights of my
Philadelphia home (though there half our time was spent in visiting) had
spoiled me for such a life as every one leads at the metropolis. I have
always looked back upon the five weeks at Washington as one of the most
profitable, but by far the least agreeable, of my residences in the
United States.

Yet we were remarkably fortunate in our domestic arrangements there. We
joined a party of highly esteemed and kind friends: a member of the
House of Representatives from Massachusetts, his wife and sister-in-law,
and a senator from Maine. We (the above party) had a drawing-room to
ourselves and a separate table at Mrs. Peyton's boarding-house; so that
we formed a quiet family group enough, if only we had had any quiet in
which to enjoy the privilege.

We arrived at Washington on the 13th of January, 1835, the year of the
short session of Congress which closes on the 4th of March, so that we
continued to see the proceedings of Congress at its busiest and most
interesting time.

The approach to the city is striking to all strangers from its oddness.
I saw the dome of the Capitol from a considerable distance at the end of
a straight road; but, though I was prepared by the descriptions of
preceding travellers, I was taken by surprise on finding myself beneath
the splendid building, so sordid are the enclosures and houses on its
very verge. We wound round its base, and entered Pennsylvania Avenue,
the only one of the grand avenues intended to centre in the Capitol
which has been built up with any completeness. Our boarding-house was
admirably situated, being some little way down this avenue, a few
minutes' walk only from the Capitol, and a mile in a straight line from
the White House, the residences of the heads of departments and the
British legation.

In Philadelphia I had found perpetual difficulty in remembering that I
was in a foreign country. The pronunciation of a few words by our host
and hostess, the dinner-table, and the inquiries of visiters were almost
all that occurred to remind me that I was not in a brother's house. At
Washington it was very different. The city itself is unlike any other
that ever was seen, straggling out hither and thither, with a small
house or two a quarter of a mile from any other; so that, in making
calls "in the city," we had to cross ditches and stiles, and walk
alternately on grass and pavements, and strike across a field to reach a
street. Then the weather was so strange; sometimes so cold that the only
way I could get any comfort was by stretching on the sofa drawn before
the fire up to the very fender (on which days every person who went in
and out of the house was sure to leave the front door wide open); then
the next morning, perhaps, if we went out muffled in furs, we had to
turn back and exchange our wraps for a light shawl. Then we were waited
upon by a slave appointed for the exclusive service of our party during
our stay. Then there were canvass-back ducks, and all manner of other
ducks on the table, in greater profusion than any single article of
food, except turkeys, that I ever saw. Then there was the society,
singularly compounded from the largest variety of elements: foreign
ambassadors, the American government, members of Congress, from Clay and
Webster down to Davy Crockett, Benton from Missouri, and Cuthbert, with
the freshest Irish brogue, from Georgia; flippant young belles, "pious"
wives dutifully attending their husbands, and groaning over the
frivolities of the place; grave judges, saucy travellers, pert newspaper
reporters, melancholy Indian chiefs, and timid New-England ladies,
trembling on the verge of the vortex; all this was wholly unlike
anything that is to be seen in any other city in the world; for all
these are mixed up together in daily intercourse, like the higher circle
of a little village, and there is nothing else. You have this or
nothing; you pass your days among these people, or you spend them alone.
It is in Washington that varieties of manners are conspicuous. There the
Southerners appear to the most advantage, and the New-Englanders to the
least; the ease and frank courtesy of the gentry of the South (with an
occasional touch of arrogance, however) contrasting favourably with the
cautious, somewhat _gauche_, and too deferential air of the members from
the North. One fancies one can tell a New-England member in the open air
by his deprecatory walk. He seems to bear in mind perpetually that he
cannot fight a duel, while other people can. The odd mortals that wander
in from the western border cannot be described as a class, for no one is
like anybody else. One has a neck like a crane, making an interval of
inches between stock and chin. Another wears no cravat, apparently
because there is no room for one. A third has his lank black hair parted
accurately down the middle, and disposed in bands in front, so that he
is taken for a woman when only the head is seen in a crowd. A fourth
puts an arm round the neck of a neighbour on either side as he stands,
seeming afraid of his tall wirehung frame dropping to pieces if he tries
to stand alone; a fifth makes something between a bow and a courtesy to
everybody who comes near, and proses with a knowing air: all having
shrewd faces, and being probably very fit for the business they come

Our way of life was so diversified that it is difficult to give an
account of our day; the only way in which one day resembled another
being that none had any privacy. We breakfasted about nine, surrounded
by the heaps of newspapers, documents, and letters which the post and
newsmen brought to the parliamentary members of our party. We amused
ourselves with the different versions given by the Globe and the
Intelligencer--the administration and opposition papers--to speeches and
proceedings at which we had been present the day before; and were kindly
made acquainted by our representative friend with the nature of much of
his business, the petitions he had to present, the dilemmas in which he
was placed by his constituents of different parties, and his hopes and
fears about favourite measures in progress. The senator happened, from a
peculiar set of circumstances, to be an idle man just now. He taught me
many things, and rallied me on my asking him so few questions, while,
in fact, my head was already so much too full with what was flowing in
upon me from all sides, that I longed for nothing so much as to go to
sleep for a week. This gentleman's peculiar and not very agreeable
position arose out of the troublesome question of Instructions to
Representatives. Senators are chosen for a term of six years, one third
of the body going out every two years; the term being made thus long in
order to ensure some stability of policy in the Senate. If the
government of the state from which the senator is sent changes its
politics during his term, he may be annoyed by instructions to vote
contrary to his principles, and, if he refuses, by a call to resign, on
the ground of his representing the opinions of the minority. This had
been the predicament of our companion; and the question of resigning or
not under such circumstances had become generally a very important and
interesting one, but one which there was no means of settling. Each
member in such a scrape must act as his own judgment and conscience
dictate under the circumstances of the particular case. Our companion
made a mistake. When the attempt to instruct him was made, he said he
appealed from the new legislature of his state to the people who chose
him. He did appeal by standing candidate for the office of governor of
the state, and was defeated. No course then remained but resigning;
which he did immediately, when his senatorial term was within half a
session of its close. He had withdrawn from the Senate Chamber, and was
winding up his political affairs at the time when we joined his party.

At a little before eleven we usually set out for the Capitol, and passed
the morning either in the Senate Chamber or the Supreme Court, unless it
was necessary to make calls, or to sit to the artist who was painting my
portrait, or to join a party on some excursion in the neighbourhood. We
avoided spending the morning at home when we could, as it was sure to be
entirely consumed with callers, and we became too much exhausted before
the fatigues of the evening began. Much amusement was picked up in the
artist's apartment in the Capitol; members and strangers dropped in, and
the news of the hour circulated; but the Senate Chamber was our
favourite resort. We returned home to dinner some time between four and
six, and the cloth was seldom removed before visiters entered. The
stream continued to flow in during the whole evening, unless we were
all going out together. We disappeared, one by one, to dress for some
ball, rout, levee, or masquerade, and went out, more or less willingly,
according as we left behind us visiters more or less pleasant. The half
hour round our drawing-room fire after our return was the pleasantest
time of the day, weary as we were. Then our foreigners' perplexities
were explained for us; we compared impressions, and made common property
of what had amused us individually; and, in some sort, set our
overcharged minds in order before we retired to rest.

Our pleasantest evenings were some spent at home in a society of the
highest order. Ladies, literary, fashionable, or domestic, would spend
an hour with us on their way from a dinner or to a ball. Members of
Congress would repose themselves by our fireside. Mr. Clay, sitting
upright on the sofa, with his snuffbox ever in his hand, would discourse
for many an hour in his even, soft, deliberate tone, on any one of the
great subjects of American policy which we might happen to start, always
amazing us with the moderation of estimate and speech which so impetuous
a nature has been able to attain. Mr. Webster, leaning back at his ease,
telling stories, cracking jokes, shaking the sofa with burst after burst
of laughter, or smoothly discoursing to the perfect felicity of the
logical part of one's constitution, would illuminate an evening now and
then. Mr. Calhoun, the cast-iron man, who looks as if he had never been
born and never could be extinguished, would come in sometimes to keep
our understandings upon a painful stretch for a short while, and leave
us to take to pieces his close, rapid, theoretical, illustrated talk,
and see what we could make of it. We found it usually more worth
retaining as a curiosity than as either very just or useful. His speech
abounds in figures, truly illustrative, if that which they illustrate
were but true also. But his theories of government (almost the only
subject on which his thoughts are employed), the squarest and compactest
that ever were made, are composed out of limited elements, and are not,
therefore, likely to stand service very well. It is at first extremely
interesting to hear Mr. Calhoun talk; and there is a never-failing
evidence of power in all he says and does which commands intellectual
reverence; but the admiration is too soon turned into regret, into
absolute melancholy. It is impossible to resist the conviction that all
this force can be at best but useless, and is but too likely to be very
mischievous. His mind has long lost all power of communicating with any
other. I know of no man who lives in such utter intellectual solitude.
He meets men, and harangues them by the fireside as in the Senate; he is
wrought like a piece of machinery, set a going vehemently by a weight,
and stops while you answer; he either passes by what you say, or twists
it into a suitability with what is in his head, and begins to lecture
again. Of course, a mind like this can have little influence in the
Senate, except by virtue, perpetually wearing out, of what it did in its
less eccentric days; but its influence at home is to be dreaded. There
is no hope that an intellect so cast in narrow theories will accommodate
itself to varying circumstances; and there is every danger that it will
break up all that it can, in order to remould the materials in its own
way. Mr. Calhoun is as full as ever of his nullification doctrines; and
those who know the force that is in him, and his utter incapacity of
modification by other minds (after having gone through as remarkable a
revolution of political opinion as perhaps any man ever experienced),
will no more expect repose and self-retention from him than from a
volcano in full force. Relaxation is no longer in the power of his will.
I never saw any one who so completely gave me the idea of possession.
Half an hour's conversation with him is enough to make a necessarian of
anybody. Accordingly, he is more complained of than blamed by his
enemies. His moments of softness in his family, and when recurring to
old college days, are hailed by all as a relief to the vehement working
of the intellectual machine; a relief equally to himself and others.
Those moments are as touching to the observer as tears on the face of a

One incident befell during my stay which moved everybody. A
representative from South Carolina was ill, a friend of Mr. Calhoun's;
and Mr. Calhoun parted from us one day, on leaving the Capitol, to visit
this sick gentleman. The physician told Mr. Calhoun on his entrance that
his friend was dying, and could not live more than a very few hours. A
visiter, not knowing this, asked the sick man how he was. "To judge by
my own feelings," said he, "much better; but by the countenances of my
friends, not." And he begged to be told the truth. On hearing it, he
instantly beckoned Mr. Calhoun to him, and said, "I hear they are
giving you rough treatment in the Senate. Let a dying friend implore you
to guard your looks and words so as that no undue warmth may make you
appear unworthy of your principles." "This was friendship, strong
friendship," said Mr. Calhoun to me and to many others; and it had its
due effect upon him. A few days after, Colonel Benton, a fantastic
senator from Missouri, interrupted Mr. Calhoun in a speech, for the
purpose of making an attack upon him, which would have been insufferable
if it had not been too absurdly worded to be easily made anything of. He
was called to order; this was objected to; the Senate divided upon the
point of order, being dissatisfied with the decision of the chair; in
short, Mr. Calhoun sat for two full hours hearing his veracity talked
about before his speech could proceed. He sat in stern patience,
scarcely moving a muscle the whole time; and, when it was all settled in
his favour, merely observed that his friends need not fear his being
disturbed by an attack of this nature from such a quarter, and resumed
his speech at the precise point where his argument had been broken off.
It was great, and would have satisfied the "strong friendship" of his
departed comrade if he could have been there to see it.

Our active-minded, genial friend, Judge Story, found time to visit us
frequently, though he is one of the busiest men in the world; writing
half a dozen great law-books every year; having his full share of the
business of the Supreme Court upon his hands; his professorship to
attend to; the District Courts at home in Massachusetts, and a
correspondence which spreads half over the world. His talk would gush
out for hours, and there was never too much of it for us; it is so
heartfelt, so lively, so various; and his face all the while,
notwithstanding his gray hair, showing all the mobility and
ingenuousness of a child's. There is no tolerable portrait of Judge
Story, and there never will be. I should like to bring him face to face
with a person who entertains the common English idea of how an American
looks and behaves. I should like to see what such a one would make of
the quick smiles, the glistening eye, the gleeful tone, with passing
touches of sentiment; the innocent self-complacency, the confiding,
devoted affections of the great American lawyer. The preconception would
be totally at fault.

With Judge Story sometimes came the man to whom he looked up with
feelings little short of adoration--the aged Chief-justice Marshall.
There was almost too much mutual respect in our first meeting; we knew
something of his individual merits and services; and he maintained
through life, and carried to his grave, a reverence for woman as rare in
its kind as in its degree. It had all the theoretical fervour and
magnificence of Uncle Toby's, with the advantage of being grounded upon
an extensive knowledge of the sex. He was the father and the grandfather
of women; and out of this experience he brought, not only the love and
pity which their offices and position command, and the awe of purity
which they excite in the minds of the pure, but a steady conviction of
their intellectual equality with men; and, with this, a deep sense of
their social injuries. Throughout life he so invariably sustained their
cause, that no indulgent libertine dared to flatter and humour; no
skeptic, secure in the possession of power, dared to scoff at the claims
of woman in the presence of Marshall, who, made clearsighted by his
purity, knew the sex far better than either.

How delighted we were to see Judge Story bring in the tall, majestic,
brighteyed old man! old by chronology, by the lines on his composed
face, and by his services to the republic; but so dignified, so fresh,
so present to the time, that no feeling of compassionate consideration
for age dared to mix with the contemplation of him. The first evening he
asked me much about English politics, and especially whether the people
were not fast ripening for the abolition of our religious establishment;
an institution which, after a long study of it, he considered so
monstrous in principle, and so injurious to true religion in practice,
that he could not imagine that it could be upheld for anything but
political purposes. There was no prejudice here on account of American
modes being different; for he observed that the clergy were there, as
elsewhere, far from being in the van of society, and lamented the
existence of much fanaticism in the United States; but he saw the evils
of an establishment the more clearly, not the less, from being aware of
the faults in the administration of religion at home. The most animated
moment of our conversation was when I told him I was going to visit Mr.
Madison on leaving Washington. He instantly sat upright in his chair,
and with beaming eyes began to praise Mr. Madison. Madison received the
mention of Marshall's name in just the same manner; yet these men were
strongly opposed in politics, and their magnanimous appreciation of each
other underwent no slight or brief trial.

Judge Porter sometimes came, a hearty friend, and much like a
fellow-countryman, though he was a senator of the United States, and had
previously been, for fourteen years, Judge of the Supreme Court of
Louisiana. He was Irish by birth. His father was vindictively executed,
with cruel haste, under martial law, in the Irish rebellion; and the
sons were sent by their noble-minded mother to America, where Alexander,
the eldest, has thus raised himself into a station of high honour. Judge
Porter's warmth, sincerity, generosity, knowledge, and wit are the pride
of his constituents, and very ornamental to the Senate. What their charm
is by the fireside may be imagined.

Such are only a few among a multitude whose conversation filled up the
few evenings we spent at home. Among the pleasantest visits we paid were
dinners at the president's, at the houses of heads of departments, at
the British legation, and at the Southern members' congressional mess.
We highly enjoyed our dinings at the British legation, where we felt
ourselves at home among our countrymen. Once, indeed, we were invited to
help to do the honours as English ladies to the seven Judges of the
Supreme Court, and seven great lawyers besides, when we had the merriest
day that could well be. Mr. Webster fell chiefly to my share, and there
is no merrier man than he; and Judge Story would enliven a dinner-table
at Pekin. One laughable peculiarity at the British legation was the
confusion of tongues among the servants, who ask you to take fish,
flesh, and fowl in Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Irish, or French.
The foreign ambassadors are terribly plagued about servants. No American
will wear livery, and there is no reason why any American should. But
the British ambassador must have livery servants. He makes what
compromise he can, allowing his people to appear without livery out of
doors except on state occasions; but yet he is obliged to pick up his
domestics from among foreigners who are in want of a subsistence for a
short time, and are sure to go away as soon as they can find any
employment in which the wearing a livery is not requisite. The woes of
this state of things, however, were the portion of the host, not of his
guests; and the hearty hospitality with which we were ever greeted by
the minister and his attachés, combined with the attractions of the
society they brought together, made our visits to them some of the
pleasantest hours we passed in Washington.

Slight incidents were perpetually showing, in an amusing way, the
village-like character of some of the arrangements at Washington. I
remember that some of our party went one day to dine at Mr. Secretary
Cass's, and the rest of us at Mr. Secretary Woodburys'. The next morning
a lady of the Cass party asked me whether we had candied oranges at the
Woodburys'. "No." "Then," said she, "they had candied oranges at the
attorney-general's." "How do you know?" "Oh, as we were on the way, I
saw a dish carried; and as we had none at the Cass's, I knew they must
either be for the Woodburys or the attorney-general." There were candied
oranges at the attorney-general's.

When we became intimate some time afterward with some Southern friends,
with whom we now dined at their congressional mess, they gave us an
amusing account of the preparations for our dinner. They boarded (from a
really self-denying kindness) at a house where the arrangements were of
a very inferior kind. Two sessions previous to our being there they had
invited a large party of eminent persons to dinner, and had committed
the ordering of the arrangements to a gentleman of their mess, advising
him to engage a French cook in order to ensure a good dinner. The
gentleman engaged a Frenchman, concluding he must be a cook, which,
however, he was not; and the dinner turned out so unfortunately, that
the mess determined to ask no more dinner-company while they remained in
that house. When we arrived, however, it was thought necessary to ask us
to dinner. There was little hope that all would go rightly; and the two
senators of the mess were laughingly requested, in case of any blunder,
to talk nullification as fast as possible to us ladies. This was done so
efficaciously, that, when dinner was over, I could not have told a
single dish that was on the table, except that a ham stood before me,
which we were too full of nullification to attack. Our hosts informed
us, long afterward, that it was a bad dinner badly served; but it was no

At the president's I met a very large party, among whom there was more
stiffness than I saw in any other society in America. It was not the
fault of the president or his family, but of the way in which the
company was unavoidably brought together. With the exception of my
party, the name of everybody present began with J, K, or L; that is to
say, it consisted of members of Congress, who are invited
alphabetically, to ensure none being left out. This principle of
selection is not, perhaps, the best for the promotion of ease and
sociability; and well as I liked the day, I doubt whether many others
could say they enjoyed it. When we went in the president was standing in
the middle of the room to receive his guests. After speaking a few words
with me, he gave me into the charge of Major Donelson, his secretary,
who seated me, and brought up for introduction each guest as he passed
from before the president. A congressional friend of mine (whose name
began with a J) stationed himself behind my chair, and gave me an
account of each gentleman who was introduced to me; where he came from,
what his politics were, and how, if at all, he had distinguished
himself. All this was highly amusing. At dinner the president was quite
disposed for conversation. Indeed, he did nothing but talk. His health
is poor, and his diet of the sparest. We both talked freely of the
governments of England and France; I, novice in American politics as I
was, entirely forgetting that the great French question was pending, and
that the president and the King of the French were then bandying very
hard words. I was most struck and surprised with the president's
complaints of the American Senate, in which there was at that time a
small majority against the administration. He told me that I must not
judge of the body by what I saw it then, and that after the 4th of March
I should behold a Senate more worthy of the country. After the 4th of
March there was, if I remember rightly, a majority of two in favour of
the government. The ground of his complaint was, that the senators had
sacrificed their dignity by disregarding the wishes of their
constituents. The other side of the question is, that the dignity of the
Senate is best consulted by its members following their own convictions,
declining instructions for the term for which they are elected. It is a
serious difficulty, originating in the very construction of the body,
and not to be settled by dispute.

The president offered me bonbons for a child belonging to our party at
home, and told me how many children (of his nephew's and his adopted
son's) he had about him, with a mildness and kindliness which
contrasted well with his tone upon some public occasions. He did the
honours of his house with gentleness and politeness to myself, and, as
far as I saw, to every one else. About an hour after dinner he rose, and
we led the way into the drawing-room, where the whole company, gentlemen
as well as ladies, followed to take coffee; after which every one
departed, some homeward, some to make evening calls, and others, among
whom were ourselves, to a splendid ball at the other extremity of the

General Jackson is extremely tall and thin, with a slight stoop,
betokening more weakness than naturally belongs to his years. He has a
profusion of stiff gray hair, which gives to his appearance whatever
there is of formidable in it. His countenance bears commonly an
expression of melancholy gravity; though, when roused, the fire of
passion flashes from his eyes, and his whole person looks then
formidable enough. His mode of speech is slow and quiet, and his
phraseology sufficiently betokens that his time has not been passed
among books. When I was at Washington albums were the fashion and the
plague of the day. I scarcely ever came home but I found an album on my
table or requests for autographs; but some ladies went much further than
petitioning a foreigner who might be supposed to have leisure. I have
actually seen them stand at the door of the Senate Chamber, and send the
doorkeeper with an album, and a request to write in it, to Mr. Webster
and other eminent members. I have seen them do worse; stand at the door
of the Supreme Court, and send in their albums to Chief-justice Marshall
while he was on the bench hearing pleadings. The poor president was
terribly persecuted; and to him it was a real nuisance, as he had no
poetical resource but Watts's hymns. I have seen verses and stanzas of a
most ominous purport from Watts, in the president's very conspicuous
handwriting, standing in the midst of the crowquill compliments and
translucent charades which are the staple of albums. Nothing was done to
repress this atrocious impertinence of the ladies. I always declined
writing more than name and date; but senators, judges, and statesmen
submitted to write gallant nonsense at the request of any woman who
would stoop to desire it.

Colonel Johnson, now Vice-president of the United States, sat opposite
to me at the president's dinner-table. This is the gentleman once
believed to have killed Tecumseh, and to have written the Report on
Sunday Mails, which has been the admiration of society ever since it
appeared; but I believe Colonel Johnson is no longer supposed to be the
author of either of these deeds. General Mason spoke of him to me at
New-York with much friendship, and with strong hope of his becoming
president. I heard the idea so ridiculed by members of the federal party
afterward, that I concluded General Mason to be in the same case with
hundreds more who believe their intimate friends sure of being
president. But Colonel Johnson is actually vice-president, and the hope
seems reasonable; though the slavery question will probably be the point
on which the next election will turn, which may again be to the
disadvantage of the colonel. If he should become president, he will be
as strange-looking a potentate as ever ruled. His countenance is wild,
though with much cleverness in it; his hair wanders all abroad, and he
wears no cravat. But there is no telling how he might look if dressed
like other people.

I was fortunate enough once to catch a glimpse of the invisible Amos
Kendall, one of the most remarkable men in America. He is supposed to be
the moving spring of the whole administration; the thinker, planner, and
doer; but it is all in the dark. Documents are issued of an excellence
which prevents their being attributed to persons who take the
responsibility of them; a correspondence is kept up all over the country
for which no one seems to be answerable; work is done, of goblin extent
and with goblin speed, which makes men look about them with a
superstitious wonder; and the invisible Amos Kendall has the credit of
it all. President Jackson's Letters to his Cabinet are said to be
Kendall's; the Report on Sunday Mails is attributed to Kendall; the
letters sent from Washington to appear in remote country newspapers,
whence they are collected and published in the Globe as demonstrations
of public opinion, are pronounced to be written by Kendall. Every
mysterious paragraph in opposition newspapers relates to Kendall; and it
is some relief to the timid that his having now the office of
postmaster-general affords opportunity for open attacks upon this
twilight personage; who is proved, by the faults in the postoffice
administration, not to be able to do quite everything well. But he is
undoubtedly a great genius. He unites with his "great talent for
silence" a splendid audacity. One proof of this I have given elsewhere,
in the account of the bold stroke by which he obtained the sanction of
the Senate to his appointment as postmaster-general.[11]

Footnote 11: "Society in America," vol i., p. 60.

It is clear that he could not do the work he does (incredible enough in
amount any way) if he went into society like other men. He did, however,
one evening; I think it was at the attorney-general's. The moment I went
in, intimations reached me from all quarters, amid nods and winks,
"Kendall is here:" "That is he." I saw at once that his plea for
seclusion (bad health) is no false one. The extreme sallowness of his
complexion, and hair of such perfect whiteness as is rarely seen in a
man of middle age, testified to disease. His countenance does not help
the superstitious to throw off their dread of him. He probably does not
desire this superstition to melt away; for there is no calculating how
much influence was given to Jackson's administration by the universal
belief that there was a concealed eye and hand behind the machinery of
government, by which everything could be foreseen, and the hardest deeds
done. A member of Congress told me this night that he had watched
through four sessions for a sight of Kendall, and had never obtained it
till now. Kendall was leaning on a chair, with head bent down, and eye
glancing up at a member of Congress with whom he was in earnest
conversation, and in a few minutes he was gone.

Neither Mr. Clay nor any of his family ever spoke a word to me of
Kendall except in his public capacity; but I heard elsewhere and
repeatedly the well-known story of the connexion of the two men early in
Kendall's life. Tidings reached Mr. and Mrs. Clay one evening, many
years ago, at their house in the neighbourhood of Lexington, Kentucky,
that a young man, solitary and poor, lay ill of a fever in the noisy
hotel in the town. Mrs. Clay went down in the carriage without delay,
and brought the sufferer home to her house, where she nursed him with
her own hands till he recovered. Mr. Clay was struck with the talents
and knowledge of the young man (Kendall), and retained him as tutor to
his sons, heaping benefits upon him with characteristic bounty. Thus far
is notorious fact. As to the causes of their separation and enmity, I
have not heard Kendall's side of the question, and therefore say
nothing; but go on to the other notorious facts, that Amos Kendall left
Mr. Clay's political party some time after Adams had been, by Mr. Clay's
influence, seated in the presidential chair, and went over to Jackson;
since which time he has never ceased his persecutions of Mr. Clay
through the newspapers. It was extensively believed, on Mr. Van Buren's
accession, that Kendall would be dismissed from office altogether; and
there was much speculation about how the administration would get on
without him. But he appears to be still there. Whether he goes or stays,
it will probably be soon apparent how much of the conduct of Jackson's
government is attributable to Kendall's influence over the mind of the
late president, as he is hardly likely to stand in the same relation to
the present.

I was more vividly impressed with the past and present state of Ireland
while I was in America than ever I was at home. Besides being frequently
questioned as to what was likely to be done for the relief of her
suffering millions--suffering to a degree that it is inconceivable to
Americans that freeborn whites should ever be--I met from time to time
with refugee Irish gentry, still burning with the injuries they or their
fathers sustained in the time of the rebellion. The subject first came
up with Judge Porter; and I soon afterward saw, at a country-house where
I was calling, the widow of Theobald Wolfe Tone. The poor lady is still
full of feelings which amazed me by their bitterness and strength, but
which have, indeed, nothing surprising in them to those who know the
whole truth of the story of Ireland in those dreadful days. The
descendants of "the rebels" cannot be comforted with tidings of anything
to be done for their country. Naturally believing that nothing good can
come out of England--nothing good for Ireland--they passionately ask
that their country shall be left to govern herself. With tears and
scornful laughter they beg that nothing may be "done for her" by hands
that have ravaged her with gibbet, fire, and sword, but that she may be
left to whatever hopefulness may yet be smouldering under the ashes of
her despair. Such is the representation of Ireland to American minds. It
may be imagined what a monument of idiotcy the forcible maintenance of
the Church of England in Ireland must appear to American statesmen. "I
do not understand this Lord John Russell of yours," said one of the most
sagacious of them. "Is he serious in supposing that he can allow a
penny of the revenues, a plait of the lawn-sleeves of that Irish Church
to be touched, and keep the whole from coming down, in Ireland first,
and in England afterward?" We fully agree in the difficulty of supposing
Lord John Russell serious. The comparison of various, but, I believe,
pretty extensive American opinions about the Church of England yields
rather a curious result. No one dreams of the establishment being
necessary or being designed for the maintenance of religion; it is seen
by Chief-justice Marshall and a host of others to be an institution
turned to political purposes. Mr. Van Buren, among many, considers that
the church has supported the state for many years. Mr. Clay, and a
multitude with him, anticipates the speedy fall of the establishment.
The result yielded by all this is a persuasion not very favourable (to
use the American phrase) "to the permanence of our institutions."

Among our casual visiters at Washington was a gentleman who little
thought, as he sat by our fireside, what an adventure was awaiting him
among the Virginia woods. If there could have been any anticipation of
it, I should have taken more notice of him than I did; as it is, I have
a very slight recollection of him. He came from Maine, and intended
before his return to visit the springs of Virginia, which he did the
next summer. It seems that he talked in the stages rashly, and somewhat
in a bragging style--in a style, at least, which he was not prepared to
support by a harder testimony--about abolitionism. He declared that
abolitionism was not so dangerous as people thought; that he avowed it
without any fear; that he had frequently attended abolition meetings in
the North, and was none the worse for it in the slave states, &c. He
finished his visit at the Springs prosperously enough; but, on his
return, when he and a companion were in the stage in the midst of the
forest, they met at a crossroad--Judge Lynch; that is, a mob with hints
of cowhide and tar and feathers. The mob stopped the stage, and asked
for the gentleman by name. It was useless to deny his name, but he
denied everything else. He denied his being an abolitionist; he denied
his having ever attended abolition meetings, and harangued against
abolitionism from the door of the stage with so much effect, that the
mob allowed the steps to be put up, and the vehicle to drive off, which
it did at full speed. It was not long before the mob became again
persuaded that this gentleman was a fit object of vengeance, and
pursued him; but he was gone as fast as horses could carry him. He did
not relax his speed even when out of danger, but fled all the way into
Maine. It was not on the shrinking at the moment that one would
animadvert so much as on the previous bragging. I have seen and felt
enough of what peril from popular hatred is, in this martyr age of the
United States, to find it easier to venerate those who can endure than
to despise those who flinch from the ultimate trial of their principles;
but every instance of the infliction of Lynch punishment should be a
lesson to the sincerest and securest to profess no more than they are
ready to perform.

One of our mornings was devoted to an examination of the library and
curiosities of the State Department, which we found extremely
interesting. Our imaginations were whirled over the globe at an
extraordinary rate. There were many volumes of original letters of
Washington's and other revolutionary leaders bound up, and ordered to be
printed, for security, lest these materials of history should be
destroyed by fire or other accident. There were British parliamentary
documents. There was a series of the Moniteur complete, wherein we found
the black list of executions during the reign of terror growing longer
every day; also the first mention of Napoleon; the tidings of his escape
from Elba; the misty days immediately succeeding, when no telegraphic
communication could be made; his arrival at Lyons, and the subsequent
silence till the announcement became necessary that the king and princes
had departed during the night, and that his majesty the emperor had
arrived at his palace of the Tuileries at eight o'clock the next
evening. Next we turned to Algerine (French) gazettes, publishing that
Mustaphas and such people were made colonels and adjutants. Then we
lighted upon the journals of Arnold during the Revolutionary war, and
read the postscript of his last letter previous to the accomplishment of
his treason, in which he asks for hard cash, on pretence that the French
had suffered so much by paper money that he was unwilling to offer them
any more. Then we viewed the signatures of treaties, and decreed
Metternich's to be the best; Don Pedro's the worst for flourish, and
Napoleon's for illegibility. The extraordinary fact was then and there
communicated to us that the Americans are fond of Miguel from their
dislike of Pedro, but that they hope to "get along" very well with the
Queen of Portugal. The treaties with oriental potentates are very
magnificent, shining, and unintelligible to the eyes of novices. The
presents from potentates to American ambassadors are laid up here; gold
snuffboxes set in diamonds, and a glittering array of swords and
cimeters. There was one fine Damascus blade, but it seemed too blunt to
do any harm. Then we lost ourselves in a large collection of medals and
coins--Roman gold coins, with fat old Vespasian and others--from which
we were recalled to find ourselves in the extremely modern and
democratic United States! It was a very interesting morning.

We took advantage of a mild day to ascend to the skylight of the dome of
the Capitol, in order to obtain a view of the surrounding country. The
ascent was rather fatiguing, but perfectly safe. The residents at
Washington declare the environs to be beautiful in all seasons but early
winter, the meadows being gay with a profusion of wild flowers; even as
early as February with several kinds of heart's-ease. It was a
particularly cold season when I was there; but on the day of my
departure, in the middle of February, the streets were one sheet of ice,
and I remember we made a long slide from the steps of our boarding-house
to those of the stage. But I believe that that winter was no rule for
others. From the summit of the Capitol we saw plainly marked out the
basin in which Washington stands, surrounded by hills except where the
Potomac spreads its waters. The city was intended to occupy the whole of
this basin, and its seven theoretical avenues may be traced; but all
except Pennsylvania Avenue are bare and forlorn. A few mean houses
dotted about, the sheds of a navy-yard on one bank of the Potomac, and
three or four villas on the other, are all the objects that relieve the
eye in this space intended to be so busy and magnificent. The city is a
grand mistake. Its only attraction is its being the seat of government,
and it is thought that it will not long continue to be so. The
far-western states begin to demand a more central seat for Congress, and
the Cincinnati people are already speculating upon which of their hills
or tablelands is to be the site of the new Capitol. Whenever this change
takes place all will be over with Washington; "thorns shall come up in
her palaces, and the owl and the raven shall dwell in it," while her
sister cities of the east will be still spreading as fast as hands can
be found to build them.

There was a funeral of a member of Congress on the 30th of January; the
interment of the representative from South Carolina, whose death I
mentioned in connexion with Mr. Calhoun. We were glad that we were at
Washington at the time, as a congressional funeral is a remarkable
spectacle. We went to the Capitol at about half an hour before noon, and
found many ladies already seated in the gallery of the Hall of
Representatives. I chanced to be placed at the precise point of the
gallery where the sounds from every part of the house are concentred; so
that I heard the whole service, while I was at such a distance as to
command a view of the entire scene. In the chair were the President of
the Senate and the Speaker of the Representatives. Below them sat the
officiating clergyman; immediately opposite to whom were the president
and the heads of departments on one side the coffin, and the judges of
the Supreme Court and members of the Senate on the other. The
representatives sat in rows behind, each with crape round the left arm;
some in black; many in blue coats with bright buttons. Some of the
fiercest political foes in the country; some who never meet on any other
occasion--the president and the South Carolina senators, for
instance--now sat knee to knee, necessarily looking into each others'
faces. With a coffin beside them, and such an event awaiting their exit,
how out of place was hatred here!

After prayers there was a sermon, in which warning of death was brought
home to all, and particularly to the aged; and the vanity of all
disturbances of human passion when in view of the grave was dwelt upon.
There sat the gray-headed old president, at that time feeble, and
looking scarcely able to go through this ceremonial. I saw him
apparently listening to the discourse; I saw him rise when it was over,
and follow the coffin in his turn, somewhat feebly; I saw him disappear
in the doorway, and immediately descended with my party to the Rotundo,
in order to behold the departure of the procession for the grave. At the
bottom of the stairs a member of Congress met us, pale and trembling,
with the news that the president had been twice fired at with a pistol
by an assassin who had waylaid him in the portico, but that both pistols
had missed fire. At this moment the assassin rushed into the Rotundo
where we were standing, pursued and instantly surrounded by a crowd. I
saw his hands and half-bare arms struggling above the heads of the
crowd in resistance to being handcuffed. He was presently overpowered,
conveyed to a carriage, and taken before a magistrate. The attack threw
the old soldier into a tremendous passion. He fears nothing, but his
temper is not equal to his courage. Instead of his putting the event
calmly aside, and proceeding with the business of the hour, it was found
necessary to put him into his carriage and take him home.

We feared what the consequences would be. We had little doubt that the
assassin Lawrence was mad; and as little that, before the day was out,
we should hear the crime imputed to more than one political party or
individual. And so it was. Before two hours were over, the name of
almost every eminent politician was mixed up with that of the poor
maniac who caused the uproar. The president's misconduct on the occasion
was the most virulent and protracted. A deadly enmity had long subsisted
between General Jackson and Mr. Poindexter, a senator of the United
States, which had been much aggravated since General Jackson's accession
by some unwarrantable language which he had publicly used in relation to
Mr. Poindexter's private affairs. There was a prevalent expectation of a
duel as soon as the expiration of the president's term of office should
enable his foe to send him a challenge. Under these circumstances the
president thought proper to charge Mr. Poindexter with being the
instigator of Lawrence's attempt. He did this in conversation so
frequently and openly, that Mr. Poindexter wrote a letter, brief and
manly, stating that he understood this charge was made against him, but
that he would not believe it till it was confirmed by the president
himself; his not replying to this letter being understood to be such a
confirmation. The president showed this letter to visiters at the White
House, and did not answer it. He went further; obtaining affidavits
(tending to implicate Poindexter) from weak and vile persons whose
evidence utterly failed; having personal interviews with these
creatures, and openly showing a disposition to hunt his foe to
destruction at all hazards. The issue was, that Lawrence was proved to
have acted from sheer insanity; Poindexter made a sort of triumphal
progress through the states, and an irretrievable stain was left upon
President Jackson's name.

Every one was anxiously anticipating the fierce meeting of these foes on
the president's retirement from office, when Mr. Poindexter last year,
in a fit either of somnambulism or of delirium from illness, walked out
of a chamber window in the middle of the night, and was so much injured
that he soon died.

It so happened that we were engaged to a party at Mr. Poindexter's the
very evening of this attack upon the president. There was so tremendous
a thunder-storm that our host and hostess were disappointed of almost
all their guests except ourselves, and we had difficulty in merely
crossing the street, being obliged to have planks laid across the flood
which gushed between the carriage and the steps of the door. The
conversation naturally turned on the event of the morning. I knew little
of the quarrel which was now to be so dreadfully aggravated; but the
more I afterward heard, the more I admired the moderation with which Mr.
Poindexter spoke of his foe that night, and as often as I subsequently
met him.

I had intended to visit the president the day after the funeral; but I
heard so much of his determination to consider the attack a political
affair, and I had so little wish to hear it thus treated, against the
better knowledge of all the world, that I stayed away as long as I
could. Before I went I was positively assured of Lawrence's insanity by
one of the physicians who were appointed to visit him. One of the poor
creature's complaints was, that General Jackson deprived him of the
British crown, to which he was heir. When I did go to the White House, I
took the briefest possible notice to the president of the "insane
attempt" of Lawrence; but the word roused his ire. He protested, in the
presence of many strangers, that there was no insanity in the case. I
was silent, of course. He protested that there was a plot, and that the
man was a tool, and at length quoted the attorney-general as his
authority. It was painful to hear a chief ruler publicly trying to
persuade a foreigner that any of his constituents hated him to the
death; and I took the liberty of changing the subject as soon as I
could. The next evening I was at the attorney-general's, and I asked him
how he could let himself be quoted as saying that Lawrence was not mad.
He excused himself by saying that he meant general insanity. He believed
Lawrence insane in one direction; that it was a sort of Ravaillac case.
I besought him to impress the president with this view of the case as
soon as might be.

It would be amusing, if it were possible to furnish a complete set of
the rumours, injurious (if they had not been too absurd) to all parties
in turn, upon this single and very common act of a madman. One would
have thought that no maniac had ever before attacked a chief magistrate.
The act might so easily have remained fruitless! but it was made to bear
a full and poisonous crop of folly, wickedness, and wo. I feared on the
instant how it would be, and felt that, though the president was safe,
it was very bad news. When will it come to be thought possible for
politicians to have faith in one another, though they may differ, and to
be jealous for their rivals rather than for themselves?


    " ... You have unto the support of a true and natural aristocracy
    the deepest root of a democracy that hath been planted. Wherefore
    there is nothing in art or nature better qualified for the result
    than this assembly."--HARRINGTON'S _Oceana_.

The places of resort for the stranger in the Capitol are the Library,
the Supreme Court, the Senate Chamber, and the Hall of Representatives.

The former library of Congress was burnt by the British in their
atrocious attack upon Washington in 1814. Jefferson then offered his,
and it was purchased by the nation. It is perpetually increased by
annual appropriations. We did not go to the library to read, but amused
ourselves for many pleasant hours with the prints and with the fine
medals which we found there. I was never tired of the cabinet of
Napoleon medals; the most beautifully composed piece of history that I
ever studied. There is a cup carved by Benvenuto Cellini, preserved
among the curiosities of the Capitol, which might be studied for a week
before all the mysteries of its design are apprehended. How it found its
way to so remote a resting-place I do not remember.

Judge Story was kind enough to send us notice when any cause was to be
argued in the Supreme Court which it was probable we might be able to
understand, and we passed a few mornings there. The apartment is less
fitted for its purposes than any other in the building, the court being
badly lighted and ventilated. The windows are at the back of the judges,
whose countenances are therefore indistinctly seen, and who sit in their
own light. Visiters are usually placed behind the counsel and opposite
the judges, or on seats on each side. I was kindly offered the
reporter's chair, in a snug corner, under the judges, and facing the
counsel; and there I was able to hear much of the pleadings and to see
the remarkable countenances of the attorney-general, Clay, Webster,
Porter, and others, in the fullest light that could be had in this dim

At some moments this court presents a singular spectacle. I have watched
the assemblage while the chief-justice was delivering a judgment; the
three judges on either hand gazing at him more like learners than
associates; Webster standing firm as a rock, his large, deep-set eyes
wide awake, his lips compressed, and his whole countenance in that
intent stillness which easily fixes the eye of the stranger; Clay
leaning against the desk in an attitude whose grace contrasts strangely
with the slovenly make of his dress, his snuffbox for the moment
unopened in his hand, his small gray eye and placid half-smile conveying
an expression of pleasure which redeems his face from its usual
unaccountable commonness; the attorney-general, his fingers playing
among his papers, his quick black eye, and thin tremulous lips for once
fixed, his small face, pale with thought, contrasting remarkably with
the other two; these men, absorbed in what they are listening to,
thinking neither of themselves nor of each other, while they are watched
by the groups of idlers and listeners around them; the newspaper corps,
the dark Cherokee chiefs, the stragglers from the Far West, the gay
ladies in their waving plumes, and the members of either house that have
stepped in to listen; all these I have seen at one moment constitute one
silent assemblage, while the mild voice of the aged chief-justice
sounded through the court.

Every one is aware that the wigs and gowns of counsel are not to be seen
in the United States. There was no knowing, when Webster sauntered in,
threw himself down, and leaned back against the table, his dreamy eyes
seeming to see nothing about him, whether he would by-and-by take up his
hat and go away, or whether he would rouse himself suddenly, and stand
up to address the judges. For the generality there was no knowing; and
to us, who were forewarned, it was amusing to see how the court would
fill after the entrance of Webster, and empty when he had gone back to
the Senate Chamber. The chief interest to me in Webster's pleading, and
also in his speaking in the Senate, was from seeing one so dreamy and
_nonchalant_ roused into strong excitement. It seemed like having a
curtain lifted up through which it was impossible to pry; like hearing
auto-biographical secrets. Webster is a lover of ease and pleasure, and
has an air of the most unaffected indolence and careless
self-sufficiency. It is something to see him moved with anxiety and the
toil of intellectual conflict; to see his lips tremble, his nostrils
expand, the perspiration start upon his brow; to hear his voice vary
with emotion, and to watch the expression of laborious thought while he
pauses, for minutes together, to consider his notes, and decide upon the
arrangement of his argument. These are the moments when it becomes clear
that this pleasure-loving man works for his honours and his gains. He
seems to have the desire which other remarkable men have shown, to
conceal the extent of his toils, and his wish has been favoured by some
accidents; some sudden, unexpected call upon him for a display of
knowledge and power which has electrified the beholders. But on such
occasions he has been able to bring into use acquisitions and exercises
intended for other occasions, on which they may or may not have been
wanted. No one will suppose that this is said in disparagement of Mr.
Webster. It is only saying that he owes to his own industry what he must
otherwise owe to miracle.

What his capacity for toil is was shown, in one instance among many, in
an affair of great interest to his own state. On the 7th of April, 1830,
the town of Salem, Massachusetts, was thrown into a state of
consternation by the announcement of a horrible murder. Mr. White, a
respectable and wealthy citizen of Salem, about eighty years of age, was
found murdered in his bed. The circumstances were such as to indicate
that the murder was not for common purposes of plunder, and suspicions
arose which made every citizen shudder at the idea of the community in
which he lived containing the monsters who would perpetrate such a deed.
A patrol of the citizens was proposed and organized, and none were more
zealous in propositions and in patrolling than Joseph and John Knapp,
relatives of the murdered man. The conduct of these young men on the
occasion exposed them to dislike before any one breathed suspicion.
Several acquaintances of the family paid visits of condolence before the
funeral. One of these told me, still with a feeling of horror, how one
of the Knapps pulled his sleeve, and asked, in an awkward whisper,
whether he would go up stairs and see "the old devil." The old
gentleman's housekeeper had slept out of the house that particular
night; a back window had been left unfastened, with a plank placed
against it on the outside; and a will of the old gentleman's (happily a
superseded one) was missing. Suspicious circumstances like these were
found soon to have accumulated so as to justify the arrest of the two
Knapps, and of two brothers of the name of Crowninshield. A lawyer was
ready with testimony that Joseph Knapp, who had married a grand-niece of
Mr. White, had obtained legal information, that if Mr. White died
intestate, Knapp's mother-in-law would succeed to half the property.
Joseph Knapp confessed the whole in prison, and Richard Crowninshield,
doubtless the principal assassin, destroyed himself. The state
prosecutors were in a great difficulty. Without the confession, the
evidence was scarcely sufficient; and though Joseph Knapp was promised
favour from government if he would repeat his evidence on the side of
the prosecution in court, it was not safe, as the event proved, to rely
upon this in a case otherwise doubtful. The attorney and
solicitor-general of the state were both aged and feeble men; and, as
the day of trial drew on, it became more and more doubtful whether they
would be equal to the occasion, and whether these ruffians, well
understood to be the murderers, would not be let loose upon society
again, from bad management of the prosecution. The prosecuting officers
of the government were prevailed upon, within three days of the trial,
to send to seek out Mr. Webster and request his assistance.

A citizen of Salem, a friend of mine, was deputed to carry the request.
He went to Boston: Mr. Webster was not there, but at his farm by the
seashore. Thither, in tremendous weather, my friend followed him. Mr.
Webster was playing checkers with his boy. The old farmer sat by the
fire, his wife and two young women were sewing and knitting coarse
stockings; one of these last, however, being no farmer's daughter, but
Mr. Webster's bride, for this was shortly after his second marriage. My
friend was first dried and refreshed, and then lost no time in
mentioning "business." Mr. Webster writhed at the word, saying that he
came down hither to get out of hearing of it. He next declared that his
undertaking anything more was entirely out of the question, and pointed,
in evidence, to his swollen bag of briefs lying in a corner. However,
upon a little further explanation and meditation, he agreed to the
request with the same good grace with which he afterward went through
with his task. He made himself master of all that my friend could
communicate, and before daybreak was off through the woods, in the
unabated storm, no doubt meditating his speech by the way. He needed all
the assistance that could be given him, of course; and my friend
constituted himself Mr. Webster's fetcher and carrier of facts for these
two days. He says he was never under orders before since his childish
days; but in this emergency he was a willing servant, obeying such
laconic instructions as "Go there;" "Learn this and that;" "Now go
away;" and so forth.

At the appointed hour Mr. Webster was completely ready. His argument is
thought one of the finest, in every respect, that he has produced. I
read it before I knew anything of the circumstances which I have
related; and I was made acquainted with them in consequence of my
inquiry how a man could be hanged on evidence so apparently insufficient
as that adduced by the prosecution. Mr. Webster had made all that could
be made of it; his argument was ingenious and close, and imbued with
moral beauty; but the fact was, as I was assured, the prisoners were
convicted on the ground of the confession of the criminal more than on
the evidence adduced by the prosecutors; though the confession could
not, after all, be made open use of. The prisoners had such an opinion
of the weakness of the case, that Joseph, who had been offered favour by
government, refused to testify, and the pledge of the government was
withdrawn. Both the Knapps were hanged.

The clearness with which, in this case, a multitude of minute facts is
arranged, and the ingenuity with which a long chain of circumstantial
evidence is drawn out, can be understood only through a reading of the
entire argument. Even these are less remarkable than the sympathy by
which the pleader seems to have possessed himself of the emotions, the
peculiar moral experience, of the quiet, good people of Salem, when
thunderstruck with this event. While shut up at his task, Mr. Webster
found means to see into the hearts which were throbbing in all the homes
about him. "One thing more," said he to my friend, who was taking his
leave of him on the eve of the trial. "Do you know of anything
remarkable about any of the jury?" My friend had nothing to say, unless
it was that the foreman was a man of a remarkably tender conscience. To
this we doubtless owe the concluding passage of the argument, delivered,
as I was told, in a voice and manner less solemn than easy and tranquil.

"Gentlemen--Your whole concern should be to do your duty, and leave
consequences to take care of themselves. You will receive the law from
the court. Your verdict, it is true, may endanger the prisoner's life;
but, then, it is to save other lives. If the prisoner's guilt has been
shown and proved beyond all reasonable doubt, you will convict him. If
such reasonable doubts still remain, you will acquit him. You are the
judges of the whole case. You owe a duty to the public as well as to the
prisoner at the bar. You cannot presume to be wiser than the law. Your
duty is a plain, straightforward one. Doubtless, we would all judge him
in mercy. Towards him, as an individual, the law inculcates no
hostility; but towards him, if proved to be a murderer, the law, and the
oaths you have taken, and public justice, demand that you do your duty.

"With consciences satisfied with the discharge of duty, no consequences
can harm you. There is no evil that we cannot face or fly from but the
consciousness of duty disregarded.

"A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity. If
we take to ourselves the wings of the morning, and dwell in the
uttermost parts of the seas, duty performed or duty violated is still
with us, for our happiness or our misery. If we say the darkness shall
cover us, in the darkness as in the light our obligations are yet with
us. We cannot escape their power nor fly from their presence. They are
with us in this life, will be with us at its close; and in that scene of
inconceivable solemnity which lies yet farther onward, we shall still
find ourselves surrounded by the consciousness of duty, to pain us
wherever it has been violated, and to console us so far as God may have
given us grace to perform it."

How must the mention of the tremendous "secret" have thrilled through
the hearts of citizens who had for weeks been anxiously searching every
man's countenance to find it out. The picture given as from the
pleader's imagination was, as every man knew, derived from the
confession of the criminal.

"The deed was executed with a degree of self-possession and steadiness
equal to the wickedness with which it was planned. The circumstances,
now clearly in evidence, spread out the whole scene before us. Deep
sleep had fallen on the destined victim and on all beneath his roof. A
healthful old man, to whom sleep was sweet, the first sound slumbers of
the night held in their soft but strong embrace. The assassin enters
through the window, already prepared, into an unoccupied apartment. With
noiseless foot he paces the lonely hall, half lighted by the moon; he
winds up the ascent of the stairs, and reaches the door of the chamber.
Of this he moves the lock, by soft and continued pressure, till it turns
on its hinges, and he enters, and beholds his victim before him. The
room was uncommonly open to the admission of light. The face of the
innocent sleeper was turned from the murderer, and the beams of the
moon, resting on the gray locks of his aged temple, showed him where to
strike. The fatal blow is given! and the victim passes, without a
struggle or a motion, from the repose of sleep to the repose of death!
It is the assassin's purpose to make sure work; and he yet plies the
dagger, though it was obvious that life had been destroyed by the blow
of the bludgeon. He even raises the aged arm, that he may not fail in
his aim at the heart, and replaces it again over the wounds of the
poniard. To finish the picture, he explores the wrist for the pulse! he
feels it, and ascertains that it beats no longer! It is accomplished.
The deed is done. He retreats, retraces his steps to the window, passes
out through it as he came in, and escapes. He has done the murder; no
eye has seen him, no ear heard him. The _secret_ is his own, and it is
safe! Ah, gentlemen, that was a dreadful mistake. Such a secret can be
safe nowhere. The whole creation of God has neither nook nor corner
where the guilty can bestow it and say it is safe. Not to speak of that
Eye which glances through all disguises, and beholds everything as in
the splendour of noon, such secrets of guilt are never safe from
detection, even by men. True it is, generally speaking, that 'murder
will out.' True it is that Providence hath so ordained, and doth so
govern things, that those who break the great law of Heaven by shedding
man's blood seldom succeed in avoiding discovery. Especially, in a case
exciting so much attention as this, discovery must come, and will come,
sooner or later. A thousand eyes turn at once to explore every man,
every thing, every circumstance connected with the time and place; a
thousand ears catch every whisper, a thousand excited minds intensely
dwell on the scene, shedding all their light, and ready to kindle the
slightest circumstance into a blaze of discovery. Meantime, the guilty
soul cannot keep its own secret. It is false to itself; or, rather, it
feels an irresistible impulse of conscience to be true to itself. It
labours under its guilty possession, and knows not what to do with it.
The human heart was not made for the residence of such an inhabitant. It
finds itself preyed on by a torment which it does not acknowledge to God
or man. A vulture is devouring it, and it can ask no sympathy or
assistance either from heaven or earth. The secret which the murderer
possesses soon comes to possess him; and, like the evil spirits of which
we read, it overcomes him, and leads him whithersoever it will. He feels
it beating at his heart, rising to his throat, and demanding disclosure.
He thinks the whole world sees it in his face, reads it in his eyes, and
almost hears its workings in the very silence of his thoughts. It has
become his master. It betrays his discretion, it breaks down his
courage, it conquers his prudence. When suspicions from without begin to
embarrass him, and the net of circumstance to entangle him, the fatal
_secret_ struggles with still greater violence to burst forth. It must
be confessed; it _will be_ confessed; there is no refuge from confession
but suicide; and suicide is confession."

Mr. Webster was born in 1782, in New-Hampshire. His father was a farmer
who had retreated into the wilderness, and, as his son says, "had
lighted his fire nearer to the North Pole than any other citizen of the
States." The good man had, however, come down into the meadows at the
foot of the hills before his second son Daniel was born. By the means
which are within reach of almost every child in his country--the schools
and colleges of easy access--Daniel became qualified for an
apprenticeship to law; and by industry, great intellectual power, and
some few fortunate accidents, rose into notice, employment, and
eminence. He has for some years been considered the head of the federal
party, and he is therefore now on the losing side in politics. His last
great triumph was his exposure of the nullification doctrine in 1833.
Since that time he has maintained his influence in Congress by virtue of
his great talents and former services; but, his politics being in
opposition to those of the great body of the people, he is unable to do
more than head the opposition in the Senate. He was an unsuccessful
candidate in the last presidential election; and there seems little
probability of his attainment of office, unless by his taking the lead
of the abolition movement. For this it is probably now too late. The
abolitionists have done the most difficult part of the work in rousing
the public mind; they are chiefly of the democratic side in politics;
and they do not entertain, I believe, that faith in the great leader of
the federalists which would induce them to support his claims as the
anti-slavery candidate for the next presidentship.

Mr. Webster owes his rise to the institutions under which he lives;
institutions which open the race to the swift and the battle to the
strong; but there is little in him that is congenial with them. He is
aristocratic in his tastes and habits, and but little republican
simplicity is to be recognised in him. Neither his private conversation
nor his public transactions usually convey an impression that he is in
earnest. When he is so, his power is majestic, irresistible; but his
ambition for office, and for the good opinion of those who surround him,
is seen too often in alternation with his love of ease and luxury to
allow of his being confided in as he is admired. If it had been
otherwise, if his moral had equalled his intellectual supremacy, if his
aims had been as single as his reason is unclouded, he would long ago
have carried all before him, and been the virtual monarch of the United
States. But to have expected this would have been unreasonable. The very
best men of any society are rarely or never to be found among its
eminent statesmen; and it is not fair to look for them in offices which,
in the present condition of human affairs, would yield to such no other
choice than of speedy failure or protracted martyrdom. Taking great
politicians as they are, Mr. Webster's general consistency may be found
not to have fallen below the average, though it has not been so
remarkable as to ensure on his behalf a confidence at all to be compared
with the universal admiration of his talents.

Mr. Webster speaks seldom in the Senate. When he does, it is generally
on some constitutional question, where his reasoning powers and
knowledge are brought into play, and where his authority is considered
so high, that he has the glorious satisfaction of knowing that he is
listened to as an oracle by an assemblage of the first men in the
country. Previous to such an exercise he may be seen leaning back in his
chair, not, as usual, biting the top of his pen, or twirling his thumbs,
or bursting into sudden and transient laughter at Colonel Benton's
oratorical absurdities, but absent and thoughtful, making notes, and
seeing nothing that is before his eyes. When he rises, his voice is
moderate and his manner quiet, with the slightest possible mixture of
embarrassment; his right hand rests upon his desk, and the left hangs by
his side. Before his first head is finished, however, his voice has
risen so as to fill the chamber and ring again, and he has fallen into
his favourite attitude, with his left hand under his coat-tail, and the
right in full action. At this moment the eye rests upon him as upon one
under the true inspiration of seeing the invisible and grasping the
impalpable. When the vision has passed away, the change is astonishing.
He sits at his desk, writing letters or dreaming, so that he does not
always discover when the Senate is going to a division. Some one of his
party has not seldom to jog his elbow, and tell him that his vote is

There can scarcely be a stronger contrast than between the eloquence of
Webster and that of Clay. Mr. Clay is now my personal friend; but I have
a distinct recollection of my impression of his speaking while he was
yet merely an acquaintance. His appearance is plain in the extreme,
being that of a mere west-country farmer. He is tall and thin, with a
weather-beaten complexion, small gray eyes, which convey an idea of
something more than his well-known sagacity, even of slyness. It is only
after much intercourse that Mr. Clay's personal appearance can be
discovered to do him any justice at all. All attempts to take his
likeness have been in vain, though upward of thirty portraits of him, by
different artists, were in existence when I was in America. No one has
succeeded in catching the subtile expression of placid kindness, mingled
with astuteness, which becomes visible to the eyes of those who are in
daily intercourse with him. His mode of talking, deliberate and somewhat
formal, including sometimes a grave humour and sometimes a gentle
sentiment, very touching from the lips of a sagacious man of ambition,
has but one fault, its obvious adaptation to the supposed state of mind
of the person to whom it is addressed. Mr. Clay is a man of an irritable
and impetuous nature, over which he has obtained a truly noble mastery.
His moderation is now his most striking characteristic; obtained, no
doubt, at the cost of prodigious self-denial on his own part, and on
that of his friends of some of the ease, naturalness, and
self-forgetfulness of his manners and discourse. But his conversation is
rich in information, and full charged with the spirit of justice and
kindliness, rising, on occasion, to a moving magnanimity. By chances, of
some of which he was totally unaware, I became acquainted with several
acts of his life, political and private, which prove that his moderation
is not the mere diffusion of oil upon the waves, but the true stilling
of the storm of passion and selfishness. The time may come when these
acts may be told; but it has not yet arrived.

Mr. Clay is sometimes spoken of as a "disappointed statesman," and he
would probably not object to call himself so; for it makes no part of
his idea of dignity to pretend to be satisfied when he is sorry, or
delighted with what he would fain have prevented; but he suffers only
the genuine force of disappointment, without the personal mortification
and loss of dignity which are commonly supposed to be included in it. He
once held the balance of the Union in his hand, and now belongs to the
losing party; he more than once expected to be president, and has now no
chance of ever being so. Thus far he is a disappointed statesman; but,
at the same time, he is in possession of more than an equivalent for
what he has lost, not only in the disciplined moderation of his temper,
but in the imperishable reality of great deeds done. No possession of
office could now add to his dignity any more than the total neglect of
the present generation of the people could detract from it. The fact
that Mr. Clay's political opinions are not in accordance with those now
held by the great body of the people is no disgrace to him or them,
while the dignity of his former services, supported by his present
patience and quietness, places him far above compassion, and every
feeling but respect and admiration. This admiration is exalted to
enthusiasm in those who know how difficult it is to a man of Mr. Clay's
nature, who has lived in public all his life, to fall back into
obscurity; an obscurity not relieved, alas! by the solace of a cheerful
home. Few spectacles can be more noble than he is in that obscurity,
discoursing of public men and affairs with a justice which no rivalship
can impair, and a hopefulness which no personal disappointment can

Mr. Clay is the son of a respectable clergyman in Virginia, and was born
in April, 1777. His father died when he was quite young; and he was, in
consequence, left to the common educational chances which befriend all
the young citizens of the United States. He studied law after leaving
the common school at which his education began, and settled early at
Lexington, in Kentucky, where his residence has ever since been fixed.
His first important act was labouring diligently in favour of a plan for
the gradual abolition of slavery in Kentucky, which was proposed in
1798. His exertions were, however, in vain. In 1803 he entered the
legislature of his state, and in 1806 was sent, with the dignity of
senator, to Washington, having not quite attained the requisite age. In
1809 he found occasion to advocate the principle of protection to
domestic manufactures, which he has since had the very questionable
honour of imbodying in his famous American System. In 1811 he became
Speaker of the House of Representatives, and for three years exercised
in that situation a powerful influence over the affairs of the country.
In 1814 he was appointed one of the commissioners who negotiated the
treaty of Ghent; and when that business was concluded, he repaired to
London with his colleagues, Messrs. Adams and Gallatin, and there
concluded the commercial convention which was made the basis of all the
subsequent commercial arrangements between the United States and Europe.
In 1825 Mr. Clay accepted the appointment of Secretary of State under
Mr. Adams, an act for which he is still extensively and vehemently
blamed, but with how much or how little reason I do not pretend, from
want of knowledge of the party politics of the time, to understand.
While in this office he did a great deal in procuring, with much labour
and difficulty, a recognition of the independence of the Spanish
colonies in South America; a recognition which had the all-important
effect of deterring the great European powers from their contemplated
intervention on behalf of Spain. Mr. Clay's speeches were read at the
head of the armies of the South American republics; and if his name were
forgotten everywhere else, it would stand in the history of their
independence. Mr. Clay has since been a powerful advocate of internal
improvements, and the framer of "the American System;" the founder of
the protective policy, which I believe he is more proud of than of any
act of his public life, while many others are justly amazed that a man
of his sagacity should not see the unsoundness of the principle on which
the whole system is based. Much more honour is due to him for the
Compromise Bill, by which he virtually surrendered his system, and
immediately put an end to the nullification struggle. Mr. Webster
victoriously exposed the badness of the nullification principle, and Mr.
Clay removed the present cause of its exercise. The one humbled South
Carolina to the dust on her nullification ground, the other left her in
triumphant possession of her principle of free trade, while disarming
her by a wise and well-principled compromise.

The one act of Mr. Clay's public life for which he must be held to
require pardon from posterity, is that by which he secured the
continuance of slavery in Missouri, and, in consequence, its
establishment in Arkansas and Florida; the one an admitted state, the
other a territory destined to be so. Mr. Clay is not an advocate of
slavery, though, instead of being a friend to abolition, he is a dupe of
colonization. When he held the destinies of American slavery in his
hand, he had, unhappily, more regard for precedent in human arrangements
than for the spirit of the divine laws in the light of which such
arrangements should be ever regarded. He acted to avert the conflict
which cannot be averted. It was still to take place; it is now taking
place, under less favourable circumstances; and his measure of
expediency is already meeting with the retribution which ever follows
upon the subordination of a higher principle to a lower. For many of his
public acts Mr. Clay will be permanently honoured; with regard to
others, the honour will be mingled with allowance for error in
philosophy; for this one he will have to be forgiven.

Mr. Clay married an excellent woman, who is still living, the surviver
of six daughters, taken away, some of them in the bloom of promise, and
one in the maturity of virtue. The great stateman's house is very
desolate. He must seek in his own strength of soul, and in the love and
honour with which his friends regard him, that good which has been
denied to him in the latter days of his political and domestic life.

His recollections of Europe are very vivid and pleasurable. We spent
many an hour of my visit to him in Kentucky in talking over our mutual
English friends, till we forgot the time and space we had both traversed
since we parted from them, and looked up surprised to find ourselves,
not at a London dinner-table, but in the wild woods of the West. Mr.
Clay has not kept up his knowledge of British life and politics so
accurately as some of his brother-statesmen; but he is still full of the
sayings of Castlereagh and Canning, of Lords Eldon and Stowell, of
Mackintosh and Sydney Smith.

The finest speech I heard from Mr. Clay in the Senate was on the sad
subject of the injuries of the Indians. He exposed the facts of the
treatment of the Cherokees by Georgia. He told how the lands in Georgia,
guaranteed by solemn treaties to the Cherokees, had been surveyed and
partitioned off to white citizens of the state; that, though there is a
nominal right of appeal awarded to the complainants, this is a mere
mockery, as an acknowledgment of the right of Georgia to divide the
lands is made a necessary preliminary to the exercise of the right; in
other words, the Indians must lay down their claims on the threshold of
the courts which they enter for the purpose of enforcing these claims!
The object of Mr. Clay's plea was to have the Supreme Court open to the
Cherokees, their case being, he contended, contemplated by the
Constitution. A minor proposition was that Congress should assist, with
territory and appliances, a body of Cherokees who desired to emigrate
beyond the Mississippi.

It was known that Mr. Clay would probably bring forward his great topic
that day. Some of the foreign ambassadors might be seen leaning against
the pillars behind the chair, and many members of the other house
appeared behind and in the passages; and one sat on the steps of the
platform, his hands clasped, and his eyes fixed on Mr. Clay, as if life
hung upon his words. As many as could crowd into the gallery leaned over
the balustrade; and the lower circle was thronged with ladies and
gentlemen, in the centre of whom stood a group of Cherokee chiefs,
listening immoveably. I never saw so deep a moral impression produced by
a speech. The best testimony to this was the disgust excited by the
empty and abusive reply of the senator from Georgia, who, by-the-way,
might be judged from his accent to have been about three months from the
Green Island. This gentleman's speech, however, showed us one good
thing, that Mr. Clay is as excellent in reply as in proposition; prompt,
earnest, temperate, and graceful. The chief characteristic of his
eloquence is its earnestness. Every tone of his voice, every fibre of
his frame bears testimony to this. His attitudes are, from the beginning
to the close, very graceful. His first sentences are homely, and given
with a little hesitation and repetition, and with an agitation shown by
a frequent putting on and taking off of the spectacles, and a trembling
of the hands among the documents on the desk. Then, as the speaker
becomes possessed with his subject, the agitation changes its character,
but does not subside. His utterance is still deliberate, but his voice
becomes deliciously winning. Its higher tones disappointed me at first;
but the lower ones, trembling with emotion, swelling and falling with
the earnestness of the speaker, are very moving, and his whole manner
becomes irresistibly persuasive. I saw tears, of which I am sure he was
wholly unconscious, falling on his papers as he vividly described the
woes and injuries of the aborigines. I saw Webster draw his hand across
his eyes; I saw every one deeply moved except two persons, the
vice-president, who yawned somewhat ostentatiously, and the Georgian
senator, who was busy brewing his storm. I was amazed at the daring of
this gentleman; at the audacity which could break up such a moral
impression as this Cherokee tale, so told, had produced, by accusing Mr.
Clay of securing an interest in opposition to Georgia "by stage starts
and theatric gesticulations." The audience were visibly displeased at
having their feelings thus treated, in the presence even of the Cherokee
chiefs; but Mr. Clay's replies both to argument and abuse were so happy,
and the Georgian's rejoinder was so outrageous, that the business ended
with a general burst of laughter. The propositions were to lie over till
the next day; and, as I soon after left Washington, I never learned
their ultimate fate.

The American Senate is a most imposing assemblage. When I first entered
it I thought I never saw a finer set of heads than the forty-six before
my eyes: two only being absent, and the Union then consisting of
twenty-four states. Mr. Calhoun's countenance first fixed my attention;
the splendid eye, the straight forehead, surmounted by a load of stiff,
upright, dark hair; the stern brow; the inflexible mouth; it is one of
the most remarkable heads in the country. Next him sat his colleague,
Mr. Preston, in singular contrast; stout in person, with a round, ruddy,
good-humoured face, large blue eyes, and a wig, orange to-day, brown
yesterday, and golden to-morrow. Near them sat Colonel Benton, a
temporary people's man, remarkable chiefly for his pomposity. He sat
swelling amid his piles of papers and books, looking like a being
designed by nature to be a good-humoured barber or innkeeper, but forced
by fate to make himself into a mock-heroic senator. Opposite sat the
transcendant Webster, with his square forehead and cavernous eyes; and
behind him the homely Clay, with the face and figure of a farmer, but
something of the air of a divine, from his hair being combed straight
back from his temples. Near them sat Southard and Porter; the former
astute and rapid in countenance and gesture; the latter strangely
mingling a boyish fun and lightness of manner and glance with the
sobriety suitable to the judge and the senator. His keen eye takes in
everything that passes; his extraordinary mouth, with its overhanging
upper lip, has but to unfold into a smile to win laughter from the
sourest official or demagogue. Then there was the bright _bonhommie_ of
Ewing of Ohio, the most primitive-looking of senators; and the benign,
religious gravity of Frelinghuysen; the gentlemanly air of Buchanan; the
shrewdness of Poindexter; the somewhat melancholy simplicity of Silsbee;
all these and many others were striking, and for nothing more that for
their total unlikeness to each other. No English person who has not
travelled over half the world can form an idea of such differences among
men forming one assembly for the same purposes, and speaking the same
language. Some were descended from Dutch farmers, some from French
Huguenots, some from Scotch Puritans, some from English cavaliers, some
from Irish chieftains. They were brought together out of law-courts,
sugar-fields, merchants' stores, mountain farms, forests, and prairies.
The stamp of originality was impressed upon every one, and inspired a
deep, involuntary respect. I have seen no assembly of chosen men, and no
company of the highborn, invested with the antique dignities of an
antique realm, half so imposing to the imagination as this collection
of stout-souled, full-grown, original men, brought together on the
ground of their supposed sufficiency, to work out the will of their
diverse constituencies.

In this splendid chamber, thus splendidly inhabited, we spent many hours
of many weeks. Here I was able to gain no little knowledge of the state,
political and other, of various parts of the country, from my large
acquaintance among the members of the Senate. When dull official reports
were read, and uninteresting local matters were discussed, or when the
one interminable speaker, Benton, was on his legs, one member or another
of the body would come and talk with us. I have heard certain of the
members, stalking from their seats towards those of the ladies, compared
to cranes in search of fish. The comparison is not a bad one.

I wished every day that the ladies would conduct themselves in a more
dignified manner than they did in the Senate. They came in with waving
plumes, and glittering in all the colours of the rainbow, causing no
little bustle in the place, no little annoyance to the gentlemen
spectators, and rarely sat still for any length of time. I know that
these ladies are no fair specimen of the women who would attend
parliamentary proceedings in any other metropolis. I know that they were
the wives, daughters, and sisters of legislators, women thronging to
Washington for purposes of convenience or pleasure, leaving their usual
employments behind them, and seeking to pass away the time. I knew this,
and made allowance accordingly; but I still wished that they could
understand the gravity of such an assembly, and show so much respect to
it as to repay the privilege of admission by striving to excite as
little attention as possible, and by having the patience to sit still
when they happened not to be amused, till some interruption gave them
opportunity to depart quietly. If they had done this, Judge Porter would
not have moved that they should be appointed seats in the gallery
instead of below; and they would have been guiltless of furnishing a
plea for the exclusion of women, who would probably make a better use of
the privilege, from the galleries of other houses of parliament.

I was glad of an opportunity of hearing both the South Carolina senators
soon after my arrival in Washington. They are listened to with close
attention, and every indication of their state of feeling is watched
with the interest which has survived the nullification struggle. Mr.
Calhoun on this occasion let us a little into his mind; Mr. Preston kept
more closely to the question before the body. The question was whether a
vote of censure of the president, recorded in the minutes of the
proceedings of the Senate the preceding session, should be expunged. The
motion for the expunging was made by Colonel Benton, and rejected, as it
had been before, and has been since; though it was finally carried, to
the agony of the opposition, at the end of last session (February,

Mr. Preston was out of health, and unable to throw his accustomed force
into his speaking; but his effort showed us how beautiful his eloquence
is in its way. It is not solid. His speeches, if taken to pieces, will
be found to consist of analogies and declamation; but his figures are
sometimes very striking, and his manner is as graceful as anything so
artificial can be. I never before understood the eloquence of action.
The action of public speakers in England, as far as I have observed (and
perhaps I may be allowed to hint that deaf persons are peculiarly
qualified to judge of the nature of such action), is of two kinds; the
involuntary gesture which is resorted to for the relief of the nerves,
which may or may not be expressive of meaning, and the action which is
wholly the result of study; arbitrary, and not the birth of the
sentiment; and, therefore, though pleasing, perhaps, to the eye,
perplexing to the mind of the listener. Mr. Preston's manner unites the
advantages of these two methods, and avoids most of their evils. It is
easy to see that he could not speak without an abundant use of action,
and that he has therefore done wisely in making it a study. To an
unaccustomed eye it appears somewhat exuberant; but it is exquisitely
graceful, and far more than commonly appropriate. His voice is not good,
but his person is tall, stout, and commanding, and his countenance

Mr. Calhoun followed, and impressed me very strongly. While he kept to
the question, what he said was close, good, and moderate, though
delivered in rapid speech, and with a voice not sufficiently modulated.
But when he began to reply to a taunt of Colonel Benton's, that he
wanted to be president, the force of his speaking became painful. He
made protestations which it seemed to strangers had better have been
spared, that he would not turn on his heel to be president; and that he
had given up all for his own brave, magnanimous little State of South
Carolina. While thus protesting, his eyes flashed, his brow seemed
charged with thunder, his voice became almost a bark, and his sentences
were abrupt, intense, producing in the auditory that sort of laugh which
is squeezed out of people by the application of a very sudden mental
force. I believe he knew little what a revelation he made in a few
sentences. They were to us strangers the key, not only to all that was
said and done by the South Carolina party during the remainder of the
session, but to many things at Charleston and Columbia which would
otherwise have passed unobserved or unexplained.

I was less struck than some strangers appear to have been with the
length and prosy character of the speeches in Congress. I do not
remember hearing any senator (always excepting Colonel Benton) speak for
more than an hour. I was seldom present in the other house, where
probably the most diffuse oratory is heard; but I was daily informed of
the proceedings there by the representative who was of our party, and I
did not find that there was much annoyance or delay from this cause.
Perhaps the practice may be connected with the amount of business to be
done. It is well known that the business of Congress is so moderate in
quantity, from the functions of the general government being few and
simple, that it would be considered a mere trifle by any parliament in
the Old World; and long speeches, which would be a great annoyance
elsewhere, may be an innocent pastime in an assembly which may have
leisure upon its hands.

The gallery of the splendid Hall of Representatives is not well
contrived for hearing, and I rarely went into it for more than a passing
view of what was going on; a view which might be taken without
disturbance to anybody, as the gallery was generally empty, and too high
raised above the area of the hall to fix the eye of the members. My
chief interest was watching Mr. Adams, of whose speaking, however, I can
give no account. The circumstance of this gentleman being now a member
of the representative body after having been president, fixes the
attention of all Europeans upon him with as much admiration as interest.
He is one of the most remarkable men in America. He is an imbodiment of
the pure, simple morals which are assumed to prevail in the thriving
young republic. His term of office was marked by nothing so much as by
the subordination of glory to goodness, of showy objects to moral ones.
The eccentricity of thought and action in Mr. Adams, of which his
admirers bitterly or sorrowfully complain, and which renders him an
impracticable member of a party, arises from the same honest simplicity
which crowns his virtues, mingled with a faulty taste and an imperfect
temper. His hastiness of assertion has sometimes placed him in
predicaments so undignified as almost to be a set-off against the
honours he wins by pertinacious and bold adherence to a principle which
he considers sound. His occasional starts out of the ranks of his party,
without notice and without apparent cause, have been in vain attempted
to be explained on suppositions of interest or vanity; they may be more
easily accounted for in other ways. Between one day and another, some
new idea of justice and impartiality may strike his brain, and send him
to the house warm with invective against his party and sympathy with
their foes. He rises, and speaks out all his new mind, to the perplexity
of the whole assembly, every man of whom bends to hear every syllable he
says; perplexity which gives way to dismay on the one hand and triumph
on the other. The triumphant party begins to coax and honour him; but,
before the process is well begun, he is off again, finding that he had
gone too far; and the probability is, that he finishes by placing
himself between two fires. I now describe what I actually saw of his
conduct in one instance; conduct which left no more doubt of his
integrity than of his eccentricity. He was well described to me before I
saw him. "Study Mr. Adams," was the exhortation. "You will find him well
worth it. He runs in veins; if you light upon one, you will find him
marvellously rich; if not, you may chance to meet rubbish. In action he
is very peculiar. He will do ninety-nine things nobly, excellently; but
the hundredth will be so bad in taste and temper, that it will drive all
the rest out of your head, if you don't take care." His countrymen will
"take care." Whatever the heats of party may be, however the tone of
disappointment against Mr. Adams may sometimes rise to something too
like hatred, there is undoubtedly a deep reverence and affection for the
man in the nation's heart; and any one may safely prophesy that his
reputation, half a century after his death, will be of a very honourable
kind. He fought a stout and noble battle in Congress last session in
favour of discussion of the slavery question, and in defence of the
right of petition upon it; on behalf of women as well as of men. While
hunted, held at bay, almost torn to pieces by an outrageous
majority--leaving him, I believe, in absolute unity--he preserved a
boldness and coolness as amusing as they were admirable. Though he now
and then vents his spleen with violence when disappointed in a favourite
object, he seems able to bear perfectly well that which it is the great
fault of Americans to shrink from, singularity and blame. He seems, at
times, reckless of opinion; and this is the point of his character which
his countrymen seem, naturally, least to comprehend.

Such is the result of the observations I was able to make on this
gentleman when at Washington. I was prevented seeing so much of him as I
earnestly desired by his family circumstances. He had just lost a son,
and did not appear in society. It is well known in America that Mr.
Adams will leave behind him papers of inestimable value. For forty years
(I was told) he has kept a diary, full and exact. In this diary he every
morning sets down not only the events of the preceding day, but the
conversations he has had with foreigners, and on all subjects of
interest. This immense accumulation of papers will afford such materials
for history as the country has never yet been blessed with. Perhaps no
country has ever possessed a public man, of great powers, and involved
in all the remarkable events of its most remarkable period, who has had
industry enough to leave behind him a similar record of his times. This
will probably turn out to be (whether he thinks so or not) the greatest
and most useful of his deeds, and his most honourable monument.

Those whose taste is the contemplation of great and original men may
always have it gratified by going to Washington. Whatever may be thought
of the form and administration of government there; however certain it
may be that the greatest men are not, in this age of the world, to be
found in political life, it cannot be but that, among the real
representatives of a composite and self-governing nation, there must be
many men of power; power of intellect, of goodness, or, at least, of


      "He might have been a king
      But that he understood
      How much it was a meaner thing
    To be unjustly great than honourably good."

                                   _Duke of Buckingham on Lord Fairfax._

On the 2d of February I visited Mount Vernon, in company with a large
party of gentlemen and ladies. Of all places in America, the family seat
and burial-place of Washington is that which strangers are most eager to
visit. I was introduced by Judge Story to the resident family, and was
received by them, with all my companions, with great civility and

The estate of Mount Vernon was inherited by General Washington from his
brother. For fifteen years prior to the assembling of the first general
Congress in Philadelphia, Washington spent his time chiefly on this
property, repairing to the provincial legislature when duty called him
there, but gladly returning to the improvement of his lands. The house
was, in those days, a very modest building, consisting of only four
rooms on a floor, which form the centre of the present mansion. Mrs.
Washington resided there during the ten years' absence of her husband in
the wars of the Revolution; repairing to headquarters at the close of
each campaign, and remaining there till the opening of the next. The
departure of an aiddecamp from the camp to escort the general's lady was
watched for with much anxiety as the echoes of the last shot of the
campaign died away; for the arrival of "Lady Washington" (as the
soldiers called her) was the signal for the wives of all the general
officers to repair to their husbands in camp. A sudden cheerfulness
diffused itself through the army when the plain chariot, with the
postillions in their scarlet and white liveries, was seen to stop before
the general's door. Mrs. Washington was wont to say, in her latter
years, that she had heard the first cannon at the opening and the last
at the close of every campaign of the revolutionary war. She was a
strong-minded, even-tempered woman; and the cheerfulness of her
demeanour, under the heavy and various anxieties of such a lot as hers,
was no mean support to her husband's spirits, and to the bravery and
hopefulness of the whole army, whose eyes were fixed upon her. She
retired from amid the homage of the camp with serene composure when the
fatigues and perils of warfare had to be resumed, and hid her fears and
cares in her retired home. There she occupied herself industriously in
the superintendence of her slaves, and in striving to stop the ravages
which her husband's public service was making in his private fortunes.

After the peace of 1783 she was joined by her husband, who made a
serious pursuit of laying out gardens and grounds round his dwelling,
and building large additions to it. He then enjoyed only four years of
quiet, being called in 1787 to preside in the convention which framed
the Constitution, and in 1789 to fill the presidential chair. Mrs.
Washington was now obliged to leave the estate with him, and it was
eight years before they could take possession of it again. In 1797
Washington refused to be made president for a third term, and retired
into as private a life as it was possible for him to secure. Trains of
visiters sought him in his retreat, and Mrs. Washington's
accomplishments as a Virginia housewife were found useful every day; but
Washington was at home, and he was happy. In a little while he was once
more applied to to serve the state at the head of her armies. He did not
refuse, but requested to be left in peace till there should be actual
want of his presence. Before that time arrived he was no more. Two years
after his retirement, while the sense of enjoyment of repose was still
fresh, and his mind was full of such schemes as delight the imaginations
of country gentlemen, death overtook him, and found him, though the call
was somewhat sudden, ready and willing to go. In a little more than two
years he was followed by his wife. From the appearance of the estate, it
would seem to have been going to decay ever since.

Our party, in three carriages, and five or six on horseback, left
Washington about nine o'clock, and reached Alexandria in about an hour
and a half, though our passage over the long bridge which crosses the
Potomac was very slow, from its being in a sad state of dilapidation.
Having ordered a late dinner at Alexandria, we proceeded on our way,
occasionally looking behind us at the great dome of the Capitol, still
visible above the low hills which border the gray, still Potomac, now
stretching cold amid the wintry landscape. It was one of the coldest
days I ever felt, the bitter wind seeming to eat into one's very life.
The last five miles of the eight which lie between Alexandria and Mount
Vernon wound through the shelter of the woods, so that we recovered a
little from the extreme cold before we reached the house. The land
appears to be quite impoverished; the fences and gates are in bad order;
much of the road was swampy, and the poor young lambs, shivering in the
biting wind, seemed to look round in vain for shelter and care. The
conservatories were almost in ruins, scarcely a single pane of glass
being unbroken; and the house looked as if it had not been painted on
the outside for years. Little negroes peeped at us from behind the
pillars of the piazza as we drove up. We alighted in silence, most of us
being probably occupied with the thought of who had been there before
us; what crowds of the noble, the wise, the good, had come hither to
hear the yet living voice of the most unimpeachable of patriots. As I
looked up I almost expected to see him standing in the doorway. My eyes
had rested on the image of his remarkable countenance in almost every
house I had entered; and here, in his own dwelling, one could not but
look for the living face with something more than the eye of the
imagination. I cared far less for any of the things that were shown me
within the house than to stay in the piazza next the garden, and fancy
how he here walked in meditation, or stood looking abroad over the
beautiful river, and pleasing his eye with a far different spectacle
from that of camps and conventions.

Many prints of British landscapes, residences, and events are hung up in
the apartments. The ponderous key of the Bastile still figures in the
hall, in extraordinary contrast with everything else in this republican
residence. The Bible in the library is the only book of Washington's now
left. The best likeness of the great man, known to all travellers from
the oddness of the material on which it is preserved, is to be seen
here, sanctioned thus by the testimony of the family. The best likeness
of Washington happens to be on a common pitcher. As soon as this was
discovered, the whole edition of pitchers was bought up. Once or twice I
saw the entire vessel locked up in a cabinet, or in some such way
secured from accident; but most of its possessors have, like the family,
cut out the portrait and had it framed.

The walk, planned and partly finished during Washington's life, the
winding path on the verge of the green slope above the river, must be
very sweet in summer. The beauty of the situation of the place surprised
me. The river was nobler, the terrace finer, and the swelling hills
around more varied than I had imagined; but there is a painful air of
desolation over the whole. I wonder how it struck the British officers
in 1814, when, in passing up the river on their bandit expedition to
burn libraries and bridges, and raze senate chambers, they assembled on
deck, and uncovered their heads as they passed the silent dwelling of
the great man who was not there to testify his disgust at the service
they were upon. If they knew what it was that they were under orders to
do, it would have been creditable to them as men to have mutinied in
front of Mount Vernon.

The old tomb from which the body of Washington has been removed ought to
be obliterated or restored. It is too painful to see it as it is now,
the brickwork mouldering, and the paling broken and scattered. The red
cedars still overshadow it, and it is a noble resting-place. Every one
would mourn to see the low house destroyed, and the great man's chamber
of dreamless sleep made no longer sacred from the common tread; but
anything is better than the air of neglect which now wounds the spirit
of the pilgrim. The body lies, with that of Judge Washington, in a vault
near, in a more secluded but far less beautiful situation than that on
the verge of the Potomac. The river is not seen from the new vault, and
the erection is very sordid. It is of red brick, with an iron door, and
looks more like an oven than anything else, except for the stone slab,
bearing a funeral text, which is inserted over the door. The bank which
rises on one side is planted with cedars, pines, and a sprinkling of
beech and birch, so that the vault is overshadowed in summer, as the
places of the dead should be. The president told me that the desolation
about the tomb was a cause of uneasiness to himself and many others; and
that he had urged the family, as the body had been already removed from
its original bed, to permit it to be interred in the centre of the
Capitol. They very naturally clung to the precious possession; and there
is certainly something much more accordant with the spirit of the man
in a grave under the tiles of his own home than in a magnificent shrine;
but, however modest the tomb may be--were it only such a green hillock
as every rustic lies under--it should bear tokens of reverent care.
The grass and shade which he so much loved are the only ornaments
needed; the absence of all that can offend the eye and hurt the spirit
of reverence is all that the patriot and the pilgrim require.

Before we reached the crazy bridge, which it had been difficult enough
to pass in the morning, the sweet Potomac lay in clear moonshine, and
the lights round the Capitol twinkled from afar. On arriving at our
fireside, we found how delightful a total change of mood sometimes is.
Tea, letters, and English newspapers awaited us; and they were a
surprising solace, chilled or feverish as we were with the intense cold
and strong mental excitement of the day.


    "For neither by reason nor by her experience is it impossible that a
    commonwealth should be immortal; seeing the people, being the
    materials, never die; and the form, which is motion, must, without
    opposition, be endless. The bowl which is thrown from your hand, if
    there be no rub, no impediment, shall never cease; for which cause
    the glorious luminaries, that are the bowls of God, were once thrown
    for ever."--HARRINGTON'S _Oceana_.

While I was at Washington I received a kind invitation from Mr. and Mrs.
Madison to visit them at their seat, Montpelier, Virginia. I was happy
to avail myself of it, and paid the visit on my way down to Richmond. At
six o'clock in the morning of the 18th of February my party arrived at
Orange Courthouse, five miles from Montpelier; and while two proceeded
to Charlottesville, where we were to join them in three or four days, a
friend and I stopped, first to rest for a few hours, and then to proceed
to Mr. Madison's. After some sleep, and breakfast at noon, we took a
carriage for the five miles of extremely bad road we had to travel. The
people of the inn overcharged us for this carriage, and did not mention
that Mr. Madison had desired that a messenger should be sent over for
his carriage as soon as we should arrive. This was the only occasion but
one, in our journey of ten thousand miles in the United States, that we
were overcharged; while, I suspect, the undercharges, where any literary
reputation is in the case, are more numerous than can be reckoned.

It was a sweet day of early spring. The patches of snow that were left
under the fences and on the rising grounds were melting fast. The road
was one continued slough up to the very portico of the house. The
dwelling stands on a gentle eminence, and is neat and even handsome in
its exterior, with a flight of steps leading up to the portico. A lawn
and wood, which must be pleasant in summer, stretch behind; and from the
front there is a noble object on the horizon, the mountain-chain which
traverses the state, and makes it eminent for its scenery. The shifting
lights upon these blue mountains were a delightful refreshment to the
eye after so many weeks of city life as we had passed.

We were warmly welcomed by Mrs. Madison and a niece, a young lady who
was on a visit to her; and when I left my room I was conducted to the
apartment of Mr. Madison. He had, the preceding season, suffered so
severely from rheumatism, that, during this winter, he confined himself
to one room, rising after breakfast, before nine o'clock, and sitting in
his easy-chair till ten at night. He appeared perfectly well during my
visit, and was a wonderful man of eighty-three. He complained of one ear
being deaf, and that his sight, which had never been perfect, prevented
his reading much, so that his studies "lay in a nutshell;" but he could
hear Mrs. Madison read, and I did not perceive that he lost any part of
the conversation. He was in his chair, with a pillow behind him, when I
first saw him; his little person wrapped in a black silk gown; a warm
gray and white cap upon his head, which his lady took care should always
sit becomingly; and gray worsted gloves, his hands having been
rheumatic. His voice was clear and strong, and his manner of speaking
particularly lively, often playful. Except that the face was smaller,
and, of course, older, the likeness to the common engraving of him was
perfect. He seemed not to have lost any teeth, and the form of the face
was therefore preserved, without any striking marks of age. It was an
uncommonly pleasant countenance.

His relish for conversation could never have been keener. I was in
perpetual fear of his being exhausted; and at the end of every few hours
I left my seat by the arm of his chair, and went to the sofa by Mrs.
Madison on the other side of the room; but he was sure to follow and sit
down between us; so that, when I found the only effect of my moving was
to deprive him of the comfort of his chair, I returned to my station,
and never left it but for food and sleep, glad enough to make the most
of my means of intercourse with one whose political philosophy I deeply
venerated. There is no need to add another to the many eulogies of
Madison; I will only mention that the finest of his characteristics
appeared to me to be his inexhaustible faith; faith that a well-founded
commonwealth may, as our motto declares, be immortal; not only because
the people, its constituency, never die, but because the principles of
justice in which such a commonwealth originates never die out of the
people's heart and mind. This faith shone brightly through the whole of
Mr. Madison's conversation except on one subject. With regard to slavery
he owned himself almost to be in despair. He had been quite so till the
institution of the Colonization Society. How such a mind as his could
derive any alleviation to its anxiety from that source is surprising. I
think it must have been from his overflowing faith; for the facts were
before him that in eighteen years the Colonization Society had removed
only between two and three thousand persons, while the annual increase
of the slave population in the United States was upward of sixty

He talked more on the subject of slavery than on any other,
acknowledging, without limitation or hesitation, all the evils with
which it has ever been charged. He told me that the black population in
Virginia increases far faster than the white; and that the
licentiousness only stops short of the destruction of the race; every
slave girl being expected to be a mother by the time she is fifteen. He
assumed from this, I could not make out why, that the negroes must go
somewhere, and pointed out how the free states discourage the settlement
of blacks; how Canada disagrees with them; how Hayti shuts them out; so
that Africa is their only refuge. He did not assign any reason why they
should not remain where they are when freed. He found, by the last
returns from his estates, that one third of his own slaves were under
five years of age. He had parted with some of his best land to feed the
increasing numbers, and had yet been obliged to sell a dozen of his
slaves the preceding week. He observed that the whole Bible is against
negro slavery; but that the clergy do not preach this, and the people do
not see it. He became animated in describing what I have elsewhere
related[12] of the eagerness of the clergy of the four denominations to
catch converts among the slaves, and the effect of religious teaching of
this kind upon those who, having no rights, can have no duties. He
thought the condition of slaves much improved in his time, and, of
course, their intellects. This remark was, I think, intended to apply to
Virginia alone, for it is certainly not applicable to the southwestern
states. He accounted for his selling his slaves by mentioning their
horror of going to Liberia, a horror which he admitted to be prevalent
among the blacks, and which appears to me decisive as to the
unnaturalness of the scheme. The willing mind is the first requisite to
the emigrant's success. Mr. Madison complained of the difficulty and
risk of throwing an additional population into the colony, at the rate
of two or three cargoes a year; complained of it because he believed it
was the fault of the residents, who were bent upon trading with the
interior for luxuries, instead of raising food for the new comers. This
again seems fatal to the scheme, since the compulsory direction of
industry, if it could be enforced, would be almost as bad as slavery at
home; and there are no means of preventing the emigrants being wholly
idle, if they are not allowed to work in their own way for their own
objects. Mr. Madison admitted the great and various difficulties
attending the scheme, and recurred to the expression that he was only
"less in despair than formerly about slavery." He spoke with deep
feeling of the sufferings of ladies under the system, declaring that he
pitied them even more than their negroes, and that the saddest slavery
of all was that of conscientious Southern women. They cannot trust their
slaves in the smallest particulars, and have to superintend the
execution of all their own orders; and they know that their estates are
surrounded by vicious free blacks, who induce thievery among the
negroes, and keep the minds of the owners in a state of perpetual
suspicion, fear, and anger.

Footnote 12: "Society in America," vol. ii., p. 160.

Mr. Madison spoke strongly of the helplessness of all countries cursed
with a servile population in a conflict with a people wholly free;
ridiculed the idea of the Southern States being able to maintain a
rising against the North; and wondered that all thinkers were not agreed
in a thing so plain. He believed that Congress has power to prohibit the
internal slavetrade. He mentioned the astonishment of some strangers,
who had an idea that slaves were always whipped all day long, at seeing
his negroes go to church one Sunday. They were gayly dressed, the women
in bright-coloured calicoes; and, when a sprinkling of rain came, up
went a dozen umbrellas. The astonished strangers veered round to the
conclusion that slaves were very happy; but were told of the degradation
of their minds; of their carelessness of each other in their nearest
relations, and their cruelty to brutes.

Mrs. Madison's son by a former marriage joined us before dinner. We
dined in the next room to Mr. Madison, and found him eager for
conversation again as soon as we had risen from table. Mrs. M. is
celebrated throughout the country for the grace and dignity with which
she discharged the arduous duties which devolve upon the president's
lady. For a term of eight years she administered the hospitalities of
the White House with such discretion, impartiality, and kindliness, that
it is believed she gratified every one and offended nobody. She is a
strong-minded woman, fully capable of entering into her husband's
occupations and cares; and there is little doubt that he owed much to
her intellectual companionship, as well as to her ability in sustaining
the outward dignity of his office. When I was her guest she was in
excellent health and lively spirits; and I trust that though she has
since lost the great object of her life, she may yet find interests
enough to occupy and cheer many years of an honoured old age.

Mr. Madison expressed his regret at the death of Mr. Malthus, whose
works he had studied with close attention. He mentioned that Franklin
and two others had anticipated Malthus in comparing the rates of
increase of population and food; but that Malthus had been the first to
draw out the doctrine, with an attempt at too much precision, however,
in determining the ratio of the increase of food. He laughed at Godwin's
methods of accounting for the enormous increase of population in America
by referring it to emigration, and having recourse to any supposition
rather than the obvious one of an abundance of food. He declared himself
very curious on the subject of the size of the Roman farms, and that he
had asked many friends where the mistake lies in the accounts which have
come down to us. Some Roman farms are represented as consisting of an
acre and a quarter, the produce of which would be eaten up by a pair of
oxen. The estate of Cincinnatus being three times this size, he could
scarcely plough after having lost half of it by being surety. Either
there must be some great mistake about our notion of the measurement of
Roman farms, or there must have been commons for grazing and woods for
fuel, the importation of grain from Sicily and other places not having
taken place till long after. He asked by what influence our corn-laws,
so injurious to all, and so obviously so to the many, were kept up, and
whether it was possible that they should continue long. He declared
himself in favour of free trade, though believing that the freedom
cannot be complete in any one country till universal peace shall afford
opportunity for universal agreement.

He expressed himself strongly in favour of arrangements for the security
of literary property all over the world, and wished that English authors
should be protected from piracy in the United States without delay. He
believed that the utterance of the national mind in America would be
through small literature rather than large, enduring works. After the
schools and pulpits of the Union are all supplied, there will remain an
immense number of educated sons of men of small property who will have
things to say; and all who can write, will. He thought it of the utmost
importance to the country, and to human beings everywhere, that the
brain and the hands should be trained together; and that no distinction
in this respect should be made between men and women. He remembered an
interesting conversation on this subject with Mr. Owen, from whom he
learned with satisfaction that well-educated women in his settlement
turned with ease and pleasure from playing the harp to milking the cows.

The active old man, who declared himself crippled with rheumatism, had
breakfasted, risen, and was dressed before we sat down to breakfast. He
talked a good deal about the American presidents and some living
politicians for two hours, when his letters and newspapers were brought
in. He gayly threw them aside, saying he could read the newspapers every
day, and must make the most of his time with us, if we would go away as
soon as we talked of. He asked me, smiling, if I thought it too vast
and anti-republican a privilege for the ex-presidents to have their
letters and newspapers free, considering that this was the only earthly
benefit they carried away from their office.

I will not repeat his luminous history of the nullification struggle;
nor yet his exposition, simple and full, of the intricate questions
involved in the anomalous institution of the American Senate, about its
power of sanctioning appointments to office, and whether its weight
should be increased by making its sanction necessary to removal from
office; to which increase of power he was decidedly opposed. This part
of his conversation, though very instructive to me at the time, would be
uninteresting to the English reader in this connexion.

He declared himself perfectly satisfied that there is in the United
States a far more ample and equal provision for pastors, and of
religious instruction for the people, than could have been secured by a
religious establishment of any kind; and that one of the greatest
services which his country will be hereafter perceived to have rendered
to the world, will be the having proved that religion is the more cared
for the more unreservedly it is committed to the affections of the
people. He quoted the remark of Voltaire, that if there were only one
religion in a country, it would be a pure despotism; if two, they would
be deadly enemies; but half a hundred subsist in fine harmony. He
observed that this was the case in America, and that so true and
pregnant a remark as this ought to be accepted as an atonement for many
that would die of untruth. He went on to notice the remarkable fact that
creeds which oppose each other, and which, in concatenation, would seem
to be most demoralizing, do, by virtue of some one common principle,
agree in causing the moral elevation of those who hold them. He
instanced Philosophical Necessity, as held by Hume, Kaimes, Edwards, and
Priestley. He told me how he had once been prejudiced against Priestley,
and how surprised he was, when he first met the philosopher at
Philadelphia, to find him absolutely mild and candid.

The whole of this day was spent like the last, except that we went over
the house looking at the busts and prints, which gave an English air to
the dwelling, otherwise wholly Virginian. During all our conversations,
one or another slave was perpetually coming to Mrs. Madison for the
great bunch of keys; two or three more lounged about in the room,
leaning against the doorposts or the corner of the sofa; and the
attendance of others was no less indefatigable in my own apartment.

The next morning we found our host in fine spirits. He described, with
much vivacity, the variety of visits from strangers that he was subject
to, saying that some were taxes and others bounties. He laughed about
the ludicrous effect sometimes produced by an utter failure of sympathy
in matters of grave pursuit; and told us of a ride he took with a young
English geologist who was on a visit to him, and who spurred up to him
in a fit of transport, holding a stone almost into his eyes, and
exclaiming, "Graywacke, sir! graywacke, graywacke!" the host all the
time being quite unable to understand or sympathize with this vehement

I glanced at the newspapers when they came in, and found them full of
the subject of the quarrel with France, the great topic of the day. Mr.
Madison gave me an account of the relations of the two countries, and of
the grounds of his apprehensions that this quarrel might, in spite of
its absurdity, issue in a war. This is all over now, but some of his
observations remain. He said it would be an afflicting sight if the two
representative governments which are in the van of the world should go
to war; it would squint towards a confirmation of what is said of the
restlessness of popular governments. If the people, who pay for war, are
eager for it, it is quite a different thing from potentates being so who
are at no cost. He mentioned that George the Fourth, as prince regent,
was a large gainer in the last war, from his share of the Droits of the
Admiralty, amounting to 1,000,000_l._ per annum; a pretty premium, Mr.
Madison observed, to pay a king for going to war. He told me about the
formation of the philosophical and humane agreement between Franklin and
Frederic of Prussia, that merchant ships, unarmed, should go about their
business as freely in the war as in peace. The Salem merchants, who were
formerly in favour of war, and who suffered from captures in the course
of it, were, on the present occasion, petitioning against war and for

Franklin was near seventy when Mr. Madison first knew him. He went to
the Hall of Congress in a sedan, and sat all the time, writing what he
had to say, and getting it read, because he could not stand. He was
soon afterward bedridden, when Madison was his frequent visiter. He had
much self-command; and, when seized by severe pain, soon roused himself
to converse almost as if it did not exist. One of the most striking
points about him was his dislike of argument. He would listen to his
adversary, and then overthrow him with an anecdote.

After avowing a very unfashionable admiration of Darwin's poetry, and
declaring that the splendour of the diction put his imagination into a
very gay state, Mr. Madison went into a speculation about what would
eventually become of all existing languages and their literature;
declaring that he had little hope of the stability of languages when
terms of even classical derivation are perpetually changing their
meanings with time. Then, by some channel, now forgotten, we got round
to the less agreeable subject of national debts and taxation, when, as
might be expected, Mr. Madison expressed his horror of the machinery
necessary under a system of indirect levy, and his attachment to a plan
of moderate expenditure, provided for by direct taxation. He remarked
upon Pitt's success in obtaining revenue when every other man would
rather have surrendered his plans than used the means he employed. He
observed that king, lords, and commons might constitute a government
which would work a long while in a kingdom no bigger than Great Britain,
but that it would soon become an absolute government in a country as
large as Russia, from the magnitude of its executive power; and that it
was a common but serious mistake to suppose that a country must be small
to be a republic, since a republican form, with a federal head, can be
extended almost without limits, without losing its proportions, becoming
all the while less, instead of more, subject to change. In a small
republic there is much noise from the fury of parties; while in a
spreading but simply working republic, like that of the Union, the
silent influence of the federal head keeps down more quarrels than ever

We were compelled to leave Montpelier while our intercourse was thus in
full flow. Mr. Madison would not say farewell seriously, he was so
confident that we should visit him again on our return from the South
and West. I need not say that we earnestly wished to do so; but we never
saw him again, not having an opportunity in the summer to diverge from
our route so as to approach his residence. We heard excellent reports of
him from time to time; of his vigour and cheerfulness, and of his
application to political and literary pursuits. In the spring of the
following year, however, he declined, and died on the 28th of June,

I have written of him under a strong desire to say nothing that he would
have objected to have repeated, suppressing whatever he dropped relating
to private persons or to public men yet living, while attempting to
afford what gratification I could to the strong interest felt in England
about this virtuous statesman. It is something that, living under
institutions framed by the few for the subordination of the many, the
English feel the interest they do about such men as Jefferson and
Madison; men inspired by the true religion of statemanship, faith in
men, and in the principles on which they combine in an agreement to do
as they would be done by. This political religion resembles personal
piety in its effect of sustaining the spirit through difficulty and
change, and leaving no cause for repentance, or even solicitude, when,
at the close of life, all things reveal their values to the meditative
sage. Madison reposed cheerfully, gayly, to the last, on his faith in
the people's power of wise self-government. As for Jefferson, he has
left, in his last letter to Madison, a few sentences which we may be
thankful for, as golden links added to the chain by which the glorious
memories of these two good men are indissolubly connected:--

"The friendship which has subsisted between us, now half a century, and
the harmony of our political principles and pursuits, have been sources
of constant happiness to me through that long period. It has been a
great solace to me to believe that you are engaged in vindicating to
posterity the course we have pursued for preserving to them, in all
their purity, the blessings of self-government, which we had assisted,
too, in acquiring for them. If ever the earth has beheld a system of
administration conducted with a single and steadfast eye to the general
interest and happiness of those committed to it; one which, protected by
truth, can never know reproach, it is that to which our lives have been
devoted. To myself, you have been a pillar of support through life. Take
care of me when I am dead, and be assured that I shall leave with you my
last affections."[13]

Footnote 13: Jefferson's Memoir and Correspondence, vol. iv., p. 428.
Date, February 17, 1826.


    "That the legislator should especially occupy himself with the
    education of youth, no one can dispute; for when this is not done in
    states, it is a cause of damage to the polity. For a state must be
    administered with reference to its polity; and that which is the
    peculiar characteristic of each polity is that which preserves and
    originally constitutes it; as, for instance, the democratical
    principle in a democracy, and the oligarchical in an oligarchy; and
    that which is the best principle always constitutes the best
    polity."--ARISTOTLE, _Politik._, book viii.

The existence of the University of Virginia is scarcely recognised by
British travellers. I was welcomed there as the first who had ever
visited it. Charlottesville lies out of the ordinary route of tourists;
but Monticello, the seat of Jefferson, is within sight of his favourite
institution, and Mr. Madison's residence is only about thirty-five miles
off; and it seems surprising that such a combination of interesting
objects should not have drawn more pilgrim feet that way.

It was between five and six in the morning when we entered the stage at
Orange Courthouse, which was to deposite us at Charlottesville before an
early dinner. The snow had wholly disappeared, and I looked out eagerly
to see what aspect the far-famed Virginia wore. For the greater part of
the way all looked very desolate; the few dwellings were dingy; large
mansions, with slave-dwellings clustered near. The trees were bare, the
soil one dull red, the fences shabby. The eye found a welcome relief in
the woods of stone-pine, and in an occasional apparition of the
beautiful bluebird, perching upon a stump or flitting over the fallows.
We breakfasted at a farm a little way off the road, whither we had to
pick our way by a fieldpath, which was a perfect slough. The hostess was
friendly, and served an excellent breakfast to the stage-passengers in a

From this point the road improved. The mountains were before us; and, as
we approached them, the undulating surface of the country presented many
beauties. It was Sunday. We mounted an eminence all grown over with
stone-pine, and on the top we found, in the heart of the grove, a small
church where worship was going on, while seventeen horses, two of them
with sidesaddles, were fastened to the trees around. This church was
free to all sects, but at present used by the Presbyterians, they being
the most numerous sect in the neighbourhood.

We arrived at Charlottesville, at the foot of the mountains, by one
o'clock, and joined the friends whom we found awaiting us at dinner at
the hotel. A Unitarian clergyman was to preach in the courthouse in the
afternoon: a rare event, I imagine; for we heard afterward that one of
the professor's ladies could not sleep the night before from the idea of
a Unitarian being so near. We attended the service, which was very
spiritless. The whole burden fell upon the minister, there being no
preparation for singing, and apparently no interest beyond mere
curiosity. Two long rows of students from the University were there, and
I thought I never saw so fine a set of youths. Their demeanour was
gentlemanly to the last degree, except in the one particular of
spitting, and the seriousness of their manner must have been gratifying
to the preacher.

After the service we walked to the University, at the distance, I think,
of a little more than a mile from the town. The singular ranges of
college buildings are visible from a considerable distance, as they
advantageously crown an eminence, presenting the appearance of a piazza
surrounding an oblong square, with the professors' houses rising at
regular intervals. We found that the low buildings connecting these
larger dwellings were the dormitories of the students; ground-floor
apartments opening into the piazza, and designed to serve as places of
study as well as sleep. The professors' houses are inconveniently small.
Jefferson wished, in the first instance, that the professors should be
young men; and this fact and the smallness of the dwellings have given
rise to the ridiculous belief, entertained by some people, that
Jefferson made celibacy a condition of holding professorships in his
university. Instead of this, ladies' faces may be seen at many windows,
and plenty of children tripping along in the piazzas. At one end of the
quadrangle is the Rotunda, containing the lecture-rooms, library, and
other apartments; and outside the other end a Gothic chapel was about to
be erected. Well-kept grass-plats and gravel-walks fill up the

The number of students at the time of my visit was 206. They are not
admitted under the age of sixteen, except in the case of a younger
brother accompanying one above that age. Each dormitory is designed to
accommodate two students; but, when there is room, any student may rent
a whole one if he chooses. The ordinary expenses are so moderate as to
be worth specifying:--

    Board, including furniture, washing, and attendance       $100
    Fuel and candles                                            15
    Rent of half a dormitory                                     8
    Use of the library and public rooms                         15
    Fees to professors, say                                     75
        Total                                                 $213

exclusive of books and stationary, clothing and pocket-money. The
students wear a uniform which is very becoming and not at all
conspicuous, being merely a coat of particularly simple fashion and dark

Of the two hundred and six students whom I had the pleasure of seeing,
one hundred and fifty-one belonged to the state, five came from the
Northern States, and the rest from the South and West; six from South
Carolina, though there are colleges both at Charleston and Columbia.
Professor Patterson spoke of the youths among whom he was living as
being as steady and promising a set of young men as could be met with.
We heard afterward a somewhat different account in a stagecoach; but, of
course, the testimony of a professor is worth much more than that of two
chance travellers; and all that I saw of the appearance and manners of
the students was very creditable to the institution. Every student
visits each professor's house twice in the session, once to dinner and
once to a ball; and, I suppose, as much oftener as he may be asked. The
session lasts ten months, the vacation being in the hot months of July
and August.

The distinctive principle of this University is that each student is
free to attend the schools of his choice, and no others; provided that,
being under twenty-one years of age, he shall attend at least three
professors. The professors highly approve of this arrangement, finding
that it enables young men to qualify themselves rapidly and effectually
for particular callings, in cases where time is valuable; and that the
youths put vigour into their pursuits, in proportion as they are free,
within a reasonable limit, to gratify their tastes and fulfil their own
purposes in the choice of their studies.

There are nine professorships, and in each school there are three
regular lectures a week, besides the instructions suited to the several
classes into which the school is divided. The professors when I was
there were--

Professor Harrison, Ancient Languages and History. This gentleman must
find himself fully occupied. He was the sole instructer that session of
seventy-five young men in Latin and Greek, and, of such as desired it,
in Hebrew. His qualifications are understood to be of a very high order.

Professor Blœttermann had sixty-four pupils in Modern Languages,
viz., French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Anglo-Saxon; and was ready
to teach, moreover, the Danish, Swedish, Dutch, and Portuguese

Professor Bonnycastle (Mathematics) had a large attendance, consisting
of one hundred and nine, divided into five classes, beginning with the
theory of Arithmetic, and concluding the course of Pure Mathematics with
the Integral Calculus. There is, moreover, a class of Mixed Mathematics
for such of the more advanced students as choose to pursue it, and
another of Civil Engineering.

Professor Patterson undertakes the Natural Philosophy, having an
attendance of seventy-three pupils. The apparatus provided for the use
of this school is very extensive and complete; and an observatory, with
the necessary astronomical instruments, is open to the students.

Professor Emmet, Chymistry and Materia Medica, eighty-nine pupils.

Professor Magill, Medicine, forty-one pupils.

Professor Warner, Anatomy and Surgery, forty-four pupils. An extensive
museum is attached to the Medical Department, and the anatomical school
is regularly supplied with subjects, from which the lectures are
delivered. The advantage claimed for this, above all other medical
schools in the country, is that its session lasts ten months instead of

Professor Tucker, Moral Philosophy, sixty-seven pupils, who are divided
into two classes; the examinations of the junior class being in
Rhetoric, Belles Lettres, Logic, and Ethics, from the professor's
lectures, Blair's and Campbell's Rhetoric, and Stewart's "Active and
Moral Powers." The senior class studies Mental Philosophy and Political
Economy; and the examinations are from the professor's lectures, Brown's
Lectures, Say's and Adam Smith's Political Economy.

Professor Davis, Law, forty-eight pupils. The students of this school
have instituted a Law Society, at whose meetings the professor presides,
and where the business of every branch of the profession is rehearsed.

Three honorary distinctions are conferred in this University; a
certificate of proficiency, conferred by the faculty on any proficient
in a particular branch of study; that of graduate in any school, for
proficiency in the general studies of any school; and the third, of
Master of Arts of the University of Virginia, is obtained by graduation
in the schools of Ancient and Modern Languages, Mathematics, Natural
Philosophy, Chymistry, and Moral Philosophy. All these are obtained when
deserved, and not in consequence of any prescribed term of study having
been gone through. The title of Doctor of Medicine is conferred on the
graduate in the Medical Department. The certificates and diplomas are
delivered in the presence of all the members of the University and of
the public on the last day of the session, in the Rotunda, amid many
observances and rites.

It will be observed that there is no Theological Professorship. It was
noticed by the religious North at the time of the foundation of the
University, that this was probably the first instance in the world of
such an establishment exhibiting this kind of deficiency, and the
experiment was denounced as a very hazardous one. The result seems to
have been, that while theological instruction has been obtainable
elsewhere, a greater number and variety of young men, of different
religious persuasions, have been educated at this institution than would
have been likely to resort to it if it had, by the choice of a
theological professor, identified itself with any single denomination.
The reasons for the omission of a Professorship of Divinity are stated
in the first Report of the Commissioners who met in August, 1818, at
Rockfish Gap, on the Blue Ridge, for the purpose of organizing the plans
of this institution. Jefferson was understood to be the author of the
report, which contains the following passage:

"In conformity with the principles of our constitution, which places all
sects of religion on an equal footing; with the jealousy of the
different sects, in guarding that equality from encroachment and
surprise; and with the sentiments of the legislature, in favour of
freedom of religion, manifested on former occasions, we have proposed no
Professor of Divinity; and the rather, as the proofs of the being of a
God, the Creator, Preserver, and Supreme Ruler of the universe, the
Author of all the relations of morality, and of the laws and obligations
these infer, will be within the province of the Professor of Ethics; to
which, adding the developments of those moral obligations, of those in
which all sects agree, with a knowledge of the languages of Hebrew,
Greek, and Latin, a basis will be formed common to all sects. Proceeding
thus far without offence to the constitution, we have thought it proper
at this point to leave every sect to provide, as they think fittest, the
means of further instruction in their own peculiar tenets."

There are no daily public prayers at this institution, but there are
regular services on Sundays, administered by clergymen of the four
denominations, in turns of a year each. These clergymen officiate on the
invitation of the professors, officers, and students. The attendance
upon public worship is purely voluntary; and, as might be expected as a
consequence, it is regular and complete.

This institution may well be called Jefferson's University. The first
conception was his; the whole impulse and direction; the scheme of its
studies, and the organization of its government. His letters to his
intimate friends during the last five years of his life breathe a
rational ardour about this enterprise which is very animating to those
connected with the university, and which affords a fine stimulus to the
students, who are daily reminded of what they owe to him, and what were
his expectations from them. "I fear not to say," he writes, "that within
twelve or fifteen years from this time (1825), a majority of the rulers
of our state will have been educated here. They shall carry hence the
correct principles of our day; and you may count assuredly that they
will exhibit their country in a degree of sound respectability it has
never known, either in our days or those of our forefathers. I cannot
live to see it. My joy must only be that of anticipation." In his last
letter to Madison, a few months later, he says, "And if I remove beyond
the reach of attentions to the university, or beyond the bourne of life
itself, as I soon must, it is a comfort to leave that institution under
your care, and an assurance that it will not be wanting."

The following passage in the same letter renders strangers curious to
learn the politics of the university. "In the selection of our Law
Professor, we must be rigorously attentive to his political principles.
You will recollect that, before the Revolution, Coke-Littleton was the
universal elementary book of law students; and a sounder whig never
wrote, nor of profounder learning in the orthodox doctrines of the
British constitution, or in what were called English liberties. You
remember, also, that our lawyers were then all whigs. But when his
black-letter text, and uncouth but cunning learning got out of fashion,
and the honeyed Mansfieldism of Blackstone became the student's
hornbook, from that moment that profession (the nursery of our Congress)
began to slide into toryism, and nearly all the young brood of lawyers
are now of that hue. They suppose themselves, indeed, to be whigs,
because they no longer know what whigism or republicanism means. It is
in our seminary that that vestal flame is to be kept alive; it is thence
to spread anew over our own and the sister states." On inquiry I found
that, out of the 206 students, seven held the principles of the
democratic party. There seemed to be little or none of the federalism of
the North, but a strong attachment to Calhoun on the part of the
majority in the establishment. The evil influences of slavery have
entered in to taint the work of the great champion of freedom. The
political attachments of this once democratic institution are to the
leader who, in order to uphold slavery, would, to judge him by himself,
establish a Lacedæmonian government throughout the South; making every
white man a soldier, in order to preserve a false idea of honour, and to
obviate danger from the oppressed servile class. To observing eyes it
appears plain that the hour is approaching when these young men must,
like all other American men, choose their part, and enter decisively
into struggle to maintain or overthrow the first principles of freedom.
It will then be seen whether "the vestal flame" has been kept alive, or
whether the name of him who cherished it has been honoured with mere
lip-worship, while the labours of his latter years have been despised
and undone. The eyes of the world will be fixed on Jefferson's
University during the impending conflict between slaveholders and

To return to our Sunday afternoon. It was known that we should soon
arrive at the University with our letters of introduction, and a truly
hospitable welcome was prepared for us. We called first at Professor
Patterson's, where we found ourselves, in half an hour, as much at home
as if we had been acquainted for months. We were obliged to decline
taking up our abode there at once, but promised to return the next
morning, and remain for as long a time as we could spare. Professor
Tucker, long known in England, and at present more extensively so
through his very acceptable Life of Jefferson, was recovering from an
illness which confined him to his room, and sent to ask me to visit him
there. I was glad that he was well enough to see me, and that I had thus
the benefit of a good deal of his lively, sensible, and earnest

A great disappointment awaited our rising on the Monday morning. On the
Sunday afternoon the sun had been so hot that we threw off our shawls.
The next morning we looked out upon a snowstorm. There was, from the
beginning, no hope of our getting to Monticello. Jefferson's house upon
the mountain was actually in sight, and there was no possibility of our
reaching it, and we were obliged to satisfy ourselves with the traces we
found of him about the University. Professor Patterson's carriage came
for us early, and we passed a morning of the liveliest gossip with the
ladies and children of the family, while the professors were engaged in
their duties. The frankness of the whole society was particularly
winning, and so was the cordiality among themselves; a degree of mutual
good understanding which is seldom found in the small society of a
college, village-like in its seclusion and leisure, with added
temptations to jealousy and censoriousness. The ladies of Professor
Patterson's family gave me a spirited and amiable description of their
arrival as strangers at the University, and of the zeal and kind
consideration with which they were welcomed and aided on every hand. Two
facts struck me in the course of our feminine talk on the subject of
housekeeping; that chickens are there to be had for a dollar a dozen,
plump fowls ready for the fire; and that Mrs. Patterson's coachman, a
slave, could read. These ladies, seeing apparently only domestic slaves
kindly treated like their own, spoke lightly on the great subject,
asking me if I did not think the slaves were happy; but their husbands
used a very different tone, observing, with gloom, that it was a dark
question every way.

Four of the professors and two or three students, fine, well-mannered
young men, joined us at dinner, and many ladies and others of the
professors in the evening. I was amused and gratified by the interest
shown in the living authors of England, especially the ladies. Every
particular that I could tell about Mrs. Somerville and Mrs. Marcet was
eagerly listened to. The Herschel family, Mr. Malthus, and many more,
were fully and affectionately discussed. The great treat of the evening
to me was a long conversation with Professor Hamilton on the German
language and literature, and on the mutual criticism of the Germans and
the English. He offered a comparison of the genius of the Greek and
German languages, which, for want of sufficient learning, I do not
pretend to appreciate, but which impressed me strongly with admiration
of his powers of conversation.

One of the ladies took an opportunity of asking me privately to request
leave to attend a lecture with the Natural Philosophy class in the
morning. Ladies are excluded by rule; but she thought that the rule
might for once be infringed without injury in the case of foreign
ladies. The professor kindly made no difficulty, and my prompter highly
enjoyed her single opportunity.

We breakfasted before eight, and went immediately to survey the large
building, the Rotunda. First we saw the library, a well-chosen
collection of books, the list of which was made out by Jefferson. The
students read in the Rotunda, and take out books by order. In the
gallery above the books, the mineralogical collection, belonging to
Professor Patterson, is arranged, and open to observation. Higher up
still is a whispering gallery. The lecture to which we were admitted was
on Heat. It was clear, fluent, and entertaining. The young men appeared
to be good listeners; some wrote down almost all they heard, and many
asked questions of the professor at the conclusion of the lecture.

Mr. Tucker begged us to go to his chamber to luncheon, as he was still
unable to venture out of it. We had a delightful hour there. The sick
gentleman's room was crowded with guests, all busy with question and
remark, our time being short, and the quantity we had to say, like old
friends in a brief meeting, being inexhaustible. A serious request was
made to us that we would stay a month, giving up a portion of our
southern journey in exchange for the good offices of the University. We
could not possibly do this; but there can be no doubt of what our
enjoyment would have been during a whole month of intimate intercourse
with such stirring people as this graceful, kindly little society is
composed of. Having said all that so many tongues could, in an hour's
time, about the Theory of Rent, Colonel Thompson, and Mr. Malthus; the
value of public censure and eulogy; Mrs. Somerville again, Philadelphia
ale, American politics, and a hundred other things, we were obliged to
go. Keepsakes of the ladies' work were put into our hands, and packets
of sandwiches into the carriage; and a party escorted us to our inn, bad
as the weather was. Letters of introduction were hastily prepared and
sent after us, and during our whole visit nothing was omitted which
could concern our comfort or enhance our pleasure. As I cast my last
look from the window of the stage towards the University, it was with
less regret than pleasurable astonishment at my own experience of the
speed with which it is possible for foreign minds to communicate, and
lasting regard to be established.


                    "For Nature here
    Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will
    Her virgin fancies."


    "These views of the degradation of the Southern States receive a
    melancholy and impressive confirmation from the general aspect and
    condition of the country, viewed in contrast with its former
    prosperity. With natural advantages more bountiful than were ever
    dispensed by a kind Providence to any other people upon the surface
    of the globe, there is, from the mountains to the seacoast, one
    unbroken scene of cheerless stagnation and premature
    decay."--_Southern Review_, vol. ii., p. 513.

There was no end to the kind cautions given me against travelling
through the Southern States, not only on account of my opinions on
slavery, but because of the badness of the roads and the poverty of the
wayside accommodations. There was so much of this, that my companion and
I held a consultation one day, in our room at Washington, spreading out
the map, and surveying the vast extent of country we proposed to
traverse before meeting my relatives at New-Orleans. We found that
neither was afraid, and afterward that there was no cause for fear,
except to persons who are annoyed by irregularity and the absence of
comfort. The evil prognostications went on multiplying as we advanced;
but we learned to consider them as mere voices on the mountain of our
enterprise, which must not deter us from accomplishing it. We had
friends to visit at Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina; Augusta,
Georgia; Montgomery, Alabama; and Mobile. At Richmond we were cautioned
about the journey into South Carolina; at Charleston we were met with
dreadful reports of travelling in Georgia; in Georgia people spoke of
the horrors of Alabama, and so on; and, after all, nothing could well be
easier than the whole undertaking. I do not remember a single difficulty
that occurred all the way. There was much fatigue, of course. In going
down from Richmond to Charleston with a party of friends, we were nine
days on the road, and had only three nights' rest. Throughout the
journey we were obliged to accommodate ourselves to the stage hours,
setting off sometimes in the evening, sometimes at midnight; or, of all
uncomfortable seasons, at two or three in the morning. On a journey of
many days, we had to inform ourselves of the longest time that the stage
would stop at a supping or breakfasting place, so that we might manage
to snatch an hour's sleep. While the meal was preparing, it was my wont
to lie down and doze, in spite of hunger; if I could find a bed or sofa,
it was well; if not, I could wrap myself in my cloak, and make a pillow
on the floor of my carpet-bag. I found that a sleep somewhat longer than
this, when I could go to bed for two hours, was more fatiguing than
refreshing. The being waked up at two, when I had lain down at midnight,
was the greatest discomfort I experienced. But little sleep can be
obtained in the stage from the badness of the roads. It was only when
quite wearied out that I could forget myself for an hour or two amid the
joltings and rollings of the vehicle. In Alabama, some of the passengers
in the stage were Southern gentlemen coming from New-York, in comparison
with whose fatigues ours were nothing. I think they had then travelled
eleven days and nights with very short intervals of rest, and the
badness of the roads at the end of a severe winter had obliged them to
walk a good deal. They looked dreadfully haggard and nervous, and we
heard afterward that one of them had become incessantly convulsed in the
face after we had left them. It is not necessary, of course, to proceed
without stopping in such a way as this; but it is necessary to be
patient of fatigue to travel in the South at all.

Yet I was very fond of these long journeys. The traveller (if he be not
an abolitionist) is perfectly secure of good treatment, and fatigue and
indifferent fare are the only evils which need be anticipated. The toils
of society in the cities were so great to me that I generally felt my
spirits rise when our packing began; and, the sorrow of parting with
kind hosts once over, the prospect of a journey of many days was a very
cheerful one. The novelty and the beauty of the scenery seemed
inexhaustible; and the delightful American stages, open or closed all
round at the will of the traveller, allow of everything being seen.

The American can conceive of nothing more dismal than a pine-barren on a
rainy day; but the profound tranquillity made it beautiful to me, whose
rainy days have been almost all spent in cities, amid the rumbling of
hackney-coaches, the clink of pattens, the gurgle of spouts, and the
flitting by of umbrellas. It is very different in the pine-barrens. The
sandy soil absorbs the rain, so that there is no mud; the pines stand
meekly drooping, as if waiting to be fed; the drip is noiseless; and the
brooks and pools are seen bubbling clear, or quietly filling, while not
a wing cleaves the air, each bird nestling in the covert of its domestic
tree. When the rain ceases towards evening, the whole region undergoes a
change. If a parting ray from the west pierces the woods, the stems look
lilach in the moist light; the vines glitter before they shake off their
last drops; the redbird startles the eye; the butterflies come abroad in
clouds; the frogs grow noisy, and all nature wakens up fresh as from her
siesta. The planter may be seen on his pacing white horse in a glade of
the wood, or superintending the negroes who are repairing the fence of
his estate. One black holds the large dibble, with which the holes for
the stakes are made; others are warming their hands at the fire which
blazes on the ground; many hands to do slovenly work. While any light is
left, the driver is apt to shorten his road by cutting across a knoll
instead of winding round it; and then the wheels are noiseless on the
turf; the branches crash as the vehicle is forced between the trees; and
the wood-pigeons, frightened from their roost, flutter abroad.

When the sun has gone down all is still within the stage; the passengers
grow drowsy unless hunger keeps them awake. Each one nods upon his
neighbour's shoulder, till a red light, gradually illuminating all the
faces, and every moment growing brighter, rouses the dullest. Each tells
somebody else that we are coming to a fire in the woods. First there are
lines of little yellow flames on each side the path; the blazing up of
twigs too dry to have been made incombustible by the morning's rain.
Then there is a pond of red fire on either hand, and pillars of light
rising from it; tall burning stems, throwing out jets of flame on all
sides, or emitting a flood of sparks when touched by the night breeze.
The succeeding darkness is intense. The horses seem to feel it, for they
slacken to a footpace, and the grazing of a wheel against a pinestem, or
the zigzag motion of the vehicle, intimates that the driver's eyes have
been dazzled. Presently the horses set off again, and the passengers
sink once more into silence. They are next roused by the discordant horn
of the driver, sending out as many distinct blasts as there are
passengers, each blast more of a screech than the last, and the final
flourish causing a shout of laughter in the coach; laughter animated a
little, perhaps, by the prospect of supper. Right or left soon appears
the loghouse, its open shutters and door giving token that a large fire
is blazing within. The gentlemen hand out the ladies at the door, and
then stand yawning and stretching, or draw to the fire while they can,
before the ladies take possession of the best places. The hostess, who
is busy cooking, points to a lamp, with which the ladies light
themselves to her chamber, to put up their hair under their bonnets for
the night. Little impish blacks peep and grin from behind the stove or
shine in the heat of the chimney-corner. If any one of them has ever
received a compliment on his dexterity, he serves with most ostentatious
bustle, his eyes wide open, his row of white teeth all in sight, and his
little body twisting about with every affectation of activity. An
observer may see some fun going on behind the mistress's back; a whisk
of a carving-knife across a companion's throat, or a flourish of two
plates like cymbals over the head.

At last supper is ready; the broiled venison, the ham collops and eggs,
and apple-sauce; the infusion which is called tea or coffee; and the
reeking corn-bread. Before the clatter of knives has ceased, the stage,
with its fresh horses, is at the door; the ladies snatch a final warming
while the driver finishes his protracted meal, their eyes being now at
liberty to study the apartment, looking round for some other object than
the old story, the six presidents who smile from the walls of almost
every loghouse in America, and the great map of the United States, with
a thumbmark, amounting to an erasure, on the spot of the very territory
where this particular loghouse happens to be. If we wanted to consult a
map in a hurry in such places as these, we never had to hunt out our
present situation. There was always the worn spot to serve as the centre
to our investigations. The passengers, however wearily they might have
descended from the stage, are pretty sure to enter it again with a
spring; warm and satisfied, with a joke on their tongues, and a good
supper to sleep or muse upon.

The sleep seldom lasts long, however. You are sure to come to a creek,
where nobody has ever erected a bridge, or where a freshet has carried
one away, and no measures have been taken to rebuild it. With drowsy
groans, the passengers rouse themselves, and get out at the driver's
bidding under the cold stars or the drifting clouds. The ladies slip on
their India-rubber shoes, for their first step may be into soft mud.
They stand upon a bank if there be one, in order not to be run over in
the dark; while the scow shows by the reflection of the light at her bow
where the river is. When she touches the bank the driver calls to
everybody to keep out of the way, cracks his whip, and drives his
lumbering carriage down the bank and into the scow; the passengers
follow; the scow is unchained, and the whole load is pushed across the
stream, or pulled, if it happens to be a rope-ferry. When the expected
shock tells you that you have arrived at the other side, the driver
again cracks his whip, and the horses scramble. If they should refuse to
mount the steep bank, and back a step upon the passengers instead, every
one would infallibly be driven into the river. A delicate coaxing is
therefore employed; and I imagine the animals must be aware what a
ticklish thing any freak of theirs would be in such a situation, for I
never knew them decline mounting the bank without a single back step.

If the teambolt or other fastening of equal consequence should happen to
break, there is a chance of two hours' rest or so. Something snaps; the
vehicle stops, the gentlemen get out; the ladies gaze from the windows,
while somebody half-dressed comes out with a lantern from any dwelling
that may be in sight, and goes back again for hammer and nail, or, at
worst, a piece of cord, and you proceed at a slow footpace to the
nearest hotel. There the slaves, roused from the floor, where they are
lying like dogs, go winking about, putting fresh logs on the smouldering
fire, and lighting a lamp or two. After repeated inquiries on the part
of the ladies, who feel the first minutes of their two hours slipping
away without any promise of rest, a female slave at last appears,
staring as if she had never seen anybody before. The ladies have already
taken out nightcap, soap, and towel from their carpet-bags. They motion
the woman up stairs, and follow her. They find the water-jug, if there
be one, empty, of course. With infinite coaxing they get the attendant
to fill it. Long after they are undressed it comes, clear or "sort o'
muddy," as may be. If there are no sheets or yellow ones, the ladies
spread their dressing-gowns over the bed, and use their cloaks for a
covering. As soon as they have lain down, a draught begins to blow in
the strangest way on the top of their heads. They examine, and find a
broken window behind the bed. They wrap up their heads and lie down
again. As soon as they are fairly dreaming that they are at home, and
need not get up till they please, the horn startles them; they raise
their heads, see a light under the door, and the black woman looks in to
drawl out that they must please to make haste. It seems like a week
since they lay down; but they are not rested, and turn away sick and
dizzy from the flickering light.

In the morning you wonder where your fatigue is gone. As the day steals
through the forest, kindling up beauty as it goes, the traveller's whole
being is refreshed. The young aloes under the fallen trunks glitter with
dew; the gray moss, dangling from the trees, waves in the breath of the
morning. The busy little chameleons run along the fences, and the
squirrel erects his brush as you pass. While the crescent moon and the
morning star glittered low down in the sky, you had longed to stay the
sun beneath the horizon; but, now that he is come, fresh vigour and
enjoyment seem to be shed down with his rays.

At such an hour you often come up with a family departing from the spot
where they had "camped out" for the night. I never had the pleasure of
camping out, but I know exactly what it must be like, for I have seen
establishments of this sort in every stage of the process, from the
searching out a spot blessed with a running stream, a shelter to
windward, a dry soil, and plenty of fuel, to the piling the wagon with
the pots, pans, and children previous to starting at dawn. There is a
striking air of cheer about the family when beginning their new day;
leaving behind the desolation they have made; the scorched turf, the
scattered brushwood, chips, and meat-bones, and setting forth in renewed
strength in the fresh morning. I owe to these people many a picture such
as will never meet my eye in the galleries of art.

Our stationary rural life in the South was various and pleasant enough;
all shaded with the presence of slavery, but without any other drawback.
There is something in the make-shift, irregular mode of life which
exists where there are slaves, that is amusing when the cause is

The waking in the morning is accomplished by two or three black women
staring at you from the bedposts. Then it is five minutes' work to get
them out of the room. Perhaps, before you are half dressed, you are
summoned to breakfast. You look at your watch, and listen whether it has
stopped, for it seems not to be seven o'clock yet. You hasten, however,
and find your hostess making the coffee. The young people drop in when
the meal is half done, and then it is discovered that breakfast has been
served an hour too early, because the clock has stopped, and the cook
has ordered affairs according to her own conjectures. Everybody laughs,
and nothing ensues. After breakfast a farmer in homespun--blue trousers
and an orange-brown coat, or all over gray--comes to speak with your
host. A drunken white has shot one of his negroes, and he fears no
punishment can be obtained, because there were no witnesses of the deed
but blacks. A consultation is held whether the affair shall go into
court; and, before the farmer departs, he is offered cake and liqueur.

Your hostess, meantime, has given her orders, and is now engaged in a
back room, or out in the piazza behind the house, cutting out clothes
for her slaves; very laborious work in warm weather. There may be a
pretence of lessons among the young people, and something more than
pretence if they happen to have a tutor or governess; but the
probability is that their occupations are as various as their tempers.
Rosa cannot be found; she is lying on the bed in her own room reading a
novel; Clara is weeping for her canary, which has flown away while she
was playing with it; Alfred is trying to ascertain how soon we may all
go out to ride; and the little ones are lounging about the court, with
their arms round the necks of blacks of their own size. You sit down to
the piano or to read, and one slave or another enters every half hour to
ask what is o'clock. Your hostess comes in at length, and you sit down
to work with her; she gratifies your curiosity about her "people,"
telling you how soon they burn out their shoes at the toes, and wear out
their winter woollens, and tear up their summer cottons; and how
impossible it is to get black women to learn to cut out clothes without
waste; and how she never inquires when and where the whipping is done,
as it is the overseer's business, and not hers. She has not been seated
many minutes when she is called away, and returns saying how babyish
these people are, that they will not take medicine unless she gives it
to them; and how careless of each other, so that she has been obliged to
stand by and see Diana put clean linen upon her infant, and to compel
Bet to get her sick husband some breakfast.

Morning visiters next arrive. It may be the clergyman, with some new
book that you want to look at; and inquiries whether your host sees any
prospect of getting the requisite number of professors for the new
college, or whether the present head of the institution is to continue
to fill all the chairs. It may be a lank judge from some raw district,
with a quid in his cheek, a swordcane in his hand, and a legal doubt in
his mind which he wants your host to resolve. It may be a sensible
woman, with courtesy in her countenance and decision in her air, who is
accustomed really to rule her household, and to make the most of such
human material and such a human lot as are pressing around and upon
her. If so, the conversation between her and your hostess becomes rapid
and interesting; full of tales of perplexity and trouble, of droll
anecdotes, and serious and benevolent plans. Or it may be a lady of a
different cast, who is delighted at the prospect of seeing you soon
again. You look perplexed, and mention that you fear you shall be unable
to return this way. Oh, but you will come and live here. You plead
family, friends, and occupation in England, to say nothing of England
being your home. Oh, but you can bring your family and friends with you.
You laughingly ask why. She draws up and replies, "for the honour and
glory of living in a republic."

Meantime Clara has dried her tears, for some one has recovered her
canary, and the door of the cage is shut. The carriage and saddle-horses
are scrambling on the gravel before the door, and the children run in to
know if they may ride with you. Cake, fruit, and liqueurs, or perhaps
tea, are brought in, and then the ladies depart. The clergyman thinks he
will ride round with your party, hearing that you are going to inspect
Mr. A.'s plantation. He warns you that it will not be "pleasant to see
even the best plantations," and your trembling heart fully agrees.

You admire the horsemanship of your host on his white horse, and the
boys on their black ponies. The carriage goes at good speed, and yet the
fast _pace_ of the saddle-horses enables the party to keep together.
While you are looking out upon a picturesque loghouse, peeping forth
from a blossomy thicket, or admiring a splendid hedge of the Cherokee
rose in straggling bloom, Rosa rouses herself from a revery, and asks
you to tell her all about Victoria.

"What shall I tell you?"

"What religion is she? A Unitarian, I suppose, like you."

Church of Englandism and dissent being explained, Rosa resumes, in a
plaintive voice, "Is she betrothed yet."

"Not that I know of."

"Oh, I hope she is! I wish I knew! When will she be queen? When she is
eighteen, won't she? Oh! I thought she was to be of age, and be made
queen at eighteen. How long will she be a queen?"

"As long as she lives."

"As long as she lives! Why I thought--"

Rosa has no idea of rulers not being changed every four or eight years.
Even her imagination is almost overpowered at the idea of being set
above everybody else for life.

The carriage stops, and you are invited to step out, and view the
ravages of a tornado a season or two ago; you see how clear a path it
made for itself in the forest, and how it swept across the river,
tearing down an answering gap through the tall canebrake on the opposite
bank. The prostrated trees lie sunk in swamp, half hidden by flowering
reeds and bright mosses, while their stumps, twice as tall as yourself,
are all cropped off, whatever may be their thickness, precisely at the
same height, and so wrenched and twisted as to convince you that you
never before conceived of the power of the winds. The boys show you a
dry path down to the river side, that you may see the fishtraps that are
laid in the stream, and watch the couples of shad-fishers--dark figures
amid the flashing waters--who are pursuing their occupation in the glare
of noon. The girls tell you how father remembers the time when there
were bears in that canebrake, and there was great trouble in getting
them to come out of their thick covert to be killed. When father first
came here, this side of the river was all canebrake too. Is not a
canebrake very ugly? It may not have any picturesque beauty; but your
eye rests upon it with satisfaction, as a tropical feature in the scene.

You proceed, and point out with admiration a beautifully-situated
dwelling, which you declare takes your fancy more than any you have
seen. The children are amused that you should suppose any one lives
there, overshadowed with trees as it is, so that its inhabitants would
be devoured by moschetoes. Your hostess tells you that it is called Mr.
B.'s Folly. He spent a good deal of money and much taste upon it, but it
is uninhabitable from being rather too near the river. The fever
appeared so immediately and decisively that the family had to leave it
in three months, and there it stands, to be called B.'s Folly.

Your host paces up to the carriage window to tell you that you are now
on A.'s plantation. You are overtaking a long train of negroes going to
their work from dinner. They look all over the colour of the soil they
are walking on: dusky in clothing, dusky in complexion. An old man,
blacker than the rest, is indicated to you as a native African; and you
point out a child so light as to make you doubt whether he be a slave. A
glance at the long heel settles the matter. You feel that it would be a
relief to be assured that this was a troop of monkeys dressed up for
sport, rather than that these dull, shuffling animals should be human.

There is something inexpressibly disgusting in the sight of a slave
woman in the field. I do not share in the horror of the Americans at the
idea of women being employed in outdoor labour. It did not particularly
gratify me to see the cows always milked by men (where there were no
slaves); and the hay and harvest fields would have looked brighter in my
eyes if women had been there to share the wholesome and cheerful toil.
But a negro woman behind the plough presents a very different object
from the English mother with her children in the turnip-field, or the
Scotch lassie among the reapers. In her pre-eminently ugly costume, the
long, scanty, dirty woollen garment, with the shabby large bonnet at the
back of her head, the perspiration streaming down her dull face, the
heavy tread of the splay foot, the slovenly air with which she guides
her plough, a more hideous object cannot well be conceived, unless it be
the same woman at home, in the negro quarter, as the cluster of slave
dwellings is called.

You are now taken to the cotton-gin, the building to your left, where
you are shown how the cotton, as picked from the pods, is drawn between
cylinders so as to leave the seeds behind; and how it is afterward
packed, by hard pressure, into bales. The neighbouring creek is dammed
up to supply the water-wheel by which this gin is worked. You afterward
see the cotton-seed laid in handfuls round the stalks of the young
springing corn, and used in the cotton field as manure.

Meantime you attempt to talk with the slaves. You ask how old that very
aged man is, or that boy; they will give you no intelligible answer.
Slaves never know, or never will tell their ages, and this is the reason
why the census presents such extraordinary reports on this point,
declaring a great number to be above a hundred years old. If they have a
kind master, they will boast to you of how much he gave for each of
them, and what sums he has refused for them. If they have a hard master,
they will tell you that they would have more to eat and be less flogged,
but that massa is busy, and has no time to come down and see that they
have enough to eat. Your hostess is well known on this plantation, and
her kind face has been recognised from a distance; and already a negro
woman has come to her with seven or eight eggs, for which she knows she
shall receive a quarter dollar. You follow her to the negro quarter,
where you see a tidy woman knitting, while the little children who are
left in her charge are basking in the sun, or playing all kinds of
antics in the road; little shining, plump, cleareyed children, whose
mirth makes you sad when you look round upon their parents, and see what
these bright creatures are to come to. You enter one of the dwellings,
where everything seems to be of the same dusky hue: the crib against the
wall, the walls themselves, and the floor, all look one yellow. More
children are crouched round the wood fire, lying almost in the embers.
You see a woman pressing up against the wall like an idiot, with her
shoulder turned towards you, and her apron held up to her face. You ask
what is the matter with her, and are told that she is shy. You see a
woman rolling herself about in a crib, with her head tied up. You ask if
she is ill, and are told that she has not a good temper; that she struck
at a girl she was jealous of with an axe, and the weapon being taken
from her, she threw herself into the well, and was nearly drowned before
she was taken out, with her head much hurt.

The overseer has, meantime, been telling your host about the fever
having been more or less severe last season, and how well off he shall
think himself if he has no more than so many days' illness this summer:
how the vegetation has suffered from the late frosts, pointing out how
many of the oranges have been cut off, but that the great magnolia in
the centre of the court is safe. You are then invited to see the house,
learning by the way the extent and value of the estate you are visiting,
and of the "force" upon it. You admire the lofty, cool rooms, with their
green blinds, and the width of the piazzas on both sides the house,
built to compensate for the want of shade from trees, which cannot be
allowed near the dwelling for fear of moschetoes. You visit the
icehouse, and find it pretty full, the last winter having been a severe
one. You learn that, for three or four seasons after this icehouse was
built, there was not a spike of ice in the state, and a cargo had to be
imported from Massachusetts.

When you have walked in the field as long as the heat will allow, you
step into the overseer's bare dwelling, within its bare enclosure, where
fowls are strutting about, and refresh yourself with a small tumbler of
milk; a great luxury, which has been ordered for the party. The
overseer's fishing-tackle and rifle are on the wall, and there is a
medicine chest and a shelf of books. He is tall, sallow, and
_nonchalant_, dropping nothing more about himself and his situation than
that he does not know that he has had more than his share of sickness
and trouble in his vocation, and so he is pretty well satisfied.

Your hostess reminds the party that they are going out to dinner, and
that it is quite time to be returning to dress. So you go straight home
by a shorter road, stopping no more, but looking out, now at a glorious
trumpet honeysuckle dangling from a branch, now at a lofty, spreading
green tree, red hot close to the ground, while a sheet of flame is
spreading all about its roots, the flames looking orange and blue in the
bright sunshine.

You are glad to find, on arriving at home, that you have half an hour to
lie down before you dress, and are surprised, on rising, to feel how you
are refreshed. You have not very far to go to dinner; only to Mr. E.'s
cottage on the Sand Hills. The E.'s have just come for the summer, the
distant city being their winter residence. If you find the
accommodations poor, you must excuse it in consideration of their recent
removal. The E.'s live in very good style in the city. The cottage is
half way up a gentle ascent, with a deep, sandy road leading to the
wooden steps of the front piazza, and pine forests in the rear. The
entertainment to-day is not solely on your account; it is a parting
dinner to young Mr. and Mrs. F., who are going to reside farther West.
They are leaving their parents and friends, and the family estate, and
are to live in a loghouse till a proper dwelling can be built. Mrs. F.
is rather low in spirits, but her mother means to send the old family
nurse with her, so that she will have one comfort, at any rate, and will
be able to trust her infant out of her sight now and then. As for Mrs.
E., she informs you that she has come out to the cottage sooner than she
usually does, as she is expecting her confinement. She has all her five
children in her presence always; and as she cannot trust them for an
hour with her "people," their noise and the heat would be intolerable in
town; but here, where her room opens upon the piazza, she can have the
children always in her sight or hearing with less fatigue than in the
city. You ask whether such a charge be not too much for her. Certainly;
but there is no use in complaining, for it cannot be helped. She never
had a nurse that was not more plague than use. It is not only that the
servants tell the children improper things, and teach them falsehood,
but it is impossible to get the little boys' faces washed without seeing
it done; and the infant may, as likely as not, be dropped into the fire
or out of the window. Ladies must make the best of their lot, for they
cannot help themselves.

The dinner is plentiful, including, of course, turkey, ham, and sweet
potatoes; excellent claret, and large blocks of icecream. A slave makes
gentle war against the flies with the enormous bunch of peacocks'
feathers; and the agitation of the air is pleasant while the ladies are
engaged in eating, so that they cannot use their own fans, which are
hung by loops on the backs of their chairs. The afternoon is spent in
the piazza, where coffee is served. There the ladies sit, whisking their
feather fans, jesting with the children, and talking over the last
English poem or American novel, or complaining bitterly of the dreadful
incendiary publications which Mr. E. heard from Mr. H., who had heard it
from Mr. M., that Judge R. had said that somebody had seen circulated
among the negroes by some vile agent of the horrid abolitionists of the

You go in to tea, and find the table strewed with prints, and the piano
open, and Mrs. F. plays and sings. The gentlemen have done discussing
the French war and the currency, and are praising the conduct of the
Committee of Vigilance; frankly informing you, as a stranger, of the
reasons of its formation, and the modes of its operation in deterring
abolitionists from coming into the neighbourhood, in arresting them on
any suspicion of tampering with the negroes, and in punishing them
summarily if any facts are established against them. While you are
endeavouring to learn the nature of the crime and its evidence, you are
summoned. There is going to be a storm, and your party must get home, if
possible, before it comes on. In such a case Mrs. E. will say nothing in
opposition to your leaving her so early. She would not be the means of
exposing you to the storm. You hasten away, and reach home during the
first explosion of thunder.

You find there a bouquet, sent to you with Miss G.'s compliments; a
splendid bunch of quince, yellow jessamine, arbor vitæ, hyacinths,
cherry, and other blossoms. It is not nearly bedtime yet; and you sit on
the sofa, fanning yourself, with the table-lamp dimmed by the momentary
glare of blue lightning. Your hostess learns from the servants that poor
Miss Clara went to bed in great grief, the cat having killed her canary
in the afternoon. It has been a sad day for poor Clara, from the
adventures of her bird; but she is now fast asleep.

Your host amuses you with anecdotes of South country life. He asks you
how you were struck with Mrs. L., whose call you returned yesterday. You
reply that she seems a cheerful, hearty personage, who makes the best of
a poor lot; and you relate how pleased you were at the frankness with
which she owned, pointing to the stocking she was darning, that she knew
little of books nowadays, or of music, as she was making shirts and
darning stockings for her sons all the year round. You were sorry to see
such evidences of poverty; chairs with broken backs, and a piano with
three legs, and a cracked flute; but glad that Mrs. L. seemed able to
look on the bright side of things. Your host throws himself back, and
laughs for three minutes; and, when he recovers, informs you that Mrs.
L. is the wealthiest widow in the state. You protest that you looked
upon her with respect as a meritorious widow, doing her best for a large
family. Your host repeats that she is the richest widow in the state,
and that she and all her family are odd about money. She has a sister in
a neighbouring state, Mrs. M., who is even more bent upon economy. Last
year Mrs. L. visited this sister, who lives in a country town. The
sisters went out in Mrs. M.'s carriage, to make calls and do shopping.
Mrs. L. observed that her sister's carriage was attended by a little
mulatto girl, who let down the steps, and put them up, and mounted
behind very dexterously. "The child is clever enough," said Mrs. L.;
"but, sister, your carriage should have a proper footman. You should not
be seen in town with a girl behind your carriage." Mrs. M. promised to
consider the matter. The next day a spruce mulatto lad was in waiting,
of whom Mrs. L. fully approved. When she looked in his face, however, as
he was letting down the steps at the entrance of a store, she was struck
by his remarkable likeness to the girl of yesterday, and observed upon
it. Mrs. M. laughed, and owned she had got a suit of boy's clothes made
since yesterday for the girl to wear during morning drives, and she
thought this an excellent plan. Many such a story does your host amuse
you with; observing that, though America has fewer humourists than
England, they may be met with in abundance in rare settlements and
retired districts, where they can indulge their fancies without much
suffering from public opinion.

The storm abates. You are the oracle as to what o'clock it is; and, as
you are confident that it is near eleven, the chamber lights are
brought. You dismiss your dusky attendants, and throw yourself on your
ample sofa for half an hour, to recall what you have seen and heard this
day, and meditate on the scope and tendencies of Country Life in the
Southern States.


                  "Ye thus hospitably live,
    And strangers with good cheer receive."


    "Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
    Reverbs no hollowness."


The disasters of our railroad journey to Charleston have been described
elsewhere.[14] We were to have arrived at the city about six P.M. of the
10th of March, when every object would have looked bright in the
sunshine of a spring evening. As it was, we reached the railroad station
at ten minutes past four the next morning. There was much delay in
obtaining our luggage and getting away from the station. We could not
think of disturbing the slumbers of the friends whose hospitality we
were about to enjoy, and we therefore proceeded in the omnibus which was
in waiting to the Planter's Hotel. We were all hungry, having scarcely
tasted food since noon the day before; and very weary, having travelled
the whole of two nights, and enjoyed no sufficient rest since we left
Richmond, nine days before. Every little event became a great one to
persons so exhausted. The omnibus jolted and stopped, and we were told
that an accident had happened. The gentlemen got out, but the darkness
was total. A light was brought from a private house, and it appeared
that a wheel had touched the kerbstone! It seemed as if horses were
never backed in Charleston, so long were we in proceeding. When I
afterward saw what the streets of Charleston are like, I do not wonder
at any extreme of caution in a driver. The soil is a fine sand, which,
after rain, turns into a most deceptive mud; and there is very little
pavement yet. The deficiency of stone is, however, becoming supplied by
importation, and the inhabitants hope soon to be able to walk about the
city in all weathers, without danger of being lost in crossing the
streets. They told me, as an _on dit_, that a horse was drowned last
winter in a mudhole in a principal street.

Footnote 14: Society in America, vol. ii., p. 183.

At the hotel all was dark and comfortless. We made a stir among the
servants; the gentlemen got two men to light a fire, and fetch us wine
and biscuits; and we persuaded two women to make up beds and warm some
water. We were foolish enough to be tempted to take wine and water, as
we could have neither tea or coffee; and when we rose from our
unrefreshing sleep an hour after noon, we formed such a dismal group of
aching heads as could hardly be matched out of a hospital.

Two of us proceeded, in a light pretty hack-carriage, to the friend's
house where we were expected. Nothing could be more considerate than our
reception. A pile of English and American letters and newspapers awaited
us, and our hostess knew that we must be fatigued; a fire was therefore
immediately lighted in my chamber, and we were told that the day was our
own; that our dinner would be sent up to us, and that we should not be
expected in the drawing-room till we chose to join the family. I shall
not soon forget the refreshment of lingering over family letters and
London newspapers; of feeling that we were not liable to be called up in
the dark for a fortnight at least; and of seeing my clothes laid in
drawers, for the first time, I think, since I landed. A chest of drawers
is seldom to be seen in the chambers, or, at least, in the
guest-chambers of American houses. We were favoured in the article of
closets with rows of pegs, but I believe I had the use of a chest of
drawers only two or three times during my travels.

A circumstance happened this day which, as being illustrative of
manners, may be worth relating. The day before I left Richmond,
Virginia, two companions and myself had employed a hack-carriage, driven
by a black, for some hours; and, on dismissing it, had paid the fare,
which we thought reasonable, two dollars and a half. The proprietor of
the carriage and master of the driver had by some means heard who it was
that had been his customer. Finding that I had left Richmond, he took
the trouble to send the two dollars and a half down to Charleston, five
hundred miles, with a message that it was not for the honour of Virginia
that I should pay carriage hire! and the money was awaiting me on my

I had soon reason to perceive that Charleston deserves its renown for
hospitality. A lecturer on phrenology sent us tickets for his course;
six carriages were immediately placed at my disposal, and the servants
came every morning for orders for the day. The difficulty was to use
them all and equally; but, by employing one for the morning drive and
another for the evening visiting, we contrived to show our friends that
we were willing to avail ourselves of their kindnesses. I believe there
was scarcely a morning during our stay when some pretty present did not
arrive before I rose; sometimes it was a bouquet of hyacinths, which
were extremely rare that year, from the lateness and severity of the
frosts; sometimes it was a dish of preserve or marmalade; sometimes a
feather fan, when the day promised to be hot; sometimes a piece of
Indian work; sometimes of indigenous literary production. One morning I
found on my window-seat a copy of the Southern Review, and a bouquet of
hyacinths from General Hayne; and the next a basket of wafers from Mrs.
P.; and the third a set of cambric handkerchiefs, inimitably marked with
complimentary devices, from Mrs. W.

In the midst of all this there was no little watchfulness, among a
totally different set of persons, about my proceedings with regard to
the negroes. I had not been in the city twenty-four hours before we were
amused with ridiculous reports of my championship on behalf of the
blacks; and, long after I had left the place, reported speeches of mine
were in circulation which were remarkably striking to me when I at
length heard them. This circumstance shows how irritable the minds of
the people are upon this topic. I met with no difficulty, however,
among my associates. I made it a rule to allow others to introduce the
subject of slavery, knowing that they would not fail to do so, and that
I might learn as much from their method of approaching the topic as from
anything they could say upon it. Before half an hour had passed, every
man, woman, or child I might be conversing with had entered upon the
question. As it was likewise a rule with me never to conceal or soften
my own opinions, and never to allow myself to be irritated by what I
heard (for it is too serious a subject to indulge frailties with), the
best understanding existed between slaveholders and myself. We never
quarrelled, while, I believe, we never failed to perceive the extent of
the difference of opinion and feeling between us. I met with much more
cause for admiration in their frankness than reason to complain of
illiberality. The following may serve as a specimen of this part of our

The first time I met an eminent Southern gentleman, a defender of
slavery, he said to me (within the half hour),

"I wish you would not be in such a hurry away. I wish you would stay a
year in this city. I wish you would stay ten years, and then you would
change your opinions."

"What opinions?"

"Your opinions on slavery."

"What do you know of my opinions on slavery?"

"Oh, we know them well enough: we have all read 'Demerara.'"

"Very well: now we shall understand each other; for I must tell you that
I think about slavery exactly as I did when I wrote that story. Nothing
that I have seen shows me that I have anything to qualify of what is
said there. So now you do know my opinions."

"Oh yes. I don't want to know anything more of your opinions. I want you
to know mine."

"That is exactly what I want. When will you let me have them?"

We had engaged to dine with this gentleman the next week; it was now
arranged that our party should go two hours earlier than the other
guests, in order to hear this gentleman's exposition of slavery. He was
well prepared, and his statement of facts and reasons was clear, ready,
and entertaining. The fault was in the narrowness of his premises, for
his whole argument was grounded on the supposition that human rights
consist in sufficient subsistence in return for labour. Before he began
I told him that I fully understood his wish not to argue the question,
and that I came to hear his statement, not to controvert it; but that I
must warn him not to take my silence for assent. Upon this understanding
we proceeded, with some little irritability on his part when I asked
questions, but with no danger of any quarrel. I never found the
slightest difficulty in establishing a similar clear understanding with
every slaveholder I met. In the drawing-room of the boarding-house at
Richmond, Virginia, three gentlemen, two of whom were entire strangers,
attacked me in the presence of a pretty large company one afternoon.
This was a direct challenge, which I did not think fit to decline, and
we had it all out. They were irritable at first, but softened as they
went on; and when, at the end of three hours, we had exhausted the
subject, we were better friends than when we began.

Some of the reports of my championship of the negroes arose from a
circumstance which occurred the day after my arrival at Charleston. Our
host proposed to take us up a church steeple, to obtain a view of the
city and its environs. The key of the church was at the Guardhouse
opposite, and our host said we might as well go for it ourselves, and
thus get a sight of the Guardhouse. One of the city authorities showed
us over it, and we stayed a few moments in a room where a lady was
preferring a complaint against two negro boys for robbing a henroost.
They were proved guilty, and sentenced to be flogged at the place of
punishment at the other end of the city.

The view from the church steeple was very fine; and the whole, steeped
in spring sunshine, had an oriental air which took me by surprise. The
city was spread out beneath us in a fanlike form, in streets converging
towards the harbour. The heat and moisture of the climate give to the
buildings the hue of age, so as to leave nothing of the American air of
spruceness in the aspect of the place. The sandy streets, the groups of
mulattoes, the women with turbaned heads, surmounted with water-pots and
baskets of fruit; the small panes of the house windows; the yucca
bristling in the gardens below us, and the hot haze through which we saw
the blue main and its islands, all looked so oriental as to strike us
with wonder. We saw Ashley and Cooper rivers, bringing down produce to
the main, and were taught the principal buildings--the churches and
the Custom-house, built just before the Revolution--and the leading
streets, Broad and Meeting streets intersecting, and affording access to
all that we were to see. It would be wise in travellers to make it their
first business in a foreign city to climb the loftiest point they can
reach, so as to have the scene they are to explore laid out as in a
living map beneath them. It is scarcely credible how much time is saved
and confusion of ideas obviated by these means. I gained much by
mounting the State House at Boston, Pennsylvania Hospital at
Philadelphia, the new hotel at Baltimore, the Capitol at Washington, the
high hills about Cincinnati, the college at Lexington, the hill where
the Statehouse is to be at Nashville, the Cotton-press at New Orleans,
and this church steeple at Charleston.

Another care of the traveller should be to glance at the local
newspapers. This first morning I found a short newspaper article which
told volumes. It was an ordinance for raising ways and means for the
city. Charitable and religious institutions were left free from
taxation, as were the salaries of the clergy and schoolmasters. There
was a direct levy on real property, on slaves, and on carriages, and a
special tax on free people of colour; a class who, being precluded from
obtaining taxable property and luxuries, were yet made to pay by means
of a polltax.

Our mornings were divided between receiving callers and drives about the
city and in the country. The country is flat and sandy, and the only
objects are planters' mansions, surrounded with evergreen woods, the
gardens exhibiting the tropical yucca, and fenced with hedges of the
Cherokee rose. From the lower part of the city glimpses of the main may
be had; but the intervening space is very ugly, except at high tide; an
expanse of reeking slime over which large flocks of buzzards are
incessantly hovering. On the top of each of the long row of stakes
discovered at low water sits a buzzard. A fine is imposed for killing
one of these birds, the unsalaried scavengers of the moister districts
of the city.

The houses which we visited in returning calls were generally handsome,
with capacious piazzas, rich plants and bouquets, and good furniture.
The political bias of the inhabitant was often discoverable from the
books on the table, or the prints and casts on the walls. In no society
in the world could the division of parties be more distinct, and their
alienation more threatening than in Charleston at the time I was
there.[15] The Union gentlemen and ladies were dispirited and timid.
They asked one another's opinion whether there was not some mysterious
stir among the nullifiers; whether they were not concerting measures for
a new defiance of the general government. This anxious watchfulness
contrasted strangely with the arrogant bearing of the leading
nullifiers. During my stay Mr. Calhoun and his family arrived from
Congress; and there was something very striking in the welcome he
received, like that of a chief returned to the bosom of his clan. He
stalked about like a monarch of the little domain; and there was
certainly an air of mysterious understanding between him and his
followers, whether there was really any great secret under it or not.
One lady, who had contributed ample amounts of money to the
nullification funds, and a catechism to nullification lore, amused while
she grieved me by the strength of her political feelings. While calling
on her one morning, the conversation turned on prints, and I asked an
explanation of a strange-looking one which hung opposite my eye; the
portrait of a gentleman, the top of the head and the dress visible, but
the face obliterated or covered over. She was only too ready to explain.
It was a portrait of President Jackson, which she had hung up in days
when he enjoyed her favour. Since nullification she had covered over the
face, to show how she hated him. A stranger hardly knows what to think
of a cause whose leaders will flatter and cherish the perpetrators of a
piece of petty spite like this; yet this lady is treated as if she were
a main pillar of the nullification party.

Footnote 15: For an explanation of nullification, and a short history
of the struggle of the nullifiers, see "Society in America," vol. i.,
p. 92-109.

Some of our mornings were spent in going with the Hayne and Calhoun
families to the public library, to a panorama, and to the arsenal. The
library is supported by private subscriptions, and is very creditable to
the city, whose zeal about its books might well have been exhausted by
the repeated destruction of the library by fire and in the war. We
amused ourselves with files of newspapers which have survived all
disasters; old London Gazettes and colonial papers extending as far back
as 1678.

We visited the arsenal twice; the second time with Mr. Calhoun and
Governor Hayne, when we saw the arms and ammunition, which were not
visible the first time, because "the key was not on the premises;" a
token that no invasion was immediately expected. There were two bombs
brought in by Governor Hayne, and all the warlike apparatus which was
made ready during the nullification struggle. It is difficult to believe
that Mr. Calhoun seriously meant to go to war with such means as his
impoverished state could furnish; but there is no doubt that he did
intend it. The ladies were very animated in their accounts of their
State Rights Ball, held in the area of the arsenal, and of their
subscriptions of jewels to the war fund. They were certainly in earnest.

The soldiers were paraded in our presence, some eleven or twelve
recruits, I believe; and then Mr. Calhoun first, and Governor Hayne
afterward, uncovered and addressed them with as much gravity and
effusion of patriotic sentiment as if we had been standing on the verge
of a battle-field. Some of our party were of Union politics, and they
looked exceedingly arch during the speechifying. It will be too sad if
this child's play should be turned into bloodshed after all, for the
gratification of any man's restless ambition, or in the guilty hope of
protracting slavery under the reprobation of the whole of society except
a small band of mercenaries.

My chief interest in these expeditions was in the personages who
accompanied me. Governor Hayne's name is well known in England from his
having furnished the provocation to Webster's renowned speech,
exhibiting the constitutional argument against nullification; and from
his being afterward the leader of the struggle in South Carolina, while
Mr. Calhoun fulfilled the same function in Congress. He is descended
from the Haynes whose cruel sufferings in the Revolutionary War are
notorious, to the disgrace of the British; one of the two brothers
having perished through the miseries of a British prison-ship, and the
other having been hanged by Lord Rawdon and Colonel Balfour, under
circumstances which, I believe, justify the horror and reprobation with
which the act is viewed by all who have heard the story. It is one of
the most dreadful tales of the Revolutionary War, and the English have
not been behind the Americans in their feeling with regard to the case.
The circumstances are briefly these:--

Colonel Isaac Hayne was a peaceful planter at the time of the breaking
out of the war. He lived upon his estate all the year round, and was
remarkably quiet and domestic in his temper and habits. He served in the
American army during the siege of Charleston; and, on the fall of the
city, returned to his plantation, under the guarantee of security to
person and property shared by all who had capitulated at Charleston. The
smallpox broke out in his family; all his children had it; one was dead,
and his wife dying, when Colonel Hayne received peremptory orders to
repair to the British standard, to take up arms as a British subject, or
to surrender himself prisoner at Charleston. He declared that no force
should separate him from his dying wife and children, and asserted his
inviolability under the capitulation of Charleston. The British officer,
Colonel Bellingall, who brought the order, assured him of his immediate
return home if he would repair to Charleston, to give an assurance that
he would "demean himself as a British subject while the country should
be covered with a British army." Colonel Hayne went, with the written
agreement of Colonel Bellingall in his hand. He was, however, detained,
and offered the alternative of lasting imprisonment or of signing an
unconditional promise to obey orders as a British subject. He declared
that he never would bear arms against his country, and was assured that
this act would never be required of him. There were several witnesses to
his having signed under this protest and assurance. He returned to his
family, finding another of his children dead, and his wife just

He observed the strictest neutrality while the promise under which he
signed was kept. His house was alternately occupied by English and
American troops, when the prospects of the republicans began to improve;
and he is known to have refused to let his horses be used by friends in
the American force; in short, to have kept his engagement like a man of
honour. His position was, however, considered too perilous a one, and he
was summoned to join the British standard. He considered that this was
such a violation of a promise on the part of the British officers as set
him free. He joined his countrymen, fought, and was captured. He was
imprisoned at Charleston for some weeks till Lord Rawdon came to town,
and then, after two days' notice, brought before a court of inquiry,
consisting of four general officers and five captains. Having no idea
that this was anything more than a preliminary measure, and finding that
the members of the court were not sworn, nor the witnesses examined on
oath, Colonel Hayne called no witnesses, and the proceedings closed
without his being aware that he had gone through an affair of life or
death. He was wholly taken by surprise, therefore, at the news conveyed
to him by letter that he was to die on the gibbet the next day but one.
He was respited for forty-eight hours, in order that he might see his
children, and in consideration of the "humane treatment shown by him to
the British prisoners who fell into his hands," and he spent the
interval in the discharge of business and affectionate intercourse with
his friends. His chief regret was, that this act would probably provoke
retaliation, and so lead to the shedding of much innocent blood. He
required his eldest son, a boy of thirteen, to be present at his
execution, in order to receive his body, and see that it was laid in the
family burial-place. The boy, frantic with grief, declared that he
should not long survive him; and it is not surprising that he shortly
became insane and died. Colonel Hayne met his fate with a tranquillity
which convinced his enemies that (to use their own words), "though he
did not die in a good cause, he must, at least, have acted from a
persuasion of its being so."

Such stories are very painful, but they ought not to be forgotten. The
horrors of colonial war may not be over; and it is well that the
conflicts of duty and affection which can take place only in wars of
this character should be remembered, while Great Britain has colonies
which she may oppress, and noble subjects, like Colonel Hayne, whom she
may be even now alienating, and whose contrariety of affections she may
be yet again driven or tempted to solve in blood.

The present representative of the family was made speaker of the South
Carolina House of Representatives at the age of twenty-seven. He was
afterward attorney-general of the state, a senator in Congress, and
governor of the state. During the preparations for war in 1832, he was
the soul of every movement. He is now considered to be deeply involved
in the Southern transactions relating to the acquisition of Texas,
whatever these may in reality be, and to have linked his fortunes with
the slavery question. When I saw him he was forty-four years of age,
with a robust, active frame, a lively, pleasant countenance, and very
engaging manners, with much of the eagerness of the schoolboy mixed with
the ease of the gentleman. He can do everything better than reason, as
appeared in the senatorial conflict, in which he was ground to powder by
the tremendous weight and force of Webster's constitutional argument and
sound declamation. Governor Hayne can state clearly, enforce ardently,
illustrate gracefully, and boast magnificently, but he cannot reason.
His best friends are probably the most anxious to admit this; for there
is such want of reason in his present course of opposition to the first
principles on which society is founded, and in his attachment to wornout
feudal institutions, that the observer, however friendly, finds himself
reduced to the alternative of supposing this busy mind perverted by
unholy passions or by an unbalanced imagination.

Governor Hamilton is less known at a distance, but he is, perhaps, a yet
more perfect representative of the Southern gentleman. He is handsome,
and his manners have all the grace without much of the arrogance of the
bearing of his class. I was much struck, too, with his generous
appreciation of the powers and virtues of the great men of every party
at Washington; a moral grace which I should have been glad to see shared
in a greater degree by some of his neighbours. Governor Hamilton has
done what he could to impair the favourable impressions he makes upon
all who know him by the atrocious report he issued in 1835, as chairman
of a committee of the South Carolina Legislature appointed to consider
what steps should be taken in defence of "the peculiar domestic
institutions of the South." This report is unconstitutional in its
requisitions, and savage in its spirit towards the abolitionists.

With these gentlemen, their friends, and the ladies of their families,
we saw many sights and passed many pleasant hours; and with gentlemen
and ladies of the opposite party we spent other portions of our leisure.
I was told much of the Poorhouse, rather in a tone of boasting; and I
was anxious to see what a poorhouse could be in a region where all
labourers were private property, and where pauperism would therefore
seem to be obviated. Infirmity, vice, and orphanhood keep up a small
amount of pauperism even here, reducing capitalists to a state of
dependance. There were about one hundred and twenty inmates when I
visited the institution, and the number was soon to be reduced by the
periodical clearance made by sending the children to the Orphan-house,
and the insane to the State asylum at Columbia. The intemperate and
vagrants were employed in coffin-making and stone-breaking. By a slight
stretch of the law, persons found drunk are sent here and locked up for
a month. We saw two respectable-looking men who had been brought in
intoxicated the day before, and who looked duly ashamed of their

The Orphan-house has been established about forty years, and it
contained, at the time of my visit, two hundred children. As none but
whites are admitted, it is found to be no encouragement to vice to admit
all destitute children, whether orphans or not; for the licentiousness
of the South takes the women of colour for its victims. The children in
this establishment are taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the
girls sewing; but the prejudice against work appears as much here as
anywhere. No active labour goes on; the boys do not even garden. No
employment is attempted which bears any resemblance to what is done by
slaves. The boys are apprenticed out to trades at fourteen, and the
girls to mantuamaking, almost the only employment in which a white
Southern woman can earn a subsistence. The children are taken in from
the age of two years, but they generally enter at the ages of four,
five, or six. I was rather surprised to see them badged, an
anti-republican practice which had better be abolished; but I wondered
the less when I observed the statue of Pitt still standing in the
courtyard, with the right arm shot off in the war, however. There is a
good-sized church connected with this establishment, which was well
filled on the afternoon when I went with the family of a friend, who was
taking his turn with his brother clergy to preach.

Charleston is the place in which to see those contrasting scenes of
human life brought under the eye which moralists gather together for the
purpose of impressing the imagination. The stranger has but to pass from
street to street, to live from hour to hour in this city, to see in
conjunction the extremes between which there is everywhere else a wide
interval. The sights of one morning I should remember if every other
particular of my travels were forgotten. I was driven round the city by
a friend whose conversation was delightful all the way. Though I did not
agree in all his views of society, the thoughtfulness of his mind and
the benevolence of his exertions betokened a healthy state of feeling,
and gave value to all he said. He had been a friend of the lamented
Grimké; and he showed me the house where Grimké lived and died, and told
me much of him; of the nobleness of his character, the extent of his
attainments, and how, dying at fifty-four, he had lived by industry a
long life. My mind was full of the contemplation of the heights which
human beings are destined to reach, when I was plunged into a new scene;
one which it was my own conscientious choice to visit, but for which the
preceding conversation had ill-prepared me. I went into the slave
market, a place which the traveller ought not to avoid to spare his
feelings. There was a table on which stood two auctioneers, one with a
hammer, the other to exhibit "the article" and count the bids. The
slaves for sale were some of them in groups below, and some in a long
row behind the auctioneers. The sale of a man was just concluding when
we entered the market. A woman, with two children, one at the breast,
and another holding by her apron, composed the next lot. The restless,
jocose zeal of the auctioneer who counted the bids was the most infernal
sight I ever beheld. The woman was a mulatto; she was neatly dressed,
with a clean apron and a yellow head-handkerchief. The elder child clung
to her. She hung her head low, lower, and still lower on her breast, yet
turning her eyes incessantly from side to side, with an intensity of
expectation which showed that she had not reached the last stage of
despair. I should have thought that her agony of shame and dread would
have silenced the tongue of every spectator; but it was not so. A lady
chose this moment to turn to me and say, with a cheerful air of
complacency, "You know my theory, that one race must be subservient to
the other. I do not care which; and if the blacks should ever have the
upper hand, I should not mind standing on that table, and being sold
with two of my children." Who could help saying within himself, "Would
you were! so that that mother were released!" Who could help seeing in
vision the blacks driving the whites into the field, and preaching from
the pulpits of Christian churches the doctrines now given out there,
that God has respect of persons; that men are to hold each other as
property, instead of regarding each other as brethren; and that the
right interpretation of the golden rule by the slaveholder is, "Do unto
your slaves as you would wish your master to do unto you if you were a
slave!" A little boy of eight or nine years old, apparently, was next
put up alone. There was no bearing the child's look of helplessness and
shame. It seemed like an outrage to be among the starers from whom he
shrunk, and we went away before he was disposed of.

We next entered a number of fine houses, where we were presented with
flowers, and entertained with lively talk about the small affairs of gay
society, which to little minds are great. To me every laugh had lost its
gayety, every courtesy had lost its grace, all intercourse had lost its
innocence. It was a relief to think of Grimké in his grave, escaped from
the hell in which we were pent. If there be a scene which might stagger
the faith of the spirit of Christianity itself; if there be an
experience which might overthrow its serenity, it is the transition from
the slavemarket to the abodes of the slavemasters, bright with sunshine,
and gay with flowers, with courtesies, and mirth.

If the moral gloom which oppresses the spirit of the stranger were felt
by the residents, of course this condition of society would not endure
another day. Much trouble is experienced, and there are many sighs over
the system; but the anxiety is not to any great number what it was to
the sisters of Grimké; such a poisoner of life as to induce them to
sacrifice property, home, friends, and repose, in order to obtain ease
of mind for themselves, and to do something towards destroying the curse
by which their native region is blighted. Every day shows how many
mansions there are in this hell; how variously the universally allowed
evil visits minds of different strength and discernment. All suffer,
from the frivolous and sophisticated child to the far-seeing and
disciplined saint. The difficulty is to have patience with the
diversity, and to wait, as God waits, till the moral gloom strikes upon
every heart, and causes every eye to turn for light where some already
see it. At the same hour when the customary sins of the slavemarket were
being perpetrated, hundreds of the little people of Charleston were
preparing for their childish pleasures--their merry dancing-schools,
their juvenile fancy balls--ordering their little slaves about, and
allowing themselves to be fanned by black attendants while reposing in
preparation for the fatigues of the evening; ministers of the Gospel
were agreeing to deprive persons of colour of all religious education;
a distant Lynch mob was outraging the person of a free and innocent
citizen; elegant ladies were administering hospitality, and exchanging
gossip and sentiment; and Angelina Grimké was penning the letter which
contains the following passages, a private letter to a friend who was
shortly to undergo the strengthening process of being mobbed:--

"I can hardly express to thee the deep and solemn interest with which I
have viewed the violent proceedings of the last few weeks. Although I
expected opposition, yet I was not prepared for it so soon; it took me
by surprise, and I greatly feared abolitionists would be driven back in
the first onset, and thrown into confusion. So fearful was I, that,
though I clung with unflinching firmness to our principles, yet I was
afraid of even opening one of thy papers, lest I should see some
indications of compromise, some surrender, some palliation. Under these
feelings I was urged to read thy appeal to the citizens of Boston.
Judge, then, what were my feelings on finding that my fears were utterly
groundless, and that thou stoodst firm in the midst of the storm,
determined to suffer and to die rather than yield one inch.

"Religious persecution always begins with mobs. It is always
unprecedented in the age or country in which it commences, and,
therefore, there are no laws by which reformers can be punished;
consequently, a lawless band of unprincipled men determine to take the
matter into their own hands, and act out in mobs what they know are the
principles of a large majority of those who are too high in church and
state to condescend to mingle with them, though they secretly approve
and rejoice over their violent measures. The first Christian martyr was
stoned by a lawless mob; and if we look at the rise of various sects,
Methodists, Friends, &c., we shall find that mobs began the persecution
against them, and that it was not until after the people had spoken out
their wishes that laws were framed to fine, imprison, or destroy them.
Let us, then, be prepared for the enactment of laws, even in our free
states, against abolitionists. And how ardently has the prayer been
breathed, that God would prepare us for all that he is preparing for us!

"My mind has been especially turned towards those who are standing in
the forefront of the battle, and the prayer has gone up for their
preservation; not the preservation of their lives, but the preservation
of their minds in humility and patience, faith, hope, and _charity_. If
persecution is the means which God has ordained for the accomplishment
of this great end, emancipation, then, in dependance upon him for
strength to bear it, I feel as if I could say, 'Let it come;' for it is
my deep, solemn, deliberate conviction, that this is a cause worth dying

"At one time I thought this system would be overthrown in blood, with
the confused noise of the warrior; but a hope gleams across my mind that
our blood will be spilt instead of the slaveholders'; our lives will be
taken, and theirs spared. I say 'a hope,' for, of all things, I desire
to be spared the anguish of seeing our beloved country desolated with
the horrors of a servile war."

The writer of this letter was born into the system, under the same
circumstances with the ladies who repeatedly asked me if I did not find
that the slaves were very happy. So widely different are the influences
of the same circumstances upon different minds!

Our evening engagements were as strangely contrasted as those of the
morning. We were at parties where we heard loud talk of justice and
oppression; appeals to the eternal principles of the one, when the
tariff was the subject, and expressions of the most passionate
detestation of the other, which might, but for the presence of black
faces in the rooms, lead a stranger to suppose that he was in the very
sanctuary of human rights. We were at a young heiress's first ball,
where every guest was presented with a bouquet on entering; where the
young ladies waltzed, and the young gentlemen gave a loose to their
spirits, and all who were present had kindly greetings for the stranger.
Nothing could be gayer than the external aspect of these entertainments;
but it is impossible for the stranger to avoid being struck with the
anxiety which shows itself through it all. I think I never was in
society in any of the Southern cities without being asked what I would
do if I had a legacy of slaves, or told, in vindictiveness or sorrow,
that the prosperity of the North was obtained at the expense of the
South. I was never in Southern society without perceiving that its
characteristic is a want of repose. It is restlessly gay or restlessly
sorrowful. It is angry or exulting; it is hopeful or apprehensive. It is
never content; never in such a state of calm satisfaction as to forget
itself. This peculiarity poisons the satisfaction of the stranger in
the midst of the free and joyous hospitality to which he would otherwise
surrender himself with inconsiderate delight. While everything is done
that can be conceived of to make you happy, there is a weight pulling at
your heartstrings, because you see that other hearts are heavy, and the
nobler the heavier. While the host's little child comes to you at first
sight, and holds up her mouth for a kiss, and offers to tell you a
story, and pours out all her mirth and all her generosity upon you, the
child's father tells you that there is a dark prospect before these
young creatures, and Heaven knows what lot is in store for them. Your
vigilance is kept active by continual suggestions that society is
composed of two classes, which entertain a mortal dread of each other.
If ever you forget this for an hour, it is recalled by the sight of a
soldier at the corner of a street, of a decaying mansion or deserted
estate, or of some anti-republican arrangement for social or domestic
defence. You reproach yourself because you are anxious and cannot be
deceived; and feel as if it were ingratitude to your entertainers not to
think them the secure and happy people which, in alternation with their
complaints of all the external world, they assure you they are.

Our evenings were diversified with attendance upon phrenological
lectures--which, however, soon ceases to be a variety, from the absolute
sameness of all courses of lectures on that subject--with readings at
home, and with a visit to a scene which I was strongly urged not to
omit, the Saturday night's market held by the slaves.

I should have been sorry to miss this spectacle. The slaves enjoy the
amusement and profit yielded by this market. They sit in rows, by
lamplight, some with heaps of fruit and vegetables before them, or
surrounded by articles of their own manufacture: boxes, bedsteads,
baskets, and other handiworks, very cheap, and of good workmanship. The
bananas, pines, imported apples, and oranges, which are seen in great
abundance, are usually the property of the master; while the
manufactured articles, made at spare hours, are nominally the slave's
own. Some are allowed to make use of their leisure in preparing for the
market, on condition of bringing their masters six dollars each per
week, retaining whatever surplus they may gain. I could not learn the
consequence of failing to bring in the six dollars per week. They enjoy
the fun and bustle of the market, and look with complacency on any white
customers who will attend it. Their activity and merriment at market
were pointed out to me as an assurance of their satisfaction with their
condition, their conviction that their present position is the one they
were made for, and in which their true happiness is to be found.

At the very same moment I was shown the ruins of the church of St.
Philip, destroyed by fire, as they frowned in the rear of the lamplight;
and I was informed that the church had once before been on fire, but had
been saved by the exertions of a slave, who "had his liberty given him
for a reward."

"A reward!" said I. "What! when the slaves are convinced that their true
happiness lies in slavery?"

The conversation had come to an awkward pass. A lady advanced to the
rescue, saying that some few, too many, were haunted by a pernicious
fancy, put into their heads by others, about liberty; a mere fancy,
which, however, made them like the idea of freedom.

"So the benefactor of the city was rewarded by being indulged, to his
own hurt, in a pernicious fancy?"

"Why ... yes."

My impressions of Charleston may easily be gathered from what I have
said. It seems to me a place of great activity, without much
intellectual result; of great gayety, without much ease and pleasure. I
am confident that, whatever might be the reason, the general mind was
full of mystery and anxiety at the time of my visit; and that some
hearts were glowing with ambitious hopes, and others sinking in fears,
more or less clearly defined, of the political crisis which seems to be
now at hand. These are the influences which are educating the youth of
Charleston, more powerfully than all schools and colleges, and all
books; inducing a reliance on physical rather than moral force, and
strengthening attachment to feudal notions of honour and of every kind
of good; notions which have no affinity with true republican morals. The
prospects of the citizens are "dark every way," as some declared; for
the rising generation must either ascend, through a severe discipline
and prodigious sacrifices, to a conformity with republican principles,
or descend into a condition of solitary feudalism, neither sanctioned by
the example nor cheered by the sympathy of the world; but, on the
contrary, regarded with that compassion which is precisely the last
species of regard which the feudal spirit is able to endure.

We left Charleston in company with Mr. Calhoun and his family. The great
nullifier told me many and long stories of his early days. Not being
aware of my strong impressions respecting his present views and
purposes, he could have no idea of the intense interest with which I
listened to his accounts of the first kindling of his burning mind. He
was five years old, standing between his father's knees, when his first
political emotions stirred within him, awakened by his parent's talk of
the colony and of free times just after the Revolution. If some good
angel had at that moment whispered the parent, inspiring him to direct
that young ambition to the ultimate grandeur of meek service, to animate
that high spirit to a moral conflict with all human wrongs, we might
already have owed to a mind so energetic the redemption of the negro
race from the affliction, and of the republic from the disgrace of
slavery, instead of mourning over the dedication of such powers to the
propagation and exasperation of the curse. I feared how it would be;
what part he would take in the present struggle between the two
principles of greatness, physical force with territorial conquest, and
moral power shown in self-conquest. I feared that Mr. Calhoun would
organize and head the feudal party, as he has done; but I never had any
fears that that party would prevail. When we parted at Branchville he
little knew--he might have been offended if he had known--with what
affectionate solicitude those whom he left behind looked on into his
perilous political path. I am glad we could not foresee how soon our
fears would be justified. Mr. Calhoun is at present insisting that the
pirate colony of Texas shall be admitted into the honourable American
Union; that a new impulse shall thereby be given to the slavetrade, and
a new extension to slavery; and that his country shall thereby surrender
her moral supremacy among the nations for a gross and antiquated feudal
ambition. He vows, taking the whole Union to witness, that these things
shall be. The words have publicly passed his pen and his lips, "Texas
shall be annexed to the United States." His best friends must hope that
the whole world will say, "It shall not."


                    "O! das Leben, Vater,
    Hat Reize, die wir nie gekannt. Wir haben
    Des schönen Lebens öde Kütse nur
    Wie ein umirrend Räubervolk befahren.
    Was in den innern Thälern Köstliches
    Das land verbirgt, O! davon--davon ist
    Auf unsrer wilden Fahrt uns nichts erschienen."


                                    "We ask
    But to put forth our strength, our human strength,
    All starting fairly, all equipped alike,
    Gifted alike, and eagle-eyed, true-hearted."


The traveller in America hears on every hand of the fondness of slaves
for slavery. If he points to the little picture of a runaway prefixed to
advertisements of fugitives, and repeated down whole columns of the
first newspaper that comes to hand, he is met with anecdotes of slaves
who have been offered their freedom, and prefer remaining in bondage.
Both aspects of the question are true, and yet more may be said on both
sides. The traveller finds, as he proceeds, that suicides are very
frequent among slaves; and that there is a race of Africans who will not
endure bondage at all, and who, when smuggled from Africa into
Louisiana, are avoided in the market by purchasers, though they have
great bodily strength and comeliness. When one of this race is
accidentally purchased and taken home, he is generally missed before
twenty-four hours are over, and found hanging behind a door or drowned
in the nearest pond. The Cuba slaveholders have volumes of stories to
tell of this race, proving their incapacity for slavery. On the other
hand, the traveller may meet with a few negroes who have returned into
slaveland from a state of freedom, and besought their masters to take
them back.

These seeming contradictions admit of an easy explanation. Slaves are
more or less degraded by slavery in proportion to their original
strength of character or educational discipline of mind. The most
degraded are satisfied, the least degraded are dissatisfied with
slavery. The lowest order prefer release from duties and cares to the
enjoyment of rights and the possession of themselves; and the highest
order have a directly opposite taste. The mistake lies in not perceiving
that slavery is emphatically condemned by the conduct of both.

The stories on the one side of the question are all alike. The master
offers freedom--of course, to the worst of his slaves--to those who are
more plague than profit. Perhaps he sends the fellow he wants to get rid
of on some errand into a free state, hoping that he will not return. The
man comes back; and, if questioned as to why he did not stay where he
might have been free, he replies that he knows better than to work hard
for a precarious living when he can be fed by his master without anxiety
of his own as long as he lives. As for those who return after having
been free, they are usually the weak-minded, who have been persuaded
into remaining in a free state, where they have been carried in
attendance on their masters' families, and who want courage to sustain
their unprotected freedom. I do not remember ever hearing of the return
of a slave who, having long nourished the idea and purpose of liberty,
had absconded with danger and difficulty. The prosecution of such a
purpose argues a strength of mind worthy of freedom.

The stories on this side of the question are as various as the
characters and fortunes of the heroes of them. Many facts of this nature
became known to me during my travels, most of which cannot be published,
for fear of involving in difficulty either the escaped heroes or those
who assisted them in regaining their liberty. But a few may be safely
related, which will show, as well as any greater number, the kind of
restlessness which is the torment of the lives of "persons held to
labour," the constitutional description of the slave-class of the
constituents of government.

Slavery is nowhere more hopeless and helpless than in Alabama. The
richness of the soil and the paucity of inhabitants make the labourer a
most valuable possession; while his distance from any free state--the
extent of country overspread with enemies which the fugitive has to
traverse--makes the attempt to escape desperate. All coloured persons
travelling in the slave states without a pass--a certificate of freedom
or of leave--are liable to be arrested and advertised, and, if unclaimed
at the end of a certain time, sold in the market. Yet slaves do
continue to escape from the farthest corners of Alabama or Mississippi.
Two slaves in Alabama, who had from their early manhood cherished the
idea of freedom, planned their escape in concert, and laboured for many
years at their scheme. They were allowed the profits of their labour at
over-hours; and, by strenuous toil and self-denial, saved and hid a
large sum of money. Last year they found they had enough, and that the
time was come for the execution of their purpose. They engaged the
services of "a mean white;" one of the extremely degraded class who are
driven by loss of character to labour in the slave states, where, labour
by whites being disgraceful, they are looked down upon by the slaves no
less than the slaves are by the superior whites. These two slaves hired
a "mean white man" to personate a gentleman; bought him a suit of good
clothes, a portmanteau, a carriage and horses, and proper costume for
themselves. One night the three set off in style, as master, coachman,
and footman, and travelled rapidly through the whole country, without
the slightest hinderance, to Buffalo. There the slaves sold their
carriage, horses, and finery, paid off their white man, and escaped into
Canada, where they now are in safety.

They found in Canada a society of their own colour prepared to welcome
and aid them. In Upper Canada there are upward of ten thousand people of
colour, chiefly fugitive slaves, who prosper in the country which they
have chosen for a refuge. Scarcely an instance is known of any of them
having received alms, and they are as respectable for their intelligence
as for their morals. One peculiarity in them is the extravagance of
their loyalty. They exert themselves vehemently in defence of all the
acts of the executive, whatever they may be. The reason for this is
obvious: they exceedingly dread the barest mention of the annexation of
Canada to the United States.

It is astonishing that, in the face of facts of daily occurrence like
that of the escape of these men, it can be pleaded in behalf of slavery
that negroes cannot take care of themselves, and that they prefer being
held as property. A lady of New-York favoured me with some of her
recollections of slavery in that state. She told me of a favourite
servant who had been her father's property for five-and-twenty years. I
believe the woman was the family nurse. She was treated with all
possible indulgence, and was the object of the attachment of the whole
household. The woman was never happy. During all these dreary years she
was haunted with the longing for freedom, and at last fell ill,
apparently from anxiety of mind. From her sickbed she implored her
master so movingly to make her free, and her medical attendant was so
convinced that her life depended on her request being granted, that her
master made the desired promise, but very unwillingly, as he thought
freedom would be more of a care than a blessing to her. She immediately
recovered, and in spite of all entreaty, pecuniary inducement, and
appeals to her gratitude, left the family. She shed many tears, mourned
over parting with the children, and thanked the family for all the
favour with which she had been treated, but declared that she could not
remain. Everything savoured too strongly of the bondage she had been
unable to endure. She took a service not far off, deposited her earnings
with her old master, and frequently visited the family, but, to the
last, shrank from all mention of returning to them.

While I was in the United States, a New-York friend of mine was counsel
for a native African who sued his mistress for his earnings of many
years. This man had been landed in the South after the year 1808, the
date fixed by the Constitution for the cessation of the importation of
negroes. He was purchased by a lady to whom he proved very profitable,
his services being of a superior kind. She let him out, and he paid over
to her all the money he earned. After many years she visited New-York,
bringing this man with her, not anticipating that, in that free city, he
would gain new lights as to his relation to her. He refused to return,
and brought his mistress into court to answer his demand for the
repayment of all the money he had earned abroad, with interest, and
compensation for his services at home during his illegal bondage. As a
knowledge of the law was necessarily supposed on both sides, the counsel
for the slave made compulsion his plea. This was not allowed. The
slave's maintenance was decided to be a sufficient compensation for his
services at home, and he was decreed to receive only the earnings of his
hired labour, without interest. His counsel had, however, the pleasure
of seeing him, in the strength of his manhood, free, and in possession
of a large sum of money to begin life with on his own account.

A woman once lived in Massachusetts whose name ought to be preserved in
all histories of the State as one of its honours, though she was a
slave. Some anecdotes of her were related in a Lyceum lecture delivered
at Stockbridge in 1831. Others were told me by the Sedgwicks, who had
the honour of knowing her best, by means of rendering her the greatest
services. Mum Bett, whose real name was Elizabeth Freeman, was born, it
is supposed, about 1742. Her parents were native Africans, and she was a
slave for about thirty years. At an early age she was purchased, with
her sister, from the family into which she was born, in the State of
New-York, by Colonel Ashley, of Sheffield, Massachusetts. The lady of the
mansion, in a fit of passion, one day struck at Mum Bett's sister with a
heated kitchen shovel. Mum Bett interposed her arm and received the
blow, the scar of which she bore to the day of her death. "She resented
the insult and outrage as a white person would have done," leaving the
house, and refusing to return. Colonel Ashley appealed to the law for
the recovery of his slave. Mum Bett called on Mr. Sedgwick, and asked
him if she could not claim her liberty under the law. He inquired what
could put such an idea into her head. She replied that the "Bill o'
Rights" said that all were born free and equal, and that, as she was not
a dumb beast, she was certainly one of the nation. When afterward asked
how she learned the doctrine and facts on which she proceeded, she
replied, "By keepin' still and mindin' things." It was a favourite
doctrine of hers, that people might learn by keeping still and minding
things. But what did she mean, she was asked, by keeping still and
minding things? Why, for instance, when she was waiting at table, she
heard gentlemen talking over the Bill of Rights and the new constitution
of Massachusetts; and in all they said she never heard but that all
people were born free and equal, and she thought long about it, and
resolved she would try whether she did not come in among them.

Mr. Sedgwick undertook her cause, which was tried at Great Barrington.
Mum Bett obtained her freedom, and compensation for her services from
twenty-one years of age. "What shall I do with all this money of yours?"
said Mr. Sedgwick. "Fee the lawyers handsomely; pay 'em well," said she,
"and keep the rest till I want it." She was offered every inducement to
return to Colonel Ashley's, but she recoiled from all that reminded her
of slavery. She begged the Sedgwicks to take her into their family,
which they did; and with them she spent twenty years of great comfort.
Her example was followed by many slaves; and from the day of her
emancipation in 1772, more and more claimants were decreed free under
the Bill of Rights, till slavery was abolished in Massachusetts.

Her services to the Sedgwick family are gratefully remembered by them.
She is believed to have saved her master's life by following her own
judgment in his treatment when she was nursing him in a dangerous fever.
When her master was in Boston, and the rural districts were liable to
nightly visitations from marauders after Shay's war (as an insurrection
in Massachusetts was called), the village of Stockbridge, in the absence
of the gentlemen, depended on Mum Bett for its safety, so general was
the confidence in her wisdom and courage. The practice of the marauders
was to enter and plunder gentlemen's houses in the night, on pretence of
searching for ammunition and prisoners. Mum Bett declared that she could
have no cowards in the village; as many as were afraid had better go up
the hills to sleep. Several children and a few women went up the hills
in the evening to farmhouses which were safe from intrusion. All brought
their valuables of small bulk to Mum Bett for security. Everybody's
watches, gold chains, rings, and other trinkets were deposited in an
iron chest in the garret where Mum Bett slept.

The marauders arrived one night when Mrs. Sedgwick was very ill, and Mum
Bett was unwilling to admit them. She quietly told her mistress that her
pistols were loaded, and that a few shots from the windows would
probably send the wretches away, as they could not be sure but that
there were gentlemen in the house. Her mistress, however, positively
ordered her to let the people in without delay. Mum Bett obeyed the
order with much unwillingness. She appeared at the door with a large
kitchen shovel in one hand and a light in the other, and assured the
strangers that they would find nothing of what they asked for; neither
Judge Sedgwick, nor ammunition and prisoners. They chose to search the
house, however, as she had expected. Her great fear was that they would
drink themselves intoxicated in the cellar, and become unmanageable; and
she had prepared for this by putting rows of porter bottles in front of
the wine and spirits, having drawn the corks to let the porter get flat,
and put them in again. The intruders offered to take the light from her
hand, but she held it back, saying that no one should carry the light
but herself. Here was the way to the cellars, and there was the way to
the chambers: she would light the gentlemen wherever they chose to go,
but she would not let the house be set on fire over her sick mistress's
head. "The gentlemen" went down to the cellar first. One of the party
broke the neck of a bottle of porter, for which she rebuked him, saying,
that if they wished to drink, she would fetch the corkscrew, and draw
the cork, and they might drink like gentlemen; but that, if any one
broke the neck of another bottle, she would lay him low with her shovel.
The flat porter was not to the taste of the visiters, who made wry
faces, and said, if gentlemen liked such cursed bitter stuff, they might
keep it, and praised spirits in comparison; upon which Mum Bett coolly
observed that they were "sort o' gentlemen that lived here that did not
drink spirits."

At the foot of the cellar stairs stood a barrel of pickled pork, out of
which the intruders began helping themselves. In a tone of utter scorn
Mum Bett exclaimed, "Ammunition and prisoners, indeed! You come for
ammunition and prisoners, and take up with pickled pork!" They were
fairly ashamed, and threw back the pork into the barrel. They went
through all the chambers, poking with their bayonets under the beds,
lest Judge Sedgwick should be there. At last, to Mum Bett's sorrow, they
decided to search the garrets. In hers the iron chest came into view.
She hoped in vain that they would pass it over. One of the party
observed that it looked as if it held something. Mum Bett put down the
light, kneeled on the chest, and brandished her weapon, saying, "This is
my chist, and let any man touch it at his peril." The men considered the
matter not worth contesting, and went down stairs. They were actually
departing without having met with a single article of value enough to
carry away, when a young lady, a niece of Judge Sedgwick's, wishing to
be civil to the wretches, asked them, at the hall door, whether they
would like to see the stables. They were glad of the hint, and stole one
horse (if I remember right), and ruined another with hard riding. Mum
Bett's expression of wrath was, "If I had thought the pesky fools would
have done such a thing, I would have turned the horses loose over night
in the meadow; they would have come back at my call in the morning."

She was considered as connected with Judge Sedgwick's family after she
had left their house for a home of her own. By her great industry and
frugality she supported a large family of grandchildren and
great-grandchildren. There was nothing remarkable about her husband, and
her descendants do not appear to have inherited her genius. Mum Bett
lies in the Stockbridge graveyard, in the corner where the people of
colour _lie apart_. Her epitaph, written by a son of Judge Sedgwick, is
as follows:--

                           ELIZABETH FREEMAN,
                          Known by the name of
                                MUM BETT,
           Died December 28, 1829. Her supposed age was 85 years.
    She was born a slave, and remained a slave for nearly thirty years:
       she could neither read nor write, yet in her own sphere she
         had no superior nor equal: she neither wasted time nor
           property: she never violated a trust, nor failed to
             perform a duty. In every situation of domestic
               trial, she was the most efficient helper
                      and the tenderest friend.
                    GOOD MOTHER        FAREWELL.

As far as energy and talent are concerned, I should not hesitate to say
that in her own sphere Mum Bett "had no superior nor equal;" and the
same may be said about the quality of fidelity. I know of a slave in
Louisiana who picked up a parcel containing 10,000 dollars, and returned
it, with much trouble, to its owner. I know of a slave in South
Carolina, belonging to a physician, who drives his master's gig, and has
made a wonderful use of what he sees in the course of his morning's
duty. While waiting for his master at the doors of patients, this slave
occupied himself with copying in the sandy soil the letters he saw on
signs. When he believed he had caught the method, he begged a slate, or
paper and pencil, and brought home his copies, coaxing the boys of the
family to tell him the names of the letters. He then put them together,
and thus learned to read and write, without any further help whatever.
Having once discovered his own power of doing and learning, he went on
in the only direction which seemed open to him. He turned his attention
to mechanism, and makes miniature violins and pianos of surprising
completeness, but no use. Here he will most likely stop; for there is no
probability of his ever ceasing to be a slave, or having opportunity to
turn to practical account a degree of energy, patience, and skill which,
in happier circumstances, might have been the instruments of great

The energies of slaves sometimes take a direction which their masters
contrive to render profitable, when they take to religion as a pursuit.
The universal, unquenchable reverence for religion in the human mind is
taken advantage of when the imagination of the slave has been turned
into the channel of superstition. It is a fact, that in the newspapers
of New-Orleans may be seen an advertisement now and then of a lot of
"pious negroes." Such "pious negroes" are convenient on a plantation
where the treatment is not particularly mild; as they consider
nonresistance a Christian duty, and are able to inspire a wonderful
degree of patience into their fellow-sufferers.

The vigour which negroes show when their destiny is fairly placed in
their own hands, is an answer to all arguments about their helplessness
drawn from their dulness in a state of bondage. A highly satisfactory
experiment upon the will, judgment, and talents of a large body of
slaves was made a few years ago by a relative of Chief-justice Marshall.
This gentleman and his family had attached their negroes to them by a
long course of judicious kindness. At length an estate at some distance
was left to the gentleman, and he saw, with much regret, that it was his
duty to leave the plantation on which he was living. He could not bear
the idea of turning over his people to the tender mercies or unproved
judgment of a stranger overseer. He called his negroes together, told
them the case, and asked whether they thought they could manage the
estate themselves. If they were willing to undertake the task, they must
choose an overseer from among themselves, provide comfortably for their
own wants, and remit him the surplus of the profits. The negroes were
full of grief at losing the family, but willing to try what they could
do. They had an election for overseer, and chose the man their master
would have pointed out; decidedly the strongest head on the estate. All
being arranged, the master left them, with a parting charge to keep
their festivals, and take their appointed holydays as if he were
present. After some time he rode over to see how all went on, choosing a
festival day, that he might meet them in their holyday gayety. He was
surprised, on approaching, to hear no merriment; and, on entering his
fields, he found his "force" all hard at work. As they flocked round
him, he inquired why they were not making holyday. They told him that
the crop would suffer in its present state by the loss of a day, and
that they had therefore put off their holyday, which, however, they
meant to take by-and-by. Not many days after an express arrived to
inform the proprietor that there was an insurrection on his estate. He
would not believe it; declared it impossible, as there was nobody to
rise against; but the messenger, who had been sent by the neighbouring
gentlemen, was so confident of the facts, that the master galloped, with
the utmost speed, to his plantation, arriving as night was coming on. As
he rode in a cry of joy arose from his negroes, who pressed round to
shake hands with him. They were in their holyday clothes, and had been
singing and dancing. They were only enjoying the deferred festival. The
neighbours, hearing the noise on a quiet working day, had jumped to the
conclusion that it was an insurrection.

There is no catastrophe yet to this story. When the proprietor related
it, he said that no trouble had arisen; and that for some seasons, ever
since this estate had been wholly in the hands of his negroes, it had
been more productive than it ever was while he managed it himself.

The finest harvest-field of romance perhaps in the world is the frontier
between the United States and Canada. The vowed student of human nature
could not do better than take up his abode there, and hear what
fugitives and their friends have to tell. There have been no exhibitions
of the forces of human character in any political revolution or
religious reformation more wonderful and more interesting than may
almost daily be seen there. The impression on even careless minds on the
spot is very strong. I remember observing to a friend in the ferryboat,
when we were crossing the Niagara from Lewistown to Queenstown, that it
seemed very absurd, on looking at the opposite banks of the river, to
think that, while the one belonged to the people who lived on it, the
other was called the property of a nation three thousand miles off, the
shores looking so much alike as they do. My friend replied with a smile,
"Runaway slaves see a great difference." "That they do!" cried the
ferryman, in a tone of the deepest earnestness. He said that the leap
ashore of an escaped slave is a sight unlike any other that can be

On other parts of the frontier I heard tales which I grieve that it is
not in my power to tell, so honourable are they to individuals of both
races, friends of the slaves. The time may come when no one will be
injured by their being made public. Meantime, I will give one which
happened many years ago, and which relates to a different part of the

A., now an elderly man, was accustomed in his youth to go up and down
the Mississippi on trading expeditions; and both in these and in
subsequent wanderings of many years--to Hayti among other places--he has
had opportunity to study the character of the negro race; and he is
decidedly of opinion that there is in them only a superinduced
inferiority to the whites. In relating his experiences among the
coloured people, he told the following story:--

When he was a young man, he was going down the Mississippi in a boat
with a cargo of salt, when he stopped at a small place on the Kentucky
shore called Unity, opposite to a part of Arkansas. While he was there a
slavetrader came up with his company of upward of two hundred slaves,
whom he was conveying to the New-Orleans market. Among these A. remarked
a gigantic mulatto--handsome in countenance and proud in bearing--who
was nearly naked, and fettered. He had an iron band round his waist and
round each wrist, and these bands were connected by chains. The trader
observed to A. that this man was the most valuable slave he had ever had
on sale. I think he said that he would not take two thousand dollars for
him; he added that he was obliged to chain him, as he was bent on
getting away. When the trader's back was turned, the mulatto looked at
A. as if wishing to talk with him.

"Why are you chained in this way?" asked A.

"Because my master is afraid of losing me. He knows that I am the most
valuable slave he has, and that I mean to get away."

"Have you told him so?"


"And how do you mean to get away?"

"I don't know; but I mean it."

After a pause, he said in a low voice to A.,

"Could not you give me a file?"

"No," said A., decidedly. "Do you think I don't know the law? Do you
think I am going to help you away, and get punished for it? No; I can't
give you a file."

As A. went back to his boat he saw the slave looking wistfully after
him, and his heart smote him for what he had said. He bethought himself
that if he could manage to put an instrument of deliverance in the man's
way without touching it, he might keep within the letter of the law, and
he acted upon this notion. He looked about his boat, and found a strong
three-sided file, which he put between his coat and waistcoat, so that
it would be sure to drop out when the coat was unbuttoned. He sauntered
back on shore, and the mulatto, who watched all his movements, came up
to him, eagerly whispering,

"Have you got a file? Are you going to give me a file?"

"No," said A. "I told you that I knew better than to give you a file."

The slave's countenance fell.

"However," continued A., "I should not wonder if I can tell you where to
get one. If you look about by yonder woodpile, I think, perhaps, you may
find a file. No, not now. Go back to your company now, and don't look at
me; and, when I am gone on board my boat, you can wander off to the

A. unbuttoned his coat as he appeared to be picking up the scattered
wood round the pile, and presently returned to his boat, whence he saw
the mulatto presently walk to the woodpile, and stoop down just at the
right spot. A. watched all day and late into the night, but he saw and
heard nothing more.

In the morning the slavetrader came on board the boat, exclaiming
angrily that A. had a slave of his concealed there. A. desired him to
search the boat, which he did, looking behind every bag of salt. He was
confident that A. must have helped the man away; chained as he was, he
could not have got off without help. As for himself, he had rather have
lost thousands of dollars than this man; but he always knew it would be
so; the fellow always said he would get away.

Thus grumbling, the trader departed to make search in another direction.
In an hour he returned, saying that the slave must either be drowned or
have got over into Arkansas. His irons and a strong file were lying on a
point of land projecting into the river about a mile off, and the marks
were visible where the fugitive had taken the water. A. went, and long
did he stay, questioning and meditating; and during all the years that
have since elapsed, it has been his frequent daily and nightly
speculation whether the mulatto escaped or perished. Sometimes, when he
remembers the gigantic frame of the man, and the force of the impulse
which urged him, A. hopes that it may have been possible for him to
reach the opposite shore. At other times, when he thinks of the width of
the Mississippi at that part, and of the tremendous force of the
current, which would warrant the assertion that it is impossible for a
swimmer to cross, he believes himself convinced that the fugitive has
perished. Yet still the hope returns that the strong man may be living
in wild freedom in some place where the sense of safety and peace may
have taught him to forgive and pity his oppressors.


    "Though everybody cried 'Shame!' and 'Shocking!' yet everybody
    visited them."--MISS EDGEWORTH.

When arrived at the extreme southwest point of our journey, it was
amusing to refer to the warnings of our kind friends about its
inconveniences and dangers. We had brought away tokens of the
hospitality of Charleston in the shape of a large basket of provision
which had been prepared, on the supposition that we should find little
that we could eat on the road. There was wine, tea, and cocoa; cases of
French preserved meat, crackers (biscuits), and gingerbread. All these
good things, except the wine and crackers, we found it expedient to
leave behind, from place to place. There was no use in determining
beforehand to eat them at any particular meal; when it came to the
point, we always found hunger or disgust so much more bearable than the
shame of being ungracious to entertainers who were doing their best for
us, that we could never bring ourselves to produce our stores. We took
what was set before us, and found ourselves, at length, alive and well
at New-Orleans.

At Mobile I met some relatives, who kindly urged my taking possession of
their house at New-Orleans during my stay of ten days. I was thankful
for the arrangement, as the weather was becoming hot, and we could
secure more leisure and repose in a house of our own than in a
boarding-house or as the guests of a family. With the house we were, of
course, to have the services of my friend's slaves. He told me something
of their history. He had tried all ways to obtain good service, and
could not succeed. He had attempted wages, treating his people like free
servants, &c., and all in vain. His present plan was promising them
freedom and an establishment in a free state after a short term of years
in case of good desert. He offered to take care of the money they earned
during their leisure hours, and to pay them interest upon it, but they
preferred keeping it in their own hands. One of them sewed up 150
dollars in her bed; she fell ill, and the person who nursed her is
supposed to have got the money; for, when the poor slave recovered, her
earnings were gone.

We left Mobile for New-Orleans on the 24th of April. The portion of
forest which we crossed in going down from Mobile to the coast was the
most beautiful I had seen. There was fresh grass under foot, and the
woods were splendid with myrtles, magnolias, and many shrubs whose
blossoms were new to me and their names unknown. We had plenty of time
to look about us; for the hack which carried the four passengers whom
the stage would not contain broke down every half hour, and the stage
company had to stop till it could proceed. We had an excellent dinner in
the gallery of a loghouse in the midst of the forest, where we were
plentifully supplied with excellent claret. There had been showers all
day, with intervals of sunshine, but towards sunset the settled gloom of
the sky foreboded a night of storm. I was on the watch for the first
sight of the Gulf of Mexico. I traced the line where the forest retires
to give place to the marsh, and the whole scene assumes a sudden air of
desolation. At this moment the thunder burst, sheets of lightning glared
over the boiling sea, and the rain poured down in floods. Our umbrellas
were found to be broken, of course; and we had to run along the pier to
the steamboat in such a rain as I was never before exposed to; but it
was well worth while getting wet for such a first sight of the Gulf of
Mexico. It soon grew dark; and, before morning, we were in Lake
Pontchartrain, so that this stormy view of the gulf was the only one we

We amused ourselves in the morning with tracing the dim shores of the
State of Mississippi to the north, and of Louisiana to the west. About
nine o'clock we arrived in sight of the long piers which stretch out
from the swamp into the lake, the mudcraft, the canoes, with blacks
fishing for crabs; the baths, and the large Washington hotel, with its
galleries and green blinds, built for coolness, where gentlemen from
New-Orleans go to eat fish and bathe. Next we saw the train of railroad
cars waiting for us; and, without the loss of a moment's time, we were
whirled away to the city, five miles in a quarter of an hour. I have
expressed elsewhere[16] my admiration of the swamp through which our
road lay; an admiration which faded as we traversed the lower faubourg,
and died away in the Champs Elysées. Before ten o'clock we were breaking
the seals of our English letters in the drawing-room of our temporary

Footnote 16: "Society in America," vol. ii., p. 179.

When we had satisfied ourselves with home news, unpacked, dressed, and
lunched, we took our seats by the window in the intervals of visits from
callers. All was very new, very foreign in its aspect. Many of the
ladies in the streets wore caps or veils instead of bonnets; the negroes
who passed shouted their very peculiar kind of French; and everything
seemed to tell us that we had plunged into the dogdays. I never knew
before how impressions of heat can be conveyed through the eye. The
intensity of glare and shadow in the streets, and the many evidences
that the fear of heat is the prevailing idea of the place, affect the
imagination even more than the scorching power of the sun does the
bodily frame.

I was presented with a pamphlet written by a physician, which denies the
unhealthiness of New-Orleans as strenuously as some of its inhabitants
deny its immorality. To me it appears that everything depends on what is
understood by Morals and Health. As to the morals of the city, I have
elsewhere stated the principal facts on which my unfavourable judgment
is founded.[17] In regard to another department of morals, the
honourable fact of the generous charity of New-Orleans to strangers
should be stated. Great numbers of sick and destitute foreigners are
perpetually thrown upon the mercy of the inhabitants, and that mercy is
unbounded. I have reason to believe that the sick are not merely nursed
and cured, but provided with funds before departing. When I visited the
hospital, it contained two hundred and fifty patients, not above fifty
of whom were Americans. As to the health of the place, I believe the
average is good among that portion of the population which can afford to
remove northward for the hot months; but very low if the total white
population be included. The pamphlet which I read argues that, though
the fever is very destructive during a portion of the year, mortality
from other diseases is much below the common average; that the
variations of temperature are slight, though frequent; and that the
average of children and old persons is high. All this may be true; but a
place must be called peculiarly unhealthy whose inhabitants are
compelled, on pain of death, to remove for three or four months of every
year. Instead of arguing against such a fact as this, many citizens are
hoping and striving to put an end to the necessity of such a removal.
They hope, by means of draining and paving, to render their city
habitable all the year round. Plans of drainage are under consideration,
and I saw some importations of paving-stones. The friends of the
New-Orleans people can hardly wish them a greater good than the success
of such attempts; for the perpetual shifting about which they are
subjected to by the dread of the fever is a serious evil to sober
families of an industrious, domestic turn. It is very injurious to the
minds of children and to the habits of young people, and a great
hardship to the aged. I was struck with a remark which fell from a lady
about her children's exercise in the open air. She said that she always
took them out when the wind blew from over the lake, and kept them at
home in warm weather when it blew from any other quarter, as it then
only made them "more languid" to go out. This did not tend to confirm
the doctrine of the pamphlet; but I was not surprised at the remark when
I looked abroad over the neighbouring country from the top of the
hospital. Thence I saw the marsh which was given to Lafayette, and which
he sold, not long before his death, to a London firm, who sold it again.
On this marsh, most of which was under water, the city of New-Orleans
was begun. A strip of buildings was carried to the river bank, where the
city spread.

Footnote 17: Ibid, p. 326.

In the midst of the flooded lots of ground stood the gas-works;
surrounded by stagnant ponds lay the Catholic cemetery. The very
churches of the city seemed to spring up out of the water. The blossomy
beauties of the swamp could not be seen at this height, and all looked
hideously desolate in the glaring sun. The view from the turret of the
Cotton-press is much more advantageous. It commands many windings of the
majestic river, and the point where it seems to lose itself in the
distant forest; while below appears everything that is dry in all the
landscape: the shipping, the Levée, the busy streets of the city, and
the shady avenues of the suburbs.

The ladies of New-Orleans walk more than their countrywomen of other
cities, from the streets being in such bad order as to make walking the
safest means of locomotion. The streets are not very numerous; they are
well distinguished, and lie at right angles, and their names are clearly
printed up; so that strangers find no difficulty in going about, except
when a fall of rain has made the crossings impassable. The heat is far
less oppressive in the streets than in the open country, as there is
generally a shady side. We were never kept within doors by the heat,
though summer weather had fairly set in before our arrival. We made
calls, and went shopping and sight-seeing, much as we do in London; and,
moreover, walked to dinner visits, to the theatre, and to church, while
the sun was blazing as if he had drawn that part of the world some
millions of miles nearer to himself than that in which we had been
accustomed to live. It is in vain to attempt describing what the
moonlight is like. We walked under the long rows of Pride-of-India trees
on the Ramparts, amid the picturesque low dwellings of the Quadroons,
and almost felt the glow of the moonlight, so warm, so golden, so soft
as I never saw it elsewhere. We were never tired of watching the
lightning from our balcony, flashing through the first shades of
twilight, and keeping the whole heaven in night-long conflagration. The
moschetoes were a great and perpetual plague, except while we were
asleep. We found our moscheto-curtains a sufficient protection at night;
but we had to be on the watch against these malicious insects all day,
and to wage war against them during the whole evening. Many ladies are
accustomed, during the summer months, to get after breakfast into a
large sack of muslin tied round the throat, with smaller sacks for the
arms, and to sit thus at work or book, fanning themselves to protect
their faces. Others sit all the morning on the bed, within their
moscheto-curtains. I wore gloves and prunella boots all day long, but
hands and feet were stung through all the defences I could devise. After
a while the sting of the moscheto ceases to irritate more than the
English gnat-sting; but, to strangers, the suffering is serious; to
those of feverish habit, sometimes dangerous.

Sunday is the busiest day of the week to the stranger in New-Orleans.
There is first the negro market to be seen at five o'clock. We missed
this sight, as the mornings were foggy, and it was accounted unsafe to
go out in the early damp. Then there is the Cathedral to be attended, a
place which the European gladly visits, as the only one in the United
States where all men meet together as brethren. As he goes, the streets
are noisy with traffic. Some of those who keep the Sunday sit at their
doors or windows reading the newspapers or chatting with their
acquaintance. Merchants are seen hastening to the counting-house or the
wharf, or busy in the stores. Others are streaming into the church
doors. There are groups about the cathedral gates, the blacks and the
whites parting company as if they had not been worshipping side by side.
Within the edifice there is no separation. Some few persons may be in
pews; but kneeling on the pavement may be seen a multitude, of every
shade of complexion, from the fair Scotchwoman or German to the
jet-black pure African. The Spanish eye flashes from beneath the veil;
the French Creole countenance, painted high, is surmounted by the neat
cap or the showy bonnet; while between them may be thrust a gray-headed
mulatto, following with his stupid eyes the evolutions of the priest; or
the devout negro woman telling her beads--a string of berries--as if her
life depended on her task. During the preaching, the multitude of
anxious faces, thus various in tint and expression, turned up towards
the pulpit, afforded one of those few spectacles which are apt to haunt
the whole future life of the observer like a dream. Several Protestants
spoke to me of the Catholic religion as being a great blessing to the
ignorant negro, viewing a ritual religion as a safe resting-place
between barbarism and truth. Nothing that I saw disposed me to agree
with them. I saw among Catholics of this class only the most abject
worship of things without meaning, and no comprehension whatever of
symbols. I was persuaded that, if a ritual religion be ever a good, it
is so in the case of the most, not the least, enlightened; of those who
accept the ritual as symbolical, and not of those who pay it literal
worship. I could not but think that, if the undisguised story of Jesus
were presented to these last as it was to the fishermen of Galilee and
the peasants on the reedy banks of Jordan, they would embrace a
Christianity, in comparison with which their present religion is an
unintelligible and effectual mythology. But such a primitive
Christianity they, as slaves, never will and never can have, as its
whole spirit is destructive of slavery.

Half a year before my visit to New-Orleans, a great commotion had been
raised in the city against a Presbyterian clergyman, the Rev. Joel
Parker, on account of some expressions which he had been reported to
have used, while on a visit in New-England, respecting the morals of
New-Orleans, and especially the desecration of the Sunday. Some
meddlesome person had called a public meeting, to consider what should
be done with the Rev. Joel Parker for having employed his constitutional
freedom of speech in declaring what almost everybody knew or believed to
be true. Many gentlemen of the city were vexed at this encroachment upon
the liberty of the citizen, and at the ridicule which such apparent
sensitiveness about reputation would bring upon their society; and they
determined to be present at the meeting, and support the pastor's
rights. Matters were proceeding fast towards a condemnation of the
accused and a sentence of banishment, when these gentlemen demanded that
he should be heard in his own defence, a guarantee for his personal
safety being first passed by the meeting. This was agreed to, and Mr.
Parker appeared on the hustings. Unfortunately, he missed the
opportunity--a particularly favourable one--of making a moral impression
which would never have been lost. A full declaration of what he had
said, the grounds of it, and his right to say it, would have turned the
emotions of the assemblage, already softened in his favour, towards
himself and the right. As it was, he did nothing wrong, except in as far
as that he did nothing very right; but there was a want of judgment and
taste in his address which was much to be regretted. He was allowed to
go free for the time; but the newspapers reported all the charges
against him, suppressed his replies, and lauded the citizens for not
having pulled the offender to pieces; and Mr. Parker's congregation
were called upon, on the ground of the resolutions passed at the public
meeting, to banish their pastor. They refused, and appealed to all the
citizens to protect them from such oppression as was threatened. No
further steps were taken, I believe, against the pastor and his people;
his church flourished under this little gust of persecution; and, when I
was there, a handsome new edifice was rising up to accommodate the
increased number of his congregation. I wished to hear this gentleman,
and was glad to find that his flock met, while the building was going
on, in the vestry of the new church; a spacious crypt, which was crowded
when he preached. I had not expected much from his preaching, and was
therefore taken by surprise by the exceeding beauty of his discourse;
beauty, not of style, but spirit. The lofty and tender earnestness of
both his sentiments and manner put the observer off his watch about the
composition of the sermon. I was surprised to perceive in conversation
afterward tokens that Mr. Parker was not a highly-educated man. I was
raised by the lofty tone of his preaching far above all critical

I had much opportunity of seeing in the United States what is the
operation of persecution on strong and virtuous minds, and I trust the
lesson of encouragement will never be lost. As it is certain that the
progression of the race must be carried on through persecution of some
kind and degree; as it is clear that the superior spirits to whom the
race owes its advancement must, by their very act of anticipation, get
out of the circle of general intelligence and sympathy, and be thus
subject to the trials of spiritual solitude and social enmity--since
thus it has ever been, and thus, by the laws of human nature, it must
ever be--it is heart-cheering and soul-staying to perceive that the
effects of persecution may be, and often are, more blessed than those of
other kinds of discipline. Many quail under the apprehension of
persecution; some are soured by it; but some pass through the suffering,
the bitter suffering of popular hatred, with a strength which intermits
less and less, and come out of it with new capacities for enjoyment,
with affections which can no longer be checked by want of sympathy, and
with an object in life which can never be overthrown. Mr. Parker's case
was not one of any high or permanent character; though, as far as his
trial went, it seemed to have given calmness and vigour to his mind. (I
judge from his manner of speaking of the affair to me.) The
abolitionists are the persons I have had, and always shall have, chiefly
in view in speaking of the effects of persecution. They often reminded
me of the remark, that you may know a philanthropist in the streets by
his face. The life, light, and gentleness of their countenances, the
cheerful earnestness of their speech, and the gayety of their manners,
were enough to assure the unprejudiced foreign observer of the integrity
of their cause and the blessedness of their pilgrim lives.

The afternoon or evening Sunday walk in New Orleans cannot fail to
convince the stranger of the truth of the sayings of Mr. Parker, for
which he afterward was subjected to so fierce a retribution. Whatever
may be thought of the duty or expediency of a strict observance of the
Sunday, no one can contend that in this city the observance is strict.
In the market there is traffic in meat and vegetables, and the groups of
foreigners make a Babel of the place with their loud talk in many
tongues. The men are smoking outside their houses; the girls, with broad
coloured ribands streaming from the ends of their long braids of hair,
are walking or flirting; while veiled ladies are stealing through the
streets, or the graceful Quadroon women are taking their evening airing
on the Levée. The river is crowded with shipping, to the hulls of which
the walkers look up from a distance, the river being above the level of
the neighbouring streets. It rushes along through the busy region,
seeming to be touched with mercy, or to disdain its power of mischief.
It might overwhelm in an instant the swarming inhabitants of the
boundless level; it looks as if it could scarcely avoid doing so; yet it
rolls on within its banks so steadily, that the citizens forget their
insecurity. Its breadth is not striking to the eye; yet, when one begins
to calculate, the magnitude of the stream becomes apparent. A steamboat
carries down six vessels at once, two on each side and two behind; and
this cluster of seven vessels looks somewhat in the proportion of a
constellation in the sky. From the Levée the Cathedral looks well,
fronting the river, standing in the middle of a square, and presenting
an appearance of great antiquity, hastened, no doubt, by the moisture of
the atmosphere in which it stands.

The Levée continues to be crowded long after the sun has set. The
quivering summer lightning plays over the heads of the merry multitude,
who are conversing in all the tongues, and gay in all the costumes of
the world.

Another bright scene is on the road to the lake on a fine afternoon.
This road winds for five miles through the swamp, and is bordered by
cypress, flowering reeds, fleurs-de-lis of every colour, palmetto, and a
hundred aquatic shrubs new to the eye of the stranger. The gray moss
common in damp situations floats in streamers from the branches. Snakes
abound, and coil about the negroes who are seen pushing their canoes
through the rank vegetation, or towing their rafts laden with wood along
the sluggish bayou. There is a small settlement, wholly French in its
character, where the ancient dwellings, painted red, and with broad
eaves, look highly picturesque in the green landscape. The winding white
road is thronged with carriages, driven at a very rapid rate, and full
of families of children, or gay parties of young people, or a company of
smoking merchants, going to the lake to drink or to bathe. Many go
merely as we did, for the sake of the drive, and of breathing the cool
air of the lake, while enjoying a glass of iced lemonade or sangaree.

It was along this road that Madame Lalaurie escaped from the hands of
her exasperated countrymen about five years ago. The remembrance or
tradition of that day will always be fresh in New-Orleans. In England
the story is little, if at all, known. I was requested on the spot not
to publish it as exhibiting a fair specimen of slaveholding in
New-Orleans, and no one could suppose it to be so; but it is a
revelation of what may happen in a slaveholding country, and can happen
nowhere else. Even on the mildest supposition that the case admits of,
that Madame Lalaurie was insane, there remains the fact that the
insanity could have taken such a direction, and perpetrated such deeds
nowhere but in a slave country.

There is, as every one knows, a mutual jealousy between the French and
American creoles[18] in Louisiana. Till lately, the French creoles have
carried everything their own way, from their superior numbers. I believe
that even yet no American expects to get a verdict, on any evidence,
from a jury of French creoles. Madame Lalaurie enjoyed a long impunity
from this circumstance. She was a French creole, and her third husband,
M. Lalaurie, was, I believe, a Frenchman. He was many years younger
than his lady, and had nothing to do with the management of her
property, so that he has been in no degree mixed up with her affairs and
disgraces. It had been long observed that Madame Lalaurie's slaves
looked singularly haggard and wretched, except the coachman, whose
appearance was sleek and comfortable enough. Two daughters by a former
marriage, who lived with her, were also thought to be spiritless and
unhappy-looking. But the lady was so graceful and accomplished, so
charming in her manners and so hospitable, that no one ventured openly
to question her perfect goodness. If a murmur of doubt began among the
Americans, the French resented it. If the French had occasional
suspicions, they concealed them for the credit of their faction. "She
was very pleasant to whites," I was told, and sometimes to blacks, but
so broadly so as to excite suspicions of hypocrisy. When she had a
dinner-party at home, she would hand the remains of her glass of wine to
the emaciated negro behind her chair, with a smooth audible whisper,
"Here, my friend, take this; it will do you good." At length rumours
spread which induced a friend of mine, an eminent lawyer, to send her a
hint about the law which ordains that slaves who can be proved to have
been cruelly treated shall be taken from the owner, and sold in the
market for the benefit of the State. My friend, being of the American
party, did not appear in the matter himself, but sent a young French
creole, who was studying law with him. The young man returned full of
indignation against all who could suspect this amiable woman of doing
anything wrong. He was confident that she could not harm a fly, or give
pain to any human being.

Footnote 18: Creole means _native_. French and American creoles are
natives of French and American extraction.

Soon after this a lady, living in a house which joined the premises of
Madame Lalaurie, was going up stairs, when she heard a piercing shriek
from the next courtyard. She looked out, and saw a little negro girl,
apparently about eight years old, flying across the yard towards the
house, and Madame Lalaurie pursuing her, cowhide in hand. The lady saw
the poor child run from story to story, her mistress following, till
both came out upon the top of the house. Seeing the child about to
spring over, the witness put her hands before her eyes; but she heard
the fall, and saw the child taken up, her body bending and limbs hanging
as if every bone was broken. The lady watched for many hours, and at
night she saw the body brought out, a shallow hole dug by torchlight in
the corner of the yard, and the corpse covered over. No secret was made
of what had been seen. Inquiry was instituted, and illegal cruelty
proved in the case of nine slaves, who were forfeited according to law.
It afterward came out that this woman induced some family connexions of
her own to purchase these slaves, and sell them again to her, conveying
them back to her premises in the night. She must have desired to have
them for purposes of torture, for she could not let them be seen in a
neighbourhood where they were known.

During all this time she does not appear to have lost caste, though it
appears that she beat her daughters as often as they attempted in her
absence to convey food to her miserable victims. She always knew of such
attempts by means of the sleek coachman, who was her spy. It was
necessary to have a spy, to preserve her life from the vengeance of her
household; so she pampered this obsequious negro, and at length owed her
escape to him.

She kept her cook chained within eight yards of the fireplace, where
sumptuous dinners were cooked in the most sultry season. It is a pity
that some of the admiring guests whom she assembled round her hospitable
table could not see through the floor, and be made aware at what a cost
they were entertained. One morning the cook declared that they had
better all be burned together than lead such a life, and she set the
house on fire. The alarm spread over the city; the gallant French
creoles all ran to the aid of their accomplished friend, and the fire
was presently extinguished. Many, whose curiosity had been roused about
the domestic proceedings of the lady, seized the opportunity of entering
those parts of the premises from which the whole world had been hitherto
carefully excluded. They perceived that, as often as they approached a
particular outhouse, the lady became excessively uneasy lest some
property in an opposite direction should be burned. When the fire was
extinguished, they made bold to break open this outhouse. A horrible
sight met their eyes. Of the nine slaves, the skeletons of two were
afterward found poked into the ground; the other seven could scarcely be
recognised as human. Their faces had the wildness of famine, and their
bones were coming through the skin. They were chained and tied in
constrained postures, some on their knees, some with their hands above
their heads. They had iron collars with spikes which kept their heads
in one position. The cowhide, stiff with blood, hung against the wall;
and there was a stepladder on which this fiend stood while flogging her
victims, in order to lay on the lashes with more effect. Every morning,
it was her first employment after breakfast to lock herself in with her
captives, and flog them till her strength failed.

Amid shouts and groans, the sufferers were brought out into the air and
light. Food was given them with too much haste, for two of them died in
the course of the day. The rest, maimed and helpless, are pensioners of
the city.

The rage of the crowd, especially of the French creoles, was excessive.
The lady shut herself up in the house with her trembling daughters,
while the street was filled from end to end with a yelling crowd of
gentlemen. She consulted her coachman as to what she had best do. He
advised that she should have her coach to the door after dinner, and
appear to go forth for her afternoon drive, as usual; escaping or
returning, according to the aspect of affairs. It is not told whether
she ate her dinner that day, or prevailed on her remaining slaves to
wait upon her. The carriage appeared at the door; she was ready, and
stepped into it. Her assurance seems to have paralyzed the crowd. The
moment the door was shut they appeared to repent having allowed her to
enter, and they tried to upset the carriage, to hold the horses, to make
a snatch at the lady. But the coachman laid about him with his whip,
made the horses plunge, and drove off. He took the road to the lake,
where he could not be intercepted, as it winds through the swamp. He
outstripped the crowd, galloped to the lake, bribed the master of a
schooner which was lying there to put off instantly with the lady to
Mobile. She escaped to France, and took up her abode in Paris under a
feigned name, but not for long. Late one evening a party of gentlemen
called on her, and told her she was Madame Lalaurie, and that she had
better be off. She fled that night, and is supposed to be now skulking
about in some French province under a false name.

The New-Orleans mob met the carriage returning from the lake. What
became of the coachman I do not know. The carriage was broken to pieces
and thrown into the swamp, and the horses stabbed and left dead upon the
road. The house was gutted, the two poor girls having just time to
escape from a window. They are now living, in great poverty, in one of
the faubourgs. The piano, tables, and chairs were burned before the
house. The feather-beds were ripped up, and the feathers emptied into
the street, where they afforded a delicate footing for some days. The
house stands, and is meant to stand, in its ruined state. It was the
strange sight of its gaping windows and empty walls, in the midst of a
busy street, which excited my wonder, and was the cause of my being told
the story the first time. I gathered other particulars afterward from

The crowd at first intended to proceed to the examination of other
premises, whose proprietors were under suspicion of cruelty to their
slaves; but the shouts of triumph which went up from the whole negro
population of the city showed that this would not be safe. Fearing a
general rising, the gentlemen organized themselves into a patrol, to
watch the city night and day till the commotion should have subsided.
They sent circulars to all proprietors suspected of cruelty, warning
them that the eyes of the city were upon them. This is the only benefit
the negroes have derived from the exposure. In reply to inquiries, I was
told that it was very possible that cruelties like those of Madame
Lalaurie might be incessantly in course of perpetration. It may be
doubted whether any more such people exist; but if they do, there is
nothing to prevent their following her example with impunity as long as
they can manage to preserve that secrecy which was put an end to by
accident in her case.

I could never get out of the way of the horrors of slavery in this
region. Under one form or another, they met me in every house, in every
street; everywhere but in the intelligence pages of newspapers, where I
might read on in perfect security of exemption from the subject. In the
advertising columns there were offers of reward for runaways, restored
dead or alive; and notices of the capture of a fugitive with so many
brands on his limbs and shoulders, and so many scars on his back. But
from the other half of the newspaper, the existence of slavery could be
discovered only by inference. What I saw elsewhere was, however,
dreadful enough. In one house, the girl who waited on me with singular
officiousness was so white, with blue eyes and light hair, that it never
occurred to me that she could be a slave. Her mistress told me
afterward that this girl of fourteen was such a depraved hussy that she
must be sold. I exclaimed involuntarily, but was referred to the long
heel in proof of the child's being of negro extraction. She had the long
heel, sure enough. Her mistress told me that it is very wrong to plead
in behalf of slavery that families are rarely separated; and gave me, as
no unfair example of the dealings of masters, this girl's domestic

The family had consisted of father, mother, and four children, this girl
being the eldest, and the youngest an infant at the breast. The father
was first sold separately, and then the rest of the family were
purchased in the market by the husband of my friend, the mother being
represented to be a good cook and house servant. She proved to be both;
but of so violent a temper that it was necessary to keep her own
children out of her way when she had a knife in her hand, lest she
should murder them. The anxiety of watching such a temper was not to be
borne, and the woman was sold with her infant. Here was the second
division of this family. The behaviour of the eldest girl was so
outrageously profligate, that she was about to be disposed of also. And
yet she was only a fair illustration of the results of the education by
circumstance that slaves receive. When detected in some infamous
practices, this young creature put on air of prudery, and declared that
it gave her great pain to be thought immodest; that, so far from her
being what she was thought, she had no wish to have any other lover than
her master. Her master was so enraged at this--being a domestic Northern
man, and not a planter--that he tied her to the whipping-post and
flogged her severely with his own hands. The story of this dispersed and
wretched family has nothing singular in it. With slight variations, it
may be found repeated in every Southern settlement the traveller visits.

Just about the time that this was happening, a family in the
neighbourhood was poisoned by a slave. I think one died, and the others
had a narrow escape. The poisoner was sold in the market, as the
proprietor could not afford to lose his human property by the law taking
its course.

About the same time the cashier of a bank in New-Orleans sent one of his
slaves out of the way, in order to be undisturbed in the violence which
he meditated against the negro's attached wife. The negro understood the
case, but dared not refuse to go where he was bid. He returned
unexpectedly soon, however; found his home occupied, and stabbed the
defiler of it. The cashier was the stronger man, and, in spite of his
wound, he so maltreated the negro that he expired on the barrow on which
he was being conveyed to jail. Nothing ensued on account of this affair;
though, when the cashier was some time after found to be a defaulter, he

I would fain know what has become of a mulatto child in whom I became
much interested at New-Orleans. Ailsie was eight years old, perfectly
beautiful, and one of the most promising children I ever saw. She was
quick, obedient, and affectionate to a touching degree. She had a kind
master and mistress. Her mistress's health was delicate, and the child
would watch her countenance wistfully, in the constant hope of saving
her trouble. She would look very grave if the lady went up stairs with a
languid step, take hold of her gown, and timidly ask, "What, an't ye
well?" I used to observe her helping to dress her mistress's hair, her
little hands trembling with eagerness, her eye following every glance of
the eye which ever looked tenderly upon her. Her master declared he did
not know what to make of the child, she looked so scared, and trembled
so if she was spoken to; and she was, indeed, the most sensitive of
children. As she stood at the corner of the dinner-table to fan away the
flies, she was a picture from which it was difficult to turn away. Her
little yellow headdress suited well with her clear brown complexion and
large soft black eyes; nothing that she could at all understand of the
conversation escaped her, while she never intermitted her waving of the
huge brush of peacock's feathers. Her face was then composed in its
intelligence, for she stood by her mistress's elbow; a station where she
seemed to think no harm could befall her. Alas! she has lost her kind
mistress. Amid the many sad thoughts which thronged into my mind when I
heard of the death of this lady, one of the wisest and best of American
women, I own that some of my earliest regrets were for little Ailsie;
and when I think of her sensibility, her beauty, and the dreadful
circumstances of her parentage, as told me by her mistress, I am almost
in despair about her future lot; for what can her master, with all his
goodness, do for the forlorn little creature's protection? None but a
virtuous mistress can fully protect a female slave, and that too seldom.

Ailsie was born on an estate in Tennessee. Her father is a white
gentleman not belonging to the family, her mother the family cook. The
cook's black husband cherished such a deadly hatred against this poor
child as to be for ever threatening her life, and she was thought to be
in such danger from his axe that she was sent down the river to be taken
into the family where I saw her. What a cruel world, what a hard human
life must Ailsie find that she is born into!

Such facts, occurring at every step, put the stranger on the watch for
every revelation of the feelings of the masters about the relation of
the two races. Some minute circumstances surprised me in this connexion.
At the American Theatre in New-Orleans, one of the characters in the
play which my party attended was a slave, one of whose speeches was, "I
have no business to think and feel."

At a dinner-party where three negroes were waiting, and where Ailsie
stood fanning, a gentleman of very high official rank told a facetious
story, at which everybody laughed heartily (being, indeed, quite unable
to help it, the manner of the narrator was so droll) except a gentleman
next me who had once been a slavetrader. The senator told us of a couple
from the Green Island, Pat and Nancy, who had settled on the
Mississippi, and, in course of time (to use the language of the region),
"acquired six children and nine negroes." Pat had a mind to better his
fortunes, and to go unencumbered higher up the river; and he therefore
explained his plans to Nancy, finishing with, "and so, my darlin', I'll
lave you; but I'll do my best by you; I'll lave you the six dear, nate,
pretty little childer, and I'll take the nine nasty dirty negroes."
While every other American at the table laughed without control, I saw
my neighbour, the former slavetrader, glance up at the negroes who were
in attendance, and use a strong effort not to laugh.

The stranger has great difficulty in satisfying himself as to the bounds
of the unconsciousness of oppression which he finds urged as the
exculpatory plea of the slaveholder, while he mourns over it as the
great hinderance in the way of social reformation. It has been seen that
an audience at the theatre will quietly receive a hit which would
subject the author to punishment if he were an abolitionist. When I
listened to the stories told by ladies to each other in their morning
calls, showing the cleverness of their slaves, I often saw that they
could not but be as fully convinced as I was that their slaves were as
altogether human as themselves. I heard so many anecdotes--somewhat of
the character of the following--that I began to suspect that one use of
slaves is to furnish topics for the amusement of their owners.

Sam was sadly apt to get drunk, and had been often reproved by his
master on that account. One day his master found him intoxicated, and
cried out, "What, drunk again, Sam? I scolded you for being drunk last
night, and here you are drunk again." "No, massa, same drunk, massa;
same drunk."

But enough of this dark side of the social picture. I find myself
dwelling long upon it, and frequently recurring to it, because all other
subjects shrink into insignificance beside it; but these others must not
be forgotten.

The gay visiting season at New-Orleans was over before we arrived, but
we were in several parties. The division between the American and French
factions is visible even in the drawing-room. The French complain that
the Americans will not speak French; will not meet their neighbours even
half way in accommodation of speech. The Americans ridicule the toilet
practices of the French ladies; their liberal use of rouge and pearl
powder. If the French ladies do thus beautify themselves, they do it
with great art. I could not be quite sure of the fact in any one
instance, while I am disposed to believe it from the clumsy imitation of
the art which I saw in the countenance of an American rival or two. I
beheld with strong disgust the efforts of a young lady from Philadelphia
to make herself as French as possible by these disagreeable means. She
was under twenty, and would have been rather pretty if she had given
herself a fair chance; but her coarsely-painted eyebrows, daubed cheeks,
and powdered throat inspired a disgust which she must be singularly
unwise not to have anticipated. If this were a single case it would not
be worth mentioning; but I was told by a resident that it is a common
practice for young ladies to paint both white and red, under the idea of
accommodating themselves to the French manners of the place. They had
better do it by practising the French language than by copying the
French toilet. New-Orleans is the only place in the United States where
I am aware of having seen a particle of rouge.

Large parties are much alike everywhere, and they leave no very distinct
impression. Except for the mixture of languages, and the ample provision
of ices, fans, and ventilators, the drawing-room assemblages of
New-Orleans bear a strong resemblance to the routs and dinner-parties of
a country town in England. Our pleasantest days in the great Southern
city were those which we spent quietly in the homes of intimate
acquaintances. I vividly remember one which I was told was a true
Louisiana day. We ladies carried our workbags, and issued forth by
eleven o'clock, calling by the way for a friend, Ailsie's mistress. The
house we were to visit was a small shaded dwelling, with glass doors
opening into a pretty garden. In a cool parlour we sat at work, talking
of things solemn and trivial, of affairs native and foreign, till
dinner, which was at two. We were then joined by the gentlemen. We left
the dinner-table early, and the gentlemen trundled rocking-chairs and
low stools into the garden, where we sat in the shade all the afternoon,
the ladies working, the gentlemen singing Irish melodies, telling good
native stories, and throwing us all into such a merry mood, that we
positively refused the siesta which we were urged to take, and forgot
what a retribution we might expect from the moschetoes for sitting so
long under the trees. After tea we got to the piano, and were reminded
at last by the darkness of the number of hours which this delightful
Louisiana visit had consumed. We all walked home together through the
quiet streets, the summer lightning quivering through the thick trees in
singular contrast with the steady moonlight.

We should have liked to spend every day thus, with friends who always
made us forget that we were far from home; but a traveller's duty is to
see every variety of society which comes within his reach. I was sought
by some, and met accidentally with other persons who were on the eve of
departure for Texas. Attempts were made to induce me to go myself, and
also to convince me of the eligibility of the country as a place of
settlement for British emigrants, in the hope that the arrival of a
cargo of settlers from England might afford to the Texans a plea of
countenance from the British government. The subject of Texas is now so
well understood, that there is no occasion to enlarge upon the state of
the question as it was two years and a half ago; and besides, if I were
to give a precise account of the conversations between myself and the
friends of the Texan aggression, my story would not be believed. The
folly and romance of some of the agents employed, and the villany which
peeped out of every admission extorted from the advocates of the scheme,
would make my readers as astonished as I was myself, that any attempts
should be made in the neighbourhood of the scene to gain the sympathy of
strangers who were at all above the rank of knaves and fools. Suffice it
that one class of advocates told me that I should be perfectly safe
there, as the inhabitants were chiefly persons who could fight bravely
against the Mexicans, from having nothing to lose, and from their having
been compelled to leave the United States by their too free use of arms:
while the opposite species of agent enlarged, not only on the beauty of
the sunsets and the greenness of the savannahs, but on the delightful
security of living under the same laws as the people of the United
States, and amid a condition of morals kept perfectly pure by Colonel
Austin's practice of having every person whom he conceived to have
offended whipped at the cart's tail; the fact being carefully concealed
that Colonel Austin was at that time, and had been for two years, in
jail in the Mexican capital.

Our friends indulged us in what they knew to be our favourite pleasure,
in country drives. There can be no great choice of drives in the
neighbourhood of a city which stands in a swamp; but such places as were
attainable we reached. One was a ropewalk, 1200 feet long, under a roof.
It looked picturesque, like every other ropewalk that I ever saw; but
what struck me most about it was the sudden and profound repose we
plunged into from the bustle of the city. The cottages of the negroes
were imbowered in green, and the whole place had a tropical air, with
its thickets of fig and catalpa, and its rows of Pride-of-India trees.
This last tree looks to my eye like a shrub which has received mistaken
orders to grow into a tree. Its fragrance is its great charm. The
mixture of its lilach flowers with its green leaves impairs the effect
of the foliage, as far as colour is concerned; and the foliage is,
besides, not massy enough. A single sprig of it is beautiful; and,
probably, its fragrance propitiates the eyes of those who plant it, for
I found it considered a beautiful tree. The dark shades of these
thickets are enlivened by a profusion of roses, and the air is fanned
by myriads of insects' wings. How the negroes make friendship with the
tribes of insects which drive the white man to forego the blessing of
natural shade, I could never understand; but the black never looks more
contented than when he shrouds himself in rank vegetation, and lives in
a concert of insect chirping, droning, and trumpeting.

We were taken to the Battle-ground, the native soil of General Jackson's
political growth. Seeing the Battle-ground was all very well; but my
delight was in the drive to it, with the Mississippi on the right hand,
and on the left gardens of roses which bewildered the imagination. I
really believed at the time that I saw more roses that morning than
during the whole course of my life before. Gardens are so rare in
America, from want of leisure and deficiency of labour, that, when they
do occur, they are a precious luxury to the traveller, especially when
they are in their spring beauty. In the neighbourhood of Mobile, my
relative, who has a true English love of gardening, had introduced the
practice; and I there saw villas and cottages surrounded with a
luxuriant growth of Cherokee roses, honeysuckles, and myrtles, while
groves of orange-trees appeared in the background; but not even these
equalled what I saw, this warm 4th of May, on our way to the
Battle-ground. One villa, built by an Englishman, was obstinately
inappropriate to the scene and climate; red brick, without gallery, or
even eaves or porch; the mere sight of it was scorching. All the rest
were an entertainment to the eye as they stood, white and cool, amid
their flowering magnolias, and their blossoming alleys, hedges, and
thickets of roses. In returning, we alighted at one of these delicious
retreats, and wandered about, losing each other among the thorns, the
ceringas, and the wilderness of shrubs. We met in a grotto, under the
summer-house, cool with a greenish light, and veiled at its entrance
with a tracery of creepers. There we lingered, amid singing or silent
dreaming. There seemed to be too little that was real about the place
for ordinary voices to be heard speaking about ordinary things.

The river was rising, as we were told in a tone of congratulation. The
eddies would be filled, and our voyage expedited. The canes in the
sugar-grounds were showing themselves above the soil; young sprouts that
one might almost see grow. A negro was feed to gather flowers for us,
and he filled the carriage with magnolia, honeysuckle, and roses,
grinning the while at our pleasure, and at his own good luck in falling
in with us.

The Battle-ground is rather more than four miles from the city. We were
shown the ditch and the swamp by which the field of action was bounded
on two sides, and some remains of the breastwork of earth which was
thrown up. There has been great exaggeration about the cotton-bags, of
which there were only a few in a line with the earthen defence, instead
of an entire breastwork, as has been supposed in all the jokes and all
the admiration which have been expended on the expedient. It was a
deadly battle-field. It makes the spectator shudder to see the wide open
space, the unsheltered level, over which the British soldiers were
compelled to march to certain destruction. Never was greater bravery
shown by soldiers; and never, perhaps, was bravery more abused by the
unskilfulness of leaders. The result proves this. The British killed
were nearly 3000: the Americans had six killed and seven wounded. By all
accounts, General Jackson showed consummate ability throughout the whole
brief campaign, and the British leaders an imbecility no less

I was shown a house on a plantation where, twelve days before the
battle, the son of the proprietor was quietly dining at one o'clock,
when a slave ran in and told him that some men in red coats were in the
yard. The young man instantly comprehended that the British had captured
the American scouts. He bolted through the window, and into a canoe, and
crossed the river amid a shower of balls, seized a horse, and galloped
to the city. The troops, dispersed on different points, were collected
by drum and bell; and, between two o'clock and eleven at night, the city
was made ready to abide the enemy's approach. It is still
incomprehensible to the Americans why the British, who actually did
throw a party over the river, did not all step ashore on the opposite
side of the Mississippi, and quietly march the four miles up to the
city, and into it. It could have offered no defence, nor was there any
impediment by the way.

The headquarters of both generals are very conspicuous on the plain. Sir
Edward Pakenham and a party of his officers were spied by the Americans
standing in the balcony of the house they inhabited. A gunner was
ordered to take aim at them. Seeing the importance of the shot, he was
flurried, and struck the river a mile off. He was ordered to retire. He
knew that this was the crisis of his professional fate, and implored
that he might be granted one more chance. He then hit the pillar which
supported the balcony, immediately under the feet of the group of
officers, who hurried pellmell into the house.

After eleven days of housekeeping in New-Orleans we were obliged to
depart, having been fortunate enough to secure berths in a capital boat
which started northward on the 6th of May. The slaves in our temporary
abode had served us intelligently and well. Wishing to see what they
could do, we did not give any orders about our table. We were rarely at
home at dinner, but our breakfasts and occasional dinners were more
luxurious than if we had provided for ourselves. Excellent coffee,
French bread, radishes, and strawberries at breakfast; and at dinner,
broth, fowls, beefsteak, with peas, young asparagus, salad, new
potatoes, and spinach, all well cooked; claret at dinner, and coffee
worthy of Paris after it; this was the kind of provision with which we
were favoured. Everything was done to make us cool. The beds were
literally as hard as the floor. We had a bath of the coldest water
prepared morning and night; all the doors and windows were kept open,
and the curtains drawn, to establish draughts and keep out the sun.
There was ice in the water-jug, ice on the lump of butter, ice in the
wineglass, and icecream for dessert.

Abroad, all was, as in every other American city, hospitality and
gayety. I had rather dreaded the visit to New-Orleans, and went more
from a sense of duty than from inclination. A friendship that I formed
there, though already eclipsed by death, left me no feeling but
rejoicing that I had gone; and I also learned much that was useful in
helping me to interpret some things which met my observation both
previously and subsequently. But my strongest impression of New-Orleans
is, that while it affords an instructive study, and yields some
enjoyment to a stranger, it is the last place in which men are gathered
together where one who prizes his humanity would wish to live.


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